Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Interlude: Catchin' Up Again

The first week of summer was quite eventful. I went home last Monday for the first time in months. Thing is, New York feels more like home these days, and I was back on the subways by Wednesday. It wasn't just that I'm tired of suburbia, but there were also shows to be had!

Cut Copy - Bowery Ballroom, May 14th
This was a show I couldn't miss. I've really enjoyed Cut Copy's new album, In Ghost Colours, much on the strength of the singles they've put out. Major, major thanks to Tim Sweeney, who got me into the sold out show.

Mobius Band
Brooklyn's Mobius Band fall somewhere between electronic-obsessed tweakers and straight-up rockers. Thus, they were a fitting introduction to a night that relied on much on beeps and bloops as guitars. The trio split things up, with Peter Sax and Ben Sterling rotating on instruments and vocal duties. Noam Schatz laid down a fierce beat, as if to argue that humans can do percussion as well as machines. While they didn't quite differentiate themselves, at least the way the headliners do, there was a lot of interesting stuff happening, and a diverse swath of influences.

Genre-hopping romantics that they are, Mobius Band released a six-song EP of covers on Valentine's Day. Here are two of them.

There was a long break between sets, but the gap allowed DJs Tim Sweeney and Tim Goldsworthy (both from DFA) to really flex their vinyl. Their set started out with a strangely familiar beat, which turned out to be an awesome remix of Beirut's "Nantes." There was a lot of stuff I didn't recognize, but they snuck in some Hercules and Love Affair as well, which is always good. Although I saw people in the crowd dancing, or at least nodding, it didn't quite get us pumped as when our headliners finally came on.

MP3: Beirut - Nantes (Fredo & Thang Gameplay Edit)

Cut Copy

With a stack of lights reminiscent of Simian Mobile Disco, it was clear that Cut Copy meant business. But the trio - with an additional guitarist on a few songs - has a certain sparsity to their songs, with some that are built on a simple synth line and singer Dan Whitford's inflected baritone. You wouldn't think that a band that relies only somewhat on guitars could be truly anthemic, but Cut Copy took what they had and made somewhat quite huge.

One thing they had on their side was an eager and willing crowd. There were peaks, as well as valleys, but the energy was excellent throughout the set. Singles such as "Future," "Lights & Music," and "Hearts on Fire" (which is definitely one of my favorite songs of the year) were fantastic. While the flip side is that the rest of the set wasn't quite as effective, I'll definitely take unevenness if it means particularly memorable moments. If you hadn't guessed, I'm not really one for jumping, but I did on a few occasions this night, and it was a fun experience. And in the end, that's all you can ask for.

MP3: Cut Copy - Hearts on Fire
Blog: Cut Copy
MySpace: Cut Copy
Official Site: Cut Copy

The Long Blondes - Bowery Ballroom, May 16th

A short two days later, and I was back at the Bowery. The Long Blondes have been grouped in that whole 60's pop revival, but there's something a bit more angular here - these hooks have sharper edges. I haven't really heard their new one, Couples, but Someone To Drive You Home is a solid debut. Thanks to Sonya for letting me cover the show. As always, I was looking forward to hearing some fresh openers, and I got what I wished for.

The Subjects

The Subjects resembled your general concert stock: a solid opener with guitars and the general amount of rocking and hooks. I can't say too much of note here, but I think the set really picked up about halfway through - just as I was sort of losing interest - and it sustained itself nicely. Singer ? had a curious delivery, and I was reminded vaguely of Danielson, but I could be wrong there. Anyhow, good stuff.

MySpace: The Subjects
Official Site: The Subjects

Drug Rug

Watching Drug Rug open was like walking into a tornado. I wasn't entirely sure what was happening - the band's two singers would harmonize quite nicely, and then the guitars would roar as they flailed back and forth. I did know, however, that I was enjoying myself, despite the often abrasive noises booming from the stage. Alas, the quartet calmed down afterwards, but there was a distinct - if not outright peculiar - slant to their songs. Although they hail from Cambridge, Massachusetts, there was a twangy, almost countrified slant to some songs, albeit with a healthy dose of feedback.

MP3: Drug Rug - Day I Die
MySpace: Drug Rug

The Long Blondes

Despite the non-matching hair, the Longest Blonde by far was frontlady Kate Jackson. She projected charisma, strutting around the stage and enticing the audience. Moreover, she has a commanding voice that isn't at all diminished in its live form. For all the band's aesthetic choices, she comes off as authentic, and above all, a stellar performer. The rest of the band was good - punky guitar licks and punchy drumming - and there were segments of the crowd that were really into it. Although it's a tad less hooky than, say, the Pipettes or Lucky Soul, there's a lot here to enjoy. I also must say that new single "Century" is a whole lot more dream pop than punk, and proves that the Long Blondes are definitely capable of pretty. But in the end, they're very much a rock band, with an attitude to match.

MP3: The Long Blondes - Century
MP3: The Long Blondes - Guilt (Pantha Du Prince Remix)
MySpace: The Long Blondes
Official Site: The Long Blondes

Kidrockers - The Living Room, May 18th

Capping off a marvelous week - or starting a new one, depending on whether you think Sunday is the first or last day in a week - I made it to a new part of town. The Living Room is a small dive in SoHo that hosts a series called Kidrockers. The premise is pretty great: have your typical touring band play for a room full of children and their parents. It's about as far as you can get from typical - and it was lots of fun. Thanks to Brendan, who's been amazing over the last year, for getting me in. Also, check out some great photos from Maryanne.

I had always seen the name Pela floating around, seeing as how they're locals, but hadn't checked them out until now. As they told the audience, they're a diverse quartet, with origins in California, Brooklyn and Europe. But they essentially create American rock, and their short set was enjoyable because it was familiar. Between the music was some rather adorable audience interaction, with a few kids asking questions ("Do you have any brothers?") and some trivia. Apparently they're looking to make Kidrockers a regular show, and I think it would be a very unique one.

Pela plays at the Bowery Ballroom on June 6th. Caithlin De Marrais, formerly of Rainer Maria, opens.

MySpace: Pela
Official Site: Pela

Los Campesinos!

LC! set up as a four-piece, as their full lineup would've been "much too loud." Aside from the subsequent stripped down sound, it was also interesting to see Gareth have to banter as much as he sang. He was pretty shy during their show at the Bowery, but he did an admirable job here. Before "Don't Tell Me To Do The Math(s)," he told the audience not to take the song title seriously, and always listen to their parents and teachers. Later, he asked if anyone knew what instrument he was playing, and someone clarified for the "music journalists" that it was a glockenspiel, not a xylophone. Noted!

Definitely the cutest moment of the show was when one kid asked if the band really couldn't dance, as they sang in "You! Me! Dancing!" Someone's parents are giving him a good education! Incidentally, they closed with that song, and the crowd stood up and shaked shakers, making for a really nice end to a fun, fun event. LC! were pretty much the perfect band for this sort of show - they're almost kids themselves!

MP3: Los Campesinos! - Don't Tell Me To Do The Math(s)
MP3: Los Campesinos! - We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives
MySpace: Los Campesinos!
Official Site: Los Campesinos!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Interview: Portishead

This feature appears in Wireless Bollinger.

It begins as if it never ended. A vocal sample crackles, cryptic as ever, as a man speaks in Portuguese: “Beware of the rule of three. What you give will get back at you. This lesson you must learn. You only get what you deserve.”

So begins Portishead’s Third, released a decade after the band’s last record. And although it starts with a prophecy, in many ways, the album is self-fulfilling. It’s a creative miracle – the result of four years’ work from a group whom everyone thought had disappeared. But the greatest challenge wasn’t outside expectation. Rather, the band’s own goals made it such a difficult album to craft.

“We didn’t want to repeat ourselves, but we didn’t want to not sound like ourselves,” says Geoff Barrow, the band’s mastermind and co-producer. “It was really difficult for us. Each album we’ve done has always progressed. We absolutely wanted to maintain the sound of Portishead, but we didn’t want to fall into the trap of the previous work. We are incredibly tough on ourselves.”

Inner conflict defines Portishead’s centerpiece, singer Beth Gibbons. Her fragile vocals elevate each of their songs to an emotionally devastating pitch, as her own uncertainty seizes the listener. Adrian Utley, an accomplished jazz musician, completes the trio by adding instrumentation and production work.

Barrow says that they remained in close contact during the hiatus. However, repeated attempts at songwriting didn’t lead to enough progression to warrant another album – until now. But while the band’s goals have remained consistent, everything has changed around them.

To appreciate the gulf, one has to look back. Portishad’s debut, Dummy, was a revelation in 1994. Alongside fellow Bristol natives Massive Attack and Tricky, Portishead became renowned as leaders of trip-hop, a genre that combines seductive, nocturnal beats and influences ranging from jazz to dub. As with any tag, the term has its detractors, including Barrow.

“I never had any interest in slow beats,” he says. “What we made as Portishead was just a reaction to our influences. We were listening to Can and Pubic Enemy. Anything specifically styled as trip-hop, I couldn’t get near. In the UK it was a dirty word. In Italy and Spain, it was a name for alternative music, for people who were outside the mainstream. Instead of listening to the Scorpions, they were listening to Massive Attack.”

Ironically, trip-hop invaded coffee shops and commercials, as downtempo became not merely fashionable, but economically successful. Dummy sold over two million copies in Europe, and Portishead put a flourish on their American tour by playing New York’s Roseland Ballroom with a full orchestra, later releasing a live album and DVD to immortalize the show.

Although their live experience remains highly regarded, as evidenced by the numbers who flocked to Coachella and last winter’s All Tomorrows’ Parties festival to see the band, Barrow dislikes it.

“I don’t really feel a connection with the people we’re playing for,” he says. “I don’t get into that. I feel weird about performing on-stage. The idea of people looking at you is just weird. I’m concerned that we don’t progress any further than standard rock and roll. I’d like to find a way to perform in a different kind of way, and get excited about performing in a different environment.”

Last spring, the trio did just that, performing without notice at a small club in their native Bristol, to the amazement of unsuspecting onlookers. They played the classic "Wandering Star" and a song that would eventually become "The Rip.”

Unfortunately, the typical show is not nearly as intimate. “You end up in a stage behind a barrier with security guards,” says Barrow. “It’s like a train that you can’t get off.” Due to the layers of production, it isn’t possible to duplicate Portishead’s studio sound in a live form without adding more musicians and performing in a large space. The downside is more distance from the audience, although it’s safe to say that Portishead is capable of filling up very large venues.

But for a band that resonates with loneliness, mass appeal has its own discontents.

“It turned into a beast that we didn’t like the look of,” says Barrow. Thus, Portishead splintered without breaking up following the wake of their second, self-titled album, in 1998. Barrow started his own label Invada, with Australian and UK branches, and produced other bands, alongside Utley. Meanwhile, Gibbons collaborated with Paul Webb of Talk Talk, releasing a countrified album entitled Out of Season in 2002.

Meanwhile, the music industry swayed dizzyingly. Terrestrial radio maintained a firm grip, until the internet put an end to musical hegemony. Although Portishead has the benefit of re-emerging with the authority of their previous work, the internet has given them an edge. Perhaps more importantly, their up-and-coming peers have the benefit of increased independence.

“We carry on because of the internet. I think it’s good for bands like Black Mountain or Battles, people who are outside the mainstream, middle class rock. We don’t have to sacrifice art to get airplay on some commercial station,” says Barrow.

One alternative the band utilized was, a music networking site. A week before Third’s release, they made the entire album available for streaming. It’s estimated that a quarter of a million people visited to listen in.

“I know the guy that runs it in Germany. I liked the idea that you can discover new music from it,” says Barrow, although, he admits with a laugh, “At the time I wasn’t aware that it was bought by CBS.”

Third was released in April to positive critical reception, and debuted in the top ten in both the UK and US charts. Although Barrow says he doesn’t take success for granted, other peoples’ reactions remain secondary to the band’s personal accomplishment.

“We were content with the concept of finishing the album,” he says. “Anything past that was a bonus. We knew that we could get the album done, but it was really scary at times. I don’t really do anything else. Portishead is where my life is.”

Ultimately, the band will remain an enigma: respected, perhaps even revered, but always from a distance. However, Portishead’s outsider status isn’t just for aesthetics - it’s consistent with their beliefs.

“We don’t work well in the mainstream media,” says Barrow. “They’re so worried about their market. They don’t really want us. They want what they’ve created in their own mind. We generally fight against that. I don’t mind doing press, but when you have to change what you do just to satisfy a major label or TV show or radio station, I’d rather not be part of that.

Still, Portishead has made a mark, not merely on a commercial scale, but on an artistic one. What’s more impressive, they’ve done it twice.


Thanks to Geoff, Sioux and Emily! Portishead will hopefully be in the States next year.

MP3: Portishead - Silence
MP3: Portishead - Roads
MySpace: Portishead
Official Site: Portishead

Friday, May 16, 2008

Interlude: Catchin' Up

Summer has begun, but I have unfinished business. I had a solid three week hiatus from concert-going, but I made it to a bunch of events as the school year winded down. I saw a couple bands for the second time, but also went to some fresh parts of town, which is always an interesting experience. It's probably accurate to say that I learned NYC's geography through concert venues, but as I see it, that's not a bad way to do it.

Eisley - Highline Ballroom, April 23rd

Eisley will always hold a special spot in my musical genome. They were one of the first bands that I really got into, and they've remained compelling even as I've been exposed to more and more music. It's a shame that they haven't really caught on, but it's always a treat to see them. Their set was split between their first two albums, Room Noises and Combinations, but a few oldies really made the night special. "Mr. Pine's" wintery sentiments, "Sun Feet's" bewitching vocals and "Lady of the Wood's" ethereal mood cemented Eisley as truly unmatched when it comes to otherworldly narratives. And even with authoritative guitars and percussion - in contrast with their acoustic set last summer - the DuPree sisters' pure voices floated above the mix, highlighting every hook. Highly recommended.

A few words on the venue itself: Highline Ballroom is on 16th Street, all the way on the west side of town. That makes it bit of a hassle to get to (a la Terminal 5), but the space itself is quite good. There's some seating on the side, but it's mostly a standard general admission venue, and a manageable size. If there's a compelling enough band playing there, it's definitely a solid pick.

MP3: Eisley - Mr. Pine (Live at the Troubadour)
MP3: Eisley - Sun Feet (Live)
MP3: Eisley - Lady of the Wood (Live)
MySpace: Eisley
Official Site: Eisley

The Hold Steady - Webster Hall, May 2nd

Some things don't change. The Hold Steady brought their guitar licks to a strangely under-promoted event - their name wasn't even on the marquee or Bowery's website - but loads of dedicated fans showed up anyhow. My opinions of the band haven't changed much from when I saw them last year, but I think I "get them" a bit more. Craig Finn is still decidedly un-melodic, but his words resonate a little more with me. I can't really related to the alcohol references, but his romanticism - albeit the sweaty, blue collar type - is definitely appealing. And instrumentally, the band was always good, and they rocked hard. "Massive Night" had a fist-pumpin, floor-shaking shout, and while I couldn't quite match my neighbors' enthusiasm, it reminded me how great live music can be. Major bummer at the end of the set, unfortunately, as they didn't come out for an encore, leaving many with unkind things to say about the sponsor.

The Hold Steady play the first Pool Party at McCarren on June 29th. Their new album, Stay Positive, comes out on July 14th.

MP3: The Hold Steady - Stuck Between Stations
MP3: The Hold Steady - Southtown Girls
MySpace: The Hold Steady
Official Site: The Hold Steady

Miller Theater, Columbia University, May 3rd

My friend Amy invited me uptown for this unique event, which featured Julliard musicians fusing classical instruments and electronic effects. The subways weren't cooperating (which is to say, my knowledge of the 1/2/3 line is limited - did you know that they split?), and I arrived pretty late. Still, I managed to catch the second half.

Ryan Francis - "Music For Strings"

An ensemble of classical musicians assembled onstage, which seemed reasonable enough. Although hardly my area of expertise, I expected a pleasant enough experience. Imagine my delight, then, when said musicians put on headphones, and added pretty ambience to their strings. I've always felt that there's a logical intersection between classical and electronic music - Aphex Twin's an example I've used - and this was definitely another case. The group is called the Axiom Ensemble, and it's clear that they know their mathematics.

MySpace: Axiom
Official Site: Music Technology at Julliard

JacobTV - "Lipstick"

Next, Jeremiah Duarte Bills performed "Lipstick" under the guise of JacobTV. I was reminded by the disembodied vocals of Boards of Canada, as Bills used vocal loops - laughter and short articulations - alongside his own flutework. He created a weird, but strangely enticing blend of meaning and melody. Although circular in structure - he repeated only a number of samples - there was a spontaneity in his arrangements that kept things interesting.

MySpace: Jeremiah Duarte Bills

Ron Ford - "Salome Fest"

The Axiom Ensemble concluded things with a piece called "Salome Fast." Naures Atto provided vocals, which is to say, she vocalized disturbingly into a microphone. Distortion, which was almost violent at times, flooded the room. It was off putting, but perhaps a necessary reminder that electronic and classical music isn't always gentle, or accessible. They've been doing this for quite a while, and if you've got a chance, definitely check them out. You should, however, familiarize yourself with the local subway system beforehand.

Halcyon - Dumbo, Brooklyn May 10th

The ride was much smoother downtown to Halcyon, an excellent shop in Dumbo, Brooklyn. (For locals: from Union Square, take the 6 Train to Houston, transfer to the F, get off at York Street.) Although Other Music is definitely closer, Halcyon is a fantastic place, with a ton of vinyl and rarities. The store itself has a really interesting setup, with pseudo rock gardens and, most importantly, a DJ booth. It was a nice day out - and Dumbo is a really nice neighborhood as well - so we set up a tent outside. I can't say I recognized what was spun - Miss Eleanor from Bentwave and Wayne Folk of Metra Records mixed sets - but it was a really cool event. Halcyon has stuff going on every Saturday and Sunday, and it's worth the trip.

And on a vaguely related note, this song is fantastic.

MP3: Orbital - Halcyon +On +On

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Pulsewidth 04: Wavelength Expansion

"Minimal techno starts with a beat, but it doesn’t end there. Say what you will about the genre: it may be repetitive, but there’s nothing quite like it. And if you look past the structure, there are warm, sensual sounds as well as harsh, robotic ones. One of the best ways to discover a variety of is Bentwave, which airs on WNYU 89.1 FM every Monday night, from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. The show is hosted by Miss Eleanor, who has been doing the show for two years and mixing for ten."

Read the rest here.

Miss Eleanor is DJing at Halcyon, 57 Pearl St. in Dumbo, Brooklyn, from 3 - 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 10th. Take the F Train to York Street or the A/C to High Street. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Interview: Death Cab for Cutie

This feature appears in Wireless Bollinger.

Seattle was the birthplace of grunge in the 1990s, spawning a slew of angst-ridden bands who achieved world-wide renown. Half a decade later, another form of emotional catharsis emerged from nearby Bellingham, WA, in the form of the idiosyncratically dubbed Death Cab for Cutie.

Grunge died a sad death, but Death Cab has been one of the Evergreen State’s most successful exports. The group includes singer and guitarist Ben Gibbard, guitarist and producer Chris Walla, bassist Nick Harmer and drummer Jason McGerr.

“It’s never going to be a scene with a capital ‘S’ like it was in the nineties,” says Nick Harmer of his home. However, he notes that it contains “lots of bands, support and community around music, but no cohesive sound.”

A lack of cohesion is one of Death Cab’s trademarks – and that’s a compliment. Each of the band’s first five albums shifted styles, from the lo-fi noise of earlier works to 2003’s spacious Transatlanticism.

The band evolves again on new album Narrow Stairs, their sixth studio LP and second on major label Atlantic. It’s the follow up to Plans, which placed at #4 on the Billboard chart and confirmed the band’s status as commercial darlings, capable of filling up venues as massive as Madison Square Garden.

But even with masses of rabid fans scrutinizing Death Cab’s every move, bassist Harmer describes the creation of Narrow Stairs as relatively pressure-free.

“There’s a lot less worry and doubt involved because we weathered the successful moments of transition. Now we’re in a nice zone,” says Harmer. “We were more apprehensive and anxious about there being a lot of change during Plans. We weren’t sure what the future held.”

In retrospect, it’s been a very successful few years for the band. However, they haven’t changed the creative process, which still centers on frontman Gibbard. He initially wrote and demoed the songs on the album. In August 2007, the quartet sat down with 30 tracks, and talked about them. They recorded from October to January in four studios across the West Coast.

While Plans was pieced together digitally, with instruments recorded separately, Narrow Stairs was organic. Harmer describes the process as “self-imposed limitations,” as the band recorded on 24 track analog tape, while playing together simultaneously.

The first glimpse of the album emerged in the form of the eight-and-a-half-minute single, ‘I Will Possess Your Heart.’ Although a shortened radio edit emerged, the band made a distinct impression with the song, which features a long, bass-driven instrumental. It’s a far cry from previous singles, such as the breezy ‘Sound of Settling’ or ‘Soul Meets Body.’

“We felt that that song was a really nice first peek at what Narrow Stairs was all about as an album,” says Harmer. “It captures the sonics and the spirit of the album for sure. We hoped there would be a mystery.”

It’s a conscious effort to introduce uncertainty for a band that’s become very well known. Death Cab shared the stage with Prince, Portishead and Kraftwerk at this year’s Coachella Festival, and co-headlined a tour with Franz Ferdinand in 2006. Their music has been featured on The O.C. and Six Feet Under.

Chris Walla recently released a solo album, and he has produced artists such as the Decemberists and Tegan and Sara, as well as engineering Death Cab’s own music. Ben Gibbard has become an indie icon in his own right, with much credit owed to the Postal Service, his electro-pop project with Jimmy Tamborello.

Harmer credits side projects as a source of the band’s longevity – it has now existed for over a decade. “Having the freedom to explore other avenues has prevented us from being stagnant,” says Harmer, while also stating that Death Cab is always the main focus.

On their 2005 tour documentary, Sleep Well, Drive Carefully, the band credits another source for their success – the internet – and Harmer echoes the sentiment.

“The internet is an inevitable and important tool to use in the making and marketing of music,” says Harmer. “Artists and labels need to embrace that and not fight it. There’s insecurity and uncertainty if everyone is buying their music online.”

While Harmer admits that he grew up in a different era, where record stores were the norm instead of iTunes, he says he’s willing to accept the changes in the industry. However, there is a limit to his tolerance.

“I’ve drawn the line that if you’re the person that uses the internet to take everything and not give anything back, that sucks,” says Harmer. “If you don’t make an effort to support some way, that’s really sad.”

It’s uncertain what impact Narrow Stairs will have on Death Cab’s career. Preliminary reactions have varied: MTV has called the album “unquestionably the best thing they’ve ever done,” while others have been turned off by the band’s unwieldy first single. In some ways, the band is at a similar point to the industry that they’re a part of.

“The music industry is in a very strange place, no one knows what’s going to happen next,” says Harmer, but he remains certain of one thing: “I think there will always be music and bands that make music. I’m optimistic.”

And why not? He has a lot to be optimistic about.


Death Cab plays McCarren Pool on June 10th.

MP3: Death Cab for Cutie - 405 (Acoustic)
MP3: Death Cab for Cutie - Prove My Hypotheses
MySpace: Death Cab for Cutie
Official Site: Death Cab for Cutie

Monday, May 05, 2008

Exit WSN

Friday's issue of Washington Square News was the last one of the semester, which was my third writing for the paper. For this final issue, we switched things up a bit, with summer concert and album previews and single-sentence album reviews. Here are my contributions:

No Fun Fest

May 16 - $18, May 17 - $20, May 18 - $18, Full Festival - $50
The Knitting Factory

Avant-garde, noise and drone takes over the Knitting Factory from May 16 to 18 during the fifth annual No Fun Fest. Elder noiseman Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth is the weekend's headliner and his set is sure to be peppered with cameo appearances, including the already announced NYU graduate student Nancy Garcia.

The rest of the lineup contains relative unknowns with bands such as Sewer Election and The Cathode Terror Secretion. But the festival is sure to be an ear-opening experience, if they don't rupture first.

Official Site: No Fun Fest
More festival previews: WSN

Radiohead - "The Best Of"
Release Date: June 2

Radiohead's former label EMI is set to release a double disc compilation of some of the band's most well known songs, spanning a range of five albums. From their first guitar-driven hit, "Creep," to the more electronic-based "Idioteque," the selections provide a wide-angle retrospective of the group's development. Unfortunately, since last year's "In Rainbows" was independently released, none of its tracks will appear on the compilation.

And this isn't the only shortcoming about the album's release. Radiohead will not endorse the project in any way, suggesting that financial motivation is the only reason for its existence. Additionally, they believe the release date, set for two days before the band's European summer tour, is a misguided decision.

But for those that have somehow managed to miss the band's highly regarded career, this certainly serves as a respectable introduction.

More album previews: WSN

Santogold - "Santogold"
M.I.A. comparisons are everywhere, but this Brooklyn transplant wails instead of raps, borrowing '80s rock influences without displacing hooks to create a funky, fresh sound.

MP3: Santogold - L.E.S. Artistes
MP3: Santogold - Creator
MySpace: Santogold
More reviews: WSN

YouTube, the Electoral College, and the Politics of Perception

Usually, I try to stay away from politics. There are plenty of online sources for that sort of stuff, and the goal of this site is far, far away from that area. But I can't help but pay attention to what's been going on, and I've written some observations over at NYU Local. Like most young people, I'm inclined to support Barack Obama, but I hope that the article raises issues that go beyond candidate preference:

"In a culture saturated with the marketing of personas – whether it be celebrities of questionable substance, or politicians who’s greatest offense was getting caught – these are variations on the same old story. There’s undeniable appeal in witnessing a fall from grace, whatever the context. In some cases, the disgust is warranted. But the scrutiny on personal sins, real or imagined, could very well divert attention from what truly matters."

It takes a bit to get to "what truly matters" for me, but I stand by the article's conclusion. Read the rest here. This is new territory for me, so do let me know what you think.
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