Sunday, June 22, 2008

No Denyin' O'Brien

I guess it’s finally time I chronicle my past Friday.  Two words with a weird letter prefix: Conan O’Brien. Yes, we made it in.  Well some of us did.  Let me explain.

I got up at 5:30am and got to 30 Rock (absolutely hilarious show, by the way) at about 6:30am. I was 11th in line so I was pretty sure we were golden. Kevin arrived only about 10 minutes later. It was then that Jessika sent me a message saying her and Ashley’s alarm failed to awake them. While me and Kevin waited for the absentees, we took turns watching Rihanna sound check over at The Today Show. I got to see her do “Umbrella.” It was magical. Finally, at around 8:45am, Jessika and Ashley made it. Needless to say, the people behind us were not very happy and made it clear with stupid, under their breath stabs at us. By that time we were 14th anyway, so we weren’t the only ones who were placeholding. It wouldn’t matter in the end.

We headed back to Brooklyn Heights to kill the time. A little before we trudged back up to Manhattan, Ashley was scurrying around the room. Her ticket was M.I.A. Not the Sri Lanka kind of M.I.A. but the John McCain kind of M.I.A. She decided to not even try to get in. With sadness, Jessika, Kevin, and I made our way. Once we got to the final line, they cut it off at the first 23. That made us nervous but we were still positive. They took the first 12 for definite then took us to another line in case more seats were available. Fortunately, there were more. The problem that presented itself was that three seats were open. Well, there were three of us but in addition was one other guy in front of us whose friend already made it. Happy day for him. Realizing we were only where we were due to our early morning vigilance, Jessika let me and Kevin go. We proceeded to the studio.

It’s definitely not what it looks like on TV. Not smaller, but lower. The ceiling played head bump. The warm-up guy, the one who does the “Fun Hole”-storm-out-of-the-audience bit, talked to the audience and got us laughing. Conan then came out and prepped us and instigated a hugfest. The band came out, sans Wienberg cause the man has to pay the bills with Bruce, and played some sweet tuneage. It think I heard The Clash in there.

Finally the show started and rolled along very quickly What’s weird is when Conan is doing the monologue, there are close to 20 people right off-screen doing their various television-y jobs. First guest, Jason Bateman. He was great and a good looking man, I might add very heterosexually. While they were playing the clip from Hancock, I watched him mouth his lines. He wasn’t doing it to be funny but just out of instinct. Second guest, Masi Oka. You know, Hiro, the Asian guy from Heroes.  He was funny.  The musical guest was Alejandro Escavedo, a fun 7-piece Latino rock band.  After the show ended, Conan came out and sang “The End of Show Song” which obviously never airs.  What an experience it was.  And that was my Friday.

Nothing else has been much exciting. I’m well under way at H&M and it’s fun stuff. As mentioned above, if you’ve never seen 30 Rock, you have to check it out.  It’s so smart and full of NBC meta-references that poke fun at the network.  I’m in love with Tina Fey too.

Mash-up extraordinaire Girl Talk’s new album hit the Internet this week for free in Radiohead fashion. If you choose to pay nothing, it asks you why. This is the logical next step in the free albums popping up from every artist.  Girl Talk’s albums are like a fun game show, a Name That Tune for the ADD, Myspace Generation.  In other words, they’re loads of entertaining. How can one deny Jay-Z spitting over “Paranoid Android”?  Who would have thought Karen Carpenter would be trailed by Metallica?  This kid didn’t.

That’s it from the homefront. I hope you’ve had a wonderful week and this upcoming one is fun as well. What a hokey wishing. 

Til next time, baby birds.

- Chase

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Viva Las Vegas...Or La Vida.

Today is the big day.  Rihanna’s Reloaded is out.  Just kidding.  We all know what today is.  Viva la Vida Day.  It’s a holiday already in Cambodia.  No?  Well it should be.  Here’s what’s going to happen: in real time I’m gonna review this album song by song.  Thoughts, comments, musings are all in the question and I’m ready to go. 


In honor of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, I just pushed play.


Life in Technicolor – Already sounds like it’s gonna be epic.  An electronic “Where the Streets Have No Name”.  What sounds to be a stringed instrument of foreign origin carries the line.  And enter the drums.  I think I read this one is an instrumental.  Yep, 45 seconds left and no vocals.  Sweet.  Oh wait, some “Oh Oh Ohhsss”.  And then into…


Cemeteries of London – Creepy.  Sounds akin to an X&Y b-side.  A little ¾ shuffle-like beat.  Kind of a dark sing-a-long.  This is gonna be a grower…


Lost! – I already like this one cause of the title.  Let’s see if it has any references.  Oh, I just saw some tool on Facebook with these lyrics as his status.  Blech.  I’ve heard good things about this track though.  “You might be a big fish in a little pond” is what most Belmont students were before they came to school.  I’m hearing a lot of The Verve in this song.  Nice guitar bridge.  Coldplay has gotten better with those.  Again, has a very epic feel to it.  Organ outro.  Typical.  Haha.  Next song…


42 – More LOST references?!  The first line is also about those that are dead are not dead but living in his head?!  Wow, these guys love the show.  I can dream that, can’t I?  Whoa.  Change of pace.  Previous track fours gave us goldies such as “Fix You”, “Sparks”, and “The Scientist.”  I’m really digging this one.  Worthy spot to bat clean-up.  Oh yeah.  Kind of a Who melody in the final section.  Interesting mood change in this song. 


Lovers in Japan/Reign of Love – Oh baby I love this intro.  Sounds like Arcade Fire channeling Peter Gabriel.  So far, the most instantly likeable track.  I’ve noticed there hasn’t been a real straightforward drum pattern yet.  Lots of pushes and pulls with ghost notes.  I am really, really enjoying this song.  It’s going to transition though because of that slash in the title.  Great chord progression even though it’s been done before.  Yeah, turn up that guitar.  Here’s the change.  Now why in the world would they not just divide these up?  Just cause they both have love in their titles?  Sounds like Regina Spektor.  The piano is gorgeous.  It’s a pretty song but I might be dividing it up in Garageband.   Maybe I’ll see the connection on another listen.  One of the other million listens this thing is gonna get. 


Yes – Bizarre strings intro.  How are they gonna do these things live?  Very low for Chris Martin.  That might be the lowest I’ve heard him.  Majorly Middle Eastern stings.  I like it.  Now this chorus sounds very Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, or BRMC as tools like to call them.  Probably the same ones with the “Lost!” lyrics in their status.  I think it’s funny he sings about being lonely when we all know he’s married to Gwyneth.  That’s when I detach myself from a song cause I know he’s making it up.  Ok weird, it goes out then comes back.  Sounds like a completely different song.  What is up with this album?  Let’s listen…This sounds like M83 or Asobi Seksu.  And do I ever like it.  Again, I might divide it up.  Weird guitar solo.  Nice.


Viva La Vida – And here’s the star.  Can it be possible to not want to be able to fly when you hear this song?  No.  It’s like a peppy, “Bittersweet Symphony” if that song hadn’t been stolen from the Stones.  It’s got that same, I-want-to-conquer-the-world feel to it.  Again, the only word to describe it is epic.  The same word long-haired teenagers use to describe Metalocalypse with Dethklok.  Haha.  That hardly seems like it should apply for both of those things.  I will say this doesn’t sound as huge as I remember it being from the single I bought on iTunes.  Maybe the single version has more strings.  I’ll Holmes it later.  For the record, I just love this song. 


Violet Hill – I don’t think these songs work well back-to-back.  It’s a good song to have been in the number two spot.  I think it could have switched with “Cemeteries of London” but that would be a huge tonal shift too after “Viva.”  Hmm…I don’t have much to say about this one.  It’s been out awhile.  “If you love me why’d you let me go?”  Doesn’t Chris know if you truly love something, you gotta let it go?  Is that the saying?  Whatever, I don’t remember.


Strawberry Swing – This is a Beatles wannabe.  I say that like it’s a bad thing.  Now it’s “With or Without You.”  The whole U2 thing is definitely here.  I’ll get to that at the end.  This is a sweet song, so the title couldn’t fit more perfectly.  You’re gonna be finding this one on junior high mix CD’s for years to come.  At least until the next Plain White T’s disaster.  Onward to the end…


Death And All His Friends – We’ve reached the end and I have to say I still haven’t heard a “Fix You” or “Amsterdam” or “Trouble.”  I’m sure they’re here.  I have a good feeling about this one.  Very Parachute-sy in the beginning.  Oh yeah, here we go.  Yes, yes, yes!  Four-on-the-floor beat!  And sixteenth notes on the shaker!  Have they been reading my diary?  Here it is.  This is the “Fix You” for me.  Chorus vocals and harmonies.  Not as huge but it gets the point.  It’s a quieter anthem song.  And there it goes.  Wait, here it comes back.  Does this count as a separate song?  Goodness, this is the third track with this two-song-on-one tomfoolery.  What a perfect way to end an album.  Something that will stick in your head like a coda at the end of a hymn.  A spacey background and hums take it out with grace almost like a rainshower fading away into the distance.  Man, that was emo-y.  And man, that was a fantastic album.


What did you think?  I hope you played along but I doubt you did.  Final thoughts:  For years we’ve heard the whole Coldplay is the next U2 business.  I’ve always seen it as true from a popularity perspective but never a musical one.  Now I do.  It helps that Brian Eno co-crafted this album but I think the songwriting and instrumentation is finally at that hugeness that U2 can invoke.  While it’s a brilliant piece of work, I don’t know where it will stand in my Coldplay hierarchy because it’s definitely too soon to tell.  Way too soon.  But I do know as far as musical depth goes, this one is their Mariana’s Trench.  At least in comparison to their previous work.  As Rush of Blood to the Head utilized more piano and X&Y discovered electronica, I think Viva la Vida finds world influences.  And I also think Viva la Vida shows us Coldplay has found the world to be a dark place, but if you know where to look, indefinite beauty can be found.  “Long live life” it postulates, and I think it looks for what that life is to be lived for as said in its so many songs: love.


It’s cheesy but it works.  Til next time, baby birds.


- Chase


Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Crappening

Look at me, two days later and here we are again.  I just wanted to put up a smidge of a post cause I’m bored.  First off, we didn’t make it into Conan.  Yeah, that sucked but we’ll try again another time.  Jessika,  Ashley, and their friend Kevin made it there at 8am and we were still numbers 48-51.  Only 33 and up were considered.  We decided we’ll actually reserve some tickets for July.  Our shutout yesterday did cause me to dream last night that we got to watch.  So weird.  Max Weinberg wasn’t even there in my dream.  But I did win a t-shirt.

Since that fell through, we sucked it up and, well, sucked it up.  It’s not that The Happening is a bad movie, per se, just a stupid one.  If you’ve enjoyed any one of Shyamalan’s films, I’d say go see this one.  But if you don’t like the guy’s work, stay away.  I will say that there is no real “twist” at the end so me saying I was spoiled in my last post doesn’t matter.  If you know what the title was of the first draft of the script Shyamalan submitted, you can pretty much deduce what causes “the happening.”  The man sure does have a visual style and knack for staging some scary scenes, but the story is just asinine.  Plus, I don’t think Mark Wahlberg knew what movie he was in.  Definitely not a memorable role.  Zooey, on the other hand, is good but the real draw is her eyes.  To quote Mike Birbiglia, they’re like space crystals.  Bottom line: proceed with caution.  It sucks because his next movie is based on the cartoon series Avatar so I can say with conviction he’s not going to redeem himself with me anytime soon.

We decided to cleanse the palate with another movie, one which I had seen,  The Fountain.  Directed by Darren Aronofsky of Requiem For A Dream fame, this movie was criminally overlooked.  I agree with one reviewer who said it is ahead of its time.  You might remember the trailer.  Check it out here.  It a gorgeous, well-acted tale that you can take away your own meaning.  The sad story is the horrid road to production.  It originally had Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett but got canceled and the budget was cut in half when the project was resurrected.  Check out the Wiki page for more info on this travesty.

Last day at Levi’s tonight.  Should be awkward since I already quit.  Oh well.  Onwards to H&M on Tuesday.  I’m really excited about it. 

Don’t forget Father’s Day.  Til next time, baby birds.

- Chase

Friday, June 13, 2008

All Dressed Up And Possibly Everywhere To Go

Oh no. I’m doing exactly what I hoped I would not be doing. Opening up a post to write with nothing specific to write about. I have no plans, no intentions. Where is this thing gonna lead? I don’t know and you don’t know. As much as I dreaded this moment’s inevitable entrance, it is kind of exciting to not know what lies ahead. I am quite the planner. I’m the guy that organizes and gets it all together then Corey calls and says, “Hey, I think we’re gonna go to Great Escape first then meet you there.” WHAT?! No! A wrench…thrown…in my plans. Now I have to get there early with Jeff. Dang it. Haha. I totally kid. At least with the names. I love both those guys. But I do like plans and I like them the way I plan them. If plans don’t stay the same, then they cannot be plans. They become suggestions.

I’m reminded of “Plans” by Bloc Party. “Stop being so laissez-faire, we’re all scared of the future.” Are we though? I mean, I fear for where my typing fingers are leading, but in the big picture are we really dreading where the world is headed? Global warming, escalating violence, The Love Guru. That last one scares me most. But seriously, since the beginning of time things have always gotten worse. It’s called entropy. Not a big deal, kids. “Oh no, but the Mayans say 2012 is the end!” Yeah, but the Rapture happened in ’88. Way to go, Whisenant.

Whoa, regroup. I don’t know where that whole paragraph was going. Let’s talk something more tangible. I found out Kings of Leon have a new album coming out in September. Man, that was quick. Because of the Times was only April ’07. They said they were itching to get back in the studio but I guess I didn’t believe them. It’s perfect timing too cause I’ve been spinning all I have by them on random. I love those guys. They remain one of those rare acts where each member really excels at what they do. Jared, the bassist, is less than a year older than me and look at what he’s done. What a groover, too. All I can say is I am in severe anticipation territory.

Speaking of anticipation, a weekend is all that stands between us and one of the biggest albums of the year. Yes, yes, yes. Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends. What a title. More like Viva La Vida or Death to Our Status As the Usurping U2 If We Blow This Album.  The former rolls off the tongue with greater facility. I really see Coldplay as doing no wrong. Think about it, even if you don’t like an album by them, you still love a few songs. That is success. With how easy it is to reach the masses, now more than ever you’re not going to be pleasing everybody. Having a few songs that the majority loves is great victory. I know it’s already leaked but I sit and wait like the good boy I am. I think that made Narrow Stairs that much better. I wonder when they announce the winners of the Madison Square Garden Show? Hmm… I know they’re on the Today Show the 27th and I’m gonna see if I can be there. Yeah, right. Now that’s a plan that can change.

Finally, the last thing on my mind is M. Night Shyamalan’s latest twist…er, I mean movie. Seriously though, this guy was once my favorite director. I want to see The Happening but after Lady In The Water, Lucy has got some serious ‘splainin’ to do. I was on the A.V. Club today, which if you don’t know is a website for pop-culture snobbery (I love it), and people were all up in Mr. M.’s business. No one could come up with anything better than “what a one-trick pony” and various unhumorous riffs on the guy’s last name. Wow, that’s not racist. I like his movies. Unbreakable is my favorite. I think time will be more kind to Shyamalan once our kids find his movies. He does do the twist thing. But look at Lady In The Water. It had no twist, just plot. Granted, there were about one million other things swimming afoul in that water, but it did deviate from his staple. That’s the problem. Everybody likes the first album better. Ask any of his detractors back in 1999 and they’d say he was genius. Those same people bash The Sixth Sense (did you know that’s Mischa Barton throwing up in that movie? So that’s where the bulimia started…) because they look at it through the lenses of his other work. Cut him some slack. If he drops the twist, you don’t like it. Regardless, I’ll see the new one even though I’m pretty sure I had the twist ruined for me today. Oh well. I’ll see it for Zooey Deschanel. What a cutie.

We made it through. I’m trying to standby for Conan tomorrow, so if my plans stick, I’ll have another post soon to recap the experience.

Don’t be scared of the future. Til next time, baby birds.

- Chase

Sunday, June 8, 2008

"I Just Gotta Be Me!" Said the Yellow Penguin

I’ve never really had the aspiration of celebrity.  It’s not something that I have looked forward to as a child, putting on shows with my sister singing the theme song to “Duck Tales” and “Chip ‘N Dale.”  Alright, that was too specific so you know it’s true.  But I could honestly care less if by the time of my death those that know me are only my friends and family.  That’s it.  I don’t need anymore.  The only reason I would want to be famous is to be associated with a body of work that I am proud of, that I could share with people.  Of course, like LOST.  Or also something music related.  Something that could bring people together, not just to have my name out there.  Ok, before I get all end-of-the-movie-introspective-wrap-up-with-a-grandiose-moral-outlook on you, let me get to the point:  New York City makes me wish I were a celebrity.


I look at Mike Myers staring at me in Times Square and I think, “Man, I wish that was me.”  Well, not in his present state because he’s staring at me from the Love Guru ads, smiling as if he knows what a heaping, money-growing turd he’s about to drop into pop-culture.  What a train wreck that’s going to be.  Or should be.  I’ve seen people laughing at the previews.  The dang thing should be called Austin Powers: The Curry Scurry. 


Now, I wish that was me only because I think of all the hassle that gets taken away of living in a huge city such as this when one is a celebrity.  You take taxis, you eat where you want, you can afford a $10.99/lb. bag of M&Ms at the M&Ms World store.  Do you have to struggle to find a job?  Only if you’re Scott Baio.  All I’m saying is, even being Bob Loblaw would have it’s benefits.  That’s the reason they all love this place is because they can feel an elitism and enjoy every, little thing the city has to offer without so much as batting an .223…eyelash.  That makes no sense, even to baseball fans.  I don’t know.  It’s just a fun thought.  Well, being Scott Baio isn’t a fun thought, but the whole celebrity…thing…I was…Moving on.


I started work at Levi’s in Time Square.  Yeah, it is nuts.  I can’t give you numbers, but this store is going to be the #1 Levi’s store on all of planet Earth.  It will sell exponentially more than any other top store.  And I work there.  Funny where you end up in life.  I spoke to people who in turn spoke to me in at least five different languages today.  How many celebrities can hold that record?  Not many.  And that is why I’m glad to be plain.  Like those $10.99/lb. bag of milk chocolate, plain M&Ms.  Did I bring it home for you folks?  I hope so.


Anyway, that’s it for today.  I wanna say boo to Gabe for being unoriginal.  Click his name to see why I boo.  On the new music front (at least new to me), check out Lackthereof,  it’s a side project of Menomena’s Danny Seim.  Also, if you’re into the whole revolution of female singer-songwriters (Feist, Spektor, Ingrid, Yael, etc.) check out Dawn Landes, Angela Desveaux, or Jennifer O’Connor.  They’ll for sure get you listening to them 1, 2, 3, 4 times as you begin to hope.  Too much?  Alright then.


Til next time baby birds.


- Chase

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Red All Over

It’s time, it’s time, for me to blow ya mind.  I just did.  Because of stupidity, not because of anything profound.  So it’s been…what…five days since we last talked?  Well, I love it here.  I’m finally not feeling like a tourist anymore.  Consequently, I get annoyed with them.  Look at me getting all elitist on you. 


Here’s what’s not elitist: me being excited about Weezer’s colorful Red Album coming out today.  I thought it wasn’t coming out for another three weeks.  Imagine my face when I walked into Virgin in Times Square (three stories, by the way) and there it is with it’s Village-People inspired cover staring at me.  Is it a coincidence Spin managed to do a cover story on both Weezer and the Village People this month?  I’m going with no.  As I write all this, I’m listening to it so if I have thought about what I’m hearing on the album, I’ll italicize it.  Second track is bizarre.  Sounds like Rivers busted out his Queen collection.


I’ve started at Bank Robber and I love it.  Absolutely love it.  I’m now pretty much familiar with the entire roster of bands they’ve licensed.  Check out their site here.  Look at all those names.  There’s at least five you know.  If you recognize less, your taste needs some improvement.  I’ve already gotten so much music from them.  I don’t want to say what I’ve gotten that hasn’t come out yet because that might get me in trouble.  I now completely understand how stuff gets leaked.  For instance, I got one band that has a good buzz whose album doesn’t come out for another two months.  But I’ve just been casually handed copies of She & Him (not bad, Alex), Bon Iver, and The Donkeys just because Jennifer thinks I’ll like them.  Cool.  “Pork & Beans.”  I like this song.  Especially the tongue-in-cheek Timbaland stabs.


It’s been a blast just getting around the city.  I keep expecting someone to call me a poser when I talk about the subway or the streets or a place in the city.  “He’s a phony!  A big fat phony!”  Oh no, this sounds Fergie-ish.  Good, it turned around.  Whoa, pop culture reference overload.  It’s all about Rivers’ favorite songs.  It’s fun.  I pretty much travel the length of Manhattan everyday.  I love walking too.  I gotta make a playlist to fit the city.  There’s some definite stuff that spices it up.  Kanye really fits but then so does Nick Drake.  Heck, even Taking Back Sunday works.  Man, this does not sound like Weezer.  It’s so polished.  But I like it otherwise.  Ugh, I’m distracted.


I got to go out to Brooklyn to hang out with Jessika and Ashley, whose name I said was Lauren last post.  I apologize a thousand times, but then again, it’s apparently too late to apologize.  It’s really nifty out there.  Very arty and fun.  We checked out this giant telescope that, according to the story, is connected through a tunnel under the Atlantic.  That’s a load, you can totally tell it’s a camera, but it was cool nonetheless.  (Check out the picture I posted if it worked.)  They give you a dry-erase board to write a message.  Of course, I wouldn’t be Chase if I somehow didn’t bring LOST into this (incredible finale, by the way).  I wrote the numbers on my dry-erase board.  I held it up and suddenly on the other side in London, an older man who was with his wife got fidgety.  They were obviously American tourists and were watching through the scope from outside the line behind a rope.  The man was pointing at me and showing his wife and trying to hop the line I assume to respond to my nerdiness.  I thought it very cool.  And geeky.  Wow, the chord progression from “Dream Police.”  Way to go, guys.  It’s not Rivers singing the verses.  Quick wiki…it’s Bell, the guitarist.  Jessika, Ashley, and I proceeded to Eternal Sushine of the Spotless Mind (no, that’s not a Weezer comment).  What a trip that film is.  I highly recommend it.  I don’t know why I hadn’t seen it and I don’t know why you haven’t either. 


Man, there are some heavy 4/4 beats on this album.  So I think that’s about it.  I’ll keep you up to date on some of the great tunes that I’m hearing at Bank Robber.  Check out Ra Ra Riot.  Their debut is coming out in August and it is totally not the album I reference above *wink*wink*.  It’s some good stuff from Barsuk.  I think you can grab their self-titled EP on iTunes right now…and…yes you can.  Overall, I give it a six out of ten.  It’s OK but will we ever see another Pinkerton or Blue Album?  I doubt that more and more with each release.


Please comment, if you will.  Til next time, baby birds.