Wednesday, December 29, 2010

17

I knew almost nothing about Sky Ferreira until this morning. I don't think this should matter.

There's so much focus among music kids that if you like an artist, you need to know their history and their biography, why they write and where they're from and what they like to do in their spare time. I don't think any of this matters. What matters is the music. What matters is how it makes you feel. What matters is how it sounds and how it affects you.

With that in mind, sometimes when you love music you want to go and find more, and maybe you get curious about who they are and whether it was genuine and if it meant something to the artist too. So I spent five minutes, googled "Sky Ferreira interview" and found out who she was and what she does and whether or not it was genuine. But this didn't mean I liked the song any more, didn't impact how much I'd been in love with this song before this morning.



What did I find out? That' she's been self promoting in the club scene since she was 14, doing what she's singing about for years, and trying to get out of LA, marketing herself and driving her own career (despite recent EMI trouble). I fully support carving out your own career, fighting for yourself, getting what you need to do what you want.

But that doesn't mean the blend of soft intros with electronic chorus doesn't feel right. The drop in the first line in the chorus versus a forced rise is perfect. The music, not who she is, is why I care.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

United State of Pop 2010

Don't Stop the Pop - DJ Earworm's Mashup of the top 25 Songs of 2010



I think he focused a bit too hard on lyrics this year, at the expense of some coherence and an even more dimensional beat. That said, I think it's fun and a great representation of where Pop was this year - it was about dancing, clubs, forgetting yourself in the beat, and being young forever. Going all night, partying, and throwing your hands in the air. And as much as music snobs will try, you really can't stop the pop.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Yule Ball 2010

The Yule Ball 2010 - Middle East in Cambridge, MA, December 19, 2010

At the beginning of the show, one of the DeGeorges got up on stage and asked anyone if it was their first Yule Ball. Second? Third? My hand was still up for fourth, but there were some up for fifth and sixth too. That's dedication, man.

Jason Anderson was up first. (I just accidentally typed "best" instead of "first." Both are true.) I still love Jason Anderson, but he didn't sing any of his own songs, opting to instead jump into the crowd and sing Christmas carols with everyone. It was a room full of maybe 400 people singing Christmas songs at the top of their lungs in the glow of multicolored strands of lights and it was the first time all season that it really felt like Christmas.

Next up was The Whomping Willows. It was just the singer alone on an acoustic and it was his 500th show, his first being at the first Yule Ball. It was a special night and he sang his first song "Seasonal Depression" which I'm not ashamed to say I own on CD. He's a great performer, if self-deprecating and maybe in need of a hug. "Could have been a wizard rock heart throb..."

Math the Band was next and I can't for the life of me figure out where I've heard of them before. They were not a Wizard rock band, but were a chiptune band. I like chiptune, but I'll admit to being a little distracted by the boy that the girls behind us nicknamed "Sasquatch." He was about six feet tall, hadn't showered thoroughly in a few days, and decided to mosh next to the small girls. Being the tallest of anyone around, I took the protective role of "wall," stepped between him and the 4 foot eleven and 5 foot two girls I was with, and stood my ground. The girls to his left looked frightened and the girls beside us were pissed. He was having fun, but he was all elbows and flailing and this just wasn't the crowd for that. The band itself was... loud. But fun. But loud, and a bit on the "noise" side of the noise vs music scale. But fun, just a guitar some beats and a keyboard.

Next was Draco and the Malfoys. I've seen them an embarrassing amount of times. I was happy to see that they were back to being a wizard rock band versus a wizard bluegrass band. They set an ipod up to play drums (the younger brother drums for some of the other bands at the Yule Balls, so I'm guessing he is the infamous "Crabbe" playing on the track) and rock out on a couple of guitars. They are a lot of fun, and probably the only band that can get away with gleefully singing about people's dead fathers. I think they're a little bit awesome.

Potter Puppet Pals rounded out the openers with a Hogwarts beauty pageant. Neil Cicierega is funny, though some of his short films are often of the dry, bland humor variety, the sort of punchline free, odd comedy. That's not a criticism, really, but an observation that the Puppet Pals don't seem to be much like his other work. The pageant was fun, with people pulled from the crowd as judges, and it was an interesting interlude. The Ron puppet was completely covered in Christmas lights for an outfit. Go big or go home, Ron Weasley.

Finally, Harry and the Potters. The first, the best, the pinnacle of silly wizard rock. There were some choreographed dance moves, a guitar shaped like a broom, santa hats and tinsel. They play silly songs and the crowd screams along and it's about the best book geek moment ever. There is nothing that can describe how two boys in their twenties dressed up like a fictional boy wizard can make a crowd dance like they can. This year the crowd was packed, a sold out show of teenagers, college kids, and a few scattered adults. It was a good crowd with some fun bands, and it was a fantastic way to start the Christmas week.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Spotlight

I was going to post about this year's Yule Ball, but it seems the past two years those have gone up on Christmas Eve. So instead, you get Patrick Stump playing his new song "Spotlight" all by himself.



It's not as good as the other recorded versions, but it's impressive that he's playing it alone. I love the theme of the song: "They might try to tell you how you can live your life, but don't forget it's your right to do whatever you like, because you could be your own spotlight." I'm a huge believer in the idea that to get what you want, it's got to be DIY, you've got to hustle, you've got to take opportunities and make it happen for yourself. I'm a big fan of musicians, dancers, writers, artists, people who just put themselves out there and work and work and work to get to their goals.

I recently read Keltie Colleen's book Rockettes, Rockstars, and Rockbottom, and while it might get its own post later (that rockstar portion getting it a music nod) it's her work ethic and her spirit that I love, and that have kept me reading her blog for over a year now. Her mantra is "Courage, Passion, Hard Work" and that's what you really do need. You have to be fearless enough to put yourself out there, want it enough to live your life for it, and be willing to work yourself to the bone to get it.

You can be your own spotlight.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Weezer Double Feature

The Memories Tour (aka Blinkerton) at the Orpheum Boston, MA - December 14 & 15, 2010

Night one began with $5 bills for taking a survey and a freezing cold theater. The Orpheum likes to keep its doors open until the headliner begins and with the weather below 20 that meant that most of the theater had their jackets on through most of both nights. Many people also had hats. Some had scarves and mittens. It was ridiculous.

Free Energy opened both nights, and though I'd seen them once before they started to grow on me by the end of night three. The poor lead singer was trying so hard to get people to stand up and dance, as that's what their music is really made for, but the crowd was frozen solid to their seats. I hate seated shows. They danced and sang and grooved anyways, and at the end of the second night hadn't moved themselves into my "I'll buy a ticket the next time they're in the city" pile, but they'd made it onto the "I might like to see them play again" list.

Weezer night one was a greatest hits set followed by the Blue Album, with a slideshow by Karl in between. The greatest hits set ran backwards through the albums starting with Hurley and skipping Maladroit. They played the obvious hits off of each one but stopped before they hit the Blue Album. They raced through the songs, Rivers gingerly climbing onto the balcony and jumping off of amps. He ran around in the crowd as well and traded a few vocals with Brian.

I'll admit that I mostly just wanted this set to be over, as what I was really waiting for was The Blue Album. It is hands down my favorite album, and from the first opening notes of "My Name is Jonas" nothing else existed but that music. I know every note on that CD by heart and they hit everyone, ending the night with "Only in Dreams." It's the concert I've wanted since I was 14, and I think I got it.

I paid a little more attention to the hits set from night two, and they threw in some B sides as well. I've never had more than a passing interest in "You Gave Your Love to Me Softly" but I love "Suzanne" and the rest of the crowd did too. I would have loved to hear "Lullaby for Wayne" but I think "Suzanne" is the Weezer fan song. You haven't heard it on the radio, it's not on the albums, but it's not a super rare B side either. It's one of the songs that should have been on an album but just didn't quite make it, but we all love it anyways.

The ended the hits set with "Only in Dreams" again instead of some of the more obvious choices from Blue, and I could not have been happier.

The Pinkerton set was great. I've never loved Pinkerton like some people do,and the first four songs have never really done it for me, but I love the back half of that CD. "The Good Life" and "El Scorcho" are just fantastic and are beyond fun live. It's an album that critics panned at first, but fans knew had something good hidden on it. I love songs more live and that was still true here, being made to listen to the whole album through with intent and a crowd behind it.

Kind of awesome.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Little Girls - Say Anything

Oh man, the problem with a "musical diary" is that when stuff gets loud and angry, so does it.

I put this song on repeat a few days ago and listened to it all day. I actually think it would be kind of awesome reinvented as a duet, one person singing girls, the other singing boys, trading the chorus lines back and forth, yelling out each other's flaws through the musical intro.



I kill, kill, kill little boys.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rebel Girl

This kind of mood, maybe.



I love that she's not singing about being the rebel girl, but about wanting to be her friend. We've all had that person who was so much cooler that you wanted to follow them around and try on their clothes and not just be them but be their best friend. Bring back the riot grrl, the girl who didn't care what other people thought. I used to love this song in high school, though I knew nothing else by Bikini Kill. It didn't matter because for just a few seconds of my life I wanted to be Kathleen Hanna's best friend.

Baking

I wrote a blog post yesterday for my school's admissions blog (I've taken over the science column) about stress baking. My last post about women in science had garnered emails from the department, requests to talk from the school magazine, and a comment from some PhD student at Purdue. Not quite the undergraduate admissions blog demographic. So while I started a few very interesting conversations with people in and around my department, I thought yesterday's post should be a little more fun. Hence, stress baking and some of the science behind it.

It just so happened that Charlieissocoollike made a video about baking the other day as well that made me smile as I stressed over my thesis in the science center. It didn't quite belong on the other blog, so you'll get the fun right here:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

New Cobra... Kinda.

Alexandra Burke featuring Cobra Starship, although there's a bit more of Gabe than there is of Alexandra. I wonder if the rest of the band played the music? I mean they've transferred to a very electronic sound anyways, they could be doing the beats.



"What happens on the Dancefloor stays on the Dancefloor. " Yes, yes it does.

I think I've realized another thing that really bothered me about the last Cobra album. Not only were the guitars few and far between but there wasn't a word of Spanish. The music industry cleaned away a few of the beauty marks that made the band what they were. I loved "Viva la Cobra" era shows. I loved the way the band and the music felt in 2008, and I loved their badass disregard in 2007. I loved 2009 and 2010 as well, understood that bands change and was happy that they were getting noticed by the mainstream, but I wondered if anyone remembered their original goal from Gabe's mythos of the band: "To teach hipsters not to take themselves so seriously and emo kids to stop being pussies."

They always said they'd keep touring and performing and making music until it wasn't fun anymore.

I don't think they're coming back from this tour break.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fuck You

End of fall semester and I used "She's Gonna Break Soon" last year.

And on top of that, there have been more than a few moments lately where I really just wanted to yell "Bitch, step off!"

This is not, of course, what I did. In true Alex form I smiled and nodded and wished the best, then pouted and ranted to my best friend. But sometimes I truly feel the world just calls for a good "Fuck you."



Cee Lo is pop, sure, but also kind of a musical genius. He's got great beats and knows how to push the limits just a little bit to make it fresh but still Glee-able. And I love typography videos, and am excited that this is starting to become a trend.

"Oh I really hate your ass right now."