Date Archives June 2011

‘Aggro Crag’ feat. Sandra Wallace by RareBit

RareBit's Destroyer EP

RareBit aka Justin Hopkins

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I received an email over the weekend from the folks at Non Projects about a new guy they’ve taken on called RareBit. His real name is Justin Hopkins, he’s a 24 year old guy from Los Angeles who also works as a designer and illustrator, and obviously, a maker of fine beats. He’s just released his first EP called Destroyer, which has eight tracks that are a prelude of what’s to come with his full length album later this year.

I’m totally digging this track called Aggro Crag, for both the music and the title, which definitely takes me back. The song features Sandra Wallace lending some vocals which are laid over a bunch of sounds Justin recorded from around the world. There’s jangle of guitars reminds me of the Dirty Projectors song Bitte Orca, but way better. It’s also got an 80’s video game kinda sound to it as well, which also takes me back some. If you dig this track, be sure to listen to the rest.

You can listen to and purchase the EP by clicking here.

Bobby

YACHT’s Shangri-La: A Sneak Peek Courtesy of NPR

YACHT's Shangri-La on NPR

If you haven’t heard of a little Portland by way of Los Angeles by way of Marfa, Texas band called YACHT, you have been missing out on a lot in music. Firstly, they are pop/rock band with traces of electronic influence that sing fun, fun, fun songs. Secondly, they are extremely high concept, singing songs from the point of view of gods, chanting about heaven and hell, and have–somewhat ironically, somewhat seriously–created their own religion and vernacular online. I feel that the geniuses behind this–Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans–are artistic masters who will eventually dupe us with a bigger plan for Young Americans Challenging High Technology (what YACHT stands for).

This Tuesday, June 21, the band will release their second album on DFA. Coming from the one-man-Jona-Bechtolt-show of I Believe In You. Your Magic Is Real. to the summer album of 2009 See Mystery Lights, the band has come quite far. Jona brought in Claire with the first go on DFA and really changed the sound, image, and ideals behind the group. See Mystery Lights was a fun, fantastic album with many songs in he-sang/she-sang style about psychosis and death and obsession with things grim–all wrapped in a clever, danceable, bright yellow bow.

With their new album Shangri-La, the band takes the next step: they become gods. Instead of focusing on the afterlife still, the band now speaks of utopias and dystopias and being male and female, dwelling in a realm they’ve created that is all encompassing: a paradise to the gods that they are (or, at least singing from)–their Shangri-La. The album capitalizes on Claire’s singing with Jona handling much of the production. From the pensive “Paradise Engineering” to the baptismal Love In The Dark to the beautiful closer Shangri-La, the songs blip and bloop with a dark happiness that is the band–all headed by Almost-Annie-Lenox Claire this go around. Jona jumps in at a few points, singing on the entrancing/Welcome-To-Our-Coven Tripped and Fell In Love and I Walked Alone. However, the majority of the album he sings in unison or to compliment Claire.

The resulting album is absolutely fantastic and bound to be the summer album of 2011 (but not of they year: they think Planningtorock has taken that title. I can concur, somewhat.). Although it is available next week, NPR has kindly teamed up with the band to provide an early listen. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and I hope to see you in Shangri-La (which may or may not be Los Angeles).

KYLE

Space Suit of the Week

Sandi and Sally on the Lawrence Welk Show

Sandi and Sally Lawrence Welk Show

This is so bizarre. Between 1968 and 1973 many exciting things were happening at NASA; chief among them: landing on the moon. The same time period was exciting for the musical duo Sandi and Sally as they enjoyed a streak of stardom on The Lawrence Welk Show. If you’ve never seen The Lawrence Welk Show, which ran for over 27 years on ABC, you must not have ever watched PBS during a fundraising drive. You’re also missing out on a part of the sixties: the variety show. As social unrest and blah-de-blah swept across college campuses, these two gals offered to “take us to the moon tonight” while veering electric scooters around large foam rocks.

The space suits they wear are nothing fancy or too serious. I would imagine the suits made by someone busily trying to complete sets of matching lederhosen for the upcoming musical act, which could easily be 10 brothers, all playing the accordion and singing. This is space suit pastiche, one of many motifs used to creative the variety necessary for a variety show. And the strange thing is that I cannot watch this without being reminded of rocky times that NASA would endure in the 70’s as public interest waned in ever going to the moon again. It was expensive to go there, we played golf when we did, and  Sandi and Sally were not there.

Alex

‘Salvatore & George’ by Invisible Creature

Sasquatch! Toys: Salvatore & George by Invisible Creature

Sasquatch! Toys: Salvatore & George by Invisible Creature

The Sasquatch festival in George, Washington celebrated its 10th anniversary last month and to mark the occasion they made two really cool collectible figures based on the festival’s mascots: Salvatore and George. These awesome little guys look really neat and they were made by Don Clark at Invisible Creature (with the help of the guys at Super 7 Toys).

Normally when I go to a music festival, the merch stand is filled with over-priced hoodies and poorly printed posters, so I’m impressed to see a festival that seems to take a little more interest and care when it comes to producing these kind of things. I’d like to imagine that I’m not bought off by music merchandise, but the truth is that I’m a sucker for it, and I know that I’d definitely buy these cute little guys over an incredibly expensive tote bag or t-shirt. In fact, if you want, you can still buy both Salvatore and George as a set for a fairly reasonable $20 here. Indeed, the whole identity of The Sasquatch festival looked great this year and you should check out the excellent poster and trailer which Don and his brother Ryan worked on below the cut.

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Hvass&Hannibal

Hvass & Hannibal

Hvass & Hannibal

Hvass & Hannibal

Hvass & Hannibal

It’s been almost three years since I wrote about Nan Na Hvass, who works as apart of the duo called Hvass&Hannibal. Working together in Copenhagen, these two are doing a huge range of projects, everything from furniture, to album design, to posters and tons more. Honestly though, I think the range of work they do is the most inspiring part of it all. In my mind they have a really distinctive, colorful style, and the fact that they can apply it to so many different mediums is really fantastic. If you’re unfamiliar or haven’t visited their work in a while, I highly suggest you go through all of their projects, there’s so much great work to look over.

Bobby

‘Between The Folds: An Origami Documentary’

Between The Folds, An Origami Documentary from PBS

Between The Folds, An Origami Documentary from PBS

Between The Folds, An Origami Documentary from PBS

Netflix Instant Watch has to be one of the best things technology has gifted us. You can find so many new movies and television shows from so many different genres, any time that you want. One of the best parts for me is the documentary selection, which is surprisingly large and full of very interesting features. There are quite a lot of PBS and National Geographic specials as well, which oftentimes go overlooked as you flock to things like Man On Wire or The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.

One PBS gem I watched recently was a documentary called Between the Folds about origami artists. The documentary was absolutely fascinating, detailing this complex artform from building paper all the way to folding a sheet one hundred and fifty times. The documentary breaks down the artists by what movement they would fall into: we hear from a traditional French artist, a Post Modern artist that only uses one fold, a mathematical prodigy whose work is being put into architectural practice, and many other amazing artists.

The film spans the world and artistic medias to showcase what origami has become. You also are shown several practical applications for paper folding, as the paper art is used inspire everything from construction to algorithms to more origami techniques. I’m always fascinated and feel a great deal smarter when I learn how art, science, and math interact with each other for the good of the world. You may just think it is about silly paper folding and about a weird subculture of papercrafters, but you quickly realize that these artists are likely the most overlooked yet most influential in society. Definitely add this film to your Instant Queue.

KYLE

‘The Same But Different’ by Jan Avendano

Jan Avendano

Jan Avendano

Jan Avendano

Jan Avendano

Click images to enlarge

Jan Avendano is a Toronto based graphic designer who’s created this awesome project called The Same But Different. She describes the project as “An ongoing series based off one underlying grid structure and made into individual pieces through the reinterpretation of said structure, colour and shape.” Her interpretations of this grid are so beautiful and so varied. I love that she pushed herself in all of these different directions, my favorite being the collection of lines that sort of make your eyes cross. I’d also suggest you check out her other project called January Correspondence, a bunch of collages created, scanned and mailed out to friends and random strangers.

Bobby

Music Video for ‘Surfer Hymn’ by Panda Bear

Music Video for 'Surfer Hymn' by Panda Bear

Music Video for 'Surfer Hymn' by Panda Bear

Music Video for 'Surfer Hymn' by Panda Bear

The guys from m ss ng p eces are it again, this time working with Panda Bear on his latest music video for his song Surfer Hymn. The video is dedicated to surfers taken by the sea, which I think is a beautiful way to frame the video. It’s part Día de los Muertos part Tim Burton, which obviously means it’s rad. I’m thinking they used black lights or something to get the skeletons and boards to glow and then upped the contrast a ton. Definitely watch the whole thing!

Bobby

The Roof that Goes Up in Smoke

The roof that goes up in smoke by Overtreders W

The roof that goes up in smoke by Overtreders W

The roof that goes up in smoke by Overtreders W

Photos by Reinder Bakker, a principle of Overtreders W

The formal simplicity of this pavilion is a credit to the designers, Overtreders W. Originally completed for an art festival, Allerzielen.nu, “the roof that goes up in smoke” lived over the course of some holiday that I’m too american to know about. The site lists the location as mobiel and rather embarsingly, I tried to find a town in the Netherlands called Mobiel. I asked myself: “How have I missed this town? Is it a forty person village?” Guess what? Mobiel and mobile mean the same thing as in: it can move. Anyway, the reason the formal simplicity of the pavilion is impressive is because it’s accomplishing various tasks using one trusty appliance: the wood-burning stove.

The inflated roof relies on positive air pressure provided by the rising, warm air from the stove. The pavilion uses heat generated for the roof to influence the function of the space. You can sit at the tables under a glowing pillow and roast some nuts or a potato… even hot chocolate. In America, we would likely use the fire to heat a vat of oil and make french fries; whatever brings people together. And it’s easy to see how people in the small Dutch town of Mobiel are drawn this warm and softly-lit architectural mechanism. It’s simple, but reassuring to give purpose to spaces: you know what to do when you go there. But you may still have to ask yourself “What is this holiday about again?”

The pavilion is now for available for rent. This is a great idea for all the gay New Yorkers about to get gay married

Alex

Sarah Hermans

Sarah Hermans

Sarah Hermans

Sarah Hermans

While diving through Flickr last night I came across these wonderful photos by Sarah Hermans, another Belgian artist who’s photos were stunning. At 21, she’s already got a great eye for composition and color, as you can see above. They kind of remind me of old photos I used to take with this Nokia phone I bought off the internet like 7 years ago. Lots of grit and grain and some really interesting color shifts happening as well. These photos are from a set called Picturing Scapes, though I’d also suggest you check out another of her sets called These Grounds, especially the first two photos of what look like glaciers. If you’re interested in learning more about her there’s a short interview with her over on Centritis that gives you some background on her and her work.

Bobby