Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Pink Robot – The Pink Robot 6.0

The Pink Robot is a pop group from Norway making extremely catchy, electronic music. If you have heard Ladytron or We Are Scientists you should have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting into. Most of the songs are pleasant, if not particularly substantial.

Pretty much the worst thing I can say about this is that it really isn’t anything new. Most of this kind of sound had much more popularity in the US in the middle 00s, so it perhaps if this came out a few years ago, it would be more interesting. As it is, it simply sounds like these guys sort of devoured that kind of sound and spat it back up.

Of course there are songs on here that feel good enough to avoid this “meh” feeling.  “Pink Robots” works as a cute little baby stomp. The energy dies down a little bit for “Line” which honestly sounds surprisingly sweet and less contrived than most of the other material on here. And “Washing Machine” succeeds with pure overwhelming manic hyperactivity.

So basically, there really shouldn’t be anything new you’d experience on here. There’s nothing good or bad to say about it, it simply exists for better or worse. It probably embodies my idea of “redundant” music by not being particularly offensive or original, but sometimes that’s OK.  

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Penguin Café Orchestra – Music from the Penguin Café Orchestra 9.7

I’ve listened to this countless numbers of times, and each time I discover something a little better about the recording. Each piece on here has warmth that can’t be described, a pure joy to making music. Occasionally little images of childhood pop in here and there. This is probably one of the sweetest records I have had the pleasure of listening to, and it has this sweetest without being saccharine about it. 

Brian Eno saw this released on his “Obscure Records” label in 1976. That label name is aptly appropriate; these guys always sort of lurked in the back, never really getting the proper attention they deserved. A few radio programs use their music and a few indie films used the songs as soundtrack fodder, but there’s something more here.

“Penguin Café Single” sets the mood for you. It starts out triumphant. For whatever reason I’m reminded of early animated silent cartoons, before they got obsessed with extreme movement and wackiness. The middle part is great as well, this reflects sort of the reason that they never got so popular: they tend to repeat things and go into almost stream of conscious kind of material. 

Most of this stuff has the optimistic afterthoughts of the happiest parts of hippiedom. Interplay is constant, as are endless explorations on the same theme. Also, their balance between tension and release makes a lot of these songs work when they really shouldn’t. “Chartered flight” captures the sentiment nicely, starting out with a very tense approximation of a lonely time in the clouds. Then the warmth comes. 

There are even a few surprises on here. For example, Nico on “Coronation” gives a fairly beautiful and brief showing. She adds to the dreamlike quality of so much of this music. “Hugebaby” does this too; it gives me dreams of people and objects slowly floating away into the sky with a slight bit of wistfulness. And my favorite song on here is also the longest: “The Sound of Someone You Love Who’s Going Away and It Doesn’t Matter”. I don’t think there’s ever been a song title that so accurately described the music contained within. 

Shame they never got as popular as they deserved, but then again the music is a bit of an acquired taste.

The sound of someone you love who's going away and it doesn't matter 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Is suing four year olds for negligence a lucrative business model?

This is a question we really need to ask ourselves as a nation. How much are four year olds worth? I’m assuming millions in terms of potential future earning power. Or you could simply just take away their toys and go “nah-nah-nah” to their faces, which might have the same benefit for some people.

Justice Paul Wooten of the State Supreme Court in Manhattan has decided that yes, suing a four year-old is a lucrative business and in fact legally sound. Citing previous cases from as far back as 1928, he’s determined that this four-year old will pay for acting in “an improper manner”. Really, she was just three months shy of five; maybe it is time that she grew up. Thus, being almost five made her a prime candidate for a lawsuit. Of course, it will be up the jury to decide if she’s guilty or not.  Perhaps this now five year old should have acted with ‘due care’ while she was racing her bike with a friend on East 52nd street in Manhattan.

It was a normal day in April, 2009 for the 87 year old Clare Menagh. She walked outside her apartment and was brutally hit by one Juliet Breitman, who was being watched by her mother Dana Breitman. The hit was hard, Clare needed hip surgery. Juliet’s training wheels on her bike couldn’t have prepared her for this. She rode on the sidewalk with these training wheels, which is technically legal for anyone under the age of 14 to do in New York City. Since Clare was 87, the chance of her surviving that sort of surgery was slim and she passed away three months later.

After Clare passed away, Clare’s estate got in touch with Juliet Breitman, informing her that they were suing her four year old daughter. This case exemplifies America’s evolution. Previously Clare’s estate might have said “Listen, we understand it was just an accident and it wasn’t intentional. We forgive you.” Now we have a far superior system that legally allows them to say to Ms. Breitman “We’re suing your four year old daughter for all she’s worth. I hope you can find a good lawyer! She’s going to wish she was never born, which wasn’t that long ago anyway.” So clearly we have improved ourselves as a country. 

Sure, some may say that perhaps the Justice Paul Wooten has a sort of bizarre name, and that it sounds kind of made up. Even more might argue the purpose of sending a five year old through our circuitous legal system will only speed up the evolution from idealistic young child to cynical teenager. Maybe by the age of nine Juliet will be a jaded teenager who believes in nothing. But I argue that Justice Paul Wooten decision doesn’t go far enough.
Children are being born each and every day. Our legal system has no way of dealing with these potential troublemakers, who cry loudly in supermarkets, retail outlets, and any other location where people might congregate. Suing children when they are born seems a bit too late. What Justice Paul Wooten should have done is use this opportunity to stem the tide of trouble-making before it begins. 

That’s right; we need to have all those thinking of being parents to pay a fee. Whenever any couple gets married they think about either having children or adopting some. As soon as any couple marries they need to immediately fill out a questionnaire. Most of it will be perfectly innocuous, like asking what their favorite TV show is, if they like dogs, favorite soda. But then there will be the following question:

“Do you plan on having or adopting children and raising them as your own?”

If they answer “yes” to this question, fine them! That’s right, in order to better protect our society, we must pre-emptively fine anyone who plans on having children in the future. By doing this, we will be able to avoid these kind of lawsuits in the future by just referring to the fine. It doesn’t have to be a particularly large fee, only about $10,000 or so. 

Before you pass this off as ridiculous, simply remember that we’re the country who regularly sues restaurants for having their coffee too hot and not warning us about it. We’re the country that needs to explain to people that contents may be hot for fear of being sued.  

So yes, we’ll see just what happens with this Juliet Breitman case. The jury might decide that suing a four year old is “insane and a total waste of everyone’s time”. Maybe it is time for all of our young children to grow up, to learn how to take responsibility for their actions, to learn the alphabet, to learn that Santa Claus isn’t real. America doesn’t allow for children to be children anymore, there’s no more innocence left.

Experimental Dental School – Hideous Dance Attack 6.4

Sure, these guys are chaotic. I think after the first 5 seconds it is pretty hard to ignore that. Plus, some of their songs can be pretty catchy, getting stuck in your mind for a while. But even as they open for Deerhoof, they sort of lack the same level of charm and polish.

My problem with the album is for every experiment that works in the scatter shot approach (Kkkfc Serves Sparkily Squirl Meat) that something completely pointless without any merit (Some 4). The vocalist also sounds like they are trying a bit too hard to be like Mike Patton. Not that such ambition is bad, but if you fail, it kind of leaves a bad taste in the listener’s mouth.

Honestly, I’m not sure why there are so many ambient pieces to the music, especially in the latter half. Some bands are able to successfully integrate fast and slow, chaos and ambient, but these guys aren’t one of those bands. If you need a quick fix of skronk, these guys are alright. But otherwise this is just a “meh” experience.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Listening to Music to take Music to.

I stood in my natural habitat. Fluorescent light shone brightly, doing a good job approximating actual sunlight. Dub Reggae emanated from the speakers, giving the small room a tropical vibe. 

Each record I saw I explained to my friend standing next to me. Bizarrely, a few random people asked me for help, like I worked in the place. Having that small acknowledgment was nice, I’m happy to explain the joys of Slint’s Spiderland any day of the week. Everyone should learn about the alternative to the Seattle scene, the Louisville, KY scene in the early 90s. 

I wonder how much longer my musical addiction, affliction last for? I’ve seen all the movies that try to give me some sort of reasonable answer and I’m worried. None of those movies seem to depict me at all. There barely seems to be a movie based off of musical addictions occurring digitally. It always is focused on some record store or being in a band, etc. Physical stores aren’t things that really exist anymore, sorry “High Fidelity”. As cool as you appeared to be in the movies, most people don’t start record stores anymore. Excluding a few beautiful, lovely stores like Other Music, they largely have fallen by the wayside. 

Greenberg worries me a bit more. Rather than show musical addiction as something to be celebrated, like High Fidelity did, it shows the downside. Instead of connecting to others through his musical interests, Greenberg ends up getting lost inside his own head. Each time he makes a reference, nobody gets it. I tried explaining my worry about this happening to a friend and he told me “Don’t worry; I don’t get your references even now”. So thanks for that vote of confidence. 

Greenberg’s 40 and completely aimless. After breaking up his own band out of idealism, he can barely connect to those few people in his life that he should. Perhaps what happens after being so hopeful is an eventual burnout. It doesn’t happen instantly. Time passes and slowly joy for the new fades, like how Bedhead sings “But this year I think I’d rather be a relic/than part of the present”. I’ve often had rooftop discussions with those lamenting the better, older music, and how “nothing good happens anymore”. Lately I’m growing weary of the negativity to some degree, since I think music is one of my purest joys, unaltered by anything overwhelmingly awful. 

 When does that point come though, of pure musical weariness, of that yearning for the old? That ought to be something I can prepare for, like having an IPOD on you at all times in case of emergency. If you need to ask what sort of emergency, you’re probably not that big of a music snob. I should have some delicious, gross junk food near me for when that happens, like Pizza Combos or Lindt Dark Chocolate. 

There’s so much research to do for music too. Sure, it has become easier to read reviews, and compare various sites with one other, to get a better idea of who suits your interests. Entire sites equally divvy up amounts of “buzz”, trying to cool your interests hip and relevant. And before you say that “Oh, people just get a general idea from them” I’ve been to parties where people read Pitchfork so religiously that they know exactly what score each and every album got for the past year, even albums they never actually listened to. 

Finally, to give some sort of closure, I wonder about how people treat me. Am I just a curiosity, reeling off bands like a catalog, complete with blurbs for each, or am I a human being? Or am I slowly losing myself in the midst of so much sounds, so much music, that I become a musical Slothrop? That I constantly seek out that perfect album, that perfect music. That each morning I wake up, check Boomkat, check Pitchfork, check Tiny Mixtapes, and check various blogs, etc. looking for my 00000. People try to help me with this problem, with this search, trying to drag back into working, but I might just go down one of those creative routes, never to return. 

We’ll see, hopefully this will help those who wonder the same thing as they endlessly spew out musical references, sorting through the thousands upon thousands of songs, looking for that special one. Perhaps the same could be said for people too, you know, the whole “Special Someone” bit. 

But no matter what, Other Music, right near Cooper Union, you’ll always be forever loved in my heart.

Lesser/Kid606 – Split 8.8

Vinyl Communications probably did the best thing possible by releasing this split. Not only does it offer a snapshot at these two artists in their prime but it also ended up being ahead of the curve on this kind of chaos-ridden glitch music.

When I first heard this, I kind of got blown away by the quality and the sheer strangeness. It is like the most digital punk stuff I’d ever heard. Lesser began the split with two long and very abstract pieces. Random fragments of drum programming, shards of noise, all filed under the most obnoxious names he could think of. I mean, “Produced by Giorgio Moroder” for an abstract and repetitious noise track? Yeah, I think that disco purveyor really had something to do with this.

Years later, upon finding this little CD in one of my spindles, I decided to give it another listen, to see if it held up against the test of time. Listening to it now, I realize that is very much a yes. For both of the artists involved, this is probably some of my favorite material from either of them.

Lesser’s side stands up well, the “Speed for Gavin (AMF Cover)” being one of the weirdest things, mixing up industrial with ridiculous little samples. Example: “You sell fish here” and “Blessing some guy from San Diego”. There’s happier moments from Lesser as well, like “From-Ace Baby! To-Dad” and the surreal carnival of “Kid Tested, Mother Approved”. Jason Doerck sort of mixes together the high and low culture (drum machines and abstract noise) into some weird mix.

Kid606’s side is excellent. This is coming from his more abstract phase in his music before he took the lazy route of imitation dance music. Around this time he had “Down with the Scene” out and figured his life would be better off if he dropped out of school. Oddly, it was. Miguel includes some bizarre, distorted melodies like in “Hunting for Affection” and the demented ho-down of “Catch a Lucky Star”.  It was this release that even got me into a lot of other Tigerbeat6 stuff, before it descended down to just another boutique record label.

Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised that after revisiting this album over a decade later, it still works. This is an approach most electronic artists have failed to take. And why they haven’t is probably the million dollar question for me.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Should we have cuter “Chief of Police” in order to bring down crime?

The power of cute compels you!
Marisol Valles Garcia is beginning a new wave of stop crime. You may be familiar with the “broken windows” theory of fighting crime. This theory stated that if you catch people for smaller crimes, you’ll end that feeling of helplessness that engulfs the area. Due in part to this and various economic factors New York City saw the crime rate drop.

Ms. Garcia’s new wave is the wave of cuteness. An adorable 20 year old college student has decided to take on the unstoppable crime wave with purely her cute skills. Perhaps she’ll transform herself into a kind of Pokémon, using her powers to defeat the most hardened of criminals Mexico’s drug cartels have to offer in Praxedis G. Guerrero.

Initially these evil fiends might try to take advantage of this criminology student. Of course, they won’t realize her true powers until it is too late. 

As they rough up various citizens of her town, she’s suddenly jump up into the air, loudly screaming “Pika” and they won’t know what will happen next. Earth’s energy will be tapped as she releases that final “Chu” and lighting flies out of her hands, terrifying the evil doers. Terrified, the evil doers will stop their villainous ways and start publishing tumblrs showing the beauty of nature. 

There’s precedent for this of course. Post-War Japan has enjoyed one of the lowest crime rates out of any other country in the world. Some attribute this to a relatively prosperous and equal distribution of wealth. But this doesn’t hold up against closer investigation.

Upon its defeat following World War II, Japan became a pacifist nation. In those terms of surrender, that was one of the main agreements. Another, smaller agreement had to be that all advertisements had to include at least 50% cartoon characters or cartoon-like humans. This has gone unnoticed, and initially the population was like “WTF is this? Why are cartoon characters selling me feminine hygiene products” but now it has become an integral part of their life. Psychologists in the United States explored this topic extensively during World War II via the Warner Brother’s propaganda cartoons and realized this is what galvanized our forces against the enemy. So it got tried in Japan as a first trial for the experiment. 

Cartoon characters and cuteness in general can have the same effect in Mexico against the drug cartels. Those who run drug cartels are often thought to be heartless bastards due to their penchant for dissolving dead bodies in vats of acid. But even they will be unable to resist cartoon characters with eyes that shine like a blue million miles.

I hope that Ms. Garcia is able to turn the tide and again make her fellow citizens feel safe enough to go outside again. Godspeed You! College Student.

Andy Stott – Night Jewel 7.5

Oh, this is so sweet. This song embodies the joy of popcorn popping in the microwave. At first you hear the chords, sort of winding their way through endless amounts of filters. A beat keeps you tethered to reality, aware that this isn’t your usual microwave-based rave-up. I didn’t think a melody could capture the spontaneous nature of random kernels of corn exploding for joy, but I thought wrong.

Leave in to the Germans to create such perfect techno love. In case the 4/4 muffled kick doesn’t convince you, here’s some high hats, perfectly arranged for your maximum enjoyment. Soon the entire percussion shifts around. It is still dance, but it evolves around the chords.

A clunky bass barrages in to let you know it has officially begun. The bass even get front attention, mimicking the melody. And everything goes heavy. 

Dance minimalism never sounded so good. I really want him to just collect all these great EPs and release another collection. It gets difficult finding all these things.

Night Jewel 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jesus Christ (The Indie Band) – Is this what you really want? Review

Tao Lin and the online entity known as “Carles” who may or may not be a real human being with actual “non-ironic” emotions came together and made this little ditty.

Mixing together floating pieces of various spoken word, it displays the vulnerability so often displayed by Carles on his famous blog “Hipster Runoff”. The song, beat-wise, hearkens back to the blog house era of 2007. Even the melody is there, but in a dance way. It adds emotional depth to an already overwhelmingly angst-ridden song.

Actually, it is pretty good. Personally, I enjoy Tao’s voice more than Carles’, but that’s just a personal preference. Tao is probably the most interesting person to come out of the Generation Y field of writers. I know this because the New York Times dumped on his book Richard Yates. For the New York Times to even do that is a big deal, showing that he’s moved up to the next rung on the literature ladder.

Carles is the zeitgeist of our times. His brilliant, post-emo, post-ironic scrawls on his website “Hipster Runoff” have become so popular that people often hover around his site, waiting in vain to claim ‘first’, showing how relevant they are to the blog-o-sphere. Unlike Tao, the New York Times appears to have a grudging respect for him. They admitted as much when the stated they deliberately used the word “Hipster” in their articles to gain more readership, because hey, Hipsters like reading about other Hipsters. 

I came to the party late for Jesus Christ the Indie Band. Hopefully this band didn’t die for music’s sins, since it doesn’t appear like anything new has been done on their twitter thing for nigh on a year. Maybe that’s part of the reason 2010 hasn’t been as exciting, because we’re still waiting for Jesus Christ the Indie Band to rise from the dead and bring peace on Earth. Perhaps we’ll be able to witness the second coming this year, when it finally tweets its 11th tweet and releases that EP.

But I know no matter what happens Jesus Christ the Indie Band won’t disappoint its father, who thrust this upon his young son.

Stereolab – Not Music 8.6

Coming from the same sessions as “Chemical Chords” but with better album artwork, this will be your last Stereolab fix for quite some time. Lætitia Sadier has “The Trip” out, so that might allow feeling like they have a prolific post-existence output. 

You can tell this is the same session as “Chemical Chords” due to the similar feel of the music. Like that release, it has a jaunty, upbeat vibe behind it. I know, it is ironic since this is their last official release for a while. “Everybody’s Weird except me” is pretty much what you’d want from a Stereolab opener: clear, repetitive, with those little 60s flourishes they do so well. “Super Jaianto” sort of surprises me, it could have easily made the cut onto Chemical Chords, and I’m a bit shocked it didn’t. All these interlocking pieces come together in such a clever way before it dissolves right in the middle of things.

There are a few bits on here which allude to a certain melancholy, like the center of “Leleklato Sugar” which touches on a humanity that they usually gel over. “Silver Sands Mix” is a bit strange; it is like a weird attempt at a dance song, which does a ‘meh’ job. There’s a bit more synthesizer-worship on this track than I’d like.  Since it is right in the middle of the album, it doesn’t exactly make the flow drag, but it feels a bit out of place. Don’t worry, the beautiful duo of “Laserblast” and “Sun Demon” make up for this failed experiment.
Brad Cox’s mix on here, “Neon Beanbag [Atlas Sound Mix]” sounds a bit denser than what surrounds it, but it is a nice final conclusion to the record (Pop Molecules has a snotty abrupt end to things). 

Overall, this feels like an appropriate way to say goodbye to the fans.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Stereolab: A Fond Farewell

Rare is the band that fits in so well with modern college life. Effortlessly mixing lounge pop, krautrock and a penchant for left-leaning lyrics, they really should have been bigger than they ended up being. I mean, dropped from Warner Bros records for not selling enough albums, shame on you college students. Turn off that flavor of the week (I’m guilty of it too) and put on some real stuff.

Sadly, the word “been” gives it all away: they are no longer together. “Not Music” which I’ll have a review up for later tonight, is their siren song made up of odds and ends from their “Chemical Chords” sessions. Apparently making music for almost two decades with a flagrant disregard for popular trends in music took their toll. Wait until retro 60s French pop makes a comeback; they’ll look so foolish then!

Part of what made Stereolab work was how it was a work of pure music nerds. I mean, how many bands can just off the cusp reference a Tod Dockstader piece like they did on “La Demeure”? Or how many bands articulately discuss the importance of vinyl and Jean-Claude Vannier while actually knowing exactly what they are talking about? The amount of attention they gave to each song, beginning, middle and end was phenomenal. Stereolab felt at times a band who constantly worshipped at the altar of good music, getting little to nothing in return. A band made up exclusively of music snobs who made music for people who got the joke. 

Even before it was cool, they indulged in bossa nova covers like “One Note Samba” which extended into 9 minutes for reasons only they could describe. And when their beloved band mate Mary Hansen passed away, they continued to release nearly unreasonable amounts of music. Calling them a band of rock critics rather than musicians shouldn’t even be considered an insult; a band this knowledgeable ought to take that as a compliment. The amount of bands that are painfully inarticulate about their music is massive: I remember Tortoise being interviewed on MTV 2 and shuttering as they stated their music was a “cross-pollenization” of different musical movements. When my spell check tells me that’s not a word that just confirms how useless they are as promoters. 

I’m a bit saddened that now they’ve called it quits. After “Fab Four Suture” their music seemed to recover from the slight directionless that they encountered earlier in the decade. “Chemical Chords” confirmed that for me: here was a band getting back into the swing of things only to let me down. Honestly, I can’t complain that they didn’t give it their all. And I also know that they have a great deal of influential fans to collaborate with (like Deerhunter’s Brad Cox) but I will miss them. Listening to the new album, I felt a certain wistfulness, nostalgia even, for when I could reliably expect at least an album (or more) a year from them.

Greatest Hits – Danse Pop 7.9

Olde English Spelling Bee is on something of a roll with these releases this year. Here’s another great pick of nostalgic pop music, but it is sadly only an EP.

Sure, the Games project for Oneohtrix Point Never did cover this same kind of territory, but Greatest Hits mine it even harder. Besides just using the average pop samples, there is some acknowledgment of internet humor on here: listen to the end of “Danse Pop” where it sounds like a song from Homestar Runner. In case there’s too many references on here, no worries, the music works well as straightforward pop music as well.

80s nostalgia isn’t all that’s here: more than a few times I felt like some early 90s hits were being resurrected from the dead. “Make You Mine” sounds like an Ace of Bass song gone very wrong. Or that might just be my own wish.

As the painfully short collection of songs ends, we’re treated to the darker “Ambulance” which is a great, glitched up electroclash beauty. In case you needed more evidence, may I present you with their wonderful video? Enjoy!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Low – I could live in Hope 9.6

This is the most ambitious quiet music I’ve ever heard. Since autumn comes in full swing, with sweaters being brought out of the closets, I figured now would be a good time. Listening to such quiet music, it is like the knee jerk reaction to loud, stupid, overbearing mainstream music. 

“I could live in Hope” avoids most of the egoism of rock and roll. None of the players appear to be particularly interested in soloing at any time. Rather, the sum is greater than the total of their parts. By the way, they don’t actually rock. There’s nothing on this album to indicate such a thing.

Most of their music following this album followed a similar format. Vocals seem to float together in space. The bass appears to be particularly prominent, though that may also be due to the lack of volume. According to legend, during their first few performances, they got heckled for their quiet attitude. Rather than satisfy those annoying Duluth crowds, they put the volume down. Now if that isn’t the most polite punk thing to do, I don’t know what is.

Slowcore basically got invented by these guys. From the beginning of their career, they knew how to keep things moving at the pace of molasses. Plus, in case being slow wasn’t enough, they stripped down rock to a guitar, bass, and the sparest drum kit known to man.

“Words” starts things off sort of explaining their mindset. The lyrics “Too many words” and “I can’t hear them” dive deep into your brain, as does the vocal delivery. It is a unique delivery. “Down” and “Drag” are probably some of their best songs to date.

Autumn marks the beginning of browned lawns and dead leaves. I really think the album sort of captures that quiet desperation. Unlike Codeine, the music doesn’t get particularly experimental. No loud surprises are in store for you; just one of the few bands carving out their own niche in an overcrowded field.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Twizzle – Soda Fountain 7.9

I have no idea how to approach this little sweet EP. Each time I’d send it to anyone; they’d say it was so sugary that they got cavities from it. Consisting of Sir Mildred Pitt and Spacecake from Seattle, they make probably the cutest music known to mankind. Perhaps if evil dictators from around the world heard this they might decide to give up their wretched ways and start up a bedroom band.

Spacecake is the singer in this duet. Comparisons to Goldfrapp and Portishead are just, as songs like “Black Elk Mountain” definitely do follow those artist’s templates. Weird electronic effects begin and disorient you. The beats also sort of give away the duo’s linage (the EP was recorded in 1999). 

The samples are the biggest part in this. It is obvious that the two of them have good taste in what to pick out for building songs, like an even kitschier Solex. My favorite on here has to be the song “Barefoot Girl Pebble Road”. This song is so saccharine I have a hard time determining whether or not it is meant ironically. “I’d like to start a family” the male singer croons. Really, I think this is probably one of the greatest achievements of Twizzle, the fact that they created a song so confusing that you are completely unable to determine their actual motive.

But overall, this is a painfully short EP filled with a surprisingly level of quality. 

Here it is in downloading form!

Free Twizzle!

Friday, October 22, 2010

An American Hero: Ghost Writer for the Situation's New Book

Ghostwriters are anonymous people, floating around, hoping to earn enough money to pay the rent for a while. Usually they are decent writers who are simply working on their own stuff which might be a harder (or longer sell). Just because they have been unable to achieve commercial success doesn’t mean that they are failures. Far from it, they are troopers, continuing to slog through the muck, even working on books they aren’t interested in, in order to make ends meet.

That brings us to the Ghost Writer at hand. “Here’s the Situation” a book supposedly written by the Situation, one Mike Sorrentino of “The Jersey Shore” fame, works better than most ghost written books. Besides just having an over-the-top main character basically bragging throughout 153 pages, there’s that irony. And it is the ghost writer’s complete distain and open mockery of the Situation that brings this book up beyond bathroom book reading.

Irony has been done to death in writing of late. Usually this may be in part to its easy use. By keeping an ironic distance between yourself and your subject matter, you can sort of say “Just Kidding” in case the effort fails. It is a vulnerable sort of technique. Here though, it shines like pure gold.

Above you can see the ridiculous sort of language used. This one is about fist pumping and it even is helpful enough to include diagrams, in case you were too stupid to figure out how fist pumping works. By using words like “corpuscle” and “Battle it, bro” the ghost writer allows us to be in on the joke of “this guy is a total douche bag, isn’t he?” while still making it good enough for the Situation to approve. 

Most likely, we’ll never know who wrote this intentionally hilarious book. Whenever there’s a ghost writer for a subject so vapid and devoid of anything resembling intelligence, a non-disclosure agreement is signed. That means the publisher knows that it is an ironic, stupid, tacky book, and you can giggle to yourself about it, but you can never let anyone know.

That’s perfectly OK though. Heavy irony works best with the only two groups likely to buy this book:
1.       People who truly love the Jersey Shore. These people don’t understand how truly sad they are, and why there are people “hating” on them for being so ridiculous. Usually these people live in some alternate universe where people like “The Situation” are revered like folk heroes.

2.       People who truly hate the Jersey Shore. They will purchase the book purely for ironic purposes. At parties, they’ll read it to groups of friends who are also in on the joke. Everybody will get a good laugh as they drink PBR and watch awful 80s films, like anything with Ernest. 

Going on Amazon or searching for the book, you already see the two sides lining up. Most of the internet consists of the latter group, so you’re more likely to see such things as “Signs of the Apocalypse” and “When will his fifteen minutes be up?” My favorite has to be the Amazon tag for this as “euthanasia”. 

The ghost writer is so good that he has answers for this lazy criticism: “Haters: It’s been more than 15 minutes. The apocalypse is a multi-step process, bitches.” So the ghost writer knows how important it is that this succeeds. It may or may not; depending on how much of the Situation’s fan base can read. Sometimes I wonder whether or not the Situation is self-aware about how ridiculous he is, like some sort of meta-Joaquin Phoenix kind of deal. Reading the Amazon description of the book doesn’t exactly allay my fears either:

“Here's how to get your situation up to the level of the Situation

Listen, dawg. You're probably hitting the gym, doing your tanning, and picking up fresh laundry every day. And maybe you've had some success beating up the beat and creeping on chicks in the club. But do you really think your situation is where it needs to be? Be honest with yourself, bro.

this book here will take your game to a level thought unattainable, given your physical limitations (because we can't all look like Rambo, pretty much, with our shirt off). We start with GTL-the bedrock of life itself. And then we hit the GTL Remix-the rules for getting your personal grooming did. From there it's my guide to the Jersey Shore, battle plans for the club, a primer on grenades and wingmen, and tips for ridding yourself of all levels of clinger. Then I look at the big picture: how to cook the perfect lasagna, how to find a life partner, and how to deal with being one of the most famous people on the planet-which is guaranteed if you follow my advice.

This is the bible for Situation Nation. Read it, live it, and crush it.

I feel that if the Ghost Writer is capable of such absolutely ridiculous statements that he might want to try his hand in writing some sort of updated version of “Catch 22” except instead of World War II it would be about the shallowness of modern life. Most of the book reads like some sort of high-minded satire against its very subject. 

Kudos ghost writer, you have made the world a better place. Perhaps in some future point you’ll finally publish that bizarre ultra-ironic story you’ve always dreamed of.