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The top ten top ten lists July 30, 2008

Posted by ashiah in In the news.
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It’s impossible to make a safe voyage through a news feed without running into a “list” of some kind. Hell, Entertainment Weekly recently did an entire issue devoted to nothing but top 100 lists. But writers are not uncreative slackers (not all of us, anyway); there is a reason why so many writers/editors/bloggers consult the top ten list so frequently:

1. They’re easy to write.

2. They’re easy to read.

3. People always read them (even if they hate themselves while doing so).

4. It sparks discussion/controversy, which attracts more readers.

5. Did I mention they’re easy to write?

Lists are a godsend for lazy writers because lists are failure proof. I’m not trying to bash the list; I have several lists published here on this blog, too. But this week I noticed an alarming amount of lists and felt an uncontrollable urge to create one of my own. I decided to submit to that urge, but only if I could do it as douche-y as possible. Here is a list of this week’s top top ten lists. It sounds pathetic, but it’s a list! You know you can’t help but read it. (more…)

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The live-action anime guide July 28, 2008

Posted by ashiah in Film, In the news.
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Last week’s announcement of a live-action film adaptation of the popular anime series Cowboy Beboy was met with mixed enthusiasm. It’s one of the few animes that could make a successful transition, if done correctly. But with the superhero genre already over-saturated (another Hulk movie?), studios are turning to anime for new ideas. There’s a current influx of anime-to-live-action films all lined up to be the next Transformers or Speed Racer. Below is a handy guide that lists all the news, rumors, and gossip of upcoming anime adaptations. (more…)

What’s Playing Now (New and Improved!) July 23, 2008

Posted by ashiah in Music, What's Playing Now.
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This edition now has clips, but I’m using File Den so don’t expect them to be the most reliable.

Leila – Blood, Looms And Blooms (2008 )
Iranian-born Leila Arab is a staple in the electronic music scene, but her presence is not as prolific as the people she works with. Mostly known for collaborating and touring with Bjork, it appears Leila has less time to actually spend on her own music. “Blood, Looms And Blooms” is her first studio album in nearly ten years, and unfortunately, it’ll probably be this year’s most overlooked album. With collborations with singers Martina Topley-Bird and Terry Hall, the album effortlessly wavers between styles without the collaborators hijacking the track and running away with it. Stand out track “Deflect” is a moody, electronic rock-out oozing with Topley-Bird’s droning voice, while “Daises, Cats And Spacemen” is a unique, tango-esque tune drizzling with friend Roya Arab’s voice. Leila might insist on being low profile, but hopefully this album can catch on.

Nalle – The Siren’s Wave (2008 )
This is the second album for the three multi-instrumentalists. The sound is an interesting experimental freak-folk free flow with very little structure. Vocalist Hanna Tuulikki sings with a hint of traditional Japanese influence that creates a haunting energy. But other times (especially when the song clocks in over ten minutes) her voice becomes too overbearing, weakening a few tracks like “Voi Ruusini (O Rose),” a darkly beautiful track that just has way too much going on. Tracks like “Nothing Gold Can Say” and “Alice’s Ladder” are the band’s shining moments and capture their delicate and distinguished sound.

Kissey Asplund – Plethora (2008 )
From Sweden, Kissey Asplund’s debut album is classified as “future/electro soul,” but that label is kind of driving me nuts. “Plethora” is indeed an interesting romp through a fuzzy funktronic gaze, but the spacey-ness still doesn’t account for the overall sound, which frankly, doesn’t know what it wants to be. It doesn’t have enough experimentation or traditional soul flare and instead somewhat wavers in between. Some artists can do the balancing act, but I don’t think the idea was fully executed here, except on “Fuss’n’fight,” an icy cool track that’s laid back yet subtly deadly. Probably its biggest weakness are the tracks sounding too much alike. “Caos” sounds like “6am,” and “You and I” sounds a bit like “Another Glass.” But none of this will hinder Asplund’s rise to fame. Her debut is interesting enough to at least get people to take notice. In fact, I’m predicting the buzz to start soon if it hasn’t already.

Artist Spotlight: Little Boots July 21, 2008

Posted by ashiah in Music.
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It’s amazing the power one song can have. When newcomer Little Boots (Victoria Hesketh) released “Stuck On Repeat” for free on her Myspace, by the time it circulated the web she became moderately famous. The repetitive, yet hypnotic club track was just the start. Now she’s embarking on a new album that’ll probably rival Goldfrapp. Her new song “Meddle” is currently on her Myspace. Now you can brag to your friends that you knew of Little Boots before she got too famous. *hipster cred*

The price to stay current July 15, 2008

Posted by ashiah in Film, In the news.
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In 2000, there was only one shelf of DVDs to rent at Blockbuster. The following month I walked in and discovered that that amount had tripled to 10 times that size. Then the next month I realized the DVDs had taken over the store. Needless to say, the transition from VHS to DVD was an easy one, especially with those nifty VCR/DVD combos. And who wouldn’t want special features and chapters for some of their old favorite movies? But this time around, the public is more stubborn to switch their usual DVD ways to Blu-ray. For one, there’s no astronomical difference between the two. Yeah, one is flashier and has clearer picture quality, but most people don’t have the money to update their entire library just to have a slightly clearer picture. Blu-ray’s answer (and somewhat late response) is to cut prices. According to CrunchGear, certain Blu-ray titles will now cost as much as $11 in comparison to the usual $30. All I can say is it’s about time, but will everyone else jump, too?


People waiting in line for their
unemployment checks. Oops, I
mean the iPhone 3G.

I’m suddenly reminded of the current hoopla of the iPhone 3G. The majority of those buying the iPhone 3G already have iPhones, the slightly slower, less cooler version released last year. But these people have no problem throwing down cash for what is probably one of the most expensive gadget updates ever. So when it comes to evolving technology and paying the price to stay current, what stays and what goes? What’s priority and what isn’t? But if it all boils down to the consumer, then maybe the market has no need for Blu-ray. People want to surf the Internet on their phone, not worry about high-end picture quality. Blu-ray’s time will come, but for now…next.

A look back on “Bizarro” fiction July 14, 2008

Posted by ashiah in Books.
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Say what you will about summer traditions, whether it’s the summer blockbuster or the summer vacation, but summer reading has always been my favorite. Though lately as I plow through Amazon looking for good book recs, I keep running into these. I guess it’s not entirely Amazon’s fault. You see, about a year ago I bought about six of these books expecting a great introduction into the world of underground surreal fiction. This particular genre of surreal fiction (later branded as “Bizarro” fiction) is unique, or so I thought at first. The authors are usually from the Seattle area and unlike other surrealist authors that worship Franz Kafka, these authors are not big literary nuts. Instead, their inspiration comes from filmmakers like David Lynch and Takashi Miike. The stories are neither plot or character driven, but the stories strive to take strangeness into hilarious and captivating areas. (Warning: NSFW behind the cut.) (more…)

4chan makes The Wall Street Journal, creeps people out in the process July 10, 2008

Posted by ashiah in In the news.
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(Ugh, I’ve just been busy this week. Expect more involved writing next week.)

Everyone is talking about The Wall Street Journal doing a feature story on 4chan, the obnoxious, yet sometimes funny internet black hole. The piece paints 4chan as a hipster board where everyone is funny and everyone has an awesome macro or meme to post. Of course, that’s only partially true. The sad reality is 4chan is mostly porn — creepy tentacle anime porn at that. The unsuspecting readers of The Wall Street Journal will be in for a treat.

6 Things you’ll never hear on a reality show July 8, 2008

Posted by ashiah in In the news, What's On TV.
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Yesterday, Rich from FourFour posted a video that compiled the single most overused phrase used in reality shows: “I’m not here to make friends…” That’s right, because reality TV contestants are there to win it, not completely whore themselves to fame. Psh, that’s crazy talk. In response, here are five six things you’ll never hear muttered on a reality TV show…ever: (more…)

New videos: CSS “Rat Is Dead” / Xiu Xiu “Master of the Bump” July 7, 2008

Posted by ashiah in In the news, Music.
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All right, getting back to business. Here are two new music videos, one from indie darlings CSS, the other from experimental duo Xiu Xiu.

CSS’s “Rat Is Dead” is the first single from their upcoming album Donkey. The video is a swooping shot of the band performing, with lead singer Lovefoxxx running around in a strange spandex body suit. My impression of the song is lukewarm, but I’m always lukewarm to CSS.

From their album Women As Lovers released earlier this year, the video for “Master of the Bump (Kurt Stumbaugh, I Can Feel the Soil Falling Over My Head)” is a bizarre black and white voyage through homoeroticism. Guaranteed to get you fired, you know, if you’re dumb enough to watch this at work.

What’s Playing Now (Snack size edition) July 3, 2008

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Alla – Es Tiempo (2008 )
Alla are three Mexican-Americans from Chicago. Lead singer Lupe Martinez sings in breathy Spanish over laid-back, yet unremarkable music. I tried really hard to like this album, but I kept forgetting what I was listening to. The songs are light and airy but tend to swoop into areas that don’t take the songs anywhere. “El Moviemento” is one of the few tracks to somewhat have a working formula. The song is like a psychedelic country ride that beautifully builds toward the end, not in a overdone way but just enough to realize the song has ended and another track is about to start (wish I could say the same about the others). Alla has great potential, though. They might be making pretty background music now, but who knows where they’ll be tomorrow.

Olafur Arnalds – Eulogy For Evolution (2007)
From Iceland, Olafur Arnalds has been getting lots of press for this year’s captivating Variation of Static. It’s only logical to see where Arnalds began and have a look at his debut. Eulogy For Evolution is sparser and more delicate. The songs are like icicles in their perfection — as if one touch or sudden move will cause the entire song to collapse. Arnalds reminds me somewhat of my favorite band, World’s End Girlfriend. The difference is Arnalds is less interested in making something frantic and experimental — he’s more of a minimalist. But both musicians have a classical aesthetic to their music that’s refreshing to hear. In fact, I think this album is slightly better than Variation Of Static. But shh, don’t tell anyone.