Oh, hello childhood. Nice to see you again.
Oh, hello childhood. Nice to see you again.
I do believe that she will blow up soon, and this week has given you a few more reasons to believe me. Monae’s album dropped yesterday, and it’s incredible. It deftly bounces between soul, pop, funk, and experimental sounds with contributions from Big Boi, Of Montreal, and Saul Williams. The lead single from The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III of IV) is “Tightrope (feat. Big Boi)”, and last night Monae performed the song to perfection on The Late Show with David Letterman.
Honestly, if that performance doesn’t make you say “wow,” I don’t know what can.
I’ve picked out a few commercials that aren’t half bad and have great music accompanying them. In this first installation, we have songs by Phoenix, New Young Pony Club, and Nina Simone remixed by Felix Da Housecat.
Phoenix’s latest album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix has received quite a bit of critical acclaim since it’s release about six months ago. The entire album is great, but I really love the groove this song has. The simple drums, prancing guitars, and striking synth stabs all fit together perfectly. Not that I’ll be buying a Cadillac anytime soon, but the ad uses this song effectively with the lighting flares and mechanical movement of the car parts. Just as a visual, I basically start dancing every time this commercial comes on TV.
This commercial isn’t exactly new, and neither is the song (it came out in 2007), but it stuck in my head because it’s so catchy. The pulsating beat with the arped synth seem to get me everytime (probably why I also like CSS). Aside from the fact that the song is great, it doesn’t hurt that it says “you really have to display information,” which is essentially what AT&T wants you to hear. The commercial is pretty cool too. I think more could have been done with the moving-parts-of-the-city idea, but 30 seconds isn’t a lot of time to work with.
What I really appreciate about this commerical is that it puts the song to perfect use when it says
“And then you realize, you don’t need to get a phone. You need a phone that gets you, and you, and you.”
At this point, the sample of the song is played repeatedly with the “and you” bits. It’s a simple trick, but it works so well. I think the impact comes from the repetition of the shorter sample even when the whole song is a repetition of a sample. Felix Da Housecat has been around for a while, and has never really been someone I listen to. Regardless, he is a force in the house music scene, and this remix is quite a gem. HTC makes great phones from what I read, but they aren’t well known (like Samsung, Sony, and LG are). It’s good to see a great ad to be coupled with a great company.
I have a love/hate relationship with Pitchfork. Their features and interviews are the best of any indie music blog, or maybe of any music blog in general, but their album reviews can be so off topic and elitist that I’ve stopped reading them. That’s all fine, whether or not I read their album reviews isn’t a big deal, what bothers me is the influence that one writer can have over the future of a potentially talented band. Leaving their album reviewing out of the picture and turning to their latest venture: Pitchfork.tv, I’m thoroughly impressed. The site features many different high-quality videos about music and the artists that make it, here are the sections it’s broken down into:
The featured section serves as the most-recent/best-of content gathered from all the other sections. It it basically a collection of the week’s (or maybe more, it’s only been live for two weeks) videos. Because it’s pretty basic, the featured section should be used as the first place you go to see new content (and it’s the first place the website takes you to).
These “shows” are what make Pitchfork.tv resemble a TV station rather than just a hodge-podge collection of music videos. Right now, the shows include Interview, Don’t Look Down, Juan’s Basement, Daytripping, and Special Presentation. Interview is self-explanatory; they interview an artist. For Don’t Look Down, an artist simply plays a few of their songs on top of a building roof. Juan’s Basement is both very similar and completely opposite to Don’t Look Down because here the artists are playing in… yes, Juan’s Basement. Daytripping is my favorite so far, it’s where a Pitchfork camera crew follow a band around for a day and engage in all the crazy things that go on. Special Presentation is just a section for Pitchfork to throw all their random features; there isn’t much organization here.
For Pitchfork Live, you get to watch a concert at your desk. If you’ve ever bought a live DVD of your favorite band playing at some fancy (or grimy) venue and sat for an hour basking in the glory while wishing you were there, Pitchfork Live is the same thing.
While the other sections are cool, it’s the One Week Only section that really makes Pitchfork.tv worth-while. Here you can watch a video that is SO special Pitchfork can only show it for one week. Thus far, the videos have been documentaries (one about the Pixies and the other about AIR), and both were amazing. I’m not sure if these videos are rare, but I am sure that these will all be high-quality videos worth your 30-60 minutes.
You really don’t need an explanation for this section. It’s full of music videos.
In review, I love Pitchfork.tv. I’ve always loved watching interviews and other shows about artists (XLR8R TV anyone?), and this is just feeding my obsession. Even if you’ve never heard of the bands featured on the site, go check them out; you’ll probably begin to expand your musical horizons, which is always good.
Now that we’re truly feeling the effects of the writer’s strike, unless you’re willing to give up TV or start watching horrible shows, it’s time to find new shows for your viewing pleasure. Never Mind the Buzzcocks (NMTB) is one such show. The only problem is that it’s on BBC2, so I have to watch it on YouTube.
The show’s current incarnation consists of host Simon Amstell, team leaders Phill Jupitus and Bill Bailey, and four other guest contestants (two on each team). Guests are usually consist of current indie music stars, past has-been music/tv/movie stars, or and other people who can be made fun of. While this sounds like a game show, think of Whose Line Is It Anyway. That’s how gameshowy NMTB is.
There isn’t much to NMTB, and all I can say about it is that it consistently provides for the funniest half hours of my day. Simon Amstell teamed up with the two regulars play off of each other and the guests excellently. Just picture them making fun of Amy Winehouse in her semi-inebriated state not completely aware of what’s going on around her. Need a taste? Here’s a collection of the best moments of the episode she was on:
If you don’t find that funny, I’m sorry for wasting your time and that you don’t have a good sense of humor. I can’t say enough about this show. It’s funny, teaches me about good music, and gives me indie cred… Indie cred is always nice, right?