June 26, 2008

The Devil and Daniel Johnston

I've been meaning to say something about this documentary for a bit now. It kept me up one night.

No, it’s not scary (although Johnston is crazy); it just piled a lot on the mind. If it was food for thought, then my brain was achingly full and restless with notions of creative inspiration vs. career ambition, self-awareness in art, perceived genius in society, and the general wonder that is Daniel Johnston’s life.

There are points in this 2006 piece where he is referred to as if he were dead. I guess that’s either the definition of a living legend, or an incredible tragedy.

If you are a fan of him, this film is for you. If you have no idea who he is, this film is for you. Rent it.

I’ve been hanging with quality versions of 1983’s Hi How Are You, and 1990’s 1990.

At least watch the trailer.

Thanks, Johnny BL, for pointing out that posthumous treatment, and for name-dropping DJ enough to initiate a Netflix order in the first place.

*note: that romanticized "better than Dylan" line comes from an obsessive fan/ex-manager and should not be taken with authority. Ballsy claim man.

June 23, 2008

The New Sigur Ros Album is Bonnaroo Approved.

Sigur Ros - [With a buzz in our ears we play endlessly]

Sorry for all the butts (the details have been blurred).

Watching parts of AT&T Blue Room satellite feed from last week’s Bonnaroo Festival (you should try it, it’s like being there, except not really at all), I was hit was a serious revelation.

Sigur Ros.

Their 1am “Bliss Fest” was plain crushing. Youtube and other articles have it well documented. Or you can take it from me; numerous accounts said Sigur Ros was the best of the fest (Along with My Morning Jacket’s 3 hour set).

I still have little idea what they sing about. But hey, that can be said about a handful of English-speaking bands I dig as well. This kind of music and performance transcends that literal way of experience-via-lyrical-relation. These guys are more a spectacle, like angels or aliens or something. Maybe their just Icelandic, but we are talking about some mystifying stuff here.

Last monday morning was spent listening to the new album, gmail-ing about the new album, and reading… about the new album.

Ethereal. Ambient. Sonar. Horns. Strings. There’s always been long a list of reasons to like the Sigur Ros. Pitchfork even dubbed them "the first vital band of the 21st Century" in 2000. But I've never looked to their work for any triumphant, up-tempo inspiration. At least for me, they've always served as an intelligent soundtrack; something to space out to. So their newfound love for tribal drums and falsetto celebrations simply tips them over the edge. This is their breakout, smiling record. Cue the confetti. The joyous sound can be found on its opening half (I would have liked to hear it carried throughout). See "Gobbledigook", "[Within me a lunatic sings]", "[We play endlessly]", and the nine-minute climax of, "Festival". And the music video for "Gobblidegook" is lovely and fleshy to say the least, watch at your own NSFW risk.

Bonnaroo videos:


"Se Lest" with marching Mariachi band coming in around 4:20

I’ll be interested to see how the album is officially received on June 23rd.

Somehow, we will see them this summer. Somehow, those tickets will appear (like only Icelandic angel tickets could appear).

They will sell out near you:
09/17 - New York, NY @ The United Palace
09/18 - New York, NY @ The United Palace
09/19 - Boston, MA @ Bank Of America Pavilion
09/20 - Montreal @ Quai Jacques Cartier
09/22 - Toronto, Massey Hall
09/23 - Detroit, MI @ The Fillmore
09/24 - Chicago, IL @ The Chicago Theatre
09/25 - Minneapolis, MN @ Orpheum Theatre
09/27 - Denver, CO @ Morrison Red Rocks Amphitheatre
09/28 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Saltair
09/30 - Tempe, AZ @ The Marquee
10/01 - San Diego, CA @ Copley Symphony Hall
10/02 - Los Angeles, CA The Greek Theatre
10/03 - Berkeley, CA @ The Greek Theatre
10/05 - Seattle, WA @ Benaroya Hall
10/06 - Portland, OR @ Arlene Schnitzer Theatre
10/07 - Vancouver, The Chan Centre

June 6, 2008

MGMT “Find Some Models for Wives” @ Billabong’s Design For Humanity [LA; 06/04/08]

A sold out Avalon Hollywood was filled with about 1500 surf fashion people for the 2nd Annual Design for Humanity Wednesday night. It was as swanky as surf industry stuff gets (I’m assuming with the red carpet and all). A former Billabong person, Kati, was nice enough to bring me along. We’re borderline MGMT groupies at this point.

The drinks were flowing, some sweet art was displaying, DJ Steve Aoki was spinning, all in support of the Surfrider Foundation. And the runway show was nice.

Walking up to the stage was way too easy. I had planned on hanging back but this opening was hard to pass up. When the band started sound checking from behind the curtain, people finally took the cue and everything got a little more normal.

“Weekend Wars”, lead into the familiar set that was seen at Coachella. The one that makes you earn it. See on casual listen, Oracular Spectacular is incredibly front-loaded with pop songs and then goes into a more rolling, psychedelic production. When performed the order is basically reversed, going through the second half of the album, first. In other words, they save “Electric Feel”, “Time To Pretend”, and “Kids” to the very end. Might I suggest picking one of those three to open, just to get the crowd into it? But their system still works as the crowd is rewarded for waiting every time. And I’ll add that the opening songs are not duds, they’re just not as fun. “Pieces of What”, “4th Dimensional Transition”, and “The Handshake” have all gotten better live. If their next album sounds more like these instead of chasing another anthem, I might actually dig it more.

I hardly looked up from my dancing at Coachella, so this time around I was the guy standing completely still with a camera. My videos reflect this:

"Electric Feel"

and also "Time To Pretend"

For the “Kids” finale, dreamboat Andrew VanWynGarden changed from his Kurt Cobain dress to a George Clinton poncho. A bit out of his past shy character, he grabbed drinks from the crowd among other objects (glasses, bras).

Security didn’t stop people from getting up there. Two dudes actually stage dived, one failing miserably, and the other faring better (way to go Action Jackson!).

I could say much more about MGMT. Their rise to fame shows that, yes, bands are gaining popularity through different avenues these days, but, major labels still make this all happen much faster. In less than a year, they can go from “new band watch in 2008” to a massively embraced hit record, to a “guilty pleasure.” Forgive me for romanticizing when I talk about these guys, but there is something to them that’s so likable (and inevitably unlikable). And I refuse to succumb to a backlash. They have a couple of exceptional songs that make you feel good. It helps that they have the right style, the right visuals, and the right looks to boot. They sing songs about pretending to be rock stars, which are quickly becoming self-fulfilling prophecies.

Rarely do the pics come out this decent, so here's more:

Oh right. The models...