For some reason I never forget the name Rebecca Sealfon. I woke up this morning and the name came up some how, not sure what triggered it but I found it on youtube. Its hard to win a competition of any kind with more exuberance than exhibited here.
I went to All Tomorrows Parties New York this year for my birthday. It was the best festival experience I've had. Outstanding lineup and a great venue. I finally got around to processing this set of Les Savy Fav from Saturday night of the festival. Tim Harrington puts on a great show and makes you happy to be alive. We were able to get up on the stage for this one and also talked to Tim after the show. I recommend anyone to try to see a Les Savy Fav show if you get the chance.
I had turned my friend John onto Les Savy Fav 4-5 years ago in Oklahoma City. John became a bigger fan than I was and had all the albums. During the first song they performed John was singing all the words and Tim must have noticed this and decided to lick John's face. The perfect reward.
Near the end of the set Tim decided to attempt to go crowd surfing on top of a ladder and it worked, no one was permanently injured from it that I'm aware of. I asked him if he had planned it ahead of time, he said it just popped into his head during the show when he saw a ladder on the side of the stage.
I am definitely going to try to go to ATP New York next year. Its supposed to be at the same venue and this time curated by The Breeders.
The full set is here.
I've had the new iPhone 3G for about a week now. I'm loving it so far. I've had a few of the windows mobile phones in the past and they aren't even close to the usability of the iPhone. Once I got comfortable with all the e-mail and web browsing I tried a few of the apps in the app store.
The one that has been the most captivating for me so far is BeatMaker by Intua. I've wanted to experiment with drum machines for quite awhile but hadn't gotten around to it yet. This application really shows the power of the iPhone more than I had seen before. You have a full 16 pad drum machine with unlimited multi pattern/multi layer capabilities. For a first generation app is it is very solid. I am impressed with the amount of features and stability. You can load and save drum kits, make your own kits and load your own samples. You can upload your files wirelessly to your computer as well. The interface was intuitive and I was able to figure it out on my own with trial and error. I later read the manual which was also quite thorough. This application is definitely worth the $19.99 in the app store.
So far I have primarily used the included drum kits. I hope to experiment with making my own samples soon. Ideally I'd like to be able to record sounds and process them on the fly in the phone and add them to beats as well. However, the way you can already cut and modify samples within BeatMaker is above my expectations for what an iPhone app could do. Some of these were made while sitting on a park bench, standing in the subway and wherever else I was and had the inspiration to make a song. I was able to make these anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours for ones I wanted to keep tinkering with.
I finally had the chance to see one of my top bands from several years ago, Wolf Parade, this past week. I had tickets for the show on July 31 for several months, then a second show the next night later opened up which I got tickets for it as well.
Both shows were a venue I frequent in Hell's Kitchen, The Bowery Ballroom run Terminal 5. The opening band was Wintersleep both nights. I missed there set the first night but saw them the second night. Several songs were quite solid. Another Canadian band.
On Thursday I watched from the floor near the stage on the side of Spencer Krug. I almost didn't recognize him at first. I saw him about a year ago playing with Sunset Rubdown and it seems like he's filled out a bit since then. He looked comfortable wearing shorts and some boating slippers.
On Thursday they opened with both the first tracks from their 2 LP's, You are a runner then Solider's Grin. Fortunately the set list was different on Friday so I could see some variation. They alternated back and forth between Spencer Krug led tracks and Dan Boeckner tracks throughout both shows save one Krug combo on the second night which was one of the most impressive points in their performance for me. They played You Are a Runner and went directly into Fancy Claps, "When I die I'm leaving you my feet".
I always feel that while Wolf Parade's music is pop tinged rock, it generally has kind of a dark and desolate feeling to it. Sometimes even a bit evil. Hearing them play their tracks on the second album live it became even more apparent to me influence of the Doors, most notable the Ray Manzarek style keyboard influence on several tracks. With much analysis its still hard for me to exactly categorize Wolf Parade which is a good trait in a band. I heard some people last night say Wolf Parade is like a cross between Modest Mouse and Arcade Fire. I don't really agree with that. I think they have a good amount of Frog Eyes influence as well, especially Krug's singing style compared to his buddy Carey Mercer. Apparently Krug has been a member of Frog Eyes as well and they are both members of Swan Lake.
Seeing these Canadian's play it seems they are generally just polite and considerate folks. In contrast to some american punk influenced bands I've seen who are sometimes more pretentious and more about promoting chaos. Even when the Canadians have an aggressive sound, like in the case of Death From Above 1979, they just seemed like regular guys. However, it is also the chaos and aggression can be compelling on stage. It just doesn't seem to be the way of the Canadian bands that I've seen. I was thinking of the contrast to a stage presence of bands like The Strokes who are much more concerned with style and looking cool at all times.
The combination of Boecker and Krug is quite impressive. They complement each other's styles quite well. Krug on the dual keyboard setup and Boecker on lead guitar. It seems each kind of have a ryhthmn backup for each of their instruments. Another guitar/bass player and a keyboard player. The other keyboard player had some kind of electronic soundboard contraption on top of his keyboard with many wires coming out which adds different kinds of moody effects to overall sound. The hairy bearded fellow on drums is quite impressive as well. He drummed like a maniac which is normally the ideal drumming style in my opinion.
Overall I was very pleased with the way they performed the songs I had heard so many times. If anything they were better live. The only disappointment is they didn't play what I think is one of their top songs "Dinner Bells". They did end with Kissing the Beehive in the impressive 2 song encore on Thursday. On Friday they played Beehive earlier in a longer set and had a 3 song encore. The Friday show did have a bit more energy, possibly more people in the crowd, I was glad I could see both shows.
A few months ago I decided to try to run the NYC half marathon. My friend Justin from Boston asked me if I wanted to run it. I wasn't sure if I could make it since I'd only been running a few miles at a time up until then, usually max of 4-5 miles. 13.1 miles seemed like an impossible distance to run. I think the farthest I'd ever run in my life before is probably 6-7 miles which had been many years ago.
I decided to go ahead and enter as motivation to possibly be able to make the distance. It was kind of at the last minute and I figured it was a lottery system but both of us were accepted. I later found out 12,000 or so out of 25,000+ entrants made it in.
So I started training a bit for the race. Got up to 6, 7, 8 miles. Week by week. The 2 weekends before the race I did long runs of about 10 miles. I still wasn't sure if I could make 13.1 miles.
The day before the race I did my best to eat enough food for energy. We had a pasta dinner at an Italian restaurant called John's in the lower east side before watching The Dark Knight. A side comment about the movie, I felt it was too long and all over the place. However, Heath Ledger was as great as they say. But, I digress. I also fueled up on cliff bars and as much water as I could drink. I was kind of nervous about the race so it took me awhile to fall asleep that night. Had to wake up at 5am to be ready for the race at 7am that Sunday morning.
Woke up on time and I felt good. Ate some oatmeal and vitamins, more water.
I hadn't looked at what the course was going to be until a few days before the race. It turned out the first 7 miles or so was around the loop in central park which I had been running pretty regularly in training. I felt positive about the familiar area. I had often put off the run until later in the day when it was very hot so I was prepared for more extreme conditions than the early morning race. I had run about 2pm on the previous Saturday a 10 mile run in the extreme heat of the day and it was rather rough. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to make 13 miles at that time. It was much too hot to be running at that time but it proved to be valuable training for the race.
The second half of the race started from the south of the park down 7th avenue through Times Square. Then, it went all the way west on 42nd to turn south on the west side highway along the Hudson. The race concluded with a long stretch down the highway all the way to Battery Park. I felt it was the best course I could ask for. Familiar territory with the second half being very flat.
When the race finally started at 7 after much waiting around. It took us about 15-20 minutes to actually get to the starting line from where we were in the pack. I was very excited to finally get going and felt as good as I could have. I made myself keep a reasonable pace. I was using the Nike+ system that I have been using the whole year. I tried to keep around just under a 10 minute mile pace. Naturally I tend to run about 9-9:30 pace but I hadn't run 13 miles before and I wanted to be sure to have enough to make it.
Justin and I were running the same pace for about the first 5K. Then we got separated and I went ahead. He found the heat and hills in the park to be pretty challenging. When I finally made it through the bottom of the park onto 7th avenue I was feeling like I could make it. At this point I wasn't breathing hard at all which I hear is key to being able to finish. I pushed up to a 9-9:30 per mile pace the rest of the way. There were water stops every couple of miles and I got water at every one just to make sure there was no chance of getting dehydrated. Along 7th avenue I passed the place were I used to work on 53rd. There were several bands playing along the way there as well as the cast of Mamma Mia singing and dancing. An impressive amount of people lined the street that was covered in paper water cups. This made it even easier to keep going.
As I made it to the West Side highway going south I knew there was no way I wasn't going to stop, no matter what. I knew my body was getting drained but adrenaline, pasta, oatmeal and cliff bars were providing good energy at this point. I passed Chelsea Piers and I knew it was only a few more miles to go to Battery Park from there. It was hard to believe I had been up to near 110th at the top of the park and now was passing the 20's all on my own feet, running without stopping.
Once I made it to 11 miles then past the 20K mark I allowed myself to speed up. I could feel I still had some energy left in the tank. My goal was to finish between 2 hours 10 to 20 minutes but I know felt I may be able to break 2 hours at this pace. I then saw the 800M to go sign and I started to run faster, then at 400 then 200M I put everything I had into that last stretch of road. When the finish line was in site it was an amazing feeling. I crossed the finish line and started walking and I realized what I had done and how far I had gone. I stopped the Nike+ and Lance Armstrong congratulated me for my farthest run to date.
Here are my race results from the split times shown on Nike+.
I found Justin and we milled around to get free stuff for a bit in Battery Park, then rode the 2 train back uptown to my place. The nap I had after that felt very rewarding, a good sleep. I decided I want to try to get into the NYC marathon next year. I hear its hard with the lottery but if you run something like 9 road races or are sponsored by a charity you are guaranteed to get in.
I was turned onto Prefuse 73 by my friend John back in Oklahoma City years ago. He got me into more electronic music in general. I have gotten to appreciate electronic music more and more. Prefuse 73 I feel is one of the more innovative and progressive. Very unique sound.
The album I've been drawn to the most by him is One Word Extinguisher. The way he chops up vocals and creates a cohesive feel throughout the record is great. Its not just sampling a track or sound and playing it back, its more about making something completely new and original. I usually prefer when I can't immediately tell where the sample came from or even recognize it at all.
I had the chance to see him perform in person last night at Hiro Ballroom in Manhattan. I think it was some guy's birthday party. Another DJ who performed before Prefuse who was quite impressive himself. At first there were a few DJs just playing and mixing records. Then this guy, Bean, I think was his name started really performing and playing things I had never heard. Somewhat in the vein of prefuse 73.
Then, a skinny dude with a baseball cap on backwards, glasses and big poofy hair spilling out the sides came out, this was Scott Herren, Prefuse 73. He fiddled with many different mixers, soundboards, and an akai drum machine while Bean was playing then he finally went on.
I was thinking of the word futuristic but that isn't really it, progressive is a better word. He had another guy with him that was moving around many different knobs and switches as well. I didn't see him use any headphones at all to hear what the mix would sound like before hand, it all seemed to be spontaneous performance. He was, however, apparantly using headphone ear peace as a microphone. It looked like he was making noises into it and sampling it and distorting or modifying the sample, blending it into the sound. At times the tracks meander into somewhat of a latin sounding beat yet still maintaining his cohesive style. Its hard to describe anything else it sounds like. Its not really very danceable but makes you want to move, similar to The Field. I got up close to the stage and was about 10 feet away from him so I could see what he was doing. I noticed, similar to The Field, he didn't seem to be using any computers at all. There were a few macbook pro's set up on stage but they seemed to be for the previous performances.
It was great to see him play live. I am drawn to any artists pushing sounds in new direcctions. Now, I need to see Aphex Twin somehow.
Last night I made a trip out to Studio B in Brooklyn to see the Swedish electronic band The Field. Four Tet was originally supposed to headline but they canceled a few days. However, I mailny wanted to see The Field anyway so it worked out. Studio B is out in a warehouse are of Greenpoint, a short walk from Williamsburg past McCarren park.
I have enjoyed The Field's album From Here we Go Sublime. since I got it last year. I wouldn't exactly call it house music but it does have dancable tendancies to it. Definitely more arty and abstract at times. I guess you could call it IDM.
I especially love the title track which is rather abstract. When described it sounds very simple, its just one long sample of a single old song which I can't exactly place. Something from the 50s or early 60s. It transitions through looping through different parts of a sample at varied interval lengths. Finally allowing you to hear what was being sampled at the end.
The opening band I had never heard before. Young Knives from Oxford. They weren't bad. Reminded me of The Futureheads and others like them.
After that a large soundboard with many wires hanging off of it was wheeled onto stage. I recognized a blonde man that appeared to be Axel Willner (The Field), from what I'd seen in photos, plugging the wires to different ports on the soundboard and samplers and whatever else. Then it went dark and a blue light was shown as it stayed for the entire show.
There were 2 other guys as well, one playing a small keyboard and another who switched back and forth between a guitar and a drum kit. You couldn't really tell what sound was coming from where. I never really heard anything that sounded like a guitar, probably used for distortion sounds. The drum kit mainly seemed to be used for the high hat. I was surprised to not see any computers, it appeared to be all analog sampling and sequencing.
Since Four Tet didn't show up the place wasn't totally packed out yet filled in more as the show went on. I stood next to a large speaker near the stage which I used to take some long exposure photos to try to get something out of the low light. The sound engineering was very well done. The only other time I went to Studio B was to see LCD Soundsystem in 2007 which was the best show I saw last year. The beat of The Field's music seems to grow inside the song, its not totally obvious at first. Very enjoyable and different kind of live music experience than I'm used to. I'm always curious to see how electronic bands perform live as much of it is production work. Most times there wasn't much to look at other than him twisting knobs and an occasional instrument shift.
This was one of many concert tickets I currently have. Hope to see many of the other free shows in parks and pools around New York in the coming months. Excited to see as much live music as possible this summer.
The anticipation for the second full-length from Wolf Parade has rivaled my anticipation waiting for Interpol's Antic's to come out several years back. Finally I have been able to give the 9 tracks on the new album "At Mount Zoomer" several solid listens.
I heard the 2 songs Wolf Parade posted a week or so ago on Myspace a couple times and had a luke-warm reaction to them. I didn't dissect them much at the time but when listening in passing they seemed more subdued, not as maniacally off-kilter as their previous work. Since the Wolf Parade release in 2005 Spencer Krug has been in at least a few bands I know and listen to, Sunset Rubdown and Swan Lake. Dan Boeckner started the band with his wife called Handsome Furs. I was able to see Sunset Rubdown and Handsome Furs play in recent memory, effectively to the two front-men for Wolf Parade. I am excited to have Wolf Parade tickets for the first time on July 31. Can the new release live up to all the hype and anticipation from the previous album?
Through the first listen on the first half of the album I was not sure. It felt like it was not as caustic and driving as I wanted it to be. The churning fury of the dueling keyboards wasn't there in the same way as Apologies. I especially was not satisifed with California Dreamer with the Ray Manzarek sounding keyboards. However, with several subsequent listens the album has gained increasing impact and admiration. The fire is definitely still there. The final 3 tracks are an especially outstanding finish.
In similar fashion to Apologies to the Queen Mary the tracks primarily alternate between singing by Boeckner and Krug. The sprawling finale, Kissing The Beehive, a duet between the two. Sounds odd to think of it as a duet, a duet makes me think of Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers or something, this is nothing like that. The combination of the vocal styles complement one another quite well as an entire album. Both have a pending urgency and haunting despair about them. I listened to Apologies to the Queen Mary several times before I even realized there were multiple vocalists on the album. Its very clear now with not just with my current knowledge of their previous work but their styles have become more distinctive yet fortunately for this album still mesh will together as a whole. While listening to track 8 "An Animal in Your Care" I was thinking how Krug often sounds like he's about to run out of breath with contrasting almost angelic qualities about his voice. Definitely evident when listening to Sunset Rubdown.
At Mount Zoomer may not be as manical and furious as Apologies to the Queen Mary at first listen but they have done something new again. The duel keyboards are again used effectively but are more subtle. They eerie-ness of this album becomes more apparent with repeat listens. I'm not sure if the theremin is used again on a few tracks or its just a synth sound. Many possible influences seemed to come to mind at first. However, after more listens it blends together and it just sounds like Wolf Parade. The final flourish of Kissing the Beehive, the Dinner Bells of this album, weaves keyboards and distorted guitars is especially satisfying.
See this previous entry for thoughts on Apologies to the Queen Mary. http://josephrussell.com/blink/2005/dec/27/drunken-calliope-trance/
I'm very excited about the idea of a new Autolux record. I saw today they released a new single on myspace called Audience No 2. I listened to it several times on repeat. I like it quite a bit. It still has the distortion of the first album and the signature drum fills. I'm feeling the jump in energy on the hook. Let's see if it holds up as much as their first record once the lyrics sink in more.
I obtained tickets for the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in New York last week curated by My Bloody Valentine and one of the bands they chose was Autolux, that's all I needed to know to get tickets. I've been dying to see Autolux for awhile now.
I'm quite interested in how artists follow up a successful work. Autolux currently has the one album that I consider a great success. It wasn't maybe a huge commercial hit but I think they have continued to gain underground credibility. They've waited quite awhile to come with a follow up to Future Perfect and I haven't heard of them touring much at all. I hope they can do it and come out with another inspired record.
Here are the full correct lyrics Autolux has posted next to the track on the myspace page:
in between the thinking and the saying
threw away what i can't believe
tell me how you lose this feeling
all moods have been dealt and played
tell me how you lose this feeling
all hands have been cut and waved
i have always been your vegetable
and you my Swedenborg
i would drop myself through black holes
to end up at your door
there's no one else to get hung about
and there's nothing else makes you twist
you set yourself up
the lightening bolt hit
you watched yourself change
and no one's left to blame
the helicopter's spotlight shaking
hungry orson on the make
the less you put yourself in
the less you feel so fake
suddenly i'm alright
and it 's time for you to go
you set yourself up
the lightening bolt hit
you let yourself change
now everyone's to blame
and the gulf sign split the screen up
and the gulf sign split the screen up
and the gulf sign split the screen up
and the gulf sign split the screen up
and the gulf sign split the screen up
Last fall I spent several long weekends completing a photography portfolio website for my friend Carl Burton. Carl has become a very good friend since I've been in New York and his photography is an inspiration to me to keep pushing myself to do more. Among other goals, I wanted Carl to be able to manage the uploading and organization of all the photos, sets, titles, dates, ordering himself without having to require any technical knowledge of web design. In addition I wanted to allow for his wider panorama images to be viewed at a larger size yet still have square format photos fit in the same display mechanism.
I have a large print of the photo above and they are definitely more impressive printed large. Contact Carl if you're interested in any of these or any of the other photos on his website.
The front end of the site has no AJAX but I did use AJAX on the admin side to allow carl to re-order both the order of the sets and the order of the photos within the sets. He can upload a photo and it automatically crops to the appropriate max size. Also, he can change the caption and date among other attributes of the photo during or after upload.
I chose to teach myself CakePHP and use it for this site as I already knew PHP and wanted to get more experience with the popular MVC web development frameworks. I originally was thinking of using Ruby on Rails but I liked the performance of CakePHP and already knowing PHP made it an easier learning curve and easier deployment. Once I got the hang out of I did enjoy working with it and the ability to quickly make changes. After working with Django quite a bit recently I tended to like the application module approach they use slightly better than the more rigid layout CakePHP uses which is very close to the way Rails is laid out.
I ended up just extending and customizing the scaffolding for the models to create the admin site. Many of the base scaffolds were perfectly fine for him to work with, but others needed more advanced functionality and I needed to remove superfluous fields. It seems to be working pretty well as he's been able to add several rounds of photos without needing to ask me for help. While I don't mind helping, its nice for him to have instant gratification without having to wait for me to be available to make the change. It was definitely some extra effort but I always like to take the approach of doing a little more work up front to allow computers to do the work for you later.