Friday, April 16

Lost Friday - "Everybody Loves Hugo."

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Season 6 - Episode 12: "Everybody Loves Hugo."

Another Lost Friday is upon us. We have very little to discuss.

So, I'm calling a quasi-audible this week for a couple of very good reasons. First off, 'Everybody Loves Hugo' functioned in a mainly utilitarian function, which is to say that it set things up more than it answered anything tangible. These episodes happen with frequency as Lost nears a season (or in this case, series) finale, so we're left to play it as it lies, knowing that they have something fantastic in store for us next week.

Secondly, I attended a Q&A with Lost Co-Executive Producers (and UW alums) Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz on Wednesday night, for which I was asked to write an article for Dane 101. For Lost fans, this was a rare and special opportunity, so I'm digging in this weekend to poop out the report proper (I'll link to it on Monday when it goes live; HERE'S a pretty good news video of the festivities).

Before anyone asks, I was indeed drunk when I attended, so I hope that you didn't try to talk to me if you ran into me that night. I took legible notes, though.

So, this week's Lost Friday might be meager, but I have a good excuse and you'll get a neat story out of it next week. Let's go.

ALTERNATE TIMELINE (2004):

Hurley’s using his lottery money in a humanitarian fashion. Libby runs into him and tries to convince him that they know each other from an alternate life, but she’s a mental patient, so the conversation doesn’t sink in too well. Desmond, who’s on a mission to show the 815’ers the light, convinces Hurley to give Libby another chance. On their date, Hurley and Libby kiss, to which Hurley begins to remember his alternate life. Meanwhile, Desmond attempts (but doesn’t succeed) to kill substitute teacher John Locke, assumingly because he realizes what he will become.

PRESENT-DAY TIMELINE (2007):

Hurley's Group:

Ilana and company heads to the Black Rock for dynamite to destroy the Ajira plane. Ghost Michael appears to Hurley and tells him not to do such things. Ilana insists that by destroying the Ajira plane, the Black Smoke will be unable to leave the Island. Just then, the unstable dynamite explodes and kills Ilana. Before anyone notices, Hurley goes through Ilana’s things and takes Jacob’s ashes.

As the group is headed back to the Black Rock for more dynamite, Hurley sabotages the mission by blowing up the Black Rock entirely. He claims that by doing this, he’s protecting people. Richard throws an honest-to-God spazz fit and heads off to the Dharma barracks for whatever explosives he can find. Hurley, Jack, Frank and Sun go to speak with Locke. On the way, they hear the whispers, to which Hurley finds out what they mean. According to Michael, the whispers are of those who ‘cannot move on.’

Locke's Group:

Locke is waiting for Hurley, Jack and Sun to show up, as they’re not able to leave the Island unless everyone is together. Later on, Locke and the newly-acquired Desmond go for a walk. They go to a well, where Locke talks about how the builders were looking for answers. Locke states that Widmore isn’t looking for answers, but power. After Locke questions as to why Desmond doesn’t seem afraid, he goes and tosses Desmond into the well, just for the hell of it.

Back at camp, Hurley, Jack, Frank and Sun show up, to Locke’s delight.

Smash cut; blah-bloo-blee.

Shazam; we're outta here! Sound off in the comments section, enjoy your weekend and cuddle up with the following links while we're apart. More Mix-Tape reviews next week, too!

Season 6 - Episode 1/2.
Season 6 - Episode 3.
Season 6 - Episode 4.
Season 6 - Episode 5.
Season 6 - Episode 6.
Season 6 - Episode 7.
Season 6 - Episode 8.
Season 6 - Episode 9.
Season 6 - Episode 10.
Season 6 - Episode 11.
I'm On Twitter.
I'm On Facebook.
Surviving 815.

Thursday, April 15

CDP Mix-Tape Trade 7 Wrap Party (Part 3).

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CREATOR - Cargirl

ARTIST
- Andrew Bird

WHO IS HE?
- A one-man, Indie-Chamber-Folk-Pop-Orchestral band. Full-time multi-instrumentalist. Part-time noble beast.

200 WORDS OR LESS
- Cargirl sent me a jam-packed two-disc set, covering essentially all of Bird's career. The Chamber-Pop moniker is cringed upon at times, but the plucking strings, swelling choruses and tinkling backgrounds leave you with no other suitable descriptor (a style I feel that Matt Pond has nearly perfected over the course of a decade). Carly had told me that there were large amounts of strings (especially violin) in Bird's work (while I was familiar with him, I hadn't dug too much into his body of work). She was more than right; I'd venture to say that Bird's work is 'violin-driven,' which is more of a compliment than anything (you can almost smell the stained oak). The music perfectly suits his soaring vocal melodies.

It's depressing music. Uplifting music. Chill-out music. Music to fall in love to. Music that's open to interpretation. It's beautiful music, plain and simple.

CREATOR - Brian

ARTIST
- Venus Infers

WHO ARE THEY?
- A very modern, new-school band that draws upon the boozy, guitar-soaked pop of the past.

200 WORDS OR LESS
- When I receive a Mix from Brian, I feel as if I'm being passed sensitive information. Unmarked packages, no jewel case or liner notes; just the facts, and nothing more that could possibly tip off the fuzz and send us all to the clink. While I usually find this cool, it was a hindrance because I was really digging Venus Infers, and I have absolutely no idea what the names of any of these songs are.

The sexual energy, Arctic Monkeys-like verses and Mando Diao-esque earworm hooks are absolutely everywhere; this is a band that knows how to write a universally-ass-shaking tune. The alternate male/female vocal duties blend seamlessly, and the production is squeaky clean. This is music that makes you want to call up your friends, make some drinks and turn it up as loud as possible while playing Scrabble with all the windows in the house open until eventually nobody can spell anymore and we all crash in the living room until Sunday morning.

Too specific?

CREATOR - Mike Hoss

ARTIST
- David Bazan

WHO IS HE?
- Singer/Songwriter, former lead singer of Pedro The Lion and Headphones, now an on-the-rocks Christian going at it alone (professionally and spiritually).

200 WORDS OR LESS
- I've always liked David Bazan. Former CDP Alumni Let's Eat Paste recommended Pedro The Lion to me back in 2004, and it was a worthwhile discovery. Like Hoss says, Christian or Agnostic, "Bazan's songs remain the same--honest, gritty and full of indie self-examination."

What Hoss may not know is that, when me and the Missus started seeing each other back in late 1999, we were both self-described 'Christians.' In fact, one of the main things that we did together was attending the annual LiFest in Oshkosh (still the best festival I've ever been to; pizza and soda were always a dollar a slice/can and everything was always really clean, one girl got killed on one of those slingshot rides, though, so that was sad).

Sure, we got older and our views changed, but that was an era of some really, truly, seriously good 'Christian' music; Bazan and Pedro The Lion being near the top of that list. I'd recommend Bazan's work to damn-near anyone.

CREATOR - Reese

ARTIST
- The Smart Set

WHO ARE THEY?
- A wild supergroup of brilliant minds from all over the pop music world (Emma Burgess, The English Beat, The Goo Goo Dolls, The Specials).

200 WORDS OR LESS
- Wow, this is NOT what I had expected. Considering what I had heard about The Smart Set, the pedigree of the musicians involved and what I've seen concerning Reese's taste in music, I was expecting something in the Two-Tone, Second-Wave Ska, Mod vein. And I was excited about this; don't get me wrong.

However, what I got was the beautiful voice of Brandi Emma drifting elegantly over trip-hop, electronica, lounge and alt-country from all directions. On one track, she sounds like Dusty Springfield, on the next, I could swear she was Madonna. The interweaving of genres is phenomenal, all while retaining their sultry, highbrow mood.

It's always great to be taken by surprise by music, and due to my somewhat-incorrect preconceived notions, The Smart Set did just that. I really enjoyed this Mix.

Wednesday, April 14

CDP Mix-Tape Trade 7 Wrap Party (Part 2).

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CREATOR – TJ

ARTIST – Bob Dylan

WHO IS HE? – Just the most revered and well-known American songwriter of all-time.

200 WORDS OR LESS - TJ did something interesting here, opting to create a career-spanning disc of Dylan covers instead of the original recordings (with the exception of two wonderful master recordings). This makes perfect sense to me. When you’re talking about a guy like Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen, the ‘Songwriter’ portion of the ‘Singer/Songwriter’ moniker should probably be underlined.

There’s not much more I can say that hasn’t already been said about Dylan, but his reach throughout the world of American music can be felt by the breadth, multiple genres, multiple decades and myriad styles of artists that respected the man enough to cover his brilliant material. Furthermore, the cover art and liner notes are really nice looking.

What’s also nice about an artist like Dylan is that there’s always something new to discover. Even for longtime fans, there’s always going to be an obscure B-side or live bootleg that pulls you right back in.

CREATOR – Eric

ARTIST – Lou Reed

WHO IS HE? – Principal singer, songwriter and guitarist for The Velvet Underground, also boasting a massive solo output that has spanned five decades.

200 WORDS OR LESS - Anyone who knows anything about Lou Reed knows that his style and body of work hit just about every far-reaching corner of the spectrum. Similarly to TJ, Eric decided to Mix a healthy dose of originals and covers (makes sense that they would have the same idea; they’re married). Unlike Dylan, however, I much more preferred the Reed original tracks than the covers. Some songs were meant to be covered and shared until the end of time, and some songs just don’t sound right unless they’re blasted through amps by the person that wrote them.

The older I get, the more I find myself coming back to the Velvet Underground, and subsequently back to Lou Reed. And hey, there are worse things that could happen to you as you start to age, right?

CREATOR – Celia

ARTIST – Sean Tillman

WHO IS HE? – The mastermind behind noise-rockers Calvin Krime, Indie geniuses Sean Na Na, and Pop ridiculousness Har Mar Superstar.

200 WORDS OR LESS - Sean Tillman is a genius, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in a pudgy, pear-shaped body that cannot resist removing his clothes. His songwriting prowess took him from the Dischord-esque noise band Calvin Krime to the folk-rock brilliance of Sean Na Na, where he boasted a tremendous body of solid and fantastic work (I heartily approve anything by Sean Na Na).

From there, he decided to put the band on hiatus while he put on 100 pounds and transformed himself into Har Mar Superstar, where he has seen his largest amount of mainstream success, now using his songwriting chops in a more Pop-influenced manner (Har Mar is sort of a joke, but he backs it up with truly radio-worthy tracks). Throughout it all, though, Tillman cannot shake his talent. His instantly-recognizable voice coupled with his wry, Craig Finn storytelling is good no matter what the genre is.

CREATOR – Bubba ‘Levi’ Greenacres

ARTIST – They Might Be Giants

WHO ARE THEY? – A nearly-unclassifiable duo of cult heroes that have amassed a dedicated following behind decades of music that can only be described as the definition of ‘Alternative.’

200 WORDS OR LESS - Monty Python. Ween. The Kids In The Hall. Mystery Science Theater 3000. Andy Kaufman. When it comes to human beings, there are two distinct types; those that get it, and those that do not. The music of They Might Be Giants falls squarely into the above list of geniuses, for what they are not, almost as much as for what they are. They either speak to you on an intimate level of a best friend, or you simply cannot understand why anyone would waste their time and money on such nonsense.

The definition of the word ‘Artist’ is in the eye of the beholder; this is a fact. My personal definition of ‘Artist’ is someone who uses the best possible medium in which to get their point across. If you have a point to make that would be best described in a song, pick up an instrument. Best described in a painting? Grab a canvas. In this definition, TMBG are artists in that they do absolutely everything it takes to make their specific message (even when it’s gibberish) make just the right amount of sense.

More reviews tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 13

CDP Mix-Tape Trade 7 Wrap Party (Part 1).

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CREATOR – Mike I.

ARTIST
– Lacuna Coil

WHO ARE THEY?
– An Italian Metal band formed in Milan in 1994, featuring dueling male/female vocals. They have released five full-length albums since 1999.

200 WORDS OR LESS
- Like most of us, everything that I knew about Lacuna Coil came from the Rock Band series. However, I did seem to like everything that I had heard from them; I thought their melodies and epic choruses were solid (admittedly, I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff), like a better version of America’s Evanescence.

When I started listening to the CD, I found myself enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. The trade-off male/female vocals over a driving rhythm section sounded more original and tight than most imitators, although I will state that the microphone work of Miss Cristina Scabbia is head-and-shoulders above her male counterpart. The tracks that she dominated were worlds better for it; she can sing, and the swelling, anthemic choruses paid off when she was helming the ship. The reverb is heavy but not distracting, the drums and bass perfectly produced and the guitars are delivered as ordered. If you're into modern, melodic rock, Lacuna Coil is probably already your favorite band.

CREATOR – Andrea

ARTIST – Jimmy Newquist

WHO IS HE – The creator, songwriter and singer of Alternative Rock band Caroline’s Spine. Since 1993, Spine has released over a dozen full-length albums, along with a few solo projects from Mr. Newquist himself.

200 WORDS OR LESS - I was vaguely aware of Caroline’s Spine from years back, as I had a few friends that were really into them back in the day. The man is uber-talented, and he surrounds himself with talented people. On the songs that go for the straight-ahead Rock, they almost always succeed. The frantic, neurotic vocals match up perfectly with the insane bass work and chunky guitar noodling (the guitar work is sincerely great).

Newquist works magic with lyrics, too, spinning some captivating yarns. Whereas I preferred the heavier tracks, I found that Newquist’s voice was more tolerable during the ballads. The rapid-fire vocals and hey-heys are replaced with a guy that sounds a lot better when toned down a tad.

I can definitely see why Newquist has been able to make a living off of his music for so long. His style appeals to a devoted demographic, his music is varied enough without sounding too unfamiliar to his previous works, and his dedication to touring and producing content is respectable regardless of musical taste.

CREATOR – The CDP.

ARTIST – Ozma

WHO ARE THEY? – A guitar-heavy, Casio tone-driven Power-Pop band from Pasadena. Their body of work spanned from 1999-2007, spawning five albums before a second (and final) breakup.

200 WORDS OR LESS - Ozma was a relatively unknown band on a national scale up until around 2001, when a copy of Rock And Roll Part Three was handed to Weezer guitarist Brian Bell. Bell liked what he heard so much that Ozma was booked to open all shows on Weezer’s nationwide tour later that year. The rest is…sort of history. After Rock And Roll Part Three, they released a couple more albums over the next six years (with a breakup wedged between), only to break up once and for all in 2008.

The material on Rock And Roll Part Three is Ozma at their absolute best; a band that takes nerd-rock, Nintendo-core, guitar-noodling rock and roll, and turns each 4 minute track into a miniature pop opera. Dueling vocalists, shredding guitars and the kinds of melodies you only dream about are constantly on display, here. And the lyrics are as wry and clever as can be.

CREATOR – Bubba ‘Levi’ Greenacres

ARTIST – The Bran Flakes

WHO ARE THEY? – The Bran Flakes follow in the Sound Collage footsteps of Negativland and the Evolution Control Committee, cutting and pasting from the deepest and dustiest record bin in history.

200 WORDS OR LESS - A couple of months ago, Mr. Greenacres (that's his name) invited me to join in on his own Mix-Tape Trade, which I happily and excitedly participated in. When I got his Mix in the mail, I thoroughly enjoyed each track, none more so than the little 90-second ditty by The Bran Flakes, titled ‘You Can Do Most Anything.’

It represented a genre very close to my heart; the beat-matching, crate-digging, mash-up, old school/new school, vintage vs. modern production work that I’ve been a fan of ever since I heard Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers re-imagine ‘Swing The Mood’ way back in 1989 (one of the first things I ever taped off of the radio, if I recall correctly).

If you’re unfamiliar with this type of genre, it’s pretty hard to explain without making it sound like total garbage. For those that are familiar, you’ll know that when done correctly, mash-up music can be an absolutely beautiful, psychedelic and completely original listening experience.

I’d be remiss to not mention the packaging and presentation of Bubba’s Mix. Not only does the dude clearly have access to a kick-ass laminating machine, but my favorite part of receiving the Mix was that he gift-wrapped it. It was like Christmas in my mailbox, which is a really cool thing to do for somebody.

Tasty bananas.

Monday, April 12

Good Frames Won't Save Bad Paintings.



Okay, now you're all in deep, deep trouble.

Mix-Tape reviews start tomorrow. Someone's winning a CDP t-shirt!

Consider buying The Shape Of Punk To Come today (or waiting for the re-release). 'New Noise' has been my ringtone for three straight years. Drives the Missus nuts.

On Wednesday, I'm going to a Q&A with Lost Executive Producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis at UW Madison, functioning as an alcoholic member of the Madison press. If you're from Madison and you think that you deserve to attend more than I do, I strongly encourage you to read the 100 Lost Fridays I have written while simultaneously kissing my ass. My article for Dane 101 is going to rule, and I'll be sure to link to it once everything goes live next week.

Alright; get out of here, you crazy kids.