Thursday, February 28, 2008

feeling old, feeling young

Tonight I will see the Hives and the Donnas at First Ave (a last minute decision, a righteous, much-needed school-night-rock). I have lost track of both bands in the last few years, but still love both very much.

I remember, vividly, seeing the Donnas for the first time (and the second, actually--very soon after the first...). It was at First Ave, of course, and me and Emily saw 'em and rocked our young hearts out. She was on leave (like, a week off) from the Marines and I remember running into her older, awesome punk-rock sister in the bathroom and, for the first time, First Ave seemed smaller, more accessible and I place I felt like I really belonged. It was starting to be a place where people knew me, and I would see cool older sisters smoking in the bathroom...actually, it was kinda like high school. But, Ramones-style, of course.

After those two times, I think I saw the Donnas at least three more times. Every time, their set was stronger and the lead singer gained more and more confidence. I was mesmerized, each time, by the sexy lead guitarist with the hair in her face. She was utterly committed to the rock and could give a half a shit if people thought she was hot. This, of course, made her hotter. This is when I made the observation that not only she, but me and E-Beth seemed to feel, and sometimes act, more like 14-year-old boys than the young adult woman that the calenders said we were. Still stands to this day, duuuude.

I was in college and writing for the Daily (gawd, Paul sez it was SIX years ago. dang.) when I first saw The Hives at First Ave. I remember it being ridiculously fun. Pele said something about wanting to make out with all of us, but later told us all to go fuck ourselves, but it was in his precious, broken English, a punk-rock sentiment, but somehow made sweet with his voice, so everyone laughed. The intensity exploded from the stage, Pele had the Mick thing, he had the Iggy thing and I wondered if it felt like this to see the Stooges...

I need this tonight, cuz it's been kind of a barren winter for shows (as ALWAYS in frosty MN) so, the words of Rancid, let's go.

Monday, February 18, 2008

sneak peek!!


(but not til April....fer chissakes.)


Madonna has managed to keep most details about her still-untitled follow-up to 2005’s Confessions on a Dance Floor (due April 29th) under wraps, but Rolling Stone got an early listen to five tracks today and some behind-the-scenes info from producer Nate “Danja” Hills.
Fans who worried that Madonna might be losing inspiration as she approaches fifty need not be concerned. The new album takes a few steps away from the hyper-polished future disco of Confessions toward a more urban-oriented, thumpy funk, featuring production by Timbaland and Pharrell, as well as collaborations with Justin Timberlake. Danja says he worked on the album in London, and that Madonna indicated “she just wanted uptempo, dance, club [sounds] and everything to have a hip-hop underlining.” He adds that Madonna was easy-going and frequently in the studio putting in long hours alongside himself, Timbaland and Timberlake: “She would come in and sit in her chair in the corner and just vibe with us.”

The record’s first single is “4 Minutes to Save the World,” the track Timbaland partially debuted during a Philadelphia Christmas concert in December. “4 Minutes” has a bit of a marching band aesthetic as blasting brass play a scale-like riff, a hard, clanging beat enters and Madonna sings that the “road to heaven is paved with good intentions.” Timberlake and Madonna trade verses, and he appears on the chorus, doing his best Michael Jackson impression while quickly crooning, “We’ve only got four minutes to save the world.” The track ends after a brief breakdown where everything drops out but one of Tim’s signature Bhangra beats, some stabs of brass and Madonna’s urgent tick-tock’s. It’s a loud, busy, energetic track that is apparently getting an equally adventurous video: As previously reported, the clip (which is still being completed) is directed by hot French duo Jonas & François (Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.”). Timbaland makes an appearance, and Madonna and Timberlake play superheroes tackling physical obstacles. The clip features choreography by Jamie King, who worked on Madonna’s Confessions, Re-Invention and Drowned World tours as well as her video for Confessions‘ “Sorry.”

The Pharrell-produced “Candy Store” opens with a big beat and Madonna’s invitation to “Come on in to my store, I got candy galore.” The track is pretty bare on the verses, but there’s a flash of brassy soul on the chorus when harmonies join Madonna singing, “I’ll be your one stop (one stop) candy shop.” The track is punctuated with throbbing breaks filled with hypnotic synths, and Pharrell jumps on the mike for a brief rhyme.

The most lyrical of the five songs is “Miles Away,” a wistful tune about a long-distance relationship with a melody that resembles Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds, an album Danja says Madonna admired. “We would come up with a track and him and Madonna would come and do lyrics and melody together,” Danja explains. The song opens with a quickly strummed acoustic guitar, then a stuttering beat drops in and the track slowly swells until it’s filled with atmospheric synths. “You always seem to have the biggest heart when we’re 6,000 miles apart,” Madonna sings grandly, lamenting, “I guess we’re at our best when we’re miles away.” The song has a more airy aesthetic compared to the heavy beats on other tracks, which reflects its more emotional lyrics.

The track that sounds most like a more urban, edgy continuation of Confessions is the excellent “Give It to Me,” which bumps along to a thick synth tone Danja employed on Britney Spears’ Blackout. It’s an aggressive, clubby track with a raw, house-y beat that’s ripe for remixing, and Madonna sings, “When the lights go down and there’s no one left I can go on and on.” It ends after a fast, killer breakdown where she chants “Get stupid” over a xylophone chime as the beat builds into a frenzy and she proclaims, “Give it to me / No one’s gonna stop me now.”

The dance floor theme returns again on “Heartbeat,” which boasts a thumping hip-hop beat with a sandpaper shuffle and twinkling Eighties-reminiscent synths. Madonna opens up her voice more, singing, “Can’t you see when I dance I feel free / Which makes me feel like the only one the light shines on.” The song features a brief rap breakdown that recalls Nelly Furtado’s chanty “Promiscuous” (”See my booty get down,” Madonna speak-sings), but returns to its clubby roots in the end.

Caryn Ganz

Thursday, February 14, 2008

special happy valentine's day post...OR song for the lovers...OR how inspiring it is to dig a pop song nowadays

Usually, sadly, I am never moved or touched by new pop music. So much of it is saccharine, trite, cliché, or just musically annoying. I know, I must sound like a crotchety old woman. But, something has been tugging at my heart strings, and I think it's musically brilliant and it's crazy infectious. "No One" by Alicia Keys has been etched in my mind for a lil' while now--the Grammys gave it an extra push into my brain's crevices.

It's one of the only pop-you-can-see-the-video-on-MTV songs in my life (yes, that's right) that I immediately felt touched by. I have always loved Alicia Keys, her spectacular voice, her brilliant talent and (real) musicianship, her “story” (raised by single mom in Hell’s Kitchen in NY) and, unavoidably, her sexy, drop-dead-gorgeousness. But I haven’t always liked her songs. For the most part, they’re forgettable and slightly generic. There are exceptions of course, hell, I couldn’t say I was a fan if I didn’t admit that.

But, it’s this “new” Alicia Keys that’s got me all revved up. I first read about her recent life-changing experiences (big things like: litigious endeavors with her management, a solo trip to Egypt for several months and making more of a commitment to the love in her life) and her admitting that it’s definitely affected her songwriting and even her voice.

I feel so removed and literary, but I *read* about her “new voice” before I’d even heard it and I didn’t even hear the goddamn song, “No One” until roughly a month ago. (The rest of the world was rocking this song for months, I now hear. Heh.) turns out, what I read was right on the money.

Her voice on “No One” sounds absouluelty glorious, but there’s this slight edge of rawness, a bit of roughness. Makes me think of John Lennon on “Twist and Shout.” One of his best vocals (in my opinion) but his voice was virtually shot. It was at the very end of a very long recording session and his vocal chords were almost fried. But, fuck, it sounds intense and sexy and like the raw rock that I can only fantasize about, existing in the early days at the Cavern. Sigh. That’s what’s going on in Alicia’s voice too, but it’s more imbued with the meaning from the song. It’s balls-out *passion* and it’s intense and it sounds like she’s been through hell. Maybe all cried-out, even. It’s so emotive that she does sound like she’s matured beyond something. And the song builds and so does her voice. It's the sound a very stong, smart woman decaring her love and making sure to tell all the skeptics to fuck off. It's feisty. It's gutsy and I adore it.

When I hear it, it’s so close to my heart—those lyrics to a long-time lover:

No One

By Alicia Keys

I just want you close
Where you can stay forever
You can be sure
That it will only get better
You and me together
Through the days and nights
I don't worry 'cuz
Everythings gonna be alright
People keep talking
They can say what they like
But all I know is everything's gonna be alright

No one no one no one
Can get in the way of what I'm feeling
No one no one no one
Can get in the way of what I feel for you
You you
Can get in the way of what I feel for you

When the rain is pouring down
And my heart is hurting
You will always be around
This I know for certain

You and me together
Through the days and nights

I don't worry cause
Everythings gonna be alright
People keep talking
They can say what they like
But all I know is everything's gonna be alright

No one no one no one
Can get in the way of what I'm feeling
No one no one no one
Can get in the way of what I feel for you
You you
Can get in the way of what I feel

I know some people search the world
To find something like what we have
I know people will try
Try to divide
Something so real
So till the end of time
I'm telling you that

No one no one no one
Can get in the way of what I'm feeling
No one no one no one
Can get in the way of what I feel for you
Oh oh oh...

Sure, it's a bit repetitive (so many great pop songs are), but it's like a mantra of love, baby. And there’s this fabulous beat and strange and wonderful organ/keyboard sounds that heave in and out…it’s a fucking masterpiece of a pop song and it brings home how lucky I feel to be able to relate to such a declaration of love.

Happy V day, Fitzy. You know what I feel for you…(just wish I could sing like Alicia Keys…now I know exactly why Bobby Z was so desperate to find her.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Does anybody remember the music?

hehe, I have been too hyped-up over politics and news of late. It's almost eclipsed my unhealthy obsession with entertainment and pop culture! The horror.

Winter kinda sucks the life outta all those thingsIcan'tgetoutof...

This weekend brought the stunning and powerful "Persepolis" and the Grammys! (Back in the saddle, again)

The Grammys were actually rad this year! Don't care about the winners and all that bullshit, but the performances were GREAT and it was *packed*! Well, done, you Out-of-Touchers! (Herbie Hancock does Joni Mitchell!? WTF! haha)

"Persepolis" is something I've been waiting for …for a long time. I read the graphic novels years ago and totally fell in love with Marjane Satrapi and her story. (To brief you on that, if you don't know what I'm talking about...Satrapi, Iranian, was born and raised in a progressive (communist/socialist) household where friends and family came for sanctuary after being imprisoned or persecuted by the violent Islamic Revolution that was exploding around them at the time. And Marjane is a spiritual rebel, punk feminist, and Marx-loving intellect in her own right.)

The novel and movie adaptation version of Lil' Marjane conjures up childhood memories so vividly and warmly--I had always hoped, as a child, that I *vowed* to 'remember what everything was like' so that when I grew older, I'd know how to treat a kid, cuz I'd remember what the world is like when you're young (never speak condescendingly to children was the first commandment...) Marjane really nailed it in her books and on screen. At first, when she is quite young, she engages in lucid conversations and (sometimes angry) debates with god. It's so endearing and real. Again, it makes me think of me as a young one, involved in my own world--thoughts about the universe and reality and religion swirling in my head--trying to make sense of it all.

One of my favorite scenes to see come to life from the book shows a young Marjane walking down the street lined with men in dark coats selling bootleg tapes and records. She ignores the Michael Jackson, the ABBA, but then hears "Iron Maiden" and her eyes widen. Although it's nearly impossible for me to imagine what it would be like to grow up in such a controlled, prohibited state of existence, Satrapi is deft at making her entire story utterly relatable. When we get to see her engage in one of the most universal (for those who dig music, I guess) cathartic episodes, it struck me deep. She is disheartened by the chaos around her, and retreats to her room to *rock* out to the screams of Iron Maiden. Her rage, sadness and rebellion spill out and are released as she pumps her fist, squeezes her eyes shut and thrashes to the Rawk. It made me tear up and grin with empathy and joy.

She is profoundly affected by all the war, death, oppression that surrounds her, but she is also (somewhat) in her bubble of childhood and rebellion--this leads to confusing times ahead.

On screen, Marjane's persona is precious and precocious as a wee lass (cutest lil' French girl voice EVER!), and then evolving into a young woman, she becomes more confused and frustrated about her identity. Being sent to school in Vienna and then ultimately ending up in France--she is exotic and alluring to the punks and the commies, and "vile" to prejudiced others. She struggles with depression and *life*. She feels guilt because her family is enduring Iran's turmoil and she can be free to be a young student, far removed, in Europe. The movie is true to the tone (funny, absurd, touching) that the book held. It also brings to life the books' simple (black and white) beauty that Satrapi created so masterfully.

sigh. I don't wanna go overboard on plot----I just must say that Things Are Getting Better In Our World. This movie makes me realize it...and of course, looming over that is this moment of improbable politics. Yes, a black man and a woman are vying for the nom, and that is fucking incredible and inspiring …and it's so about time! As J Mo and Catu both say, how great is it to disagree and even argue about who we support, look at our choices! How freeing! How wonderful!
With similar awe, I marveled at and took time to appreciate that this movie was even made. It's in the art houses, sure, but it is fucking nominated for an Oscar, goddammit! Adapted from a graphic novel, about a young, rebellious Iranian woman who loves Iron Maiden and Kim Wilde ("We're the kids in America, whoa-oh" didn't make it into the film, but damn, I loved that in the book. ha!) Where's the "audience" for that!? But, people are digging it, man.

Things are changing...I feel it.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


the Repubs would *LOVE* to have Hil be the nom!

you know that, right? They're hoping and praying to sweet Jeebus that she gets it. Why? Because they know that there are people (sometimes ignorant, sometimes bitter people...mostly) out there who shudder at the tone of her voice and at the sight of her face. It brings up bad memories for some. Others say "She's just not made for public leadership. It's very unnatural for her." People that are just going to give up and *not* vote for the DFL, cuz it's her. Of course, not me. But I have heard the statements made and I partly understand. There is so much baggage, so much of her persona has been (unjustly, for the most part) maligned to represent a blind ambition for power (like her hubby) that excludes genuine concern for public service. She is fiercely polarizing, and again, the Repubs are just waiting to trounce her in the General.

Read this for mo better about it.