Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hello, Goodbye


Yes, Blogger and I are officially breaking up. We had a good run together, but it's time to say Hello, Goodbye. John, Paul, George, and Ringo taught me how. Please, turn on The Beatles " Hello, Goodbye" right now.

VISIT THE SITE @ Wordpress!

It's like I'm moving on up. To a DE-luxe apartment in the sky. Please be patient while I work out any growing pains...

Monday, May 25, 2009

They Came From Claremont? Vol. 1

Attending college in the town of Claremont, CA can prove just far enough from L.A. (about forty minutes) to feel musically relevant. Quality concerts are sparse, often requiring the kind of adventurous, treasure-seeking attitude that college students can spare little time for. Keg parties are quite time consuming, you see...

Despite mountains of midterms, every college has it's success stories; bands that met over late night study sessions and too many cups of coffee, forming strong friendships and sharing their mutual interest in musical production. Between Claremont's consortium of five institutions for higher learning (Pomona, Pitzer, Claremont McKenna, Scripps, and Harvey Mudd), we too have a history - albeit limited - of artistic talent and indie-rock success.

First on my They Came from Claremont? list: We Are Scientists

Formed in 2000 by Pomona graduates Chris Cain (bass and back-up vocals) and Keith Murray (guitar and lead vocals), as well as Harvey Mudd alum Michael Tapper (drums and back-up vocals), the boys quickly developed a sizable cult following with their two self-made LPs and two self-produced EPs. By 2006 they were touring with the likes of Maximo Park, The Arctic Monkeys, and The Mystery Jets, playing David Letterman and Conan O'Brien along the way.

According to the band they love to release, "rock music of the thoughtful, sometimes epic, often loud, vaguely danceable, implicitly humanist variety." Fans have hailed their humorous live shows, quirky stage presence, and use of witty banter on stage and in interviews. Oddly enough, W.A.S. has inspired a larger following across the Atlantic than they ever have in America. Although Tapper left the band in 2007 for reasons unknown, the band has never replaced the founding member. With a few stand-in musicians offering their services, the band continues to tour the world after the success of their latest release, Brain Thrust Mastery. They've also been known to stop by the Claremont Colleges every so often to play a free show. Major shout out to them for remembering their roots.

If you were brave enough to stomach Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008), you may have heard their hit song "After Hours." used on the film's soundtrack.

Here's to you We Are Scientists, for making us constantly guess the story behind your name. And for giving Claremont a lasting one.

They Charge for My Whole Life

Spending time together is easy
When you spend so much time apart
I gave up my freedom
But I gained a second heart

Second heart is all I need this fall
Cause you know,
I need someone to sing me to sleep

Making good decisions is easy
When you haven't got a choice
Telephone turn on sunshine
When it sends you the right voice

The right voice is all I need this fall
Cause you know,
I need someone to sing me to sleep

Hello to the angry phone bill,
They charge for my whole life
Wise man, he once told me:
Cut the cord with a kitchen knife

Kitchen knife is all I need this fall
Cause you know,
I need someone to sing me... ZZZ

Listen and Love

When indie-rocker Michael Benjamin Lerner signed a record deal with Merge Records earlier this year, he quickly released his band's first self-titled debut, Telekinesis. Produced by Death Cab's Chris Walla, this Seattle-based band reinvents power-pop perfection. Despite an album chalk full of bubbly chords and irresistible hooks, my favorite track is the slower ballad "I Saw Lightning."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Motown vs. Stax Showdown V.1

Since reading more about two of the most influential independent labels in U.S. history (Thanks history of rock textbook), my love for the sixties has only grown. Never thought that was possible. Both Motown and Stax records were born from humble beginnings; the one man and a dream conception, that led to family run organizations, and eventually, two powerhouse studios that stand as rock n' roll landmarks today.

Founded in 1959 by professional boxer, songwriter, and producer Berry Gordy, Motown Records became famous for it's assembly line production. Artists were shuttled in off the streets of Detroit and into a rigorous grooming process including finishing school, etiquette classes, dance lessons, and stage presence instruction by executive musical director Maurice King. Artists' careers were cultivated slowly, under the watchful eye of Gordy, and his infamous attention to detail. With what he called "The Sound of Young America," Gordy transformed an $800 loan (used to purchase the old studio house, affectionately christened "Hitsville, USA") into a multi-million dollar company. In it's most successful years between 1964-1967 Motown produced fourteen #1 Pop singles, twenty #1 R&B singles, forty-six more Top Fifteen Pop singles, and seventy-five more Top Fifteen R&B singles. Artists like The Marvelettes, Marvin Gaye, The Impressions, The Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5, and Smokey Robinson all thrived for years under the Motown label.

Around the same time down in Memphis, Stax Records was founded amidst a hotbed of racial tension. Despite the fact that in most southern cities, segregation prevaled and perverted nearly all daily interaction, Memphis's "transracial" attitude was unique. Music - particualrily the thriving nightclub scene - allowed for blacks and whites to comingle harmoniously and without incident. Judgments from one musician to the next were predicated on talent, not race or skin color. Like Motown, Stax began with one man: Jim Stewart. A bank worker by day, Stewart started Satellite records out of a garage in 1957, until the financial support of his sister Estelle allowed the duo to move into an abandoned theater. Their first big break came in 1961 when one of their artists, The Mar-Keys (formerly The Royal Spades) hit pay dirt with their single "Last Night." Satellite changed their name to Stax that same year, and "Soulsville, USA" was born. Over the next fifteen years, Stax produced the most extensive catalogue of soul music to date. Artists like Same and Dave, Booker T. and The MG's, Wilson Pickett, and Otis Redding lifted the label out of obscurity and into the annals of rock n' roll history.

One of the greatest differences between the two labels was their most basic approach to music production. Unlike the assembly line that was Motown, everything at Stax was recorded live, rough, and often unrehearsed. While one label found success in polished (over)production, the other capitalized on the gritty, raw emotional power of their environment. The legend of Motown was built in a studio. While Stax, in their authentic approach, embodied the streets.

It's like typing yourself Lennon or McCartney (Lennon, all the way). Are you a Motown or a Stax? Enter my showdown series. It may help you find out...

Today's Contestants:

1. In Motown's Corner: The Marvelettes - Please Mr. Postman (1961) [mp3]
The Marvelettes were responsible for giving Motown it's first #1 Pop hit. Although their success was ultimately eclipsed by The Supremes (and diva Diana Ross), their mark on the Top Forty had been made. With nine more hits, The Marevelettes hit the beginning of the end when they passed on the chance to record "Baby Love," a single that would become a #1 smash for The Supremes.

2. In Stax's Corner: Carla Thomas - B.A.B.Y. (1966) [mp3]
Besides The Mar-Kays, Carla and her father Rufus Thomas were one of the first acts signed to the label, when it was still called Satellite. "B.A.B.Y." became Carla's most powerful single, reaching #14 on the Pop charts, and #3 on R&B, earning her the title of "Queen of Memphis Soul."

I think you know which kind of girl I am, and therefore where my Round 1 vote lies. But are you Moto or Stax?

Two Weeks

Two Weeks

Dear Grizzly Bear, you are brilliant. Brilliant.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


...It has arrived! The video for Royksopp's "The Girl and the Robot" is here. Robyn looks bangin' as usual, and call me C3P-Ho, but I totally want me a robot BF. When he busts a move around 2:16, I go a little bananas. Although, sidenote, who thinks Red looks a little like Predator's second cousin?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Remix After All

If you haven't heard the awesome word, the FREE remix album of Daft Punk's Human After All dropped today. The buzzed about album was a collaborative effort; ten of the best music bloggers chose a favorite on the verge DJ/producer to rework a track. Learn more about it and download the LP in it's entirety over at my fav, Sheena Beaston.

We're lovin' on it, after all.