Monday, April 30, 2007

80's Redux: the Obligatory Music Post

Snaps to Fred Ball.

While people (myself included) have been raving about Mark Ronson (music producer du jour) with his fab new album VERSIONS (fantastic covers of songs popular and obscure - his cover of Britney's TOXIC is hilarious and entertaining) Fred Ball has been quietly producing and creating fantastic songs on the down low.

He's cowrote and produced Bertine Zetlitz's last two albums Rollerskating and My Italian Greyhound (someone I'm sure you have never heard of, but trust me, she's incredibly her homeland of Norway - I'd call her the Norwegian Annie, except...well Annie is the Norwegian Annie), as well as worked with Brett Anderson on his latest solo album (former lead singer of Suede, and the band The Tears). Sadly Brett's album is rather boring. Oh well.

Nevertheless, Fred Ball has his own project to fall back - Pleasure. And what a pleasure it is. Full of 80's inspired snappy hits, it's been on constant rotation on my iPod. Well, that is, if an iPod that is driven by flash memory can truly be "in rotation". The video for his single Out of Love is an 80's inspiration. Double snaps to him for that.

Taking inspiration from Fred Ball's Pleasure project, I've become utter obsessed with the 80's recently. But not in some sort of retro ironic way. Nope. I'm in love with the 80's as they are being used in a completely modern contemporary way. It's an 80's redux in fashion, design, and music, and I for one think it's faboo.

It's true that the 80's revival has been around for the past couple of years. Just take a look at the "electroclash" sound of three years ago, along with the influx of hipster indie bands like Interpol, the Killers, heck, even 2003's biggest indie hit The Postal Service is the 80's all over again. Strangely, everywhere I turn I hear 80's inspired music - and it doesn't seem to be letting up.

That said, I've created the first of what should (hopefully) be a quarterly event. I've made a mix CD. The first of many I hope to offer here on my blog.

Yes, yes, how very 90's of me, I know. If I were really being hip and up-to-date and current, I'd probably be doing a podcast, but podcasts are so last year. I really should be doing vodcast or installing an MP3 flashplayer on this blog or something but I'm not that cutting edge. In fact, I just figured out how to text message about a month ago.

How's that for sad.

That said, here's the ground rules of my Spring 2007 Mix CD. All songs have to be inspired by the sounds of the 80's. BUT they can not be song from the 80's, they have to be current, contemporary acts - hopefully new groundbreaking acts (though there are some exceptions). I also created the stipulation that the bands can't be from the 80's. In other words, I can't fill it full of new Erasure and Pet Shop Boys or the newly reformed OMD (not that I have anything against them...). That would be cheating.

All other mix tape rules apply - ie. No repeating of artists, all songs should segue properly into the next song, and... um I can't think of any other rules. But no repeats. That's the big one.

Of course, I did cheat a little. Fred Ball occurs twice (once as a producer, once as an artist) and one band occurs twice (Junior Boys) - once as the artist proper and once as a remixer. And though most of the songs are from the past year, there one or two songs that probably got released back in 2005, but I didn't discover them until later (I think Kelley Polar is one artist that falls into this category). We're going to ignore the bending of the rules though, because I'm the one that made up the rules in the first place...

So here it is. I tried to pick songs that not only had a strong 80's influence, as well as artists and songs that you probably haven't heard of. If you have, let me know - I'll try harder next time. Here's the track list:

1. Say Hi To Your Mom - Sweet Sweet Heartkiller
2. Small Sins - Stay
3. Kelley Polar - In Time
4. Softlightes - The Microwave Song
5. Stars - Sleep Tonight (Junior Boys mix)
6. Pleasure (ft. Heidrun Bjornsdottir) - Out of Love
7. Vivek Shraya - Chemistry
8. Patrick Wolf - Accident & Emergency
9. Bertine Zetlitz - Never Let You Go
10. Shiny Toy Guns - Turn to Real Life
11. Sarah Nixey - Strangelove
12. Robyn - Robotboy
13. Calvin Harris - Acceptable in the 80's (Radio Edit)
14. The Rapture - Whoo! Alright - Yeah...Uh Huh
15. Clear Static - Make Up Sex
16. Dragonette - Magic Fantasy
17. The Secret Handshake - Summer of '98
18. Young Love - Find a New Way
19. The Bird and the Bee - Fucking Boyfriend
20. The Sounds - Queen of Apology (Fall Out Boy Remix)
21. Paper Moon - Last Goodbye
22. Junior Boys - So This is Goodbye.

Some of these songs are all the rage on the blogsphere - or at least they were a couple of months ago. I swear I found out about The Bird and the Bee's Fucking Boyfriend three months ago, before it was all over the internet - and the same goes for Patrick Wolf who seems to be everwhere nowadays... And yeah, it took me a couple of months to find songs that fit together. Most of the songs are more on the electro-pop synthpop side than on the jangly smiths/housemartins side. I had a few of those songs, but I cut them, as well as the soft pop sound from the 80's (no wannabee Supertramp songs - ie. The Feeling).

Anyway if you want a copy of the CD, post a comment telling me what your favorite 80's band was (see this is just me really being a comment whore) and then drop me an email with your snail mail address. No guarantees, but I'll try to get it out to all who want it.


PS. oh yeah, here's a pic of the cover I designed. I didn't want to go the obvious route with the 80's nagel/new wave look (despite almost all the songs on the CD sounding synthpop new wave-ish). So I took inspiration from old New Order covers (I heart Peter Saville) as well as old 4AD Cocteau Twins covers (I double heart Vaughan Oliver). Enjoy.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I did it AGAIN.

I should have known better. But I didn't.

I fell for it one more time. and I got screwed but good.

So now I know how Charlie Brown getting the football pulled out out from under him by Lucy.

Fox canceled the show DRIVE.

What's that? Another show that FOX canceled that was genius and brilliant and funny and dramatic and exciting and thrilling and that had tons of potential?

What's that? Another show that somehow, I was actually able to coerce AJ into watching with me (he's very stubborn and resistant to new shows) and he liked it, and I liked it. And we were looking forward to the next episode.

And it just got canceled. Four episodes, three airings (the first two episodes were aired back to back on a Sunday) and just two weeks (the third episode aired the next night on a Monday, and the final episode aired yesterday).

Two weeks, and it gets yanked off the air. That's faster than Wonderfalls. Another brilliant show that was canceled abruptly. Wonderfalls, by the way, is probably on my list of top ten five TV shows ever. Perfectly formed, I love it, and alas, it was not to be.


And since only six episodes of Drive were filmed (I think) we won't even have a full 13 episode series to put on DVD. 13 episodes were plotted out, with the race not finishing, but ending at a "logical" place. Resolution which we, the audience, hopefully will find out via leaked scripts.

I can only hope.

But no resolution on screen. No finale to be aired. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

There goes my chance to see Nathan Fillion, Katie Finneran, and Amy Acker back on TV again on a regular basis.

I hate you Fox.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

What was BARNEY'S thinking?

Shame on Barney's marketing dept. I'll have to give my friend ANNE (who works at Barney's marketing department directly under Simon Doonan) a little talking to.

I received in the mail a couple of weeks ago, a promo catalog piece, announcing the opening of Barney's here in San Francisco (finally!).

But what did it say on the front of the envelope?

Good job Barney's.

Alienate the entire city you are opening up a store in, by calling it the dreaded "Frisco" name. You'd think just a little bit of research (like asking anyone who has ever lived in the city of San Francisco) about this nickname that all SF-ers hate would have been an obvious.

I actually learned that you weren't suppose to called San Francisco the "F" word not when I first moved here to SF - something you learn very fast when you move here. No, I had learned about "Frisco " back in grade school. From a children's book - the classic Encyclopedia Brown.

Our trusty protagonist Encyclopedia Brown was able to figure out that the criminal was lying about his alibi by one of the mistakes that he made. It was Encyclopedia Brown's theory that every criminal makes at least ONE mistake when he commits his crime. And Encyclopedia Brown was always there to catch that one mistake.

In this short story, the accused had previously claimed that he lived in San Francisco, and was flying back home, and thus could not have committed the crime. This flight was his alibi (I have since forgotten the actual crime) but he called his "supposed" hometown "Frisco" and Encyclopedia Brown knew that no person who actually lived in SF would refer to it as "Frisco."

See! Even Encyclopedia Brown, a fictional tween detective with above average intelligence knows to not call this city "Frisco."

I have to admit, though I read a lot of Encyclopedia Brown growing up, it was, as usual, the secondary, less popular "solve-it-yourself" mystery books that interested me. It was the knock-off imitation Einstein Anderson that I love to read. Einstein Anderson was an ersatz Encyclopedia Brown, down to the female best friend/foil Margaret (Encyclopedia Brown's best friend was Sally Kimball), and the school bully Pat (Encyclopedia Brown's bully was Bugs Meany). Yet somehow I was drawn to Einstein Anderson because he solved ALL his mysteries through SCIENCE FACTS.

I loved that. Looking back, the premise of Einstein Anderson is even more ridiculous than Encyclopedia Brown, but still, I have fond memories of Einstein Anderson. I wanted to grow up and solve all the crimes that I came across with obscure science facts.

Unfortunately I became a graphic designer. And as a designer I understand the appeal of using the phrase "HELLO FRISCO" with the overlapping "O" even though I hate Hate HATE stacking letters to form a word.

But what do I hate more?

The name "Frisco."

I bet you Einstein Anderson would never had call this fine city I live in FRISCO.