8 04 2010

AIR is the French duo consisting of Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel. They play downtempo electro pop that is really laid-back and despite being mostly electronic it’s very organic sounding with real appeal to the analog snob. One thing that I particularly like about them is that they have both instrumental and vocals tunes, with the instrumentals usually being the standouts… well, in my mind. However, there are numerous exceptions to that. Some of the vocal stuff is really good like “The Vagabond” which features Beck on lead vocals. The duo is a very interesting format with a unique dynamic and these guys are no exception. Nicolas plays guitars, including bass and provides vocals too. While Jean-Benoît plays all the keyboard instruments and contributes vocals. Another thing I really like about these guys is that they are quite fond of music from the 70’s and are also very particular about using only vintage gear. Because they are just a duo, essentially everything they do is  an overdubbed studio project. It’s a lot like Walter Becker and Donald Fagan with Steely Dan. It’s that same principal but with a new electric groove and modern attitude. Their first release was a very cool little EP called Premiers Symptoms in 1997. Then the following year they released a full length album called Moon Safari that was phenomenal. They have made six other albums since then, all with a few excellent songs among them but the first two releases remain to be their best work. In addition to their own albums, they have done music for films. Director Sofia Coppola must really like them because not only did she ask them to do all the music for The Virgin Suicides, she used a song from one of their albums in Lost In Translation.

I really like this simple video for the opening track of Moon Safari, called “La Femme D’Argent”. This is probably the best song on this album and perhaps one of the best from their entire catalog.The album version is like 7 minutes long but this version is slightly abbreviated.

Below is an official video produced for a live performance. The song is “Talisman” also off Moon Safari.   Despite being just a duo, they bring around a small band for live gigs. The performances are extremely well replicated versions of the album material with some extra (but not overdone) improvisation and perhaps some fresh dynamics.

This next song is the tune used in Lost In Translation. It’s originally from their 2004 release Talkie Walkie. The song is called “Alone In Kyoto”. This is a great live video that is also of very high quality. It’s cool to see how they recreate songs like this live.

More info on AIR

AIR’s Official Site

All their music on Amazon

More on Steely Dan

A few more AIR songs to check out:

The Vagabond (featuring Beck)

Alpha Beta Gaga

Playground Love

Kelly Watch the Stars


J’ai Dormi Sous L’eau

Le Soleil Est Près De Moi

RIP Corey

11 03 2010

Corey Haim died yesterday at 38 years old of what looks like a drug overdose. Haim is but half the 80’s acting duo “The Corey’s”. Famous for his work in The Lost Boys but perhaps more famous for the countless B and C movies he has done since. As an up and coming child actor both he and Corey Feldman had ongoing drug and alcohol habits that have been very public for years. That aside, let’s remember Corey for his peaks rather than his valleys. Here is the theme music to one of my favorite Corey’s movies, License To Drive. The song is perfect for the movie. It’s Billy Ocean’s “Get Out Of My Dreams, Get Into My Car”. The image in this video is the oh-so-80’s movie poster for the 1988 film, featuring both Corey’s in cool mode.

In case you are not familiar with this epic film, the full trailer is below. In fact, I recommend you honor Corey posthumously and rent it tonight. It’s not quite a John Hughes masterpiece but it’s a classic nonetheless. The saddest part of all this is that there will never be a “Corey’s” comeback as I had always hoped for.

Feldman’s reaction to Haim’s death

License To Drive on IMDB

Corey Haim on IMDB

Corey Feldman on IMDB

License To Drive on Wiki

Haim’s Official Site

Tim Burton @ The MoMA

5 03 2010

I went to the Tim Burton exhibit at The MoMA yesterday. It was really cool. It’s mostly made up of drawings and rough sketches of both early ideas from his adolescence and the initial concepts that would eventually become his films. There were some sculptures, props and set pieces there as well. They also had some of his early animated shorts and TV commercials screening in areas of the exhibit.  Overall, it’s worth checking out.

Burton offers a lot of great info in this Behind The Scenes footage. In this, you will see many of the pieces in the exhibit and a great narrative from Burton on some of the works.

If you liked that, there are a few more short videos about how they accomplished some of the installation pieces for the MoMA. The links are below:

Creatures & Carousel

Edward Scissorhands Topiary

Balloon Boy

Creatures Mouth

Here is just a sample of some of the drawings you can see. Everything at the exhibit captures every bit of  Burton’s amazingly unusual and fascinating point of view.

The list of films that Burton has directed is quite long and remarkable but there is one on said list that I was never quite a fan of. It always seemed more of a joke than anything else. Perhaps it was that Michael J. Fox was in it or maybe it has something to do with how overtly kitsch it was. This movie is, of course, Mars Attacks. Come to think of it, perhaps the turn off is a bit more personal. Yes, I believe it was this that spoiled it for me. This anecdote is a tad “inside” but enjoyable nevertheless: When I was in school, one of my teachers had a band called The Bossa Nova Beatniks. He always tried to claim they were legit by sighting a performance at CBGBs but as students we always thought it was incredibly lame. It was really odd because they would occasionally perform at school events and even in a few talent shows. I know,  it’s very weird. I believe what started it was that I had a no-name “actress” as a classmate (she will remain only partially nameless) who often used the Beatniks as her backup band in various shows. That aside, on their solo scholastic gigs, they would do this song called “Ack Ack”, which was their interpretation of the movie Mars Attacks. Sounds like a hit, right? Well, it’s amazing what a few years can do.  Don’t get me wrong, I still hate everything about the tune, but I have a new found appreciation for the Beatnicks… who are rumored to be big in Cleveland by the way. What this whole story amounts to is that I actually found a video of the Mars Attacks movie edited to the song “Ack Ack”. It’s just too good to leave out of this post. Enjoy…

Tim Burton’s official site

Buy The Illustrations of Tim Burton book

Tim Burton on IMDB

Tim Burton at The MoMA

Guilty Pleasures

19 02 2010

We all have them and I am no exception. A good friend recently asked what mine are. It was part of a discussion about the stress of putting your iPod on shuffle while with others and hoping that one of those guilty pleasures doesn’t somehow pop up and embarrass you, which always seems to happen. Here are a few of my guilty pleasures but I’m not that embarrassed by them so I don’t know if they really count. But, they are certainly not tunes I want the guy next to me on the subway overhearing from my headphones although they’re really nice to squeeze into playlists here and there… they seem to go really well with the rest of the ‘so bad it’s good’ yacht rock in my library. I hear this stuff is coming back so maybe I’m actually on the fore of something big here.

This is Hall & Oates’ “Rich Girl”. I once worked with a guy who famously said, “Daryl Hall is the greatest blonde-haired, blue-eyed soul singer of his time”. Despite not being able to come up with another to challenge that, I would hardly give the guy that much credit. Nevertheless, they do have some really great songs… and this is perhaps their best. Either this or “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)”. It’s too close to call.

I just want to add that Hall’s outfit in this is hysterical. It’s way Don Johnson in Miami Vice.

Here’s Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin”. Now this one is more commonly appreciated because it was the sample used for Warren G’s “Regulate” circa 1994. Sure McDonald is hard to take seriously but it’s a pretty good song. There is a newer live version available but I actually prefer this early 80’s disaster of a music video.

Bowie should never be a guilty pleasure but I tend to lump “Ashes to Ashes” in there. Unfortunately, Mr. Bowie has blocked the embedding of the official video (yes, every single one on the web) so this is just the song with the album cover. It’s from Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) ca. 1980.

This is both guilty pleasure and Soundtrack classic. Huey Lewis & the News’ 1985 hit from Back to the Future, “Back in Time”. Embarrassing and amazing all at the same.

This does not fit the soft rock trend going on here but it still qualifies for the guilty pleasure category. Weezer doing “Undone (The Sweater Song) back in 1994 on The John Stewart Show. That’s right, not the Daily Show… this was that long ago. Look how young they are…

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