Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Paigey's Top Vids of '08 (part II)

I Are Cute Kitten - Sure, kittens are cute. But do we have to pretend that if they were to speak in English, they'd use bad grammar?

The Ting Tings - Shut Up and Let Me Go - Sooner or later, Paige is going to learn to use the phrase "shut up." Traci and I are both wondering how we are going to teach her not to say it, when this is one of her favorite songs and she shouts lyrics at the top of her lungs.

Baby Laughing
- This is a newcomer to Paige's list of favs. There's not a lot going on here that isn't explained in the title.

Hot Chip - One Pure Thought - Thank you, Hot Chip, for teaching my daughter to use her leg as a guitar. The chubby band member has also taught Paige some sweet dance moves.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Paigey's Top Vids of '08 (part I)

Because I'm a good parent, Paige and I spend a lot of time watching YouTube together. Here's some of her favs. 

1. Matt & Kim - Yea Yeah This video's great if you like identifying food items. PAIGE: Oh, there's a banana! Oh, there's a pizza! CRASH!!! Now they're cleaning up! Matt and Kim are great role models, teaching kids you always clean up after having a food fight with friends in food costumes.

2. Matt & Kim - Lightspeed Paige calls this "Clap Clap," for obvious reasons. This is my favorite Matt & Kim song, and somehow after watching the video 18 million times (literally) I still like it. Paige sings along with every word. 

3. Nathaniel Rave Take the dancing kid from Yo Gabba Gabba (via The Soup), mix it with a cat head and BLAMO!!! YouTube gold! 

4. Patches the Horse If there's one thing I know, it's that a talking horse really appeals to a three-year-old. A horse that can fetch a beer from the fridge really appeals to its redneck owners. 

5. Dancing with Little Einsteins Paige doesn't like watching videos of the actual Little Einsteins show. She only wants to watch this crappy home video of a restaurant appearance by the mascot version of the characters. She affectionately refers to them as "The 'Steins." 

More to come...

Enjoy the Off Season

As a lifetime Denver Broncos fan (go ahead and scoff), I should feel saddened by the team missing the playoffs. Instead, I'm just amazed by the year of utter suckiness. So incredibly sucky. 

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Review: She & Him

She & Him
Volume I

I fell in love with Zooey Deschanel the second I heard her sing “Baby it’s Cold Outside” in the movie Elf. Who knew a few years later she’d team up with M. Ward, record a bunch of songs she’d been hiding under her bed and become an indie sensation?

“Volume I” is a strange blend of everything from ‘50s country to ‘70s pop. “I Was Made for You” wouldn’t be out of place on the “Grease” soundtrack, “Got Me” is classic Nashville, and “I Thought I Saw  Your Face Today” is reminiscent of The Carpenters.

Deschanel’s voice is gorgeous, her lyrics are simple, and Ward’s accompaniment is refrained. This album certainly isn’t for everyone, but it’s a rare album that may appeal as much to indie hipsters as their great grandmothers.  It's a pleasant enough listen--and will appeal to both indie hipsters and their great grandmothers--but overall, it's just a bit boring for me. Nevertheless, I can't get enough of "Sentimental Heart." 

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Best Music of 2008

I casually mentioned I was making my best of '08 music list and my sister-and-law immediately shouted "Chris Brown! Chris Brown!" Though Chris Brown didn't actually release in a new album in 2008, I got the point. You like what you like. Here are the new albums that were in heavy rotation in my car this year.

The Streets
Everything is Borrowed

After 2006's crap-tacular release, "The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living," my confidence in The Streets was shaken a bit. Oh, me of little faith. Mike Skinner totally redeemed himself. "Everything is Borrowed" is a great comeback.

Does It Offend You, Yeah?
You Have No Idea What You're Getting Yourself Into

When I checked out the band, I thought I was just going to get some spastic dance music. The band with the horrible name certainly delivered on that front, but also squeezed in the best neo-new wave track of the year, "Dawn of the Dead."

Machine 15

Even punks have to grow up sometime. These Swedes are aging gracefully, slowing things down a bit without losing too much steam. "Vicious Cycle" is one of the best songs in the band's catalog.

The Academy Is
Fast Times at Barrington High

Looking at these skinny boys in their v-neck tees and tight girl jeans makes me throw up in my mouth a little. But "Fast Times at Barrington High" is a pure pop delight. I just close my eyes, think about relaxed-fit jeans, and enjoy the music.

Matt Pryor
Confidence Man

Get Up Kids and New Amsterdams leader Matt Pryor sure knows how to make a beautiful solo album. The line "You don't have to worry/Baby, I'm your confidence man" has been stuck in my head for five months.

Kanye West
808s and Heartbreak

Hands down the best not-really-hip-hop, hip hop record of the year. Kanye makes a bold move by trading big samples for small production and lots of auto-tuned singing. It's a love it or hate it affair. I choose the former.

Tokyo Police Club
Elephant Shell

Love those fuzzy bassline and bouncy beats. This band was a joyous new discovery for me this year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Even Better than the Jonas Brothers' Hair

We went to the holiday sing-in at Energy Solutions Arena last night with our friends the Bawdens. We were standing in line for our free hotdogs when Janeen leaned over to me and said, "Is that Shawn Bradley?" When I turned my head, I noticed I was looking right at a navel. Whose navel? Seven-foot-six-inch Shawn Bradley's.

As we sat there eating our hotdogs, we were of course excitedly talking about our celebrity sighting. That's when something even more exciting happened. "Guys, where'd you get the ketchup?" What? Shawn Bradley is talking to us?

Brett kept his cool and said calmly, "Right over there."

Shawn Bradley: "Thanks."
According to this site, Shawn Bradley is also known as:

"The Stormin' Mormon," "The Deathstick," "Missionary Impossible," "The Mormon Mantis," "The Praying Mantis," and "Siggi."

It's hard to choose a favorite, but I think I'm going to have to go with "The Deathstick."

And That's How I Saved Christmas

We didn't put Christmas lights up last year. We'd only been in our house for a few months and things were still pretty out of sorts. I don't know what everyone else's excuse was--not one person on our street put up lights.

This year I braved the cold to adorn our little house with a single strand of color lights. (Classy in its simplicity, I say.) Within a week or so, our next door neighbors put up lights, followed by the folks across the street. It's a regular Christmas town around here.

I'm pretty I was the motivating factor for this Christmas miracle. Traci doesn't seem convinced.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

DVD Review: Bazan Alone at the Mic

It's no secret that I heart Pedro the Lion and Pedro The Lion-related projects (I've written about it at least here, here, here, here, here, and here). So I was pretty excited about David Bazan's new DVD.

David Bazan
Alone at the Mic

To tide fans over until his first full-length solo release, former Pedro the Lion leader David Bazan offers up an intimate live collection of songs spanning his 11-year career. It is impossible not to be drawn in by the tales of conflict, betrayal, and waning faith. Backed by just a piano, electric, or acoustic guitar, Bazan shows he is just as talented a singer as he is a storyteller.

Between songs, Bazan fields questions about songwriting, touring, and cutting ties with his Evangelical Christian background. Though he is no stranger to such questions--at nearly every performance he allows the audience to ask him anything they want--on camera he seems a bit shy. He brushes by a question about his changing views on religion and, when asked when he'll finally write a long song, he insists that his tragic tune "Slow Car Crash" technically qualifies.

The performances are amazing. Pedro the Lion classics "1976" and "When They Really Get to Know You" are as beautiful as expected, but the real surprise is the piano version of the Headphones song "Never Wanted To." The heartbreaking "Please Baby Please," from Bazan's upcoming album, show there is still plenty to look forward to.

www.davidbazan.com. $13.99 + shipping.

DVD Review: The Up Beat

I've been a ska fan ever since I went to my first Stretch Armstrong show at UVSC when I was 14. By the time I was 17, we'd morphed our grunge band, The Twelfth of Never, into the ska band Left Foot Forward. Thus making us one of the 8 million high school ska bands at the time.

Local dude Brandon Smith recently made a documentary of Utah ska's golden age. Buy a copy or come over to my house and we can watch it together.

Here's a review I wrote for IN.

The Up Beat

If you grew up in Utah in the '90s, whether you'll now admit it or not, you likely spent at least one weekend skanking in Provo. Thanks to the combination of great local bands, great promotion, and a lot of high school and college kids with nothing better to do, Utah was once the ska music mecca. Lest we forget, Salt Lake City filmmaker (and trombonist for the Upstarts) Brandon Smith, gives documentary treatment to the scene's heyday.

The Up Beat follows the history of ska from its roots in Jamaica to its export to England, as told by pivotal players Toots Hibbert of the Maytals and Buster Bloodvessel of Bad Manners. From there, the genre eventually made it to the States, with Utah at the forefront in the movement.

Local bands like Swim Herschel Swim and Stretch Armstrong weigh in on how they helped make Utah one of the largest ska scenes in the country. Corey Fox, owner of the Velour club in Provo, comments that at the height of it all, Stretch Armstrong played a CD release show to a crowd of more than 2,000 and every national ska act made Utah a touring destination.

Though the scene peaked in the late '90s, this film helps the memory live on for anyone who has a soft spot in their heart for a good horn section or just wants an excuse to bust out those two-toned shoes.

www.theupbeatmovie.com. $12 + shipping.

Up Down Up Down Circle Circle Rinse

I was stopped at a red light this morning on my way into work. I noticed that in the car ahead of me, the dude's head suddenly started bobbing side to side really quickly. This wasn't a rockin-to-the-beat type motion (unless the beat was sideways). Was he having a seizure? I watch a lot of House and Grey's Anatomy so I figured I could probably save him.

Upon closer inspection, I discovered he was brushing his teeth. Well, that's all fine and good. But one question remains. What was he going to do with all that spit?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Review: The Killers Day & Age

The Killers
Day & Age

On the album's lead single, "Human," Brandon Flowers asks life's most pressing question, "Are we human/Or are we dancer?" I'm pretty sure the Killers are both. Their beloved first album, "Hot Fuss," was definitely dancer, with all of its bubbly '80s synths. Their generally behated (except my me) second album, "Sam's Town," tried to be human, in a we-think-we're-Bruce-Springsteen sort of way.

On "Day & Age," the Las Vegas quartet tries to strike a balance between the two. While the songs definitely skew dance-y, they are less produced and calculated than their debut. This works marvelously on the first three tracks, but is then absolutely derailed by the hideous "Joy Ride" and its accompanying saxophone solo.

The rest of the record is pretty uneven. While "The World We Live In" is quite endearing, "This is Your Life" sounds like an outtake from the Peter Gabriel catalog, and that awful saxophone reappears in "I Can't Stay." Equal parts hit and miss, "Day & Age" shows the poor Killers are still trying to figure out who they are.

The Killers - Spaceman [MP3]

For fans of: The Bravery, Hot Hot Heat
Rating: 2.5 of 4

Friday, December 05, 2008

Celebrity Sighting: The Jonas Brothers' Hair

Outside of the Winnie the Pooh ride

Disneyland must have been a success because about every other day Paige will say, "Was that fun to go to Disneyland?" (She only speaks in question form.) Then she'll rattle off every ride that we went on and every Disney character we met.

These reminders made me realize that I neglected to write about the most exciting part of our trip--seeing the Jonas Brothers' hair. Yep, those big-haired, teen faux rockers were recording their Disney Christmas special while we were there. The crowd of 12-year-old girls was so big and shriek-y that I could only get close enough to see her hair. But that's all I needed.

It looked a bit like this:

And, as an added bonus, we later got trapped in a foot-traffic jam thanks to a Corbin Bleu performance. I saw his hair as well.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Review: Kanye West 808s & Heartbreak

Kanye West
808s and Heartbreak

Kanye West has a big mouth, a big ego, and has always wanted to be bigger than hip hop itself. With his fourth album, he finally transcends the genre, ironically enough, by keeping things small.

"808s and Heartbreak" is the rap equivalent of an acoustic rock album. There are no "Gold Digger"-esque samples here, no "Jesus Walks" grandiosity. Just tribal 808 drum machine beats, auto-tuned vocals and poor Kanye's broken heart.

It works beautifully. West trades bravado for insecurity, and money-makin' for personal loss. The majority of the tracks are incredibly somber, including album opener "Say You Will" and closer "Coldest Winter." For a hint of variety, Kanye throws in a couple of upbeat (yet still lo-fi) numbers, including the string-driven "RoboCop" and very French-dance-club "Paranoid." Nearly every track is a winner, especially "Heartless" and "Street Lights." This is definitely one of the best records of the year.

Street Lights [MP3]

For fans of: Lupe Fiasco, Bloc Party
Rating: 3.5 of 4

Review: Guns n' Roses Chinese Democracy

Guns n' Roses
Chinese Democracy

It really happened. . It just took 17 years—or the entire life of a high school senior—for "Chinese Democracy" to finally make it to the shelves. The big question is 'was it worth it the wait?'

Those who love(d) Guns n' Roses for all of its complementary parts—Slash's blazing solos, Izzy's blues, Duff's basslines—will likely be disappointed. But those who love Axl Rose and his megalomania get everything they could hope for.

There is nothing organic about this album. It is filled with millions of guitar parts, billions of vocal tracks, strings, synths, and production credits longer than most feature films. Each track is a mini-opera, stuffed with all of Rose's tricks--the low voice, the falsetto voice, the guitar solo, the big climax. But in spite of all of the drama, they are just rock songs. Axl Rose is a crazy, reclusive perfectionist who spent $13 millio n dollars and more than a decade recording just 14 songs. But he still rocks. Does anything else matter?

For fans of: Axl Rose
Rating: 3 of 4

Monday, December 01, 2008


[click for larger view]

For all of the writing I do, I sure never get my picture in the paper. This last month, however, everything's been turning up Milhouse. I got to submit my Christmas list to IN (accompanied by a lovely self portrait) and there was a really fuzzy picture of me pretended to walk on the trail behind the SelectHealth building in Utah Business Magazine. (Pretty lousy for a guy who's been writing for the magazine for three years.)

Anyhoo, I'm pretty much a big deal.