Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Formula of a Mashup: Girl Talk's All Day

Remember the movie Pretty in Pink? In case you don't care for John Hughes/were born in the 90's/have a penis, I'll run it down as painlessly as possible:

Andie (free spirit) + wrong side of the tracks + 1 alcoholic dad - 1 living mother + (2 boys' love ÷ 1 rich boy, 1 poor boy) + dramatic arguments x emotional climax ± rain = She finally gets to go to prom!

But poverty + quirkiness = homemade prom dress. Thus: mother's gown + conveniently like-coloured dress from boss ÷  tragic use of scissors = dress like a hobo drag queen's bindle if said drag queen were sponsored by the Pepto Bismol company.  Really, this dress may have singlehandedly ruined the film. It's lazy, ugly, confusing. It is the very definition of a bad, bad mashup.

And with that bizarre segue, I can say that Girl Talk (aka Gregg Gillis) has developed a system far better than Andie's.  Relying on his tried and true "1 part hip hop +1part rock/pop ÷ instrumental track = album" formula, Gillis has just put out his fifth mashup, making him veritable master of genre.

But what was once formula might be getting formulaic.  Even Gillis shows signs of tiring; Feed the Animals and Night Ripper both felt tighter than All Day which starts strong but slowly loses steam after the halfway mark, finally winding down into an inexplicably slow, unmixed heap of John Lennon. It's sagging like Andie' dress around this point.

If All Day has something over the albums before it's the material it samples.  In addition to the expected base of Ludacris, Run DMC, 2Live Crew, Notorious BIG, 50 Cent, Ice Cube, JayZ, NWA, etc  Gillis throws in everything but the musical kitchen sink including Iggy Pop, Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Lady Gaga, Blue Oyster Cult, Kylie Minogue, The Rolling Stones, U2, Simon and Garfunkel, Rage Against the Machine, The Talking Heads, Beck, Cream...I've not even come close to naming half of them. Some will argue that it's unfocused but you can't deny that it's more fun, relying less on beats and allowing melodies to win out occasionally. For someone like me, who's less about the hip-hop, it's a nice switch.  And at the end of the day, there is really nothing to argue over, here. These are mashups. It's musical candy. It would take a special kind of buzzkill to get too stressed about it. It's supposed to be fun and fun it is.

As per usual, Girl Talk is making the entire thing available at Illegal Art, meaning even if you're poor like Andie you can still get it because it's completely and totally free.

(Some samples of the entire 58 minute block:)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Who Knows Where Thoughts Come From? They Just Appear: The New Spike Jonze/Arcade Fire Video Looks Familiar

Back in high school, I didn't attend classes so much as I arrived at them, my mind left long behind in the car where I'd just smoked up with my buddies.  How I graduated on time, with decent marks I'll never know, but let that be a lesson to you kids: high school is obviously total bullshit.

Anyway, it was during one of those long lunch hour parking lot sessions that I told my friend the pipe was "cashed". I mentally patted myself on the back for the awesome invention of some awesome slang that I had never used and had surely never heard before and then headed off to class. 

Immediately after that day,it seemed to me that that word spread like wildfire. Everyone was using it. And for about four months I felt cool. After all, I thought, something I invented is popular! Right?! I invented that word! Didn't I invent that word? I definitely don't remember hearing it anywhere before so the first time I said it must be the first time anyone ever said it.. Or wait...Did I? ...oh, dude, there's a Laffy Taffy in my purse! Yeah, whatever on that word. I probably picked it up subconsciously.  Maybe I never even said it in the first place. Dammit this stuff gets stuck in your teeth so bad...

Why did I think I'd invented a word when there is virtually no chance that I did? As a great man* once said: "Who knows where thoughts come from? They just appear." Mmhmm. 

And sometimes, the same great thought occurs to more than one person at a time. How else to explain the fact that the fan-created video for "The Suburbs" bears a striking similarity to the real thing directed by Spike Jonze? The former was uploaded back in October, and the latter released last week. Take a look.

Fan video:

Official Video:

Obviously they aren't exactly the same. And the lyrics do send the mind in a direction something like this no matter who you are. So this is less a "who was first" thing and more a "poetic imagery doing exactly what it's supposed to do" thing. Still. It's freaky. Or maybe I'm just high.

In any case, I really like the official video. And at the very mention of Spike Jonze I feel compelled to direct traffic to his greatest work, my favourite commercial ever

*If you've never seen this movie--or even better, if you have, go here for an amazing synopsis.

Monday Morning Cover: Young Americans/ Lady Stardust

The Original:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Out this Week*--Regina Spektor: Live in London

I've always assumed that Regina Spektor is, for all intents and purposes, batshit insane. In the absolute best way possible, obviously. She consistently makes beautiful albums that are good from first to last song, and will stand the test of time. I'll be listening to Begin to Hope long after I've forgotten about most of the bands on my iPod. I'll be annoying people in my nursing home with that shit. So bear in mind that when I say "insane" I mean it with great love.

"But Larissa," you're saying,"You can't just call people insane without proof."
To which I say "Fair point, crazy person talking to the internet. I do have proof."

First off, she's a Russian emigree which says loads. I live in Moscow so if I know anything about Russians it's that they're all at least a little crazy. Maybe it's the government, or the fallout radiation, or the fact that as babies they have to learn a language that drives fully-grown adults insane, I don't know. But even on the low end of the spectrum they're all quirky at the very least.

Second, there are her lyrics. I know many of the greatest songs don't make lyrical sense, and that songs don't even have to. That's the beauty of poetry. That said, over the years Ms Spektor has offered us the following:
  • "Remember that month/ When I only ate boxes of tangerines?...Hey remember that other time/When I would only read the backs of cereal boxes?" 
  • "They made porcupine love/ Porcupine lo-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-apchu!" 
  • "Maybe you should kiss someone nice/Or lick a rock.Or both/ Maybe you should just cut your own hair/ 'Cause that can be so funny/ It doesn't cost any money/ And it always grows back"
  • "The world is everlasting/Put dirtballs in your pocket."
  • "Eet,eet, eet/ Eet, eet, eet"
This could go on forever, so I'll stop there for now. (I love her crazy lyrics, but that fact does not make them any less pertinent to this argument.)

Thirdly and finally, I submit to you this:

This is really my only necessary argument.
So, forgive me if I have her pegged as, say, the kind of person who would get super high on something home made from antidepressants and tooth whitener, then post how-to videos on youtube about decorating hockey sticks with teddy bear heads. But I think you can agree that, given the evidence, it seems like a plausible find.  And I love this version of her I have for myself. But then normalcy has to rear it's tragic head. Because despite my impressions of  endearing madness, Ms Spektor is painfully camera shy. Totally, self-consciously, normal person-y camera shy.

Which is why--despite having a totally awesome open taping policy at her concerts-- she has never released a concert video until now. This month Regina Spektor gets past her issues with being filmed to release her first concert video Live in London.  Filmed mainly at the Hammersmith Apollo Theatre, it contains 22 songs, 19 from her from her existing catalogue (including On the Radio, and Apres Moi, my two favourites), and three that have only been performed live.

You can buy it on Regina Spektor's website on DVD, Blu-Ray, and CD. 

I'll still be scouring youtube for the crazy hockey stick videos though. I'm not convinced they're not out there.

*This post is for Katie's birthday. Happy birthday Bug---I told you about something you can go buy yourself! Don't spend it all in one place.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Once Again, OK Go Tries to BLOW YOUR F*CKING MIND, Man

If you somehow don't know, OK Go is the band responsible for such concentrated awesome as this, this, and THIS, which is pretty much the best idea for a video since someone first said "Hey--we should tape people doing it."

So it was just assumed that their next video would be nothing short of shutthefuckup. Which it is.  This one is less with the hijinks, but spares nothing in the "holy shit" department. Last Leaf is actually a beautiful song, and this might be the first time one of OK Go's songs stands out over the crazy concept video.

Now I just want to know what they did with the toast when it was over. Snacks? Birdfeed? Toast fort? I bet it was a toast fort.

Boss Stuff on the Interwebs: Wednesday Links 24/11/10

Yep--I'm going to make this joke every Wednesday.

Link day again, the time for you boys and girls to give these fine websites hits for doing all the work I'm not willing to do for you. Just like when our moms would pass out drunk and we'd have to go to the neighbour's house for dinner. But with less emotional scarring. Or more, depending on how much you hate clicking links, I guess.

This Wednesday:
  • CaVa Cool and i(heart)music both weigh in on the hottest Canadian bands of 2010, only 10 years after people stopped using the word "hot". Good lists though.
  • Spinner has a list of "15 Films defined by Songs of a Single Artist". Movie-geek meets music-geek is a nifty combination.
  • Do you like Animal Collective? Do you like Bon Iver? Do you like Deerhunter?  I don't get it but congratulations, you're in luck. You might like The Mighty Lord Huron (With thanks to Obscure Sound)
  • The new Lykke Li video gets the thumbs down from Modern Mystery Blog. The reason? Apparently not enough T&A.
  • Yours Truly offers up the haunting Appropriate Stranger by Pina Chulada. It's beautiful: ethereal and sweet, but still mature-sounding. And bloody hard to turn off.
  • Daytrotter aptly compares Alejandro Escovedo with a Texan Hold Steady. And uses the phrase "sad sacks and hoodrats". Double win.
  • Gorillaz cover The xx on BBC's Live Lounge. All you Anglophiles just got hard-ons. (Head over to Stereogum

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Please Stand By

We here at Mr.Shuffleupagus (me) are having problems of the technical kind. The computer tries to shut down just as the internet gets started, leaving me with a kind of blogging blueballs. I'm not sure what's going on with it exactly, but suffice to say it's probably Belgium's fault. In any case, I've got people looking into it:

 If anyone can get my PB&J sandwich out of there, it's these guys.

Posting may not resume until I'm back in Moscow, which would be some time next week.

In the meantime, here is something from a computer far more OK than my own. Enjoy. (Or weep for humanity. Whatever, both will take about 1:57 of your time.) 

Boss Stuff on the Interwebs: Wednesday Links 17/11/10

Get it?! Link?! Haha! Hey guys wait! Don't click aw-

Everyone likes a link day. You get a lot to read, and I have next to nothing to write. A win-win situation for all of us avoiding work.

This week:
  • Can't stand hearing a favourite song in a commercial? Me either. It's not that I'm a pretentious dick, it's that the next time I put on, say,  Morning Benders, I'm going to think of goddam Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.  And also, I'm a pretentious dick.  Music for Kids Who Can't Read Good does a roundup of our latest beloved songs to be ruined by commercials (though somehow misses this Edward Sharpe sale which all but broke my heart)

  • A Rolling Stones Monopoly exists and there is no way I can describe it as well as this guy, so just head on over to Electric Comic Book and have a laugh there. 

  • Want to see Small Black make haunting videos in a gorgeous, abandoned NYC building? Of course you do. And The Gothamist  knows it

  • Hard Candy Music gets some studio footage to go with the first track from the upcoming Adele album. Actual video out in December.

  • Hipster Tracks:  What's that? You're not gonna click because of the name? That just makes you more of a hipster, you know.

  •  Fell In Love With A Drummer claims to have a "french, new-wave Bob Dylan" from the vault? Sure, why not. Bonus points for the "Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity" reference.

  • Girls' upcoming Broken Dreams Club gets a solid 9.0/10.0 review from Obscure Sound. And they don't give those nines out  to everybody.  Just most people.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Song of the Day: The Xx's Infinity (Flufftronix Dubstep Remix)

Ever have those dreams where you're talking to your best friend who for some reason looks nothing like your best friend, but you just know he is, despite the fact that he is older/fatter/part kangaroo/has pineapples for hands? And since dreams can be that way, you begrudgingly accept him even though something just isn't right. And now it's just you and old pineapple hands against the world...
You know the dreams. And you always wake feeling a little unsettled. That rattle is the same feeling remixes give me. It's a song you know...but it's not really. You can hum along...but you can't really. And I don't think it's crazy to not appreciate when something I love is dismembered with parts scattered all over. Bit sick if you like it, really.

Of course there are exceptions to everything, and here's an exception to my no-remix rule: this flufftronix remix of Infinity.

If the original is a song to have sex by, this is a song to have angry sex by.  


And here's the original, just for the sake of comparison, and because it brings the search engine hits.

Today in Rock and Roll WTF: Velvet Underground Tea Partier

So: already mentioned, I've been reading Popism: The Warhol Sixties. It's a vain, catty, name-dropping, hedonistic memoir of everything fabulous/wrong with the sixties. I just wish it had more pictures. Stupid elitist grown up books with all their fancy words. I tend to have the attention span of a coked-out puppy, so every 3 pages or so I read about a new person, then wonder what they looked like or what they are doing now and run to the computer to find out. I've actually just started reading at the desk.

So I get to the section about the Velvet Underground and manage to get through about six whole pages at once, because I know about these guys already. Nico--dead. John Cale--still in music, Lou Reed--still working and being a huge wanker. Moe Tucker--wait whatever happened to Moe Tucker? And book down, Google up, welcome to reading in the third millennium.

I expected to find an obituary, or something about her living in the country with her partner/12-step sponsor raising organic mushrooms and painting with forks or something equally counterculture.

Tragically, she achieved neither middle-aged kookiness nor death. She joined the motherf*cking Tea Party. Or at least she rolls with 'em (skip to the 2:40 mark):


Now this protest took place a year and a half ago and no one seemed to pay much attention for awhile. Until someone looked at the old footage and realised "...waaait a minute--is Maureen Tucker, commenter at the extreme right rally... Moe Tucker? Former drummer/singer for the anti-establishment, pan-sexual, Factory-living, heroin-sponge-of-an-experimental band, The Velvet Underground?" I mean this isn't even Alice Cooper "isn't-that-interesting" conservatism. This is the Tea Party movement. Which is just uninformed, reactionary conservatism. Could it be the same woman?

So like anyone looking for verification, vindication or validation, they took it to youtube where it got just enough attention for people to confirm it. That got just enough attention for her local news to interview her about her politics. That, in turn, received just enough attention that I got a hold of it. And you're paying me just enough attention to read about it now. And everybody gets their little fifteen minutes.

Ms. "Taxation-never-worked-anywhere-despite-the-fact-that-it-totally-has" Tucker doing "Heroin" (reworded for political-right correctness as "Oxycontin"  in concert these days.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cover to Cover: Mr. Blue Sky

Nutritious and Disco-ey
Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra is one of those polarizing songs. It's what the Brits would call a "Marmite" song , and what I'd call a 69 song; You either love it or you hate it and few people fall in between. (Or maybe you did love it before starting to hate it when it inexplicably began turning up fucking everywhere about 2006. Fair point on that one.)

If you're in the pro group you're getting all excited/nostalgic/bouncy right now. If in the con group you're leaving vitriol in the comments and treating your next meeting/client/customer to your own special brand of asshattery.

But balls to you and your clients because I like it and I run this joint.

No, the song's not deep. Yes, it's disco. But shucks, I shamelessly and geekily fall into the first category two paragraphs up. Mr Blue is one of my happy songs, one that cheers me up for stupid reasons, and one that I'll likely bounce around to even in my inevitable zombie apocalypse hideout. So if you don't like it, you'll just have to hide out with some other zombie apocalypse team where you will be attacked and conquered by my team totally fine.

Just last week I heard The Spinto Band's cover of the song for the first time. Of course there are decent others. There's:

The Spinto Band:

0002 Spinto Band - Mr Blue Sky (ELO) by Mr. Shuffleupagus

Lily Allen:

07 Mr Blue Sky by Mr. Shuffleupagus

 And the original ELO:
04 - Electric Light Orchestra - Mr. Blue Sky by Mr. Shuffleupagus

The question is: who covers better? The Spinto Band or Lily Allen? Vote carefully--your post-apocalypse allegiances may depend on this one. 

There are only so many guns to go around, remember...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Behind The Scenes: How to Act Bad

I shallowly admit that the lifestyle of the artist sometimes means as much, if not more, to me than the art itself. My love for The Great Gatsby is irrevocably tied to the diamond-encrusted trainwreck that was the Fitzgeralds. Dandy in the Underworld is one of the books I'm reading right now. Popism is the other. In fact, I'd bet my appreciation for 1960's pop art (not to mention the Velvet Underground) is directly related to my deep desire to be a tweaked, fashionable fly on Andy Warhol's Factory wall. 

Call it trivial, childish or impractical. I'm called all those things and worse on a regular basis. I can't help it; my love of art is often firmly entwined with my love of insanity. Music included. Maybe music especially. One thing that keeps me from loving indie-staple Wilco, besides oh-God-where-do-I-start, is the 2002 documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart. Striving to capture the musician's classic "vision vs. money" struggle, it does more to show the run-of-the-mill henpecking and anxiety of a bunch of neurotic white dudes, complete with one agonizing battle against--wait for it--migranes.  I will be forever prejudiced against the perfectly decent Yankee Hotel Foxtrot for that documentary. Yes, Wilco commits the cardinal sin of being boring and that just will not stand with me.

No, I like my artists' lives bigger, louder, and more than regular people's. So when a friend sent me a link to something called "How to Act Bad" she was after no less than my very own heart. And I've already mentioned my love for rock-docs so when it turned out to be an Adam Green documentary, two points for her.

From the looks of it, it's Adam Green doing his best Julian Casablancas-in-a-Lou-Reed-contest shtick onstage, and his best musician-brat-in-a-rock-God-contest shtick offstage. And that's fine by me because I like it all.

Filmmaker/friend of the artist Dima Dubson has been following Adam Green on tour for a year, getting an inside look at.... this stuff:

You can find more information about the project here, including where to donate to make the film happen. Because how much would that producer credit impress ladies at the pub, guys? It'd be like having two big penises.

And just for kicks this video for Breaking Locks was also directed by Dubson:

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