Wassup Rockers


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the music category.

A Mishmosh of Topics.

(1) Javiera Mena‘s new album is just gonna be called Mena, and the new single is “Hasta la verdad.” When Super 45 kindly uploaded the song I lost two days just hitting play over and over. It’s a solid lead single. I absolutely love it though I’m not sure how someone just being introduced to her music would feel. I can only hope they would dig it as much as I do. And I really want there to be enough buzz about her over in the US so that she’ll finally get to tour here.

(2) Lost ended. I liked the finale a lot, but it was incredibly flawed. I held on for a while but I finally cried when Sawyer and Juliet connected.

Yesterday my Token Twee friend and I went to the Vilcek Foundation which has a small exhibit on Lost (until June 5th!). There were a lot of visitors when we went! The props were totally cool, like the Dharma van and Faraday’s notebook and Ben’s fake passport that identifies him as “Dean Moriarty.” I think the majority of the pieces are up for the massive auction that’s coming up. The best part though? Reading the guestbook. I can only hope that whoever keeps the guestbook uploads the messages in it, they were so funny and cute. Most of them, you know, quote lines from the show, or mentioned favorite characters and moments. Like someone actually traced their hand and wrote “NOT PENNY’S BOAT” in it. Others wrote about how much the show had impacted them. As my friend and I laughed our way through the book we relished the catharsis and closure that people must have felt when they wrote these messages.

(3) I joined Twitter and it’s overwhelming but generally really fun getting a glimpse into the virtual lives of people I dig. Turns out they’re just as lame as I am. It also has this theatrical absurdity to it–when Gary Coleman and Dennis Hopper died I was bombarded with over 100 different versions of the same story: “RIP.” Like they were all saying the same thing, but they were all trying to say it differently, so the fact that the substance/sentiment of this message was the same, it all felt like… noise.

Unfortunately I’m guilty of just making noise, too. I was trying to show restraint and just post relevant stuff, but it’s no use. Now I’m only putting only enough thought to it by asking myself, “Will I be embarrassed to have the Library of Congress archive this message for posterity?” If not, I go for it.

If nothing else, below is an amazing rant about Twitter, courtesy of Lee Mack. Actually, the argument that ensues is absolutely hilarious. After hearing it I thought maybe I shouldn’t have given up on So Wrong It’s Right so quickly. Josie Long’s contribution to the argument is great. Not only that, I like Mack so much more than I already did!

(4) On Twitter I had a lot of people on my feed talking about Eurovision, so after an hour of watching these people mumbling about it I was like, “Well, why the fuck not, let’s tune in.” After all, the Eurovision final is like, the most important evening of the year for The Singles Jukebox. Like an idiot, I realized just a few months ago that The Singles Jukebox is still alive and so I’ve been going through every song they’ve covered since they reopened their shop (as long as they get at least a 6.00). It’s been incredible and I’ve found some amazing songs on there, many of which aren’t even the type of music I would have tried on my own. I’m so happy TSJ didn’t die with Stylus and that they’re still so enthusiastic about pop music.

But yeah, Eurovision was gaudy and over-the-top and I really enjoyed the spectacle for the first time, even if I didn’t understand the voting completely. My connection was piss poor, too, but when things got out-of-control tacky I was glad to be missing out, haha. The Norwegians made for really good hosts, and as far as I could tell, the show ran really smoothly. I was rooting for the Romanians, and I actively disliked the eventual winner, Germany. What can you do though? I’m not one to boo and hiss like many did to Russia (I admit I LMAO’d when it happened!); I get that it’s just pop music and I’ll just patiently wait for this German singer to drop into obscurity. At least in the US (I’m pretty sure) she doesn’t even have a chance to penetrate our musical landscape, so I’m not too bothered. I felt bad for Belarus for a long while, but they finally got some points and in the end the UK was last place, which is where their song belonged.

(5) I ended up buying the Jónsi, Jamie Lidell and Janelle Monáe albums from a chain. I still have to sift through these–they’ve all offered up some dense material. I also bought Sandman #8, finally completing my collection.

(6) Simon Amstell, he of former Never Mind the Buzzcocks fame, is coming to NYC. He’ll be performing at UCB, of all places! I don’t even know how he got a visa to perform here, but kudos to him, and I’m looking forward to seeing his stand-up act. Let’s hope it doesn’t suck!

(7) Until yesterday I thought Matthew Barney was British and that he’d been, y’know, a futbolero. My Token Twee friend explained to me that, in fact, he’s some nice, handsome Midwestern boy who used to play American football. I was shocked! And felt real stupid about this confusion.

(8) This vid is off the hook:

On a final note: I am one of the few people who still watched Law & Order, and I’m sad that such a New York institution met such an undignified end. Especially to be substituted by some offshoot in LA? Por favor. Upset about the loss of job opportunities for the local theater community. Sigh.


Catch Up.

First off I just want to say that Gustavo Cerati had a stroke recently and I was pretty freaked out about it, but it seems like the prognosis is cautiously optimistic.  I thought he might die and I was very worried for his family, but hopefully he’ll recover bit by bit without any problem. ¡Fuerza Gustavo, te queremos mucho!

—–
On Thursday I spent a shitload of cash on trinkets to make me marginally happier about my existence. I originally intended to go buy some albums—Jamie Lidell, Jónsi, Janelle Monáe, others whose names don’t start with J—but I happily improvised my day out and found some other great stuff instead.

On Wednesday I went to Housing Works to check out the Black Keys pop-up store they set up in the bookstore.  I got there around 5 but they’d already closed up because the band was gonna play that evening.  So I returned the next day and I bought myself a copy of Brothers.  It’s actually my first Black Keys album!  I didn’t know which of the older ones to choose.  In theory I’ve always liked them, but it’s always been from a respectful distance.  The main reason I bought something from the pop-up store is that a percent of the proceeds went to Housing Works.  It’s also the reason why I was willing to part with my cash money even though the record was “expensive.”  It was almost $30 and that was… a lot for me, way more than I usually pay for vinyl.  Pretty much worth the money though–it’s a double LP plus came with a CD version as well.  Well played, Nonesuch Recs.

The first single, “Tighten Up,” has two videos and they’re both hilarious.  There’s a teaser vid with a puppet (YEAHHH!!!), and an official one with kids at a playground.  The official one is pretty heteronormative and even sexist (depending on how you read it) so I gotta roll my eyes at it a little, but it’s still incredibly funny.  My favorite part is when Dan Auerbach throws that kid on the ground when he sees the pretty lady.  It cuts away from that moment so fast that it’s easy to miss, but when I saw I could not fucking stop laughing.  Belly laughs, too.  So fucking incredible.  The best part is, I actually prefer the teaser video!  I’m totally a puppet sympathizer so for me, a soulful croonin’ dinosaur puppet = heaven.

Some other vids I’ve seen recently: Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own,” which is an all right song but wasn’t that interesting visually except for one of the cute outfits in it, and MIA‘s “Born Free,” which in the past month or so has caused plenty of verbiage committed to its existence.

But how come no one told me that the director of “Born Free,” Romain Gavras, also directed that one Justice’s “Stress”?  Love how “Stress” has not been banned by YouTube the way “Born Free” has been.  Hm…  It seemed like a lot of the commentary was on how this video fits into MIA’s oeuvre and for me that’s slightly more difficult to consider than when I think of how “Born Free” and “Stress” complement each other.  The two videos are pretty frightening visions of authority and disobedience and violence and power—and these visions are particularly male and adolescent.  Oof.  Seriously gnarly.

Much lighter in tone is the vid for “Por la ventana,” the new track by Gepe which you can see below.  It’s pretty simple and it’s not conceptually innovative, but the execution is committed and effective, and everyone seems to be having fun.  Very colorful, too.  Clearly demonstrating that I’m a lightweight for preferring this over Romain Gavras’s stuff, but I’m not bothered.  Gepe’s song is off the hook!  I can’t wait for his new album, Audiovisión, to come out.  I’ve been really keen on the direction his music has taken in the past year or so.

Shit I got seriously sidetracked…  Anyway, after I stopped by Housing Works, I found myself at East Village Books.  I stayed for like an hour, mainly because they were playing this Carter Family album.  I hummed along to most of it while I browsed.  I got a copy of Eunoia!  Really clean condition, too.  I’m very happy about it.  I walked out as the Carters wailed away on “Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone?”

I also swung by Forbidden Planet, got me Brief Lives (that’s volume 7 of Sandman) and Optic Nerve #8, which means I have own every issue of ON now.  I still need one more Sandman though.  I’m working on it.

In other news, I finally got In the Loop and Breaking Bad season 2 from the library.  I was very excited about the former as I recently read the script for it and I just loved it.  So it was nutty watching it and seeing how different it was from what I’d imagined, from the sets to the setup of shots to the line delivery.  I am surprised that the In the Loop DVD is seriously lacking in features.  Mainly, there’s no commentary track at all; I seriously would have loved to hear about the story, the production and how it fits in with The Thick of It, etc.  Oh well.  The movie’s still pretty awesome, really funny.

Breaking Bad… well, I got it last month, only got through the first 10 eps, so I queued myself up all over again (I know!) and now that I got the DVD I can finished the damn season.  And believe me, it seriously makes you go “DAMN!”  Very stressed out from it, but in a good way.  Trying to decide whether to catch up online before the end of season 3.  It’s gonna take forever for the DVD to come out.  I guess I better decide soon since the finale’s only a few episodes away, but I don’t know how much BB I can take without my head exploding from the tension.

I’ve also been checking out Justified, which is quite breezy in comparison.  I’m very charmed by Timothy Oliphant (read: he’s hot) and by all the twangy twanginess coming out of everyone’s dialogue.  I don’t know that I’d call it superb, but I like it enough to stick with it.  It’s not lacking in poignancy either, which makes it so much easier to like.

A few weeks ago I got the Spaced DVD from the library, too.  I didn’t get through all the commentaries before it was due, which sucks, but in some of them Simon Pegg mentioned he used to do stand up.  I had to look it up, and thank god some kind soul (his mom??  LMAO) uploaded this:

Fucking adorable.  The routine isn’t bad, actually, it’s just that the material is fairly traditional.  Good stage presence though, and I loved how the last bit ended—the crowd response is so awful I totally cracked up.

Something else that’s totally been cracking me up: Parks and Recreation.  I caught up to the final episodes of the season and they were fucking pitch perfect.  I enjoyed this season tremendously and obviously it’s because the writing has been off the hook and the ensemble totally delivers on it!  Paul Schneider and Rashida Jones were a bit misused but for the most part the characters grew and I found plenty to love about them.  Except Jerry.  Jerry sucks.  ;)

The really amazing thing is that even though it’s incredibly funny, to the point where I’m guffawing and gasping for air, I find myself really moved by some of the developments.  It’s weird.  I don’t want to let myself get taken in by a fucking sitcom and yet the show is so good at what it does that, when the grumptastic 20-year-old April failed to get into a bar and her potential date with the ever-goofy Andy came to a premature end, I got a bit teary-eyed.  Just writing about it doesn’t even begin to describe why I got emotional—the expressions on their faces killed me…  And these are supporting players!  But they still bring it.  Shit, I’d tell y’all to watch the fucking show but HEY because of its weak ratings it’s become a mid-season replacement, so it might be a while before we see all these lovely people on TV again.  Sigh.  Hope y’all buy the DVD when it comes out!

…Can’t believe I wrote all this nonsense when I should be studying for a final. Shit.


Avión al Sur.

I went on a short trip to Lima, Perú. Got some cool stuff:

El rey siempre está por encima del pueblo by Daniel Alarcón.
Salon de belleza and Damas chinas by Mario Bellatin (bound in one volume).
Don Quijote, the Ediciones Cátedra version that has books I and II in separate volumes.
Paradiso by José Lizama Lima.
Un lugar llamado Oreja de Perro by Iván Thays.
Vida de Don Quijote y Sancho by Miguel de Unamuno.

I also bought my brother a copy of El diario de el Chavo del Ocho, by Roberto Gómez Bolaños. We used to have a copy when I was a kid, but when we moved to the US I took it to school one day to show my classmates and by the end of the day the book had fucking disappeared! Goddamnit. I still feel bad about it. I’m sure you find it quite sad that I’ve been feeling guilty about this for 14 years, especially since it wasn’t my fault that some dickwad decided to steal it.

I failed to buy plenty of stuff. First, I wanted to get the current Etiqueta Negra. I finally saw a copy at the airport on my way home, but I didn’t even stop to look at it because I thought I was running out of time. I also wanted some Ortega y Gasset, Dorfman and Mattelart, some Luisa Valenzuela… I also saw a copy of Apuntes Autistas and I wish I’d grabbed that as well. Bah!

I also bought some CDs:

Jessico by Babasónicos.
Solo ellos… by Los Destellos (they have a song called “Elizabeth”!).
Hu Hu Hu by Natalia Lafourcade.
El ritmo de Los Shain’s by Los Shain’s. Never heard of them but I wanted to know more about Peruvian music, plus they looked totally right on on the cover, haha.
Reptilectric by Zoé.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun and I’d love to return!


No Nostalgia Here.

Hm, I haven’t been to Super 45 in a while so I’m a week late on this post on the worst songs of the 90s. It’s a pretty interesting glimpse into what sort of stuff was big in Chile.

I was quite offended that they included “I Will Always Love You” in the list; I wish they’d included notes on the songs and justified why they were included on the list. Like if they’d said “Whitney butchers the song, ¡que viva Dolly!” I’d be willing to accept the song’s inclusion on this list. But the song itself? Beautiful. Dolly Parton is a brilliant songwriter-amusement park owner-plastic surgery enthusiast, okay?

The other thing that surprised me was the lack of Laura Pausini. As a little girl I fucking adored Laura Pausini but let’s face it, she’s made some incredible mediocrities and she’s a huge star in Latin America, which I would expect to mean she’s a pretty obvious target. Totally should have been on the list. Then again, Celine Dion is on that list, and for some reason I mentally put them in the same category.


Favorite Songs of 2009.

Or, the year I spent too much time watching MTV Tres.  Way to kiss off the decade, right?  Heh…

1) Lady Gaga – Paparazzi

2) Phoenix – 1901

3) Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind

4) Annie – Songs Remind Me of You

5) Bomba Estéreo – Fuego

Their recorded stuff doesn’t compare to the live shit, so initially I was disappointed by Blow Up.  But after a few spins I couldn’t stop listening… They did a MBE set just a while back, you can listen/watch here. I didn’t know how they would handle the interview portion because it’s very clear that they don’t know English well, but Simón handled it deftly.

6) Sean Kingston – Fire Burning

7) Bat For Lashes – Daniel

8) Alexis & Fido – Ojos que no ven

9) Daddy Yankee ft. Jowell & Randy – ¿Qué tengo que hacer? (Remix)

Which I’ve already mentioned like a million times, IDGAF!

10) Aventura – Su veneno

11) Gepe – Las piedras

Unfortunately, I find this Gepe video incredibly goofy. The song is really good though. His label, Quemasucabeza, has the Las piedras EP for free here, if you wanna hear a more polished version.

Some others, in no order:

Plastilina MoshPervert Pop Song
Gustavo CeratiDéjà vu
The GossipHeavy Cross
ShakiraLo hecho está hecho
Los Amigos InvisiblesMentiras


What Is Wrong With Me?

I caved and finally started crying over not owning this fucking box set that Zoé just released. I hate it, I hate feeling so strongly about a piece of fucking pop music. I feel like such a slave to it. I know I should want more important things, like world peace or a cure to cancer. No, instead I’m cranky and frustrated over some vinyl records. I don’t even care how expensive it is, I will pay! I just want a fucking copy… I can’t believe how distressed I am over this. I mean, I was just staring at that Twitter picture, and I just started shaking.

I need sleep.


Broken Commandments.

Shakira’s vid for “Lo hecho está hecho,” watch it here while it’s still embeddable, hehe.

This is a recent post from the new Idolator.

Like many, I’ve been pretty irked by the recent change of editorship on Idolator. One of the cool things about the site was its seriously in-depth look at the music industry, and much of the fun for me was reading about all the different ways the music industry has been imploding this past decade. Another thing that I loved about their departing editor, Maura, was that she was so pro-Sugababes and pro-Amerie. I’m a huge fan of both, and knowing that there was a high-profile ally out there made me feel less alone in digging them.

The posts so far have been pretty ho-hum, and I’m still trying to figure out whether the Idolator n00bs are just trying to mark their territory and settling in, or if this is just the way things are gonna be. I see that the topics of choice have been relatively similar–lots of top 40 shit, including a lot of American Idol stuff. Which would be fine, but…

Please refer to the aforementioned link. That’s not analysis. Saying, “I don’t really dig Shakira’s hair like this, I like it more like Taylor Swift’s pretty straight white girl hair,” is so superficial… Never mind that as a longtime Shakira fan, I’m very very touchy about her hair. I mean seriously, there’s no reason I should be so consumed and busy scrutinizing a stranger’s hair, but there you go, here’s my confession: the blondeness? Listen, to me, the blond hair is still a bad dream. Okay? Like, I’m still waiting for the dark hair to come back with a vengeance. I’m getting stressed out right this second just by posting about it. You wouldn’t believe how many people I’ve talked to who see this light mane as a symbol of selling out, of conforming to American beauty standards, of of of (I’m just gonna say it!!) good hair. Not that Shakira’s hair is naturally kinky, but it sure as hell ain’t that light, and it’s curly, you know? I know that pop stars have to change constantly, but the controversy that her blond hair has brought through the years distresses me to no end! I’m so conflicted about it, about how it looks, what it means, why I should give a damn…

So I’m sorry, Idolator blogger lady, I’m sorry Shakira doesn’t look like a complete güera in the Letterman performance. FYI, it’s not even the first time she’s dread-ed her hair (and that link is a more recent example, too).

Jesus, I just reread my post. Why am I so angry? I need to sleep and calm down and stop trynna start shit. It’s not like the new blogger was implying anything in terms of race… or was she? Ack! Fuck it, I don’t ever wanna talk about Shakira’s hair ever again.


WFMU Record Fair 2009.

I went to the record fair today, a nice closing punctuation mark to CMJ.  Not that I did anything CMJ-related this year, whereas I seriously waited all year long to go to the fair today.  Thinking I’d learned my lesson last year, this time I decided to budget myself and also made a mental list of things I wanted: God Is For Real, Man, Del Shannon and Roy Orbison, and maybe some Carter Family shit.

So how did I end up dropping $40 on just two records?  Obviously it’s not that much, but I was really hoping to find a shitload of beat up $5 records, so an average of $20 per record is a little much.  I just entered the place and was immediately overwhelmed, as usual.  After sweeping up and down the aisles, I decided there were definitely some things I wanted (and could afford, cos God knows how much shit I really really wanted and couldn’t pay for it).

I specifically want to bitch about this Ska Au Go Go album that I wanted.  I saw it, noted in my mind to come back to it, and kept looking for other cool shit.  (Leonard Nimoy reading HG Wells, anyone?)  Anyway, when I finally finished making my round of all the exhibitors about 20 minutes later, I went back to the spot and looked all through the crate and… it wasn’t there!  No–it was in the hands of some guy standing right next to me.  So I kinda waited a couple of minutes to see if he was gonna let go of the record so I could swoop in on that shit.  Alas, he held on to the LP pretty tightly.  Damn you, dude!!  Heh, just kidding.  I understand how these things go: you snooze, you lose.  That’s okay, I was mostly intrigued that there was a track called “I Should Have Known Better.”  Well I just downloaded that shit, and indeed, it’s a cover of the Beatles song.  Yeah, it’s pretty sweet.  Sigh, if only that record was in my hands…

Well, the more expensive one is a double LP, which inconveniently doesn’t even come in a gatefold sleeve.  It’s just a greatest hits called A Arte de Tim Maia.  It’s hilarious, almost every song sounds fine except for “Não quero dinheiro,” which skips a bit.  I imagine that whoever owned the record first played the shit out of that song, and who am I to blame them?  My dad looked at the record and pointed out that title, to which I asserted, “THAT’S THE BEST SONG IN THE ENTIRE THING!!” even though this statement might not be true.  Anyway, I felt kinda wack about having paid “so much” for the record when I’d gone into the Metropolitan Pavilion looking for deals, but by the time I got to side B of the second LP, I was just crying and crying from the thrill and the honor of getting to hear this seriously beautiful music. In conclusion, it was totally worth the money and I’m very happy with this find, even if it’s a minor Best Of.

The less expensive (but still kinda costly) record is a compilation of Chilean jazz from the first half of the 20th century.  I haven’t listened to it and I’m kind of scared to.  The seller had several records that seriously caught my eye, including a nice copy of a Joe Cuba Sextet record that cost less than the Chilean jazz one, but I wondered, “Which album is more likely to be here next year?”  I understood that Chilean jazz ain’t as in demand over here as, say, bugalú, but at the same time it’s more rare to see a record of Chilean music at all, so I decided to go with it.  Plus, the Chilean record is sealed!  Do I dare open it?  Of course!  I can’t wait to see what treasures it contains.

I don’t know that my experience was wild as previous years–for some reason the whole affair seemed a bit more muted today, did I imagine it–but I still had a lot of fun.  The best genres to check out were the kids’ albums.  My friend and I found a Topo Gigio record!!  He was da bomb.

I’ve been all right, just listening to a lot of this and that.  One of my classmates burned me a copy of The Saturdays’ Chasing Lights, which is surprisingly excellent.  So many of the songs could have been major singles, really!  I’m smarting from the Sugababes breakup fiasco, so at least it’s nice to see that there’s a new generation of pop tarts bringing cute escapist ditties to the masses.  They don’t write their own songs, but they do sing live!

Also, I’ve gone back to obsessing over Zoé.  Mostly because I randomly developed a crush on Sergio, their guitarist?  Mostly because I get the feeling that he’s one of those betas who could really be an alpha if he wanted, but he can’t be bothered because he already knows he’s fucking awesome and doesn’t need that validation?  Regardless, I’ve been going through their old stuff and I’m loving it.  I found an episode of Verdad y Fama on YouTube featuring the band and they pretty much verify that the band members, especially León, are pretty much fried out of their minds, not that it was too hard to tell.

Dude, watch that video!  It’s not even their best song, but look at the way people are singing along.  It’s a huge fucking crowd and they all know all the fucking words.  It’s amazing.  I love this band so much, I wish they’d come to NYC more often.

I’m finally looking forward to stuff, too, after a long funk of not caring about what was next.  First, I can’t wait for the new Shakira, which seems like it’s becoming an unmarketable dud for her label.  I can’t believe “She Wolf” hasn’t really taken off, “Loba” is doing pretty well on MTV Tr3s and I personally fucking love that song. Awooooo…!!  The last English album of hers I bought was Laundry Service, which in hindsight I find a bit blah, but this single has me really excited and I’m totally gonna buy the new album.  I also found out that Gustavo Cerati, god bless his Jewfro’d self, just released a new album and I can’t wait to track it down and listen to it.  Not only that, Javiera Mena is finally gonna release her second full-length (about time!!) and apparently she did a song with Jens Lekman!  Hope it turns out well.  She’s also busy at the moment opening for Kings of Convenience, who also have a new album out and I’m trying to decide whether I want to hear it.  My undying crush on Erlend tells me to do it, but half of the time I find their shit beautiful and the other half I find it boring.

Y’know what I mean?


Calle 13, Bomba Estéreo + Eric Bobo @ Central Park SummerStage.

Yesterday I went to SummerStage to see Calle 13. It wasn’t as crazy as I expected in terms of the crowd. Maybe it’s because they played for free just a few years ago, but I feel like it took a while for the place to be packed with people. When I got there the doors weren’t even open, and I didn’t want to bum around for two hours in the sun, so I actually left the park and cooled off in a bookstore for a while.

When I returned, although the venue wasn’t packed, it was crowded enough that I didn’t want to push my way to the front. I decided to watch just a couple of yards away from the bleacher seats, right behind a barricade. This means I really couldn’t see anyone on stage, really.

The first act was Eric Bobo, son of Willie Bobo. He played percussion along with a DJ. It was okay. The DJ played pretty much all the famous old school breakbeats ever, except no one declared that there was no problem they couldn’t fix since they could do it in the mix. Eric Bobo performed well, but I thought the set was better suited for a club.

Bomba Estéreo fared better than Bobo, for a number of reasons. This is a band, so that there was more happening on stage. The music itself was better, too, more hooky, with more momentum, plus the arrangements were a lot more dynamic. Eric Bobo was limited to his percussion, and although he pulled out all his tricks, at the end of the day, I feel that it didn’t compare.

Bomba Estéreo played a similar set to the one at the Bowery, full of energy and great stage presence. They also go to try some more songs, since the Bowery set was pretty short. I wasn’t sure how well they’d sound in an outside, daytime show, but they were excellent again. I didn’t know how well the rest of the audience would respond, since I myself had no clue who they were just five days ago and I imagined most of the crowd was the same. But people really took to them. The band got the crowd’s attention and the crowd obliged them with plenty of attention, and I found that really impressive. Hope they make it big, whatever “big” means nowadays.

When Calle 13 took the stage, the audience was plenty hyped up. It was pretty overwhelming. I just don’t have enough people to talk to about this kind of music. Not in real life, anyway. It gets lonely. So it was incredible to see thousands of people roaring approvingly at the band. I was feeling the triskaidekaphilia, y’all, haha.

That’s what was really great, too, there was a huge band. Rhythm section, horns, the works. It made me realize how well the music lends itself to a live setting. The sounds just took over and my body could only respond by dancing. It was amazing.

Residente was pretty awesome, really funny and really appreciative of the audience, though with mad attitude, too. That’s one thing I gotta give him, I think his rhymes are kinda lame sometimes, but he’s a great performer. I couldn’t really see Visitante though at one point I saw him playing the accordion and I was just filled with glee. I’m sure René contributes, but I still consider the music to be Eduardo’s domain, and I’m constantly amazed by some of the sounds with which he comes up. (Sorry for switching in their real names; for some reason I don’t think of them by their stage names!)

Not gonna lie, one of the biggest thrills for me was hearing their little sister Ileana singing live, even if she looked like a pulguita from where I was standing. I just think she’s incredibly talented. Are you pumped for her solo stuff? Cos I am. I mean, I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that “Hormiga Brava” is my favorite Calle 13 song, but I didn’t expect them to play it because it was never a single or anything. They went through all their hits and I loved every moment. But then they DID play “Hormiga Brava” and I almost fainted from how beautiful it was. I felt like they were playing it just for me, you know? Sigh.

They finished the set with “Atrévete-te-te” and everyone went batshit crazy and the band left so everyone was clamoring “¡Otra! ¡Otra!” and obviously we were all being silly because the concert was planned so that there would be enough time for an encore but we all got into shouting for them to come back anyway and when they did we was all cheering so loud and then, and then, and then! I could kinda see them all lining up in a row together, and “Thriller” started playing and they started doing the zombie dance and everyone was like, “AHHH!!!!!” cos it was awesomesauce. They did play an encore (“Electro movimiento,” yeah!) but that MJ mini-tribute pretty much took the cake.

I think I can die a little bit happier now.


Aubele, Niña Dioz, Bomba Estéreo, RH+ y la Lafourcade @ Bowery Ballroom, 7/9.

Qué onda, I have to keep this short. Long story, but obviously don’t have a chance to do my usual let’s-make-the-post-as-long-as-possible thing.

Okay, last night I went to the Bowery for the LAMC showcase, mostly to see the most lovely Natalia Lafourcade. I actually sat at a table in the upstairs section for a bit, but I learned my lesson: the best way to go is to be out on the floor. I had a pretty sweet time. There were a lot of acts so here are a few words about each of them.

First off was Federico Aubele, hailing from Argentina, and I was surprised because I thought he had a bigger following. Unlike all the other artists (aside from Natalia) he was the only one with whom I was familiar. I hadn’t been impressed by the stuff I’d heard before, but I was pleasantly surprised by his brief set. I’m definitely going to revisit his recorded stuff.

Second was Monterrey’s Niña Dioz, and I swear to god, I was tickled by her presence. I just didn’t expect her and her sound… she mostly reminded me of Lady Sovereign, mostly cos she was tiny, too. Wow, I was just shocked that she was rapping for real, but I still couldn’t help that just last year (it was just last year, right??) La Mala Rodríguez was kicking LAMC ass. Niña Dioz was an oddity, but after two songs I got over it.

Next was Bomba Estéreo, from Colombia. By this point I saw the floor filling up and I decided to join in because I wanted to be right up front for Natalia. Bomba Estéreo were EXCELLENT. I knew nothing about them but the lead singer girl just comes out and she’s like, “¡¡CUUUUUMBIAAAAA!!” And you can imagine what came next. Or not! She wasn’t joking about their sound as “psychedelic cumbia.” The only thing that sucked is that they got too into their music, so that they would just draw out the psychedelic sounds to the point that it tested my patience and also felt kinda masturbatory in their part. Obviously it would have been fine if they’d been headlining but c’mon, son! If their music hadn’t rocked and if they hadn’t had such a punkass attitude I would have jumped on stage and punched them into silence.

I’m pretty sure Hector Buitrago was there!!! I love him. It’s too bad I missed him tonight at Celebrate Brooklyn. I saw him pop up at the venue when Bomba Estéreo came on.

After that was Chile’s RH+, who were okay. That’s all. Of all the musicians, I think they were the oldest, either late 20s or early 30s. (At least that was my perception.) I don’t know, man. I just couldn’t believe they came all the way from Chile when there are plenty of bands with their sound right here in the city. Underwhelming, though confident and well-rehearsed.

AND THEN: Natalia. And two band members, one who was on synth and xylophone and backup vocals, and also a drummer. Natalia was so beautiful and er, Lilliputian. Como una muñeca de porcelana, pero no como las extrañas que me dan heebie-jeebies. She was so full of joy, every statement she made was pretty much followed with a giggle. Her thank yous were so sincere and she genuinely seemed to want everyone to just love her new material.

I think bands like Grizzly Bear would just seethe with jealousy if they heard her music. They would go into a small room and weep to themselves, “Why didn’t I think of that melody first??” Her music is a refreshing pop delight, and I think I left the venue with cavities she was so damn sweet. I can’t fucking wait to hear the new album and I hope she comes back to the city real soon. The music was so uplifting.

I just want to say that her bandmates were right on. It wasn’t just that they were competent and focused in doing a good job, or that they were happy to be there. It was more like, they were so ecstatic to be with Natalia and when she played a couple of songs alone, they would bop their heads and mouth along to the lyrics–they clearly LOVE the new songs. It was so great. Especially the drummer, I loved him so much! He was this flaco who looked like a mouse and you could tell that he’s one of those dudes who drums because he can’t mofuckin’ sit still. Even during the songs when he wasn’t drumming his ass off, he was just swaying along happily.

After their set was one more artist, León Polar. Unfortunately, it was already past 1 am by the time Natalia finished, so I couldn’t stay. (In fact, I got home at around 2:40.) As Natalia and her buds cleared their way, I waved to her drummer “¡OYE!” and when he noticed me I asked, “¿Me puedes dar el setlist?” He was kind enough to do so, and even though I said gracias, I kinda didn’t get to say it loudly enough, and there were other concertgoers behind me clamoring for a setlist, too, so he was distracted and didn’t hear me. I wish I’d had a chance to ask him his name, so I could thank him appropriately. Oh wells.

I don’t have a scanner or whatever unfortch, but here is what the setlist says:

Bowery Ballroom
Natalia L

Cursis Melodías
Ella es Bonita
No Viniste
Hu Hu Hu
Azul
-o-
Casa

I will say, however, I don’t think they followed the order quite as it was. They definitely did NOT play “Casa,” probably because they were running out of time and they were too nice to be like, “I don’t care, I’ma do what I want!” Ah well. La próxima vez, right?

BTW! I thought I saw Jon Pareles at the show, but it was from a distance so I wasn’t sure. Turns out I was right! Do I get points for being geeky enough to recognize him? No? Boo.

Jesus, my post still turned out in epic length. I’m so sorry.


I’m Not Ready to Give Up.

Um, it’s Independence Day and I’m home. My parents are already asleep. They both worked today. I have my window open and I can hear people in a nearby house partying. I’m six floors up, but it’s impressive how well I can hear them. If I looked out I could probably see them, even. Well, in recent days I’ve been bumming around reading blogs and there’s been a lot of (fabricated) buzz about how reggaetón is dead. I don’t know about that. The people partying were just blasting “Lo que pasó pasó,” and I found myself singing along to it–and hilariously enough, I could hear people trying to shout along to Daddy Yankee. I could even hear them tripping along to the lyrics, since Daddy Yankee has that rat-tat-tat delivery style. Sure, it’s an older song, but the enthusiasm for the track is still there.

Ooh, they’re listening to a remix of “Qué tengo que hacer” now.

Anyway, I wouldn’t be so worried about reggaetón being dead. I don’t get where this is coming from, or why we’re worrying so much about it agora. It’s true that the sound of reggaetón has changed, it’s even more club ready, yeah? More synth-happy, less reliant on the dembow beat, and so on. But it’s like, don’t you want your favorite genres to grow and develop? I sure as hell don’t want my favorite musicians to get lazy and for their music to become stagnant. Like, I can’t wait to see 10 years from now how much the genre has changed. This is a great time for reggaetón: the novelty is over for the masses, but that is just invitation for innovation, don’t you think?

I think the weird thing, too, is that calling a music genre “dead” just invites nostalgia. See, the problem with nostalgia is that a set of people will grab onto this genre and proclaim that it can only sound “pure” if musicians stick to a set of rules. If people make reggaetón-by-the-numbers (FruityLoops, anyone?), it barely leaves room for creativity. And maybe less brave musicians will settle for this, probably at the suggestion of their label peeps or whatever, but you know that only the ones who expand on the sound will really shine.

Anyway, I guess this is my quite unfortunate semi-response to the following folks: W&W, Unfashionably Late, Marisol LeBrón, Raquel Rivera, and Racialicious. Clearly these posts dwell on all sorts of aspects in regard to the demise of reggaetón, and I haven’t really responded adequately to any of them in any sort of timely manner (then again, no one asked me to). But I do recommend that y’all read these posts if you haven’t already. Really thought-provoking, and I feel like they bring up questions relevant to all genres of popular music, not just reggaetón.

Aw, the music is being drowned out by all the (illegal) firecrackers. Okay, off to my continued non-celebration of my nation. Hope y’all have a good weekend.


What’s Left to Say?

So odd, just a few days ago, I was checking out Ta-Nehisi Coates‘s (excellent) blog, where he wrote some posts on Michael Jackson. Inspired, I went on a YouTube binge checking out his old videos.

The sad thing about hearing of Michael Jackson’s death is that not even a minute after finding out, all I want to do is make a shitload of jokes about it. I mean, it’s been so long since anyone has taken him seriously, you know? So it’s kind of hard to remind myself that here was this really influential, talented musician under all the weirdness. I’m trying my hardest not to make fun of him though, because frankly, he had a huge impact in popular culture. He made some fine music.

He was very successful and became very very wealthy, yes, but he didn’t have the easiest life. So all I hope is that he is at peace. Hope his kids are okay, too. Ugh, I’m not looking forward to the tabloids going crazy over this.

Shit, Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett in one fucking day, this is so crazy. I know you’re going to tell me people are dying every minute, but you’ll have to excuse me, my mind is totally blown right now.


Let’s Leave the Past Behind.

Since we got cable in our TV my dad has flip-flopped several times on which programming package we want, though I think we’ve finally settled on a Spanish-language + fútbol dealio. This means that I got MTV, MTV2 AND VH1 taken away, but now I have MTVTres and mun2, which are pretty much identical in their content. I’m pretty ecstatic about it. I didn’t realize how much English-language material was included in these channels, but I like that I can get both the “best” of US American pop while getting the “best” of Spanish-language pop.

Anyway, back in those final days of having MTV (so long ago!) the video I used to wait for was Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face,” but these days I wait around a lot more for Daddy Yankee’s “¿Qué tengo que hacer?” The remix for the song with Jowell & Randy has been making the rounds, and the results are pretty spectacular.

I have a love/hate thing for Daddy Yankee, but right now it’s more on the love side of the spectrum. I like that his best wasn’t “Gasolina,” and that he’s kept things interesting.

Daddy Yankee’s not the only one to keep releasing quality shit. Don Omar has been a lot more ambitious in his latest incarnation as some sort of futuristic electro-freak, which kinda makes me wanna LOL but mostly makes me want to track him down so I can shake hands with him for having the balls to change his image so drastically. But the more things change, the more they remain the same! What he’s doing now really suits his over-the-top, melodramatic persona. His current single is called “Virtual Diva,” and has an awesome hook. “¡Chequea como se menea!” he exclaims in his usual booming voice. I’d definitely put it in the running for Song of the Summer. You can catch the ridiculous video ici.

My favorite part is at the end, when he leaves some final remarks:

¡Sencillo! Estamos trabajando encima de sus expectativas… de eso se trata. Algunos años luz antes que ustedes. Siempre voy a vivir ahí–no miren pa’ mi galaxia.

Loose translation: “It’s simple! We’re working beyond your expectations… that’s what it’s all about. Some light years ahead of you. I’ll always live there–don’t check out my galaxy.” Haha. Oh my god, Don Omar is da bomb.


One Last Trip.

Last night I decided to go shopping at the Virgin since it’s closing. This means I missed So You Think You Can Dance, so I spent the last few hours tracking down the performances (many props to Rickey!) and although there were a couple of clunkers, I’m really excited about this group of dancers. I’d give you a breakdown of my favorite dancers but at this point I feel like my judgment is clouded by all the handsome dudes. Seriously, the whole group of dancers is stunning. By the way, there’s a reason why I had to go hunting for the performance clips: Fox doesn’t put them on the show’s site. Travesty! You’d think that Fox would be kind enough to post the stupid show on their site, but apparently they can’t be bothered. Good move, you morons!

Anyway, the Virgin had hit the 70% off mark last night, and shockingly enough they’d moved enough units to have the lower level closed off! I don’t think I’ll go back again before Sunday, which is its final day. So here is a list of the things I bought in my final trip to the Virgin at Union Square:

Crash, JG Ballard
– The Jim DeRogatis bio of the Flaming Lips
Doubt, John Patrick Shanley
A History of Violence, David Cronenberg
A Scanner Darkly, Richard Linklater
– That Arctic Monkeys DVD with that video for the one song of theirs I really dig and that features Stephen Graham
Primitive Love, Miami Sound Machine
– A Talk Talk Best Of
– A Stray Cats Best Of
Lotofire, Ely Guerra
Los de atrás vienen conmigo, Calle 13
Te quiero…, Los Temerarios
Citizen Boris, Golem
Vôo de coração, Ritchie

I need to explain my purchases. First, they’re pretty much down to shit now! There really isn’t a lot of great stuff so I do feel very happy and lucky to have gotten what I got. Seriously, even all the Spanish language Pop/Rock section is pretty much depleted. Second, the fact that everything is 70% off meant that I was willing to take more of a chance. The last three items listed, well, I’ve never listened to any of their stuff, but I thought I’d be adventurous. I’m especially curious about that Ritchie guy, who looks pretty goofy on the album cover–muito 80s, LOL. It’s too bad that I have a tendency to go for flashy and tacky, but I just couldn’t say no!!

Actually, there were definitely some items to which I said no, for various reasons. Sigh. They included a busted copy of an Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas album, as well as a Gram Parsons bio and Queens Reigns Supreme. Also, there was a Green Day bio I was eyeing… Yes, yes, my taste in music books is even odder than my regular taste in music. Now shut up about it.

I do feel ambivalent about this specific store closing, because as far as megastores went, its stock wasn’t so bad. Obviously it’s because the crowd around Union Square skews younger and more “indie,” so there was always a relatively decent vinyl section and stuff. (The Tower at Lincoln Center, in comparison, tended to have a more extensive classical/Broadway section.) I hope that a store like this closing means that the smaller, more specialized stores get to survive, whether it’s Other Music or, I dunno, Turntable Lab. Brick-and-mortar music and video stores are becoming a rare breed, that’s for sure, and you know something? It is really fucking inconvenient. Especially because the Virgin was the #1 choice for me to meet up with my friends when we hung out.

I leave you with a few highlights of my experience at the Union Square Virgin. I bought my Langley Schools record there, as well as the Young Liars EP. I got to see Franz Ferdinand throw a really nice in-store performance back when their first album came out. And perhaps the highlight of the highlights is this: I was in the store on August 14, 2003, when all the fucking lights in the city went out. Actually, I can easily say that it was one of the Top 3 worst days in my life, so it’s a shitty memory, but it’s a vivid one regardless. Stupidly enough, I didn’t steal anything from the store when the blackout happened. Haha. Damn my integrity.

Hm, I guess I kinda will miss the store. But I’m not surprised that they’re closing, c’est tout.

Speaking of music stores: Next Thursday, June 18, Insound is having a Warehouse Sale for the first time. So if you’re in NYC, you should definitely definitely check it out. I’m sure the deals won’t be massive, but imagine the shipping charges you’ll avoid! The details here. I’m not sure if I can go yet, but I’m gonna try. I highly recommend it! Although they push a lot of new stuff on their site, they still have plenty of back stock that is worth sifting through. I should know, because I used to pack everyone’s orders there. :D


Serious Talk About a Guy I Can’t Take Seriously.

[Edit: Jay Smooth finally made a little video about Asher Roth, and as you’d imagine it doesn’t really have to do with Asher Roth himself.  Click here for a more level-headed and eloquent discussion about Asher Roth than whatever my post says.]

I should tell you about my latest morning routine.  It involves watching music videos.  I flip between VH1 and MTV, and watch whichever channel is showing the less annoying video.  And if they’re both annoying, I flip to the morning news–which is pretty frustrating to watch, too.  In between videos one time, they showed a commercial for Asher Roth’s album, with a snippet of “I Love College.”

I was amused by it, but I didn’t think much of it.  I thought it was just a fun and breezy song that will probably be forgotten soon.  So recently Jay Smooth asked on his site whether he should talk about it, and I was surprised by the strong reactions from people.  As you will see if you click on the post, I traded some comments with one guy in particular.  What the guy was saying was that he felt weird liking Asher Roth partly because of the crowd it attracted; although this commenter saw (some) merit in Asher, he felt like Asher is emblematic of a certain type of person who might like shit like “I Love College” but don’t really care to delve deeper into hip-hop, and the commenter worried that he might be seen as one of those people, too.  I mean I know how painful it can be; I love love love music and it really upsets me to meet people who claim to love music too, but they eventually reveal that for them it’s just a superficial thing.

But I told the commenter that he shouldn’t really give a shit what other people think, because if you like (or love!) something, you can’t help it, so why not just enjoy yourself?  If you feel a spark–and you know those sparks don’t come often enough–shouldn’t you just let go and not listen to what other people say?

Well, tonight I (kinda) retract my statement.  Although I firmly believe that if you love something you shouldn’t get it twisted worrying how other people think of your likes and dislikes, I am starting to see why people don’t like Asher Roth.  Or rather, don’t like Asher Roth’s public persona–who the fuck knows what he’s like in private.  This Racialicious post delves into the several stupid things he’s said.  (Make sure to read the comments, too, since the readers bring up some great points from all sorts of angles.)

For me, the main issue is whether to ignore his musical existence and hope he goes away, cos what if we do ignore him and all he does is fester like a cancer on us? I’m very conflicted about Asher Roth, as you can see, and I’m also very conflicted about making this post.  Because my word count keeps increasing by the second and most of me is thinking, “Um… do I really give that much of a shit about this guy?”  I really don’t want to seem like one of those crotchety folk who are think that whatever latest thing is like, the work of the devil or whatevs.  I see him strictly as a novelty, it’s really not worth it to get so worked up about someone who’ll most likely fade away.  (If I end up being wrong about him fading away, though, I’m gonna be worrying a bit more, for sure.)  Anyway, that’s why I haven’t really researched much on him.  I know, I know.  That’s like a cardinal sin when talking shit: if you’re gonna talk shit about someone you should know everything about them so you can talk shit accurately.  And yet… just a few clicks here and there show he’s been saying some real wack stuff and it makes me averse to learning more about him.

So what did he say–out of all the dumb shit he’s said–that got me mad enough to write about it?  In this article, he is quoted as saying:

Roth addresses poverty and greed on the song “Sour Patch Kids.” And at his fans’ behest, Roth uploaded to his MySpace page “A Millie Remix,” a freestyle rhyme over Lil Wayne‘s “A Milli” beat, criticizing rappers who boast about having millions of dollars but “don’t share, don’t donate to charity.”

“When I dropped that … (I thought) ‘You guys are always going off about how much money you have. Do you realize what’s going on in this world right now?’ All these black rappers — African rappers — talking about how much money they have. ‘Do you realize what’s going on in Africa right now?'” Roth says.

“It’s just like, ‘You guys are disgusting. Talking about billions and billions of dollars you have. And spending it frivolously, when you know, the Motherland is suffering beyond belief right now.'”

So I read that and I pretty much gasped.  What is he thinking?!?!  “All these African rappers…”  My dear bro, lemme tell you something.  Most blacks in the US were like, kinda born and raised in the US?  Like, their ancestors might have been African but most of them are not.  Of course in recent years there’s been a new wave of immigrants from Africa (like Obama’s papa!), but what I mean is that you can’t just generalize and be like, “Y’all are African!  Why don’t you take care of Africa then!”  The quote is also ridiculous because the “suffering Motherland” needs help from all of us, we’re all implicated and we are all responsible for helping, so I don’t see why Asher’s singling out rich black rappers to donate their money away.  Since he brought up the subject, I think it’s fair of me to ask him what he’s done for people who are less privileged than he is.

And this brings me to another thing that bothers me about the quote: where does Asher get off thinking that just because a rapper is boasting about having a shitload of money, that the rapper really does have a lot of money.  I’m gonna guess that most of the rappers Asher listens to are mainstream rappers on major labels, and believe me, when you’re on a major, most of the cashflow ain’t going to the artist.  Oh, Asher, you’re on a major, don’t you know?  Steve Albini is a consummate asshole, but he sure knows his math.  After you give money to your manager and your lawyer and your producers and after you pay for the album manufacturing expenses and to the music video director and after all the payola* your label will pay for you to get radioplay and even to your stylist if you have one… well guess what?  You need to sell a shit ton of records to make millions of millions.  And believe me, I don’t mean like, 62000 records.  So don’t be preaching about “black rappers gotta do this and black rappers gotta do that with their money,” cos God knows how little they’re really making even if they’re boasting so as to make it seem like the rapper lifestyle is mad glamorous.  Let’s face it, the label honchos probably told the rappers to say that boastful shit because it sells…

(*About the payola comment: like steroid use in sports, nobody likes to admit it happens.  But don’t you find it odd that this guy seems to come out of nowhere?  He’s not particularly gifted as a rapper or a musician, and he’s obviously not winning over that many people with his charm.  I mean maybe, just maybe he’s been toiling and struggling and maybe all the stars aligned properly to give him so much luck, but I find it suspicious.  Maybe for some strange reason, his label thinks he will be profitable and they’re just pumping a looooot of money in all sorts of strategic places and they’re just manufacturing his popularity.  What’s the best way to get more hits on a YouTube vid?  Make it seem like the video has already gotten tons of hits so that it’ll pique people’s curiosity and make them wonder what they’re missing.  Same concept applies here.)

Anyway, even though I’m clearly seething, I try to tell myself that there are privileged people out there who get it.  So I leave you with the words with someone who gets it, and I can only hope that he will forgive me for quoting him so extensively and won’t feel offended that I’m bringing him into this silly post about some nobody who will be forgotten in about a month.

You have been trying to tell us to change for a long time.  You lecture us about the social pathology of the inner city and how we need to become more like you.  We need to move to the suburbs too.  We need to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and abandon our “undesirables” the way you abandoned us.

We need to do this.  We need to do that.

We’re not the ones who did the most to create the problems.  We’re trying to face the problems you left us with.  We’re staying behind and trying to make things better.

We think the suburbs are what needs to be changed about America.  We think the suburbs are bad for America.

Socially, they intensify segregation and mistrust.  Culturally, they erode the sense of history, narrow the outlook, and dull the imagination.  Economically, they intensify inequality by isolating the rich and poor.  Then the poor lack access to good schools, hospitals, businesses, police, transportation, city services, concerned neighbors, and any of the things that would allow them to alleviate their situation.  The rich lack access to reality and any sense of proportion.  They run around in a comfort warp, taking everything for granted and misusing what they have.

– Upski, Bomb the Suburbs.

(Sometimes when I feel infuriated, reading Bomb the Suburbs makes me feel better.)

I’m sure it wasn’t Asher Roth’s idea to grow up in the suburbs and I’m not going to assume that his life was easy peasy.  But I think his words reflect a lack of comprehension of the world around him.  It’s like, he’s being challenged to think critically for the first time in his life about privilege, and instead of trying to learn and grow and understand, he’s kinda stuck in a defensive mode.  He obviously doesn’t have the vocabulary to talk about race because he hasn’t really had to talk about it before–not to the extent that people have been pushing him now that he’s a public figure.  The question is, is he willing to learn?

Oh, and by the way: I finally listened to what “I Love College” was really saying, and I was like, “Wait… he’s not extolling the pleasures of reading Aristotle and Zizek and writing papers where you get to use all those big vocab words you learned for the SATs?”  I feel like such a geek, but I’m damn disappointed that the whole song is about partying and not about like, learning and shit.  Haha.

Ugh, what am I doing still typing up this post?  I gotta catch me some sleep.  Will I wake up tomorrow and find out that this post makes no sense?


Look What I Found in My Files.

nick-cave-rocks

An old Cat & Girl comic I modified… I almost forgot I had it.  I’m not sure what the text was in the original strip.


In Case You Were Curious, Which You Most Likely Were Not.

(1) I decided recently that Roy Orbison is fucking brilliant.  I find his voice quite strange.

(2) A couple of weeks ago I went to the Virgin on Times Square and found out they were closing.  Got some cool shit.  My biggest find was a fucking Man Recordings 12″ that features Deize Tigrona.  I chortled to myself at the fact that no one had bothered to buy it and I was giddy that I had the pleasure to do so.  I was so excited, in fact, that I kinda didn’t want to listen to it, because I was so fucking sure I’d be disappointed.  But I listened anyway.  And let me tell you something–now, I know you’re going to laugh, but I wish you wouldn’t–after listening to it, I was thrilled, but I also couldn’t figure out if I’d listened to it at the right speed.  I know it makes me sound like a moron, but I’m telling you, both sides of the single are so fucking weird, so many miles away from what I recognize as funk, that I am still kinda disoriented about it.  At the same time, this disorientation makes me feel even more excited about the 12″.  The A-side in particular is off the hook.  Hee!  I think it’s gonna be one of those songs, like “Ni Fu Ni Fa,” that I’m gonna listen to years from now and still think that it’s ahead of its time.  Seriously.

(3) I also bought a copy of Scratch half price, and thank the lord cos that shit was mad expensive originally.  I started watching it today, and I couldn’t finish it cos my parents told me to stop hogging the teevee.  I’m telling you, though, it’s really fun and just watching the footage of all those DJs slouched over their turntables is so beautiful.  Okay, the sounds, I don’t care much about the result of the sounds, but fundamentally, I find it really inspiring, because you know that for them to create the music that they do, they need to go crate-diggin’ for the most beautiful sounds to their ears, and they need to learn every element in a song intimately, and I’m awed by the dedication and discipline and pure love of music they show in doing that.  I know that I don’t hear music the way they hear music, and I’m fascinated by it.  I also think it’s amazing how they take a pre-existing work and they really reinterpret it, not unlike a singer covering someone else’s song.

(4) I bought a collection of poetry by Jose Garcia Villa (v. v. hard to abstain from adding accents in his name since I’m so used to it, but he’s filipino and I’m not sure if they use them over there).  I’m only telling you this because it’s National Poetry Month and I’m enjoying the book a lot.  I didn’t know of his existence until recently, when the AAWW had an event about him.  Like Tseng Kwong Chi later on, it appears that Villa was one of those cool kids hanging out downtown who has become nothing more than a footnote in pop culture history, even though both Villa and Tseng were serious artists with significant contributions to the scene.

Anyway, reading the book and enjoying really makes me wonder why I don’t read more poetry.  The dumb and easy answer is that I don’t get it, and I find a lot of other people telling me they don’t get poetry either.  I really feel like we’re not taught poetry very well.  The whole population can’t be averse to poetry–we must have been taught that somehow it’s lesser than other writing forms.  And that fucking annoys me!  In one sense I understand that times change and that different writing forms fall out of vogue.  For example, I’d say–without any scientific proof or naught, but still–we’re transitioning out of the era of the novel and more into some weird sort of non-fiction/memoir era (and I think blogs are helping this!), but it still bothers me that poetry is ignored because I think there’s still a lot that could be said and done with poetry.  Poetry came before the novel and I feel that the less literate people are in poetry, that means that works from hundreds and hundreds of years ago will become lost…  Seguro que yo sueno histérica, y yo sé que lo poesía no morirá por completo, pero me molesta que hay tanta tradición, tanta cultura y arte que la gente no aprecia y lo toman todo por idioteces solo porque alguien (some higher up) decidió que la poesía ya no importa tanto como otros géneros, y así es que las generaciones más jóvenes no aprenden el valor que tienen los poemas…  Bah!  Me duele la cabeza.  And so I make my exit.


LAMC 2009.

Okay, here goes!  I totally missed that the LAMC website posted its full schedule.  Sorry about the delay.  Below, I’ve organized the shows by artist, with approximate set times when available. Please let me know if you see any errors OR if you have other, non-official LAMC events for me to add. And remember, times, locations and acts might change!

Afrobeta
Sat July 11 – after midnight – SOB’s

Aterciopelados
Fri 10 July – Celebrate Brooklyn @ Prospect Park Bandshell – GRATIS

Banda de Turistas
Wed 8 July – Mercury Lounge

Bebe
Sat 11 July – Central Park SummerStage @ Rumsey Playfield – GRATIS

Bomba Estéreo
Wed 8 July – Bembe
Thurs 9 July – SOB’s
Thurs 9 July – Bowery Ballroom
Fri 10 July – Antigua
Sat 11 July – Central Park SummerStage @ Rumsey Playfield – GRATIS
Sat July 11 – after midnight – SOB’s
Sun July 12 – Nublu

Calle 13
Sat 11 July – Central Park SummerStage @ Rumsey Playfield – GRATIS

Ceci Bastida
Wed 8 July – Mercury Lounge

Cojoba
Tues 7 July – Oveja Negra

Curumin
Wed 8 July – Central Park SummerStage @ Rumsey Playfield – GRATIS

DJ Afro (Los Amigos Invisibles)
Fri 10 July – Celebrate Brooklyn @ Prospect Park Bandshell – GRATIS
Sat July 11 – all evening(?) – SOB’s

D-Mente
Tues 7 July – Oveja Negra

Domino Saints
Wed 8 July – Mercury Lounge
Thurs 9 July – SOB’s

El G (ZZK)
Wed 8 July – Central Park SummerStage @ Rumsey Playfield – GRATIS

Ella Fuksbrauner
Thurs 9 July – SOB’s

Eric Bobo
Sat 11 July – Central Park SummerStage @ Rumsey Playfield – GRATIS

Federico Aubele
Thurs 9 July – Bowery Ballroom

Gaby Moreno
Thurs 9 July – SOB’s

Javier Garcia
Thurs 9 July – SOB’s

Juana Molina
Wed 8 July – Central Park SummerStage @ Rumsey Playfield – GRATIS

León Polar
Thurs 9 July – Bowery Ballroom

Los Amigos Invisibles
Tues 7 July – 7 pm – Apple Store Soho – GRATIS
Thurs 9 July – SOB’s
Fri 10 July – Celebrate Brooklyn @ Prospect Park Bandshell – GRATIS

Los Delinqüentes
Thurs 9 July – SOB’s

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs
Sat 11 July – Central Park SummerStage @ Rumsey Playfield – GRATIS
CANCELADO

Los Hollywood
Wed 8 July – Mercury Lounge
Thurs 9 July – SOB’s

M-16
Tues 7 July – Oveja Negra

Maladicto
Tues 7 July – Oveja Negra

Maluca
Wed 8 July – Mercury Lounge

Monareta
Wed 8 July – Mercury Lounge

Natalia Lafourcade
Thurs 9 July – SOB’s
Thurs 9 July – Bowery Ballroom

Raza Odiada
Tues 7 July – Oveja Negra

RH+, AKA Rock Hudson
Thurs 9 July – SOB’s
Thurs 9 July – Bowery Ballroom

Santuario
Tues 7 July – Oveja Negra

—–

PREVIOUS EDITS:

I’m excited, they announced the panel topics for the LAMC recently.  Pueden encontrar los temas en el sitio oficial, aquí.  Make sure to check back for the full schedule!  Hope they get a good mix of acts this year… Can’t wait to see who’ll play Summerstage! NYRemezcla reports that Los Fabulosos Cadillacs will be playing the free show at Central Park!  It’s going to be INSANE. EDIT April 26: There will be two Summerstage shows this year, both of which will be free.  The opener for Los Cadillacs will be Eric Bobo, maybe one more opener to come?  The other show will headline Juana Molina, Curumin and ZZK’s El G.  Should be a hot show.  Details here. EDIT May 4: Celebrate Brooklyn date is up, and it’s amazin’!!  Los Amigos Invisibles AND  Aterciopelados will be playing on Friday July 10.    Also of note (but not related to the LAMC) is a free show on July 2, headlining Obie Bermudez and featuring Cucu Diamantes and Rebel Diaz.  All Celebrate Brooklyn deets here.

EDIT May 19: SOB’s updated their website.  On Thursday July 9, they will be holding the LAMC Acoustic Showcase; actual acts to be determined.  On Saturday July 11, they will also have an LAMC After Party, featuring Bomba Estereo, Afrobeta and DJ Afro on the turntables throughout the night.  EDIT May 24: I was snooping on Natalia Lafourcade‘s MySpace page and realized she’s playing two gigs, one of which is the Acoustic Showcase at SOB’s.  The other set will take place on the afternoon of Thursday July 9 at the Bowery Ballroom.  Yay!

EDIT May 27: Heyyy the Mercury Lounge posted its LAMC show, and it looks like a marathon event!  If you wanna see 7 bands in one night, this is the night to go, haha.  The show will take place on Wednesday July 8 and some of the acts featured are Ceci Bastida and Monareta.  The other acts included are Banda de Turistas, Maluca, RH+, Domino Saints, and Los Hollywood.  Click here for all the details.


Some Notes.

Part I

I just read this post on Moleskine Literario (¿otra vez? ¡pos sí!) about Julio Cortázar’s former spouse selling the rights to three unpublished stories. Iván wrote,

Está claro que Cortázar no decidió publicarlos en su momento por considerarlos equívocos, pero no importa, nadie espera demasiado de esos textos, lo interesante es el legado. Eso sí, el libro será de ultra lujo: solo 100 ejemplares a 260 euros cada uno.

That is, “It’s clear that Cortázar decided not to publish the stories at the time because they weren’t right, but that doesn’t matter, no one expects much from those texts, what matters is the legacy. That said, the book will be an ultra luxury: only 100 copies at 260 euros each.” (My emphases. Also: not a literal translation.)

What really annoys the fuck out of me is that it seems ridiculous to charge 260 euros to get your hands on three unpublished stories. Honestly. This woman couldn’t donate (or even sell!) the works to a museum or a library? Turning the stories into a commodity, a very expensive commodity at that, pisses me off so bad. My dearest hope is that the people who get their hands on this ARE establishments such as museums or libraries that will allow the masses to have some sort of access to them for free, rather than having the copies go to private individuals who, for all we know might use the stories to wipe their asses with them (o lo que sea). Argh. 260 euros! And none of it going to the fucking author, cos he’s dead. So why is it so fucking expensive? Supposedly, it’s just how much it’ll cost to bind the stories in a beautiful volume, and that the publisher won’t be making a profit. Pffft. Okay, even if that’s true, for the consumer, it becomes much more of a “haha, I got one and you don’t” situation. I don’t see why Cortázar’s former wife couldn’t just make it available to a wider mass of people so that we could get a better sense of his writing process and the like.

“What matters is the legacy,” right. But why should Cortázar’s legacy touch only a select few who can afford it? I hope at least one of the people lucky enough to buy the stories just scans the fucking thing and leaks it onto the internets.

Musical Interlude A

“Soch na kya,” from Ghayal, which is a reinterpretation of “Llorando se fue,” better known as the song that inspired “Lambada.” Further proof that this song is bangin’ in pretty much every language and arrangement. Just recently I noticed that “Llorando se fue” actually has Japanese lyrics, which I noted from the use of the words “anata” and “watashi.” Yay for rudimentary Japanese language skills. Anyway, as soon as I realized that I thought, “Geez, I never knew were Peruvian.” It’s just that whenever I think of big Japanese populations in Latin America I think of Peru and Brazil. Heh. But Los Kjarkas are actually Bolivian. Regardless of where they’re from, I’m curious as to why they sing in Japanese in the first place. ¡Qué misterio!

Part II

Words Without Borders updated! Its theme for February is “The Graphic World,” and there’s some sweet translations of comics available. It’s also worth checking out their archives for older translations of comics. For example, there’s an excerpt in English of Fuguet’s “Road Story.” Good shit!

Musical Interlude B

I never made a list of favorite albums of 2008, and I’m so glad because I only listened to Utada Hikaru’s Heart Station recently and I’m loving it. I’m kinda dreading her forthcoming English language album, mostly cos I listened to her newest single and it’s dreadfully boring. But Heart Station is undeniably awesome.

Part III

How do the Kindle fiends do it? How can anyone stare at a screen and just read for extended periods of time? I had a hard enough time wanting to read Colson Whitehead’s “Wow, Fiction Works!” I mean, I opened the page and it loaded in like, five seconds, and then I… proceeded to not read it. Jesus. For like hours and hours I was like, “Oh, let’s put it off for a bit until I’ve finished watching this stupid youtube vid of [insert your favorite pointless youtube time-waster of choice here].” Finally I understood that I wasn’t going to read this essay unless I printed it. Because if I printed it, I wouldn’t be distracted by other open browser pages, not to mention it felt good to have something tangible to read. And it didn’t hurt my eyes to read it! In fact, I was pretty giddy about it. Whitehead is so gleeful in his delivery that it’s infectious.


Things That Are Not Okay.

There are countless things that are NOT okay in this world, too many to catalog all of them on this blog, so here is the one thing that is ticking me off at the very moment.

This video is NOT okay…

(1) … because of the usage of the “N” word.
(2) … because of the sexism.
(3) … because of that embarrassingly wack track.

And maybe he’ll counter and say, “Isn’t this what American hip-hop is all about? ‘Nigga this nigga that and how about them bitches and hos’?” I can’t explain how infuriating I find this video to be. To me, this video makes it clear that this rapper doesn’t give a shit about hip-hop, he’s only looking at the surface, at what’s mainstream and just imitating it. Honestly, the least he could do is show some love and respect to the music, but it’s just nonsense bullshit that was probably slapped together in a matter of 20 minutes. The lyrics are offensive AND lazy as hell.

Actually, I hate that everything this rapper learned came from actual mainstream hip-hop music videos what with the swagger and whatever. Whoever fucking says that the media doesn’t have an effect in our world view, well there you go. Think about all the money that’s thrown at mainstream hip-hoppers, courtesy of the major labels who dictate how these hip-hoppers should sound, because they got so much riding on the success of these “musicians” and since they think “Well geez, sex and aggression and so on sells so let’s just make every track ooze with that bullshit,” the result is that people from the outside see videos full of yo no sé qué, video hos y lo que sea, and they think it’s TOTALLY okay to emulate what they see. In fact, they think it’s fucking COOL to emulate, no innovation involved, no respect paid to the history of this music. Here is a Korean rapper thinking it’s okay to just throw around the “N” word, and the only reason he’s doing it is because he thinks he’s tough shit, no consideration to what he’s really saying, no consideration to who’s going to hear it, no consideration no consideration no consideration.

If you’ll excuse me, I need to go and listen to some Cool Calm Pete and calm the fuck down. At least Pete makes me feel proud to be a Korean. Not to mention he’s a total QT3.14.

Thanks to BicoastalBitchin’ for bringing this video to my attention.


More Random Goodies.

(1) Some comics I finished reading include The Bottomless Belly Button, Crickets #1 and #2, Eightball #22 (Ice Haven), Heavy Liquid, Nocturnal Conspiracies, and a while back, Watchmen. So even though I haven’t gotten started on my reading challenges I’ve been on a pretty sweet comics streak, not to mention I totally got a copy of McSweeney’s #13 for 64 cents. Yup yup! Okay, so the McSweeney’s book is totally missing a few pages (WTF) but most of it is pretty intact and as great as when I first read it. My supplier says he will get me more comics which I’m really excited about.

(2) Alberto Fuguet upgraded his blog(s)! Now they’re just one blog located at his official website (click here). Filled with a bout of bravery–or maybe it’s just stupidity–he’s decided to allow comments!

(3) Speaking of other blogs, The Complete Review did a little survey of the past 100 reviews they’ve done in order to answer “How international are we?” Sometimes I grumble to myself that they “never” review the shit I’d like to know more about, but seeing stuff like this survey makes me appreciate the site so much more. If only other sites were as conscientious about giving well-rounded coverage to all sorts of lit in all sorts of languages from all sorts of places.

Another thing, in Three Percent, Chad Post wrote recently about doing a radio interview in which people submitted questions through mofuckin’ Twitter. !!! I’m telling you, until the moment I read about this, I really had no sense of Twitter being useful. I understood that it could be interesting, but I didn’t see how useful it could be. Except now that I see what its capabilities are, I wish EVERY fucking Q&A session ever would require the average civilian to Twitter in their question… if only because whenever I go to a Q&A, or hear one on the radio or whatever, the questioner just tends to meander while setting up their question for like three solid minutes and then finally asks a really dumb or shallow question that can either be answered in one word, or is way too fucking complicated for the recipient to answer it concisely. Ugh. Where has this 140 character limit been all my life!

The radio interview that Chad did was kinda “meh,” mostly because the host of the show didn’t seem very up on the concept of literature in translation. It made for awkward interview exchanges.

(4) Um, you can read Eunoia on the internets for free. Amazing! Incroyable!

(5) Okay, confession time. I have a shitload of records that have been left unopened for years (it’s a long story), and I finally finally listened to some of them, including the first album by The Evens. I have a love/hate thing for Ian MacKaye, so it was a pleasant surprise that I really liked it. Dude, I’m on their Wikipedia page and it says that Ian and his fellow Evens lady friend Amy totally procreated. Now, y’all know Wikipedia don’t lie, so it must be true. Can you believe it? There’s a mini-Ian ready to wreak havoc on the world! Haha, I kid. I’m really happy for them, actually.

(6) The latest issue of Bomb magazine is titled the “Americas Issue,” even though it mostly focuses on the Southern Cone. It’s kind of annoying because I’m so sure there must be some great artistic scenes in every country in Latin America that we just don’t know about. (In their defense, they did include a reprint of an interview with Guillermo Cabrera Infante.) I’m not complaining too much, though, because they included a feature on Nicanor Parra as well as an interview with Babasónicos, which continues online here.

[Edit 1/14: Haha, I didn’t realize that the Americas Issue is an annual issue focusing on different areas of the Americas. So that’s why this particular issue focuses on Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Santiago. My bad!]

(7)

I watch this video, and I see how big Karen Carpenter’s smile is, and I watch how skilled she is playing the drums, and it bums me the fuck out. I listened to my Carpenters CD recently and I hated that the vocals are so far up in the mix. I wished I could hear the arrangements better, especially when they included parts where she’s drumming. What I really like in this video is that you can tell she studied drumming, the way she plays is more akin to a jazz drummer than, say, some kid in a punk band just functioning as a timekeeper.

By the way, if you haven’t seen Todd Haynes’s Karen Carpenter biopic (?), Superstar, starring a handful of Barbie dolls, you should just watch it on Google video here. And for this, I thank god that the internets exists. It’s actually a really good movie, I learned a lot about anorexia and I also learned that the Carpenter siblings weren’t such big squares in their private lives.

(8) Dude! I started rewatching Mad Men and it’s most excellent. Especially after having devoured the two seasons and knowing what’s gonna happen, it’s cool to go back and see certain hints that were dropped along the way that were very revealing about the characters. I’m also stunned by how fresh the writing feels, even though I’ve heard all the lines already. Can’t get enough of Pete and Peggy.

(9) My guitar is dead. Broken. I hadn’t picked it up in a while so I don’t know what happened, exactly. But I’m still fucking sad because it’s irreparable.


Assorted Linkage.

Here is a hodgepodge of awesome music shit I’ve spotted on the internets in the past 72 hours, con comentario, claro.

(1) A link on Wayne & Wax led me to this really cool site on Brazilian soul music created by this dude named Thomas. The site lists some recommended reading and I found out there’s a Tim Maia bio out there. It’s in Portuguese, but I’m still itching to get it. I’ve done it before. In school I wrote a paper on the current Brazilian funk scene and the school library had actual books on the subject in Portuguese. It was pretty hard to understand… but I got enough of it to get an A. Woot woot. You can learn more about the Tim Maia bio here as well as stream a shitload of his songs, including a cover of “Wonderful World” (!).

(2) Super 45 is taking its sweet time posting a Best of 2008 list, which would suck much more if they didn’t have lovely features distracting me. First, they posted a Q&A with Evelyn Fuentes, who used to be in a band called Christianes (which I think was a distant cousin of MBV, etc). I’d never heard of her or the band, but I was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiastic comments section and decided to track down some of her old stuff with the band. The songs on her myspace are deceptively simple. I’ve been playing them over and over and over.

(3) Super 45 also led me to this cool project called the Music Alliance Pact, which is organized by The Pop Cop and features music from 20+ countries on the 15th of every month. You can check out their previous editions of the project here. It’s kinda heartwarming to hear these songs and realize that indie music is same-y and mediocre worldwide. Hahaha, I’m just playin’. There are some cool tracks here and there.

The other great thing about finding this Music Alliance Pact is that it led me to a Korean indie music blog. I’ve always wondered about the Korean music scene(s) that are less well-known and not JYP-approved. You know, JYP? If you hate the music of Rain or Wonder Girls, you can put all the blame on him.


(Very, Very) Old News.

Coño, while looking for my old newspaper pieces, I found out that the CMJ live reviews I wrote last year for Washington Square News don’t credit me anymore. WSN redid their website and reformatted everything, and now my name is nowhere to be found in their blog posts! Anyway, I’m just linking them here for myself, so that it’s easier for me to find them… at least until WSN decides to rework their site again and my shit disappears altogether. Sigh.

Saturday Looks Good to Me and Takka Takka @ CMJ Day Stage on 16 Oct 2007

Oh My Rockness’s “Norway Vs. North America” Showcase @ Knitting Factory on 17 Oct 2007: featuring Golden City, Monomen, Team Robespierre, Ida Maria and We Are Wolves

KEXP Broadcast @ Gibson Ballroom on 18 Oct 2008: featuring Simian Mobile Disco

Def Jux Showcase @ Northsix on 19 Oct 2008: featuring Activator, Junk Science, Despot, Yak Ballz, Cool Calm Pete, Hangar 18, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, El-P and Bigg Jus
(This post is the clearest evidence that, when the website and the blogs were redone, they used my original drafts in these new posts instead of the edited final versions, because at that point Northsix had already changed its name. My editor corrected this when he originally posted my review, whereas here, the mistake stands.)

Justice @ Terminal 5 on 20 Oct 2007: unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the opening band, though I do remember they weren’t much to talk about.


Baila Conmigo.


Crate Diggin’.

This dude I work with was kind enough to tell me about this awesome record fair so I totally took my derriere all the way downtown and bought a few records. I got pretty lucky, on a whim I found this album by a woman named Timi Yuro, which piqued my interest because for a second it sounded vaguely Asian. Of course, I told myself I was delusional (after having googled her, I found out she is of Italian descent), but it intrigued me enough to buy it. It didn’t hurt that one of the songs on the album is “Hallelujah I Love Her So.” They changed “her” to “him,” though. It really irks me. God forbid a woman starts singing about loving women. Sometimes a woman just wants to hug another woman with her legs in friendship!!

Wait, what was I talking about? Oh, right. So yeah, Timi Yuro, like Neil Sedaka*, is not Asian. But she, like Sedaka, is totally fucking awesome. Especially cos her picture on the record cover she looks like a cute little girl, but she starts singing and she’s got booming voice!

Other stuff I bought: a record featuring Henry Mancini, Al Hirt, and Pérez Prado, an Emmylou Harris greatest hits album, another by Harry Belafonte. I got a compilation of vallenato, too, which I haven’t listened to yet but oughta be pretty cool.

I also went to Other Music because they were having a sale. Everything was a measly 13% off, but they never discount anything, so I thought I should check out the sale. I found a 12″ with songs from Rio Baile Funk: Favela Booty Beats!! It includes “Popozuda Rock’n’Roll” which is one of the best tracks on the comp. Dude, I feel so so lucky to have found it.

And yes, I forgot to change the speed on my record player so the single sounded slow and distorted. It was awesome, but I changed the speed soon after the single started playing.


* I’m referencing this play by Philip Kan Gotanda that I love called Yankee Dawg You Die. Here‘s an old review of the play from the New York Times.