Thursday, June 30, 2011

Writer's Block

By: Thomas Hokum

So I was at the Piggly Wiggly on a break from writing a post that was quite determined not to be written when I came across this bottle of delicious Pinot Noire that boasts my main man Bill Shakespeare. As one of my favorite writer’s (Othello is my favorite should you wonder) and with a title describing my current state, I felt the meeting was kismet…

…so what I’m saying is I drank a bottle of wine instead of writing my post. But at least I took a picture of the cool label.

Here’s a toast to anyone whose ever felt the fear of the blank page, the frustration of not knowing the right word, or the sweet delights of procrastination. May all your document files be lengthy and full of text.



Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Today's 1000

One of the aspects of art that make it both fascinating and sometimes impenetrable is clarity of vision.  A clear artistic vision can attract fans or admirers with it's power as well as intimidate people if the vision is highly ambitious, pointed, or rooted in layers symbolism (Everyone wave at James Joyce's Ulysses) In music, having clarity of vision can refer to holding true to a specific aesthetic. For example, punk music centers on the emotive power of the songs and raw vocals. Or in the case of someone like Lady Gaga, her entire life becomes a performance, becoming a living, breathing manifestation of her onstage persona and songs.

One of the more fascinating bands I've come across this year (that definitely hold true to a specific aesthetic) are The Irrepressibles. This ten piece performance orchestra led by lead vocalist, choreographer, creative director, and composer (that's an impressive business card) Jamie McDermott, mixes orchestration with pop song structure. For live performances, the band works with various artists in film, dance, avant-garde costumes and makeup. Combined with conceptual stage design and lighting the British based group's shows become imaginative spectacles.
The debut album from performance
orchestra The Irrepressibles.

The video above is a compilation of The Irrepressibles various performances in their creation The Human Music Box. The video is set to the song "In This Shirt," the closing track to their debut album Mirror, Mirror which will be released in the United States on August 9th. From the opening with McDermott's longing vocals and an organ, the song builds a palpable tension, finally releasing in a beautiful soundscape with the full orchestra. While the track could be described as ethereal, the rhythm of the strings and McDermott's lyrics lost in the pain of remembering a relationship ground the song with a pop sensibility.

The Irrepressibles artistic aesthetic might be intimidating to some, yet the clarity of their vision regarding their sound and their performances make them a fascinating band to hear, watch, and follow.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Best Television Shows of the Past Decade (according to me, of course)

Alexis Bledel starred as Rory Gilmore in
Gilmore Girls. Image from

by Elaine Dunaway

Let’s begin with the basics: I enjoy watching TV, but I wouldn’t call myself a television addict and I especially wouldn’t go so far as to call myself an authority. I do, however, have a tendency to get drawn in by especially great shows that speak to the obsessive personality inside of me. These are the shows that I watch from morning until 3:30 at night in an attempt to figure out what is going to happen; the shows that keep me dreaming little tangential storylines when I’m supposed to be focusing on schoolwork or work-work. I would like to share with you the TV shows which have made me laugh, cry, learn, or sit in awe over the past decade. (These are in no particular order, so please don’t be offended if Firefly comes in at five when Smallville comes in first.)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Today's 1000

Along with the usual release of anthemic pop songs vying to become summer jams ("Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry anyone?), summers in Alabama always brought stifling humidity and the expectation of hearing "Sweet Home Alabama" at every gathering of fifteen or more people. (I've often wondered how much better off the state would have been if "Gimme Three Steps" was our state song but whatever). The soundtrack to an Alabama summer from my youth was a classic southern rock and current pop: essentially, music people can sing loudly in order to forget how unconscionably hot and humid it is, was, and always will be.

Thus, you'll have to forgive me if I don't immediately think of summer when listening to My Tiger My Timing's first single off their sophomore album of the same name, "Endless Summer." The track by the quintet has a decidedly British pop dance club rhythm and no anthem worth hooks that allow listeners to belt out.

However, as London summers are no doubt much different than my own, My Tiger My Timing has created a different kind of summer song outside of my own summer music paradigm (The video shows the band hanging out and throwing a Frisbee in jeans and a sweater! You couldn't make this video in Alabama during summer. No one would watch a video of people singing and sweating profusely through their clothes only to faint from heat exhaustion.)

What the group, led by vocalist Anna Vincent, have created is a perfect music festival tune. Combined with the danceable rhythm, the lighthearted but frenetic keys and the refrain of yeahs make this upbeat song a great track to sing and move to with large groups of people.

Enjoy the video by My Tiger My Timing and enjoy your weekend, regardless of how hot or humid your summer has been.

Find more of MTMT | Follow MTMT on Twitter | Find MTMT on Facebook

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Low Country Blues....In Paris

The album debuted at #5 on Billboard, the highest ranking of his career.
By:Erica Thomas

Next week, I'll be in Paris!

I've recruited T.S. to post some travel pictures for me in my absence. Look for my column on how to be a non tourist Paris style in the next few weeks as well. There are several reasons for my trip, one of which is a Gregg Allman concert at Le Grande Rex. Those of you who have read my previous posts know I have a sort of fanatical obsession with all things Allman, so I am thrilled to see G.A. in a historic theater from center orchestra seats. I'm also pretty curious about what kind of crowd is going to turn up for this concert.

Allman is touring in support of his new album Low Country Blues which was released earlier this year. The album, his first solo effort in 14 years, was produced by T Bone Burnett and includes 11 covers from blues greats like Muddy Waters, B.B. King and Sleepy John Estes plus an original song, 'Just Another Rider' written by Allman and Warren Haynes, also of the current Allman Brothers line up. Click here to stream the entire album via Rolling Stone.....à plus tard!

Today's 1000

Find Agnes' new album Philharmonics | Follow Agnes on Twitter | Find Agnes on Facebook
On reality singing shows (or vocal competitions if you're being unnecessarily argumentative), the contestants are basically showcasing the power, range, and control of their voice while doing some great karaoke. Rarely do the aspiring stars connect emotionally with a song. And that's not their fault. As I've said before in this space: performing a good cover song, especially recording and releasing a cover song, takes a tremendous amount of confidence and intelligence that artists have to develop over time.

Oh yeah, it also take a lot of talent as well.

In covering Elliott Smith's haunting "Between the Bars," Danish Songwriter Agnes Obel displays something special. Namely, her willingness to cover the song as it was originally written and sonically conceived. The track features only Obel's voice and an accompanying guitar just as Smith's original version did. While such a move could come across as a karaoke version in the hands of a young, inexperienced singer, Obel masterfully performs the song with the same emotional intensity as Smith which speaks to her confidence, experience, and, of course, her talent.

Already a star in Europe, Obel is just now making her presence known in the United States with a live debut at SXSW.  Enjoy her cover but be sure to check out her piano heavy, chamber folk debut album, Philharmonics.

Agnes Obel - Between The Bars (Elliott Smith cover) iTunes Live From Paris EP by Girlie Action

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Today's 1000

A couple weeks ago, Elaine featured the Ki: Theory HOWVERYDARE you make a TRONMIXTAPE, a collection of remixes of the Daft Punk Tron soundtrack interspersed with some original tracks. While we typically wouldn't feature an artist so soon after showcasing their work, Joel Burleson's (the man behind Ki: Theory) newest single forces our hand.

Unlike his electronic mixtape, Ki: Theory's new single "Holiday Heart" is a more easily digestible venture into pop. The song adheres to a the verse/chorus/verse structure. Combined with the simple rhythm, "Holiday Heart" is catchy and will cause you to sing along while bobbing your head. The production effects aren't quite as heavy as the mixtape, and although Burleson's voice has been slightly manipulated in the studio, it's still rings clear.

While the video is reminiscent of the animation (and a bird as the main character) from Wild Sweet Orange's "Wrestle with God," the animation is higher quality. Not to mention is features squirrels and rabbits. (Seriously, try not to smile when the squirrel bobs it's head).

Considering Burleson's work in the electronic music world as well as being featured on Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides soundtrack, it's truly a testament to his abilities as a musician that he can make such a well crafted pop tune as well. Frankly, whatever Ki: Theory decides to do next, I know I'll be paying attention.

Find More Ki: Theory | Find Ki:Theory on Facebook | Follow Ki:Theory on Twitter

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Game of Thrones: HBO is Dead, Long Live HBO

By Thomas Hokum

Today’s title refers to a personal theory of mine: HBO has long been a distant second to Showtime for the last few years. Ever since the end of the Sopranos (often considered the reinvention of the modern television drama) the HBO has found little success outside of True Blood, a conversion of Charmaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels, while Showtime has thrived with hits such as Dexter, Californication, and Weeds. With Entourage entering its final “mini” season, HBO needed a hit of Sopranos quality, and it has found it in Game of Thrones (GoT).

GoT follows the different families and factions within the Seven Kingodms of Westeros. The book is told from around eight different viewpoints, and the show largely follows this structure. The main characters are from different areas of Westeros so that every aspect of the story can be told, with the viewpoints converging around climactic scenes (sometimes battles, but conflict can take many forms in GoT).

Today's 1000

Enjoy YACHT's latest single "Utopia" from their new album Shangri-La
Find More YACHT | Follow YACHT on Twitter | Find YACHT on Facebook

"The problem with being avant-garde is knowing who's putting on who."- Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes
One of Bill Watterson's memorable quotes from his popular and culturally significant comic strip that ran from 1985-1995 expresses my own feelings about a lot of music, art, and culture. The public enjoys watching artists and larger than life personas exist because they are fascinating and we want to see if someone will blink in the face of their absurd actions or in their off the wall "creations" (songs, works of art, dramatic characters). For example, Lady Gaga dressing up in a meat dress caught the public's attention. Did it mean something? Was she just grabbing attention? Was it a joke? All of those questions ran through our minds at the sight of the protein get-up. But we also watched to see if Lady Gaga would give us a wink that her dress was a joke. We watched in case she showed some sign that she understood the absurdity of what she was doing.

But Gaga didn't blink. She kept her mystique in tact. A mystique that has garnered her millions of fans, millions of dollars, and the label of artist. If Lady Gaga is "putting us on" she hasn't acknowledged it yet.

In a lot of ways, the musical duo YACHT (Jona Bechtolt and Claire L Evans) have created a persona or aesthetic that could be interpreted as "putting us [the music listening public] on." Born out of Portland, Oregon in 2002, YACHT is an avant-garde electronic pop group that describes themselves as a "band, belief system, and business." Their website is filled with various proclamations about religion, the universe, and philosophy. They also discuss proper YACHT tattoo guidelines and suggested mantras, which they compare, quite convincingly, to Michael Jackson pop songs.

Today, we are featuring "Utopia" from the new YACHT album (released today), Shangri-La. The song begins with a catchy guitar rhythm and holds the attention of the listeners throughout with a fascinating disco mix of harmonies, guitars, drums, synth, and keys. For YACHT Utopia means "No Place" which leads the duo on a quest of movement rather than a search for a resting place. You could spend hours unpacking that statement and looking for other signs of levity in their beliefs. Or you could simply enjoy the song.

Me? I'll take the latter and search for a wink later.

YACHT - Utopia by DFA Records

Monday, June 20, 2011

Today's 1000

Jimmy LaValle of The Album Leaf
Find More TAL | Follow TAL on Twitter | Find TAL on Facebook
As odd as it may sound, I enjoy punctuation. While I'm not a stickler, correcting emails and text messages from friends, I appreciate the sense of rhythm or feeling that full stops, commas, and the vast array of other punctuation marks can add to the written word. Perhaps my favorite punctuation (Yes, I'm single. Why do you ask?) is the ellipsis (...). It can indicate a the intentional omission of words, a pause, trailing off at the end of a sentence, or even a sense of melancholy.

Sympathy from Scattered Trees
Find More ST | Follow ST on Twitter
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When I first heard the The Album Leaf remix of "Four Days Straight"' originally by the Scattered Trees, I couldn't help but think of the ellipsis. The original verison of the song, off of the excellent Scattered Trees album Sympathy (released digitally April 12th and in stores August 9th), begins with a melancholy guitar and reflective vocals. However, the song becomes more anthemic as the track adds a simple beat punctuated with hand claps and gang vocals shouting "Oh No's" throughout.

However, The Album Leaf (Jimmy LeValle) remix acts like an ellipsis. It omits the guitar and gang vocals from the original, wholly capturing the melancholy feeling of the lyrics by slowing the track down with a electronic beat. The remix seems to pause, meditating on the emotional pain and hurt of the lyrics about a splitting realtionship. Enjoy the pointed remix below.

Scattered Trees - Four Days Straight (The Album Leaf Remix) by The Album Leaf

Click through to see the music video for the original version of "Four Days Straight" and where you can find more by The Album Leaf and Scatterd Trees.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fistful of Links

Fistful of Links is a weekly catch-all of stories or videos we at FoW think are important, hilariously inane, or wildly entertaining. From news outlets to personal blogs, our weekly list of links is as varied as our authors. Check in every Saturday to catch up with what we're reading and what you shouldn't miss. Enjoy!

"This Week's Cover: First look at Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss in 'The Hunger Games'"
by EW staff / Entertainment Weekly
-Did you hear that? No? Perhaps it's because it's Elaine's squealing, and it has reached the pitch heard only by dogs. 

"Emma Watson's New Day"
by Amanda Foreman / Vogue
-Emma Watson in Vogue. What more needs to be said? (Other than that Elaine is squealing even louder than she did when she saw Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss.)

"Kissing Couple in Vancouver Riot"
by Richard Lam, tweeted by @darrenrovell
-This is the now famous photo from a couple making out in the middle of the Vancouver riot after the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup.

"Logo Design Gone Wrong"
by Jennifer Moline /
-Designing a company logo is a very important step for a company. Unfortunately, some companies don't check their logos before choosing them.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fistful of Company of Thieves

By T.S. Oldman

On Tuesday, the Chicago based band Company of Thieves debuted the music video for the first single from their new album Running from a Gamble. The video for "Death of Communication" is fun, simple, and features CoT doing what they do best: performing. In my album review last month, I noted that Running From a Gamble perfectly captures the live energy of the group and is a ferocious hit with soaring guitars, growling vocals, building percussion, an array of organs, and a delightful dash of horns and piano. Lyrically, the album is written from the point of view of a young girl, Karen, and the ups and downs of life that she experiences as she moves through this world.

Find More CoT | CoT on Twitter | CoT on Facebook
Catch Company of Thieves Live
After months of tireless work, in the studio and in preparation for the album release, Company of Thieves is back on the road, sharing their music and passionately performing for fans around the country. I do not use the word 'passionately' lightly. Despite eight lineup changes over the years and lead vocalist Genevieve Schatz being in and out of the hospital battling bronchitis on one tour, the band has never (NEVER!) canceled a show. (I suggest you take a moment to read the inspiring back story of Genevieve and how she met guitarist Marc Walloch).

In between stops on tour, Marc and Genevieve were gracious enough to email with FoW and answer some questions about writing music, the joy of performing, recording Running From a Gamble, and making the video for "Death of Communication." Click through to read our discussion.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Road Tripping

Cape May, who knew New Jersey could be so pretty.
By: Erica Thomas

Nothing says summer like five friends crammed into a rental car with the windows rolled down and the Black Kids blasting. 

Road tripping is practically a requirement for New Yorkers; we'll do pretty much anything to get out of our stuffy apartments for the weekend. Check out some off beat and entertaining ideas for road tripping fun for those readers close to the New York and Birmingham/Atlanta areas.

Today's 1000

Ahh, to live in Alabama, where this is in no way out of the ordinary.
(And yes, this looks better than car flags).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fistful of Elizabeth and The Catapult

Elizabeth Ziman is the driving force
behind Elizabeth and the Catapult
 Find EATC on Facebook
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By T.S. Oldman
It’s hard to imagine Elizabeth Ziman as intimidating. Standing at an average height, the ivory-complected artist from Elizabeth and the Catapult with dark black hair and a bright shining smile certainly doesn’t cast a physically threatening presence. And yet, when she takes the stage, audiences can find themselves a bit surprised as the classically trained pianist begins to play the beautiful sweeping scales from the opening of the live version of “Thank You for Nothing.” After watching a standard opening act featuring a local band or singer songwriter, it can be a bit intimidating to hear, watch, and experience an artist who has mastered her instrument so thoroughly.
However, as Ziman progresses through her set, a mixture of catchy pop, introspective folk, and dance hall numbers with driving rhythms (all with a dash of dark humor and wit), the audience relaxes, dances, and even matches Elizabeth smile for smile while she plays a surprising number of new tunes as well as songs from her albums Taller Children and The Other Side of Zero.
With her unique musical background, attending Boston’s Berklee College of Music with the intention of scoring films before landing a spot as a backup singer for jazz legend Patti Austin (along with recent Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding), Elizabeth Ziman is a refreshing interview. She is a voracious reader and a songwriter who remains curious and open to the world around her.
Click through to read Elizabeth’s thoughts about her music videos, the rotating cast of The Catapult, being mistaken for Sara Bareilles, and refusing to support the tampon industry musically. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Today's 1000

I'm guessing the owner wasn't required to show any credentials to acquire those stickers.
Unintentional comedy is great. Unintentional comedy involving a scooter: fantastic!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Perfumes -- My Journey from Loathe to Love

Chanel No. 5 - the most iconic perfume
of all time. (Which smells rather wretched,
unfortunately.) Image from
by Elaine Dunaway

Smell. It’s one of the most primal of the senses and also the one that seems most easily offended. Think about it – you can close your eyes if something is too bright, cover your ears (or even use earplugs) if something is too loud, discontinue eating something that isn’t particularly tasty, and keep your hands to yourself if touching something proves unpleasant. One thing you can’t do it stop breathing. Sure, you can run away as quickly as possible and try to cover up your nose with your hand; however, this strategy is only mildly effective at best and an all-out failure at worst. Why do I bring this to your attention? Due to the change in my thinking over the past few years in relation to perfumes, that’s why. You see, for most of my childhood, I loathed the scent of any and all perfumes – they were far too strong, off-putting, and overpowering to be anything other than headache-inducing. Over the past decade or so, though, I’ve gradually found myself drawn more and more to the perfume section of department stores and generally leave wishing I could take a few thing home with me. I’ve had a difficult time determining if this is an evolution which occurs to all women (and men too, perhaps) as they age, or if it’s just me coming to terms with various types of scents. (Any input you guys can provide would be appreciated.) Without further ado, let’s move on to the scents which have appealed to one Elaine Dunaway over the years and how they have evolved with each stage of life.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fistful of Links

Fistful of Links is a weekly catch-all of stories or videos we at FoW think are important, hilariously inane, or wildly entertaining. From news outlets to personal blogs, our weekly list of links is as varied as our authors. Check in every Saturday to catch up with what we're reading and what you shouldn't miss. Enjoy!

"Why Don't I Like Classic Books?"
by Laura /
-Laura discusses the reasons why classic books sometimes (and often for her) disappoint when it comes to entertainment value. Read and jump into the discussion! (Hell, Elaine surely is going to.)

"Donna Karan Resort 2012 Collection"
by Tom and Lorenzo /
-How many different languages must Elaine say "covet" in before you'll believe how much she wants the red dress in the middle of the second row? French: convoiter. Spanish: covet (who knew -- why are we even complaining about Latin American immigrants not speaking English? It's obviously the same...). Italian: desiderare. German: begehren. Hopefully you get the idea...

"David Simon Agrees to Make Sixth Season of 'The Wire' If US Agrees to end War on Drugs"
by Germain Lussier /
-Attorney General Eric Holder said jokingly that he would force the creator and the greatest show ever to create a movie or another season. Always the opportunist, David Simon agreed to make another season if the Department of Justice quit the unwinnable war on drugs. David Simon is awesome.

"NBA Finals: Fascination with LeBron James has reached meteoric heights"
by Mike Wise / Washington Post
-With all the hype about the NBA finals it's been LeBron James who has been the center of attention. Mike Wise has the most measured take on the entire situation of any of the multitude of columnists I've read. AND he did this on an east coast deadline after Game 5 Thursday night.

"Voyeurism Exposed: Photos from a pre-Weinergate era"
by Sandra Phillips and Mark Murrmann / Mother Jones
-In a photo essay from her larger book, Sandra Phillips shares a photo of a self immolation by a Buddhist monk. Powerful, powerful picture.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Today's 1000

According to a study that I made up for this post, 60% of Americans do the majority of their dancing at weddings or house parties. Those events typically feature a mixture of classic rock, rap, and hip hop. Since I happen to fall into that 60%, I am less likely to be caught dancing around people that enjoy electronic music. All fake studies aside, the truth of the matter is I have never listened to much electronic music because I don't frequent the places that feature such artists. I've also never had a burning desire to try ecstasy. And black lights have only ever been marginally fun for me (I always obsess about the shocking amount of lint on my clothing).

However, with the rise in popularity of the autotune sound and the sampling of genre heavyweights like Daft Punk by the likes of Kanye West, this genre of music has been creeping into the mainstream more and more in recent years. Thus, Today's video is from a group that I would have been unlikely to come across five years ago.

Afrobeta is Cuci & Smurpio which sounds
like an awesome cartoon superhero duo.
Afrobeta is Miami based duo Cuci and Tony Smurphio. The group plays an avant-dance, electric pop type of music that has expert layering that should appeal to longtime fans of the genre and catchy hooks that appeal to newbies like myself. In their feature single, "Play House", from their forthcoming album Under the Streets, Cuci's delivery is reminiscent of the staccato sing/speak of the The Ting Tings. Although, to be fair, Cuci's is also capable of singing in a more standard way, as proven by the group's song "Nighttime." Also, Afrobeta's music has a sonically darker edge that is rooted in the electronic bass sound.

The video features a visually stimulating array of colors and effects, as the house appears to respond to the singing of Cuci and the keytaring of Smurphio (the former keyboardist for Pitbull). Combined with the catchy/danceable song, the video makes for an entertaining watch. If nothing else, I was impressed by the lack of even a single trace of lint on any of the wardrobes. Do they obsess about lint too? Maybe, I'm more fit for electronic pop than I originally thought.

Find more Afrobeta | Find Afrobeta on Facebook | Follow Afrobeta on Twitter

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Today's 1000

Ki: Theory livens up the Daft Punk
Tron: Legacy soundtrack for Elaine with

by Elaine Dunaway

Through no particular effort or desire of my own, I have found myself listening to the Tron: Legacy soundtrack a good deal over the past two or three months. (Translation: the boyfriend is kind of obsessed with it and listens to it a lot, meaning that whenever we go anywhere together, I hear it.) I have found it pleasant, if not somewhat generically futuristic and electronic. Nothing overly earth-shattering, but not particularly memorable, either.

Ki:Theory (also known as Joel Burleson) has a most blessed solution to the Tron: Legacy granola flavor -- create a mixtape of remixes of the Daft Punk soundtrack interspersed with original tracks by LCD Soundsystem, Teddybears, and Ki:Theory mixes such as "HowVeryDare." The resulting twenty-five minutes, wryly titled "HOWVERYDARE you make a TRONMIXTAPE," is a veritable feast for the ears. Ki:Theory provides us with that most elusive of goals: a perfectly fluid arrangement of different songs that combines the chill electronic vibe present in the original Tron: Legacy soundtrack with a pervasive dance beat which at times ventures into the noise pop territory so often associated with Sleigh Bells.

Check it out below, along with a track list.


01. Daft Punk - Adagio For Tron (Teddybears Remix)
02. Daft Punk - Solar Sailer (Ki:Theory's Lay Our Bodies Down Remix)
03. Daft Punk - Fall (M83 Vs Big Black Delta Remix)
04. Ki:Theory - HowVeryDare
05. Daft Punk - Derezzed (The Glitch Mob Remix)
06. Daft Punk - End Of Line (Photek Remix)
07. Teddybears (Feat. The Flaming Lips) - Chrystal Meth Christian
08. Daft Punk - The Son Of Flynn (Ki:Theory Remix)
09. Ki:Theory - Strongman Vs. Daft Punk - C.L.U. (Paul Oakenfold Remix)
10. Ki:Theory - Wildlife
11. Teddybears (Feat. Robyn) - Cardiac Arrest
12. LCD Soundsystem - Daft Punk Is Playing At My House
13. Daft Punk - Human After All
14. Ki:Theory - Kitty Hawk

You can look for more Ki:Theory on the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides soundtrack, as well as the trailer for the new for the new movie Abduction (which just so happens to star Taylor Lautner). In other words, Ki:Theory is creating the soundtracks to some of the biggest movies of the year. I can't say that I'm anything but pleased about that.

Find More Ki: Theory | Find Ki:Theory on Facebook | Follow Ki:Theory on Twitter

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Fistful of New Orleans Indie Rock Group MyNameIsJohnMichael

John Michael Rouchell of MyNameIsJohnMichael
infuses New Orleans brass into a mix of rock and pop.

by T.S. Oldman
It’s 7:30 on a Tuesday night and I’m sitting on a small set of concrete stairs between the Caldonia Lounge and the 40 Watt Club in Athens, Georgia, with MyNameIsJohnMichael front man John Michael Rouchell.
Despite the time of day, it’s still 90 degrees outside and the humidity weighs heavily on John Michael and me, hanging around us like a nosy passerby trying to hear our conversation.
As he fiddles with his lighter, he takes a pull on a cigarette that surely is not cooling him down and says, “Being from the south there’s nothing better than sitting on a stoop and bullshitting.”
And that’s what we’ve been doing over the course of the last half hour, sitting and talking music, songwriting, and New Orleans legends. Telling stories about Alan Toussaint’s writing process, the importance of Dr. John, and the history of Athens and the college rock scene. At one point we even mentioned American Idol, but we didn’t stay there long.
Heady conversation with a young musician who sees the world through New Orleans colored glasses and cares deeply about his musical roots, his musical future, and the future of music in general.
In little more than four hours Rouchell will lead his indie rock band on stage to play honest to goodness rock and roll, infused with horns and keyboards mixed with anthemic pop sensibilities

Today's 1000

Snow & Voices are Jebin Bruni and Lauri Kranz. Photo by Annabel Mehran
I'm not sure that most music fans understand the daunting task recording and releasing a cover song truly is. Covers have to pay homage to the original artist while reimagining the arrangement and conveying a different emotional tone. If an artist isn't careful, a cover can come across as too ambitious or as a strait laced karaoke rendition similar to the vast majority of American Idol performances.

Lauri Kranz's vocals on the
Snow & Voices cover of "Disintegration"
by The Cure are beautiful and rich
Thus, it is with that pressure that Los Angeles based Snow & Voices, made up of keyboardist Jebin Bruni and vocalist Lauri Kranz, began their covers project. After recording their third album Anything That Moves, Kranz and Bruni decided to record a series of cover songs over the course of a year, releasing a vinyl album at the end of the project. Kranz and Bruni believe in the ideal of musical collective and plan to collaborate with various friends and musical acquaintances throughout the project.

Snow and Voices has been gracious enough to share their second cover from their project with FoW today. The song is a new interpretation of The Cure's "Disintegration." While the sparse arrangement would lead some to call the track ethereal, I find the song to be painfully intimate and firmly rooted in strong emotion. The instruments are muted, and the drums slow and soft. The song builds, adding elements as the track progresses. Most notably, Kranz's vocals have a richness that capture the piercing hurt of the lyrics. Her performance is at its most cutting as she whispers (seemingly crying) the last few lines before the song ends with an instrumental outro.

A masterful cover by a fantastic group.

Disintegration by Snow & Voices

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Today's 1000

As someone who grew up in the Southeast United States, it was more than a bit odd (jarring, maybe) to hear someone from Canada refer to her wide-eyed interaction with "southerners" during her first trip to Montreal. But for the Elisapie Isaac, a composer, songwriter and filmmaker from the isolated Inuit community of Salluit, Nunavik (the town is only accessible by airplane), Montreal certainly qualifies as a big city southern excursion.

Elisapie Isaac's There Will Be Stars
has soulful grooves and stirring poems from
the North, all combined with a touch of pop.
A mix of pop, soul, and folk, Elisapie offers a distinctive brand of music. Vocally, she falls somewhere between the seductively smooth Norah Jones (think "One Flight Down") and the haunting coarseness of Lykke Li (think "Possibility"). However, Elisapie remains a unique figure on the music scene as she sings in English, French, and Inuit.

Today, we are featuring the video for "Moi, Elsie" from Elisapie's new album There Will Be Stars. The lyrics ares in French and the video is filmed in what I assume is her hometown. Elisapie's voice and the simple piano capture the beauty within the isolation of this frigid and familiar place.

While music PR types jokingly refer to Elisapie's unique sound as polar pop or Arctic electric, this southern bred American calls her latest release original, beautiful, and despite it's cold, Northern Quebec roots, warm.

Nearly Gold Certified in Canada, There Will Be Stars was released in the United States today. If you are in the NYC area you can catch one of two album release shows for Elisapie (June 8th or June 13th) at 9 PM at The Living Room.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Five Ways to Ensure a Slamming Summer 2011

This guy knows how to enjoy summer.
Image via Wikimedia commons: /
by Elaine Dunaway

This year marks the first summer that has arrived without the usual hallmark of warmer days: that is, a cessation of classes. Instead of finals and moving out of my dorm room, I simply keep going to work the same as I have been all winter. Lackluster compared with swimming, days on end spent reading, vacations, and visiting with friends? Perhaps. Thus, I’ve compiled a list of things which can be done regardless of whether one is fully employed and are practically guaranteed to make you feel like summer is, in fact, here.

Today's 1000

I'm always wary of using the word infectious. The word provides no qualitative distinction. One person might enjoy having a particular song stuck in their head while another could be driven mad by the same track. But despite my reluctance to use such a directionless word, no other term feels more appropriate to describe the music of Darwin Deez.

Darwin Deez looks like a guy
that's as fun as his music sounds.
In the video featured above, the combination of hand claps and singably-catchy lyrics give his minimal pop/rock a sound that will bounce around your head for the rest of the day, week, or even month. Yes, this video is from 2010 but Deez' self titled album was released in the United States on May 23. As for the video itself, the choreography is wonderfully joyful. I smile every time I watch the low double kick move during the chorus (first seen at the 45 second mark). Honestly, the male and female dancers exude the same playfully tenderness that Deez's voice captures in his witty "deoxyribonuclueic acid" themed song about imagining himself with a former love.

Originally from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Deez writes his songs on a 4 string guitar and seems like a fascinating guy who probably never sits still. No, really. Based on the picture to the right (he actually doesn't appear in the "DNA" video) and his dancing in this video, how could Darwin be anything but a fun guy with an infectious personality?

There's that word again: infectious. But when referring to the music of Darwin Deez, the distinction is decidedly good or joyful. Enjoy having "DNA" stuck in your head for quite some time. I know I will.

Find More Dawin DeezFind Darwin on Facebook | Follow Darwin on Twitter

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Fistful of Links

Fistful of Links is a weekly catch-all of stories or videos we at FoW think are important, hilariously inane, or wildly entertaining. From news outlets to personal blogs, our weekly list of links is as varied as our authors. Check in every Saturday to catch up with what we're reading and what you shouldn't miss. Enjoy!

"Bartolo Colon Surgery: New Arms Race?"
by Howard Bryant /
-Bartolo Colon is an old, overweight pitcher for the Yankees. But this season he has had a renaissance of sorts after having stem-cells injected into his elbow and rotator cuff to speed his recovery. You can either ponder about what this means for athlete recovery in the future or insert a George W. Bush, stem cell research, and Rangers' pitchers joke here.

"Literally Unbelievable: Stories from The Onion as Interpreted by Facebook"
-These posts make me extremely sad for the state of humanity. They also make me laugh until I double over.

"Bush: 'Our Long National Nightmare of Peace and Prosperity is Finally Over'"
by The Onion
-This Onion article from January 17, 2001 was originally intended to be funny. More than ten years later it seems prophetic and scarily accurate.

"Sharp Touch Wood Commercial"
-This is one of the more epic commercials I've ever seen. This Japanese project must have taken hours upon hours to pull off so seamlessly.

"Uncertainty and economic recovery: Partisan Animal Spirits"
by Democracy in Politics Blog / The Economist
-Apparently, it doesn't so much matter what Obama's economic policies are as much as it matters that he's a Democrat. This article posits that American businessmen are reacting cautiously in the current climate, which prolongs the slow recovery, only because Obama is not a Republican. Yay for stupid self-fulfilling partisan prophecies!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fistful of Interviews: Canadian Rock Band, Shortwave

Check out more Shortwave | Find Shortwave on Facebook
Follow Shortwave on Twitter
by T.S. Oldman

When a band is asked how they started or how they got their name, their answers usually seem logical or born out of convenience. Sometimes, well known bands will veer towards a revisionist answer because their mystique might take a hit if they admitted that they settled on a name while drinking beer and grilling hot dogs on a lazy Sunday. Mostly though, answers to questions about names or the start up are boring.

Canadian dance rockers Shortwave are no different. A group of lifelong friends that includes a set of brothers (Ry and Sager Johnson), Shortwave came together five years ago after Ry, the songwriter of the group, needed a band to record a set of songs he had written.

And while there is nothing particularly exciting about how they started, what the band is doing now is worth following. Having worked with Grammy winning producer Malcolm Burn (Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, Neil Young) on their last EP, the band went into the studio to record The Skyline Verses, their first full length album, with another respected producer Byron Kent Wong (The Crystal Method, Beck).

The new record which was released on February 8th this year features eleven energetic tracks. With clear rhythms combined with a mix of keyboards and effects, the songs have an anthemic feel that hearkens to the live show sound that the band is known for. Preview the album here on iTunes.

While we avoided talking about their name and how they started, the guys from Shortwave did agree to talk with FoW about wearing space suits, their infectious live energy, and recording their first full length album. Also, click through to watch the video for the first single off of The Skyline Verses, "Sublime."