I was lucky enough to attend a SXSW screening of Blip Festival: Reformat the Planet, a documentary about chiptunes, an underground music form that uses hardware from old video game consoles, like classic Nintendo Game Boys and NESes, to create new, original music. Most of this music bears little resemblance to 8-bit video game music (except, of course, for the sound quality); it's more like bright, happy amped-up techno, the kind of music that makes you feel like you're going on an adventure. Reformat the Planet tracks the creation of Blip Festival, a four-day chiptune extravaganza that happens in Brooklyn and features artists from all around the world. The movie is just 82 minutes, but is packed with great live footage, interviews and insights into the chiptune-making process.
In honor of the music video that is sweeping the virtual nation today, (it's Lady Gaga and Beyoncé's "Telephone," but I bet I didn't have to tell you that) a few of us here in the office got on our trusty GChat accounts and commented along with the video. Read what we had to say about transmisogyny, pastiche, and sandwiches – and leave your own comments – after the jump!
It's gray and rainy here in the Northwest today, following some beautiful glimpses of spring…not very inspiring when you're ready for winter to end. But on the way to work, Cannonball came on the radio, immediately shedding some light on the gloomy day, which started a listening trend that made the day better…rockin' with Kim. I love Kim Deal, whether she is just singing, or playing bass, or wrote the song, or all of the above. Here are some rocking Kim tunes to put a little light in your day…
The new record from Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings is less than one month away. I Learned It the Hard Way is their first full-length since the record-breaking (but by no means debut) album 100 Days, 100 Nights which catapulted Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings into indie stardom. And their latest proves their musical momentum is just as strong as ever. Due April 6th (Jones' birthday), it's another solid album of songs that sounds decades-old but for some reason feels anything but anachronistic, and is equally fit for a cocktail party as your headphones. Stream the title track, "I Learned It the Hard Way" after the jump!
Carolina Chocolate Drops will defy, and redefine, your presumptions regarding the pure power of the kazoo.
The trio, comprised of Rhiannon Giddens, Dom Flemons and Justin Robinson, met in 2005 at the Black Banjo Gathering in Boone, North Carolina. The event was dedicated to those who wished to better understand the banjo's roots in African and African American music and history. Their music is an eclectic and lively mix of fiddle, banjo, kazoo, jug, beat boxing and (literally) the bones. String music finds its American roots in a white Appalachian tradition, and grew from the seeds of slavery for the most part. And yet Carolina Chocolate Drops have taken this seemingly tenuous foundation for an all-black band and made the music distinctly, powerfully their own.
While snow is coming down all over the country, spring is poking its head out of the rain clouds in Portland, and I find that nothing suits the tease of spring better than cutesy female harmonizing. This mix features women from the 1920s to the 2010s bringing in the spring with vocal precision and fun tunes.
Musician, activist, and all-around cool lady Kathleen Hanna was interviewed by Laura Flanders for GRITtv last week. While the interview covered a range of topics (from endorsing Willie Mae Rock Camp's own Awkward Turtles to reflecting on the "arrogance of youth"), Hanna's most interesting comments regarded the complicated and sometimes problematic sides of building feminist leaders, archiving riot grrrl history, and comparing blogs to zines.
NPR did a segment on break-up songs. Tigerbeatdown devoted a week on the subject. And Thao Nguyen has written an article breaking-down the break-up song for Bitch. But I got to thinking about the break-up songs are good for you, the ones that are less about the blues and more about kicking-ass.
Tired of listening to Taylor Swift sing about all those love pains she's endured? Yeah, me too. In (dis)honor of Valentine's Day, here are some of my favorite tunes to smile to that present a love that is sometimes problematic, often tiring but never boring.