Archive for February, 2011

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Heavy Rotation 64

February 27, 2011

Featuring The Straight Jacks, Dick Dale by way of Sector, Guilty Ghosts, Soap Opera and Spoon being beaten by BEAKR. Kind of all over the place here and featuring, unbelievably, some drum & bass. Go figure. Wish a song of yours would just go away? Email me at 2timegrime@gmail.com.

More spinning done here:
The Heavy Rotation Archives

LINKS

A long, long, ultra-long look behind the scenes from a former top member of the Church of Scientology.

Sweet! Hacker supergroup Anonymous is taking on the Westboro Baptist Church. Bring on the well-deserved LULZ!

Upon further review, Anonymous will NOT be taking on the Westboro Baptist Church. Because it is they who are the trolling fuckers and they’ve got lawyers like other people have IQ points.

Kate Beaton, the genius cartoonist behind Hark, a Vagrant, has never seen an episode of Dr. Who. This hasn’t stopped her from whipping up a representative episode of the show. As far as I can tell, her sketches are more accurate than the show itself.

The Static Jacks – Parties and Friends (and Bullshit).mp3

Sounds like a less aggro Social Distortion, but one that traces the same outlines (drinking, women, pain) that Social Distortion did best. It’s easy to imagine Mike Ness’ heavily-tattooed growl throttling this one, decrying the injustices perpetrated on him by his woman, her nasty drinking habit and her even nastier drunken habits.

If indie rock had a “classic rock” subgenre, the Static Jacks would be the trendsetter.

Dick Dale – Misirilou (Sector Drum & Bass Mix).mp3

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As has been stated before, I don’t care much for Drum & Bass. But as was also pointed out, the DnB I do like (Aphrodite, etc.) isn’t considered real DnB by the purists. So what we have here is something that works so well it seems obvious with about 30 seconds of hindsight: a “not real DnB” remix of Misirlou, a speedy Dick Dale track made bouncier by the addition of filling-loosening bass and a jump-up breakbeat.

Thus, Eastern-informed surf guitar becomes theoretically danceable, even if you can only get as far as your computer chair.

Guilty Ghosts – Bergen Street.mp3

Like Mogwai, only more electronic-y, Guilty Ghosts pair a skipping CD drumbeat with a blanketing fog of melodic distortion. The perfect soundtrack for a rainy day. Or (depending on current local conditions) the perfect soundtrack for a hungover, shades-drawn kind of day.

(Photo: Jason Pfeifer)

Soap Opera – Colliqual.mp3

Some sort of rough-hewn dubby breakbeat, sporting Massive Attack meets Mad Professor beats with barking electronic interjections and unintelligible vocals that weave in and out of the murk. No single element is particularly threatening but the whole thing has an ass-kicking air about it. And who is Soap Opera? You won’t find any answers here.

Spoon – I Turn My Camera On (BEAKR Mix).mp3

Spoon for your dancefloor, without any lazy beat additions or bland 4/4 club pandering. Just a kick-ass BEAKR re-edit, stressing the thump while retaining Britt Daniels’ distinctive vocals and lyrics.

-CLT

Some content on this page was disabled on June 16, 2020 as a result of a DMCA takedown notice from Performing Right Society Limited (PRS). You can learn more about the DMCA here:

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Income Inequality: the Imaginary Powderkeg

February 25, 2011

Mother Jones recently published a set of infographics on income equality in America, which is understandably kicking up some dust around various corners of the internet. The numbers are shocking: the top .01% make an average of $27 million per household. The bottom 90%? Only $31,000.

Looking at this chart, it’s easy to believe that some sort of unfairness exists. That somehow the richest 10% (who control over 70% of the wealth in this country) are undeserving of their income. The knee-jerk response is to start thinking of the nation’s wealth as zero-sum, and for every dollar going into Bill Gates’ pocket, a corresponding dollar is being taken away from the lower 90%.

Obviously, nobody believes this is done directly. But many do believe that this is being done indirectly through layoffs, wage suppression or actions along those lines.

But it’s an illusion.

It’s an illusion created by those who believe there is some sort of caste system, aided by political action, that serves to make the poor poorer and the rich richer.

But don’t fall for it. There’s nothing there.

The supposed “problem” of income disparity only exists if you believe it exists. I’m not saying that these charts aren’t accurate or that there is not a large gap between the top 10% and the bottom 90% of earners. I’m saying that this gap is only a problem if you choose to believe it’s a problem.

The thought process as to why you should believe it’s a problem is false. The theory is that the more the top 10% makes, the less you make. Unless the CEO of Goldman Sachs is siphoning money out of your bank account, this simply isn’t true.

“But I don’t work for Goldman Sachs, I work for X company.” Exactly. And every chart like this is intended to make you feel as though the CEO of X company is getting richer by suppressing your wages. People look at infographics such as these, compare that with their paycheck and subjectively apply it to their situation, forgetting that there are several people in the top 10% who don’t (directly or indirectly) have any effect on their paycheck.

Ask yourself this question: what do the super-rich have that I don’t? Multiple houses, luxury vehicles, housekeepers, etc. are not the sort of thing any reasonable person expects out of life. Even in the lower income levels, we still have access to services and consumer goods that used to be the domain of only the rich: decent medical care, a house, multiple vehicles, high-end electronics, computers, appliances, schools, and so on. These all used to be available only to the very well-off. In the past, only the rich could afford qualified doctors and education for their children. Computers used to cost thousands of dollars. The same with high-end electronics. Washers and dryers were luxury items.

As life has gone in the US, the cost of these goods has fallen dramatically. Everyone has a free option for their children’s education. Life expectancy has gone up. As the wages spread further and further apart, life has not gotten collectively worse for everyone outside of the top 10%. Life continues to get better for a majority of the other 90%. There are some outliers in the lowest percentiles but generally speaking, life is better for a majority of Americans despite this perceived inequality.

In fact, as wage disparity has increased, happiness levels in America have risen as well. Income disparity increased over 50% between 1972-2004 and yet a GSS (General Social Service) poll shows happiness levels increasing from 30 to 31 percent.

“If the egalitarians are right, then average happiness levels should be falling. But they aren’t. The GSS shows that in 1972, 30 percent of the population said that they were “very happy” with their lives; in 1982, 31 percent; in 1993, 32 percent; in 2004, 31 percent. In other words, no significant change in reported happiness occurred—even as income inequality increased by nearly half. Happiness levels have certainly shown some fluctuations over the last three decades, but income inequality explains none of them.”

There are a lot of reasons for people to be unhappy now. We’re in the middle of a recession. The housing market has collapsed, dragging down net worth for the bottom 90%. A jobless recovery is slowing progressing. People need a villain to take the blame and the top 10% is better than nothing. The perception that America is run by robber barons is taking hold again.

A lot of this perception stems from the financial industry’s top level compensation. There’s a huge disconnect between what CEOs in this field make and the perceived value of their actions. Resentment has built from the bank bailouts and other special treatment these institutions have received over the years, which when coupled with the current recession tends to bring most people to the conclusion that these same CEOs are extremely overpaid. I’d agree with this conclusion. They are overpaid. But then again, so is most of their rank-and-file. It’s a feeling that those who push imaginary money around shouldn’t be compensated this well, especially when their money-pushing results in hardship for the bottom 90%.

But this isn’t totally the fault of the financial institutions. If you want to blame somebody, blame the government. And keep blaming them because they’re never going to fix it. Goldman Sachs, in particular, is a revolving door that circulates its executives in and out of government positions and vice versa. Even if the government decided to step in and raise taxes appreciably on big business and the incomes of the top 10%, it would have no effect on the bottom 90%.

The ugly truth is that if you tax something more, you get less of it. Just ask New York City, whose latest tax increase (to $6.86 a pack!) resulted in an influx of tax-free bootleg cigarettes and the relocation of tax money to neighboring states with lower prices. Sales dropped 27% between July and November, far exceeding the 8-10% the politicians predicted.

A higher income tax would simply mean that more of the top 10% would relocate to countries with lower tax rates. The same goes for the businesses. They would incorporate in tax havens and dodge the bullet that way. The bottom 90% would pay more for goods and services as any applied tax meant to “punish” the high end would simply be passed along to the low end. It’s always this way and those who yearn for the golden era of 90% marginal tax rates on millionaires are kidding themselves if they think a tax hike will actually result in some sort of windfall for the bottom 90%.

Contrary to the images painted by those with class warfare on their minds, a majority of the rich did not simply “luck” into this money or exploit the hell out of others to get it. Many of them were innovators (Bill Gates, Lawrence Ellison, Sergey Brin) who developed new products and services. Others were savvy investors (Warren Buffet, Carl Icahn, Sheldon Adelson). With the exception of the Wal-Mart inheritance and the Mars family, no one on the Top 20 list of richest Americans simply had money given to them.

It’s at this point that merit comes into play. Do people who hate the income gap really want all people to be rewarded equally? Do they want the top end skewed down or do they want the bottom end to rise? Should this be handled via “redistribution” (in other words, taxes – an impossibility but we’ll let it slide for rhetorical reasons) or wage caps? Do they really want a world where hard work and foresight is punished?

Take Mother Jones, for example. Their ad income is most likely several times that of smaller online commentary sites. Should they be forced to toss their “excess” in a pool for the smaller sites to benefit from and close the “gap” that way? I would imagine they’d disagree with this, stating that they’ve built up their brand and hired talented writers and thus, deserve this additional income.

Is that any different than deciding that Bill Gates should be forced via taxation or salary cap to cough up his “excess” income so that those in the bottom 90% can have more? And how exactly does anyone expect this to happen?

All the ideas I’ve read revolve around raising the tax rate on the top 10%. This is the ever-popular “soaking the rich” tax plan. It plays well with voters but will never be instituted, thanks to the fact that many of our nation’s representatives are wholly beholden to the ultra-rich, if not actually part of the ultra-rich themselves. (Interesting note: Democrats are more prone to painting the Republican party as champions of the ultra-rich, but 7 out 0f 10 of the richest representatives listed below are, in fact, Democrats. And not just any Democrats, but Democrats who crossed party lines to vote FOR Bush’s tax cuts on higher incomes.)

Beyond the fact that there is nobody in Washington willing to do this, a further issue is the fact that the government is quite possibly the worst Robin Hood analogue imaginable. They cannot, despite constant assurances otherwise, redistribute wealth. They cannot take Bill Gates’ money and spread it among a random sampling of the bottom 90%. They can’t even do it indirectly through taxes, as much of that money is already promised to a variety of earmarks, subsidies and entitlements already.

Not only that, but a higher taxation rate wouldn’t close the gap. Gross income is still gross income, no matter what the tax rate. Someone making $20 million will still make $20 million, even if 60% of it is siphoned off in taxes. And the person making $30,000 will still be making $30,000, even if $12 million just rolled into the IRS offices.

They also have no business setting wages. Despite governmental creep into the private sector, there is no way these self-interested players should be allowed to cap wages or set minimums. They already have screwed up with the minimum wage and granting them the power to cap maximums is asking for a quasi-socialist system where even fewer people have a chance to get rich but many, many more will have the chance to be poor.

Beyond that, no one seems to have any idea how to close the income gap. If this were a real problem, rather than just a shoddy platform plank, ideas would flow freely. As it is, it’s just a political haymaker and another reason to get pointlessly angry.

My suggestion? Let it go. It won’t change. It can’t change. And anyone who thinks it can be changed wants to enlist the worse people possible to handle/redistribute other people’s money: the government. That’s not a solution. That’s a farce.

-CLT

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Also Appearing at…

February 24, 2011

The Big Jewel, where I take on ghosts and stuff, and published at Techdirt in a somewhat indirect fashion (you’ll have to do some scrolling in order to see a familiar name).

-CLT

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Friends (Or a Reasonable [Electronic] Facsimile Thereof)

February 24, 2011

I first heard Gary Numan on a Beggars Banquet compilation (which also featured some brilliant tracks by Peter Murphy, Rollerskate Skinny and Tones on Tail). Well, I had probably heard Cars first via the radio, which at that point was still trotting out that lurching classic 15 years on from its heyday, myopically reducing Gary Numan to a single song.

And that’s really the problem with radio. Every band exists only as their hit, no matter how many other just as catchy tunes reside on their albums. For instance, the US knows Love & Rockets as So Alive.

At least if you lived in Britain, you had All in My Mind or their cover of Ball of Confusion added to that arbitrary list. Oh, and No New Tale to Tell, which was one of about three salvagable tracks from Earth-Sun-Moon, which many people still insist on calling “underrated.” I don’t know. To my ears, the “underrated” scores are right where they should be.

But we’re not here to discuss my lover for Love & Rockets or the poorly done tattoo of the band’s logo I have tattoed on my right arm.

The follow-up question to Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Are Friends Electric? is vintage Numan, all icy synths, monotone vocals and a melodic hook as big as the dystopian outdoors. The huge synth line is twice as good as the one in Cars, if only half as popular.

Here’s the original in all its synthetic glory:

Now that you’ve gone to the source, here’s two different takes on the masterpiece:

Moloko – Are Friends Electric? (live).mp3

Moloko takes the first swing, opting for a rather straightforward rendition. The main twist is part-time singer Mark Brydon’s vocals, which out-deadpan Numan’s original, lending a bit of ironic distance to the cover. It turns out a bit like something that wouldn’t sound out of place in the more restrained portions of Fischerspooner’s discography.

Giresse – Mon Ami.mp3

Giresse heads off in a different direction, using the outsized synthline as the foundation for a dancefloor killing machine. The patented Numan riff gets distended, altered, pitched and otherwise electronically manhandled over the course of the pounding track, one which wouldn’t sound out of place in Mauro Picotto or Yves Deruyter‘s setlist.

-CLT

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Heavy Rotation 63

February 20, 2011

Featuring Tobacco, Glitter Bones, No Age, Slowdive and The Fauns. Damaged electro followed by the soothing sounds of various -gazes, nu- and old skool shoe-. Would you like a track removed? Email me at 2timegrimee@gmail.com

LINKS:

Learn how to do stuff from self-annointed “experts” over at The Content Farm. The first step to paying off your credit card debt? Get money. It seems obvious now, but your lack of expertise probably blinded you.

How J.C. Penney gamed the search engine system. Yeah. J.C. Penney. Even the most staid of mall anchor stores are hacking their way back to relevance.

Multiple links here. All good. The story behind security firm HBGary and one man’s idiotic attempt to take on notorious hacking hivemind Anonymous. To quote one of the many: “Moral of the Story: Don’t drum up business by banging on a hornet’s nest.”

1. The Man Who Knew Too Little: Behind Aaron Barr’s (of HBGary) convoluted plot to bring down Wikilinks.
2. How Aaron Barr tracked down Anonymous and paid heavily: 68,000 company emails made public, 1.5TB of data flushed, Twitter account hacked, website defaced, and more.
3. After Anon’s preliminary attack, Aaron Barr confronts his attackers. Bitch-slappage ensues.
4. Anonymous details the hack.
5. The complete IRC chat log of Barr’s “face-to-face” with Anonymous.

More Heavy Rotation(s) available here:
The Heavy Rotation Archive

http://www.flickr.com/photos/50871004@N00/3576914654

Tobacco – Six Royal Vipers.mp3

Tobacco makes a particularly unhealthy form of electronica, one that sounds like it’s composed in a roomful of lengthy wiring and dust bunnies, lit with a single, flickering fluorescent bulb. You can almost picture him hunched over a jury-rigged beatbox, surrounded by overflowing ashtrays and unsleeved LPs, coaxing out distorted melodies and warped tones, occasionally interrupted by tripped circuit breakers and periodic hits from his n2o cartridge.

Clinking through the discarded cartridges, he presses REC on the reel-to-reel which is loaded with decaying tape originally purchased from a boot sale somewhere in the darker parts of Mile End, along with a set of ancient pornographic comic books, a stack of which are currently in use leveling out the mid-70s console stereo.

Finally happy with his efforts, Tobacco dumps it all into the aging Atari ST (don’t knock it: Fatboy Slim still uses one) and, with a flip of the circuit breaker and some wire rearranging, sends it to the waiting vinyl press. One the grooves are imprinted, Tobacco grabs the fresh acetate and drills an off-center hole in it and quickly inscribes “???: ? RPMs” on the label.

No Age – Losing Feeling.mp3

When not confidently speeding through Pavement-damaged angular indie rock, No Age like to wind their way down a poppier, melancholic path lit only by filtered sunlight and bright chords which intermittently expose the darkness just below the surface. This is the way indie pop should be done: kiss to the brain melodies coasting on frictionless sounds just left enough of radio to avoid being tagged “sellout.”

The Fauns – Road Meets Sky.mp3

Nu-gaze that conjures up the best Lush tracks with a bit of Slowdive (see below) thrown in for good measure.

Glitter Bones – Race to Heaven.mp3

Like a slightly more cheerful Slowdive, making use of the same softly focused palette but with brighter colors mixed in. Kind of as if Slowdive had hied the fuck up out of watery Reading and relocated to somewhere with a few more months of steady sunlight. Like Ibiza.

Glitter Bones‘ dreampop sounds a little poppier and a little less like the suicidal teen down the block and hits your ears like a love letter written on a sugar rush.

Slowdive – Machine Gun.mp3

For comparison. (Also works fine as a stand-alone piece.)

-CLT

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The Fancy Plans Guide to AFI’s Top 100 Films: Volume 8

February 18, 2011

Better “sometime” than “never,” it’s the penultimate edition of our long-running, long-winded guide to the “American Film Institute’s Top 100 Films That Everyone Agrees are Pretty Much Good Films.”

Previous editions available here:
AFI’s Top 100 Films Archive

Chaplin's imaginative use of color was completely lost on the film stock, which refused to be anything other than black and white.

81. Modern Times (1936)
Another Chaplin-esque masterpiece, thanks to its prominent use of Charlie Chaplin in a variety of roles, including actor, director and writer. A searing indictment of industrialism, Modern Times is heavily metaphoric, which generally means it plays well with film school students, who have a tendency to read lots of stuff into other stuff, and stoners, who like all things “heavy” and/or “deep.”

Of course, Chaplin’s exuberant physical comedy also tends to make these same stoners feel “tired” and “not able to make it into work today,” leaving them free to channel-surf away to less tiring entertainments like children’s programming or test patterns.

James Dean poses in his traditional give-a-fuck style, dwarfing a nearby house with his outsized persona.

82. Giant (1956)
The second third (see also: Rebel Without a Cause [#59]) of James Dean’s cigarette-burned body of work, Giant details the inner turmoil of an outwardly successful family of farmers or oil barons or something.

Its sweeping vistas and temperamental glowering illustrate perfectly the truism that “money can’t buy happiness” and, unfortunately, neither can “no money.” Along with it not being able to “buy happiness,” “no money” is unable to buy much else, like comfort or stability.

Critically acclaimed despite its lack of leather jackets and Sal Mineo, Giant continues to pose a haunting “What if…” in regard to Dean’s severely truncated career as well as a “What if…” in regard to Elizabeth Taylor, who in later years would seem to have been better off “not living.”

Oliver Stone would rehash this same haunting imagery for the final scene of "Any Given Sunday."

83. Platoon (1986)
Coke fiend Oliver Stone draws upon his own experiences as a Christ-figure during the Vietnam War to craft this Charlie Sheen vehicle. Despite being the hot new face on the scene (a scene which apparently included a whole lot of hookers), Sheen is regularly out-acted by co-stars Willem Dafoe, Forrest Whittaker and the local flora.

Stone’s message-laden film uses its Vietnam War backdrop to allow the viewers to fill in the blanks of his forgone conclusions resulting in a minorly epic biopic which fearlessly bashes an unpopular war more than a decade after it ended.

North Dakota: nothing but dead bodies and snow.

84. Fargo (1996)
Midwesterners: when they’re not murdering their partners in crime, they’re murdering English with their flatly nasal interjections, am I right? Supposedly based on a true story that never happened, the Coen brothers’ Fargo is a dark comedy of errors with a mile-wide mean streak.

On the bright side, Frances McDormand took home an Oscar for her portrayal of a small-town policewoman, marking the first time that the Academy has recognized a pregnant woman in this fashion. McDormand delivered a cute acceptance speech while barefoot and on her way the kitchen to make finger sandwiches for the Academy members.

Unfortunately, a hairdressing accident forced Chico Marx to perform the film wearing a melted showercap.

85. Duck Soup (1933)
Comedy classic featuring a troupe of stereotypes performing under a revolutionary surname, one which garnered them some unwanted attention during the McCarthy hearings. The so-called “Marx Brothers” included Groucho Marx, a philandering wisacre whose numerous affectations included a moustache and eyebrows, a constant cigar and the low-slung gait of a hernia sufferer; Harpo Marx, a mute manchild whose penchant for upskirt glances was offset by his harp ownership; Chico Marx, whose Italian accent and bad habits were an inspiration for the Mario Bros., one of whom was inexplicably named Luigi; and Zeppo Marx, whose vanilla personality rarely conflicted with the extras who frequently stole his scenes.

Their comedy was a mixture of verbal wit, absurdist physical comedy and the occasional show-offy musical interlude. Duck Soup is one of their most typical efforts, filled with all the elements listed. (“State Room Scene” not included.)

Clark Gable combated baldness by grooming his back hair upward.

86. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
An unflinching look at maritime regulations via the denizens of the HMS Bounty, a seafaring ship (that’s a Cusslerism) whose minor uprising became the stuff of near-legend. This cautionary tale offers a somewhat brutal reminder as to why it’s never a good idea to pick a fight in the middle of the ocean, especially with someone who retains very “old school” ideas about crime and punishment.

Unfortunate things are said, most of them “out of line.” Whips are deployed. Everyone gets too much sun. A hierarchy is challenged. Water pretty much everywhere. Someone gazes intently at or through a sextant. Men speak at length in salty, impenetrable sailor lingo.

Nothing pisses off reanimated corpses faster than dimly lit windmills.

87. Frankenstein (1931)
Original film version of Mary Shelley’s beach novel Dr. Frankenstein, which thrilled vacationers with its fast paced mixture of Jewish golem mythology and British Hammer horror. The “Frankenstein” actually refers to the good doctor who earns the ire of both the Homeowner’s Association and the Chamber of Commerce with his affronts to God and outsized electric bill.

The intrusive townsfolk are none too thrilled with the monster either, thanks to a.) it being a monster (and an affront to God) and b.) its habit of tossing things like children into the nearest river to see if they’ll float.

Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper terrorize the middle of nowhere with their brash hairstyles and lack of proper safety gear.

88. Easy Rider (1969)
Single-handedly introduced counterculture to the US via the druggy, two-wheeled antics of Jack “Deviated Septum” Nicholson, Peter “Jane’s Dad” Fonda and Dennis “Naturally Batshit” Hopper. Consummate professionals all, Fonda, Hopper and Nicholson insisted on doing all of their own riding and stunts, especially as it became apparent that the film’s tight budget meant no stuntmen would be hired.

The film itself alternates between cautionary and hallucinatory, proving by the shocking final act that it takes a lot more than a couple of hippies and their Harleys to change the status quo. While its sentiments and clothing may seem dated, its lack of a propulsive storyline and competent editing ushered in a “new wave” of self-consciously artistic films.

Patton was later court-maritaled for "contempt of uniform." The "ridiculous pants" and "galoshes" were specifically sited.

89. Patton (1970)
One of the finest war flicks of all time, bringing home an Oscar for both George C. Scott and his co-star Enormous American Flag, the latter of which drew positive comparisons to the gold standard of dramatic backdrops, Charles Foster Kane’s Enormous Head.

Although they only had one scene together, critics agree that nothing else in the exceedingly long running time comes close to the nuanced interplay of Scott’s gruff scene-chewing and Flag’s stoic but judgmental silence. Elsewhere, people shoot people and Scott emotes gruffly. E.A. Flag is folded respectfully and shipped off to New Jersey for a scheduled appearance on a Springsteen album cover.

Exceedingly gruff/long.

Early poster mockup for "Amos and Andrew Ridgely."

90. The Jazz Singer (1927)
When Al Jolson’s blackfaced lips nearly synched up to the soundtrack and offensively stated “You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!,” the world of motion pictures was changed forever. No longer would moviegoers have to suffer in silence as a hack pianist cranked out an improvised soundtrack to images of horses running or heavily made-up leading men macking on heavily made-up leading ladies in between title cards stating “Scene missing” or “I want to fuck you like an animal.”

With the advent of sound recording, “talkies” were born, instantly alienating their male audience, most of whom felt that women should be seen and not heard and the deaf, who felt everything should be seen and not heard. (The title cards were hailed by Deaf Gentleman’s Fortnightly as “Braille for the eyes.”)

Now that actors and writers were freed from the tyranny of a single sense, they began cranking out “talkies” left and right, filled to the brim with loud noises and speedy, incessant chatter.

Movies fans spent the next 20+ years being talked at constantly. During the 50s, the backlash began, led by Ghengis Khan impersonator John Wayne, whose easy drawl ran against the grain of whirlwind chatter. As westerns began to take over the cinema, actors went from being described as “hyperactive” and “fedora-clad” to being referred to as “laconic” or “possibly drunk.”

This backlash reached its peak in 1968 when iconoclast and current dead man Stanley Kubrick released 2001: A Space Odyssey, a movie whose epic running time consists of long shots very lightly peppered with low-key conversations between a space crew and their computer. The “barely there” conversation drops to near zero later in the film after the computer is given the “silent treatment” by the sole non-murdered astronaut.

Skip ahead 13 years and the backlash against backlash has begun. “Talkies” are big again! Spearheaded by the indie film industry, chattery films fill the multiplex. The seminal My Dinner with Andre is the touchstone, being nothing more than a filmed conversation between two actors. This trailblazer is followed by Clerks (My Dinner with Andre with more talking, swearing and Star Wars references) and Reservoir Dogs (My Dinner with Andre with more talking, swearing, pop culture examination and chillingly soundtracked earcapitation).

-CLT

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Heavy Rotation 62

February 13, 2011

Featuring Umberto, Simian Mobile Disco, the Sleep-Ins, Marina and the Diamonds (assistance provided by Pictureplane) and Bisquit. Some dark electro, light electro, post-electro, good old fashioned indie rock and a fat slab of cheese. Need a track removed? Email me at 2timegrime@gmail.com.

Previous Rotations available here:
The Heavy Rotation Archive

LINKS:

Old sports cards treated with the utmost disrespect and indignity.

The 40 Most Amazing Pictures Of The Blizzaster Of 2011: Pics, Videos, Links, News

This clip will make your brain cough up blood.

Umberto – Someone Chasing Someone Through a House.mp3

Zombie Zombie? John Carpenter? Gatekeeper? Goblin?

If any one of these ring a bell, you’re in for an atmospheric treat. Umberto lays down the creeping menace like nobody’s business, least of all the person who has just now realized the calls are coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE.

Knives out. That door. Fuck. That door locks from the other side. Upstairs. Shit. The lights. The fucking lights!

(While you enjoy that minimal word picture and the soothing tones of your near-death experience closing in, take a moment to revel in the pure snark of the song title. The perfect answer to the sneering Nimrod who knocks your music with a sneering, “So, you like write soundtrack music for movies that don’t exist? Is that about right?”

Let’s all hope this prick is the expendable cast member. You know, the annoying one that the audience starts shouting directions to, like “Open that door!” and “Go lay down on the centerline!”)

Also noted: Umberto hails from Kansas City of all places. Isn’t music fucking great!

Simian Mobile Disco – Hákarl.mp3

I don’t know what someone said to Simian Mobile Disco but it must have cut them deep. Something about selling out. Going pop. Jumping in the shallow end with Justice.

Whatever was said worked. SMD released the most aggressively non-commercial album of their career with Delicacies. Dark dirty dancefloor material. Brutal minimal beatdowns with no concessions granted to the hipsters, the charts or the pretenders claiming to be tastemakers.

No vocals. Well oiled precision electronics hammering the point home. Nothing under 7 minutes in length. You wanted a hit? Not here. No sellout.

The Sleep-Ins – Silver State.mp3

The Sleep-Ins are a throwback to very early-90s altrock, throwing around walls of guitar fuzz like the adopted children of the Inspiral Carpets and the Soupdragons. There’s also a bit of Dinosaur Jr’s more temperate moments (Feel the Pain, in particular) where Mascis could un-slack long enough to make a brief connection with a potential audience.

I also here a bit of Pavement in here as well (Box Elder, specfically) but this would be a Pavement that wasn’t so damn sure it was smarter than its listeners. Great, earworming stuff.

Marina and the Diamonds – Shampain (Picture Plane Remix).mp3

Marina and the Diamonds revive the adventurous near-pop of Laurie Anderson and Kate Bush (especially the latter) in this charming, chiming shard of bliss. “Rapturous” could get tossed in here as a prime adjective. Incredibly catchy, sporting a melody that goes for miles. Pictureplane is on hand to add more charm, chiming and roughed-up chords and samples.

Bisquit – Roller Boogie.mp3

I left this one for last since it may be the last thing you hear today. It’s not that other music won’t reach your ears, it’s just that whatever it is will have no chance of dislodging this insidious piece of bubblegum from your subconscious. It’s so infectious it should come with penicillin booster shots.

It’s German but the lyrics are in English. There’s plenty of vocoder scattered all over these lyrics which gives it a high-tech feel while still being retro as all hell. (Kind of like an audio approximation of The Jetsons. And the vocoder is easily one of my favorite electronic thingies, right behind the Roland TB-303.)

Do yourself a favor and watch the video, which contains some of the most half-assed choreography and easily-tired dancers I’ve ever seen. I’m pretty sure that if this didn’t exist, neither would the Vengaboys, which in no way diminishes the ridiculous amount of pure, naïve fun this brings to the table.

FREE SKATE!

-CLT

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Understanding Sedate Me: A Glossary of Terms

February 10, 2011

As many of you are probably aware, Sedate Me is a frequent contributor to this blog’s comment threads. Having decided that it takes a lot less effort to run your own blog within the confines of someone else’s, Sedate Me has made Fancy Plans the inadvertent host of windy essays on subject matter ranging from men’s fashion to today’s Next Big Thing.

Unfortunately, as well thought out and excessively long as these comments are, they can be a bit confusing to the uninitiated thanks to SM’s use of proprietary handcrafted vernacular. This brief (but not too brief — we are dealing with Sedate Me after all) glossary should help you suss out what the hell exactly he’s going on (and on) about.

Abu Grabass
Does not refer to Abu Gharib as would seem to be inferred by the context but rather an infamous nightclub in SM’s hometown. Regulars of Abu Grabass are loathe to call it an actual “gay bar” but locals refer to it as the “most latently homosexual bar this side of Robert Reed’s Walk-ln Closet.

The AG frequently attempts to reach both sides of the track (or touch the third rail, if you prefer) with its hi-energy drag races every Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY!!!

Patronized by SM despite all claims to the contrary.

Scottish highland dancing: You don't get no better show than this!

The True Scotsman
While most outsiders and fans of rhetorical devices would recognize this as a particularly flawed argument, SM has taken this instead as an indication of RF Interference’s latent homosexuality. Hence, Abu Grabass is loaded with Mocc-Soc-wearin’ fence-straddlers every March 17th, having decided that while no true Scotsmen would be caught dead celebrating this decidedly Irish holiday, it hardly matters since no one seems to have ever actually located one.

Twits (aka Twitz, Twats, Tweeters, Twizzlers)
A derogatory term used to designate (and denigrate) those who have realized they never have anything more than 140 characters long to say.

Lifers (aka Sloppy Seconds, This Explains Why James Cameron’s “Avatar” Sucked So Much)
A derogatory term applied to the denizens of Second Life who have given up the tactile sensations of real life for the non-sensory thrill of rapidly clicking their way through awkward polygonal sex. Or, just as often, used the lack of a Second Life Better Business Bureau to run clicky, polygonal pyramid schemes.

Loserbook, Loserbookers
The outcasts of Facebook who have been exiled by admins for falling below the five-friend threshold. At four friends or below, their accounts are transferred to the outer edges of Facebook where their fierce unlikeabilty will no longer trouble the other 500 million users who seem to have no problems coming up with at least 5 family members, much less 5 friends.

Due to the communication barrier, no Loserbooker is able to escape this purgatory as befriending another LB puts that new friend over the 5-friend limit and sends them back to the real Facebook, deleting them from the friends’ list of the (probably) ugly soul left behind.

Unfortunately, LB friends do not carry over to Facebook meaning the recent escapee enjoys mere moments of socializing and sulfur-free air before their account is updated, removing their LB friend and dropping them below the threshold and dumping them back into the private (but really not all that private — check your Settings) hell of Loserbook once again.

Tsk and whatnot.

Elites
Motherfuckers who are always ruining shit. Usually rich motherfuckers with the pull to buy politicians and rewrite legislation in their own image.

Also refers to those motherfuckers who act as “helicopter parents” to entire nations, telling them what is safe to read, eat and watch. They also have problems with your musical tastes and insanely filthy mouth. A national bedtime is on the way to prevent anyone from sticking anything into anyone for pleasurable reasons. If you need to procreate, please run it by the motherfuckers first so they can have the appropriate representatives on hand to make sure no one enjoys it.

These motherfuckers are all over the media as well, providing us with “The News We Thought You Could Use” and “All the News That’s Fit to [REDACTED].”

Free Market
The fevered wet dream of “capitalist running dogs” who are so busy tearing the world a new fiscal asshole that they fail to notice they are swiftly being overtaken by avenging Cossacks who have crossed both the boundaries of time and metaphorical limits to avenge the pillaging of the many for the good of the few. (And possibly do a little pillaging of their own. They are Cossacks after all.)

Senator. Co-Founder. Scholar. Gentleman. Pimp.

Cocksucker Council
A Canadian regulatory office which, thanks to severe budget cuts, is charged with both keeping radio broadcasts free of derogatory slang (i.e., “bitches”) and ensuring a steady cash flow from its more profitable branch, the National Cocksuckers (i.e., “bitches who better have my money”) Union.

Normally, overseeing national prudishness would seem to conflict with supplying sex in exchange for money but thanks to advanced compartmentalization, the CC is able to run both with a clear conscience.

Fucktards
Idiots. More specifically, the kind of idiot that is bred in the open air of bad ideas and good intentions. Mix this with a bit of free-range oversensitivity and cruelty-free bleeding heart and bam! Fuckers + Retards = Fucktards, a breed of oxygen swiller prone to reactionary censorship as a way to promote tolerance and diversity.

“Let’s make things more open by closing this door here! Oh, maybe that one, too… and this window. Nothing out there but perspective.”

Motherfuckers
Including, but not limited to fucktards, free marketeers, politicians, censors, pop “artists,” techno fans, people who wear invisible socks, people who “dress to impress,” people who dress for confidence, people who dress, the music industry, Cossacks who lean more toward pillaging than avenging, lawyers, smart-arsed bloggers, and people who die of pneumonia (and their representation).

Bullshit
The only product motherfuckers make.

-CLT

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Heavy Rotation 61

February 6, 2011

Featuring Power Animal, Ivansxtc, Big Troubles, the Liars and Blessure Grave in conjunction with the always delightful Deathface. Rather not have your music out in the open? Email me at 2timegrime@gmail.com for track removal.

LINKS:

Mike Doyle is doing impossible things with Legos.

Two views on blogging: It’s dead. It’s changing.

Fuckin’ McSweeney’s.

Power Animal – Better Water.mp3

Completely unrelated to Powermen 1-5000, Power Animal project a combination of swelling choruses and backsliding loops which coalesce into a compelling noise not entirely unlike what I imagine successful prayer sounds like: the ecstasy of an open line with the heavens mixed with prostrated frustration, resulting in unrevealing responses.

Ivansxtc – Yesterday.mp3

I may overuse “gorgeous” but that’s exactly what this is. Ivansxtc whips up a sonic daydream out of indescribable longing buoyed by repeatedly cresting waves of guitar crush and minor keys. Bears a solid resemblance to Peter Murphy taking My Bloody Valentine for a quick spin through the darker corners of 4AD’s catalog.  Apparently, Ivan cuts his product with tears of quiet desperation.

Big Troubles – Video Rock.mp3

Big Troubles bring back the big fun of the eighties via an underground broadcast of white-hot keyboard swirls and the most clattering of drums. It’s bunker-party rock broadcast on cellphone speakers, overdriven and compact. The audio equivalent of scrambled cable.

Liars – The Overachievers.mp3

The Liars return and bring with them this tasty slab of power-pop-punk, a radio-friendly unit shifter that snarkily bemoans complacency, hiding its self-hatred behind a smiling costume party mask. There’s some Pixies-esque guitar wrangling, some Ramones-ish shouting and plenty of “harmless” sentiments spat out through clenched teeth. Catchy as a motherfucker, too.

The smoothest move? When the chant morphs seamlessly from “L.A., L.A.” to “Help me, help me.”

Blessure Grave – Stranger in the House (Deathface Mix).mp3

Blessure Grave channels true goth, reaching into the past for the tortured soul of Fields of the Nephilim and then, I don’t know, fuck around and start moving furniture with their minds and cranking out page after page of automatic writing. Deathface pitches in as well, channeling the hoover clamor and arpeggiated synths of an early-90s warehouse rave, pushing everything forward on a sweat-drenched 4/4.

Looking for more? Check here:
The Heavy Rotation Archives.

-CLT

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Deadmau5 Presents: How to Kill It in the Digital Age

February 4, 2011

Deadmau5 – Dr. Funkenstein (Danny Jay Remix).mp3

I rant a lot about the music industry. And it never fails to give me plenty to rant about, especially when label execs and major label apologists insist that something must be done to allow them not only continued employment but that their industry be legislated back to its former glory.

However, if there’s one thing the music industry has proven it’s unable to do, it’s connect with its customers. Most major label artists are pretty much silent partners with their label-supplied publicity team. Sure, they may fire up the occasional blog or tweet a thing or two, but these additional avenues are often paved with identical “Buy this!” posts and tour date announcements.

Yes, fans do appreciate this information but this isn’t really a connection so much as it is targeted advertising. And it’s redundant advertising. Music fans usually have accounts at iTunes, Amazon, etc. so diminishing returns on these updates are almost immediate. The live gig announcements are also useful but again, most music fans will have found a better aggregator like tourfilter to alert them when a band they like is coming to their town (and presumably assisting them with partying down).

The problem is that hundreds of smaller artists are running their business the same way. I like (with as capital “L” and an upturned thumb) over 100 bands/artists on Facebook.

First, a quick primer on Facebook for the .004% of readers who are not Facebook members; “Liking” a band adds their stream of status updates and posts to your feed, which allows you (the fan, or “Liker”) to see all of these updates in real time, scattered amongst your friends’ announcements of mood swings and where specifically they need help on their farm.

So, I have a lot of indie artists supplying me updates periodically throughout the day. The problem is most of these feeds are indistinguishable from a publicity feed set up by a major label. I would say that easily 90% of the feeds I subscribe to do nothing more than loop “click to buy” links and announce tour dates.

Because so many of these bands use this connection tool for nothing more than advertising, their information becomes subject to “ad blindness” by regular users. We begin to tune out their posts much in the way we tune out banner and sidebar ads. Pretty soon their “connection” is reaching no one.

There are very few exceptions to this unfortunate misuse/underuse of the biggest platform available to new artists. Whitey’s feed is usually entertaining but he doesn’t have an artist page so you’ll actually have to be his Friend to get it on it. A few others will post videos from other bands they like or single out something that happened on tour, but for the most part it’s always tour/buy/repeat.

And then, just when you figure that the new boss is a lot like the old boss, even when they’re their own boss, you stumble across someone of sheer brilliance who gets what this is all about and revels in the limitless possibilities of a direct line to a few million fans:

D E A D M A U 5

The man lives on Facebook. He posts everything. He uploads videos. He has photos. For everything. He spouts random shit. He gushes about new equipment. He asks questions. He posts notes thanking his fans for being awesome. He’s consistently entertaining.

Basically, Deadmau5 invites you into his life. He knows he’s living the dream and it seems like he’s still as awed by the whole experience as his fans are. So he uses his online existence to allow everyone to live vicariously through his detailed and frequent posts.

There’s never any dismissiveness or jaded attitude. He’s just genuinely thrilled to be in the position he’s in. And as you read the posts and view the massive amount of photos, you catch some of the jittery “holy-shit-can-you-fucking-believe-my-life” vibe that pours out of every post.

Check out Deadmau5 geeking out during a conversation with Jim Carrey!

Look, it’s Deadmau5’s cat, Meowington!

He loves that cat! How do we know? Peep his neck tat!

Check out this hunk of electronics! It makes “pewpewpew” noises apparently!

LOL! Live Windows fail!

How can you not want to support this man? He lives and breathes and loves music. He wants you to be as close to being him as is humanly possible.

But that’s not all. He actually enjoys hanging out with his fans and works hard to repay their loyalty.

Deadmau5 has carved out his own island in the ether of shit-hot indie world-builder Minecraft. While that’s impressive on its own, he also sprung for 20 copies of the game for his fans. How many artists have purchased copies of a game just to get more people to hang out with them? That’s a fucking connection. Tell me that investment won’t pay off.

He also keeps close tabs on his online presence. If something seems a bit “not him,” he’s fixes it, going so far as to remove the label’s publicity team from the Administrators’ list. He has no interest in being pimped into irrelevance by a thousand pushy label-created ads.

This is how to make the digital world work for you. He’s also on Twitter and still maintains a “well, it was already there” Myspace presence, but he has conquered Facebook. And why not? 500 million registered users is a whole lot of potential fans.

Every artist, indie or not, needs to be taking notes from Deadmau5. Once you’ve seen it done right, you’ll wonder why you’re giving your fans and potential customers so little.

Take more pictures. Digital cameras are cheap. Show them what happens away from the stage. Talk to them as people rather than some loosely connected group of open wallets in search of spending suggestions. Find a common interest away from the music and explore that. Just say whatever comes to mind even if it doesn’t seem to be “closing the deal.” Facebook is full of random statements and observations. People know when they’re being treated like the business end of a mass mailing, no matter how “interactive.”

You make music and you have anywhere from a few hundred to a few million people who love you for it. You’ve already won over their ears. Grab their brains and their hearts. Their wallets will have no choice but to follow.

(Hat tip to Techdirt for their recent article on Deadmau5 which allowed me easy access to the label v. mau5 battle. Big, big tip of the oversized novelty mau5 head to Deadmau5 himself for, well, being himself.)