M.I.A. (or someone who she’s heavily endorsing) has posted music videos on YouTube for nearly every song on her most recent LP, ///Y/ (read: Maya). More than anything else, these videos give everyone on the internet a semi-good quality version of every song to listen to. As you can judge pretty quickly from the Meds & Feds video above, there’s not too much depth to these.
So yeah, go ahead and (try to) enjoy the new album if you haven’t listened to it yet. My favorite songs are Steppin’ Up, XXXO, Born Free, Meds & Feds, and Space.
“They tried to make me do the Oscars, I said ‘No, No, No’.” Of all the banter M.I.A. threw into her hour-long set on the Main Stage at this year’s Coachella, this was probably the most pointed. When Amy Winehouse dropped off the lineup because she couldn’t get a Visa to the United States (surprise, surprise), M.I.A. was quickly announced to be her replacement. In my mind, there could be no better choice. I’ve missed the chance to see M.I.A. twice now, and I made sure not to pass her up again.
I’ve been an M.I.A. fan since Arular came out, and likeeveryoneelse, Kala was one of my favorite albums of 2007. I know all the words to all her songs (well, at lease those that are audibly decipherable). You can imagine my disappointment when I found out that there aren’t as many people like me as I thought. Apparently, tons people are willing to stand around for an hour to hear one song. I really hope that the masses can get over “Paper Planes” and realize the true genius in all of M.I.A.’s songs.
Aside from that, the show was one of my favorite all weekend. Six neon glow-in-the-dark dancers started things off and led right into M.I.A.’s entrance at a podium rapping “World Town.” The party went on from there as she flew threw Rye Rye’s new song “Bang”, “$20”, “Boyz”, “Bingo”, “Sunshowers”, “Pull Up the People”, and “Galang”. A perfect set list.
Also included in her set was “Bird Flu”. Last year, M.I.A. only got through six songs in the Mojave tent because she wanted people to get up on stage, but the security guards thought otherwise. This year, she would get people up if it was the last thing she did. She called out, “I’ve already been banned from Coachella once, let do it. Hey hey, let ’em up! Let ’em up!” And something clicked in my brain.
In short, I jumped over the center barrier, ran as fast as I could towards the stage, got body checked into another barrier by a 300 lb. security guard, ran so as to not get thrown out, and jumped over another barrier back into the crowd. I didn’t make it onstage, but I did make it to the front row of the show. To those people who did make it onstage, good on ya; I hope you enjoyed yourself. I know I enjoyed my fleeting moment of excitement.
After “Bird Flu” came “Paper Planes.” And of course the crowd went wild for the one song they’d heard on TV and on the radio. While I’m still bitter that M.I.A. hasn’t received the mainstream success she deserves, I’m appreciative that anyone knows her music at all. It’s not everyday that a Sri Lankan girl with paternal ties to the Tamil Tigers makes it onto American radio waves.
I had a great time during M.I.A.’s third Coachella performance, and in the end, that’s what counts. That being said, if you ever go to one of her future shows, please listen to some songs that aren’t “Paper Planes” before heading out.
You know an amazing ad campaign the moment you see one. The one’s you have to think about can be good, but I don’t think that an effective ad doesn’t need to be pondered much. Converse’s recent ads featuring both dead & alive pop culture icons has been blowing me away since I first saw an image of it back a few months ago.
These ads break everything down to basics, while staying far away from any abstraction. The black and white photographs are perfect and just further the idea of simplicity that the ads convey. But the thing that really sends it over the edge (and makes them shoe ads) is the overlapping of each icon’s feet. It might be cliche, but it’s very fitting that what connects these artists is their shoes.
When showing other people these ads, they don’t seem to recognize most of the icons. Regardless, each person’s pose and composition lets any viewer know that they are bad-ass. No one dislikes the images, and as they follow their figures down to their feet, that last connection of the spread legs leading to the shoes hits every time.
Finally, a song supporting these ads has been released featuring Santogold, Julian Casablancas, and Pharrell titled “My Drive Thru [Play] [Play] .” It’s a nice summer song and perfectly captures what this concept wants to say.
Thus far, here are the artists that have been featured in the many mix-mashed combinations:
Bradford Cox (Deerhunter, Atlas Sound)
Joan Jett (Joan Jett and the Blackhearts)
Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day)
Sid Vicious (the Sex Pistols)
Pharrell (N.E.R.D., the Neptunes)
Karren O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
Hunter S. Thompson
Julian Casablancas (the Strokes)
Jona Bechtolt (YACHT)
Frank Carter (Gallows)
Eleanor Friedberger (Fiery Furnaces)
Sophie Kasakove (Care Bears on Fire)
Morgan Quaintance (Does It Offend You Yeah)
Update (7/9/08): A video has been released for this song. Sick 2D special effects.
I have never been to a concert/festival like the Neighborhood Festival, but I can assuredly say that I will go again next year. Here’s the premise: Steve Aoki puts together this indie festival of artists on his label and his friends who just put on amazing shows. I’ll just give a rundown of the artists I saw and listened/danced/rocked/jumped to.
Starting off the day (around 3:30) was Funeral Party. I’ve never heard of them before, but they are the epitome of an indie scene punk band, complete with synths and a great bassist. They have great style and put on a great show. For opener, they started things off on the right foot.
Next up were Andre Legacy and Dirt Nasty. Two rappers who couldn’t write a serious verse if their lives depended on it. Then again, no one was in the mood to listen to some hardcore deep rap, so they fit in perfectly. Hilarious and off-color.
I believe that Squeak E Clean followed. Again, an artist (actually a DJ) who I’ve never heard of. Simply stated, starting off with MIA is a sure way to my heart. Following with some Justice, Daft Punk, Klaxons, Hot Chip, and other great electro kept me all ears throughout his entire set. First real DJ set I’ve watched and paid attention to, it was a great mix.
It got confusing here because I thought that Guns ‘n Bombs was up next, but only Johnny Love came out and started to spin some heavy noise glitch stuff when something went wrong with the needles. They weren’t playing something right and when he’d fade to one of the tables, it’d cut out. Odd, annoying.
Har Mar Superstar. What a show. I’m not saying I liked it, I’m still not sure. It was outlandish to say the least. I’ll leave it at that.
Here’s where the good stuff comes in (read: the DJs/rappers/artists who I’m familiar with). Flosstradamus came out and the crowds gathered (it was around 5/6ish). How they mix electro with hip hop and mainstream tech house is beyond me, but it works perfectly and the crowd loves it. I forget what the mix was, but they just went straight into Big Pimpin’ from an electro song. WHO DOES THAT? Pure genius.
So J2K stayed on the decks and Autobot went out onstage to meet Kid Sister who put on an amazing performance. Kid Sister is an amazing rapper and she puts on an incredible show wherever she goes (at least thats what I’ve read and seen). Following in the footsteps of MIA (as many female rappers are right now), the energy in her shows is so high and she’s all over the whole stage the entire time.
Moving away from hip hop/rap, we go to Crystal Castles. I don’t know who did the lineup, but I guess they had to throw them in somewhere. This 8-bit massacre tore the crowd to shreds. Probably the most hardcore artist here, even though their genre/classification falls somewhere in-between electropop and 8-bit industrial.
Back to the DJs. Steve Aoki (the creator of all of this) was up next. Again, mixing the electro with mainstream tech and some Yo Majesty! (I’m pretty sure it was Aoki who threw them in there). Somewhere amid Daft Punk’s Television Rules the Nation and Steam Machine, Aoki become possesed by some DJ gods and decided to stage dive into the crowd, something I’ve never seen a DJ do. It was amazing, he got passed over me, and like a good crowd, we got him back up onstage just in time for the next song to come in. Incredible. And as a side note, it was pretty cool seeing all of the artists playing at the festival come onstage for Aoki just to show their support for him.
Wrapping up the DJ set was DJ AM who kept the electro going for his 40 minutes. Good mix, not too eventful though.
And the heavy hitters are now ready to perform. Chromeo was next to take the stage openning with the intro to their latest album, it was obvious that this would be the funkiest performance of the night. They kept the crowd dancing for their entire set and it was sweet when we all started chanting “2 step, 2 step, 2 step” for the best song: Fancy Footwork. It took a couple more songs to get there, but they finally closed with it, and every just went insane. I’ve never really been in a crowd where the intention is dancing, not moshing. It’s a nice change of pace.
Wrapping up my night (I left a bit early) was a knockout lineup of Spank Rock, Amanda Blank, and Santogold. Amanda Blank and Santogold are two girls who are also following in the path the MIA has laid down for indie female rappers. Spank Rock got big at the same time as MIA, so I figure that they are equals in terms of innovative sounds. Yet another great set that kept the crowd going until their 40 minutes were up.
Mickey Avalon took the stage next, but I had had enough. My feet were killing me, and Avalon isn’t really up my alley of musical tastes. I decided to call it a night, it was time.
So now that you have all had access to get M.I.A.’s latest offering legally (although it seemed like the people at her concerts chose differently), here’s my take on it. After just one listen, anyone could recognize that it is very different from Arular. It’s not so much of an experimental electronic/hip-hop album as a more developed hip-hop album with electronic synths mixed with various beats. Where Arular was glitchy and pounding throughout, Kala is more calculated with its hits coming at more opportune times. The beats on Kala remain a mixture of drum machines and found objects being banged together, unique to say the least.
The songs that stand out the most to me are Bird Flu, Boyz, Jimmy, and Paper Planes. I understand that many people find Bird Flu to be annoying, but I firmly disagree. I don’t see how this song could stand out as annoying when compared to her other work. Boyz is just a great song with an infectious beat. Jimmy is a slower love song that doesn’t leave the M.I.A. style behind. And Paper Planes is both politically and stylistically powerful; definitely a step forward in my opinion. So that’s about it, I really do like Kala, just in a different way than I love Arular.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have another entrant into the indie/foreign/dance punk/electro musical niche. Bonde Do Role is a Brazilian baile funk band whose music complements other musicians such as M.I.A. and CSS, and their oversexed attitudes seem to mirror Peaches. Their sound, while not completely unique right now, is definitely uplifting and danceable (seeing as their genre means dance funk).
The band currently consists of MCs Pedro D’Eyrot and Marina Vello, and DJ/MC Rodrigo Gorky. All three bring massive amounts of energy to the already insane beats laid down by Gorky. They have released one EP and one LP so far, both of which clearly state what style of music they are aiming for. Their LP With Lazers is right alongside of CSS’s Cansei de Ser Sexy in terms of music made with fun in mind. Mild singing, loud yells, and lyrics in a language I don’t understand are all pluses for me. While other dance punk acts are coming to the point of breaking into the mainstream market, Bonde Do Role is sure to stand out and make it past the “Pitchfork hype” which seems to come and go with the tides…