Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hard To Say - Vonnegutt

Here's one of Vonnegutt's songs. The beginning sounds like a squeaky Linkin Park. But they're not trying to be anything but themselves. Then it gets pretty mellow...well, my version of mellow. I like them. =)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Follow Them

Big Boi has been quite busy working with other singers, lately. The other half of OutKast collaborated with Janelle Monae on one of her new songs, Tightrope. He also teamed up with a new and little known band named, Vonnegutt. I heard their new song, "Follow Us" when they were performing on David Letterman, maybe like a week ago. Love Big Boi's style. He was the only one in NYC (I'm pretty sure) who had a floppy and furry hat with ear flaps on in this 90+ degree humid weather. Even though he was indoors, keeping your style is a must. I totally enjoyed their performance. The song 's hook was crazy catchy.

Well, I'm sure you all know about Big Boi(!), so let's chat about Vonnegutt(<= link). Vonnegutt started in 2007. They're also signed(since 2008) to Big Boi's label, Purple Ribbon Entertainment. The group has been working behind the scenes for a while with guitarist/singer, Neil Garrard doing session work and front man, Kyle Lucas doing mixtapes. Vonnegutt's music is a mix of hip-hop and rock. Their songs reminds me of Linkin Park and a peppier version of Coldplay. They've got potential. Their first full album comes out in 2011. Look out!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

"The ArchAndroid" - Janelle Monae (is back)

Here's the arrival of Janelle Monae's second album! The ArchAndroid. This Kansas City native has not backed down from her sci-fi influenced style. All her videos portrays such interesting stories but all of them pertains to the androids oppression by humans. Kind of like Battlestar Galactica or Matrix? I'm a sci-fi junkie as well and I continue to look forward to see what Janelle has in store for us. Below is her new video with Big Boi. I can't get enough of how good she looks in those shoes!
She's definitely one of a kind. Though, in my previous post about Janelle, I said that I hope she does not get too commercialized. Unfortunately, that happens with too many talents. But it's also another way to have mass appeal(and the big bucks!). I recently read an interview of Janelle by the Chicago Tribune. Janelle reassured us this won't happen. She ended the interview with, "You have a choice: You can be yourself, or you can follow the pack. It's very important to represent the many sides of us that are out there. I want to redefine how a woman can dress, how she can wear her hair. It's sad when you feel you have to change who you are to get your voice out there. We can have a better, happier society when people are accepted for who they are." Love it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wipe Out

And this was the scene at last Sunday's annual Blues BBQ on the Hudson...
Lots of wet people and wet food. Oy, soggy pulled pork is just wrong. I didn't last very long there, even though I had my rain boots on. Hopefully next year's event will be sunnier.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Remember NOLA

At the historic Preservation Hall

At the corner of Canal and Bourbon Streets

For this post, I'd like to focus on something else. Five years ago, this week, Hurricane Katrina formed and extended Mother Nature's wrath over Louisiana

and Mississippi, in the middle of the night. Many didn't even have a chance. New Orleans took the worst hit. We all witnessed what happened in the horrendous days afterward, through the major TV networks. The reporters became the representatives of the people when no one came. They became rightfully frustrated and angry(which is against a reporter's job to be objective) when the authorities were on the air with them and demanded answers and actions. I can go on and on about how inefficient, disappointing and disorganized the local and federal government were at this time of our fellow Americans' need, but that would take more than one post.

These are some pictures I took when I went this past May. The city has regained most of its flair back (Bourbon Street is HOPPIN') and will continue to recover. Many have returned but many have also decided to never go back.

While visiting the 9th Ward, I saw a familiar Chinese sign that was tacked onto a huge tree at a random street corner. I saw the big red sign from at least a block away. It's the Chinese character for luck, fu. I was speechless. That sign meant more than 1,000 words. (Pic:www.chinaexpat.com)

A few projects have helped build beautiful eco-friendly houses and gave them to the former residents. But many blocks remained the same/untouched from the day the National Guard came in to search for survivors. The markings are still on the houses. When I saw this, all I could think of was, "How did we let this happen?" Not Katrina, obviously. I mean the scenes from the Superdome, young and old people fainting on the streets from lack of health care, the chaos. The Riverwalk was absolutely unrecognizable from the garbage and people hopelessly and aimlessly wandering. And I thought I had problems. Psh.

Anyways, let the future of this great American city (and the birthplace of JAZZ) be brighter and livelier than ever before.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bernal/Eckroth/Ennis...needs a shorter name!

Bernal/Eckroth/Ennis performing @ Garage (on 7th and Grove)

How about B/E/E? Eh, I might suggest it next time I see them, ;) This past week, my friend, "Co Co," and I went to see them perform in the West Village. I first saw these guys at a Jazz Fest, with another friend, "Rio Rio," in Long Island City earlier this year. This trio, Natalia Bernal, Mike Eckroth and Jason Ennis, were my favorite performance of the whole festival. B/E/E (I'm using this, simplified) is a Latin jazz trio from New York. They focus mostly on jazz infused folk Brazilian/Chilean music. All you want to do, is sip on wine with some old friends and enjoy their performance. Natalia is an amazing singer. She's not a hip-hop or pop star, but she's a beautiful (physically and vocally) and passionate singer. More in tune for my calm side. Jason Ennis is the guitarist and group leader (I'm assuming here). He has like 5(!) other bands that stays close to Latin roots (samba, choro, hand drums, etc.). I haven't checked those out yet =/
B/E/E plays at Garage about once a month. Check the schedule and drop by if you're around. The place has great happy hours, too ;) Maybe I'll see you there!

Here's their FIRST CD! La Voz De Tres, released in May 2010. Their website also has complete translations. www.BernalEckrothEnnis.com

Oh, yeah. They signed my CD. Woo! I support my beloved awesome local musicians.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Like, The Offsprings

The Like - June Gloom

Around 1:30 a.m.-ish, on a random night, I was eating meatballs and sipping on a glass of sauvignon blanc. Yeah. I don't get the meatballs, either. I was waiting for CSI: Miami to come back from commercial. So I did the flip and landed on some channel that was interviewing a British band, "The Like." Well, I heard Brit accents and I assumed they were. But they originated in Los Angeles. Then I flipped back to Lt. Horatio. And finished my meatballs.

The lead vocal of the band, Elizabeth Berg, is American and daughter of big music honcho, Tony Berg. Tony has been a staple guitarist for many bands like, Air Supply. Elizabeth started the band back in 2001. Avaerage age is around 25. Now, with a new addition to her band (from 3 to 4 members), they've been hitting more circuits in the U.K. What's up with the U.K. connection? That accent I heard was from Tennessee Thomas, the drummer of The Like. She's also Pete Thomas' kid. FYI, Pete Thomas is the former drummer for Elvis Costello and one of the best and most wanted drummers in the field. If you've got the connections, why not use it? Especially when you're the offsprings! And I guess it helps to write your songs since its in your blood already, haha.

Their new album was released in June 2010, entitled Release Me. It's quite a catchy song. I like this latest album better than their first one, Are You Thinking What I'm Thinking? (circa 2005). They're a bit more grown-up now. And then I find out they actually toured with Muse. ?? MUSE!! Oh, connections or talent related? Heck, if you both, use them!! Awesome. And just a note, I heard of Muse and listened to their songs waaaaaay before that tweeny cheesy Twilight explosion.

I am surprised by how much I like their songs, though. Indie catagory, again. I'm not even a hipster!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Jonatha Brooke & Dollhouse

I was so freakin' upset when Joss Whedon's Dollhouse was canceled. This was one of the most intriguing series (as most Whedon's shows are) I've ever seen. So sad that it was canceled after only 2 seasons. But reality shows like Big Brother and Jersey Shore (I disclose that I may have watched a few episodes) goes on year after year. What are the American public filling their minds with!? Sigh. Oh, Victor. I'm going to miss you. At least the series was given like 3 episodes to wrap things up...with warp speed. And if you don't like it, it's because you just don't get it =P

Anywho, back to the point. The title song, "What You Don't Know," is by Jonatha Brooke. I'd compare her to Shawn Colvin and Sarah McLachlan. Very soft, slow and intense. This song absolutely fits in with the darkness and hope portrayed in Dollhouse and I love it. It says how she'll be here with the ability to be and do anything. But before you know it, she'll be gone.

I wasn't too crazy about the hook, though. If anything, it's not even necessary, haha. Ahem. So I started to research (a.k.a. Google, Youtube) her other songs. Apparently, she also appeared on the soundtrack of "Return to Neverland," named "I'll Try." It displays her nitch which is very fairytale. Jonatha's songs appears on a long list of TV series. Her work is pretty contemporary adult. She's had some success in the early 90s and continues to play, write and sing....in French, too. Oui, oui! Jonatha's latest album came out in 2008, called The Works with mixed reviews from critics. Critics, schmitics. Don't let them stop you from listening!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Em and Ri's New Controversy

I absolutely LOVE this song and video. It's so full of love and hate, but in the end its about the pain that both bring. For one thing, not all relationships are sunshine and unicorns. And not all relationships are as destructive as what Em and Ri are singing about. There's been a slight uproar on how this video, featuring Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan, glams up domestic abuse. I don't think so. This video is telling a story. The story is how destructive a relationship can be to both parties. Of all people, Eminem and Rihanna can relate. It doesn't offer a solution in the end. It shows how it can become a continuous cycle. I think it is brave of these artists to make this video. If this controversy can bring light to the seriousness of domestic abuse, then so be it. This also prompted Megan Fox to donate her salary from this video to help women recovering from domestic abuse.

It hurts to know that you are hurting the one you are supposed to love. It's even sadder to see that sometimes, these people can't help themselves. At this point, a lot of strong support will be needed to separate(the only option left) the 2. Hopefully, in time before everything burns down. We live in a society with so much knowledge of the past that we can only hope to learn from it. But because we are humans, we also never learn until it happens to us.

For domestic abuse information, please go to http://www.ndvh.org or call 1-800-799-SAFE(7233).

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Apocalyptica Rocks

Apocalyptica feat. Gavin Rossdale - End of Me

I've heard of this group here and there before...although I have no idea why. Maybe it's because they rock cellos, literally. And I'm a huge fan of stringed instruments. Anywho, I caught the end of their performance at the Montreal Music Festival. I didn't expect anything to my liking, at first. But I came out thinking that this neo-classical metal stuff is pretty dang awesome. I will be listening to them more. I was very impressed by how they managed to head bang their 3 foot long hair in perfect circles AND play their cellos. Now, these are musicians.

They are billed a cello metal rock band. Talk about yin and yang, haha. This 4-man band consists of 3 classically trained cellists and a drummer. They hail from Finland and formed in 1993. If you are into the likes of Evanescence, Three Days Grace or Seether, def give Apocalyptica a try. And as it PAINS me to say this...they rock much better than Linkin Park. I mean, check this video out and see for yourself.

This video was just released in July, 2010. "End of Me" is part of Apocalyptica's 7th album, 7th Symphony, to be released in August, 2010. Enjoy!

On a side note, it's nice to see Gavin back. I feel like I haven't heard from him (musically and not Gwen related) since I left for high school!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Vijay Iyer Goodness

Talk about an over-achiever. Vijay Iyer, a Brooklyn-based Jazz musician, also has a bachelor's from Yale in the studies of physics and mathematics. Oh, and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of California. And some music awards thrown in the mix.

I was browsing through some magazines at Barnes and Noble this past weekend after leaving my friends' new digs around the upper east side. They made me an awesome stew of mussels, diced tomatoes and mushroom rice with a hint of lime. Yum!

It was good to be able to walk it off in a bookstore. There's always some interesting publications that catches your eye. I'm intrigued by the "Paris Review." Goodness knows I have to keep up my reading and writing. Then I came across this magazine about Asian Americans. It was maybe about 30 pages flimsy. I flipped through it and saw Vijay Iyer's picture with "JAZZ" splashed across it. How cool. And he's a physicist.

His CD, Historicity, is making some waves already. Some of his songs are quite Avant-Garde-ish but at the same time, he makes his piano not just take the lead, but also converse with the other instruments. I still haven't listened to all his songs, but he will be performing at the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival on August 29th(more details on the right sidebar).