Sports, Music, Politics, TV, Movies-- We Know It All, and Much Better Than You Do!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Come ON, Washington!

I have to gripe this time because I'm afraid that if I don't, I may go insane. Tonight I had the privilege of seeing one of my favorite bands that I hadn't seen live before: Exit Clov. For one reason or another, despite the fact that they're from DC, something always came up preventing me from seeing them-- that is, until tonight. All I can say is, well done guys! I have the same things to say about Exit Clov live as most others do: great energy, look like they're enjoying themselves, wish set was longer. In that sense, this post is nothing new.

There is something I feel is worth mentioning, though. Exit Clov opened for HelloGoodbye in the Grand Ballroom on campus here at UMD College Park. Naturally, the crowd was filled with the kind of people who go to see a HelloGoodbye show. Let me state that I woke up this morning never having heard a single HelloGoodbye song, and I had no interest in breaking my embargo. This is probably as bad as my ignorance gets, but it's one of those situations where you know the name of the band and you know the audience, so based on that I've decided I don't care to go out of my way to hear their music. But the crowd made it clear tonight that they didn't go out of the way to hear any music by the other band on the bill, either...

For the thirty minutes before the show started and for the duration of Exit Clov's set, I heard some rough comments from some of these kids (I use that word intentionally). They're not really worth mentioning here, but they essentially make my ignorance pale in comparison. At least I don't stand there shouting things at the band or commenting to the people around me every few minutes about 'how terrible this band is' or 'when the hell are they getting off the stage?' Things like that are uncalled for. So, I did my usual thing and just absorbed the good and blocked out the bad. And I ignored the girl next to me when she said that 'there are too many girls in this band.' Really? I think the fact that they have two female musicians allows the harmonies to have more depth and makes the band more versatile because they both are multi-instrumentalists. That's just me... (gripe over)

Exit Clov played a curious set, specifically because they didn't play exactly what I wanted to hear, haha. I have a number of songs I'm very close to, because early in my fandom I had a select few that I listened to over and over again. I missed 'Working Class Hero,' 'Talkin Radio,' 'Band Seeking' and 'Violent Berries.' That said, 'MK Ultra,' 'DIY' and 'Killer Starfish' worked really well for me. Plus, the two new tracks they played (the names are escaping me now) sounded great (aside from my difficulty hearing the violin on the second one). Overall, a quality show from a great band (that deserves much more from an audience). I believe that tomorrow night at The Annex in NY and the LoFi Social Club in Baltimore on Sunday will prove to be much more hospitable an atmosphere for a truly superb band. Here's the latest video for 'MK Ultra,' a live clip, and a couple links for purchasing various items...

Exit Clov's homepage (can get all their albums and merch here) ;
Myspace ;

PS- How did I miss that they played in DC last week with Dengue Fever?? Why am I not on their mailing list already?? ARGH.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Oh, hey!

So it's been a long time since anything filled this space with new material. Blame study abroad, blame a rough fall semester finally ending, blame the innocuous beauty of life.

That said, I have a few things to cover.

First, this:

Wow. All I can say. Is it possible for Justice to make anything less than an awesome video?

In addition, I recently attended a fantastic concert with my father and my friend, his brother and father. Here's a couple clips:

One of my favorites, Little Wing is. Clapton's (Derek & The Dominoes) version is a completely different song from Hendrix', but both are amazing. Really comes out here.

Winwood solo time:

Winwood covering good ol' Ray Charles. Very powerful stuff. Not sure you get the full effect via YouTube, but worth noting nonetheless. Anyone else find irony in their group being called Blind Faith and Winwood rocking out on an organ that has a distinctly 'church-y' sound to it?

NOW, in the next couple months I have some shows I'm really looking forward to. The month of April will be especially busy. I'm going to go in chronological order, here.
First up is one of my favorites, DC's own Exit Clov.

Exit Clov - Violent Berries
Exit Clov - MK Ultra

Very excited to be seeing them here on campus @ UMD College Park this Friday, 3/7.
Buy everything they have here and here.

Next, the first weekend in April is a trip up to Manhattanville College just north of NYC. In addition to checking out my friend's play, I'll be partaking in a Matt Nathanson concert. For anyone who doesn't know, Mr. Nathanson is one of the most entertaining and engaging live acts touring these days. He's in the middle of promoting his most recent release, Some Mad Hope. He's been featured on countless blogs, and even made an appearance on Fox Business Network (who knew there was such a thing?) talking about the state of the music industry. Very intelligent guy, definitely worth listening to. I consider his live album At the Point one of my favorites. Here's a track from Some Mad Hope, followed by an excellent cover. Purchase Some Mad Hope and other gems here.

Matt Nathanson - Still
Matt Nathanson - Fake Plastic Trees (Radiohead Cover)

Next up is Spoon on April 10 in Philly. Been dying to see them for quite some time, and finally the opportunity fits in with my too-busy life! Hooray! Most are familiar with these fellas from Texas, so I'll just post one quick mp3 from their latest, Ga Ga Ga Ga (I think that's enough Ga's). Purchase all their music here.

Spoon - My Little Japanese Cigarette Case

After the Spoonage is the super hyped but super awesome band, Tapes 'n Tapes. The Loon continues to be a favorite of mine, even after about 1.2 million plays. Definitely worth investigating. In addition, they have their much-anticipated full-length coming out on April 8th, titled Walk it Off. Pre-order Walk it Off and purchase the Loon here.

Tapes 'n Tapes - Insistor

Closing out my massively massive month, April concludes with Tokyo Police Club in DC on the 29th. I hold TPC and T'nT in similar regards. Both produced fantastic EPs, both are coming out with full-lengths this year (Tokyo Police Club's Elephant Shell comes out April 22nd), both of which are highly-anticipated. Plus, I get to see both within a week of each-other. Aweshum. For all your Tokyo Police Club music needs, check it here.

Tokyo Police Club - Nature of the Experiment

April is going to be a busy month. On top of all that I have research papers due in addition to working on the senior thesis. Should be a fun time! Oh, senior year...

'Til next time, true-believers!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

¡Feliz Navidad!

Now that Christmas is here, and well, since all the presents are unwrapped and naps are being had, I suppose it's time to look forward to the new year. In a previous post I listed a few new movies coming out in 2008 that I'm looking forward to. Not too far behind, Stereogum posted a list of scheduled and rumored releases for next year. All I can say is that I'm PSYCHED. Some of my favorite bands are coming out with their first new material in some time, and others who blew me away in '07 are coming back for another round in '08. I recommend checking the list out-- I'd be impressed/concerned/quite angry if you manage to read through the entire list and fail to find something to be excited about. Here's my initial list of things to be excited/appalled about:

Radiohead - In Rainbows

Cat Power - Jukebox

Chris Walla - Field Manual

Jason Collett - Here's to Being Here
Nada Surf - Lucky

February, TBA
Nas - Nigger

Colin Meloy - Skulls, Ship, Sheep

May, TBA
Death Cab For Cutie (!!)

June, TBA

Margot and the Nuclear So & So's - Animal

October, TBA
Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping (!!)

Other Acts Confirmed for New Releases
Franz Ferdinand
My Bloody Valentine

The Dandy Warhols (!!!!!)

Worth Noting
Sheryl Crow - Detours (2/5) - I'm sure we'll be hearing this all year...
Foxy Brown - Brooklyn's Don Diva (2/5) - Hahahahahahah
Hot Chip - Made in the Dark (2/5)
Lenny Kravitz - It is Time For a Love Revolution (2/5)
The Raveonettes - Lust Lust Lust (2/19)
Seven Mary Three - day&nightdriving (2/19) - HAhahahahahaha... "Cumbersome" anyone?
Janet Jackson - Discipline (2/26)
The B-52s - Funplex (3/11)
Presidents of the United States of America - These Are the Good Times People (3/11) - Really? REALLY? What's more crazy-- them having a new album, or them going on a big tour?
Counting Crows - Saturday Nights, Sunday Mornings (3/25)
50 Cent - Before I Self Destruct (March, TBA) - Musicians tend to push albums out really close together because they have a lot of great material. ...Right? Maybe he should release it on 3/11 and say that if Ashlee Simpson outsells him he'll retire-- I found it lame that he didn't carry out his promise after getting whooped by Kanye, and his attempt to seem more 'hard' (read: more like an ass) by 'admitting' that it was a marketing gimmick the two thought up was asinine. You make it easy to not give a crap about your music and take you seriously, Fiddy.
Moby - Last Night (March, TBA)
Filter - Anthems For the Damned (March, TBA)
Animal Collective - Water Curses EP (4/8) - Another album for me to hear people rave endlessly about and not get at all. Yessssssss!
The Breeders - Mountain Battles (4/8)
The Roots - Rising Down (4/29)
M83 - Saturdays = Youth (April, TBA)
Alanis Morissette - Flavors of Entanglement (April, TBA)
Silver Jews - Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea (April, TBA)
Shearwater - Rook (May, TBA)
Dr. Dre - Detox (June, TBA)
The Fray - TBA (June, TBA)
Ace of Base - TBA (September, TBA)

Coldplay, Beyonce, David Bazan, The Cure, Dan Deacon, Eve, Fergie (REALLY?), Flight of the Conchords, Gnarls Barkley, Green Day, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Mates of State, Matisyahu, Metallica, My Bloody Valentine, My Chemical Romance, My Morning Jacket, Oasis, The Offspring, R.E.M., The Streets, t.a.t.u, WEEZER - All Confirmed for '08, no dates attached.

3/11 is choc-full of crap...
Panic! at the Disco - You Don't Have to Worry... - I already hate it. Can't wait to hear "____" over and over and over again until my head explodes and the world ends.
Ashlee Simpson - Bittersweet World - What a deep album title. Can't wait for this gem that's sure to top everyone's year-end lists... oiey...

Wow, just look at that. 2008 looks to be another great year of releases. Furthermore, what is with all these '90s bands releasing new material? One commenter on Stereogum got it right--

"Filter? The Offspring? Alice in Chains? The Lemonheads? Ace of Base? Counting Crows? Green Day? The Verve? Oasis? Weezer? SEVEN MARY THREE?

Is this fucking 1995?"

I suppose you could toss Dr. Dre in there as well, but those bands up thurr do a good job representing a large part of the '90s music I remember growing up.

Overall, new Dandy Warhols, Death Cab, Nada Surf, Colin Meloy, Weezer, My Bloody Valentine and of Montreal have me the most excited. Can't wait! Happy Holidays everyone!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I Need a Time Machine

This movie needs to be out last week. I've watched the trailer a few times already, and forced myself to stop just so I wouldn't ruin it. I sent it to everyone I know after a friend sent it to me, ala-chain mail style, because everyone needs to see this trailer right now. If you know anyone who is sleeping, infirm, comatose, asleep, in a desert or jungle or even blind, cure them of their handicaps and get them to a computer right now. This movie is going to be huge. Batman Begins ushered in a new era of Batman films, and this is continuing in the darker, film-noir-esque (if that is a real term, it shouldn't be) direction that Christopher Nolan is taking the franchise. No longer will fans be subjected to cartoony weirdos in spandex and superheroes with chest plates giving them larger chests than the female lead (although I will admit that, due to my idol-worship of Jim Carrey at the time of Batman Forever, I did enjoy it immensely, and still do. But Uma and Arnold? Please...) I digress... Health Ledger looks and sounds great as Joker, and Maggie Gyllenhal still looks tired (but cute, somehow?), and well, what is there to say about Christian Bale? He's redefined the role completely. Well done, sir. A friend of mine summed it up quite well already: summer can't come soon enough.

Even before summer comes, there are a great deal of movies coming out in 2008 that are worth looking forward to. Here is a quick list of some movies to look forward to in 2008:
Cloverfield; RAMBO; Fanboys (I'm a sucker for Kristen Bell dressed as Princess Leia); Be Kind, Rewind (Michel Gondry!); Was anyone aware they're making Horton Hears a Who and Where the Wild Things Are into movies?!?!; Run, Fat Boy, Run; 21; Harold and Kumar ESCAPE FROM GUANTANAMO BAY?!?!; Iron Man; Speed Racer (worth a shot, I guess...); Indiana Jones; a new Incredible Hulk starring Edward Norton, instead of the disappointing performance by the otherwise incredible Eric Bana; Get Smart; the X-Files sequel... can't wait!

Sunday, December 16, 2007


After fourteen long weeks of frustration and painful losses the Miami Dolphins finally managed to pull out a win over the Baltimore Ravens. In true Dolphin fashion it took overtime and a little bit of luck thanks to a missed field goal; but in the end Greg Camarillo displayed blazing speed and turned a ten yard pass by Cleo Lemon into a season changing touchdown. I have heard a lot of people say, ‘why don’t you want them to lose, then you could be the only team to go 17 – 0 and 0 – 16.’ But the fact of the matter is no one wants that. I know I didn’t, I know other Dolphin fans didn’t, and it is clear the Dolphin players didn’t. Even though it will most likely be our only win of the season it is one that will be remembered for quite some time.

This win was more then just a bad team managing to win one game; it really showed something that is very hard to find in the NFL these days… pride. If you asked, I bet there is no one able to name more then five players on the field for the Dolphins, but they came out and they gave everything they had. It shows when after Camarillo ran into the end zone every Dolphin ran to celebrate. This was a team that has worked just as hard as any other and their work just never paid off. Today, they were not playing for records, they were not playing for money, they were doing something rare in sports: they were playing for themselves. The locker room atmosphere was like they just won the Super Bowl-- owner Wayne Huizenga was even seen crying in the owner’s booth. If there is something that can be gained from today’s game, it is that the Dolphins showed the world that they are not going to pack it in. They came out and played for themselves, and they were finally rewarded. My hats off to you Cam Cameron, Jason Taylor, Cleo Lemon, and all of the other Dolphins, you deserved this one!



Saturday, December 15, 2007

Top Gear is the Best Show in the History of Television

"Top Gear," a BBC gem for over two decades (although the current format is only, say, one decade or so old...) is quite simply amazing. The three presenters offer something for everyone. Jeremy Clarkson is your obstinate, pain-in-the ass friend who knows everything and refuses to ever budge-- but you love anyway. Richard Hammond is the one you always root for-- the most amenable, most charismatic, and most relatable. James May, AKA "Captain Slow," is the conservative and even-tempered conscience for the other two to balance them out when they push too hard on the gas in a Zonda or want to strap an extra rocket to a car (YEAH). The show is centered around testing automobiles in creative ways and providing reviews of them in a surprisingly efficient and effective manner. In addition, the aesthetic quality of the show is remarkable. The cinematography is fantastic-- but then again, when the focus is a Bugatti Veyron, how could any view be bad?

Richard Hammond and Top Gear Dog (that's what they've named the dog)

There are a myriad of reasons as to why I love this show. First, I'm a sucker for anything British. I find myself utilizing fun British colloquialisms like 'rubbish' and 'such and such is called...' (as opposed to 'such and such's name is...). Also, I love how they make fun of footballers' car selections, and use them as an example of what is 'rubbish' or not. That said, there are occasions when I have no clue what the hell is going on. I'd provide an example but often I can't even figure out what the guys are even saying. Now I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Jeremy Clarkson has come under scrutiny for a number of comments about gays, Germans, and well... bus drivers? The second, most glaring bit of awesomeness to come out of Top Gear is that they do the most ridiculous things with cars. Essentially, these gents (that was a natural use-- I wanted to edit it out but I felt it proper to leave it in) are the epitome of boys with toys. I absolutely detest the overuse of that phrase, but trust me, this is boys with toys. In one episode, James and Hammond ("Hamster") play a traditional British children's game called "conkers" WITH CARS. Knowing the specifics of the game is not relevant-- just know that the two hung caravans (our equivalent of a travel trailer, typically hitched onto the back of a car or truck) from cranes and swung them at each other in hopes of hitting each other and knocking the crap out of the other. In the Winter Olympics episode, the guys did a number of exciting things. First, they did a biathlon pitting Jeremy in a Volvo XC90 (which he owns) against James in an Audi Q7. They raced each other through a snow course, then had to shoot targets-- all in Lillehammer, the site of the 1994 Winter Olympics. Later, the team filled a snow-covered field with ten Suzuki Swifts... and a giant inflatable hockey puck. Easily one of the most amazing five+ minutes of television I've seen in my life. There's no point in describing it. I'll post a link to download episodes at the end of the post. The finale of the episode one of my favorites: they put a car down a ski jump. But this wasn't just pushing some car down a ski jump with a hope and a prayer. They added rockets to it, and shot that big boy down! PURE AWESOME fed by petrol.

I'd also like to briefly mention how diverse and impressive their music selections are. During their skits or reviews you'll hear anything from Bloc Party to ELO to Led Zeppelin (and fine, to include a band not from Britain, you'll even hear Lynyrd Skynyrd), and it always fits quite well into the segment.

Overall, Top Gear is a solid show from top to bottom. There's far too much to praise and discuss for one post here-- these are just a few shimmers of light. I promise you, there will be more Top Gear posts to come in the future. Oh yes, there will be more...

You can read news updates and download full episodes from Final
Download here for the lazy ones...
Also, occasionally posts extra materials cut from shows.

PS- Final exams and finals papers are 'rubbish.'

The Post-Mitchell Era is Upon Us...

Well, George Mitchell has released his report on the use of steroids in baseball. So, what now? Does the baseball-loving universe burn every baseball card, every jersey, every poster in effigy (although does anyone own a Rondell White or Matt Herges jersey? I sincerely hope not...) and forget the sport ever existed? Or do we forge ahead, sit through the next few months, years, decades of hearings, trials and press conferences about new forms of testing or new players being named? After some days of reflection and hypothesizing, I have absolutely no clue what the Post-Mitchell Era will bring. I already hate calling it that. Argh.

What I haven't read or heard yet is what this is doing to baseball in general. I can't imagine explaining this to a child-- especially a child whose favorite player is among the ones implicated by the report. To be a child during all of this must be extremely confusing. The nature of the conversation between a parent and child explaining "What are steroids?" must be as awkward as the way the "Birds and the Bees" talk is portrayed on television. 'Well, son/daughter, it's when a player decides that even though their body has decided that it is time to quit or slow down, they disagree and shoot chemicals into their body in order to continue to compete and make more money.' You definitely can't include the improving performance part, c'mon, this is the after-school special version.

Holman Stadium: Vero Beach, FL- Winter home of the LA Dodgers

Furthermore, what does this mean when fans step into ballparks next year? Starting with Spring Training in February/March, people will be heading south and west to watch their teams warm up for the 2008 season. I for one was considering making my way down to Dodgertown, USA (the original, not the fake West version in Arizona) for the Dodgers' final year in Vero Beach. The Dodgers were actually the first team to hold spring training, and Dodgertown is known for it's historic appeal. Earlier this year, the higher-ups announced that the team would officially be moving to Dodgertown West in Arizona, thus leaving Vero Beach and the original post behind for the foreseeable future. When I first heard the news, I was quite hurt, yet excited-- as I knew a Feldman trip to Dodgertown may happen. Now, any trip to Dodgertown may be tainted. What is that guy doing there? What is the package he's carrying? Naturally, I'm being overly cynical. But the point is the same, and I know that even if I do go, I'll at least be joking about steroids-- and that's not the point of the trip. Bottom line: steroids and the Mitchell Report have already been a great detriment to the sport of baseball, and it's only been two days since the report was published.

As far as next season: Will anyone care? Will ticket sales for Spring Training, or for the rest of the season be affected? Will the record books be altered? Will former Hall of Fame locks or potentials be cast aside? Surely, only time will tell. One thing is for certain: the 2008 season will be another one for the record books.

EDIT: As is quite common, letters to the editor posted on proving to touch on some of the deeper-than-flesh issues not yet discussed. Definitely worth visiting if only to read over a few of the letters.