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Monthly Archives: February 2012

One extra day of Subway’s $5 Foot Long Februany is never, ever a bad thing.

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As I mentioned last week, this Friday Top 5 – Weekly Wrap-up – Five Faves idea is still very much a work in progress. I’m not sure what alliteration-riddled play on words I’ll stick with for this ongoing feature, but I’d imagine allowing the idea to develop organically would eventually result in something satisfactory.

I wanted to take a stab at associating some of my favorite things from this week with the five senses to demonstrate variety and well-rounded taste. (Long story short, I felt the need to photograph the deliciously colorful donut I had for breakfast this morning)

TASTE: Shipley’s Sprinkle Donut
It was as delicious as it looks.

Sprinkle Donut

FEEL – Texas Stars Hockey Game
I went to my very first hockey game last weekend. Despite the mildly uncomfortable temperature in the arena (hence, the sense of touch), I had a blast. These guys are a tier below the NHL and tickets were only 10 bucks. $2 beers, 8 total goals, an overtime shoot-out tiebreaker and a triumphant Stars win topped off the evening.

Texas Stars Hockey Game

SMELL: Misprint Magazine’s 6th Annual Beard and Mustache Competition
I suppose correlating this party with the sense of smell is a stretch, but when I think of noses, I think of mustaches and beards. I’m not insinuating that facial hair smells, especially because these competitors lather, wax and use top-of-the line grooming products to tame their facial hair. I consider beards and staches more as accessories that accentuate the nose and I can’t wait to celebrate all things whiskers with some whiskey this weekend. If you’re in the Austin area, grab a ticket and head to the Mohawk this Saturday!

6th Annual Beard and Mustache Competition

SIGHT: CAN U FEEL IT – Ultra Music Fest Trailer
I’ve been to quite a few electronic music concerts; I went to 3 EDM festivals in 2011 alone. However, I’ve never braved an Ultra Music Fest in Miami, which is the mothership of all electronic dance music. This trailer looks like a ridiculous mess of lasers, neon bikinis and stimulants. Maybe I’ll make it to Miami one of these days, but for now, I’m just hoping they’ll show this movie in Austin.

SOUND: Reign of Terror by Sleigh Bells
I was almost scared to listen to this album; I wanted so badly for it to live up to the expectations of being Sleigh Bells’ sophomore album, which is a mighty feat considering Treats was a fucking incredible first effort. Before Treats, I had never heard anything like Sleigh Bells – heavy guitars and tons of distortion paired with Alexis Krauss’ feminine, but badass vocals. Not easy to combine those two opposing components and create good music.

Sleigh Bells

I wasn’t too fond of the first single “Born to Lose,” but I’m so glad the rest of the Reign of Terror record didn’t disappoint. I dig their second single “Comeback Kid” and their track “Crush” is probably my favorite. Plus it’s a perfect way to welcome the weekend – if you live in mild climates, listen to this while driving with the windows down and the wind whipping through your hair because that’s what I’m about to do – HAPPY FRIDAY!

Sleigh Bells – Crush

New Ray-Bans

Hope you all had a wonderful extended weekend. If you had to work yesterday, I’m assuming your employer hates America.

I spent my Monday off shopping, reading, watching the new Denzel Washington movie and basking in beautiful 60 degree Austin weather. I copped this gorgeous pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarers with blue gradient frames and lenses. They’re the perfect accessory to match my collection of mustaches I wear when going incognito.

Cop your own pair at Nordstrom!

Here are a few tracks to kick-start your shortened work week:

Pimp Sunglasses song of the week:
A-Trak – Ray-Ban Vision feat. CyHi Da Prince

Denzel Washington is a pimp song of the week:
Jay-Z and Kanye West – No Church In The Wild feat. Frank Ocean

President is a pimp song of the week:
Young Jeezy – My President feat. Nas

It’s Friday, which is my favorite day of the week for obvious reasons. Sadly, Katy Perry and Rebecca Black have eternally blemished a day we should thank God for, but I try to ignore bad pop songs and focus on the positives.

As I anxiously wait for the weekend, it’s only appropriate to wrap-up some of my bests of the week; five favorites if you will.

1. Visions by Grimes
Grimes’ upcoming album,Visions, is streaming on NPR: First Listen this week and I’ve listened to it at least three times a day. Do yourself a favor and do the same. Or wait and buy the album next Tuesday, you won’t be sorry.

Grimes – Oblivion

2. White Girl Problems by Babe Walker

White Girl Problems by Babe Walker

If you don’t follow @whitegrlproblem on Twitter than you are so 2000-and-late. Babe Walker is the almighty originator of all trivial “problems.” You can probably thank her cultural influence for all of those mildly racist and not very funny Shit (enter ethnicity) Girls Say Youtube videos populating your news feeds. Walker’s hilarious fictitious memoir details the perils of being a rich Caucasian female in Los Angeles. She addresses everything from losing her virginity to her gay best friend to falling in love with her personal chef, which ultimately leads to a full-blown breakdown in a Barney’s fitting room. I’m fortunate enough to have a signed copy from Babe herself – wishing me a happy, lucrative life in Texas’ lush oil fields. Love her. Mean it.

3. Bonny Bear

Grammy-winning Bon Iver strips down a few of their songs and these haunting renditions will give you shivers. Accompanied by nothing more than a piano and a metronome, these gorgeous vocals could make grown men weep.

4. The Other F Word

This documentary is as heartwarming as it is funny and entertaining. The film follows a few of the punk scene’s most radical, free-spirited individuals and their confusing transitions from reckless anti-establishment values to the scary, yet fantastic world of Fatherhood. Tony Hawk, Mark Hoppus, Fat Mike and Jim Lindberg from Pennywise share how their careers affect their personal lives and how their adorable children have helped them grow.

5. Usher – Climax feat. Diplo

Usher (the man can sing) + Diplo (the man can produce) = Climax (hot jam)

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! I don’t know when the Single Awareness Day phenomenon started, but I’ve grown awfully tired of it. I’ve lived long enough to experience the holiday with serious boyfriends whom I had long-term relationships with and other years as a painfully single individual. Neither is that great, but neither is that bad either.

I’ve been single for the past six or seven Valentine’s Days and I never felt a heightened sense of awareness, if you will. If you’re single, aren’t you already aware that you’re single? If you want a relationship and don’t have one, I’d imagine you’d feel upset about that every day, not just on Valentine’s Day. Being single shouldn’t directly correlate to loneliness and I can’t stand when people automatically hate the holiday and use it as an excuse for complaining and self-loathing. 90% of Valentine’s Day is very obviously spearheaded by Hallmark and it’s a holiday most boys hate anyway. Quite frankly, I don’t like the idea of my hypothetical boyfriend or husband dreading the idea of taking me out and buying me expensive gifts out of obligation; I’d want him to want to. And I prefer surprises anyway – Valentine’s Day is so painfully impersonal and unoriginal.

Valentine’s Day can be fun. I don’t make a big deal out of it or do anything special – probably because I don’t have a special someone to share it with. But I like seeing flowers delivered and girls carrying balloons and teddy bears around. It’s cute and sweet and I’m happy for them. As R. Kelly says, “I love love. I hate hate.”  Simple as that.

I created a quick Spotify playlist of Lovely Songs for your listening pleasure.  These weren’t well thought-out and this was compiled very hurriedly. I essentially added any song I could think of about love or included the word “love,” “heart,” or “romance” in the title.  For any of you self-deprecating folks, I apologize, but this is not a sad, heartbreaking playlist. It’s a feel-good, poppy compilation comprised of everything from pop-punk to R&B. I stayed current by adding Jack White’s new single and also paid homage to the late Whitney Houston, RIP baby.

For those of you who aren’t Spotify subscribers; here’s the track list in case you want to make a last-minute mix tape for your special someone. Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

Lovely Songs

  1. Mika – Love Today
  2. The Cure – Friday I’m In Love 
  3. Cut Copy – Need You Know
  4. The Avett Brothers – Kick Drum Heart 
  5. Daft Punk – Digital Love 
  6. R. Kelly – Love Letter 
  7. Best Coast – Boyfriend
  8. Jack White – Love Interruption 
  9. Groove Armada – Paper Romance
  10. Blink 182 – First Date
  11. New Found Glory – Too Good To Be
  12. Fun. feat. Janelle Monae – We are Young 
  13. Ingrid Michaelson – I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You
  14. The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You
  15. Bon Iver – Skinny Love
  16. Eisley – My Lovely
  17. The Rapture – How Deep Is Your Love?
  18. Cut Copy – Hearts On Fire (Holy Ghost! Remix)
  19. Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You (Hex Hector Radio Mix)

I’m usually not a big fan of awards shows – I think they’re generally too long and kind of boring, but I was actually looking forward to the 2012 Grammy Awards when I learned several of my favorite artists received nominations.

It’s obvious that EDM has been growing in popularity – Deadmau5, Pretty Lights and Skrillex were on the bill of almost every major festival last year. But the fact that Deadmau5, Skrillex, Cut Copy and A-Trak were nominated for Grammy’s proves that electronic dance music is more than a rave scene of ecstasy-riddled kids wearing neon accessories. It’s evolved from debauched spring break club music into a creative art form worth industry recognition.

A-Trak, Skrillex, Diplo, Photek, and Armand at the 2012 Grammy Awards.

I think it’s a sign of the times too. I agree with Dave Grohl and his reasoning about the human element – real people playing instruments and singing songs does make music more human and emphatic. But technology and digital music (RIP Steve Jobs) have allowed electronic music to explode! Some of the biggest and baddest shows I went to last year consisted of a single guy masterfully manipulating a computer and some switches. Plus, I don’t think people know how talented these people are as producers. A-Trak and Diplo have produced and created beats for other Grammy nominees and winners like Kanye, M.I.A. and Beyonce – it’s nice that their work is getting recognized too.

I don’t want to overload you with my opinions about the state of the industry – there’s already enough news online and on Twitter about last night’s awards show, but I thought I’d share a few of my best and worst moments from last night:

THE BEST

Unfussy Rock Music
I’m stoked that Bon Iver and Foo Fighters took home Grammys for best alternative and rock albums considering Wasting Light was recorded on tape in Dave Grohl’s garage and Bon Iver was recorded in a remote cabin in Wisconsin. Goes to show that these bands are incredibly talented with or without fancy studios and gobs of cash. Plus, on Saturday I watched the Foo Fighters: Back and Forth documentary on Fuse, which rekindled my huge respect and adoration for their music. Dave Grohl’s a genius and his bandmates are crisp, creative and talented too.

Foo Fighters

Cool Collabos
The Foster The People and Maroon 5 tribute to the Beach Boys was so rad! The Beach Boys are famous for their beautiful voices and rich harmonies and Mark Foster and Adam Levine have two of the most unique voices in pop rock. Wouldn’t it be nice to showcase that with classic Beach Boys songs? Lest we forget the Beach Boys’ fashion choices – Hawaiian shirts under blazers AND a hat emblazoned with The Beach Boys logo. High fashion, I tell you.

Foster The People and Maroon 5 perform with The Beach Boys

Regardless of what Grohl said about making music with computers, the Foo Fighters’ side-by-side performance with Deadmau5 was off the chains. Rope is one of my favorite tracks off of Wasting Light and the remix does it justice.

Foo Fighters – Rope (Deadmau5 Remix)

Red Carpet Pranks
Deadmau5 wore Skrillex’s cellphone number on his t-shirt for America to see. Probably the cheapest and most buzzed about Red Carpet fashion statement.

Skrillex's cell phone number


My favorite part of the evening was actually before the program even started. Ryan Seacrest – prick that he is- interviewed the Foo Fighters and right as they were saying their goodbyes guitarist Pat Smear shook his hand and said something along the lines of “Love your show, man. Watch it every week.” Seacrest’s embarrassed/pissed off reaction was priceless. I wish I recorded it.

THE WORST

Red Carpet Overkill
There are few people in the public eye who I respect less than correspondents on the E! Network. Those people include Hugh Heffner’s playmates, the Real Housewives of various parts of America and the Kardashian sisters – ironic because the E! Network is primarily why these individuals are famous. Did Ryan Seacrest feel like an asshole for interrogating every celebrity he interviewed about Whitney Houston? He sure sounded like one. Did Giuliana Rancic feel like an idiot when she asked the Kings of Leon how long they’ve known each other? She sure looked like one. To her credit, I bet she knows that Victoria Secret model Lily Aldridge is married to frontman, Caleb Followill, but she somehow failed to realize that Kings of Leon are brothers who have known each other their entire lives. It’s not like Kings of Leon are comparable to Bon Iver either – Use Somebody and Sex on Fire have been on pop radio for at least 3 years. E! Network is for assholes and idiots.

Best “New” Artist
I already expressed how happy I was that Bon Iver received mainstream acclaim for their self-titled album; that record was spotless. But Best New Artist? Really? I don’t know who The Powers That Be are or what the criteria is for the Best New Artist category, but their 2011 record was their sophomore album. Their first album came out four years ago. Their first album is a year older than Mumford and Sons’ Sigh No More and Mumford and Bros were nominated for Best New Artist last year. No wonder Justin Vernon’s acceptance speech was so cryptic; winning that Grammy was hardly a breakthrough moment for the band. They’re already huge in folk and indie circles. I’m sure he’s glad that his music was worthy of a Grammy achievement – but calling him new almost discredits the four years of hard work and touring that preceded last year’s album. Plus, the deluge of Who is Bonny Bear? memes will follow in the footsteps of Arcade Fire’s win last year.

Bonny Bear takes home 2 Grammys. You Mad, Bro?

Bon Iver – Skinny Love (2008)

Where’s The Throne?
I’m not positive if there’s good reason why Kanye and Jay-Z were not present during the biggest music event of the year, but I doubt it. Are they at Fashion Week? Are they christening Ivy Blue Carter? Kind of lame when Marc Anthony accepts the award for Best Rap Performance because Ye and Jay were no shows. Kanye also won awards for All Of The Lights and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy; why wouldn’t his cocky self want to claim those in person? Plus, how sick would it have been to see them perform Otis or N*ggas In Paris? They secured a slot during the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show; how hard could the Grammy’s be (at least for them).

A while back, I compared Lana Del Rey to Tim Tebow. A week after her debut album dropped and a day after Superbowl XLVI, I still stand by my statement. I’m annoyed by how much media attention Tim and Lana receive, but I’m also terribly sympathetic towards both of them. Neither of them deserves such overwhelming amounts of scrutiny and negative criticism because they both seem like generally decent people who are just new to the spotlight. Granted, neither are the greatest at what they do, but they are both talented enough to achieve attention and success early in their careers, which I consider quite impressive in itself.

In Indianapolis, people paid more attention to Tebow than they paid to Joe Montana and Adam Sandler; in the world of sports, there is no reasonable explanation for that. I think Tebow’s a smart, likable guy who carries himself well on the field and in the public eye, but frankly, he’s one of the weakest quarterbacks in the league and wins games with a combination of resilience, luck and a strong defense.

I can’t help but feel the same way about Lana Del Rey – she is so incredibly polarizing. The media and the public have torn her to shreds for the past six months – before her record was even released. For whatever reason, she is a fairly easy target and people love to hate her. It could be her reinvented identity, her weird vixen mystique or her abnormally large lips, but honestly, Video Games was an excellent premier single and one of my favorite songs from 2011. A good song by an interesting, new person is hard to ignore.

Lana Del Rey – Video Games

There has been a lot of fuss about Lana’s Saturday Night Live performance – admittedly, it was pretty bad. But if you manage to sit through the whole performance, you can tell she’s just nervous. You can hear the same unsteady tremble that oftentimes peppers Taylor Swift’s voice when she’s singing a ballad at the VMA’s or the Country Music Awards. For many, Lana Del Rey’s appearance on SNL was their first time hearing her music and what they judge her talent level on. Seemingly unfair considering she’s a young, unseasoned and obviously terrified performer.

I really wanted her album to be good. I really did. I wanted her to get high marks on Rolling Stone and Pitchfork so she could give all of her haters the middle finger with those pointy, lavishly adorned nails of hers. Plus, I loved Video Games and Born to Die. Of course I was looking forward to a strong record with more gorgeous melodies and beautiful lyrics.

But alas, she fell short in the same way Tebow did in the playoffs. Her album just isn’t that good. I listened to it from start to finish three times and don’t like many tracks other than Video Games, Born to Die and Blue Jeans. Most of the other songs just seem like corny, rushed attempts to complete an album. Sadly, I concur with most of the musical criticisms about her record and personally wouldn’t give it more than a 5 or 6 out of 10.

I think Lana Del Rey’s shrinking under the pressure from all the critics, bloggers and cyberbullies. She backed out of SXSW, canceled her tour, won’t attend Fashion Week and told Vogue UK that she doesn’t plan on writing another record. Maybe she’s tired of the limelight and I don’t necessarily blame her. I think the press accelerated her career and frankly just hurt her feelings. I’m sure she misses the privacy and anonymity of being thin-lipped Lizzie Grant. But not writing another record seems like the worst possible solution – especially since she can easily top Born to Die. What’s the point of being the best new artist if you’re going to fall off the map at 25? Maybe she was born to die.

Lana Del Rey, if you’re reading this, I hope you realize you still have supporters. Liz Phair wrote a very strongly-worded opinion piece supporting you in The Wall Street Journal. Kristin Wiig seemingly defended you in a very convoluted way on Weekend Update and every copy of your CD is sold out at my favorite record store in Austin. You have raw talent, remarkable beauty and the potential to have an outstanding career in music. Think about it this way – Tim Tebow faces more flack than you and he just continues working hard and keeping his head high. If he can do it, you can too.