Thursday, January 31, 2013

SNL parodies Catfish

I am currently obsessed with Catfish: the TV Show, the MTV reality show where people who are in online relationships enlist the help of Nev Schulman (star of the movie Catfish) to meet their "loves."  Most of the time, the person they are talking to online is not the person they claim to be.  They hijack other's photos and create alternative personalities. These personalities are often the opposite of their real personality.  I suspect people do this to hide internal issues.  Sometimes, heartbreak ensues once their identity is discovered.  Other times, they have no problem with being "catfished."  It is a fascinating show that really explores the psyche of our online word.

I rarely watch SNL, but Saturday's episode featured a very funny parody of Catfish.  Check it out below.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Does It Hold Up?: Jimmy Eat World's Bleed American (2001)

Jimmy Eat World was formed in the early 1990s in Mesa, Arizona. They were one of the major players in the early emocore scene.  Bleed American was actually their third album (released in 2001).  The sound was more towards a pop-punk sound than their previous melodic and dreamy recordings, Static Prevails and Clarity, released in 1996 and 1999 respectively. 

As a whole, the album is upbeat and hopeful. It features catchy pop-punk melodies and sing along lyrics focusing on the anxiety of being a teenager. 

It starts with the title track.  It is an aggressive anthem about being young.  Like many of their songs, the breakdown is a strong chorus that makes excellent use of lead singer Jim Adkin's voice.  It blends right into the second track, "A Praise Chorus." Again, this song is another sing-along classic. During their live shows (at least the two I've seen), it is always a crowd pleaser.  

The third track, "The Middle," was actually a mainstream hit. It was supported by a memorable video, with half-naked dancing young adults.  No one can ignore how catchy that whole "It just takes some time..." chorus is.  It is an anthem of teenage years. This will always be one of my favorite songs.  

The album just rolls along with one catchy song after another.  "Sweetness" features one of my favorite uses of the "woah-oh-oh" verse breaks.  "Hear You Me" is one of the most beautifully heartbreaking songs about death.  "The Authority Song" and "If You Don't, Don't" are two very underrated anthems and will be stuck in one's head for days.  The album closes with "My Sundown." It is the perfect ending to this powerhouse of an album.  It lulls the listener out to a dreamy state.  

As a whole, this album stands up to the test of time. The lyrics capture what it is like to be a teenager. The songs scream of insecurity and uncertainty of youth.  If you are looking for an upbeat yet profound album, give this one a listen.  It is unforgettable, even if you've forgotten it for years. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

This new column asks "Does It Hold Up?"

This is a new column, similar to the "Rediscovering Old Favorites," will be short posts about loved albums from the early 2000s.  In the early 2000s, I fell victim to the pop-punk trend. Bands like Straylight Run, Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, etc filled my iPod (actually, I guess my Discman or Mini-Disc player).

I still enjoy TSL, TBS, and BN today. But I started to think of all those other bands that I loved and saw live multiple times during this era.  We are talking bands like The Movielife, Yellowcard, The Starting Line, Fall Out Boy, All American Rejects, Armor for Sleep. 

All those songs of angsty glory, paired with sing-alongs were perfect for my state of mind (at the time).  But now that I am older (and wiser, maybe) I wonder, was I just under the spell of angst or are the albums really timeless pieces? 

We will find out.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Interesting Read of the Day

If there are three things Facebook seems to be about these days it is babies, pets, and pictures of food.

The NY Times posted an interesting column about the current trend of people and their food photos.  It focus on those who take a moment before chowing down on their meal to snap a smartphone photo and post it on a social network.  The article outlines how some restaurants are beginning to turn their noses at this fascinating trend.   These fancy establishments, like (Momofuku Ko and Per Se) are even starting to call out their customers about the rudeness of theseare even starting to call out their customers about the rudeness of these momentary flashes.  I found this quote by Moe Issa, the owner of Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare quite interesting. 
“Some people are arrogant about it,” he said. “They don’t understand why. But we explain that it’s one big table and we want the people around you to enjoy their meal. They pay a lot of money for this meal. It became even a distraction for the chef.”
Issa also states that these pictures ruin the flow of the meal.  The article also draws upon the expertise of  an iPhone photography teacher in Bushwick.
I am as guilty as the next person (just take a look at my instagram).  I found just the fact that this column was posted an interesting comment on just where dining out is headed.  Its not enough to enjoy food; now we must take pictures of the food so that other people know we enjoyed it.  It poses the question: If a food is consumed with photographic evidence, was it actually consumed?

Gawker posted an especially snarky response to the NYT article.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Check It Out: New music from Justin Timberlake

Like any girl who grew up listening to boy bands in the early 2000s, I am a huge fan of Justin Timberlake.  As I grew out of NSYNC, I flocked to Timberlake's solo material.  2002's Justified was good but 2006's FutureSex/LoveSounds was even better.

Now, 6 years later, he released a song called "Suit & Tie (featuring Jay-Z)." And I must say, I am a bit afraid that this new album will mark the end of my Justin Timberlake love (musically).  The new song predominately dark beats at the end.  The verse comes with those smooth JT vocals.  The main theme of the song is essentially is "suiting up" to pick up girls at the club.   He emulates Michael Jackson's vocal style.  Jay-Z comes in and does his typical rapping thing over Timberlake's "oohhs" and "ahhs."

The thing that I loved about Timberlake was his crossover appeal.  As someone who listens to indie and alt rock (almost) exclusively, I appreciate his catchy melodies, smooth beats and soulful voice. I sang along to "Senorita" and watched the video for "Cry Me a River," hating Britney Spears of what she did to poor innocent JT.  Songs like "Sexyback," "LoveStoned/I Think She Knows" and "What Goes Around..." really appealed to my interest in a catchy and sexy song with both a mainstream and independent vibe.  I just don't think this new song fits into the Timberlake I love.

Only time will tell. The new album is slated to come out sometime this year.  But for now, let's enjoy an old school Timberlake video for "What Goes Around.."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Best Songs of 2012: Part 2

Here is Part 2 of the best songs of 2012:

"Continuous Thunder" - Japanadriods (from Celebration Rock)
Without a doubt, this album should be on just about everyone's list for the best of the year.  This song is one of the best.  It is strong like the single ("The House that Heaven Built"), but a bit quieter.  The fuzzy guitars are subdued and wonderful.  Even though Japandriods are just two people, they create a exuberant sound. As this song progresses, its hard not to imagine driving down a road with windows open during the summer.   Its just a great track.

"Heartbreaker" - Walkmen (from Heaven)
The Walkmen are often described as a "Musician's band" because of their tight melodies and generally strong musicanship.  This album is a great display of all of these characteristics. I was able to see the band perform at Bowery Ballroom on June 6, 2012 and they really dazzled the audience during this intimate record release show. This song is one of the best of the album (although just about every other song is great as well).

"I Never Knew You" - The Avett Brothers (from The Carpenter)
These brothers construct a lush sound in every one of their songs.  This song starts off with piano and draws the listener in.  The harmonies are at the forefront and created a sing-along atmosphere.  This is another strong song from a strong album.

"The Descent" - Bob Mould (from Silver Age)
As mentioned in a previous post, Bob Mould is back.  This opening track to Silver Age sets the stage for a bunch of charming loud songs about growing old.  This one specifically is the most upfront.  The lyrics weigh success over artistic individuality. To answer Mould's question towards the end of the song, he does make it up to us.

"National Anthem" - Gaslight Anthem (from Handwritten)
I was not thrilled by this album's single ("45").  It seemed too overproduced and too obvious.  Instead, I was charmed by "National Anthem." This song is much simplier and quieter.  It showcases Brian Fallon's voice and lyrical prowess. He is quiet but strong.  It is similar to other Gaslight gems like "Here's Looking at You, Kid" (from The 59 Sound) and "The Navasink Banks" (from Sink or Swim).

Honorable Mentions:
"1957" - Milo Green (from 1957)
"Harder Before It Gets Easier" - David Wax Museum (from Knock Knock Get Up)
"This Summer" - Superchunk
"Hey Ho" - Lumineers (from self titled)
"Love Don't Leave Me Waiting" - Glen Hansard (from Rhythm and Repose)
"Love Love Love" - Of Monsters and Men (from My Head is an Animal)
"In a Big City" - Titus Andronicus (from Local Business)
"Maria" - Justin Townes Earle (from Nothing's Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now)

Monday, January 7, 2013

List: Best Concerts of the Year, Part 2

Here is part 2 of my best concert list of 2012:

John Roderick (January 28, Mercury Lounge)
The Long Winters have not released an album since 2006. Frontman John Roderick really knows how to engage an audience. With a plethora of witty banter and audience participation, this was one of the most fun concerts of the year. Now all there is to do is hope for a new album sometime this decade.

Pulp (April 11, Radio City Music Hall)
Pulp is a newer discovery for me.  After many different people suggesting this English alt-rock band to me, I dove into their discography and then went to see them live.  The live show sold me.  Jarvis Cocker pranced around the stage and up the sides of Radio City Music Hall. He had so much energy and the band was tight. The entire audience danced along and sang out the lyrics. It was a pretty magical experience.

Regina Spektor (May 15, United Palace Theater)
United Palace is a very unique place to see a concert.  Located in Washington Heights, it has the charm of the old theater. In fact, it looks like no updates were made this century. Spektor fit in perfectly in this venue. Her old-school charm and quirky nature really shined through.

Radiohead (June 13, Susquehanna Bank Center, Camden NJ)
Radiohead, outside venue, Thom Yorke dancing. That is really all that needs to be said.

Bob Mould (Sept 7, Williamsburg Park)
This former Husker Du/ Sugar frontman started the set with the seminal Sugar album "Cooper Blue."  He then went on to play other selections from his solo releases and Husker Du albums.  Another energetic concert, the background of an concrete park fit perfectly with the vibe of the songs and Mould's voice.  His album "Silver Age" is definitely one of the best of the year.

Bonus: The Hold Steady (December 31, Wellmont Theater, Montclair NJ)
Opener Lucero really pumped up the audience and laid the groundwork for an excellent show. 
Despite being put on hold for about 10 minutes due to an incident on the dance floor, this show was awesome top to bottom. With a set of older and newer songs, Craig Finn and the rest of the band worked the audience through fist pumps and sing-alongs.  They counted down at midnight and shot confetti into the audience.  There was complimentary champagne and giant balloons that floated from the stage.   It ended around 1:20 in 2013 and can be counted as one of the best shows of 2012 and 2013.