Monthly Archives: March 2008

Photos: Caribou @ the Dise

Via OTD:

Caribou (aka, Dan Snaith, the self-taught, math pro, psychedlic-obsessed Canadian musician we interviewed recently) loves his light projections. Below, see photos from last night’s Caribou show at the Dise. Snaith’s self-created, kaleidoscopic light projections led to even trippier photos, and I increased the level of color-smashed artiness in Photoshop to make ’em extra far out for ya. Enjoy!


Caribou talks math and Zombies

Via OTD:

The Ontario-born, London-dwelling, math-whiz musician Dan Snaith has been kicking around the electronic music world since 2000, when he released an EP called People Eating Fruit, under the moniker Manitoba. Originally, music was a part-time gig, pursued on the side while Snaith taught and pursued a PhD in math. Just before earning that degree, he was forced to abandon his musical claim on Manitoba, when former Dictators frontman Richard “Handsome Dick” Manitoba decided to sue… even though, you know, Manitoba is the name of a Canadian province, and not just Handsome Dick’s. Luckily, Snaith got over it, and switched to Caribou after a meaningful LSD trip, then ditched math to make music his full-time job. His excellent, multi-instrumental 2007 album, Andorra (Merge), saw Snaith confidently wading into the world of 60s-referencing psych-pop music, and not in a bad way. He’ll play the Paradise with Fuck Buttons tonight, and he chatted with us last weekend, from the snowy roads of Canada (I meant to post this earlier, but I was held back by technical snafus – bummer!).

When asked about his political preferences in a recent interview with XXL magazine, DMX admitted he didn’t know who Barack Obama was. Do you consider yourself well-informed, in terms of world news?

That’s definitely shocking to me. I’m not the most informed, but I definitely can confirm I’ve heard of Barack Obama. If he hasn’t heard of Barack Obama he probably hasn’t heard of previous political leaders in the past decade or so.

You may be sick of this question, but there’s an obvious transition from psych-electronica to psych-pop on your latest album, Andorra. How did this come about?

It was one conscious decision to switch styles. In the past my music has been made by building loops on top of one another. I wanted to make pop songs with big melodies and not just a hypnotic kind of music. The last 3 of the 4 albums have been psych influenced. I like the ambition and the scope, big headspace music, rather than the stripped down post punky kind of sound. Im kind of a record nerd, so I’ve got piles of obscure psych rock bands that I might only like one or two tracks from. This last record, the Zombies were a big influence – they do this baroque psych pop – and they embodied a lot of what I wanted to do. That’s probably something that won’t continue. I’ve done what I wanted to do with that.

You studied and taught math for several years, but now you’re a full-time musician. Have you always juggled the two? Now that music is your full-time gig, do you ever miss math?

I‘m a nerd, and I just love learning about things so I ended up learning about both music and math. But there came a time when I had to make a decision. I’ve always wanted to be a musician. I don’t really miss math – I never do mathematics at all since I got my PhD. I grew up in such a mathematic environment – almost everyone in my family has a math degree – so I don’t feel entirely away from it.

Technically Caribou is your solo project; music created while you were holed up in your bedroom. But for live shows, you perform with other musicians. Why?

There’s four of us on stage. I do everything on the records myself. Doing it all day everyday is sort of something that makes more sense on my own, but the live thing is different – it’s better when it’s very much a collaboration.

Your albums are amalgams of instruments and sounds. How many instruments do you play personally?

I’d probably only say that I play piano well, but that’s an open ended question. Other instruments [on the album], I learn enough to get what I want out of them.

When did you start writing music?

I started playing piano when I was 5 but it didn’t really consume me till I switched teachers at 13 or 14, and they started to emphasize improvisation, and understanding how music fits together. It was a weird little town that I grew up in. The kids were into Rush and Yes, or the Grateful Dead so I was into that. But I was also into Aphex Twin, so my high school band was this terrible car crash of the two things. It sounded like a teenage misindulgence in music. But it was a good starting point in learning how to make music.

LISTEN: Caribou on MySpace

Panic! reviewed

Thoughts while listening to Panic at the Disco: Pretty. Odd. (Out yesterday! On Fueled By Ramen.)

Oh great. A shitty pop band decided to make a shitty album that sounds like (gasp!) a shitty version of the Beatles (or a vague grasp on the pop hooks of the Beatles – there are no references to “Tomorrow Never Knows”-type experimental weirdness here). John Lennon’s angry ghost will soon descend upon us.

Lyric: “I know it’s sad that I never gave a damn about the weather, and it never gave a damn about me.” The emo kids have run out of things to whine about, all they have left is the weather.

Funny: Brenden Urie’s voice can’t handle happy melodies, like on “That Green Gentleman.” He sounds… misplaced. Divided between laughing and crying. And like he doesn’t know how to not be moaning about something.

“I Have Friends in Funny Places.” Panic at the Disco has traveled back to 1920. And they still sound crappy. And oddly misplaced on this otherwise 60’s rip-off album.

Ah, there it is. “Northern Downpour.” A nice downtrodden ballad. Don’t try to stray from it, guys, it’s what you know.

Thought: at least Beatle-fying things appears to mean keeping the songs short. A few are under 2 minutes. It still feels like I’ve been listening to this album forever.

“When the Day Met Night” was written after listening to “I Am the Walrus.” And the verses are vaguely enjoyable. The chorus is glaringly sparkly and jingly, though; it might make listeners motion sick. “(“In the middle of summer!!! It was golden in the sky!!!”) It seems written for one of those movies parodying a 1970’s sitcom.

“The Piano Knows Something I Don’t Know” was written after listening to “Strawberry Fields.” The bells make me think of Christmas morning in the Grinch movie.

“Folkin’ Around.” Um, dude, what’s up with cramming these random songs in the cracks of this heaping mess of Beatles-wannabe tracks? I guess this is supposed to be vaguely country (not folk, you song naming geniuses, you), and it sounds like Urie accidentally stumbled into the Cantab one night, and a few regulars became so incensed that he would invade our collective ears with this crappy album, that they made him go on stage and sing a country-ish song. Then he quickly fled to the welcoming arms of Faneuil Hall!

Thought: what’s the tour for this going to be like? Teamed up with the Cirque du Soleil: Love crew?

Verdict: Well, file that under “never listening again.” Who knew the Beatles could be mangled so?

Non-crappy music listening for you: UNGDOMSKULEN.

Daily street art.

From the Phlog:

Yes, I know, I should rename this whole street art series something like “Sporadic Street Art Updates,” or “Sometimes daily street art.” Let’s just say I’m using the term loosely. This weekend I plan on visiting my favorite street art-related spot in town: the Wall in Central Square, so I can capture some photo updates of what’s going there. As I’ve mentioned before, the whole project began last October, when a who’s who of Boston and New York-based street artists threw their stuff all over the formerly boring brick outside of Central Kitchen (and on the roof, and other how-did-they-get-there? spots). Then, inevitably, shit fell down or was spray painted over with non-interesting “0’s,” etc. NOW there’s more art over the old art, this layer over that layer over that layer, so it’s spanned beyond just a street artist’s roll call – it’s a concentrated statement of what’s happening in cities all over the world, everyday. Here’s hoping it keeps going!

I don’t know a ton about today’s handpicked local artist, noirboston, but I’m a fan of his gold (and sometimes neon,) Scooby Doo zombie character-like stencils currently lining the streets of Boston with other familiar characters, like Nineta and Goldenstash, like Boston’s freaky, unofficial street art mascots, greeting you en route to wherever you’re going.

As for the non-local street artist du jour, Roadsworth‘s stuff seems to be popping up everywhere, from Amsterdam, to Montreal, to Quebec, to Berlin, if Flickr is to be trusted as a location source. Roadsworth’s shtick is using road markings as a base for his or her artwork, transforming crosswalks, manhole covers, and other common city staples into statements of inspired cleverness. This is a somewhat Banksy-ish tactic that I’ve written about before; and the artists who do this – use pre-existing environments a the catalyst for artistic ventures – are the some of the most interesting. It’s a means of changing expectations for what you might see on a daily walk – who doesn’t want to stumble across art right under their feet?

In Boston: noirboston


Photos by noirboston.

Not in Boston: Roadsworth



Photo by nomsaleena.


Photo by greynotgrey.


Photo by hobbes313.


Photo by François @ Edito.qc.ca.

Get synonymous, kids!


Photo by moi

The irony is that the current raison d’être of Roget’s Thesaurus — as the source of term-paper wordage for panicked college students (and some journalists), or all-knowing oracle for frustrated crosswordists — is the antithesis (opposite, antipodean) of what Peter Roget intended when he published the book’s first edition in 1852.

According to Boston-based writer Joshua Kendall’s new biography, The Man Who Made Lists: Love, Death, Madness, and the Creation of Roget’s Thesaurus (Putnam, 304 pages, $25.95), Roget felt his life’s mission was to “bring order to the world,” via “clear communication.” He believed the world’s salvation depended on a communal abstinence from using the same insipid (drab, bromidic) words all the time, and that’s probably still a noble mission in an age where “kthxbye” is perfectly acceptable in everyday conversation. But Roget wanted thesaurus users to consider language choice and concept carefully, rather than use the guide as the verbal equivalent of a fast-food drive-thru for people who want to sound more intellectual (sage, academic).

Read the rest here.

Phoenix blogs are down, so this can’t go up on the Phlog yet, unforch.

For those of you not at SXSW: If I may be so bold, I’d like to offer you a list of things to do this weekend (besides going to see Justice, or dancing your ass off at Hearthrob – which sounds like a tough decision for the types into those activities, aka moi), in flier form. LAB Boston is an unclassifiable Allston hotspot. I’d call it part clothing store, part art gallery, part party venue, and part space for graf artists to paint on semi-clothed women’s bodies on a Saturday afternoon. This weekend, they’re one year old and, of course, there’ll be a celebration:

artopening3-15-081.jpg

Sunday is obviously going to be mainly about consuming beer and claiming to be Irish for most Bostonians, but if you’re in the mood to do something cause-worthy for the sake of Boston’s independent film scene (and also drink more, and maybe catch a sneak preview of an awesome, not-yet-released movie), the crew behind Twelve, a film I wrote about for the Phoenix, are throwing a fundraiser shindig. The obligatory flier:

12fundflyer.jpg

There are other good things happening (not in Southie) on Sunday as well. A non-flier tidbit from my inbox:

READING AND PARTY: Sunday, March 16, 2008, 7pm, The Dirty Water Reading Series presents “Get Lucky”
“Get Lucky” is a St. Patty’s-themed reading at Grub Street Headquarters, featuring mad-libs of famous Irish writers and short readings by Sommer Browning, Steve Himmer, Nina MacLaughlin, and Felicia C. Sullivan. Organized by local journals Quick Fiction, Redivider, and Fringe, along with Black Ocean Press. Free food and drinks, plus door prizes. Come on down and have a pint!
FREE, Grub Street HQ, 160 Boylston Street

Nina MacLaughlin is a co-worker at the Phoenix, and a fantastic writer – check this awesome piece she wrote about Andre Dubus for last fall’s literary supplement.

And finally, Will will (sorry, had to do it) be DJing it up at ZuZu on Sunday around 10 pm – I’ve been eyeing up his record collection for months, and I can safely say the kid’s got good taste, and it’ll definitely be worth checking out.

Oh, and if you’re the “stay at home on the net”-type, maybe you should customize a shirt?

Au revoir!

Gnarls Barkley gets banned

 Posted this on OTD today:

Gnarls Barkley news abounds today. First, the oh-so-predictable happened: the album, aptly titled The Odd Couple, leaked. Yawn. Call us when a hugely anticipated follow-up album doesn’t leak. (Actually, Atmosphere might be able to pull it off. A recent e-mail from their publicist informed us that the only way for reviewers to listen to their newest record, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, is to head to one of the SXSW listening parties, or travel to Independent Label Group’s offices in NYC. That’s the kind of extreme leak prevention Always is talking about in those gross blue liquid test commercials.) Today, NME is reporting that GB’s video for “Run,” the first single from The Odd Couple, has been banned from MTV (huge bummer, because now we’ll have nothing to watch for the 45 minutes around 4 am or so, when MTV actually plays videos, except for the latest Rihanna song craze or whatever). From NME:

“It was deemed that the video for ‘Run’, which features a cameo appearance from Justin Timberlake, may trigger epileptic seizures with its strobe-like effects.

‘I don’t know exactly what’s going on, but we’re having issues,’ Danger Mouse told Billboard. ‘I think (the video) is cool. It works for me. But I’m not necessarily that easily seasick.'”

The video’s still everywhere online – including above, should we be posting a disclaimer or something? – so it’s not really a huge blow for the craaazzzyy duo – if anything, everyone’s rushing to YouTube now to watch the Timberlake-a-licious video, and then thinking really hard about whether they feel dizzy or anything. We just watched it and we feel ok – the song itself has all of the addictive deliciousness we hoped Gnarls Barkley’s St. Elsewhere follow-up would have, and pairs well with a frantic dance party – but we’re no experts on photogenic or photosensitive epilepsy. But, on a sensory level, it’s nothing like some of the crazy light and sound performances we caught a few weeks ago in Amsterdam (and we’ve been looking for an excuse to blog about), which also came with a disclaimer for those with epilepsy. A few photos:

The images above are from an experimental light/sound performance at an art gallery in Amsterdam, and a few nights later we experienced something similar at a packed, multi-level club called Paradiso. It was the tail end of the Sonic Acts festival, and the final act of the night, an italian multimedia artist called Tez, used “flickering video, in the form of abstract lights and color gradients, coupled with synchronized synthetic sounds, distributed in a surround quadrophonic system,” which, in more understandable terms, means glaring, shifting lights projected on a screen, and software-manipulated sounds leaking from extremely loud speakers – there was a large sign measuring the decibel levels. It was simultaneously totally strange and totally engaging – and maybe just a bit overwhelming. Who knew there was a connection between Italian experimental sonic weirdness, and American dance-pop?