Music. Technology. Life

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Hello, I've Missed You.

Too stubborn, too ignorant, too crazy about you
I didn't know that love was blind
To say this world was made for us
I never knew, I never tried
-Passing Time, New Found Glory

Summer vacation always makes me nostalgic, no matter what I chose to do. I guess it's always because I'm separated from a routine and most of my friends for two months and am given too much time to think about the little things that have happened in my life. Today as I was racing through the vast sea of highways known as Houston, I decided that my current playlist on my ipod just wasn't hitting the spot for the environment I was in. So I decided to call up an old favorite, Nothing Gold Can Stay by New Found Glory. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with a mix of emotions and memories that I thought I had left behind along with my middle school antics. There's just something about certain pop-punk albums, such as Nothing Gold Can Stay, that just yank at my heartstrings, begging me to sing along to every word, or make me remember the difficulties of pre-algrebra, my 7th grade in-between shoe size and awkward middle school crushes. It's with this that I present my own personal pop punk favorites that are responsible for my love for music today. I highly recommend any of these albums if you haven't given them a listen yet. Maybe you'll be able to relive your hormone filled middle school memories all over again with these simple pop hooks and lyrics that you can seemingly relate to any part of your life.

Let It Happen- MXPX

It Never Snows In Florida- New Found Glory

Dude Ranch- Blink 182

All Killer, No Filler- Sum 41

Sticks And Stones- New Found Glory

Texas One Ten- Horace Pinker

Perhaps, I Suppose- Rufio

And finally...

Through Being Cool- Saves The Day

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Long Awaited Return/ Los Campesinos!

Firstly, I'd like to apologize for my absence. The last semester of high school which consisted of lots of sleeping then a sudden escalation of studying for my IB exams caused me to forget about my blogger account. Now, on to more important matters...

I have a strong love for British bands, starting with the older groups such as The Beatles, The Who and Pink Floyd, to the British invasion of the music scene during the 80's, all the way up to quirky indie bands coming out of the UK today. If I had to count the number of times I've listened to Belle & Sebastian's If You're Feeling Sinister or Bloc Party's Silent Alarm on my fingers...well, let's not even go there. Point being, I have an obsession for bands coming out of the UK, and it's one I don't think will end any time soon.

During this last semester of my high school life there's one band I haven't been able to get enough of. Coming out of Cardiff, Wales, Los Campesinos! provide a fun and energetic mix of crazy guitar work and hilarious lyrics with all sorts of references to movies, school and pop culture. Though the singers aren't armed with amazing voices, their interesting girl-guy vocal arrangements along with the use of a number of odd instruments make up for an interesting listen. I expect to hear more great things from this band in the future.

Check out one of my favorite Los Campesinos songs, "You, Me, Dancing":

Thursday, February 14, 2008

All Hail The Kinsella Brothers

There's no doubt in my mind that in 30 years the Kinsella duo will still have some street-cred. Each of the brothers has taken part in an array of musical groups throughout their careers and have produced some of the most memorable and underrated music of the 90's and 00's. Tim and Mike Kinsella began their careers at home in Illinois in the 90's with the start of Cap'n Jazz, a short-lived and relatively unknown project that basically developed the musical style of the mid-west emo craze of the 90's. Cap'n Jazz broke up in 1995 after their only release was basically ignored due to poor distribution from their label.

After the break up of Cap'n Jazz, the brothers went on to form American Football, an extremely influential and praised mid-west emo/ indie band. This time, Mike decided to take over on vocals, instead of his brother who had been the lead vocalist in their earlier project, Cap'n Jazz. American Football had a two releases, an EP and a self-titled release which is much more popular today than it was when it was released back in 1999. American Football broke up in early 2000 for reasons similar to Cap'n Jazz's break up.

Though both Cap'n Jazz and American Football's releases were barely blips on the radar in their infancy, they're worshiped by music fans today. However, the Kinsella brothers didn't give up after the failure of their first two projects. Today, Tim is the central member of the eccentric and highly experimental Joan of Arc. Mike has been working on his solo project, Owen for the past few years and has released some of the best acoustic records of this decade.

Mike Kinsella performing The Sad Waltzes of Pietro Crespi from his latest album, At Home With Owen.

Joan of Arc performing Eventually All At Once

Finally, here's a link to a live set of American Football. Thanks to TJ at Static And Sirens for the link.

Fireside Bowl, Chicago, 1999

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Juno +Indie Film Phenomena

I'm not going to sit here happily typing away and pretend that I am knowledgeable on the subject of film. I've always been more of a music person. Movies just last way too long for me. Maybe I'm just weird, or maybe I just have a messed up attention span. High school culture basically requires that you be a fan of movies, so I've always stuck out a little bit on that matter. I don't particularly enjoy going out with my friends and watching a movie. Kinda strange right? Well, I kinda feel like it's a waste of time, that we could spend some good quality time together just making some casual conversation. However, occasionally there will be a film that has some sort of positive effect on me.

Now, I realize I'm going to sound like some teen-wannabehipster, but quite honestly the new, overly hyped indie-ish film, Juno, had that very effect on me. I'm not sure if it was the fact that I'm sort of supposed to like it, if I just watched it at the right time, or if it was the story itself. Maybe it was just the sheer simplicity and honesty of the whole thing. A cute and somewhat light-hearted story, considering the situation presented, filled with plenty of comedy and a decent soundtrack. It's hard to find so much good in a movie these days. A movie that's enjoyable and so easy to watch.

Hollywood spends millions of dollars trying to create films that are so entertaining, filled with an unimaginable number of effects and stunts. It just becomes so repetitive that something so simple becomes so appealing to a wide audience. Though Juno had plenty of holes within the story, the fact that the creators weren't afraid to leave those holes is what made it so enjoyable. Plus, the witty side comments pretty much made up for where the story fell short.

However, what's truly interesting about these films like Juno, is that they work like a bandwagon. They create controversy of all kinds. In Juno's case it's been the soundtrack to the film. Indie kids everywhere are upset that their beloved Adam Green and Kimya Dawson have been discovered by everyone who's watched the film. It's actually pretty funny. People on message boards fussing about how they've been listening to The Moldy Peaches since 2003, therefore anyone who began listening to them after Juno has no right to listen to them. This is what I call Indie Film Phenomena. Fans becoming extremely angry about a band gaining more fans because of a film their music was featured in. It's happened before in films such as Garden State, Napoleon Dynamite or even the well known television drama,The OC. When people began liking The Shins, Figurine or Death Cab For Cutie after watching these films, old fans tried to defend their undying love for these bands. It's strange how people get so defensive of the music they listen to as it's their own. I must admit, I am a culprit myself. However, I believe that instead of being the selfish listeners that we usually are, we should be kind of happy that our favorite musicians are getting some much deserved attention.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Sometimes you just need a nice vacation to Europe. I myself have never traveled to Europe, but I'm positive that Beirut's newest release, The Flying Club Cup would be the perfect album for the trip. In fact, I can easily imagine myself driving through Eastern Europe in tiny car with this album blasting through my headphones. Everything about this album makes me think Europe; from the presence of the accordion and ukulele, to the random clips of foreign languages being spoken in the background.

Zach Condon, the mastermind behind Beirut, hails from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Oh yeah, and he's only 22, with two albums and three EP's to his name. Though sticking to the ukulele most of time, he also plays a number of other instruments that appear on his albums, such as trumpet, and the accordion. How he can successfully create such a uniquely rich sound with so many European influences, along with his incredibly smooth voice is beyond me. Trumpets, violins, accordion, ukulele, clarinets and an array of percussive instruments... 22 years old and already rivaling veteran bands such as Neutral Milk Hotel and The Decemberists. Truly amazing.

I say you give Beirut a try. You just might get to take that trip to Europe that you've always dreamed of. Listen to Beirut here.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Animal Lovers

Noah Lennox and David Portner are the key members of what might be the two most eccentric musical groups of the 21st century; Animal Collective and Panda Bear. Lennox and Portner met through their childhood friends Josh Dibb and Brian Weitz to form Animal Collective in New York City sometime during 2000. Together they've released a catalog of some of the most spastic and experimental albums ever recorded.

At first listen, Lennox and Portner's brand of experimental, freak-folk is so strange that it's almost too difficult to categorize. Rock? Alternative? Indie? I guess it's more appropriate to stick to their self-defined genres of experimental and freak-folk... Lush reverb, funky filters, and the occasional electronic sample make up the background for some of the strangest vocal habits and lyrics to have surfaced in the past decade.

However, what's truly impressive and appealing about this duo is their incredible creative ability. Strawberry Jam, Animal Collective's most recent release, is truly unlike anything I've ever heard. The album's opener, Peacebone, seems that it could be only truly understood if the listener was tripping out on some recreational drug. Panda Bear's newest release, Person Pitch, is just as eccentric. As a friend of mine described, "it's the equivalent of what the Beach Boys would have sounded like if they recorded an album while they were stoned". The album's opener, Comfy in Nautica illustrates this perfectly. Choral- like backing vocals, harmonious lead vocals and so much reverb that you'd think Lennox recorded this track in a cathedral. One of the album's 12 minute pieces explores three major ideas and is sure to give anyone chill bumps at some time or another.

Though Lennox and Portner may be creating some of the weirdest music of today that may scare off the occasional music listener, their creative abilities should be appreciated. It takes an amazing amount of effort and ability to create something as complex and different as they have.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Macbook Hype

Today Apple introduced its newest member of the Macbook family, the Macbook Air. Of course, everyone's initial thought was "Oh wow, That's amazing, look how thin and pretty it is!" After recovering from the shock of this incredibly thin machine I decided to check out the tech specs. The Macbook Air is basically as thick as a few sheets of paper stuck together (.14 inches, .4 centimeters). However, my laptop which was released in 2006 has a faster processor speed than this new, and supposedly amazing computing machine. I'm sorry Apple, but 1.6 GHZ, or sorry the optional 1.8 GHZ is so two years ago. Sorry, I'm not going to pay $3,000 for a pretty little laptop that has an outdated processor! Furthermore, the hard drive is quite pathetic. 80GB? Come on, I know it must be difficult to fit more in that thin little case but it's a little bit lame to be charging $3000 for such outdated specs. The only plus is the included 2GB memory, but still that doesn't make up for the overall price.

Sadly enough, Hollywood's influence has reached the computer industry. This should be a sad day for the tech savvy around the world. Thin, shiny and beautiful is the new stereotypical idea of a nice laptop, and Apple's selling it as if its the most amazing product created! Their newest products, this new Macbook Air and their recently released Ipod Touch are just like hot, plastic girls. Beautiful on the outside, but horrible on the inside. This laptop is the definition of technological anorexia, a sad disease that Apple has caught! We want speed! We want memory! We want a reliable laptop that we won't snap in half! And we want it for a decent price! That's all we ask! You never used to have a problem supplying the masses with reliable and state-of-the-art products! What happened?

What's even sadder about this whole situation is that they're advertising this new Macbook as if it's the best notebook they offer. Best price, best overall system, everything. The other Macbook models are definitely a better alternative to this, yet because of Apple's amazing advertising skills, they will trick those who are simply looking for a new laptop into buying this.

I'm disappointed with Apple at this point. They had something great going. They created the most popular mp3 player of all time, the notorious ipod. They've released solid notebooks loaded with features for a fairly decent price up until this point. I hope this trend of releasing over hyped products doesn't continue for long.