January 19, 2010

OK Go’s new video and smartly-written missive

For all the backyard dancing and treadmill acrobatics, OK Go could sometimes dismissed as a silly pop band, but my experiences with their music leave me pretty sure that they’re anything but. Yes, they might like to dress up as a marching band now and again but really, who doesn’t? Their music is sleek, catchy, and literate.

So, I copied that embed code for their new video above from an open letter that whipsmart frontman Damian Kulash penned in the OK Go forums last night, all about why you can’t embed their videos on YouTube. He writes in part:

The catch: the software that pays out those tiny sums doesn’t pay if a video is embedded. This means our label doesn’t get their hard-won share of the pie if our video is played on your blog, so (surprise, surprise) they won’t let us be on your blog. And, voilá: four years after we posted our first homemade videos to YouTube and they spread across the globe faster than swine flu, making our bassist’s glasses recognizable to 70-year-olds in Wichita and 5-year-olds in Seoul and eventually turning a tidy little profit for EMI, we’re – unbelievably – stuck in the position of arguing with our own label about the merits of having our videos be easily shared. It’s like the world has gone backwards.”

I always find it fascinating to read musicians’ viewpoints about the industry and how the liquid maelstrom of the internet can affect things for good or for bad. The whole letter is worth a read.

Their new album Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky is stylish, breathy and clever.

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September 10, 2009

Monolith is this weekend!


The third annual Monolith Festival takes over the dramatically scenic crags of Red Rocks this weekend, with more music than you can shake a stick at or, say, run up and down a gazillion stairs for. You wouldn’t think it possible, but the organizers manage to fit five separate stages within the historic park, taking full advantage of the gorgeous views of Denver in the distance and the rosy rocks all around.

For the last two years, Monolith has packed in a sizable number of good artists, both well-known and fledgling newbies. This year is no different, with dozens of folks I want to see at what still feels like a boutique festival, in a very good way. You can get thisclose to the bands and get from stage to stage fairly easily (while toning your glutes — did I mention the stairs?). I plan to make the very most of my weekend this weekend — tickets are still available, and I think you should come too.

This year, Fuel/Friends contributor-pal Dainon is coming to the fest with me, to help cover all the goodness that is rarin’ to occur. We’ve each picked a handful of bands we are putting down as “can’t miss” on our Gigbot schedules. Who would you add? And why aren’t you coming? Oh, you are? Okay, good.


cymbalsHB: Simply from the band name Cymbals Eat Guitars, this Staten Island band had me at hello, before I even experienced their massively sweeping, shimmering music that alternates between chaotic lo-fi punk and the most enormous moments of Explosions In The Sky. There’s a lot of buzz behind this group after only a self-released album (it grew wings when Pitchfork named it Best New Music]. It’s like Chocolate Eats Guacamole, or Using Your Turn Signal Eats Long Hot Showers. I mean, if good eats good, you end up with something even more amazing, methinks. Let’s go see.

And The Hazy Sea – Cymbals Eat Guitars
[Saturday 5:40pm, WOXY.com stage]

KRS481_CDF142_outDM: There’s a reason why I saw Thao with The Get Down Stay Down three times in a row, three concerts in a row, three days in a row earlier this year (something I refer to as my own personal Three Thao Tour) … and it has to do with the honesty that accompanies a Thao Nguyen performance. She loses herself in her craft every single time she plays: the eyes shut and the guitar is wielded like a battle axe. Now that she’s got a new album on the horizon, with lots more shiny new songs to show off, this is an unequivocal no-brainer.

Bag of Hammers – Thao Nguyen
[Saturday 2:30pm, main stage]

frightenedrabbit-02-bigHB: I apparently like having my insides pulled out of me in devastating fashion. This makes me a good candidate for sorority girl in a slasher film or, since we’re actually talking in metaphors here, attending a Frightened Rabbit show. Fronted by a pair of literate brothers from Selkirk, Scotland, Frightened Rabbit released one of my favorite albums in 2007 and puts on a powerfully visceral, poundingly jangly, truly honest show. I will not miss this one.

The Modern Leper – Frightened Rabbit
[Saturday 3:30pm, main stage]

cotton-jonesDM: I hesitate to say I want to see Cotton Jones, only because it doesn’t seem like they’ve a rabid following, not that I can tell. I’d kinda sorta like to keep it that way, too. Liked ‘em when they were Page France but, with the organ in the mix, listening to their album is akin to filling my mouth with candy jawbreakers and not wanting to share. If you decide to show, just try and keep it down, yeah?

Blood Red Sentimental Blues – Cotton Jones
[Saturday 7:00pm, WOXY.com stage]

ok-goHB: Yes, OK Go does that genius dance in their backyard. Four years ago when that video came out, we didn’t have the luxury that we do now of sitting at a bar with friends watching it on an iPhone, as I did a couple of weeks ago. And guess what? It’s still marvelous. And I’ve always truly dug the sexy, driving pop sound of their music and its roots in semiotic intelligentsia (frontman Damian Kulash majored in it, and loves to create word images and twist a lyric so it rolls off the tongue just right). Dancing or no, this will be a really fun set to see.

You’re So Damn Hot – OK Go
[Saturday 4:45pm, main stage]

chromeo-coverDM: It seems like Fancy Footwork has been around forever now, right? Do you know Chromeo? Do you know they could prolly work you into a dancier, sweatier mess than Girl Talk? Did you know they lucked themselves straight into a time machine, picked up some sounds from both Hall and Oates in 1978 and polished them off for the rest of us to benefit from? Well, if you didn’t … you do now.

Fancy Footwork – Chromeo
[Sunday 8:45pm, Southern Comfort stage, also DJing the VIP/Opening party Friday night]

born-on-flag-day-deer-tickHB: Nothing about a band called Deer Tick can be mistaken for enchanted twee pop, or, as their MySpace page says, they are “0% indie rock. Believe it, butt-head.” There’s a good helping of rustic twang here, but not that this is a whistlin’ Dixie mullet-hunting way to spend an hour of your Sunday at Monolith. Think the old-time radio sounds of M. Ward (also on the bill this weekend) meets the rowdiest of The Felice Brothers but with a piercingly ragged, whiskey-soaked howl, and you’ll be on the right track.

Smith Hill – Deer Tick
[Sunday 7:00pm, WOXY.com stage]

edward-sharpe-the-magnetic-zeros-from-below-2009DM: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros are the new freak-folky Devendra Banharts of the festival. If their Dave Letterman network television debut taught us anything, it’s that all we need is love. And beards. And an absolute bare minimum of four tambourines.

40 Day Dream – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes
[Saturday 3:00pm, Southern Comfort stage]


[my pic up top from last year’s fest, poster by Mile44.com]

July 9, 2008

The Lovecats (covered) :: Go and throw all the songs we know into the sea

I do not love cats by any means. Kittens, sure, and I’ve met a few decent cats but their overall redeeming qualities were their dog-like traits. The musical Cats also is something I never ever need to see.

This is my own personal seventh circle of burning hell.

However recently I was listening to the fine new Luke Doucet album (loved the last one) and found myself enjoying the twangy creativity of his cover of the 1983 Cure song “The Lovecats.” It is a challenging song to cover, because it’s so weird that really only Robert Smith and his eyelinerness can pull it off. I shuffled around to the sexy OK Go version of it (noble effort), then Googled out a few others. So now you can hear the lines, “We should have each other to tea, we should have each other with cream” through a variety of different lenses. Including (?!) Paul Anka, as much as that makes your skin crawl.

The Lovecats – Luke Doucet
The Lovecats – OK Go
The Lovecats – Paul Anka
The Lovecats – Jamie Cullum & Katie Melua
The Lovecats – Tricky

The original: The Lovecats – The Cure

March 14, 2006

OK Go to Jail

Damian Kulash, lead singer of OK Go, was arrested last night in Orlando following a show when he apparently disobeyed a police officer’s order to move from the sidewalk in front of the House of Blues while he was chatting with the fans.

You can read the whole (actually humorous) story here, but the classic classic thing about it is that Damian was able to convince the arresting officer to watch the band’s genius backyard dance music video to “A Million Ways” on his computer while Kulash was in custody. Now that’s entertainment.

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January 24, 2006

OK Go see them on tour

OK Go is one of my pet bands of 2005 since they rocked my socks off in concert when they were touring with The Redwalls last summer. I’ve posted about OK Go before, and today got the good news that they just announced some new tour dates. They have intelligent, scathing lyrics and a really great, tight pop sound (handclaps abound), so you should take some time to see if they jive with you as well.

Oh Lately It’s So Quiet – OK Go
The boys get all falsetto Prince-throwback on this fabulous track. It’s sexy and a bit mysterious (about getting over an old flame) but still fun. “Darlin’, if you’re not here haunting me, I’m wondering whose house are you haunting tonight? Whose sheets do you twist, whose face you kiss…whose house are you haunting tonight?”

A Million Ways – OK Go
Please tell me that you have seen the dance video for this song (above) because it is sheer brilliance. Again, clincher lyrics do it for me on this cut:
“Sit back, matter fact,
teasing, toying, turning, chatting,
charming, hissing, playing the crowd.
Play that song again, another couple Klonopin
A nod a glance a half hearted bow.
Oh such grace, oh such beauty
and lipstick and callous,
and fishnets and malice.
Oh darling, you’re a million ways to be cruel.”

You’ve also gotta love the backing lyric to the chorus “One, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero cruel.” Baby, it’s as good as it gets.

I highly recommend both of their CDs, OK Go (2002) and Oh No (2005).

“…As for OK Go, they’ve spent January widening the rock-hole over the United Kingdom with a severely sold-out tour. America, it’s your turn now. (And look alive, Canada, because you’re next.):
Headlining Shows:
1/24 Brooklyn, NY–North Six
1/25 South Burlington, VT–Higher Ground
1/26 Providence, RI–Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel
1/27 Boston, MA–Paradise Rock Club
1/28 New Haven, CT–Toad’s Place

Supporting Controller.Controller:
1/30 Moncton, NB, CA–Manhattan
1/31 Halifax, NS, Canada–The Pavilion EARLY SHOW
1/31 Halifax, NS, Canada–Stage Nine LATE SHOW
2/02 Montreal, QC, Canada–Cabaret Music Hall
2/04 Kingston, ON, Canada–Grad Club EARLY SHOW
2/04 Kingston, ON, Canada–Grad Club LATE SHOW
2/06 Guelph, ON, Canada–Vinyl
2/07 Hamilton, ON, Canada–The Casbah
2/08 Waterloo, ON, Canada–Starlight

Supporting Motion City Soundtrack:
2/16 Milwaukee, WI–The Rave
2/18 Marquette, MI–Northern Michigan University
2/20 Lawrence, KS–Granada Theatre
2/21 Englewood, CO–Gothic Theatre (dang, I’ll be in Cali!)
2/22 Salt Lake City, UT–Lo Fi Cafe
2/24 Pullman, WA–Washington State University
2/25 Seattle, WA–Neumos
2/26 Portland, OR–Loveland
2/28 San Francisco, CA–Slim’s
3/02 Los Angeles, CA–Henry Fonda Theatre
3/03 Pomona, CA–Glass House
3/04 San Diego, CA–Soma
3/05 Tempe, AZ–Marquee Theatre
3/07 Austin, TX–Emo’s
3/08 Dallas, TX–Gypsy Ballroom
3/09 Houston, TX–Meridian
3/11 St. Petersburg, FL–State Theatre
3/12 Orlando, FL–House of Blues

Bonus Show:
4/21 Forth Worth, TX–Main Street Arts Festival–FREE SHOW

Sheck it out.

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December 7, 2005


So here is a bit more on OK Go, who I mentioned in my “Let’s spread the clap” post. No, OK Go does not have the clap (well, they might but that is really their business. I hope they don’t because they are all quite cute), but the title was a reference to the use of handclaps in their music, which is intelligent, catchy, and hip-shakin fun.

Some of you may have seen their genius backyard-dance video for the song A Million Ways, which I can only liken to a synchronized-swimming routine done on land, with the bass player doing the lip-syncing to the words. They also usually end their live shows with it. It is a thing of riotous beauty. (If the above link doesn’t work on your computer, you can select a different player at their homepage www.okgo.net).

Damian Kulash, lead singer of OK Go, wrote an interesting article in the New York Times yesterday morning (12/6/05), so I guess that means he is muy importante now. From the OK Go email update:

[Damian's] article is about DRM, or Digital Rights Management, which is industry shorthand for “the reason your computer stopped working after you bought the new CD by The Coral,” and shouldn’t be confused with IHY, or It Hates You, industry shorthand for “the reason your computer stopped working after you bought the new CD by Celine Dion.”

Damian’s article is called “Buy, Play, Trade, Repeat.” You’ll find it here, unless you’re one of those hip retro-ironists who insist on reading the actual paper, in which case you’ll find it on the Op-Ed page (industry shorthand for “opposite the editorial page”) next to an article by some boob named Wesley Clark, blah-blah-blahing about the Middle-something-East.

OK Go is playing a free show in Los Angeles on 12/14, and unfree shows in Columbus and Albany. For details check their website at www.okgo.net. If you live in one of these cities, definitely go check them out.

**Photo credit David Goldman, shot for Alternative Press at the Hotel 17 in NY

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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