I don't have my Top 10 list in front of me, but I would hazard a guess at saying this is the first album, upon announcement, that I just KNEW would be a favorite of the year. This band and me have a special relationship, mostly because I feel like they opened me up to a style of music I never really gave a chance. Which is to say, the bigger, more brooding facets of indie-post-hardcore blah blah. They seemed to never put themselves in a creative box, even though some people seem to think that's exactly what happened with this record. But I don't know, Waves is definitely my favorite record of theirs. It is such a singular statement to me, done so in a way that makes every listen feel important.
Maybe the other thing I appreciate, is how the lyrics kind of let you fill in the blanks. There's ambiguity to songs like "Parts in Different Places" or "Always Only For Me." And even though I understand when a band is so clearly trying to pull at my heartstrings, I don't care. And why should I? Anyone who says that they aren't listening to music in order to connect with something is either lying to themselves or probably deaf. Isn't that what we're all trying to do? Like every single moment of every day? Maybe that's an exaggeration, but what Moving Mountains have accomplished with Waves is allowing their listeners to do a little soul searching, a very personal task that they allow us to keep extremely personal. And the fact that it's all set to great, anthemic music is just the extra bit that makes this not so much a record but a mantra.
As has been said about a billion trillion times so far this year, 2011 has been pretty good as far as music that I like. I don't know if it's been great for music you like, but for me, yes. But also, isn't it kind of weird when we say "music" is better this year than a previous year? There's always great stuff out there if you're looking - so I'm less inclined to judge a year based on another year - at least in terms of musicality. In life, there are certainly better years than others. And knock on wood, this one has been pretty good. Two weeks into the job, I'm contributing. My apartment is awesome, my roommates are nice. It's working out! For now. I hate that I have to include a "for now," but that is the superstitious/pessimist in me. And that little guy, though still handsome, will always be a part of me.
BUT ANYWAYS, I just wanted to highlight a song that I find to be one of the most special from this year. It's called "Parts in Different Places" and it is by NY's own Moving Mountains. Check out a vid and lyrics below. If you like big sweeping rock numbers, maybe like Muse but darker?, you'll probably dig on this.
Despite the very creepy name, Teengirl Fantasy is a fantastic bedroom electronic/chillwave act (with a fantastic new-ish album called 7 AM.)
But my favorite song of theirs isn't from that album (actually, I don't know what it's from) called "Portofino." Check out the weird video below (it reminds me of something that would be on an old laserdisc about the rainforest) and come back at the end of the week for another edition of Can't Keep Up. I don't know what the topic's going to be, but I bet it's dumb!
So the tailgate I've been alluding to for a while is finally happening later today. 11 AM. Parking lot. I've just made a little mix for peeps to listen to while they play prohibition pong (a mixture between skeeball and beer pong with no beer because it's on school grounds, hence the name), play bags, washers and sit in a kiddie pool. Or while they are eating bagels or cheeze doodles. Anyway, we hope it's a good turnout. I myself am really looking forward to it. Have some fun in the morning, hear an interesting dude speak from a cool digital adv. agency (R/GA) and then go to a halloween party tomorrow night. Not sure what my costume will be yet, but I'm sure I'll come up with something at the last minute like always. Anyways, take a gander at that playlist. Hope it gets you moving. Moving to buy a song or two, that is. Burn. In your face. Booyah.
I don't play a lot of video games anymore, on account of me not having a video game system. However, I've been working on a project for Valve's new game, Portal 2, which comes out early next year. It's a First Person Puzzle Shooter, which is awesome just because. Basically the whole point is getting from Point A to Point B in the most intense, craziest way possible. You may only need to get a few hundred feet, but in those few hundred feet are lasers, smashing walls/ceilings, spikes, etc. It's nuts. And I really wish I would be able to get some way to play this game when it releases. But anyways, check out a couple of sweet trailers for the game below.
Look at me posting twice in one week! I'm a machine!
So I have a couple fun things that I thought the Internet would like to see. In one of our classes this week, we were tasked to create videos for either REI or Bass Pro Shops (as well as execute 4 other ideas fully - it's been a busy 48 hours). So below is the video my team made, and also one that features me as "the talent" (or lack thereof). Check it out, I think they're both pretty funny and very stupid.
First up is my video, created under the umbrella theme of, "Nature can be entertaining, too." Our campaign is trying to reach those urbanites who would rather sit in a movie theater or in front of a game console than head outdoors. This video isn't so much a commercial as it is a "mood piece." Regardless of its strategic significance, I think it's a nice little bit of humor.
The next video is where I was asked to play a character named the "Mountain Man." The group's premise was that Bass Pro Shops are so big that a mountain man could live in there full time and never starve/get bored. This video is the introduction to their campaign, a nice little way to introduce audiences to their spokesperson. The concept and writing goes to some friends, but I also added a few improvisational touches here and there.
Not sure why I made the switch to one word, vague blog titles, but it suits me of late, so ha!
Anyways, I'm on break from school until the 6th? The 5th? Whatever. Which means, really, for the first time, I've been in Atlanta with nothing but the wind to sway me. Mostly that means I watch TV without the usual crushing guilt of procrastination. Small battles. As is the custom of people who don't remember MS-DOS, the day doesn't truly begin until it's night. Phones start ringing when traffic gets bad. We're vampires, but the only thing we suck out is the promise of daytime. Whatever, fine, it sounds like I'm complaining which is not my intention. I think I have an intention.
I attended something called "Metal Karaoke." For only 5 bucks! you can watch tattooed people play songs by Katy Perry, and if you're truly lucky, Pink. Did you know Pink has more than 2 songs? According to metal karaoke, she has 3! Now this band also let the common layperson jump on stage to screech through a Green Day song or, if we're lucky, another Katy Perry song. The audience was an odd mix, featuring freed advertising students, punk-ish dudes who's dreams have left them in a basement watching friends play pop covers, and a really obnoxious girl with her windbreaker around her waist. Some people had real stage presence! One guy even knew that to properly hold a microphone, you must cup it's top like you're palming a very tiny basketball. Another guy with rolled-up pants like Huck Finn had a ton of energy, although the song he sang completely escapes me. I remember doing my old man-meets-the robot dance, though, so that means it must have been good.
But the true surprise was the band's actual singer. She wore super tight, bright yellow pants. And some sort of high-heeled shoe that, even after closer inspection, seemed to require an instruction manual to remove. Guys remove bras (aka brassieres) all the time, but now I think I know why you never see them remove a woman's shoes. Straps galore. Regardless of her MENSA-created footwear, she could belt it. Her rendition of "Sk8r Boi" by Avril Lavigne and since we were lucky and had been good, 2 different Katy Perry songs, were dead on. She seemed to really love what she was doing. And for me, the music should be good, but the enthusiasm should be extreme. There's nothing more pleasing than seeing a person pleased with their tunes. It's one of the few times I ever feel unselfish, because I do like seeing these people enjoy themselves.
And against all logical odds, this band of weirdos who would probably like to be doing something else, put aside whatever demons they had - and judging by the gruesome nature of their tats, there are LOTS of demons - and just had fun.
When I was younger - I'm still young! Where's my pacifier? - my family used to take trips to the lake. We went to the same lake at the same times each year. We didn't have a lakehouse because apparently lakehouses are expensive and blah blah. But the bad thing about lakehouses is that they tend to have things like television and private bathrooms and the like, so they are also inherently terrible. We would stay at these big, open tent-like houses and everyone would get their own bed that was really a cot and you'd hope that you didn't wind up next to a snorer or next to a baby. But since most of us were snorers or babies, you'd be out of luck, but also, because I am clearly a little nostalgic, in luck. This was the only time I would not mind waking up at 7 AM and going to sleep at 10:30. There's something about the gentle splashing of water against a boat that puts me to sleep faster than whatever it is that puts normal people to sleep.
Now we would do all sorts of stereotypical things during these little mini vacations. There was 20 of us or so, which means that activities had to be suitable for all sorts. We'd shoot bows and arrows. We'd watch each other Skiwake or whatever the kids call it. We'd eat the most delicious fajitas ever. But there was always something that kind of set us apart from all the other suburban-lets-go-outside-just-this-once punks that filled the lake with urine during these weekends: we played bocce ball. A sport usually reserved for smelly old Italian men was our thing. We'd chuck those balls back and forth, all while talking smack and keeping an eye out for deer poop. I'm not very good at any sports, so i never really improved at Bocce ball, but my love for it never wavered. And it made us weird! We know how I like weird.
So last week when I visited a bar here in Atlanta that had it's own indoor Bocce ball court, I couldn't believe my eyes. I was back at the lake during those days when I literally didn't care about anything except whether I had a tick on one of my buttcheeks. Bars are boring and stupid and loud and why do we go there to "be near people" when that's the last thing we really want? But this bar is different. This bar is weird! It has Bocce Ball! I was giving high fives and doing this thing where I roll the ball in my hands like Lebron James' great-Italian-grandfather.
I told a girl I was, "like Moses" that night. Although I'm still not sure exactly what that means, it certainly implies a confidence I have lacked as of late. So for that, I guess, I'm grateful for Bocce Ball.
Also, hot dog! a new Alberta Cross album has been released (or is about to be, point is, i stole it). It's called Broken Side of Time and I'm on my first listen. It has two songs I recognize, but i bet this is gonna rule
Hello, Eastern Time Zone. I think we'll get along just fine. Conan's back at 11:35. Nobody talks about how big their grandfather's corn field is. And most importantly, Larry King is somewhere close. I hope to finally see a zombie.
Sometimes I get sick of writing "countdown" blogs, because, well you know why. Life on Earth is short and time spent willing the clocks forward is a big bag of pointless. But here I am doing it.
One month from now I'll be in Atlanta, sitting through orientation before Creative Circus Quarter 1 starts on July 6th.
Before any big move, I typically have those all-too-normal thoughts of, "What if I hate it? What if everyone hates me? What if I nervous-sweat through all of my nice clothes?" But honestly (with the exception of the sweating thing, that's just biological), I have nothing but positive premonitions seeping through my thoroughly underwhelmed brain. After going from constant work and school and blah for pretty much the last 12 months, even these first 2 weeks at home have caused noticeable mental atrophy. This is why reviewing is cool, I guess.
However, last week I had the privilege to create the wedding slideshow for my brother and his bride. And I must say, it was a lot of fun. I think it turned out great, as it is your normal slideshow but it isn't. I haven't seen many, but I think this one has enough flair without sacrificing the traditional nature of my brother's tastes. I can't wait for them to see it in a few weeks.
Next on the agenda is table markers for the rehearsal dinner. The couple had a pretty creative idea for identifying the separate tables, and I think we should be able to create something eye-catching that a lot of people haven't seen before.
I know these "life update" posts are fairly unpopular, but they are important to me. And last I checked it still says "Blake Solomon" at the top of this page. Not sure why I'm scolding you, but there it is and there I did it.
I've got to say, this is one of the best shows I've seen in a long, long time. It took me barely a week to see all 12 episodes of the first season.
If you're unfamiliar with the plot, the show's focus, Tara has a disorder in which she uses multiple personalities to cover up a trauma from her past that she can't remember. When the show begins, she has recently stopped taking her meds because of the the lethargic effect they have on her. She is a house painter (murals, bathrooms, etc), and her creativity vanishes while she is on them. But this means her "alters", as they call them, come out more frequently, and usually in a time of stress (like when her parents come to visit or she has a fight with her daughter).
You don't need to know the whole plot, but you do need to know that this is perhaps the best writing for a family-centered show I've ever seen. I don't mean it's a family show, I mean it's a show about a family. Seeing how they interact, argue, hate, and most importantly, love, is so real world it hurts. It's that feeling of knowing someone so well that you end up hurting them just to save them. It's counterproductive but it's real. It's hard but it's for love.
But of course, it's the people around her that really struggle with their identities. Marshall is gay and an "old soul", Kate has little control over her desires, Charmaine has extremely low self-esteem and Max always believed himself to be perfect because he always tries to "cowboy" everything. And Tara is in the middle, always the scapegoat. But watching them work through their problems, and watching them continually forgive one another, just simply feels great.
I cannot wait to watch the next season of this show, but sadly that won't be until 2010.
edit: I didn't realize this until just now, but the creator of this show wrote Juno.