Monday, October 27, 2008

Voting early tomorrow!

Best. Ever. I want to ride a unicorn too! Shame I am not in politics. Har har.


Regardless of who you plan on voting for this election season, it's obviously a very important race and one that many people are taking seriously and personally.  That said, do try to be respectful of others who may not share the same political views as you. A friend of mine came out of Kroger today to find a woman (a strong McCain supporter) bashing her shopping cart into his car repeatedly because it bore an Obama sticker.  When confronted she told him it was because he would be "Voting for a terrorist." 
Regardless of your viewpoint, engaging in physical or verbal attacks on people (or their cars, natch) is completely and totally unnecessary. These displays of allegiance will never change opinions and only put a negative face on the candidate or ideal that you are, in fact, trying to support. So lets be respectful, tolerant, and, if you choose to go out fighting the good fight, be informed. 
Wish me luck tomorrow! Give me good vibes for short lines.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Songs to Obsess Over, Case file #1: Chairlift- "Bruises"

Ok, Apple. You win this round. I cannot for the life of me get "Bruises" by Chairlift out of my head.


Despite it's iPod hock-ability, "Bruises" is one of the best indie-pop tunes I have heard ALL YEAR. No, I am not exaggerating. Although I didn't care for the commerical "edit" the first few times around, the full length is a giddy pop tune that is unbelieveably cute on the surface, but still surprisingly substantive. Caroline Polacheck's lithe voice hops atop a danceable beat...and couldn't be more perfect for this song. A quirky love song, "Bruises" captures a snapshot so vividly it tells an entire story

Regardless, any song that cries the lines "Got bruises on my knees for you/ Got grass stains on my knees for you/ Got holes in my new jeans for you" is pretty alright by me. Kinda reminds me of someone I used to know (that person being me).

The tune is lifted from the recently released Does You Inspire You (Kanine Records) and the group is currently on the road with 2007 big buzzers Yeasayer.

I gota say though, good as it is, the song still doesn't make me want one of the new iPod Nanos. So I guess I'm the real winner here.

White turtley updates!

White Turtle Mochas are great on a Sunday morning, I must say.  This one certainly makes up for my getting up so early today. Woot woot.

Anyway, for those of you that follow my writing, my interview with The Presets went up this past week on Stereo Subversion.  Unfamiliar with The Presets? They're a dance/techno duo from Australia who recently finished up a U.S. tour alongside Cut Copy (who are pretty awesome) and, for you 90s grungeheads out there, the group also has some ties to Silverchair. Although not one of my best interviews of late--Kim Moyes was under the weather and I wasn't in top Natalie shape--we still managed a few laughs and it was interesting to feel out the group's dichotomies of fame and musical style. And they also have an interesting definition of "funky." Check it out.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Katy Perry eel?

2008's favorite non-Disney pop tart (and my recent cover story subject), Katy Perry, has recorded a cover of uber-buzz band MGMT's dance groove "Electric Feel". The KP version features the pop starlet's voice over acoustic guitar and some obligatory keys. One of's "Top 25 MGMT Remixes" (even though it's not, technically, a remix), the remake isn't anything groundbreaking, but it is a pretty fun (and can we say unexpected?) take on the track. Get the goods, here.

Guess what I'm up to today!

This sign is down the street from me. There's not much to say about it (as the economic downturn has been blogged ad nauseam) but thought I'd share. 

In other news- sorry if you're reading this blog on Safari or IE. I messed around with the theme and, although it looks PERFECT in Firefox, people using less awesome browsers have the background and text overlap, which should not be the case. I'm working on fixing it so everything should be a-ok in the next day or so. Yay! Technology!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cover Man Witmer

I recently had the chance to interview Denison Witmer for a spotlight in the November issue of Athens Blur.  He is one of the most down-to-earth musicians I have ever had the pleasure of speaking with (and I think he may be one of the nicest guys out there, too).

His latest collection of well-penned, 70s-inspired folk tunes, entitled Carry the Weight (via The Militia Group), hits stores on November 11th. Being a total cover-song geek (and a big Witmer fan), I was ecstatic to find that Witmer had launched into a covers project with the aim of recording and releasing one cover song each week leading up to the new album's release. Cool, no? Songs can be downloaded on a per-week basis--for FREE--via Witmer's MySpace and for any weeks you may have missed (or if your computer hates the new MySpace music player like many others do), the entire project can be found at the Cover Lay Down blog on an ongoing basis. So far he's covered songs by Bonnie Raitt ("I Can't Make You Love Me"), Oasis ("Champagne Supernova"), Red House Painters ("Have You Forgotten"- which is one of my all-time favorite songs), Van Morrison ("Comfort You") and Band of Horses ("Is There a Ghost").

The neatest thing about Witmer's current covers project is that they aren't overdone. Recorded live in different rooms of his house featuring just vocals and guitar, the tracks have an incredible sense of intimacy and spontenaiety, working songs like "Champagne Supernova" and "Is There a Ghost" into entirely new forms. If they don't sound overly complicated, it's because they're not. Witmer explains: 
 "I just go from my record collection and whatever strikes me. If I find myself walking around the house humming something, I’ll go, “Oh, well I’ll see if I can figure that out.” That’s what I’ve been doing and it seems to be working."
Unlike Recovered, Witmer's  2003 influence-heavy covers album, the tunesmith says he chooses these songs just for fun, regardless of how well they turn out, more as an exercise to get him out of his own recording ruts and issues with semi-perfectionism.
 "I’m just trying to pick really random songs that I like and play them and see if they actually work. And I don’t really know if they do. I’m just putting them out there and if people like them, great. It’s just as well if they don’t. I don’t really mind, but it’s really fun for me to play other people’s melodies and think about why people make those different choices."
So, check out the covers and pick up Carry the Weight when it hits stores in November. For anyone out there unfamiliar with Witmer's previous work, get your paws on a copy of 2002's Philadelphia Songs as well. Not only was it the subject of the first CD review I ever had published, it's also an incredibly beautiful and heartfelt collection of songs. Get on it!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Back to back...

Haven't seen me in awhile?  I've been a busy bee..
Back-to-back cover stories on Katy Perry and Kings of Leon for Athens Blur magazine!  For those of you not living in Athens who can't get your hands on copies of the mag, these stories are up on my portfolio. Both were a lot of fun to write and were interesting stories to tell. I'll cop to Katy Perry being a guilty pleasure (have you not heard "Hot and Cold"? I can't get that song outta my head!) and, I gotta say, I'm impressed with how far Kings of Leon have come. I caught the band live years ago opening for The Stokes (with an as-yet-unheard of Regina Spektor!) and although their live show was spot-on, it's not until their most recent albums that the band has really hooked me. It's interesting what trading in strong southern rock roots (and coifs!) will get you. 

Anyway, if you live out in UGA country, do pick up a copy of the mag. It's free, it's pretty and it has a lot of fun articles (besides mine *shameless grin*). 

Also, for those that follow the publications I write for, the folks over at Stereo Subversion just pulled off a snazzy site redesign. Go check out the goodness over there and wish them a happy belated 1 year anniversary! The editor there is a super guy and he's done a wonderful job with the site in such a short time. 

Nat-attack out!


Hey everybody! So if you haven't noticed, I've swapped WordPress for Blogger. Nice, eh? The change, in all honesty, was purely for cosmetic reasons. Using Blogger I was able to edit this here blog to make it match my super-cute website and add widgets to incorporate both Twitter and as easily and often updated content. So I was able to calm my OCD (Everything needs to match. Except socks, of course) and add a few fun things that will hopefully get me back in the swing of things.

Remix, Remix, Remix

[Originally posted September 9, 2008]

I’m not a huge fan of remixes, but they are so popular these days they are hard to ignore. Today, fans can download a free Remix EP of three tracks from The Raveonettes 2008 disc Lust, Lust, Lust.

The Raveonettes REMIXED is just the first in a series of four digital-only EPs by the band to be released via Vice Music through the end of the year. Although touted as releases that “twist the familiar Raveonettes sound,” I suspect it’s a ploy to remind fans and journalists of the group come time for end of the year lists. (Sneak Peak: Lust, Lust, Lust will probably appear on mine!)

Following today’s release will be Sometimes They Drop By on September 23, an as-yet-titled EP in a similar vein on October 21 and one on November 25th that will feature the band’s “modern nostalgic” take on some Christmas songs. Cool Christmas music? No way!

As for The Raveonettes REMIXED, the three tracks (“Dead Sound”, “Aly, Walk With Me”, “Lust”) render their originals virtually unrecognizable, with the exception of the hookyness (well, it should be a word, spellcheck!) of “Lust”. Really, there’s nothing magical here—although it is interesting to hear markedly different takes on some great songs—but you can’t argue with free. Eat it up here.

The Raveonettes REMIXED track listing:
1. Dead Sound (80KIDZ remix)
2. Aly, Walk With Me (Nic Endo remix)
3. Lust (Trentemøeller Remix)

Axl Rose 1, Internet 0

[Originally posted August 28, 2008]

According to the AP, the blogger who leaked nine new Guns N' Roses songs on his blog back in June has been arrested. From the article:
A blogger suspected of streaming songs from the unreleased Guns N' Roses album "Chinese Democracy" on his Web site was arrested Wednesday and appeared in court, where his bail was set at $10,000.
FBI agents arrested 27-year-old Kevin Cogill on Wednesday morning on suspicion of violating federal copyright laws. Cogill appeared in court in the afternoon wearing a T-shirt; his girlfriend sat court and afterward said, "Rally the troops," but declined further comment.

Federal authorities say Cogill posted nine unreleased Guns N' Roses songs on his Web site in June. The songs were later removed.

In later posts, Cogill wrote that the FBI had questioned him and asked his readers if any of them knew a good attorney. He was represented Wednesday by a federal public defender.

According to an arrest affidavit, Cogill admitted to agents that he posted the songs on his Web site. Prosecutors said Wednesday the leak could result in a "significant" financial loss for the band.
“Significant” financial damage for the band? If Axl Rose and Co. were worried about financial damage, they would’ve released the damn thing years ago. At this point, nobody is going to be swayed to buy or not buy the album based on a few songs posted online (that were removed later, I might add).

Using the internet is a large part of music marketing these days, with many high-profile albums being streamed for free via MySpace and other similar outlets the week prior to release. Although these tactics may be more beneficial to smaller, lesser known bands, Guns N' Roses should be glad that people still care at all—especially after Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum were no longer on board.

Axl Rose should be thanking Cogill for adding to the Chinese Democracy hype when most people are over the delay drama. If they only had forced him to remove the songs, that would've made enough of a ripple--The songs really do exist!!--to give the band some press.

Did Cogill break the law? I guess. Does he deserve to be arrested? I think not. Most bands make the majority of their money touring, endorsements and in song licensing and placement, NOT on album sales. Guns N' Roses are not excluded from this. If I had numbers of how many people were able to stream the songs Cogill posted, I'd have a better idea of the so-called damage. But, seeing as the songs were only up for a short amount of time, I doubt it will have that great of an impact on the throngs of GN'R fanatics, 80's metalheads, burnt out rockers, ironic indie kids and just curious music listeners in general from hitting up Best Buy or iTunes the day the album hits stores.

Really, it just comes out to the fact that Axl Rose needs to get his everloving shit together and put out the long-awaited album. This wouldn't even be an issue if people didn't care. They do. He might as well give them what they want, and, after such a lengthty and somewhat periled hiatus, be lucky there's still an audience at all.

Besides, I know a few people who wouldn't mind a free Dr. Pepper.

Whole lotta travesty

[Originally posted August 26, 2008]

Did anyone catch the Olympics Closing Ceremonies? I only came in towards the end, but, man, what a frightening sight. Specifically the performance of Leona Lewis with Jimmy Page. Seriously, what?

Now, I get that London would want to be represented by some of their most iconic faces and sounds. According to the broadcast, Leona Lewis has topped the charts in some 25 countires, so it is logical for her to be hidden within that mock double-decker bus. And Jimmy Page is a rock hero, so no explanation is even needed.

The execution, however, was awful. Leona Lewis sounded terrible and, although he can still play like nobody's business, Page looked like an old guy trying to rock out too hard. They both appeared and sounded incredibly uncomfortable there upon the world's stage.

But, really, the biggest blight on the entire performance was the song. What the hell does "Whole Lotta Love" have to do with the Olympic games? The song is easly a glorified ode to Robert Plant's manly parts--my mind does not exactly reside in the gutter, here. "I'm gonna give you every inch of my love." Really, what do you think that's about? Trading a baton in a relay race? I think not.

The inclusion of David Beckham kicking the soccer ball was the only thing that seemed to make sense (y'know, the Olympics are about sports). Otherwise the entire number felt like something on par with the Grammys. There was lots of flash, an odd team-up and it felt like little more than a ratings grab. Hopefully the 2012 Opening Ceremonies will get their inspiration elsewhere.

You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Hungry

[Originally posted July 17, 2008]

I asked if I could pick up a $5 footlong and put it in his mouth just long enough to take a picture. I'd even clean it up and everything! They said no.

Digging through the backlogs...

[Originally posted July 19, 2008]

The first interview I ever did was with the Dandy Warhols back in 2003. It was just after the release of Welcome to the Monkey House and their solo tour stopped in Atlanta (at the now defunct Cotton Club) where they put on an awesome three-hour show.

Looking back, I was still pretty naïve about some things (I was a very young 20 years old), but incredibly intuitive about others. I asked great, well-researched questions and everything went really well, much to my surprise. It is still the only tour bus I’ve ever been on.

I also got stopped at the door, and their manager had never heard of me. Somehow, after several desperate phone calls and pleas to the powers that be, I made it work. I got the interview and was able to bring my sister and good friend Phil into the show with me. It wouldn’t be the first time, though, that there would be problems, but that was just another reason why it was a great learning (and life) experience. Especially since I was so determined. I almost think I had more balls back then than I do now, which is shocking to think back on.

Most of all, I was honest. I walked in, nervous as hell, and just admitted it was the first interview I’d ever done. And I’m glad I did it. It was an important lesson: always be honest and be yourself. Chances are, they will be too.

Now, the article I wrote certainly has its flaws—cheese, grammar mistakes—but the prose is better than some of the printed articles that followed it. Reading it again so many years later, it still captures so much of that night so that I can again picture it clearly in my head. I have been more displeased with articles I’ve written in the past 12 months than I am of that article. Well, almost.

The poster from that show still hangs on the wall in my living room and I still keep tabs on the buttons they gave me—one of every kind they had to go on the super-emo purse I carried at the time. They’re good reminders of where I started, and where I still want to go.

Read the article here.

Music for Money

[Originally posted July 14, 2008]

Ever wanted to hear your name on record? In a comedic/metal track no less? Well, now is your chance.

Now, I don’t know who the band Psychostick is (apparently they do a song about beer?), but they raise an interesting issue. According to a press release, the band plans to help fund their recording time by soliciting donations from fans in the amount of $50 and, in return, will mention the fans by name in a song, working titled “400 Thank Yous,” to appear on said album.

This video can explain it a little better than I can:

So for anyone hankerin’ to get their name on disc, Psychostick are accepting donations through September 30. Businesses can also get in on the action for $250, and their website is keeping track of all the action.

While name dropping everything from Courvoisier to cars in popular tunes is anything but new, Psychostick is the first underground act that I’ve heard of to do so. Granted the money will be used simply for recording expenses (which, I doubt was Kanye West’s motivation), it follows this unsettling industry trend.

Music is commerce, sure, but it’s also an art form. Although I can completely understand why Psychostick has made this decision—despite popular opinion, most of the bands I’ve spoken with <i>are<i> incredibly poor—I can’t say I’m always in favor of it. Psychostick at least scores some points for being upfront about their dealings, and asking for their fans to take part. Artists namedrop for a reason, and it’s a big fat dollar-sign. Anyone who thinks otherwise is simply naive.

Hero in a half shell

[Originally posted July 12, 2008]

I found a turtle in my parents' yard this morning.

I wonder where he was going. I wonder if he knew. Sometimes I don’t.

Not so festive

[Originally posted July 10, 2008]

I hate festivals. There is nothing less awesome about a live show than thousands of people hanging around catching sets for bands they don’t really even care for.

For example, exhibit A:
It’s Bonnaroo 2006. Radiohead is playing their headlining show. I am totally stoked and super-excited until the entire group of about 15 people beside my friend and I begin to discuss how much Radiohead sucks and that nobody is there to see them. Instead of leaving, they proceed to yak about it for the entire rest of their set. So cool of them.
[As a side note, Radiohead is one of the biggest, best and most influential bands on the planet, so I think there were a little off on that one.]

ANYWAY, Yesterday I hit up the Warped Tour. I had specific work-related reasons for going (and those worked out) but overall I was somewhat unimpressed. With a few exceptions, I hardly saw anybody actually seem excited about being there. It made me profoundly sad.

So in addition to unenthused audiences, add in crappy sound and the fact that most of the time you can hardly even see the band. Woo hoo! Rock and ROLLLLLLLLLL!!! Yeah.

Warped 2008 did have its highlights. We got to catch an acoustic set by Cobra Starship in the press area. Though I am pretty unfamiliar with the band, it was a pretty entertaining thing to catch, and a lot more whimsical than the acoustic press-only set by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah braintrust Alec Ounsworth than I caught during Bonnaroo ’06. It was nice break from the lengthy distance that plagued the rest of the day.

Now, I’m not elitist enough to say that I won’t attend shows larger than the smallest of venues (I like it when bands I enjoy finally get their due), however I prefer concerts where you get a chance to connect somewhat with the band. If I want to hang out with my friends and goof off, I pick up a bottle of something and invite everybody over and consult my iTunes. Not go to shows and disrespect the band and others in the audience.

Or maybe I’m just getting too old for this shit? Nah…

America's got....something

[Originally posted July 9, 2008]

I don't have cable.

I’ve never been that big of a “T.V. person.” I always prefer to be out and about, doing something instead of being entertained by a big shiny box. So, throwing money every month for an abundance of channels just seems like a waste.

The downside, though, is that when I do feel like vegging out are only a handful of channels to choose from, half of which always seem to show infomercials—the lack of cable cannot stop the power that is HSN!—or televangelists. So, on a Tuesday night in what do the TV gods have for me? That’s right. America’s Got Talent, baby!

First off, for those of you who have never caught this lovely trainwreck, it’s a talent contest a la American Idol. There are judges, a host and open auditions. Only, unlike Fox’s filthy juggernaut, AGT contestants range from singers to pole dancers to baton twirlers and what the fuck was that?!?!

But that’s not the best part. Like any good reality contest, there are the perfect has-been judges: Sharon Osborne, David Hasselhoff and Piers Morgan as the trademark Brit (did I mention the show is produced by Simon Cowell?). So we’ve got absurd American talent being judged by two people from the U.K. and The Hoff (who, sadly, America wouldn’t really want to claim). Oh! And it’s hosted by Jerry Springer. So fabulous.

Now see why I love this show?

You get to see The Hoff get turned on by every contestant (maybe you don’t want to see that…), Sharon Osbourne love almost everybody and Piers do his best impression of Cowell. And America’s oddities are on display for all to admire, laugh at or hide from. Art it certainly isn’t, but it sure is trash television at its most entertaining.

My Aim is True

[Originally posted July 1, 2008]

"Writing about music is like dancing about architecture. It's really a stupid thing to want to do." -Elvis Costello

It may seem strange that this is one of my favorite quotes. I am a music journalist, after all, but I have to say that decision has served me well so far. I love this quote, though, because it reminds me what I love about this job.

To me, music journalism is about more than "writing about music." It’s about the people behind it and the people it touches. It’s about the stories behind the songs, and the stories that happen because of them. It’s about how it changes the artist and the listener. It’s about picking the brains of some of the most talented and interesting people in the public eye.

It’s also fucking awesome.

However, even the best critics would be remiss to say that they write exclusively about music (and the best critics probably never would). In my mind, it is impossible to be a rock scribe and discuss only the sounds. Reviews that only comment on instrumentation and lyrics, without discussing the greater implications for the band, album or listener, would be bland, dull, boring. As Radiohead claims, anyone can play guitar. What’s important is why, how, and what makes any band or album great. It doesn’t always come down to technical skill (in fact, in my experience this is rarely the case).

You don’t have to be the best player or singer to change the entire face of music. Just ask John Lydon,

So I disagree with Elvis Costello in saying. Writing about music is undoubtedly a challenge—how do you translate sound and feeling into words?—but at its best it says something about people: who the artists are who create it and who we are for loving it. And that is a pursuit well worth the effort.

So welcome to dancing about architecture. Get ready for music, culture and random thoughts.