We often have to throw out our expectations when it comes two piece rock bands. From the circular smash noise of Lighting Bolt, to the dance pop vibe of Death From Above 1979, to Hella pre-expansion, there’s clearly a lot you can do live and on record with just two guys. There are countless and ever varying examples. In most cases, however, the stripped down composition is apparent. The effort is placed in utlizing the lack of manpower and not in building it into grandeur that sounds like more than eight limbs are doing the work. Canadian duo Japandroids call themselves ‘garage rock’, that vague description more applicable to a style than a sound, but carry big punch. It’s not so much the songwriting as the creation of big sound that drives their debut LP Post-Nothing. A thorough listen to a couple of tracks will give you the idea- check it out.
I lived in Bangkok from age zero to thirteen and only realized I took true Thai food for granted after I spent some time in the US. Yes, it’s true that there’s plenty of Thai folk working their culinary magic right here in America (especially in New York), but I’d given up hope for perfectly authentic Thai food until I experienced SriPraPhai, a little spot in Queens that made me miss home more than ever. The place is not exactly fancy, but that just adds to the effect, reminiscent of the Thailand I remember where the best food is at street level and won’t cost you much. While I’ve always favored beef noodle soup, that’s about the most basic thing on the extensive menu, which includes obscure items from every region. Go there once and take a Thai person with you. They’ll agree, the proof is in the spicy som tam.
Nine out of ten music nerds agree, Warp Records is king. Since its inception and initial release in 1989, the label that defined intelligent electronic music has witnessed a wave of advancement in sound production, a rode it all the way to July of 09, marking twenty years of great tracks, cutting edge producers, and (more recently) experimental bands. Titled Warp20, the anniversary is being celebrated with a number of shows featuring acts like !!! and Battles, as well as a really dope T-shirt and a box set chronicling the history of Warp. There’s a whole lot going on with this label right now, and it’s spanning continents. Check out the site for full details.
Though they’ve been described as a militant Islamic punk band, there’s a much more satirical quality to the subject matter of The Kominas songs than first meets the ears. Moreover, it’s not exactly punk. After an album that musically sounds like something between Fresh Fruit and Rotting Vegetables and Mr. Bungle’s California, the kids from Boston got a loud response, if not a varied one, from those listening. The band’s renegade shows in Pakistan were aimed at one end of the polarized population; common people and not the social elite, those whose affluence allows them time for music. Their intentions sparked controversy, to say the least. With the innaugural tour and album behind them, the Kominas are currently on the road for a second round of intelligent yet fist pumping shows. And yes, a second and equally shocking album is in the works.
For a full history of the Kominas, their influences, and the beginning of the burgeoning Taqwacore genre, check out their wikipedia page, or simply google their name for all the press. Tour dates are on their Myspace.
Just as the imagery in his films haunts your dreams, the art of Tim Burton manages to get under skin while remaining perfectly still. While many of the pieces carry the Dr. Seuss meets Brothers Quay depictions we would expect from the director, some surprise you, specifically the crayon renditions of characters including what resembles Cesar Romero’s Joker. The site is endlessly fun in itself; navigate the topy turvy gallery by walking around as stain boy, a rudimentary drawing with a curious little smile as he checks out the wall hangings. You’ll spend more than a couple a minutes on this, guaranteed.
At the beginning of the year, we found ourselves with a modern, more secure alternative to the classic wallet. Something that went ages without a sufficient redesign (the money clip doesn’t count) is getting another makeover this year. The new Flipside 2.0 wallet is resized, reinforced, and recolored, now available in an appealing shade of orange. The price is also a bit friendlier. We’re feeling the new inlay of the logo most of all. It’s a bit chunky if you’re a back-pocket carrier, but if you’re hunting for something new and unusual (and are afraid of RFID theft) it’s worth a peak.
From beginnings in Stuttgard, Frerk and Marc C. Woehr have developed a style bringing street art into a realm of off-balance darkness. The atmosphere of their collaborative work looks like the product of the Brothers Quay reshaping an urban environment and all the characters emerging from it. While their work has appeared in publications and galleries all over Europe, their first show in the US will kick off at LA’s Carmichael Gallery on July 9th. Also, check out some of the Woehr’s work alongside Shepard Fairey’s at Art Basel Miami.
Lee Memorial’s new album took me by surprise twice over. First off, I’ll admit that I can’t think of a single Australian act that struck me since I heard Yeo and the Fresh Goods last year. Secondly, a mellowed out acoustic sound with poetic lyrics is not style of music that often captivates beat snobs like myself. You may be familiar with Sodastream, a duo that’s dropped releases in this vein for a decade before breaking up. Half of that now-defunct band, Karl Smith, assembled a band with a decent resume and put together The Lives of Lee Memorial, possibly named for a hospital, is fraught with Smith’s mystifying whines layered together. If you doesn’t sound like your taste, you’re probably not sold, and you’ll just have to take my word for it. It’s not out for a couple of weeks, so you’ve got time to conduct your research.
Over the years, regular broadcast radio has become a touch authoratative. The system worked back before popular music was designed to be popular, but today we’re all pretty much presented with the same sugary garbage and expected to pick our favorites. Audiophiles seperate themselves from the pack by seeking out the most obscure sounds they can find, but for the regular person who still loves radio but wants to take back the airwaves, there’s Jelli. You don’t create your own customizable station, nor do you assemble a playlist yourself. Jelli is a musical democracy, with one playlist that’s decided by user voting. This idea brings back the influence of listeners on what’s actually popular. Take that major labels.
Deciphering samples is a skill that every DJ and producer hones in order to boast when that original song comes on. Ever since a few cats took the art of sampling and went crazy with it, it’s been harder and harder to breakdown. Take Girl Talk for instance; despite the pop value of every song used in his collages, bet you can’t name every single one. And furthermore, how does this patchwork Lego set of beats and pieces actually come together to form a coherent track? Thanks to Wired Magazine, there’s a translation for folks who consider themselves more on the visual tip. A deconstruction of 30 seconds of a the Girl Talk Song ‘What It’s All About’ reveals 35 samples assembled to create that signature dancefloor crack sound. Great visualization via Wired.