Archive for January, 2008

Turn the Music Down and My Mic Up

A cappella projects, which were once tucked away safely in the “no-way-is-that-acceptable-or-enjoyable” corner of my mind, have been making me turn my head lately. Dokaka and his multi-tracked a cappella metal covers are nothing short of amazing. And while the thought of listening to a “glee club” sing covers of punk songs sounds like a torture that enemy forces could use on me to get me to spill my beans in an interrogation, I have to admit that The Blue Ribbon Glee Club are pretty fun.

Two more tidbits of a cappella fun from the stars:

Diamond David Lee Roth’s a cappella from “Runnin With the Devil“, off Van Halen’s 1978 self-titled debut (via Chunklet)

Mr. “I Am my own drug!” himself, Lil Wayne, stupefies us once again on “Dr Carter

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The Big Appetite

On any given day, there’s no shortage of quality food writing in the American press. Here are some of the latest fresh catches concentrating on New York fare: The New York Times runs a follow-up story about the levels of mercury in the fish New Yorkers eat. (And yes, the Times does have a “Mercury in Tuna Navigator.”) The front-page bombshell from last week (read the story here) stirred this rebuttal from Slate’s Jack Shafer. Meanwhile, in the LA Weekly, the venerable epicurean Jonathan Gold takes Manhattan, critiquing pork preparation at various spots and eating “everything but the squeal.” And the Boston Globe rolls up its sleeves for the “Boston-New York Food Super Bowl.” Prediction: Heartburn by halftime.

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Downward Trends in Hollywood’s Down Months

During the dry spell between the holiday release schedule, when prestigious Oscar-bait pictures are front and center, and the eventual Oscar feeding frenzy that follows, Hollywood routinely dishes out its lighter fare (for example, this weekend’s winners: Meet the Spartans and Rambo). But the morning papers show more signs of stress throughout the industry. The Guardian opines that this year’s Sundance Film Festival “will go down as one of the worst in recent memory.” The LA Times notes that “back-burner literary projects move to the forefront as the [WGA] strike continues.” The NY Times reports that the sales of HD DVD players are plunging after Warner Brothers announced it was abandoning support of the new format. The Times also critiques the inconsistencies of the MPAA’s rulings on on-screen cigarette smoking leading to a R-ratings. The Times‘ positive twist: “Direct-to-DVD Releases Shed Their Loser Label.”

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Photography Book Roundup

Looking for good photography books? Luckily there is no shortage these days. Some of our recent favorites: Peter Beste, who has contributed and been profiled in our magazine, has a new website and a new book of his Norwegian Black Metal photographs coming out in May. Serbian-born, NYC-bred photographer Boogie has his second monograph out now. Pat Graham, who shot Isaac Brock for our cover story with him, just released Silent Pictures, a collection of images from his years as a music photographer, with amazing images of Fugazi, Modest Mouse, Tortoise and Bikini Kill, to name a few. And if you yearn for something with a little bit more historical context, Taschen’s new Brassai, Paris book is an impressive testament to Brassai, one of Paris’ most celebrated photographers of the early 20th century. That should get your started.

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Mitt Romney’s Headphone Masterpiece

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Busta’s Crimes, Lil’s Misdemeanors

It’s been a tough week for a handful of heavyweights in hip-hop. By the time Lil Wayne got to Arizona, his tour bus was pulled over and a dog uncovered the stash. In New York, Busta Rhymes was sentenced on Wednesday to three years probation for four separate incidents. And music mogul Marion “Suge” Knight (pictured here) “has been named by police as a member of a notorious gang in a crime-plagued suburb of Los Angeles.” … In news from the other side of the pond (and musical universe), the Associated Press went for an uncharacteristically subjective headline with this one: “Winehouse in rehab? Yes yes yes

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David Lynch vs. The iPhone

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Thrilling Boredom

Everyone’s favorite Japanese visionaries, the Boredoms, are not only returning to the US for a series of lives dates, but have also switched labels. They left Vice, the label who reissued their Super Roots series and helped them produce 77 Boardrum, and made the jump to Chicago’s stalwart indie, Thrill Jockey. Thrill Jockey is releasing Super Roots 9 in April, which is a live recording of a show on Christmas Eve in 2004, which featured a 20-person choir. Truthfully, we don’t really care what label they’re on, as long as they keep releasing their records and bringing them back here to play shows. Upcoming live dates here.

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Idjah Hadidjah - Tonggeret

This is the title-track from a record featuring Idjah Hadidjah and Gugum Gumbira’s Jugala Orchestra. The music is mostly Sundanese in origin — it incorporates elements of Balinese Gamelan, as far as instrumentation and some techniques, but it’s much slinkier and, in general, a bit slower. This music is designed to go directly alongside a dance known as Jaipong, which was largely Gugum Gumbira’s baby, and the result of a ban on Western music in 1961 by the asshole Indonesian president, Soekarno. Ironically, despite an attempt to follow the government’s wishes regarding the preservation of traditional indigenous musics of Indonesia, this Jaipong dance — along with its Sundanese music — was deemed far too sexy for the Indonesian government when it debuted in 1974. Needless to say, by the time the Eighties rolled around, it was all the rage. It was popular specifically in Bandung, where Gumbira had his recording studio and his orchestra. Bandung, in my limited experience, is the “other” Mecca for music in Indonesia. I learned all of this information from some friends that work at a radio station while I was visiting Jakarta and Bandung. I can’t quite corroborate all of it, but it seems to match up with whatever can be found online.

The song itself makes every Western asshole with ProTools and the Auto-Tune plug-in completely irrelevant, since it was released in 1987. Idjah Hadidjah’s voice is the most original thing I’ve heard in a long time. These days, the things she can do with that voice are only possible with Ableton Live and a great deal of patience. Top it off with the classic P-Diddy style homey in the background, singing along and giving Sundanese shoutouts, and you have a classic club banger.

– Post by Joshua Eustis of Telefon Tel Aviv

Audio - Idjah Hadidjah - Tonggeret

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And the Nominees Are…

For a printable version of this year’s Academy Award nominees, click here. For insights on the films and filmmakers that have posted here at STOP SMILING, consider revisiting interviews with Best Actress nominee Laura Linney; Robert Elswit (cinematographer) and Jack Fisk (production designer) of There Will Be Blood; Alex Gibney, director of the Oscar-nominated documentary Taxi to the Dark Side; as well as reviews of No Country for Old Men, Sweeney Todd, Sicko and I’m Not There

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