Wassup Rockers


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the pop 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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


Baila Conmigo.


Will the Next Zoé Album Suck?

So. Will the new Zoé album suck? I know it’s not like, the question of the century, but I’m really anxious to hear what they come up with. The answer is probably out there on the internets, but I’m too scared to go seek it out. Thank god that there’s only a couple of days left, not even. For now, all I can say is, I hope the new Zoé doesn’t suck. It’s just that they set a whole new standard with Memo Rex, and what’s frightening is how well the album sold, too. So the pressure is there. At least I’m happy to say the first single is pretty sweet. “Reptilectric” has been out for a while now and if you check out the website, you can watch the trippy video that goes along with it. At least I found it more impressive that TVOTR’s first single.

Hope they come on tour soon! Would love to see Zoé live again.

I’ve still got other interesting album releases to check out: Aterciopelados, which I had no idea about, and mofuckin’ Calle 13. Gotta get cracking on that.


WFMU Record Fair 2008.

HOLY SHIT!!!  I OWN THE CHANDRA ALBUM.  To clarify, I did not buy the original Transportation EP.  I bought a rerelease from this new label called Cantor and it actually has 4 extra songs (!!) and comes with this extra booklet with an essay on Chandra Oppenheim and lots of pictures including one that confirms Kate was a real girl!  And I’m like, “Why would Chandra write such a mean song and then fraternize”–sororize?–“with this girl.”  But I’ve watched Mean Girls, so I know all about this frenemy thingamajig…  Anyway, the LP cost me a lot (a lot = $15), but the record was just calling my name.  You know how it is.  First I walked away and figured I’d look at all my options before buying any records, but I only lasted like, 10 minutes before I swung back again and just bought the record.

I talked to the dude who runs the label, Aaron.  I didn’t think to ask him whether he already has distro for this release, which is the first on his label, or if he was ~*DEBUTING*~ the LP at the fair.  He did look like a proud papa holding the record in his hands.  I asked him about Chandra and he told me he’d mostly been in contact with her through email and phone; he’d only met her for the first time very recently, and he also told me that she was still making music.  AWESOME!

I also bought Ray Charles’s Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Vol. 2, and Roy Orbison’s In Dreams.  I mean I was really conflicted whether I wanted to get Del Shannon’s Runaway or the Roy Orbison, but I finally went with the latter because I wanted to hear his take on “All I Have to Do is Dream.”  Those three album are it, I didn’t have enough money for anymore purchases, which is sad when you consider that these two other albums cost me a total of $11.  I saw this Nikki Giovanni record that looked really cool but I passed on it.

I’m surprised by how much it pains me, but I passed on this Tim Maia record, too.  The dude who owned it was like, “Very good prices!”  But I’d already bought my three records by this point and zapped my dinero so all I could do was grimace in return.  I’ve never even listened to Reencontro, the record in question, but it’s not like you see a mothertouchin’ Tim Maia LP everyday.  Veloso and Jobim and Getz, there was plenty of that shit, but Tim Maia?  Pfft.  I also saw that first Last Poets album and it was $40 but I didn’t have $40 to spare.  That one pains me a bit too, but not as much as the Tim Maia.  Ugh…

When my Token Twee Friend and I got to the fair, DMBQ started a seriously raucous set.  It was pretty right on, at least if you like noise music.

The rest of the fair was really wonderful.  I’d waited for it all year and finally being able to go was just such a great experience.  And getting to buy the Chandra record, I feel like I can die a bit happier now.  Everyone was so friendly.  Some dudes from Wax Poetics were there and they were funny.  Made me like that magazine even more.  The last DJ spinning music at the fair was awesome, he played lots of oldies.  Also, they had some kid come on stage and “sing” “Beat on the Brat” and then he encore’d with “Sheena is a Punk Rocker.”  I couldn’t see what the kid looked like but hearing him made me LOL.  It was a great way to end CMJ week.

I have all these things lined up to write about, cool things I’ve done and read and seen and experience, but it always takes me like a year to write one miserable post, it’s ridic.  Maybe I’ll catch up eventually, but not tonight.


Meninas Brasileiras.

To coincide with LAMC week last month, Latina published a music issue where they highlighted a lot of emerging artists. Well I just noticed that the magazine’s website posted a small video feature to go along with that issue. It features soundbites from several artists* who were at LAMC.

It’s not like the comments section to any website is a treasure trove, but I was really interested in the comments for this post because of the reaction some had over Brazilian Girls. There are no Brazilians and only one girl in the group, and there was some debate over Brazilian Girls being identified as a Latin music group. A couple of them expressed anger at Latina for “lazy journalism,” saying that the magazine should have fact-checked whether there were any Latinos in the band.

I understand why some people are upset, but I do think they’re overreacting. It wasn’t the magazine’s idea to put Brazilian Girls in the LAMC show for Celebrate Brooklyn. I mean, why direct anger at the magazine for wanting a scoop? If the band was there, and it was buzz-worthy among certain crowds, I can’t blame the publication for wanting a quote from the band and then featuring the interview bit on the magazine’s website.

The other thing to ask is SO WHAT? That’s a serious question and I’m not asking it to be dismissive of the complainers, necessarily. I’ll be the first to admit I was iffy about Brazilian Girls as part of the Celebrate Brooklyn lineup, mostly because I thought their sound didn’t really jive with Miranda!, who at that point were supposed to headline the show. Also, the people organizing the show could have found another group who could use more exposure in NYC. Brazilian Girls already have a decent following here. And yes, I do feel like it could have been a group that had more people of Latin American descent, or who performed music that is more clearly based in some Latin American genre or other, or a group that performs primarily in Spanish (or Portuguese).

But back to SO WHAT. Like, digamos que ninguno de los miembros en un grupo se puede identificarse como una persona Latina. Is it really bad if a band is inspired by a genre of Latin American music and infuses it in their own work? I don’t really listen to Brazilian Girls, pero ellos admiten una influencia multicultural (tienen canciones en varios idiomas) que incluye música de origen Latino. I mean, hey, why don’t we yell at all the bands with mostly Latino members who insist on making music in genres dominated by Anglos–rock o lo que sea–or who write most of their lyrics in English and accuse them of rejecting their own cultures. (I’m not advocating that we do so. After all, we’d be yelling at a looooot of very talented people.)

Of course it’s a touchy situation–you don’t want the non-Latino to just latch on to Latin American music because it’s trendy or because of some romantic view. Ick, ick. At the same time, I don’t think it’s the end of the world to embrace bands that openly acknowledges being inspired by Latin American music and even make an effort to perform in Spanish, etc. Not to get all cheesy on you, but I do think that music should be inclusive, not exclusive. The more people can enjoy music, the better, and I enjoy groups that reflect how vastly diverse our world is becoming, don’t you? Or maybe you feel threatened that your culture will lose its identity if there’s too much back-and-forth and dialogue among various cultures. Hm, I guess I understand that too.

I mean, I think the biggest tragedy with Brazilian Girls is that their music doesn’t grab my attention. Seriously, I can’t imagine ever being a fan.

LAMC has had non-traditional acts before, the kind you would not expect to see at a convention on Latin American music. The one time I went to see Aterciopelados, Coheed and Cambria opened for them(!). I was aware that their lead vocalist is Latino, but Co & Ca are mostly made up of white musicians, the band is based in the US, their music is influenced by American rock bands, and they sound totally prog-y, a genre that I seriously doubt originated in a Spanish-speaking country. Frankly, having them open for fucking Aterciopelados was one of the biggest WTFs I’ve experienced in my life. I don’t get what the LAMC’s goal was, but they have a track record for featuring musicians of all backgrounds and of all genres, and I guess the Brazilian Girls appearance was just another act in the same vein.

One thing that did surprise me, I should note, was the comment by one person stating that the singer of Brazilian Girls is Latina because she is Italian, and Italy is a “Latin European country.” I never even knew that there were “Latin Europeans,” but there’s a whole article about it on Wikipedia, y como todos sabemos, ¡Wikipedia nunca miente! (Jajaja.) Supposedly it’s equivalent to the term “Latin American.” Pueden leerlo aquí, como pueden ver, the article is under dispute. En serio, you learn something new everyday, and the whole Latin European concept kind meets my quota for today.

But c’mon, dude, even if Italy was the heart of the Roman empire and was all over the Latin that now makes a basis for Romance languages, “Latino” has a totally different concept in the US. Here we’re talking about hispanohablantes (and in some definitions, those who speak Portuguese as well). If you ever read Latina magazine, in fact, you’ll see that is geared toward women who have a Spanish-speaking or Portuguese-speaking heritage, primarily from the Americas. Nothing in their pages on Italy, or France, or Romania…

A final comment about the video on the Latina site: I thought it was cool that all the artists interviewed were able to speak English. Some had heavier accents than others, but they were all more than capable of presenting their groups in English and expressing some of their artistic views. Bilingualism is always appreciated! Kudos to those interviewed for this video.

Sorry for the weird, scattered and not-very-timely rant. I mean, what do you think? Am I completely off-base, am I too dismissive of the commenters? Maybe I completely missed their point.

* The groups featured in the Latina video:
Brazilian Girls
Chana
Francisca Valenzuela
La Pulquería
Los Fancy Free
The Fire and Reason
Ximena Sariñana


A Day in the Park.

Oh guck!  I mean, oh fuck!  Alejandro Escovedo had to cancel his appearance at SummerStage tomorrow so he’s been replaced by el Instituto Mexicano del Sonido and Mariachi Real de Mexico!  I’m sorry to be so happy about this change, but I’ve wanted to see IMS live forever and missed every chance.  I’m mad excited about this!  However, it sucks Escovedo had to cancel due to illness, hope he gets better soon.

I’m gonna take a wild guess and say that IMS will be DJing throughout the afternoon.  The Central Park folk run a tight ship in terms of scheduling, so I’m sure it’ll be like the Jamie Lidell show with three performances and a DJ playing between sets.

This video makes me so happy.


What Are We Selling Here?

I wanted to point to two commercials from the current Payless ad campaign. The first I’ve seen for a few weeks now, and the reason it caught my attention was because it uses “Van Nuys (Es Very Nice)” by the totally defunct band Los Abandoned. You can see the ad here. I was very pleased to hear it because they never got very big and I feel like they should get a few royalties for their hard work, right? Also, that song is so peppy, I can’t fucking deny its awesomeness. Below, the original video to the song.

Well, more recently I noticed another ad with happy beautiful young people running around in bargain-priced shoes. But this ad uses “Snapshot” by Kinky, who will be playing a free show on August 9 at Central Park. That one surprised me more because it’s an older song. It was never one of my favorites from Atlas, so at first I had to ask myself, “How do I know this song?” I know that Kinky and Los Abandoned are very different bands from very different places, but seeing the two ads, I was pleasantly surprised by two Spanish-language groups featured in these ads. (Actually, I must clarify that both bands had a strong “Spanglish” approach to their lyrics, though.)

I just went to the Payless website and it said that the agency that did the ad is Martin Williams. I wonder if the person who took care of the music thought it was fun and young and appropriate for the demographic they wanted to hit (trendy “cosmopolatinos”??), or if the person just really liked those bands. I also wonder if there are other Payless ads with Latino-friendly bands playing in the background?

Of course, neither of these ads will have as much of an effect as the use of “Paper Planes” in the Pineapple Express trailers and ads. I don’t know how well the movie will fare, which is being released today, but I sure as hell know that the use of “Paper Planes” has affected M.I.A. somewhat positively. I mean, I don’t know for sure if she’s moving more units, but I assume greater exposure to the masses means more chances of selling albums. I was listening to Z100 for the first time in ages, and heard the intro to the song. I wasn’t sure it was the commercial for the movie, but the DJ assured me that I was hearing a “new” track from M.I.A. At first I was really excited that I was hearing her on the radio (don’t ask me why, I can’t explain), but then I was like, “Wait, what about the gunshot sounds??” They tried to mute them, but the song just sounds ridic like that.

“All I wanna do is BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! … and take your money…”


Jamie Lidell, Janelle Monáe, etc @ Central Park SummerStage.

Fui a Central Park pa’ ver el concierto de Jamie Lidell, Janelle Monáe, Little Jackie, José James, y el “dejota” Gilles Peterson. The concert was really loud. I know I keep saying that about every concert or movie I attend, but it just stresses me out. I also hate seeing so many kids running around at these things without any earplugs or headphones on; they’re gonna ruin their hearing like that. For some reason it makes me want to punch their parents, which is a pretty unfair statement because it’s hard enough to be a parent without having some childless douchebag blogger talk shit about you on the internets cos you forgot to cover your kids ears’ at one measly loud show. ANYWAY.

Janelle Monáe totally stole the show today, no offense to el señor Lidell. I think the best non-musical part of her set was when she took the time to tuck her hair back in place. I don’t know how she gets her hair like that, but basically in pictures it always looks impeccable. During the first song I thought it might be frozen in place, but girlfriend shakes it like a Polaroid picture (yay for 5-year-old pop culture references) so her pretty hair got all messed up. Bee tee dubs, Janelle is mad flaquita, it’s true. Like when she would stand in profile she would disappear cos she was so skinny. Nah, nah, I’m just playin’.

I should really talk about her music, right? Okay, well, it was fucking awesome. It was my first time being exposed to her and I’m tellin’ y’all, I’ve caught the virus!! Especially cos you’re like, “Oh, she just crazy, doin’ moves she learned at the James Brown School of Rock, blah blah,” pero then she busts out Chaplin’s “Smile” and you’re like… “Oh, hi. I love you.” [In Oprah voice:] She can siiiiiiing, y’all!!! Monáe really stands out because production-wise, she’s not part of that retro female army that seems to have cropped up post-Amy Winehouse‘s success. Instead, she talks about robots and shit, and is more forward-sounding too. It’s like the “All is Full of Love” robots come to life and singing about their experiences.

Dude, her band was cool, too. What was up with the one dude who was dressed like he was ready to go golfing? He was just pushin’ buttons and shit, but he was so happy to be there, and he knew every word to her songs.

I was kinda offended cos Little Jackie went on after la señorita Monáe. I don’t mean to dis cos I’ve only heard their one single, “The World Should Revolve Around Me,” but come on, Monáe has been hyped so much and she is obviously (1) a fantastic performer and (2) a more interesting musician. Pffft. I held my final judgment until the set ended, but after seeing their set, I couldn’t take the band too seriously. On record, the single is flawed but catchy, but live, it was much more underwhelming. I feel sorry for them. If they’d been stuck with a more lackluster lineup, they might have had a greater effect on me. It’s not that the group didn’t try. The one thing they had was good stage presence. I liked that they had their whole act down, like how the backup vocalists pulled out a lot of girl group moves that were really charming. But if you think about it, there were like six or seven people on stage, and the performance was pretty mild compared to some other musical acts I’ve seen. At first everyone was enthusiastic and still reeling from that high of having witnessed Janelle Monáe do her thing, but as Little Jackie’s set continued, less people seemed invested in cheering on the group. It didn’t help that they have a song titled “LOL,” which had so much more potential to be hilarious, but they delivered it with straight faces.

Having heard the other groups, it was interesting to notice how hard Lidell’s band rocks. I mean, not when he was alone on stage buggin’ out and doing all the crazy electronic shit, but when he’s with the other four awesome dudes in his group, la música suena muy rocanrol. It makes an interesting counterpoint to the vocals which are so much more soul-based. The arrangements reminded me of early rock music. Am I making sense? Whatever.

So Lidell was dressed like mofuckin’ matador, the bassist/guitarist looked like a parachuting Elvis, the sax-y dude was in a robe, the drummer was dressed in all green which reminded me of Peter Pan, and the keyboardist… actually, the keyboardist looked like a regular civilian. It was nice to find out this music works well in sunshine. Just puts a smile to your face, y’know? Lidell’s voice was in tip-top shape. The performance was enthusiastic and fun, and people were very receptive, though I think he would have benefited from a smaller crowd. Even Lidell had to give props to Janelle. (Earlier, he actually watched her entire performance and he just had a goofy smile on the entire time. He was so tickled by her act.) I think the phrase he used was, “That’s the craziest shit I’ve seen in a long time,” but mind you, that’s no direct quote.

I did see the opener, Jose James, but it didn’t leave much of an impression on me. I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying too much attention. He seemed like he was all feel-good vibes yesterday. I don’t really get jazz, so I don’t know if he was “good” or “bad,” but part of me thinks that if he really stood out he would have caught my attention. Is this a fair statement?

And about the DJ, Gilles Peterson… it was a good set, although my music taste doesn’t jive too much with his. Biggest surprise: he mixed Violeta Parra‘s “Arauco tiene una pena” with some really hard techno beat. I was perplexed by the choice. Luckily, he redeemed himself by following the song with “A Message to You, Rudy.”


Julieta Venegas, Plastilina Mosh + DJ Bitman @ Central Park SummerStage.

Went to Central Park today to see DJ Bitman, Plastilina Mosh, and Julieta Venegas. I got there 30 minutes before the show started, which was stupid of me. I mean, it’s not like I wasn’t gonna get in, but I woulda had a better spot if I hadn’t had issues with the trains. Thirty minutes before a SummerStage show is cutting it too close, especially when it’s a big fucking deal like Julieta Venegas, y’know? La próxima vez tendré más cuidado.

Can I tell you something hilarious? I totally forgot that DJ Raff was gonna play with DJ Bitman. I was so stoked to see him on stage, for real. Big step for him and for Bitman, and I’m so happy for them. I don’t know Bitman’s material too well but it was cool to hear him spinnin’, especially cos they did Raff’s “Latin ’n’ Proud.”

Weird, on the hard copy version of the SummerStage program, it says, “Chilean musical veteran DJ Bitman a.k.a. Jose Antonio Bravo (of legendary group Los Tres)…” I heard a huge record scratch sound in my head, y’know? I was like, HOLD UP. Los Tres?? I don’t know what the source for this bio was (the one on the SummerStage website is accurate), but it’s like, if he had really been in Los Tres, I sure woulda heard about it. And I probably would have paid more attention to him, because Los Tres are fucking awesome. I’ve checked out some other sources and none of them even mention that.

Anyway, it was a good set, very hip-hop heavy. They had a rapper with them, he seemed really nice, had a decent flow but mostly a chill vibe. Oh, and for one of the songs, this pale little flaquita with the shortest mini-skirt evz came out and I was confused and realized that it was Francisca Valenzuela. She did her thing and immediately disappeared. I can’t even remember what she sang, I had my earplugs on (and thank the lord cos shit was mad loud) and on top of that, her fucking mic was too low. Actually, during Bitman’s set there were major mic issues. Like sometimes Bitman would wanna say some stuff to hype up the crowd or say thanks, and they wouldn’t turn on the mic for him. Goddamn. The sound people should pay closer attention!! That’s actually why I didn’t catch the rapper’s name, but I think someone said he was venezolano? Will have to verify.

Plastilina Mosh were a surprise for me. I’m not too familiar with them and I expected them to be not unlike Bitman and Raff, just a lot of electronic stuff, so imagine how I felt when a full-on band showed up on stage. Yes, there was a keyboardist and a laptop DJ, but also two fellas mainly on guitar, a main vocalist/guitarist, a bassist, and a drummer. The drummer was a woman! That was fucking exciting, you don’t see many female drummer bumming around, you know? She was really good, too. For some reason they were all dressed as if they were in different bands, which made me LOL a little. They had great energy and it was actually really cool to see that they were muy rocanrol.

They did, however, lose me around the time they did their “we don’t really know how to reggae but here’s our attempt at reggae” song, mostly cos in my less-than-knowledgeable ears, it didn’t sound very reggae and even worse, it was kind of too slow to be playing during a hot summer day. And this slump dragged on for like three songs before the good vibes picked up again. They covered “Viva Las Vegas.” They also did this really catchy song that they dedicated to all the ladies, which was really great until they started going “Me so horny/love me long time,” which are phrases that just make me really uncomfortable.

Y qué digo sobre Julieta. Let’s start with the superficial stuff: I think she’s better-looking in person, which is incredible because whenever I’ve seen pics or video footage of her, I’ve always been captivated by how pretty she is.

I know I must sound demanding but her set was a mixed bag for me. It was way too short, for one thing, and that made me wish Plastilina hadn’t gone on for so long. Second, it was very heavy on newer material, like from the past year or so. Now, I absolutely LOVED “Primer día” and “Eres para mí,” but I’m not that big a fan of Limón y sal. I mean, I sang along to “Me voy” and “Limón y sal,” but c’mon… they’re pretty weak pop songs by Julieta standards. Also, she did the rap part to “Eres para mí,” and I almost fainted from the shock, just cos I’m so used to Anita Tijoux rockin’ the mic at that point. This live version was fierce though!! The songs included “Lento,” “Algo está cambiando” and “Andar conmigo,” which I’m not complaining about. It just would have been nice to hear some of the lesser known stuff, like “A tu lado.” ALSO! She did “De mis pasos” which is such a badass song and the live arrangement for it was awesome. Seriously, one of the best pieces she’s ever written and I’m glad she still keeps it in her repertoire.

Julieta was backed by fourteen other musicians! There was a string quartet, a 4-person horn section, and some percussionists, as well as a regular band. They were supercool, plus they all seemed to be having fun which made me happy. And she played on guitar, keys, and (the crowd favorite!!) her accordion, though half the time I think she just sang.

I think the best thing about this lineup was that they’re all acts that have been around a while. They were all very polished and professional and got through the minor technical difficulties that appeared on occasion with a smile. Not only that, the fact that these acts have been doing their thing for a “long” time meant that they were all comfortable and had a great connection which really helped the vibe. I will say that this wasn’t my best experience at the LAMC show for SummerStage but I definitely enjoyed it for what it was. In part I was a bit upset with some of the crowd, but I don’t wanna get into it because I don’t have the energy to get mad. I dealt with it as I could. And believe me, when the announcer peeps came up and mentioned how many people had to be turned away, I was definitely grateful that I got a chance to see all these musicians.


Short shorts.

(1) This dude re-did “American Boy” into “Caribbean Girl” which is painfully forced and uncreative (some would say faithful). Even worse, just a few changes in the words changes the entire context of the song. It’s more about ~*O HEY MAMI CAN I MACK ON YOU*~ and less of a fun, escapist, ephemeral summer jam, which is how I viewed “American Boy”. Una tragedia, yo digo. I got the sense that this dude is totally in love with his own voice, cos he sure likes to show off how suave he sounds.


If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!!

(2) Finished reading Las películas de mi vida. The idea was interesting but Fuguet didn’t follow through as effectively as in his other stories. I have to say, however, a lot of times he catches me off guard and I’m hit with some massive emotional punch.

(3) I was having issues with Soulseek–that is, I was too impatient to wait for Soulseekers to stop banning me for not sharing–so I went out and bought the Amandititita album. It was cheaper than most CDs. Yay for being on a major, huh? The album kinda lags in the second half, but it’s still kinda fabulous.

(4) New York mag asked a number of people–including RZA, Kim Gordon, and Albert Hammond, Jr.–to contribute summer playlists, which were turned into muxtapes. One of the Pistolera members participated and filled the muxtape with some great tracks. Here is the link to the muxtape. Speaking of which, I updated my muxtape.

(5) Albums I really really wanna check out:

Julieta Venegas’s MTV Unplugged, which features fucking Marisa Monte (!!!) as well as La Mala Rodríguez. You can check out the version of “Eres para mí” with La Mala at La Onda Tropical. (BTW, congrats to La Onda on their 3rd anniversary and on their mention on Latina.) I love this new version but I absolutely love the rap in the original that Anita Tijoux does. Anita’s lines flow beautifully with the rest of the song and include my favorite lines in the entire song: “el corazón es un músculo/si no late, revienta.” Besides, if I hadn’t heard this song I never would have known about Makiza which is one of my favorite hip-hop groups. Pero bueno, nothing like reinterpretation… right?

I’m also seriously jonesing for Håkan Hellström’s latest album, För Sent för Edelweiss. I don’t know what it is about him, he’s seriously one of the funnest pop musicians I’ve heard. And I’m glad he’s not a Swede who sings in English, obviously living in an English-speaking country, most of the Swedes who come our way tend to perform their music in English, and I’m sure it’s the reason Hellström isn’t well-known here. But his music’s solid! It’s unfair that he shouldn’t get the same exposure.

(6) I’ve been trying the beta version of the new Last.fm and I think it’s swell. Accessible, easy-to-navigate, fast, and easy on the eyes. Seriously, a pretty layout is crucial. It almost makes me wanna pay for a subscription.

(7) Rewatched Dogfight for the first time in years and had a good cry.  Good movie.


Babasónicos @ Highline Ballroom, 6/26

My current Fbook status: “Elizabeth totally wants to think that she and Adrián Dargelos had a moment of hot eye sex at the Babasónicos show.”

I just came back from seeing Babasónicos in concert for the first time, and it was the first show I saw at the Highline Ballroom. It may also have been the first time I saw a show without an opener–and boy was that exciting.

I was fucking stressed out because my feet hurt something awful and I didn’t have no dinner, which made me cranky as fuck, pero al final everything worked out fine, tuve mucho ánimo durante el concierto y bailé mucho y Babasónicos were fucking fantastic. I’d seen some of their live footage before and it was so wonderful to experience their show live.

Psst, you wanna know a secret though? For all the fucking stereotypes of Latinos knowing how to dance, lo que sea, the crowd near me sure broke all those expectations by not really moving around. A select few were, but many weren’t. Couldn’t figure out what it was. Of course, for some, it’s just not their style. For others, though, I feel like they were stunned by the group.

I was fucking stunned, too. I’ve mentioned it before; the reason I was stunned is cos, honestly, I don’t know that much about the people behind this music, so it was really cool to get a good look at the band. The only band member I coulda recognized on the street would have been the singer, and only because he has the most incredible nose. Seriously, it’s unforgettable. He was kinda… gloriously hilarious, wiggling his hips all over the stage in this super-sexy, borderline scandalous manner. But the other members, oh Lord, they’re actually quite handsome, esp. the guitarist who was near me on stage left. (He did backup and some lead vocals on a few of the songs.) I thought the bassist was cool but I did feel a small pang knowing that Gabo died so recently, but if I remember correctly, he’s been with them for a bit, since Gabo had been sick for a while and had to quit touring when he was alive. The band interacted well together, the chemistry among them shows and it’s a testament as to why they’ve stuck together so long.

I was fascinated by the fact that half of them had ‘fros going on top of their lovely heads. It kinda reminded me of the Strokes. Maybe it wasn’t a random comparison, since Albert Hammond, Jr.’s mama, after all, is argentina. Anyway, thinking about the Strokes actually made me sadder than thinking about Gabo, since I hardly knew anything about him, whereas I used to be a huge Strokes fan so I’m so disappointed these days with how much the Strokes have declined in quality.

I thought the band’s relationship to us, the audience, was really interesting. They’re not much for stage banter and they were more into more physical showmanship. Like the singer, Adrián, was totally posing for us and the (many many) cameras and shit, singing directly to specific people, etc., pero para mí pareció demasiado “show.” Quiero decir que, aunque verdaderamente divertido, I felt like they (not just the singer) were hiding behind this performance, protecting themselves. It’s like, “Here, let us give you a bit of titillation and sass and you can leave us in peace.”

I’m not sure if that makes sense. I don’t mean it as a bad thing. I think it’s actually really good to set limits as to how much access the fans should have. Speaking of fans and access, a number of girls ran up to the front and tried to jump on stage. At first I was annoyed by them, even though they were dancing, and the reason is this: they seemed to be more focused on getting on stage and, I don’t know, groping the members of the band instead of just enjoying the music and being with friends. Just felt like a lot of attention hogging. All of them took too long climbing on stage and by the time they were up, the security people were escorting them back down. The truly hilarious thing is that each time a girl (I can only recall one boy) tried to climb up, it was when Adrián was actually doing his thing on stage right, so he hardly even noticed the people on stage left climbing up and (theoretically) ready to pounce on him. The guards tackled the people before he even knew what had happened. In the end a girl did make contact, but with the drummer.

I admit, though, as soon as the kids came back to the floor, they weren’t keen on jumping on stage again and just enjoyed themselves. And I appreciated that a lot more than the people who seemed frozen in place. I also appreciated them way more than the (mostly) boys moshing. Damn. I will never understand why people would want to bump and grind against other sweaty smelly people in such an aggressive manner. (Unless we’re talking about people in a relationship just having a sexual encounter, ¡pero eso es otra cosa!) I didn’t mind them too much at first but halfway through the show I had to give up my spot and ended up much closer to the moshers which was annoying. The reason I had to give up my spot was to make room for an audience member who was in a wheelchair. I wasn’t so baffled by his presence, since disabled people are perfectly capable of enjoying music and I guess he took an elevator up to where the ballroom is located in the building. PERO. (1) I can’t understand why the disable person and his caretaker couldn’t reserve a spot in the front before the set started and (2) I was actually worried that the person would get hurt by being on the floor with the rest of the crowd instead of at a table on the side or something. Oh wells. He really seemed to enjoy it, and I totally loved the set, too. In the end, even though I was closer to the moshers, I also found myself around dudes who were attentive to the show and I was able to dance along as I had been earlier.

It’s just that. The concert.. it all went in a blur! The band went on stage a bit past 9 pm and the set lasted, what? 80 minutes? Algo así. Wasn’t even 10:30 when it was all over, encore y todo. The dudes have been around for so long and they have so much back catalogue so I was so so disappointed by the relatively short set. They did play some amazing jams. Even the new stuff sounded lovely. I was really happy to hear “Microdancing,” which is begging to be released as their next ~*HIT SINGLE*~. Oh, and there was this huge singalong during “Putita” which is such an extraordinary song, both melodically and textually.

Not to make it sound like I’m an ungrateful bitch, but once they left the stage for real and the light went up, I couldn’t help thinking, “That’s it?” Me encontré jangueando close to the stage, not ready to give up the night, and suddenly I saw one of the techies tear off a set list. The techies are used to people asking for the set lists, claro, so he immediately downstage to give the set list away. I reached. And I got it. It’s the first set list I got! I don’t have photographic proof because, to be frank, I don’t know how to work my camera (I HATE CAMERAS!). But here is the list, as it was written on the page:

– RABIOSO [ = “Estoy rabioso“]
– DIABLO [ = “Sin mi diablo“]
– PENDEJO
– LAS DEMAS
– PUESTO
– PIJA+ [ = “Pijamas“]
– COMO ERAN [ = “Como eran las cosas“]
– CUELLO
– MICRO [ = “Microdancing“]
– EL COLMO
– Y Q’ [ = “¿Y qué?“]
– SUTURNO
– CARISMA [ = “Carismático“]
– PUTITA
– IRRESP. [ = “Irresponsable“]
– YO ANUNCIO
– ASI [ = “Así se habla“]
– YEGUA

– CAMARIN
– RISA

I’m pretty sure they followed the set exactly. They put on an excellent show, they rocked so hard. If only they could have played some more of their older shit. Man, didn’t even realize how new all the songs were until I looked at the set list. Bueno, a lo mejor la próxima van a tocar “Los calientes”…

Please forgive all my grammatical and factual errors. I’ll try to fix them if I notice them.


La Misma Mierda.

I share a work area with two other kids, a guy and a girl. The girl is straight up a Kelly Kapoor, by which I mean that she’s super-friendly and enjoys activities such as clothes-shopping and talking on the phone and watching movies like Pretty Woman. Basically, she’s a normal individual, well-adjusted and content in society. Not that I’m setting myself up as “alternative,” but I see her and I can’t imagine being part of her tribe.

The guy and I have more in common. We “pass” for regular folk (he wears clothes that make him look really square) but we think about our place in the world a bit more. We do have our differences, however. He’s much more likely to question things, not to accept things that are thrown at him, so he’s developed this sort of disdain for the mainstream. I relish every part of popular culture, even the lowbrow, so instead of being dismissive of them the way that he is, I try to think critically about these things.

When it comes to taste, then, the guy and the girl are at opposite ends of the spectrum, and I find myself in the middle.

The girl is the type of person who feels uncomfortable when it’s quiet, so she’ll just think of any topic to make conversation. Today she asked me whether I liked Usher better than Justin Timberlake, and yes, the topic came up randomly.

The guy in our work area basically stated it was all the same shit, and I agreed, except he meant, it was all the same shit (he doesn’t care about Top 40 artists), whereas I meant it was all the same shit. I told her that I don’t see a significant difference in the “pop” genre and the “r&b” genre, and this response was met with disbelief in her part.

“You can’t seriously think that they’re the same.”

I’ve had this argument before but it still pissed me off. I didn’t know how to reply in a way that wouldn’t betray my annoyance. To me, r&b and pop son la misma mierda because historically, the r&b charts were created so that black artists wouldn’t take over the pop charts. It’s like this: when popular music as we know it developed, it was mostly consumed by the baby boomers, who at that point were teens and were just starting to enjoy the fruits of a more leisurely culture. They had money to spare and they started to consume all these pop records. Well, concerned (or should I say, racist) white folks realized that a lot of the really catchy records were performed by black artists, so they felt all threatened in some imagined sexual panic and decided to make a separate hit chart for black artists–the “rhythm & blues” chart. R&b, then, is an arbitrary category, there’s really no difference when compared to pop music. And the HILARIOUS thing is that even though they kicked all these great black artists into a musical genre ghetto, all the money-grubbin’ industry people decided to take these songs and have white artists cover them and even perform in styles similar to the black artists. Hence, why adults in that era were unnerved about Elvis Presley.

Look at the case of “I’m Into Something Good”! One song, different artists. This song was originally performed by a young black woman named Earl-Jean McCrea (you can hear it here), but shortly after Herman’s Hermits re-recorded the track and hit #1 with it! You can hear the HH version here.

Of course I’m talking about really old artists here, long gone from the pop landscape. I also acknowledge that current r&b and pop are miles away from how they sounded originally. But don’t you wonder why r&b is still seen as “black music” and pop is primarily seen more as “white music”? In my understanding, pop and r&b have the same origins in America: gospel, blues, country, folk. To me, it’s all popular music, as in, music that is for the masses, music that is accessible. Ugh… I’m aware that I didn’t explain this efficiently enough, but I don’t know how to make it clear why I have trouble distinguishing between genres. If only I had the gift of rhetoric…

Ultimately, to avoid confrontation and this longass spiel, I told my coworker that I think Usher is a better dancer, but that I like Justin Timberlake more. But that I’m still mad at him for leaving Janet hanging.