Saturday, May 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Morrissey

My absolute favorite artist in the world turns 51 today. Cheers!

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

John Lydon Takes On NPR

John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten of Sex Pistols fame, is currently on the road with his second band, a newly reformed Public Image Limited for their first North American tour in 18 years. I want to say that PiL and Lydon last galavanted around the States for one of MTV's 120 Minutes tours way back when, when I was too young to go?

In yesterday's edition (May 11) of All Songs Considered on NPR, Lydon joined host Bob Boilen for a chat about the reunion tour and the two also discussed some of his favorite songs, both PiL and non, and exchanged plenty of jabs. It was definitely one of the most entertaining podcasts I've heard on All Songs Considered in ages. Lydon was his usual spunky, surly self, but also quite endearing and funny.

"I love writing and making music and it's the be all and end all for me. Yes, I enjoy my Sex Pistols side but that's not the full schilling. There's a helluva lot more and Public Image is the most fulfilling thing I've ever done."

Listening to Lydon explain the stories behind songs like "Poptones," which is quite tragic, and "Rise" and "Disappointed" stripped away his signature snarky persona he typically plays up in the press. I was also surprised by his choice of favorites, like Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" and Jimi Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower." I suppose surprised is the wrong word, but I was more interested in how much of a fan of music Lydon still is. He's just like the rest of us (although I probably shouldn't say that because the man is in a league of his own) when it comes to consuming music. It was a fantastic listen!

On Wednesday (May 12), PiL's entire performance at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. will be webcast live on NPR beginning at 9pm ET.

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Jarvis Cocker is One with Nature

Getting some Jarvis Cocker news first thing in the morning is always enjoyable. According to NME, the former Pulp frontman has recorded an album of nature sounds -- everything from birds chirping, footsteps walking on gravel and waves whirring on shore to an old music box and movements while gardening.

These sounds are captured in various settings run by the National Trust, an organization that works to preserve tranquil dwellings and other properties -- like castles, gardens, ponds, and other bits of countryside -- across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. National Trust: The Album is meant to be a 'holiday for the ears' Cocker tells NME.

"It's not really meant to be listened to intently, like a piece of music, but more as something to have on in the background to aid relaxation or contemplation."

I promptly downloaded the album this morning! On a day like today, a cloudy and quiet one in the Windy City, it's quite lovely. This is for purists and hipsters alike. Your parents or grandparents might appreciate it as well. Everyone wins!

Download National Trust: The Album here for FREE.

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Bring the Noise

More from Married to the Sea

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Florence + the Machine's 'Cosmic Love'

"Cosmic Love" marks the final single from Florence + the Machine debut album, Lungs. GORGEOUS!!!

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Adam Ant Returns?

So there's been some recent news about Adam Ant coming up from the surfaces to record his first album in 15 years. It's apparently titled Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar In Marrying the Gunner's Daughter and will be released on Ant's own Blueback Hussar label. [NME]

While some are calling the comeback complete rubbish, supposedly an ex-member of Oasis (I guess it's Andy Bell, also of Ride *swooooon*) will be on the album as will his longtime collaborator and guitarist Marco Pirroni and Morrissey axeman Boz Boorer.

I won't lie. I enjoyed 1995's Wonderful (Boorer played on it) and the flawless title track remains a favorite. But of course, it's his earlier material fronting Adam and the Ants, Dirk Wears White Sox and King of the Wild Frontier, that established his place as one of the leading figures of the new wave movement. Prince Charming and Strip also had some memorable moments.

Say what you want about comebacks. Some work, some don't. Adam Ant comes back to the rock and roll fray at age 55. Call him brave, call him batty, but after all the public scrutiny he's endured over the years, especially after his bouts with mental illness, I think it's impressive. And in the press, he's always come across as sweet and likeable, not to mention his host of hits.

Simon Price's interview with him at The Quietus blog is fantastically entertaining. Ant is very candid and chortles on about his recent shows in his native England, why he's doing this now, that awkward Live-Aid performance, and wanting to kick Liam Gallagher's ass. He remains as lovely as ever.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Go Outside: Because You Can

Finding five minutes in your day seems easy right? Er, maybe not. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Essex suggests that enjoying some fresh air for just five minutes could improve your mental health.

After analyzing 1,252 people in the U.K., researchers found that doing some kind of "green activity" such as biking, walking or even gardening can enhance a more positive daily outlook. Sure, it goes without saying that keeping up with exercise only does a body good, but just being in the "presence of nature" can have long-lasting enjoyment as well.

Say hi to your neighbors. Pet the dog across the street. Fly a kite. Plant a tree. Just get outside.

[Thanks Lifehacker]


Friday, May 07, 2010

Press the Eject and Give Me the Tape

Erika Iris Simmons takes to a music medium of the past, the cassette tape, to create some incredible and engaging portraits. Select images by self-described "imaginative painter" and sculptor's 2009 series entitled "Ghost in the Machine" is featured below. AMAZING!

"Ghost in the Machine: Robert Smith" Cassette tape on canvas, 2009

Cassette tape art illustration for the Sunday Times Magazine published September 6th. On canvas, 2009. Art Direction Alyson Waller

"Ghost in the Machine: The Clash" Cassette tape on canvas, 2009

"Ghost in the Machine: Nick Cave" Cassette tape on canvas, 2009

Simmons' complete portfolio can be found via her Flickr page.

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Courage, my word

"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are."

-- e.e. cummings

[Thanks to Nancy Imperiale for the image]

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Super Sunny Summer

Check out this loveliness! On June 8th, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart will issue the "Say No to Love" 7" with "Lost Saint" on Slumberland Records. It's the latest from the Brooklyn-based indie pop collective, who's 2009 self-titled debut was one of my favorites.

For those purists out there, it'll  be available in sea foam green vinyl (!!!) and as a digital download. Pitchfork is currently streaming the new tune. Luuuurrve! Perfect for summer.

... and you can pre-order "Say No to Love" via Insound, yay!

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Remembering Ernie Harwell

As the third NHL playoff game between the Detroit Red Wings and the San Jose Sharks got underway earlier this evening, Ryan and I were saddened to learn that Ernie Harwell had passed away in the afternoon (May 4). The renowned major league baseball broadcaster had been battling bile duct cancer since September 2009 and opted against receiving treatment. But up until his death at 92, he kept up regularly with exercise. He was slated to receive the Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting on Wednesday at Fordham University (May 5). More from The Detroit News.

If you're from Michigan, there's no way you haven't heard Harwell's friendly delivery calling one of his many Detroit Tigers games during his 42 years with the franchise. My childhood visits to the former Tiger Stadium are still so vivid, but those days of hearing WJR (760 AM) pouring out of my Dad's stereo in the garage and in the car are just as memorable.

But if you love baseball, Ernie Harwell is a legend. Major League Baseball would not have been the same without him. He's a part of Michigan history, Detroit history. He's a part of my Dad's history -- he's been listening to him since Harwell came to Detroit in 1960, and also had a chance to meet him and shake his hand during a game in the mid-1980s.

Hearing his voice always reminded me of a more innocent time ... perhaps it was because I was just this kid growing up in Flint, Michigan during the GM-driven 1980s. He was a total class act and his spirit and sincerity will be undoubtedly missed. Baseball lost a good guy today. Detroit lost a good guy today. We lost a good guy today.


Some Ernie Harwell History

- Harwell battled a speech impediment as a child growing up in Atlanta.

- He was a paperboy for Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind.

- He is the only announcer to ever be traded for a player. When broadcasting for the Atlanta Crackers baseball team in 1948, Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey needed a quick substitute for ailing announcer Red Barber. The Crackers let him go and Harwell headed to Brooklyn in exchange for Dodger catcher Cliff Dapper.

- In addition to writing four baseball books, Harwell was a songwriter. Some of his songs have been recorded by Detroit's own Mitch Ryder ("One Room World"), B.J. Thomas ("I Don't Know Any Better"), and Johnny Mercer ("Sing, Sing, Sing Every Song").

- Harwell only missed two games in his career; one when he attended his brother Davis' funeral in 1968 and two, when he was inducted National Sportscasters' Hall of Fame in 1989.

- After announcing Detroit Tiger games for 31 years, former Tigers President Bo Schembechler (also the famed University of Michigan football coach) fired him after the 1991 season. Fans were outraged and Harwell was brought back two years later by owner Mike Illitch.

- When he was away from the Motor City, Harwell headed west to announce games for the California Angels for one season. (This one is for Matt K.)

- Harwell's final broadcast for the Detroit Tigers was Sept. 22, 2002.

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Monday, May 03, 2010

Metaphorically speaking

I took this photo about two weeks after moving to Chicago. Hmm. Or should I say Hmm?

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'Crystal' Days for Florence + the Machine

One of my favorite finds in music in the last year is Florence + the Machine. She's an engaging mix of Stevie Nicks, Siouxsie, Kate Bush and Morrissey and I simply cannot get enough of her debut album, Lungs.

When I was living in New York in the last six months, I spent a many train rides to and from my job in Stamford, Conn. with this album on repeat. My friend Sarah and I had the chance to catch her perform to a sold-out House of Blues crowd here in the Windy City in mid-April and again, the London-bred songstress twirled and flailed across the stage, punching the air or her single snare drum to the left of the mic. Seriously, Miss Florence Welch is perfectly mad and madly perfect.

I'm glad to hear that a second album is already in the works and according to The BBC, it sounds like it's going to be another magical follow-up to Lungs.

Welch said: "There's a song called "Spectrum," which has a lot to do with rainbows and prisms - so it has taken on a lot more of a crystal theme." ... "I did a song inspired by these two atomic particles called strangeness and charm, now everyone thinks I'm going to do an album about the periodic table - which I'm not." ... "But that would be a good concept album though. You could go into schools and get people back into science."


In the meantime, here's a look at the video for "Drumming Song," one of my favorites.

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Jim Carroll's 'The Petting Zoo'

I still can't believe that Jim Carroll passed away last September at age 60. He was my favorite poet and remains one of my very favorite writers. He is so incredibly missed. But to my excitement, recently shared the news that his long-awaited work of fiction, The Petting Zoo, is slated to be released November 8, 2010 via Viking Adult.

According the site, The Petting Zoo "tells the story of Billy Wolfram, a 38-year-old artist who has become a hot star in the late 1980s New York art scene. As the novel opens, Billy, after viewing a show of Velásquez paintings, is so humbled and awed by their spiritual power that he suffers an emotional breakdown and withdraws to his Chelsea loft. In reclusion, Billy searches for the divine spark in his own work and life. Carroll’s novel moves back and forth in time to present emblematic moments from Billy’s life (his Irish Catholic upbringing, his teenage escapades, his evolution as an artist and meteoric rise to fame) and sharply etched portraits of the characters who mattered most to him, including his childhood friend, Denny MacAbee, now a famous rock musician, his mentor, the unforgettable art dealer Max Bernbaum, and one extraordinary black bird."

Also, check out's extensive prep guide for the book here.

[Thank you for the fantastic cover art]

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