This is from a new EP from everyone’s favorite southern acoustic troubadours. This is the quiet before the storm, a quiet introspective EP of 8 songs of voice and guitar released in advance of their upcoming Rick Rubin recorded album for American Records.
So I’m sitting there reading the archives of Design*Sponge, a blog about nesting and interior design and stationary and silly little things to buy for your home, when the visage of an old friend pops on my screen. Holy shit, it’s Arun!
I know Arun as a singer for a punk band, as a brilliant filmmaker, and as one of the smartest, funniest, most politically astute people I’ve ever met. I’ve fallen out of touch, but it still came as a surprise to find that he’s now the director of field production for the Obama campaign. All those YouTube videos? Yep. That guy. Well, there’s a whole team of people, but still.
So that’s pretty exciting, not only to be able to attach a name and a face to what I think is a pretty stunning (and pretty widely recognized as such) video campaign, but also to find out an old friend is a big part of it. It’s inspiring from a personal standpoint, to see the impact a single person can make.
But it also tells me a lot about the Obama campaign itself. Arun isn’t a corporate lackey or deodorant-commercial maker or some turtleneck wearing snot, he’s a genuine film director who approaches the medium with art and with purpose. He’s slept in vans, played rock and roll at 3 am to a room full of dancing kids, used to live in a Williamsburg loft with the rest of his band. He’s not your typical politically connected guy. He’s 32. What other crazy politician would give him the keys? I’ll tell you who: a man who knows how to spot talent when he sees it, and a man who clearly isn’t following the rules.
See a bit of a nifty Q&A Arun did with a writer for Fast Company 2.0, sponsored by frog design, Fast Company 2.0, and NYU:
Nice. This is the kind of change the Republicans believe in.
"Political appointees at the Department of Labor are moving with unusual speed to push through in the final months of the Bush administration a rule making it tougher to regulate workers’ on-the-job exposure to chemicals and toxins.
"The agency did not disclose the proposal, as required, in public notices of regulatory plans that it filed in December and May. Instead, Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao’s intention to push for the rule first surfaced on July 7, when the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) posted on its Web site that it was reviewing the proposal, identified only by its nine-word title."
Daytrotter just posted a STELLAR set from acoustic fave Bon Iver. It’s hushed and delicate and private. Find all four songs here. They were recorded earlier in the same day as their fantastic live show at Huckleberry’s Pizza Parlor (including video), which I posted about previously.
Some exclusive video from Gizmodo inside the Lego factory. Follow some ABS plastic granulate as it is sucked through massive pipes, heated, injected into molds, sent to massive storage facilities by robots, retrieved based on current production, decorated as needed, grouped, weighed, shrink-wrapped, boxed, sealed, and packed into shipping boxes.
This is the latest in a set of videos taken by Gizmodo as part of a Lego trip one of its writers took last month. The full set of stories and videos can be found here.
Just posted a new mux with some songs I’ve been digging this week. It’s mostly new stuff, as there seems to be a ton of great music hitting right now. I’ve got piping hot new songs from some old faves (Walkmen, Notwist), some blog grabs (Miles Robinson, Shannon McArdle), some oldies-but-goodies (Dirty Looks, Joan Jett), a great song from a great band that has yet to take off here in the States and who have their first record coming out in the fall about which I am super excited but also slightly nervous because the last new band I was this excited about was Voxtrot and their first album kind of blows (Glasvegas), and a bunch of newish songs from records I’m digging a lot these days (Love Is All, Night Marchers, Deastro, Joan As Police Woman).
I know you are asking, where’s The Hold Steady? Easy, friends, easy. See, THS is so powerful, so great, so mind-blowingly all-consuming that any of their new songs overshadows anything near it. It’s a mix destroyer. A mux destructor. Even the fucking harpsichord on One for the Cutters would slice and dice and julienne even the toughest of metal riffs. Trying to slip in one of these tunes into this mix would be like trying to slip Jesus into a photo of the 1985 Bears - yeah, they were the best of all time, but next to the motherfucking son of God, William “The Fridge” Perry ain’t nothing but a fat man in a silly suit.
Stupido Shop is, to my mind, the best record shop in Helsinki.
Having been to approximately two record shops in Helsinki, I can authoritatively state that anna is correct.
I’ve got family in Finland and so I’ve been over there a few times, and always manage to find some time to wander the shops in Helsinki, looking for furniture, art, cool homewares, and of course, music. In one of these walkabouts, back in 2001, I happened to stumble into Stupido, and was completely overwhelmed. It was small and packed, with tons of great stuff on the wall. It reminded me of Paul’s CDs in Pittsburgh or maybe Other Music in NYC, but with tons of Finnish pop, rock, and folk. I went back in 2003 and 2005 and picked up random discs each time, usually asking for recommendations, sometimes picking things up that just looked nifty.
Some of what I picked up was mediocre or not my thing or whatever, but Stupido gave me a few happy introductions:
Eläkeläiset - Sort of in the Leningrad Cowboys model of jokey/serious Finnish pop, these guys play essentially drunk polka rock-pop, with lots of shouting and umpah loompah accordians. They have a few albums on emusic, not that I recommend you download them. A few songs are available via Stupido.
Circle - As 17 dots notes, these guys are nutsoid chameleons that play all sorts of styles, from spacey trancey stuff to dark psychadelic metal. The record I picked up randomly was this one, which is not available via emusic, but which is awesomely rich and hard and includes a 24 minute track of brain-smashing fun. Their emusic options are here.
Liekki - Maybe a Finnish Stereolab? Maybe more like a Finnish Aloha? Comparisons like this are silly, but the point is that it’s a little breathy and a little bouncy, with lots of flirty melodies and skittering shuffling percussion. I’ve never seen anything here in the US, so all I have is Korppi, from 2003, but I love it. Great for mixes. They are still around and from I gather, they’ve gotten bigger and now are carried by the Finnish arm of Universal. Newer stuff on their myspace, which I like, but maybe not as much.
Paavoharju - I picked up Yhä Hämärää in 2005 at the suggestion of a Stupido employee and it took a while to set in. But when I took the time, I fell in love with this record. Sure enough, it turned out to be the year of the Finnish psych-folk explosion, and back in the states I saw lots of love (1,2,3) for this record, as well as interest in records I picked up from Lau Nau and Avarus, as well as other stuff I hadn’t grabbed, like Islaja, Es, and other Fonal releases and older things that I’d never heard of. The scene has continued to grow, though the hiplight is shining elsewhere these days. Honestly, it’s a scene I’ve never been all that grabbed by, but but if you like your freaky folk atmospheric and outsidery, it’s a nice little cul-de-sac to run down every once in a while. Emusic has some of it here, here, here, and here, for example.
Check out the trailer for this quite-probably-awesome documentary about the breakout emergence in the early 90s of a bunch of street-influenced artists (e.g. skate/hip-hop/punk/graffiti), including Shepard Fairey, Harmony Korine, Mike Mills, Geoff McFetridge, Ed Templeton, Margaret Kilgallen, and others I’m less familiar with. Yayboy!
Recently, a friend of mine was describing his a t-shirt for his friend’s band “A Flock of Seagals,” which featured a bunch of winged Steven Seagal heads flying through the air, ponytails a flapping. It sounds amazing, as does this great cover version of “I Ran” by the lovely and all Love Is All, which I downloaded and first heard this morning. This means that I have been forcefully reminded of A Flock of Seagulls twice in the course of a week. There is something woefully wrong about this. Even so, yummy song.