Archive for February, 2009


New Depeche Mode video, but not song

February 28, 2009

The dark and disturbing video for Depeche Mode‘s new single, “Wrong,” for the album Sounds of the Universe, scheduled for release on April 21 in North America. I’m not much of a video person, but this one grabbed me through to the end and then I watched it again – it hits the right balance between narrative and obliquity.

Depeche Mode’s label, EMI, seems to be aggressively policing people posting the MP3—Hype Machine leads you to a trail of dead links and deleted Blogger posts—so I decided against joining their ranks. You can purchase the single at iTunes.


Threesome: retro gay anthems

February 27, 2009

Listen up, possums: LGBT themes in popular music did not start with YMCA and end with Katy Perry kissing a girl and liking it. So in honor of Sean Penn’s Oscar win for his portrayal of Harvey Milk, this “Commie, homo-loving writer proudly presents three retro gay gems from the vault.

First up is Elton Motello‘s 1977 punk treasure “Jet Boy Jet Girl,” written from the point of view of a gay teenager who is essentially the flip side of Katy Perry’s ‘experiment’ – after a brief fling with him, his lover returns to girls. I suspect it doesn’t get a lot of airplay in the United States, since in 1989, Florida station WIOD was fined $10,000 by the FCC for playing it. But it was in regular rotation in the UK and Canada, and has been covered by bands including The Damned.

Next up is a dance hit by John Water’s favorite actor (or -ress), Divine: “You Think You’re A Man.” Released in 1984, it reached #16 on the UK charts and even landed Divine a spot on Top of the Pops. However, it never charted in the US. (seeing a pattern here?)

Finally, Canada’s Rough Trade were a new-wave band who were, as their name implies, unabashedly sexual. Their song “High School Confidential,” made it into the Canadian Top 20, one of the first explicitly lesbian-themed songs to be a Top 40 hit anywhere in the world. And, oh yeah, this was 1981.

MP3: Elton Motello – Jet Boy Jet Girl

MP3: Divine – You Think You’re A Man

MP3: Rough Trade – High School Confidential


Comic: Every Album Ever

February 26, 2009


[click image for larger version]

Winston Rowntree, of the brilliantly wordy webcomic Subnormality, dissects the album. Click for larger version at

MP3: Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip – Thou Shalt Always Kill [buy]


Randomly-generated music albums

February 26, 2009


In case you’re not keeping on top of Internet viral goings-on, there’s a new meme that I think is fairly interesting, conceptually. It’s nominally known as ‘Wikipedia Names Your Band,’ and the idea is to create an album cover using a randomly-generated band name (from a Wikipedia entry), album title (from a quotation), and image (from Flickr’s interestingness pool). This is clearly a descendent of the Surrealist party game, Exquisite Corpse. The difference is that, in the former version, human creativity and agency entered for each component, but the whole was randomly generated. With this Internet meme, each component is random, but the creator gets the opportunity to form a cohesive whole through graphic design. As well, our baseline expectations for record albums is for a certain amount of disconnect for the three elements; it’s the meaningful juxtapositions that violate these expectations.

Or, of course, it could just be another silly Internet meme.

Take a look at the Flickr pool and feel free to share your favorites in the comments, or create your own and tell us about it here.

MP3: Franz Ferdinand – No You Girls [buy] [Franz Ferdinand]

Image: tamachi station – something he can understand by Flickr user sharpener, reposted here under its Creative Commons license.


The Decemberists want you to design a poster

February 25, 2009


The Decemberists are headlining NPR’s opening night showcase at SXSW, where they’ll be playing the entirety of their new album The Hazards of Love, scheduled for release on the 24th. Their label, Capitol Records, has teamed up with Imeem to sponsor a contest to design a poster for the show. You can find full details here.

If you’re going to be in Austin, their show is at Stubb’s on Wednesday, March 18th. Even if you’re not in Texas, you can still get in on the act; NPR will be streaming them live at their SXSW site.

MP3: The Decemberists – The Rake’s Song [pre-order]


$99 Music Videos

February 25, 2009

$99 Music Videos hopes to occupy the space between fan-created videos and traditional music videos. The brainchild of Next New Networks, the rules are simple: the video has to be made for less than $99, it has to be shot in one day, it has to be edited in one day and—this is where it’s really differentiated from fan videos—it has to be made with the collaboration of the band. The idea is to bring together emerging bands with enthusiastic filmmakers: the band gets a video, the filmmaker gets exposure, and Next New Networks gets its cut via the (occasionally intrusive) advertising. Every video has a companion making-of video, in which the creators get to document how they worked within the constraints (here’s the one for La Strada’s “The Sun Song” video, above); for someone who’s interested in how things tick, they might be more interesting than the videos themselves.

Want to make your own? Go find a band you like, or a fan who’s up for shooting a video, get five twenties out of an ATM, and submit your own video here.

Wired has a longer interview with the site creators here.

MP3: La Strada – The Sun Song