Monthly Archives: March 2011

The talking heads are sharing one speech bubble

An art critic and historian came to our campus today and made the statement to the effect of “Let’s be honest, there is nothing more boring than reading the feelings of twenty-somethings. They are all the same.”

I have a feeling that this might be true. Twenty-somethings, do you also all feel this is true?

 

 

 

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Eisley – The Valley

Another review for The Chimes:

In today’s age of technological advancement, rampant information, and instantaneous accessibility, the A-list seems to be increasingly filling up with younger names. This seems to have exploded in recent years, but back before it wasn’t completely ridiculous to hear that Justin Bieber might be in your next intro to psychology class, Eisley was already turning heads with their double edged sword of mature sounding music and demure youthfulness. Their cohesive vision was cemented through a realized integration of their lyrics, art, fashion, and music, which might have very well made them instrumental in forming the popular modern penchant for “vintage culture.” Their first album Room Noises was full of scenes seemingly taken from some shelved Lewis Carroll fable, and Eisley has always been accompanied by images of muted earthtone colored woodcut stencil images of smiling suns, Victorian dressed adolescents, birdcages, and animals with suits on. As if they knew that world would become overexposed, their criminally underappreciated sophomore effort Combinations kept that flavor to a minimum and explored classic themes of self-reflection. Their latest record The Valley follows suit, tackling relationships, impressions, and the ever-unusual dance of human interaction.

 

The Valley retains a significant tightness, which can be explained either as more structured or simply evidence of maturity. It’s a bit unusual since the subject matter does seem to be a bit less “profound” compared to Combinations. Here we find the women of Eisley singing about relationship woes almost exclusively, and all in ways we’ve heard before, whereas the reflections on familial tensions in their second album was perhaps less cliché. The stories are still just as personal though, and vocalist Sherri DuPree , formerly married to Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory, references her break-up as influencing much of the lyrics in The Valley.

The instrumentation itself and even the way these melodic hooks fall on the ears seems a bit more confident and seasoned, as if there were audibly noticeable years of wisdom in the riffs alone between this album and the last. The rolling chorus on “Watch It Die” compliments it’s bouncy hand-clapping verses in a way that would never occur in an earlier Eisley record, and “Oxygen Mask” is infused with a subtle foot-stomping shuffle, giving it a memorable distinction from the rest of the songs. Since the band’s “sound” is so defined and well preserved, making each song unique is a skill they’ve had to work especially hard at. Combinations was a start and perhaps this album is their best effort in accomplishing that delicate balance.

The music sounds more poppy, maybe due to lead singers Sherri and Stacy DuPree getting married to frontmen of pop and rock styled bands (Max Bemis of Say Anything and Darren King of Mutemath, respectively.) This fresh emphasis on song structure will probably serve the band most in the long run. Previously the DuPree sisters proved to the world that they could sing, but often by laying alternate vocal parts over each other, producing gorgeous sounds, but also a muddled and therefore forgettable melody. Here, the voices combine with the rest of the band to serve and provide a showcase for the song, rather than the other way around.

The song titles are simple as usual, (“Sad,” “Smarter,” “Please,” and “I Wish” to name a few) but the lyrics are stronger and feel more natural. Some lines in previous albums seemed written on the spot without edits, and came off as undeniably awkward, but here the band has discovered that even phonetic sounds matter. They still retain traces of their fairy tale roots, and sometimes this is a welcome trait. Other times they give way to overly theatrical lines that not even a pretty song can pass off as unnoticeable, for example combining the exhaustible poetic “Oh!” with the character “Mr. Moon.” Pseudo nursery rhymes can be done well, and who better to illustrate this than Eisley, but sometimes it feels misplaced. Thankfully there is enough content here to excuse these moments. The line is completed as “Oh, Mr. Moon, shines down on my home, it’s where I belong without you…” which is in itself an interesting idea, especially within the song’s greater picture.

The album closes with “Ambulance,” a hopeful plea for rescue. With real life relationships for the most part intact, it seems Eisley has little to worry about in their band career as well.

Branching out

2 prose poems. Hopefully I’ll be writing/posting more with some level of regularity.

 

 

I.

Nonpareil

Up in their clay caves, the one eyed men would stare out into the valley.

They had much to attend to: stone pots cooking veal, hairy cyclops children teething on tigerbones. Still, they paid a mute veneration at the sun’s daily dive to the long side of the mountain. Too simple to invent a new sound to express it, they only stood and watched, sometimes for hours.

I am sitting in a yellow room, the window half drawn, under a similar spell. Somehow I have found a way to make my blood heavy.

 

 

 

II.

There was never a game too small for Lyla.  One morning she found a wooden top painted the colors of each season in her mother’s sewing machine cabinet. Some afternoons she would spin it and lay with her chin on her hands watching it turn, as though she were gazing away years blurring together. Outside, horseshoes clacked against the road; to the town hall and back again. At that time she could not yet understand the thunderclouds forming in her body.

 

 

 

 

Dust

The following is a project by Thomas Edwards and Ujin Lee, on Photography Served, which I have since observed to be kind of irregular. But once in a while something will really catch my eye, which is constantly being trained into having “photo-guy criticism” similar to when “film-guy critics” watch movies and find a boom mic shadow in an outdoor shot and throw a tantrum in your living room.

This project though is not only visually incredible and psychologically stimulating, but it’s technique baffles me, despite all my photo behind the scenes magic knowledge I’ve been trying to collect over the past few months. Message me if you have any idea how they did it. Or don’t. Maybe I’d rather not know. Maybe I’d prefer believing that they blackmailed a ghost. P.S. Ujin Lee’s portfolio is quite the portfolio.

Fake Criterions

My roommate Logan told me about a tumblr site called fake criterions that posted covers for movies which have no chance of ever getting to be in the Criterion Collection. It sounded awesome but I’m unable to find the site as it’s listed as a parked domain. Google search produced some results though, which are about as intriguing as they are hilarious. They manage to make fun of bad movies, the Criterion snobbery, and design patterns all at once. It is pretty fascinating that some people have found a science for the cover aesthetic of quality content.


Less is more

This guy has decided to accomplish substantial levels of trippy with as little resources as possible. Forget .gif generating capabilities on a repeating Rorschach pattern, or strategically alternating color values. How about just a razorblade and two photos.

Also, I happened to be listening to Radiohead’s “Feral” from The King of Limbs while looking at this guy’s work which quadrupled the experience. Interesting to see how even one mutation throws off everything.

 

Music Wars

Mash-ups are big in the information age. I suppose we have so much of everything, so why not have fun and smoosh it together? Like all things, it can get too overboard or it can be great. I’ve recently been getting into some of the more prominent mash-up artists like Girl Talk, The Hood Internet, and projects like Jaydiohead. Blending in music gave way to blending in memes, when memes took over the reason for the information age: the internet.

So when music and memes are both mashed together create a hybrid mashup, the result has to be awesome right?
Exhibit A:




P.S. in case you don’t know what these are from, it’s Radiohead’s Lotus Flower music video + Biebz’ cameo on CSI.