Friday, April 29, 2005

Garth Jennings

The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy
A lot of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fans were wondering what in the hell their dream movie was doing in the hands of a music video director. Well, it sounds like the final product, directoral-wise at the very least, will appease most fans and create some new ones.

For those unfamiliar with director Garth Jennings, his music video credits are quite impeccable, but you still have to give Disney some props for giving him the reigns on this considering it's his first product.

Jennings' music videos include several for Badly Drawn Boy ("Silent Sigh," "Disillusion," "Pissing in the Wind," and "Something to Talk About";) Fatboy Slim's "Right Here, Right Now," and more for REM, Blur, Supergrass, Travis, Pulp (just to name a few.)

Here's a playlist of 14 of the songs he's made videos from the past 10 years.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Animation all the rage

The Arcade Fire has a new video for their second single, "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" - which really should've been their first single, but that's another story. It was created by Plates Animation.

They're relatively new to the scene, sort of filling the vacuum left by the masters, Shynola, who were busy the past year working day and night on the Guide sequences to the movie The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which finally comes out this weekend.

Their first post-Hitchhiker's project has been completed, Beck's first official video from Guero, "E-Pro".

Here's a playlist of great songs that Shynola has made videos for.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A celebration for Browncoats

Forgive my 'geeking out' here, but the trailer for Serenity is now out.

For those that don't know, Serenity is a movie from a dead cult series that Joss Whedon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer", "Angel") created called "Firefly". It's an international cult phenomenon and looks to be a blockbuster movie series, flying in the face of FOX (can anyone say "Arrested Development"?) who cut it after only 12 episodes (only 14 shot.)

You can also see it in the theater before The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, opening this weekend.

The boards at are freaking out about right now.

The Mac Observer

Monday, April 25, 2005

Schrodinger's Drake

So, here's me trying to catch up...

J Shifty over at Ribaldry and Schmaltz has fallen upon another creative way to use Rhapsody playlists - Playlist Haiku. Simply put, that's three song titles typically with the 5,7,5 syllable structure put together in a playlist.

A new site has been set up to run with, so we'll see how it lasts. You can see my first, ahem, attempt here.

Here's a sample from my Friday Night Fights series:

The Covet Quandry
you stupid asshole
get your hands off my woman
the lure of beauty

Also, I didn't get a chance to give props to Robert of the Radish for his Desert Island piece he put together that was published in multiple places (Rhapsody Radish, FIQL and Blog Critics. )

Essentially, he had all us playalistas give him one song that we'd have with is trapped on a desert island. One song. You'll notice the Drake is the first entry... and I should mention that my choice was actually "Chan, Chan" by Buena Vista Social Club, but at the last minute, the rights for the song were pulled on Rhapsody. In my panic to get packed and out of town to my Grandfather's funeral, I told Robert to just take the next song on the album. It still works, but not quite the same. "Chan, Chan" definitely has a calming sound that goes so well with ocean waves crashing in the background.

How Dylan & The Beatles ruined music

Ran across a great piece on Jon Brion (see The Midas touch) where he explains why he thinks Bob Dylan and The Beatles ruined music.

Here's an excerpt:
“I mean, they’re my heroes, of course. Probably no bars of music have changed my life more than theirs. But, as they were setting about the business of creating life-changing music, they were also ruining things.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Novel Soundtracks - Lethem's Fortress of Solitude

When I started reading Jonathan Lethem's Fortress of Solitude I got the idea that it would be cool to create a soundtrack for it. It's so rich with great music throughout the book that I had one playing in my head the whole time anyway.

So I started writing it down any artist/band references, and songs or albums that are referenced or coincide with the time mentioned. Man... 135 songs later I knew that it needed some whittling down and better guidlines. So I decided to only include songs from albums mentioned along with songs mentioned. Whew... that took it down to a manageable 54 songs, or about 3 CD's worth.

Playlist: Novel Sndtrck - Fortress of Solitude

Lethem has said this book is meant to work like a CD Box Set for a band. With the first section being music from the band (omniscient perspective and main story,) the second section being liner notes (quite literally, liner notes written by main character,) and the third section being the solo releases later on by the group (in this case, stories told in the first person by main characters Dylan and Mingus.)

The story takes place in 1970s Brooklyn, specifically Gowanus (or as it's known now through gentrification, Boerum Hill.) Young Dylan Ebdus' parents are among the first white folks to arrive, much the way Lethem's were in the early 70's. And from the start, Lethem throws you in the deep end and lets you learn how to swim in the miriad of details. This turns many a reader off at first, but it's purpose, I believe, is three-fold. One is to put you absolute in the time and place. Two is to create the incredible juxtoposition of the sequences involving the magic ring (more about that later.) And three is to highlight the 4 views you get through the novel, with the first holding you closer to the story then you want to be.

It starts you off with a bang:
Like a match struck in a darkened room:
Two white girls in flannel nightgowns and red vinyl rollerkates with white laces, tracing tentative circles on a cracked blue slate sidewalk at seven o'clock on an evening in July.
The girls murmered rhymes, were murmured rhymes...
It just continues with poetic prose that I had to resist from underlining when I read it at first - I cannot desicrate a library book... I just don't have it in me (now that I have the paperback, it's still too precious of a book for me to ruin, but it's chock full of scraps of paper w/ notes!)

The title of this tour de force refers to the 'secret sanctum' of Superman... an imprenetrable hideout carved into the solid rock of a mountain somewhere in the arctic, where Superman goes to relax, and conduct experiments.
Here I can keep the trophies and dangerous souvenirs I've collected from other worlds. Here I can conduct secret experiments with my super-powers and keep souvenirs of my best friends! I built it here in the polar wastes because the intense cold keeps away snoopers.
from Action Comics #241
This all relates metaphorically to the story with plenty of isolation that the various superheroes (read: characters) take upon themselves. Then the Superman reference is taken quite literally as the book takes on a magic realism turn with a magic ring that bestows superpowers upon it's bearer. The superhero turns are both jarring and enchanting as the book lies in such realism throughout, you get a headrush whenever it takes a pass at the ring.

You'll also notice title contains the word 'Solitude' which is in the title of one of the more popular magic realism novels to date, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude. Coincidence, or dual shout-out to both comic book and magic realism heroes?

One more thing that the book will be remembered for is it's description of the changing of grades at school.
Second grade was first grade with math. Third grade was second grade with a period in the schoolyard to play kickball...( follows with kickball story -p. 30)

Fifth grade was fourth grade with something wrong. Nothing changed outright. Instead it teetered.... The ones who couldn't read still couldn't, the teachers were teaching the same thing for the fifth time now and refusing to meet your eyes, some kids had been left back twice and were the size of janitors. The place was a cage for growing, nothing else.(p. 62)

Seventh grade was sixth grade desublimated, uncorked. It was Lord of the Rings trilogy to sixth grade's The Hobbit, the real story at last, all the ominous foreshadowed stuff flushed from the margins and into view. It wasn't for children, seventh grade.(p. 116)
Brilliant stuff... he nails inner city public schools, but universally, much rings true - seventh grade especially... that might just be mankind at it's absolute cruelest. Throughout the stages of school, Lethem points out that no one stays the same, everyone's a moving target: "Dylan never met anyone who wasn't about to change immediately into someone else." And so the same goes for the ring, it seems to be changing, as it's bearer requires different powers as they change throughout. With all these moving targets, it's no wonder why people don't connect.

In the end, when Dylan's listening to Brian Eno in the car, he recalls a moment in high school where he tried to share a new Clash or Ramones album with his father and ask him:
"Do you hear it? How great it is? There's never been music like this!"
"Sure," he'd say. "It's wonderful."
"But do you really hear what I'm hearing? Can you hear the same song I do?"
"Of course," he'd say, leaving me perfectly unsatisfied, leaving the mystery unplumbed...
The book, as a whole, is about trying to find someone who hears the same song you do, and realizing you never will; or that, if you do, you'll never fully know it.

Click here for the playlist

The Amazing Adventures of Lethem and Chabon
James Frey's My Friend Leonard
Novel Soundtracks: Klosterman's Killing Yourself to Live
Novel Soundtracks: Hudgen's Drive Like Hell

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Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Midas touch

For such a quiet and unassuming musician/producer, Jon Brion's been in the news a bit lately. Kanye West recently announced he was calling on Jon Brion to work with him on some tracks on his next release. Meanwhile, Brion's production of Fiona Apple's latest (Extraordinary Machine) is in the midst of a ongoing battle with Sony to see it's proper release. Sony seems to think that the album doesn't have a marketable single and won't release it, but, much like the drama 4 years ago with Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, it's been leaked on the web and is getting serious buzz, much in thanks to Brion's production.

There are a couple musician/producers who have the Midas Touch in the music world today, and truly only one is as prolific is Jon Brion. Not only does he produce (the aforementioned Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann, Macy Gray, Rufus Wainwright, Robyn Hitchcock, Lisa Marie Presley, Eels, and many more) he's a great session musician that's called upon by many artists to give a song a more interesting spin w/ his instrumentation (Peter Gabriel, Beck, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Elliott Smith, Marianne Faithful, The Crystal Method, Melissa Etheridge, Mary Lou Lord, the list goes on and on!) Before that, he also was briefly members of the bands The Grays, Jellyfish and The Wallflowers. Brion brings a unique sound with him, mostly his use of the chamberlain. He's parlayed his sound into motion pictures with his great soundtrack scores to movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I Heart Huckabees, Magnolias, and Punch Drunk Love.

Here's a playlist of songs that have Jon Brion's hands all over them, and thus, are all unique pop masterpieces.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Lullabies left of the dial

Eli yawn
Originally uploaded by Drake LeLane.
I got to say, music targeted for children is pretty piss poor. I've been trying to steer clear of the straight and narrow here and veered off into some interesting sleeptime terrain.

Neil Young, Tom Waits, Red Red Meat, Tim Finn, Keb Mo, Iron & Wine, Ray Lamontagne.. these are artists I can get behind for shuteye time. Listen here or click here for the track listing.

Now before you get concerned that I'm exposing my lil' one to depressing music, I think it's healthy to hear lullabies sung from the perspective of a dying parent to his child (Tom Waits,) or from the perspective of a son singing to his dying mother (Tim Finn.) That's life, yo, and like previous post says, it happens.

Life Happens

It's been awhile since I regularly posted and I have to admit it's hard to get back into the groove.

I've been putting together plenty of playlists, and observing all sorts of nonsense and not doing anything about it. It hasn't felt right.

I mean, what postings are appropriate after mourning a loved one? When my sister died back in January, I took some time off and then posted about death everyday for a week or so. Can't pick at the scab like that again... so consider this the transition post. I'm declaring myself a sh*tstorm blog vet and this is the manual I'm working from.

"That's Life"

Monday, April 11, 2005

Bring back that LeRoy Brown

Well, I'm back after a wonderful week of celebrating the life of the late great LeRoy Brown, my larger than life grandfather.

I thought I'd post some great photos from his past. While viewing, listen to this playlist of some of his favorites (and some I think he'd get a kick out of.)

To the right here is a shot of him at age 17, in the sheep herding fields outside Bynum, MT. Looks ready to take on anyone, and prolly could.

And here's one a few years later, in his suit next to an old Model A, after moving to Whitefish, MT.

Now, this is quite a look... I feel like he's got an old machine gun hidden in that jacket somewhere, exept he's too darn thin to even hide a pencil.

He and his brothers Art and Jonn used to lay down some cash when they walked into a bar to cover damages before they even sat down. There are some great stories, and not all (but most) involve bar fights.

Brown-Wood Wedding '42
Originally uploaded by Drake LeLane.
After moving to Stumptown (Whitefish, MT.) he was tamed by a good Catholic girl (Winifred Wood) who took him on instead of becoming a nun. They married in '42.

In '44 he started working on the railroad (Great Northern) where he worked until retiring in '84.

Grandpa Brown was pretty proficient at so many instruments, it was pretty amazing. The accordion, the harmonica, the guitar and the fiddle to name a few I remember. He left me his harmonica, Hawaiian lap steel, and his father's fiddle, and I will treasure them always.

What's a Bristism?

Babies having babies?
Originally uploaded by Drake LeLane.
Last Saturday, before the Pope and my Grandpa passed away, we had a little get together to welcome Eli into the fold. Neither Bris nor Baptism.

My neice Gabby particularly had some fun saying hello to her new cousin.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Leroy Brown: 1920-2005

Gramps & Ma
Originally uploaded by Drake LeLane.
Like the good Catholic that my Grandfather was, he followed the path of the Pope and died this early evening.
He was 85.

He very well could have been the inspiration for the Jim Croce song ("Bad, Bad LeRoy Brown") standing at a muscular 6'4" in his prime, and the brothers Brown (all 6'4" and above) were apparently quite the badasses.

He was also known as the Silver Fox, with his hair going silver in his 30's.

Never got a chance to see his grandson Eli, but was cheered by the news of his arrival.

Will miss him very much.

Everyone knows "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" but I find this one from Queen more fitting:
"Bring Back that Leroy Brown"

Pope JPII 1920-2005

Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) died today in the Vatican. He was 84. (Playlist tribute)

JPII has had an enormous impact on Catholicism and the world. But he is not without his critics. He has been poet, mystic, philosopher, pastoral priest, evangelist and the first truly global Pope. Biographer George Weigel called him "not simply the man of the century but the prophet of the new millennium".

Few popes have been so prolific or productive. Only two in 2000 years have reigned longer than his 26 years, five months and 16 days. He's cannonized more saints (482) then any prior Pope. He's made 104 overseas missions, and covered a reported 1,247,613 kilometres in visiting 129 countries, the vast majority of which no pope had visited before. His legacy will be almost impossible to erode, let alone erase.

But there's always a flipside to legacies like this, and he could very well be called the Pope who won the world but lost the West, for in America and Europe the church has become increasingly irrelevant. The staunch insistence on traditionalism and the centralization of power has turned many away (myself included) from the church. It often has rendered the church's teaching irrelevant, as in the widespread disregard for the ban on contraception. In some parts of Africa and South America nuns, far from a bishop's supervision, hand out condoms to slow the spread of AIDS and poverty.

He's made overtures to other religions, namely Judaism. He's the first pope to visit a synagogue (1986) and in 2000, he visited Israel and prayed at the Western Wall. Having been born just 12 miles from Auschwitz, he has deeper empathy for the Jewish faith then any Pope has since Peter, which doesn't say a whole lot.

Since he's chosen all of the 231 cardinals that will select his successor, his intended momentum will be carried forward.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Happy Julian New Year

April Fool's Day
Did you know the origin of April Fool's day goes back to 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar (the Gregorian Calendar) to replace the old Julian Calendar? The new calendar called for New Year's Day to be celebrated Jan. 1. Many countries, however, resisted the change. In fact, some European countries held out for centuries (Scotland until 1660; Germany, Denmark, and Norway until 1700; and England until 1752).

According to the Julian Calendar, the new year happened on approximately April 1st, shortly after the vernal equinox. Those that celebrated the new year on April 1st were called fools. Hence the name.

Along with being called fools, the April new year suckers also were targeted with other pranks and games to see just how gullible they were, and thus was born the hijinks we see today.(I have no idea how The Onion can continue to celebrate it every single day... that's stamina!)

In conclusion... The Vatican will not declare the Pope dead until the calendar turns to April 2nd in Italy (3pm PST.)