Thursday, August 20, 2009

Swimming Pools & Summertime Tunes

J Bennett Fitts photography series "No Lifeguard on Duty" showcases retro motel pools in such exotic locales as Victorville, Panama City, the Inland Empire, others. It's interesting to look at the pools, most only partially if even filled, as well as the skies that Fitts captures- the colors complement the abandoned faded-out feeling of the pools, a Polaroid aesthetic. Check out the rest!

Ella Fitzgerald – Summertime featuring Louis Armstrong

Found at

Billie Holiday - Summertime (Organica Remix)

Found at

Tunes can be downloaded if you follow the links. I'm not sure how I feel about the Billie Holiday remix, but I'm leaning towards the positive so I threw that in there (it sounds like something they would have used in Kontroll), and then I threw in "Ebin" for good measure because 1. Sublime makes me think of driving in the car in the summer and 2. my boyfriend won't stop listening to it for some reason and now I want to hear it. And then I thew in "Crack Rock Steady" because I never post these guys and it seems like a good poolside song. (And it's been stuck in my head.)

Desmond Dekker - Israelites

Found at

Choking Victim - Crack Rock Steady

Found at

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Zoe Avril

I've been a fan of Zoe Avril since I heard and saw the video for "On ne changera pas le monde" (I believe it was posted on Filles Sourires.) It got mega plays on my iTunes but I had trouble finding other stuff and let it go.

But I just found the entire album (and you can too!), the self-titled Zoe Avril. I, and I expect I'm not alone, associate French chanteuses with light often simple and cheerful, and when not cheerful, slightly melancholic, songs. It helps also, as Jim pointed out regarding Carla Bruni, that they're usually easy on the eyes.

If you get a chance to watch the "On ne changera pas" video, you'll see that Zoe Avril is the most cheerful person you've ever watched in a music video. She seems to be having fun but also seems to be genuinely happy to be singing. I'm not sure if the video is supposed to be a satire of a kid's show or what. It's almost a little disconcerting (not knowing the lyrics but knowing that the gist of it is "one will never change the world" and that we need to live simply, and maybe she's talking to her mom?) but at the same time the energy engenders enthusiasm in the viewer. Anyway she should be happy. Her work is fab, fun to listen to, catchy. The music itself is poppy and sugary with fun sound effects (the opening of "Avec toi" makes use of subtle clicks and horns, video game synthy notes on "Jeune diplomee"), and Avril's voice can easily and smoothly bounce between a light sweetness typical of this genre to a more serious, even more vulnerable mature sound (think Keren Ann), already evident in the chorus of "On ne changera pas" and in stand-out form in the urgent "L'accident."

Here are a few tracks, which you can download if you click through to divshare. Buy the album here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Penguin Merch

I totally want these, though I can't decide between the two. And while I don't want a deck chair, I wouldn't say no to this one.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Remember the Offspring?

Well I bet you don't remember PhD Molecular Biology/Offspring frontman Dexter Holland looking like the guy from the Goo Goo Dolls. But wait. . .

You can't tell, can you! (Dexer is on the left.) And I mean, yeah, Dexter isn't known for wise hair choices (beads. . .) but still.

That was a single (watch it here) off their latest release, which I completely missed, something with a long name ("Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace," 2008.) I like the Offspring, and I still have fun listening to their songs even though I liked them in middle/high school. I had put them into Youtube and noticed that there were some new videos. Lo and behold, etc.

For those of you who are too young to remember (kids on Youtube. . . jhaha, except for this guy: "This reminds me of my pog collection.") the Offspring wrote 90s/early '00s classics like "Pretty Fly for a White Guy," "Come Out and Play (Keep Em Separated)," "Gotta Get Away," the underrated "Da Hui," "Bad Habit," and "Original Prankster." If you pick up there greatest hits album and you listened to the radio in their heyday, you will recognize and probably have memorized a big chunk at least the chorus. Hailing from Long Beach, the Offspring wrote fantastic pop punk and always seemed a little wilder than the Blink-182 guys. Even with classic gems of lyrics like "When you're in prison don't be no one's bitch" the band managed to pull together, like their fellow pop-punk Green Day & Blink kids, some incisive commentary on the brat culture of the 90s.

So this new album. I've checked out a few of the singles' videos. "You're Gonna Go Far Kid" delivers the expected harmonies and melodies that have always recalled a light hearted Bad Religion, and "Stuff Is Messed Up" opens with an American Idiot-era Green Day drum beat. It's all okay stuff, and while everything sounds familiar, nothing quite achieves that special Offspring formula that we all have come to know and love. But as that implies, I'll always have a soft spot for the guys and I will give them the benefit of the doubt. The record company MADE Dexter wear a John Rzeznik wig.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

More music for a hot summer day with Sublime & Bedouin Soundclash

Obviously this photo has nothing to do with anything except hopefully those bathing suits means it's hot out, but it's from Toronto Life, credit due. Maybe that dapper old fellow is waiting for his ruca. So here is the original from Sublime, and then the Bedouin Soundclash cover, which loses a lot in the interpretation but features their as-usual great vocals and makes for a decent track if you pretend it's a different song. Click the links to listen & grab. You can buy "40 Oz to Freedom" here.

See me in a 'alter back. See me give you heart attack.

But enough bitching about songs I feel bad about liking/can't decide if I like it. The weather is finally clearing up (for now), and it's time for some good summer music. And here's a surprise-- it's a little reggae for you (because it's hot in Jamaica, I just checked the weather), "Uptown Top Ranking," a song I had criminally forgotten about til last week and is now being played every hour. Althea & Donna are the youngest artists in Britain to top the charts when in 1978 they reached number one in the UK. As with such tracks as "Return of Django" and Link Wray's "Rumble" it's absolutely impossible to not, as they say, groove along to the track.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Zero"

I meant to post this closer to its sister posts. I had earlier written about Thao and the something-or-other's "Swimming Pools" and also about Lady Gaga. As an update, I haven't been hearing "Poker Face" in the supermarket anymore, and I'm not really missing it. The ultimate in disposable pop music.

So the last horse in my pop-songstress guilty pleasure trifecta is "Zero" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. First, though, I don't like Karen O, and it all has to do with the way she dresses. I don't like it and I hate seeing people influenced by her on the streets or on the L train. Her clothing, designed by a friend of hers, looks slapped together and sewn poorly, like all that doll clothes you used to make when you were a kid but always got too impatient to actually finish. There are ways to be avant-garde and creative and then there are ways to be sloppy. Like the "work" of the art students who worship the band, Karen O's fashion veers towards the latter-- uninspired and attention seeking.

As I mentioned, indie rock tends to be guilty pleasure music for me, and this song, this band in general, also falls in that category. They're widely-played tracks are either fun radio singles or uninteresting songs like "Y-Control"-- which have the same elements that the good singles have, catchy phrases, a blend of musical styles, repetition-- but never come together. When they stick to making radio-ready music, they succeed, though the songs are so catchy it's easy to get sick of them ("Pin"). I get YYY fatigue easier than I get Johnny Depp or "Such Great Heights" fatigue. "Maps" was a great song until every station in the world was playing it every hour, on the hour.

I think I might stick with "Zero" for awhile, though. It's a big song and does a lot more with the vocals than other songs have, eschewing the gimmicky "Pin"-like chorus, resulting in a track that is more mature and ambitious. Check it out.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Retro Book Covers for the Future

Check out the rest! Harry Potter by MS Corley. He has also given Narnia the treament.

As promised, I Can Read Movies series from Spacesick. Don't forget to check out the rest.

There's been a small spate of book cover designs projects modeled on old classic Penguin/60-70s book covers. The results are quite extraordinary. The designers pare down the book, movie, or video game to a few elements descriptive of the entire product. Not only do these artists have a good eye for design, but they also have a sense of how essential evocative symbols are in describing something much larger, especially because books and movies-- stories, basically-- require time and dedication because they exist as complete products, as "whole" or "big" pictures. The symbols must intrigue someone enough to spend time on further exploration.

Also check out the video game series, including Zelda, GoldenEye, GTA IV, and Silent Hill, by Olly Moss.


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