Sacred & Profane – Art, Beauty & stuff that doesn't suck

"Life has been your art. You have set yourself to music. Your days are your poetry" -Oscar Wilde

Stuff that isn’t Christmassy or crappy October 7, 2009

I am particularly excited for my New Release Tuesday post today. “Why?” you ask. “Is it because of the new Backstreet Boys CD or the Creed re-release?” Well, I can honestly so that it is not. It is however the first week of October which means the official beginning of the Christmas season for record labels and movie distributors, thus kicking off the nauseating three month frenzy of crap being dumped into the marketplace. Sweet!

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CD’s

The-RaveonettesThe Raveonettes – In and Out of Control

Emily Haines

Emily Haines

For those unfamiliar, The Raveonettes are a brilliant band from Denmark by way of Brooklyn consisting of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo who I am in love with. Sharin shares a special place in my heart with Metric’s Emily Haines. I indeed have a weakness for waify non-American blonde indie rock chicks who play guitar. Anyway…on to the music.
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The Raveonettes’ last album Lust Lust Lust was my absolute favorite of 2008 and I’ve since been patiently anticipating its follow-up. Their music is like pre-Beatles pop songs recorded by the Velvet Underground and then covered by a Psychocandy era Jesus and Mary Chain who sent the tracks back to the future through a time warp to be mixed by a pre-felony/incarceration era Phil Spector. Helpful? After three attentive listens I’m prepared to say that In and Out of Control isn’t quite on par with Lust Lust Lust, but I didn’t expect it to be. The same seamless harmonies and efficient songwriting, just much less adventurous sonically.
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Here is their incredibly catchy new single “Last Dance”

GoslingDead Man’s Bones – Dead Man’s Bones

Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling

Two things can be expected from actors who become bored with acting and decide they want to be rock stars: A) Their album will suck. B) No matter how bad it sucks some label will take a gamble and release it. For this reason I was terrified upon hearing Ryan Gosling, one of my very favorite actors and man crush objects, started a band with his neighborhood’s hipster children’s choir and they were releasing an album. Initially I feared that best case scenario it would be dismissed as an indulgent novelty and forgotten before doing any permanent damage. Well, sorry I doubted you Ryan.
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I am relieved to say that after listening, my respect for Gosling as an artist has only deepened. Dead Man’s Bones can’t easily be summed with comparisons so I’ll just recommend listening to it. The best I can do is say that it’s eclectic, charming in a creepy sort of way and best experienced with a fake life-sized doll.

hope sandovalHope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions – Through the Devil Softly

Best known as the former singer of mid 90’s shoegaze folk duo Mazzy Star whose song “Fade Into You” still finds its way onto soundtracks and TV shows. Hope could sing through a phone book and make it haunting and rich, (though I hope she never does because that would make for the worst album ever), and to me that’s why this album as a whole doesn’t grab me. Too much gets stripped down and cleared away to make room for her vocals and as a result sometimes the songs either run into one another or just don’t go anywhere. Through the Devil Softly was produced by former My Bloody Valentine guitarist Colm O’Coisoig who I wish would have brought some of his former band’s sonic adventure with him to this one. Click here for more good times (more…)

 

Don’t Call it a Comeback…and Paper Route June 29, 2009

What up friends,

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I’ll not waste much time making an excuse for the unforgivable gap between posts because I assure it would be a ridiculous lie that no one would ever believe. So I’ll just show up unannounced on my own blog and hope my absence has gone unnoticed.

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Paper Route AbsenceSpeaking of the word “absence”, I have for many years held with deep conviction the belief that if an electronic rock album was ever released with the aforementioned word as the title, it would be incredible. Imagine my excitement a couple months ago upon finding out that all these years I have been correct.

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Paper Route, my very dear friends from college and Nashville, after a couple ep’s, released their first full length album on Universal Motown Records entitled…you guessed it… Absence. The album was released during my blogging hiatus so at this point isn’t fresh news, but the live stream of their performance tonight at Grantland Studio is. It starts 9pmEst tonight and is going to blow minds all over the planet.

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J.T., Andy, Chad & Gavin

J.T., Andy, Chad & Gavin

Chad, J.T., Gavin & Andy (in order of tallest to shortest) are as sexy, gifted and classy a group of guys as you’re likely to come across, and I’ve been extremely proud and excited to see that all their hard work and development is paying off.

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Check out their captivating Oscar-worthy promo of tonight’s festivities starring Andy Smith as “Guy riding a bike down the hall”.

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As I always knew it would, their album Absence is seriously one of the top 5 albums I’ve heard this year, and I assure you I say that not just as a friend but as a music fan and internationally-known blogger. (It’s true, someone from Canada visited once.) Please buy hundreds of copies, check them out on tour right now and tune in for their live stream tonight on their Myspace

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Here is the Video for their first single from Absence – “Carousel”

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Peace, David

Paper Route Online

 

Important Lessons Learned in Los Angeles…Part 2 April 10, 2009

 

In LA I learned…

…..that Mike Tomlin (Pittsburg Steelers coach) has never smiled in his life and anyone who makes eye contact with him will immediately die.

…..that sometimes even a 287 year old shockingly successful billionaire (Steelers owner Dan Rooney) can be mistaken for a frail senile hobo with a giant ketchup stain on his shirt who wandered into baggage claim.

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…..that a dear smiley Canadian college friend who just wanted to sing Amy Grant songs in church and supply various baked goods for church picnics is now more likely to be the one to spike the sherbet punch at the potluck…She’s more fun now  : )   *

…..that even though it is completely permissible to recline seats on a plane the person behind you will hate you forever and intentionally kick the back of the seat.

…..it is possible to watch an entire season (minus 1 episode) of a show (Californication) in 2 days…Self destruction can be made to look extremely appealing. Hank Moody Rules!

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…..some people go to coffee shops for coffee, other people go to get high, other people walk their dogs and then take breaks to sit in the joint passing circle while all of the dogs play with each other and also get high. **

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…..I still am flooded with eloquent insights at art galleries and bff Dave still has nothing worthwhile to say about anything unless he stole it from me. ***

 

* For the record I have nothing against Amy Grant, baked goods, Canada, church picnics or church potlucks.

** For the record bff Dave and I were amongst the coffee drinking patrons…Say “no” to drugs kids

*** take this as a joke except for what I said about my bountiful insights and bff Dave’s lack of thought (Dave and I show love through insults)

 

Important lessons learned in Los Angeles… Part 1 April 8, 2009

Bekah and I went on an extended vacation to LA recently to visit our friend Nikki and my bff Dave who is a corn farmer in Kansas.** I learned several (not so) very important life lessons accompanied by a few (not so) profound epiphanies. I hope these have a dramatic impact on all of your lives…

In LA I learned…

…..that the grass actually is greener on the other side. (obviously a metaphor because I don’t think I saw a single blade of grass while I was there)

…..that when talking with a sweet enthusiastic little goth fellow (Kynt) for an hour about Mac cosmetics, comic book movies and Hello Kitty fashion accessories, never assume he hasn’t been travelling the planet with his hot goth girlfriend (Vyxsin) as a semi-famous finalist on the Amazing Race. Wikipedia has just informed me that the “ubiquitous dating goths” have since been eliminated but had a great run.

kyntvyxsin…..that enthusiastic little goth fellows who look 12 will say they are 22 and from LA but are actually 31 and from Louisville, Kentucky. ***

…..never underestimate a cupcake

sprinkles…..that as much as I love modern indie dance music, all you really need to keep a party going is a room full of people who don’t suck, a tall bald pastor doing some sort of interpretive gorilla dance and a chick spinning James Brown and Aretha records. (and arguably a dude pouring half price beer)

…..that when you say “no onions please” it actually seems to mean “not only do I want onions but I demand them in excess.” Good to know.

…..that not every person there is a famous actor; some of them are also in gangs. However, bff Kansas corn farmer Dave and I think we saw Jay-Z like 12 times and Vern Troyer standing on a speaker taking pictures.

verne** Just so he doesn’t whine, I will clarify that bff Dave isn’t a corn farmer, he is the guitarist for Far Beyond Frail and “D” list celebrity in the renown Kansas City, Missouri hipster scene.

*** I should also clarify that I don’t walk around in LA or anywhere else looking for 31yo goth boys who look 12. I was waiting with my WIFE and Nikki in an embarrassingly long line of small girls, soccer moms and middle aged goth boys who were buying limited edition Twilight DVD’s…(I’m not proud of that either)

To be continued…

 

Ryan’s Beautiful Wounds (Stuff on YouTube that Doesn’t Suck) March 13, 2009

ryan_dvdMuch to my surprise and delight, I’ve semi-recently discovered that YouTube is more than a digital compost heap of grainy home videos of fat amateur jugglers, ignorant opining talking heads and webcam performances of beginner guitarists sharing their stirring renditions of Stairway to Heaven. It also has worthwhile material. Who Knew?!?! So in an effort to steal some screen time from videos of homeless guys boxing for cheeseburgers, I’d like to share some videos that are actually worth people’s time.

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Do you know those Academy Awards categories like “Best Animated Short” and “Best Short Film” that most people wait for to use the bathroom or refill their drink? This is one of those films you’ve never heard of that wins the Oscar while you’re in the bathroom.

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Ryan, the 14 minute 2005 Oscar winning film by Canadian artist Chris Landreth pays tribute to the life, work and decline of one of the most influential and celebrated pioneers of film animation, Ryan Larkin.

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Landreth uses a method of CGI animation he developed and termed “psychorealism” that aims to visually explore the complexity of the human psyche in a way that realism and dialogue are unable. Landreth’s surrealistic, fractured characters portrayed in this film could have stepped directly out of a Salvador Dali painting. He brilliantly uses vibrant, expressive color to symbolize how the most beautiful and unique parts of ourselves can sometimes cause the most pain.

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Landreth reintroduces the world to Ryan Larkin; or rather his ghost, long stripped of his creative spirit and reduced to a frail, penniless, bitter drug addict left with nothing but his memories and regret of who he once was and what his life could have been.

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(be sure to click the “HQ” button)

 

The art of the cover song March 11, 2009

There is undeniable magic in the creation of a classic song, and masters of the craft, songwriters like Bob Dylan, Jeff Tweedy and Neil Young, receive their much deserved respect. The art of re-imagining another writer’s song requires a creativity that, while less appreciated, is uniquely magical.

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Cover songs sometimes aim to retool the originals sonically through production or harmonically by altering the chord structure or melody. This is the simplest and most accessible approach…Sometimes performers take a song popular among fans of one genre and introduce it to new fans of a different genre. Genre-hopping transfers of success happen all the time between Pop and Country (not that there’s really much of a difference anymore.) This is the most financially profitable approach.

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The most enduring and effective covers, though, seem to be born out of a performer identifying a subtle beauty or character that no one, not even the writer, was able to hear and breathing new life and meaning into it.

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These are the covers, contrasted with their seed, that I want to highlight in this ongoing category- versions that capture something so unique that listeners more closely connect and relate to them than the originals…

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The first song “Ocean Breathes Salty” was written by Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse and originally appeared on their brilliant 2004 album Good News for People who Love Bad News. Indie Rock renaissance man Mark Kozalek, the sole member of Sun Kil Moon, released the risky Tiny Cities that consisted entirely of his interpretations of relatively obscure Modest Mouse songs.

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Removing the songs from the wild, agitated hands of Modest Mouse, Kozalek uncovered these extraordinary abstract and dare I say…tender songs that rarely trace back to their source. Kozalek, I think, could put music to a phonebook and make it beautiful and melancholy, but his imaginative work on Tiny Cities is quite an accomplishment nonetheless. Which version do you all like the most? Do tell…Enjoy!

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When you click on the links for the songs, you’ll be taken to another page. Click the link again!

 

 

Your body may be gone, I’m gonna carry you in.
In my head, in my heart, in my soul.
And maybe we’ll get lucky and we’ll both live again.
Well I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. Don’t think so.
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Well that is that and this is this.
You tell me what you want and I’ll tell you what you get.
You get away from me. You get away from me.
Collected my belongings and I left the jail.
Well thanks for the time, I needed to think a spell.
I had to think awhile. I had to think awhile.
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The ocean breathes salty, won’t you carry it in?
In your head, in your mouth, in your soul.
And maybe we’ll get lucky and we’ll both grow old.
Well I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I hope so.
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Well that is that and this is this.
You tell me what you want and I’ll tell you what you get.
You get away from me. (You get away from me) You get away from me.
Collected my belongings and I left the jail.
Well thanks for the time, I needed to think a spell.
I had to think awhile. (I had to think awhile) I had to think awhile.
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Well that is that and this is this.
Will you tell me what you saw and I’ll tell you what you missed,
when the ocean met the sky. (You missed, you missed)
You missed when time and life shook hands and said goodbye. (You missed)
When the earth folded in on itself. (You missed)
And said “Good luck, for your sake I hope heaven and hell (You missed, you missed)
are really there, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.” (You missed, you missed)
You wasted life, why wouldn’t you waste death? (You missed, you missed)
You wasted life, why wouldn’t you waste death?
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The ocean breathes salty, won’t you carry it in?
In your head, in your mouth, in your soul.
The more we move ahead the more we’re stuck in rewind.
Well I don’t mind. I don’t mind. How the hell could I mind?
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Well that is that and this is this.
You tell me what you want and I’ll tell you what you get.
You get away from me. (You get away from me) You get away from me.
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Well that is that and this is this.
Will you tell me what you saw and I’ll tell you what you missed,
when the ocean met the sky. (You missed, you missed)
You wasted life, why wouldn’t you waste the afterlife?

 

Are you anybody’s favorite person? March 9, 2009

Filed under: Art,Film,Musings — davidjdecker @ 7:56 am
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I came across this very simple 4 minute short film this weekend that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind. It stars two of my favorite people, John C. Reilly and Miranda July, who also wrote the script. Watch it, and then we’ll discuss…

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“Are you anybody’s favorite person?” “Are you the favorite person of anybody?” Don’t look too deep into the responses from the three people taking the survey. The point I think of the film is to elicit a reaction prompting us to turn the questions inward. These are some of the questions I’ve been trying to process:

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–        What does it mean if I’m not?
–        What does it mean if I am?
–        Do I even want that responsibility?
–        Does it really even matter?

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I consider myself incredibly fortunate that I don’t have to explore these questions from a position of insecurity. Even during the darkest stretches of my past when I’ve felt alone and desperate and tried to isolate everyone, I have never been unloved. I assure you that says far more about people in my life than it does me. Few people can say that, and I hope I don’t take it for granted.

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This is the conclusion my questioning has produced…For me the more relevant question is:

–        “Who is my favorite person and is the sentiment reciprocated?”
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My favorite person is my beautiful wife, Bekah “Buttons”, and I am hers and that is enough for me.

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I am not one for forcing out life applications from art, but I’d encourage all of you to think through who your favorite person is or just someone whose place in your life has meant a lot to you, and let them know. Maybe even respond to this post with a story of that person and send them the link.

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This is far cheesier than I ever get but I can’t think of a better reason to make an exception.

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