Monday, September 27, 2010

I'm a Month at the Museum Finalist

Sometimes, awesome things happen.

I've talked before on this blog about what I want to do with my life, my goal of changing the way the world looks at science. I posted the following paragraph here back in January:

"Hi, World. You and I need to have a chat. I mean, I know that I've told you that I want to be a thousand different things. I guess that can be confusing. I've settled, I think, on having my own show on the Discovery Channel, a research science based hour that takes the wicked awesome science happening all over the world and translates it into a medium that everyone can understand, no PhD required. It even has the added goal of making the point that science isn't just done by balding old men in lab coats, and that science is cool. Science is awesome. I will show the world that science can be done by girls with purple hair in skinny jeans and band tees, and I will pave the way for thousands of girls after me who will realize that they can both be their own awesome selves AND be science nerds, that the two things aren't mutually exclusive. I'm going to change the way this country views science. I'm going to usher in a new generation that wants to grow up to be scientists AND rockstars."

Over the summer, I stumbled across the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry's Month at the Museum Program. I fell in love. It was everything I wanted to do distilled down into a one month period, a chance to have fun and show the world how amazing science was all at the same time. I submitted an application, made a wish at 11:11, and hoped for the best.

You're here for the music blog, not a story of my life, and so I'll refrain from giving you the details of the phone interview and my trip to Chicago (so much fun!). However music is tied to everything I do and when I couldn't tell the world about the amazing things I was doing (the museum wanted to keep everything under wraps) I had to let out the awesome vibes I was feeling somehow. Cryptic lyrics popped up on my facebook and twitter, most from songs like "The Future Freaks Me Out" and "The Phrase the Pays," songs that were about busting out and taking chances. I linked to videos that make me want to go out and change the world, and listened to a short ton of Chicago bands.

"The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World came on the radio as soon as I hopped in the car today and it was one of the songs I'd listened to this past month, along with things like "Cobrastyle" and "Sleeping with Giants" and "Kiss my Sass." They're songs that make me want to go out and conquer the world. And I think, with a little help from you, I can do that. I can change the way the world looks at science, change what being a scientist means.

You can vote for me here:

I'd appreciate it greatly and I promise I won't ever lose that drive and desire. The experience thus far, the amazing things I've already gotten to do, and the huge outpouring of love and support everyone has shown me today have already made this experience worthwhile.

I'm not sure I've ever fully introduced myself on this blog, as some amount of internet anonymity is always valued, but I've now thrown myself out there for everyone to see. So, hi. My name is Alex Dainis, and I want to teach you science.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Just a Girl

When I was 14 and 15, No Doubt and Weezer were my two favorite bands. They both still hold very special places in my heart. This song came on the radio tonight while I was driving and it kind of encompasses this moment.

Monday, September 20, 2010

They Just Keep Getting Better

First they coordinated people. Then they coordinated inanimate objects and physics. Now they've moved to something even more difficult.

Dear Ok Go, you're awesome.

OK Go - White Knuckles

(Did you see the goat?!)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Life is Good

Life is Good Festival Day 2 - September 12, 2010 Canton, MA

This is the latest a concert post has ever been. This week has been crazy.

We arrived at the festival and made a beeline for the kids tent. That's right, we were going to see They Might Be Giants. A kids band. An awesome kids band. There were small children everywhere and it made me happy that there were little children being introduced to the amazing world of concerts. They sang "The Sun" (my favorite) and "Istanbul not Constantinople" (my concert buddy's favorite). I was also really intrigued by the sign language interpreter they had at the side of the stage. I can understand a little sign language, so I was trying to pull out the words while listening to the song, but she was also trying to sign the music and the beats as well. It was really cool.

We then ventured to get food. The festival was full of hippies. Seriously, it was this huge dust filled field full of people who were very happy and very natural, which meant they needed vegan/vegetarian options. So for festival food, it was amazing. I got some samosas from The Samosaman and they were great. Best concert food ever. We wandered around the booths for a while, then settled down on the ground to hang. I blew a lot of bubbles (bubble soap makes festivals better, always) and made some small children very happy.

We saw OK Go next. They played "Get Over It" and that made it worth it for me, really. They also sang one song a capella... and with a bell choir. It was amazing. The lead singer got out into the crowd and played a song on an acoustic, and he pulled a very embarrassed Brazilian girl up on stage to dance because she had been waving a Brazil flag. Also, a large crowd singing "This Too Shall Pass" is kind of awesome.

We trooped over to the main stage to settle in for the night. And by settle in I mean stand for four hours and claim a dusty patch of ground as our own. Guster was up next, and they were even better than they were last month. Good feeling music and a hippie crowd work well together.

Then we stood and stood and waited for Jason Mraz. He was also rather awesome. I'd never seen him live and I only knew the singles, but he's an amazing performer. He was engaging and funny and his voice is just gorgeous. He had a big band too, complete with a brass section. He danced and he pulled fans on stage to dance and he was an all around great entertainer. Also, the crowd worshiped him and I always love huge choruses of vocals when artists ask for them. We left the show covered in dirt, sun, rain, and bubble soap, but with gigantic smiles on our faces.

Danger Days - The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

My Chemical Romance - Art is the Weapon

My thoughts, in order:

-The music! The music is so awesome!
-...Didn't they say last summer that this wasn't going to be a concept album? Oh Gerard Way, you don't know how to write an album without some huge concept. I am so excited for the direction this is going in. There are colors, guys. My Chemical Romance has discovered color. And this looks fun. And loud. I love fun and loud. MCR's love of comic books has finally been realized in an album.

So who's going to be the new drummer? When is soon? When is the tour and when can I listen to the full thing. Tease, it's all a tease.

*EDIT* This used to feature the typography video "Art is the Weapon" for the same song, but they seem to have replaced it with the official music video. This is unfortunate, as I liked the first one a lot.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Jukebox the Ghost - Schizophrenic Music Video

I went to the Life is Good Festival yesterday and came back covered in dirt and music, but that'll be a longer post coming soon. In the meantime, and as a start to your week, Jukebox the Ghost's brand new video for "Schizophrenic." Again directed by Shervin Lainez, though this time with the addition of Dylan Steinberg, it's more visually crisp than their past videos but lacks a plot. It does capture the frantic essence of the song, and I like the play with the old televisions, but there's just a little something missing.

Still not a bad thing to stumble upon on a gray and dreary morning. You've got to love the music.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Weezer - Memories

I'm not usually a fan of talking to store employees. I've worked in customer service and I understand that you have to approach people, but if I wanted your help I would ask.

However I wound up in a conversation with some guy who worked at Newbury Comics the other day. He noted that he was excited about the new Weezer album. I replied that I wasn't and answered his shocked face with the fact that I didn't really enjoy their last album.

"Yeah, me neither, but they're saying it'll be more in line with Pinkerton..."

I then mentioned the rumored Blue/Pinkerton tour and he agreed that it was an amazing idea. It is.

But this new album? I just don't know. This doesn't sound very much like Pinkerton to me.

Now, I don't want another Pinkerton. We already have one of those and musicians making the same music over and over is boring. But I think they're just pushing music out too fast. Just take a moment to step back and reflect and edit, Weezer. This song isn't bad, but it's not a killer either. And if this album is anything like the last, there will be maybe three good songs and a lot of weird filler.

Dear Weezer, please prove me wrong. Love, a huge fan.

Friday, September 3, 2010

My Chemical Romance and the Mystery TV

My Chemical Romance has done something to their website! Finally! A tweet leading there said "stay tuned" and the site now has an old school TV graphic. Turning knobs and choosing channels lead to stations featuring "A Horse With No Name" or TV test bars or beeping and static and... stuff. There are six clocks counting up at different speeds. Each station is labeled with four letters, maybe standing for song titles: "RFDD BLND WKIL KLSK HRBT."

I don't know what it means.

Something is happening. Check it out here. What do you think?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Jukebox the Ghost - Everything Under the Sun

I don't know where to begin, so I guess the beginning is the best place to start.

I got my preorder of Jukebox the Ghost's new album, Everything Under the Sun, in the mail yesterday. I've listened to nothing else since.

Part of it is that these are songs I have been in love with for over a year and haven't been able to listen to outside of a live show. It is so very, very frustrating to love a song but not be able to buy it anywhere. Unreleased music is just... unreleased. So of the 12 tracks on the album, I had been anxiously, conciously awaiting four of them. But it turns out I know more of them, turns out I've heard almost all of them. The only thing that makes "new" music better is when you've heard that new music before, and you already have an emotion attached to it. I'm going to go track by track, because I love it so much, but it's still so Jukebox all over. Tommy Seigel is still writing songs about the apocalypse and Ben Thornewill is still writing songs about love and somehow the two form this amazing cohesive unit (and recent interviews attribute this to Jesse Kristin's influence and editing).

Schizophrenia is, well, schizophrenic. They performed it live on David Letterman last night, and I think hearing it is the only way to appreciate its beautiful oscillation.

Half Crazy gets stuck in my head all the time and I love that I now have a recorded version of it. This is a song written by Seigel, and though it's not about the apocalypse and though it's written like an upbeat dance song, it's about disintegrating in your room and going crazy. And I love it.

Empire is another one I've been listening to in my head for a while. Classic piano driven Jukebox song about love. "I've got my knives and my heart up my sleeves."

Summer Sun is one that I didn't think I'd recognize, but I did. I can't accurately describe how the song fits together in two parts, the classic Jukebox sounding part and the more mature Jukebox second half. The first uses onomatopoeia of a beating heart while the second is a more searching, reaching, almost rock vibe. Almost.

I heard Mistletoe at the second live show of theirs I saw, back in 2008. It was on their myspace for a while and then disappeared, and it was missed. It's bouncy but about a serial heartbreaker. And it's very, very pretty.

The Sun is another one I didn't expect to recognize. Seigel is back to the apocalypse and questioning God, both constant themes for him. The lyrics are dark and almost angry, but the music is so upbeat and beautiful that you want to dance to lines like "big bags of blood, or by inference big bags of water, stitched tightly at the seams like packaging are hurtling through busy city streets" and "what if it's all just a black abyss." One of the best things about JTG is their ability to back dark lines with joyous music and connect the two seamlessly.

So Let Us Create is my least favorite song on the album. I think it's because Thornewill's voice sounds distorted in the chorus, like it's been run through a vocoder. There's something unsettling about it. It's wrong.

Carrying hit me out of nowhere. This is one I've heard live but didn't remember until I was a few lines in. It's again super peppy music, but cowritten by Thornewill and Seigel, meaning it's half a love song and half a depressing question of God. And one of the lines in the song is a slight rearrangement of a self realization I had almost seven months ago, a line I dug up in my journal because it unnerved me so much that someone else had put it into poetic words. I love when music makes me feel, and I love it more when it can put into words or sounds something I've been feeling already but couldn't properly voice.

Here we hit an interlude, a reprise of The Sun, before we launch into The Stars, this album's "Where are all the Scientists Now?." This is Seigel's giant apocalypse plot, a narrative about a giant wave overtaking a city and questioning our part in the end, and what one would do in the face of imminent destruction. It's good, and it reminds me why I love his voice and his writing style. I feel like their "singles," as much as a indie band can have singles, have all been Thornewill's songs, and I wonder if maybe that's a little unfair. Don't get me wrong, Thornewill's writing and piano just about tear my heart out, but Seigel's music is this whole other side of the band that deserves just as much of a spotlight.

The Popular Thing. It is utterly impossible for me to listen to this song without some sort of ridiculous dancing involved. The lyrics are scathing, really, condemning people moving out west and getting tattoos and having sex just because everybody else is doing it, but the music is so god damned peppy that you've just gotta dance. It's their poppiest sounding song, but that is beyond appropriate. It's all hand claps and bright piano keys and condemnation. I'm in love.

Nobody sounds more like Thornewill's solo music than a general Jukebox song. I think I've effused over his solo stuff enough here before, so I'll refrain. But I've been falling asleep to music lately, picking a CD and lying upside down on my bed until I start to fade in and out of dreams. This was obviously last night's album choice, and this is the perfect song to end an album, the perfect song to end a day, the perfect song to fall asleep to.

Everything Under the Sun gets five ghosts out of five. It's happy and gorgeous and perfect. That's all you need.