Cochella 2008: Justice

justicethumb.jpgSo here we are again with Justice. In case you’ve forgotten, I wrote a post about Justice for last year’s Coachella, but way too much has happened in the past year for me to ignore these “third-liners” (they were “bottom-liners” last year).

So what did I say last year about Justice?

Anyone up for a French house DJ duo? No, I’m not talking about Daft Punk; I’m talking about Justice. Of the entire artist lineup being pushed by Ed Banger Records right now, Justice is getting the best and most press attention (guess I’m feeding the flame.) Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay are the current heroes of French house music.

Back to now: all of the above is still true (and more). These two are still the kings of electro, but they are anything but alone in the genre. This past year we have seen DJs like Boys Noize, Para One (and the rest of the Institubes crew), SebastiAn & Kavinsky (and the Ed Banger crew) all tour nonstop and put out some great remixes. Justice is no longer the unique sounding duo that they were last year, but the release of their debut LP Cross has kept them on top.

Instead of relying on the distorted electro sound that brought them up, Justice has become a genre-crossing mix of disco, electro, pop, and rock. The worldwide phenomenon of electro has contributors popping up all over the globe, and the backlash has been just as great as the support.

This year at Coachella, look forward to a brand new live show (remember last year? they played Cross in its entirety)… Busy P sounds pretty pumped for these guys, and I will not be missing them this year (unless they are pitted against Roger Waters).

Justice Music Videos / Live Stuff

Coachella 2008: Portishead

portishead thumbIt’s that time of the year again! The Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival will be held from April 25-27, and after months of speculation, the official lineup has been released. Just as I did last year in preparation for Coachella, I will be reviewing some artists that will be at Coachella. Some of these artists I will be very familiar with, and others I will review after listening to them for the first time. To kick things off, here’s Portishead!

Hailing from Bristol, England, Portishead (pronounced with a hard “s”) has been pioneering the genre of trip-hop since the mid-90s when they released their first album “Dummy.” While comparisons of artists can sometimes degrade one’s opinion of them, I think that Portishead is a mashup of Massive Attack and Everything But the Girl (both of which I love).

Portishead’s most recent release, 1998’s Roseland NYC Live was published with a VHS (the DVD came in 2002). The video was (obviously) a live recording of material from “Dummy” and “Portishead” (their sophomore release) played by a massive orchestral enseamble plus drums, a turntable (possibly Geoff Barrow), and a Beth Gibbons. The shear size of the total number of musicians was astounding and created a sonic quality completely different than Portishead’s LPs.

While I love Portishead and am avidly awaiting their third album (titled “Third”), I can’t help but be apprehensive of their live performance. I doubt that they will put a full orchestra onstage, and downtempo probably don’t make for the best shows. Regardless, the sound will undoubtedly be incredible, and I fully plan on seeing them closing Saturday.

Google yelling “monopoly”

microsoftyahoo.jpgFor a while now, my opinion of Google has been declining. There isn’t really one big event that has caused this, but I guess it is the compilation of the following:

  • Their site design is horrible. Apart from the search hub, the minimal approach is unnecessary. Some might argue that this style is the best kind of UI. I argue that it isn’t intuitive, and that the lack of any design doesn’t do any good.
  • Adsense seems to be getting worse at judging what content to base the ads off of. Contextual ads aren’t revolutionary anymore.
  • Innovation on projects like Google Docs has seemed to slow down. I loved Writely, but since Google acquired it, the plain UI has left is barren.

As you can probably tell, these problems aren’t issues that Google has actively done. They are all things that have occurred because of the expansion of this online ad company to encompass everything that an online service provider could offer. My problems with Google have been passively incured, until now.

Since Microsoft’s announcement of a hostile $44.6 billion offer for Yahoo Inc., Google has gone on the offensive and issued a public statement criticizing the offer. The post from Google’s official blog titled “Yahoo! and the future of the Internet” is a blatant attempt to bring negative attention to the situation.

In the post, Google states that while the internet has been about the principles of “openness and innovation,” Microsoft might try to “exert the same sort of inappropriate and illegal influence over the Internet that it did with the PC.”

“In addition, Microsoft plus Yahoo! equals an overwhelming share of instant messaging and web email accounts. And between them, the two companies operate the two most heavily trafficked portals on the Internet. Could a combination of the two take advantage of a PC software monopoly to unfairly limit the ability of consumers to freely access competitors’ email, IM, and web-based services? Policymakers around the world need to ask these questions — and consumers deserve satisfying answers.”

Why is this a ridiculous statement? Because the listed web services (email, IM, and web portals) aren’t where the money is being made. Google is an ad company, so why would an ad company be so concerned with another company that – according to Google – will dominate these web service markets? Because Microsoft and Yahoo have made their attempts at ad-selling departments as well.

What Google fails to point out in this statement is that they are the dominant leader with more than 65% of the ad-sales market. Monopolistic practices by Microsoft? If anything, the monopolistic practices for revenue-generating departments have been on Google’s side.

I don’t mean to come off as a Microsoft fanboy (I own a Mac for my everyday use, but I love my Zune) or as a Google hater (I use Gmail both for personal and USC email accounts). All I’m trying to say is that for too long, Microsoft has been an easy target to yell monopoly around. Just because a company is successful and has a corporate face (as opposed to Google or Apple’s fun-eco-friendly faces) doesn’t mean that its sometimes aggressive, market-upsetting actions are illegal.

A Night with Kid Sister & A-Trak

A-Trak & Kid SisterEveryone loves tons of taxidermies surrounding them when they go to shows, right? No? Oh well. Last night at the LA County Natural History Museum, Kid Sister & A-Trak put on a great show surrounded by deers, seals, and buffalo.

Because it was one of the museum’s First Fridays events, the night started with a presentation on the topic of elephant communication. Apparently, elephants have huge brains and are considered extremely intelligent mammals. They communicate not only through vocalizations, but also through vibrations transfered from the ground through their feet similar to how some insects do.

It was sometime during this presentation that I realized that this is how the government should fix the declining education levels in the US: have cheap concerts with up-and-coming indie artists at museums, and require kids to come to the museum an hour early to attend a session like this to get tickets. I really think that most people have a genuine interest in learning, but that school is so boring that learning is associated with a unidirectional lecture (and resultant sleep). But back to the music…

A-Trak came out around 8 and spun some hip hop while flaunting his amazing mixing skills here and there. For those who don’t know, A-Trak is Kanye West’s DJ, he won the DMC World DJ Championship in 1997 at the age of 15 (youngest ever & first Canadian), and he owns Fool’s Gold Records. While his first set was great, it was coming out of some crap speakers, which put a damper on things at first. After standing in front of those speakers (in the front row), my ears were kinda shot, so it didn’t really matter.

At around 8:40, Kid Sister came out and put on a great set. She did every song of hers that I know and more. Her songs are so perfect to sing along with because of the simplicity of the hook. After about a half hour set that consisted of Control, Damn Girl, Pro Nail, Beeper, Telephone and others, she finished with Switch Board. It’s neither here nor there, but during Control, she came off the stage, and I happened to hold her hand for a few seconds… That’s how you get fans.

After Kid Sis finished up, A-Trak kept the energy up with some great electro that included stuff by Simian Mobile Disco, The Prodigy, Justice, SebastiAn, Spank Rock, and some of his own remixes of Digitalism and Kanye West. He progressed back down into more hip hop, and ended on a solid note. I think of the DJ sets I’ve been to, I’d most liken A-Trak to Flosstradamous. Both spin electro and hip hop superbly.

It was a great night. While I paid a whopping $6.50 for my tickets, it turned out that USC students get into the museums for free, so a friend here paid nothing (I ordered mine early). It was a bargain either way.