8.30.2007

The Quest for Pants

In the last two months I have spent close to $400 on trousers.

I'll let that sink in for a second. Four. Hundred. Dollars. After spending that kind of money, just guess how many pairs of pants I now own. I'll give you a second to do the math. Ready? The answer: 2. How many of two pairs of pants I came away with actually fit? 1. How many of the pants that fit that I came away with fit well? 0.

What's going on here? Why, that's exactly what I would like to know. Before I continue I should point out that I did not pay $200 per pair. I bought several pair from several different stores and ended up with only two, returning the rest. One of which was a custom tailored pant (that didn't fit) and therefore couldn't be returned. Admittedly, I am being picky. I no longer settle for pants that physically fit. I want pants that fit well, and this seems to be an impossibility. I feel as though I may have angered a higher power or something as I have opened several packages to find trousers with tags that read the correct size, but when compared to a pair I already own, resemble some sort of cruel joke at my junk's expense.

What's the deal? In short, I'm a freak. To big for regular people, too small for big & tall. My experience has left me wondering how normal people can just go about their lives in legged bliss while some of us wander this Earth clinging to the only stitches of trouser-dom that actual fit decently. I just want to channel George Costanza and scream "HAS THE WHOLE WORLD GONE CRAZY?!!!?!! SERENITY NOW!!!"

Seriously, you may take it for granted, but I have absolutely no idea what it feels like to be able to walk into a store, pick a pair of pants up off the rack, pay, leave and wear pants.

I end up on the Internet, filtering results, trying to figure out how a 300p x300p picture will translate into 4D and eating a lot of shipping costs. Sometimes I wish that I weren't so tall. Maybe I could get bone graft surgery or something, but then I think of all the short people I have made fun of throughout my life and I realize that karma can be a bitch.

It's not just me though. The quest for pants is a tale older than anyone can remember. Trousers have been a prominent reoccurrence throughout the history of the world. Scots vs. English? Pants vs. Kilts. Some say, Napoleon's ability to find pants off the rack in any store helped him to develop the confidence and cavalier attitude needed to lead a million troops to war. Benjamin Franklin, was recently revealed to be quite the ladies man and anyone who has handled a one hundred dollar bill can attest to the fact that the man was fugmo. The secret to his successes, then? Tight pants.

In recent years, several wars can be blamed on pants or the lack thereof. And most notably, even Superman, the man of steel himself has been documented as being unable to find a pair of trousers worthy of his might. It's a well-known fact that Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, was originally to be called Superman IV: The Quest for Pants. In this version, Superman, tired of saving the world time and time again, decides to become Clark Kent for good, but cannot find a pair of pants that can contain his... er, super ...physique. Instead, the trouser angle was scrapped and replaced with something about nuclear power and Dolph Lundgren being evil.

Regardless, I shall persevere, and when I find the perfect pair of pants I will buy the company that makes them.

8.27.2007

File This Under 'No One Cares'

I was watching Minority Report on my iPhone today and I noticed that the retinal scanner makes the exact same noise that the iPhone makes when you connect it to a power source.

You can hear for yourself in Chapter 5 of the DVD at about the 25 minute mark when Anderton (Tom Cruise) passes through the retinal scanner.

Is the iPhone taking retinal scans through its ambient light sensor? Is Apple stealing sound effects from Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks? Does anyone beside me actually give a crap?

Musical Chairs - Part 2

Picking up where I left off last time (see here), with so much new music coming my way this summer, here's another quick round up of some more great tracks that are really tripping my trigger this season.

UNKLE - War Stories
Unkle featuring Josh Homme - War Stories


The slick glossy orchestrations of Never, Never Land have given way to a grainy and driven bout of fuzz-rock. UNKLE's music was never exactly "uplifting", but War Stories is much grimier than their last two entries.

War Stories treads that line of 'not quite a rock record, not quite an electronic record'. The sound is organic, but inconsistent. Some songs sound like epic throwbacks to Never, Never Land with complex rhythms and strings. Other songs sound almost indie rock. A surfeit of guest singers harkens back to Pysence Fiction but also seems unecessary given the addition of singer/songwriter Richard File to the group. The collaboration tracks, however, remain some of the strongest.

The iTunes version of War Stories includes two bonus tracks previously only available in Japan, one of which ("Buying a Lie") makes the purchase worth every penny. CD purests won't be disappointed though as the physical disc comes with some highly praised packaging and bonus materials (but not the two bonus songs).

Stand Outs: "Keys to the Kingdom (feat. Gavin Clark)", "Burn My Shadow (feat. Ian Astbury)", "Twilight (feat. 3D)", "Buying a Lie (feat. Lee Gorton)"[iTunes/Japan only].


Silverchair - Young Modern
Silverchair - Young Modern

It looks like Heath Ledger and Jason Lee have formed a band... wait, those are the boys from Silverchair, all grown up and back with their newest studio album in 4 years.

With the magnum opus that was Diorama behind them, it seems that Silverchair has reached the Yellow Submarine phase of their career. Bizarre and goofy meets engaging and catchy. The trio has lost it fantastically.

Young Modern deconstructs the band's signature sounds from the past couple albums and pushes their own boundaries even further. One thing is certain: no one is making music quite like this right now.

Stand Outs: "Straight Lines", "If You Keep Losing Sleep", "Those Thieving Birds (Part 1) / Strange Behaviour / Those Thieving Birds (Part 2)", "The Man That Knew Too Much".



Nu:Tone - Back of Beyond
Nu:Tone - Back of Beyond


If you like Drum'n'Bass (aka Jungle) you're doing yourself a disservice by not listening closely to the music coming out of U.K.-based Hospital Records. The label has a ridiculously strong stable of artists, and has recently released jaw-dropping albums from London Elektricity, Cyantific and Logistics. Now, with London Elektricity's Tony Coleman back in the studio working on his upcoming album and silencing his podcast for the summer we can fill the void with Back of Beyond.

For those of you familiar with the aformentioned Hospital Records' weekly podcast, you may actually recognize quite a few of the tracks on Back of Beyond. Coleman has been playing them in preview form for quite some time and it's great to finally be able to get a hold of them.

Back of Beyond is a bit more subtle and subdued when compared to other Hospital artists. He is the older brother of Logistics and there actually is a recognizable comparison of sounds. Back of Beyond may not be as flashy as Logistic's Now More Than Ever or Cyantific's Ghettoblaster, but it is rock solid. Like running a marathon, the production never falters, Back of Beyond is over an hour of enjoyable, dance-able, extremely-well-put-together drum'n'bass.

Stand Outs: "System", "Missing Link", "Take Me Back", "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye", "Beatnik", "Up and Down", "Jet Stream".


Singles

Timebomb - Beck - C'mon, it's Beck. If you need more than that, Beck describes this song as: "a song for bonfires, blackouts, and the last hurrah of summer." Yep.

Future Calls the Dawn - Felix Da Housecat For those of you who wish they were in Ibiza, Spain right about now, this is a great summer track. How can a song be both epic and subtle at the same time?

Beautiful Life - Gui Boratto Straight off of the 2007 release of Chromophobia Beautiful Life sounds a lot like a Chemical Brother's song (and that's a high compliment) and is just in time for the summer dance season.

LoveStoned / I Think She Knows (Tiësto Remix) - Justin Timberlake I'm not a J.T. fan, but Tiesto took an utterly craptastic song and remixed it into something far more fun and engaging.

Crazy World (feat. Kathy Brown) - J Majik & Wickaman Another great drum'n'bass song for the summer with a great hook (however repetitive, but still fun).

Carry Me Away (feat. Emma Hewitt) - Chris Lake One last great dance track for the summer. Kind of cheesy, but it's got a good breezy house vibe.

8.17.2007

Death Metal Office Drumming

I'm putting in an app to work at this dude's office.


One thing that has always bothered me about my work place is the lack of totally extreme death metal. It's in my face!

Check out this guy's blog at www.pud.com. I think I have a new hero.

Happy Friday, bitches!

8.15.2007

Go-Go Gadget Go Bag

What's in Your Go Bag? Lifehacker.com put out a call for submissions on Monday to ask that very question.

Here's my response. What's your's? Go to Lifehacker.com on Thursday to see the 'Show Us Your Go Bag Screenshot Tour'



The Librarian's Go Bag. Liberated from a group of bags designated for our library's laptops. This is my new go bag, replacing the one I had in school with something a bit smaller.

Included:
  • Sunglasses ($14 Target variety) + case
  • 20GB iPod (to plug in to speakers at the office)
  • Metra Schedules
  • notepad
  • iPhone (usually resides in pocket, but replaces the digital camera I carried in my old go bag)
  • Random library materials (this week it's Bulllitt on DVD and a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy audiobook)
  • Mini-Umbrella
  • Mini-Maglite
  • 2GB Flash Drive
  • chapstick
  • my trusty Parker pen (great click action)
  • a little fresh breath control
  • iPhone cloth
  • headphones (usually reside in a cargo pocket)
  • (Not pictured: my old, beat up eye-glasses case w/ cleaning cloth)

8.07.2007

Review: The Chemical Brothers - We Are The Night

The Chemical Brothers - We Are The Night The Chemical Brothers - We Are the Night


Not writing a full review of We Are The Night would really be doing The Chemical Brothers an injustice. I have been following the Ed Simons and Tom Rowlands as The Chemical Brothers for almost 10 years now and they remain one of my all-time favorite groups. I have been hotly anticipating their new CD ever since I heard the single "Saturate", known as "Electronic Battle Weapon 8" in single form, back in February. Judging from that single, however, I fully expected We Are The Night to be another brazen step forward for the duo, turning away from their established sound and trying something new.

Much to my delight, I found instead that the new album was a compromise that brought new ideas and a fresh sense of humor to the table as well as a conjuring of memories of the older sounds.

After giving We Are The Night my undivided attention and listening to it a couple times through, I have formed the opinion that the album can be listened to as a bridge between 2002's Come With Us and 2005's Push The Button.

Come With Us seemed to be the pinnacle of the signature psychedelic Chemical Brothers sound. Vast and lush swirling soundscapes endlessly moving forward by the prodding of massive concussive beats. Push The Button seemed more of an exercise in collaboration. It had more of a pop-sensibility about it in terms of its tracks being concise and independent of one another. I dare not use the word formulaic but Push The Button was much more straight forward and different from the bulk of The Chemical Brothers other works.

Exit Planet Dust, Dig Your Own Hole and Come With Us were a cohesive whole. They very much gave the impression of a symphony with different movements. Surrender and to a greater extent Push the Button had much more disparate content. The individual songs on those albums did not seem like they belonged to a single structure. Hodgepodge would be the derogatory word. Eclectic would be its complimentary counterpart.

We Are The Night brings back the over-arching psychedelic melodicism from Exit Planet Dust, Dig Your Own Hole, and Come With Us, while combining diverse individual tracks like Surrender and some of the collaborative, pop sensibility of Push The Button.

The end result is an album that should appeal to anyone who has ever enjoyed The Chemical Brothers.

Opening with "No Path to Follow", We Are The Night instantly establishes itself as an audio journey. Find cushy chair and a comfortable pair of headphones with a lot of bass. "We Are The Night" launches you forward on a ride through the stars with twinkling highs, a chugging beat and a train-like bass line.

"All Rights Reversed" hammers at you with reverberating echoed beats while the Klaxons wail hauntingly. "Saturate" builds and falls, inflates and deflates, crescendos and then spikes to dizzying heights. Layers of melody and a killer drum fill make you want to turn the volume up past the limit.

"Do It Again" was initially disappointing. It seemed very boring almost dull. However, with a melody like blinking LED's and a repeatable mantra-esque chorus/verse it becomes enjoyable though sparse. "Das Spiegel" on the other hand is lush and inviting. Initially, it sounds almost like a George Clinton groove, but as the guitars start strumming, the song begins to call to mind Push The Button's "Marvo Gling". Happy and warm like flying in a dream.

One thing that The Chemical Brothers have never explicitly included in their music is comedy. "The Salmon Dance" featuring Fatlip tears down that barrier with a hilarious song that evokes the brand of humor found in Mr. Oizo's music video for his song "Flat Beat". For some reason, "The Salmon Dance" makes me think of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

"Burst Generator" generates memories of songs like "The Private Psychedelic Reel" from Dig Your Own Hole. It's introspective, driven and its melodies seem to stream by like pinpricks of light rolling on ribbons of sound. Back to space again.

Coming down out of orbit, in the upper atmosphere, floats "A Modern Midnight Conversation" with dipping and rising melodies and a breezy chorus. "Battle Scars" touches down in the middle of a desert with Willy Mason singing a cowboy song while surely riding on horseback. If Jim Morrison were still alive, it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine he'd be making music much like this. Twinkling pianos, and a plodding beat make this track a true stand out.

"Harpoons" pulls the sound underwater, deep, where there are no beats. Only bubbles of inverted sound and an ambient vocal current to guide us to our final destination. "The Pills Won't Help You Now" give the sad impression that the whole trip was just a dream. A quiet, and mournful track reminiscient of work from The Flaming Lips, Midlake helps The Chemical Brothers close the album out with a bittersweet song that inspires that empty feeling you get after the hangover is gone.

In the end, We Are The Night is an experience. Unlike most albums of this nature, the songs can be enjoyed individually but when listened to together become much more.
For more information about We Are The Night click here.

8.06.2007

Musical Chairs - Part 1

With so much new music coming my way this summer, I find myself hard pressed to review each record separately. Instead I have put together a round up of sorts of the tracks that are really tripping my trigger this season.

The Beastie Boys - The Mix-Up
Beastie Boys - The Mix-Up

One of my biggest gripes with 2004's To The 5 Buroughs was its lack of the trippy, funktastic grooves that made 1992's Check Your Head my instant favorite of the trio's 7 studio albums.

The Mix-Up fills the void left by To The 5 Buroughs by supplying a solid 40-minute instrumental groove. If the two had been released closer together it could have made an amazing double album with straight-up rap on one side and straight-up funk on the other. If you were a fan of The Beastie Boy's compilation album from 1996, The In Sound From Way Out you will love The Mix-Up.

Stand Outs: "B For My Name", "Suco De Tangerina", "Freaky Hijiki" and "Off The Grid".


Mark Ronson - Version
Mark Ronson featuring Daniel Merriweather - Version

Chances are, even if you haven't heard of Mark Ronson, you've probably heard one of his songs. Producing for Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, and many, many others over the the last decade, Mark Ronson has made a name for himself in the U.K. as a mastermind behind the scenes.

Now, he's stepping into the spotlight with Version, an album built by his collaborations with numerous and noteworthy artists like Ol' Dirty Bastard of the Wu-Tang Clan, the aforementioned Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen, Robbie Williams and Kasabian, as well as his smooth, organic soul, funk orchestrations. Version is a party album. Something to nod your head and tap your fingers to and most importantly, something to dance to.

Stand Outs: "God Put a Smile On Your Face (feat. The Daptone Horns)", "Oh My God (feat. Lily Allen)", "Toxic (feat. Ol' Dirty Bastard & Tiggers)", "Inversion", "Diversion" and "Outversion".


Lily Allen - Alright, Still
Lily Allen - Alright, Still


In early November 2006, the iTunes single of the week was a happy little track called "Smile" by a relatively unknown Lily Allen. Now, an SNL and Coachella appearance and the release of her critically acclaimed album Alright, Still later, Allen has taken the U.K. and a good chunk of the U.S. by storm.

Thanks in part to the always stylish and hip production efforts of Mark Ronson, Alright, Still is a witty, biting, irreverant and downright funny album that can still cause spontaneous dancing.

Stand Outs: "Smile", "Knock 'Em Out", "LDN", "Everything's Just Wonderful", "Take What You Take", and "Alfie".


Linkin Park - Minutes to Midnight
Linkin Park - Minutes to Midnight


With the release of the group's second album, Meteora, Linkin Park proved to be a little less than worthy of the band's cliché reputation.

Meteora played cinematically and had fantastic art direction in both the liner notes and subsequent music videos. The music itself had excellent and meticulous production values.

While not perfect by any means, Meteora felt like another massive step in the right direction for the group both artistically and sonically.

Minutes to Midnight, on the other hand initially comes off not as a step backward, but rather wandering away from logical progression and down a meandering path. That, however is just the initial impression.

What do you get when you combine Linkin Park & U2? Minutes to Midnight. While that comparison is a bit unfair, the band's sound has matured and thus, gotten a bit boring from a superficial perspective (although if mash-ups were still "cool" the first DJ to mix "Shadow of the Day" with "With or Without You" would be sitting on a gold mine).

In the end, it doesn't really matter (sorry). Regardless of what fans expected from Linkin Park, Minutes to Midnight is here and we can either accept it or reject it. At it's core, it is a very good album. A very different, but good album.

Stand Outs: "Wake", "Leave Out All The Rest", "Bleed it Out", "What I've Done", "Hands Held High", "In Between" and "In Pieces".