Monday, April 30, 2007

Travel and another coffeehouse closes

I think that today was the most productive day I've had with this blog for the past couple of months. I'm not as depressed as I am before, so I'm not as likely to procrasinate.

Anway I spent yesterday afternoon in Philly; I drove to nearby Paoli and took the train into the city and back from that point--public transpotation, what a novelty! Main reason I was there was that Philadelphia Home And Garden (PHAG) was throwing a luanch party for its new line of pillows, featuring the work of Rah Crawford. Nice party. Before that I stopped by the Village Coffee House only to find that it was going to close because of leasing issues with the landlord. As a matter of fact, yesterday was its last day open. Sad to see that go; I've had quite a few cups there when I would go into Philly. At least I was lucky that I got to go there one last time. So now where will all the gay guys go for their coffee? Either Joe Coffee or Brew Ha! Ha! (in the spot where Millenium Coffee used to be), I guess.

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Is it just pop music?

I guess I can somtimes take it way too personal at times when musical acts I like aren't commercially successful, or they're not successful enough and go to desperate measures to keep their music career going at the expense of the actual music. Take Madonna for example: her last album Confessions On A Dance Floor was my favorite album from 2005 and it went on to sell 1.7 million copies in the US alone (which is pretty good considering today's declining music sales). But the singles from that album didn't click that much with US pop radio which was (and continues to be) driven by hip-hop. So now Madonna is working with rap producers like Timbaland and Pharrel Williams for her next album, since she now wants a hit record on American radio badly--America is still going through a long night of dispair that Bush and 9-11 brought upon it and considers that bouncy house and techno songs are too frivolous for the national mood. And now I heard that Madonna is so desperate for that "ghetto pass" to US radio that she's working with Justin Timberlake now. Ick, now that's someone who's likely to take her back to gauche soy latte territory in that "American Life" single, since Justin tries way too hard to overcome his past as a Mickey Mousekateer and a boy-band member by doing things like hiring rappers by the busload and "confessing" in an interview that's timed just before his latest album comes out that he's dabbled in drugs in order to gain a "bad-ass" repuatation.

On her Confessions album Madge wrote two songs ("Let It Will Be" and "How High") cmplaining about how fame isn't all that cracked up to be. Those songs now look like a case of "the lady protests too much," since she's made a calculated musically career move that's meant to keep fame up and running (at least to the Clear Channel crowd). As the Divine Ms. Jimmi once said about her: "If you mean it, shave your head, find a secluded moutain-top to hide on and then never come back. If it weren't for fame and your fans you would have to get a real job."

I'll likely end up buying the album when it comes out anyway. I just wish that she'd keep up the uplifting dance stuff for a little longer and not sell out to scowling rappers. Too many songs on the radio catering to that sound already.

One album I've been enjoy as of late is Lily Allen's Alright, Still. I think that it's a really good, sassy album, full of wit and humor, and it that puts like the like of Avril Lavignes of the US pop charts to shame. (Her single "Smile" has gotten some airplay on the local Top 40 radio station Q102, which usually "thugs out" on nothing but rap and R&B. God, some good music on that station for a change.) So I was disappointed that it was announced earlier this month that she was cancelling most of the dates of her May-June US tour because she was "tired." (She'll still do a few selected gigs here, such as her appearance at the Coachella festival this past weekend.) Maybe her management should have better planned ber tour in advance, since a long tour can wear a Brit band down, considering the size of this country. It gives the appearence to the US that she's just another Brit pop star who acts like a crybaby tittysucker when it comes to touring America (thinking that you just need to play New York City and L.A. to make it big here) and that she's blowing her chance at pop stardom in America. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

I know that it's all just pop music and that I shouldn't take it personally. But I still do. On one hand I like to sprout my individual musical tastes and on the other I like to see said tastes be affirmed by pop culture. Quite a contradiction in my life indeed.

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Blue Ball 2007 DJs

The latest editiom of my column is up and running, where I talk about the DJs who will be spinning at this year's Blue Ball, which is Philadelphia's biggest circuit party of the year. I interview three of the DJs on this year's bill: DJ Roland Belmares, DJ Zathan, and DJ Carl Michaels. This installment is the longest article I've wriiten for the website so far.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday Video #28: Jade Starling and Pretty Poison

Here is the video to "Take Me I'm Yours," the latest single by Pretty Poison featuring Jade Starling. The single actually came out this past summer (you can buy it at iTunes), but the full version of the video finally came out last month. (Before that you could preview a minute-length clip for the past several months, where the editing is not as frantic as the final cut). The video was produced by Rebel Production Associates in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday Video #27: Scissor Sisters

This past October I was raving about "Kiss You Off" by Scissor Sisters, which was from their latest album Ta-Dah. Well, it's going to be the fourth European single off of their album, and a brand spanking new video has just come out. It was directed by Robert Hales and styled by Zaldy. Ana Matronic shines here indeed. And I still think that Donna Summer or Debbie Harry would kill for a song like this!

I wish that this video and single would get a US release, but I guess that their US record company Universal has probably forgotten about them by now (their one American single "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" came out last summer) and moved onto the next scowling rapper du jour. At least I can thank YouTube for letting me see this!

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Account of Grandma's Funeral

I guess it's time that I ought to tell you about my going to my grandma's (the one on my dad's side) funeral two weeks ago. I was in Cleveland, Ohio for three days from Wednesday April 4 to Friday April 6. My parents and I got in the car and drove to and from Cleveland via the turnpike, which was about a seven hour drive each way. Viewing of the body was at Wednrsday evening. Lots of relatives there, ones I haven't seen in a few years. (Last time I was in Cleveland was back in December 2001.) It started snowing in Cleveland that Wednesday night and it was still snowing when we left on Friday. Which I found ironic since Grandma did not like winter weather, yet it was snowing at her funeral that Thursday. (Clevelnad is more used to winter weather than Philly is--there was an inch of snow on the ground Thursday morning and yet the public schools there were only opening an hour late, where if that happened here the schools would be closed for the day). There was a luncheon nearby after the funeral. Rest for a few hours afterwards watching a trashy "reality" TV show on VH1. Dinner with a bunch of aunts, uncles and cousins at a nearby restaurant that evening. We drove home Friday and watched the snow go away as we further got away from Cleveland, where it continues to snow there until that Sunday.

(One more note: Mom and Dad listened to several FM stations on the way both to and from Cleveland, all of them country. They were all pretty interchangeable with the same sort of dull current country songs (and no Dixie Chicks), some very sappy and some pushing the War with Iraq with buzzwords like "freedom." And all of the station's dj's/announcers sounded pretty much the same as well. Oh well, that's Clear Channel for you. An example why I don't listen to FM radio much these days.)

Anyway, rest in peace Grandma.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday Video #26: New Rufus

Here is "Going To A Town," which is the first single off of Rufus Wainwright's latest album, Release the Stars. An array of photo stills accompany the audio here. Rufus self-produced this album this time around, with Neil Tenant of the Pet Shop Boys signing on as the executive producer. Release the Stars will be released on May 15, and "Going To A Town" is availible for downloading at iTunes now.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Sunday I got the news that my grandmother (the one on my dad's side) has passed away. Tomorrow I have to go to Cleveland Ohio for the funeral and I'll be there until Saturday or Sunday. So right now I'm kind of numb and I won't be able to post for a few days.