Monday, December 15, 2008

Cannondale Stealth Concept

Cannondale apparently has been working on a concept bike inspired by the F-117A Stealth Fighter, that has sadly been retired by the US Air Force. I personally was obsessed with the plane as a kid. But I digress. The bike looks absolutely incredible! I'm not the hugest fan of their single-armed fork, but I think the frame design is on the money. I would love to have this available as a track frame + fork. Awesome!

Thanks Core77 for the tip.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Knog Lights

I decided to pick up a pair of Knog lights for my bike over the weekend after thinking about them for a while. These little guys boast an incredible design. Knogs are made of silicon rubber, and so you wrap them around your handlebars or seat post, then attach the Knog to itself. They are small so you can easily fit them in your pocket. You can also pick from 12 or so colors to ensure you get the right look to match your bike. The coolest aspect of Knogs are the fact that they look like little creatures holding onto your bike once attached. I bought the Frog model, due to their small size and color options. However, since they only have a single LED I am not sure of how useful they will prove at night.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The "Long Ride South" to Tierra del Fuego

My good friend Levi is embarking on a motorcycle trip this weekend with his father. They are riding two motorcycles to Tierra del Fuego, the southern tip of South America. I highly recommend everyone add his blog Long Ride South to your reader. It's going to be interesting! And no, Che Guevara will not be joining them.

Parenthetical Girls: "A Song For Ellie Greenwich"

I recently stumbled across Parenthetical Girls due to the remix that Deerhoof did of their song "GUT Symmertries." I quickly picked up the new P.G. record Entanglements, which turned out to be pretty good. just premiered the first video from the record, which also happens to be my favorite song on the record. Check out the video for "A Song For Ellie Greenwich."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pretty much the 20 best records of 2008

Year after year I jump online and read the Top 50 / Top 25 / Blah lists on the various music sights I read. Usually it's to ensure I go back and listen to any good recordings that I might have missed that year. Most of these lists are kind of weak since they lack commentary. I do however feel that Pitchfork and Popmatters mostly get it right as they provide commentary that explains why they chose what they did. Well, I'm going to try and take it a step further. I've created a list, complete with commentary, but... the commentary isn't just about the music. It's about how these records have related to my life in 2008. I hope I am doing something new and different with this list. If you feel that I am, please share this with your friends.

1: Bon Iver: For Emma, Forever Ago
This record is the #1 record of 2008 without a shadow of a doubt. I just heard Bon Iver's upcoming Blood Bank EP, and I feel it again. This feeling I had back in January when FE,FA came out. It's a swelling surge of excitement, paired with an emptiness or longing. It makes me feel some of the same emotions that Justin Vernon must have felt when he and Emma split ways. This record captures the highs I've felt the times in my life when I've met my own "Skinny Love," and also the lows when I've lost her. Also, I want "Wolves Act 1 and 2" to be the soundtrack to the end of the movie about my life (that will never be filmed.)

2: Cut Copy: In Ghost Colours
Cut Copy deserves the #2 slot for 2008. Bright Like Neon Love is a four year old record that I still listen to regularly. I never thought Cut Copy could pull that off again. Well, they did, and far exceeded my expectations. IGC is absolutely incredible. There have been so many times when I'm walking around San Francisco on my way to a house party, concert, cafe. I put this record on and I start walking faster... my head starts bobbing... next thing I know I'm singing and dancing in the street! Somehow this record always gets me pumped. Also, this is an awesome soundtrack for riding your bike around the city.

3: Yeasayer: All Hour Cymbals
Damn Chris Keating. I heard Yeasayer's set on Daytrotter before their LP was even announced. "2080" blew my mind. It had harmonized vocals, cool background instrumentation, dystopian lyrics, what more could I ask for? I soon after saw Yeasayer at Bottom of the Hill with MGMT, and heard one of the best live performances in years (by Yeasayer, not MGMT!) Well, after about 2/3 of the songs on the record were played, Chris announced they were about to play their last song. I was in the front, so I yelled "Play the whole album!" Chris somehow thought I called them Fallout Boy, and a small amount of shit talking was sent my way. WTF? I love their record, but damn it sucked that they were asses at the show. I still have to give the record #3 since it's so damn good! Internal conflict!!!

4: Pattern is Movement: All Together
These guys probably won't make any one's end of the year lists, which is a tragedy, as All Together is an amazing record. They have a cool minimal, repetitive sound, often referred to as Math Rock. I heard their record for the first time, and wasn't feeling it at all. Then, I noticed myself humming "Trolley Friend" while riding the cable-car in SF. I guess that planted the seed in my head. Next thing I was hooked. It's as if the repetitive rhythms and lyrics sort of imprint themselves in your mind. This is a record that should be experienced while doing certain acts. Listen to "Trolley Friend" while riding a trolley or cable car. Take big steps as if you weighed 1000 pounds while listening to "Elephant." Listen to "Peach Trees" while strolling around in Golden Gate Park in a "The Sound of Music" manner.

5: Shearwater: Rook
I think I first heard about these guys when the single "Leviathan, Bound" was released. Little did I know that Jonathan Meiburg was from Austin, not to mention a past member in the band Okkervil River. Once I got my hands on the LP, I was hooked. This is the perfect record for walking around SF during the thickest of fog, and the heaviest of winds. I feel as if this record should be the soundtrack to the films 13Th Warrior, or Braveheart. Every time I listen to this record I feel as if I am sitting atop the rocks in Corona Heights, about to march right into battle, before an untimely death that lands me in the halls of Valhalla. This record is THAT epic.

6: Foals: Antidotes
I'll probably get flack for putting this record in my top 10, but who cares. These guys have received comparisons to the likes of Bloc Party, but I don't think that's doing them justice. I've always had an appreciation for line and angle in my life. Over the past year or two I've been obsessed with re-interpreting various items using hard lines and angles, in my artwork. I feel Foals is trying to re-interpret post punk in the same way. I guess I really relate to this record for that reason. And the lyrics! I love their expressive quality. It's extremely hard to decipher what the hell lead-singer Yannis Phillippakis is saying, but maybe that's what keeps me coming back to their music. Or maybe its walking down the street like a spastic robot, listening to my headphones.

7. The Presets: Apocalypso
Electroclash is dead. So? I love electroclash, electro, EBM, dance-punk. The Presets brought the whole slew back this year with their new record Apocalypso in a huge way! I feel that "Anywhere" perfectly captures the sound that DJ Hell and the International Deejay Gigolos crew have been putting out in the past few years. "Together" sounds like the result of splicing DNA from Miss Kitten, The Hacker, Nitzer Ebb, and Front 242. "If I Know You" might be my favorite club track of the year. Every time I hear this record I get so pumped. It's perfect before going biking, climbing, or any adrenaline infused activity. :)

8: Crystal Castles: Crytal Castles
A few years back I went to Boston to kick it with my buddy Matt, and his friend Chris. We saw a show at the Enormous Room by a bunch of 8-bit game boy musicians. We got really tanked at the show, then ended up running around the streets of Boston causing drunken havoc. Every time I hear this record, it's like a flashback to that trip. It's glitchy, raw, full of bass, awesome! Though the 8-bit scene predates Crystal Castles, I feel they created a record that took all of the best elements of punk, electro, and 8-bit and rolled them into one. Plus, it's so fun to try and pretend like you know the lyrics to their remix of "Crimewave," even though you clearly don't.

9: MGMT: Oracular Spectacular
Please note: This is a top 10 RECORDS of 2008 list. If I was factoring in live shows, I would remove MGMT in a second. Both times I have seen them perform I wanted to die. That's certainly not the case with their record. I was hooked on this thing for months! It's so much fun to sing along with this album. I remember going to see their show at Bottom of the Hill, and being in the car singing "The Youth" with my friends Marc, Levi, Esme. That moment exemplifies why this record is so good. For some weird reason it kind of reminds me of listening to Crosby, Stills and Nash. Don't ask why. I feel like I need to go dance on Haight Street with a bunch of hippies and American Apparel models (no Dov you're not invited) every time I hear this record.

10. Cold War Kids:Loyalty to Loyalty
Damn this is so tough! I debated for a long time about who to give the #10 spot to. For some reason I just feel this is the right place for this record. I find each song so interesting. "Relief" makes me think of a young kid singing soul music to his girlfriend on a street corner in New Orleans. "Cryptomnesia" boggles the shit out of me. Is this a song about a lost motorcycle or bike? An old girlfriend? "Avalanche in Apartment B" makes me think of a drunk person complaining to their empty whisky bottle in a dilapidated old apartment in the north east. "Welcome to the Occupation" sounds like some strange theme song to a political rally in the 2008 election. I love records that create visual imagery like that.

11:Deerhunter: Microcastle / Weird Era Continued
I've only been listening to this record for about a week now, but I can't put it down. I can tell this is going to be a favorite. I walked past Bradford Cox in Portland this past winter. He looked sad and frigid... as if his parka couldn't shake the abrasive elements. "Agoraphobia" captures that look on his face, while he was at the train station. "Nothing Ever Happened" makes me think of classic Sonic Youth. "VHS Dream" is just f'ing awesome and I don't know why. This whole record makes me think of my love for old 60's pop bands such as The Zombies, paired with my love for late 70's post-punk.

12: Metronomy: Nights Out
Everytime I hear this record, three things come to mind. Fun, driving, surprising sounds Listening to this record makes me feel as if I am on a road trip back in the mid 80's, heading to a concert where Gary Numan, New Order, and The Cars are all playing together. Also, this is the perfect record for speeding down highway 280 at 3 in the morning.

13: The Dears: Missiles
Oh The Dears. Such much relevance in my life. A favorite band of a few friends. A concert where I met a girlfriend. An acoustic set at a favorite record store. A rush trough the desert heat to attend a show. A solo performance under a flashlight in a venue sans-power. Where do I even begin? I guess I should with their new record Missiles. I love the orchestral-pop sound these guys have always improved upon. Each record is both heartfelt and epic. I feel this record is somehow captures the economic crisis that we are falling into. "Dream Job" and "Money Babies" talk about the implications of a crisis. "Crisis 1 & 2" and "Meltdown in A Minor" are just fucking amazing. Honestly though, I think these guys are a guilty please for me. Their music speaks to all the stress and drama that doesn't actually exist in my mundane existence. Maybe it's the act of pretending that draws me to them?

14: Sebastien Tellier: Sexuality
I just saw Sebastien Tellier in person last week. I've had his record for a few months now, but after seeing him live it all made sense. His music makes me think of what Blade Runner would have been like if it were a French porno starring Audrey Tautou and Robo-cop. The beats are most certainly Daft Punk (which is a given since they produced it.) But the lyrics sound like they come from a sketchy, dirty French guy. And they do! Sebastien has long hair, a huge beard, sunglasses, and a tendency to hump the microphone. It all makes sense.

15: No Kids: Come Into My House
I bought this record on a trip to Seattle/Portland, so it is loosely associated with the Pacific Northwest. This makes sense to some degree as these guys are from Vancouver. This record would have ranked higher on my list, but sadly I only like parts of it. The parts I do like are incredible though! I feel No Kids are at their best when they sound like a couple of Ivy League-ers trying to recreate Hot Chip's Coming on Strong. "For Halloween" and "The Beaches Are All Closed" are nerdy white person soul music at it's best. "Bluster in the Air" makes me want to pour out a glass of fine wine for an ex-girlfriend, while at a party at Gatsby's house (yeah like in the book). "You Looked Good to Me" makes me picture the high school band leader getting dumped by his girlfriend at home-coming. Classic! (The rest of the record just doesn't do it for me.)
16: Broken Social Scene Presents: Brendan Canning: Something For All Of Us
Even though there are like 20 people in this band, their music is certainly not designed-by-committee. The first few times I heard this record I actually wrote it off as unimpressive. I assumed that Kevin Drew must be the sole creative force behind the band. Boy was I wrong. This record is classic BSS, and proves the importance of Brendan Canning in the band. "Hit the Wall" and "Churches Under the Stairs" make me think of classic You Forgot it in People days. "Love is New" reminds me of seeing these guys do a dance music remake of "Hotel" when they played in SF. Could "Possible Grenade" be the new "Cause = Time?" "Take Care, Look Up" is a personal favorite to listen to before calling it a night. How did I ever write this record off as unimpressive?
17: TV on the Radio: Dear Science,
This one is going to top lots of lists this year. In my opinion, this is another instance of a record that sometimes reaches greatness, and sometimes looses my attention completely. "Dancing Choose" is sort of a post-post-punk anthem in my mind. "Stork and Owl".... seriously? How could someone write such amazing lyrics? "Turn from the fear. Of the storms that might be. Oh let it free." DAMN! This record boasts some of the best individual songs of 2008. No doubt about that. And don't even get me started on"Love Dog." I absolutely love the lyrics. Tunde Adebimpe you are a genius. I just wished that songs such as "Golden Age" actually resonated with me.

18: Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes
This band is a weird one. When I first listened to the Fleet Foxes LP I was severely disappointed. Especially after their Sun Giant EP. At some point I rediscovered the record, and it all started to make sense. I used to be obsessed with Iron & Wine's Our Endless Numbered Days as it was the perfect record for sitting around a campfire at night. Well, Fleet Foxes now has that accolade. Songs like "White Winter Hymnal," "Quiet Houses," "Your Protector" and "Blue Ridge Mountains" exude a warmth, a floating melody, a satisfaction. I keep thinking about sitting in Zilker Park, during the 95 degree heat of Austin City Limits, listening to Fleet Foxes. That time and place just makes sense.

19: Portishead: Third
Portishead might be one of my top 5 bands of all time. (Most sensual band of the last 20 years?) I saw them in Austin on their tour for the self-titled Portishead record back in 1997. They have always been a special band both due to their sound, and their lyrics. I'm such a trip-hop fanatic. I didn't know what to expect with Third, but the record certainly exceeded whatever expectations I had. I feel it's an interpretation of their previous music, in the parlance of our times. I would have put the record much higher in my top 20 list, but for some reason I find myself adverse to listening to it. I will say though that this might be one of my favorite records to listen to when painting at 4 in the morning.

20: Department of Eagles: In Ear Park
Yellow House by Grizzly Bear is one of my favorite records of the last five years. Therefore I had high expectations for In Ear Park. For some strange reason they weren't met. "No One Does It Like You" is an amazing song, and I love to sing along with it. There's something creepy yet beautiful about "Classical Records." I feel it's like a song recorded in Technicolor, whatever that actually means. "Around the Bay" gets really close to what I've previously love about Grizzly Bear. "Phantom Other" reminds me of old school Department of Eagles (back before I even know about Grizzly Bear.) But overall, I was hoping for more.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Krink NYC mailbox

Krink is a renowned graffiti artist who is gaining more and more popularity in the urban pop-art scene. He is known for taking various objects and bleeding paint markers over them. The paint runs, creating bold streaks on the original object. Horray gravity! He is most known for his painting of mailboxes in NYC. Kid Robot is going to be releasing a replica of a Krink painted NYC mailbox (dents and all) on Dec 18th. It happens to be a black mailbox with silver paint, which looks absolutely stunning. This would be a great desktop Christmas gift for your urban pop-art loving, vinyl collecting, young guy (I.E. myself. Send me one!) By the way, this would go great sitting next to your matching Incase X Krink laptop sleeve.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Common designs clothing line for Microsoft? WTF?

Is this for real? Am I really thinking about wearing these shirts? Am I ... a ... PC? So confused.

Anyways, Microsoft (yes the software company) asked Common (yes the hip-hop musician) to design some t-shirts in an effort to bring the software giant's pop-culture image from "fail" to "win." The label is called "Softwear" and will be in stores Dec 15th. The Microsoft company store? Fry's? Urban street-wear boutiques? Your guess is as good as mine.

The line is a throwback to the mid 1980s DOS era, back when Windows were only a portal out of your home. There will be 9 shirts launched, 5 designed by Microsoft, 4 designed by Common. Honestly, i'd maybe wear the "I used to love her" shirt with song lyrics typed into a DOS prompt. I recommend checking out the video interview with Common on the site.

Oh yeah, Common just dropped a new LP called "Universal Mind Control." Strange timing eh?

Thanks to Complex for the tip.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

David G: Custom Qees "Stratos" and "Atmos"

I've been a huge fan and avid collector in the urban vinyl scene for sometime. I've always thought it would be cool to create my own figure, or at least create a custom. I recently ran across the do-it-yourself blank Qee figures by Toy2R. The blanks are 3.5 inches tall, so they are relatively affordable due to their size. I decided to pick up a Devil Qee (square head with pointed tail), and Angel Qee (round head with wings). Given the devil and angel concepts, I decided to de a heaven and hell themed design for both of them .

The first Qee is "Stratos." He is the square head Qee with the Devil's tail. Starting at the bottom, you can see he consists of multiple layers of Earthen strata (hence the name). Seeping up through the rock strata is moulten lava. I felt this linked to the devil notion in the blank figure. The strata can be seen going up a slanted slope, with a layer of grass, and a single japanese tree on top of the hill. Though it's subtle, the tree trunk wraps around the indentation that is for the figures left eye. I wanted to use the details of the blank Qee as part of my design. Behind the tree, the right eye contains the sun. Lastly, there is a blue sky and clouds wrapping around the figure.

The second Qee is "Atmos." He is the round head Qee with Angel's wings. Starting at the bottom, you can see the same blue from the sky on Stratos. The idea being that Atmos picks up where Stratos leaves off. The layers of teal and white were an attempt at representing the edge of our the Earth's atmosphere. Once you have moved past the atmosphere, there's just open space. On Atmos' left arm is a meteor, and on his left arm a shooting star. Atmos' left eye contains the Earth's moon, and his right contains Saturn. Scale isn't as important in my design as was utilizing the components of the blank Qee, such as his eye indentations. My favorite aspect of Atmos is the black hole on his back. I used the grooves in his wings to convey the notion of rays of light being drawn into the black hole.

Well, that covers my first urban vinyl project. I hope to do more customs in the future. Here's a pic of Stratos and Atmos linked together creating Earth, Atmosphere, and Space.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Jon Rose Photography

Jon Rose is one of my two best friends from growing up in good ol' Austin TX. I still remember Jon's days as a barrista, trying to figure out what to do with his life. Well, he's clearly found his calling. Jon now resides in Denver, CO where he is making a living as a fine art photographer. He recently had a solo show in Denver, and also launched a new website. I can't recommend enough that you check out his site. As the site is recently launched, most of his work hasn't been posted yet. However, his new series of found obejects (the focus of his recent show) is online, and the pics are amazing! I love the bright, bold images set against the stark minimalism of a black background. I'll definitely have to pick up one of his pieces soon. Personal favorites include the yellow balloon, and the red pencil. I hope this doesn't degrade his work in any way, but I recently finished playing Fallout 3 for the Xbox 360, and these objects seem like they came right out of the post apocalyptic Capital Wastelands. Where did he find these things??? Here's a photo from his solo show for ya!