Sunday, September 30, 2007

Wegmans+"The Office"=the greatest things get even better!

Word arrived to me today from back home in Webster that "The Office" would begin showing Wegman's products throughout the season this year, in order to remain as authentic as possible. This makes sense because the show is set in Scranton, PA, which Wegmans (greatest grocery store - nay! greatest shopping experience! - and based in Rochester, NY thank you very much) must have infiltrated by now. With this information, I returned to the first episode of Season 4 with an eye for discrete product placement:

The episode begins with Michael enjoying breakfast.

...which Jan has graciously made for him (well, at least she bought the soy milk).

But not just any milk! Organic Soy milk, Wegmans brand! And behind it, Wegmans Raisin Bran?

Here's hoping for a WPOP appearance, even though Jim had given up grape soda as of last season.

Stunning news of the week

So this news is going to be reported EVERYWHERE by tomorrow, but pitchfork has the word on the subject at the moment. For the past week or so, Radiohead has had cryptic messages on its website and indicating news was upcoming.

Boy, is it!

Radiohead's 7th LP is being released, online, on October 10th! Apparently they haven't resigned to a label, and they're distributing it themselves, online. The new LP is titled In Rainbows, is 10 tracks long, and will be available in only 10 days.

  • You can preorder a music pack that includes the actual CD, the album on vinal, a second CD with additional songs, and some added artwork. The thing is shipped on December 3rd, but costs 40 pounds.
  • If you only want the new LP, apparently you can pay however much you want for the download. Yes, it appears that Radiohead is not setting a price for download.

More details here.


  1. Radiohead's giving the finger to the major music labels. Thinking that even if everyone only pays $1 or $2 for the whole album, that's about how much they'd get from every CD sold through a major label. Thinking that their concert revenue is astronomical and that album sales drive ticket sales.
  2. Only 10 days between album announcement and release date? This means that Radiohead is even more secretive than Bill Belichick, Steve Jobs, or John Lasseter. I guess something like this would be impossible to pull off with a music label, since there would be too many people in the know to keep such a plan secret.

Wow. It's been, what, two or three years since Hail to the Thief? Guess we have something to look forward to on October 1oth!

Albums I purchased in September

No stunners this month, so no "album of the month." That said, I've been quite pleased with everything that I did purchase:

September releases:
  • Beirut, The Flying Club Cup. See my earlier posting for a review. French-inspired, brass, strings, accordian, ukelele, what's not to like. Oh yeah, Zach's crooning. If you can get past that, then this is good stuff. I like it better than Beirut's debut album (cause even the well-done Eastern-European flavor doesn't float my boat).

  • Jose Gonzalez, In My Nature. A guy and his guitar. No, quite literally, that's about all this is. But with Gonzalez, the emphasis is on the guitar rather than his voice, so if you appreciate talented guitaring, give him a try. Though this album isn't stylisticly different than his debut Veneer, I like this one more. For fans of Veneer, or people who almost liked Veneer, but not quite.

  • Devandra Banhart, Smoky Rolls Down Thunder Canyon. So the reviews on this aren't great, but I really like it. He's expanding his sound a bit more past Cripple Crow, and sounds even more accessible than before. Still, Devandra's the Peter Jackson of musicians: desperately in need of an editor, but filled with lots of good ideas. (Smoky Rolls is 16 tracks long, and a good 5 or 6 could be chopped with no loss). Here's one of my favorites, performed on Conan.

  • Iron & Wine, The Shepherd's Dog. Sam's expanding his sound here, even beyond what was suggested from Woman King. Dabbling in Middle-Eastern, Balkan sounds. He's no longer naked and acoustic; his music is now fuller and larger and more instrumental, but as a result, it feels less personal. In the past, lyrics have taken center-stage. Here, there are some tracks in which over half is purely instrumental.

And, an older album, but purchased this month:

  • Okkervil River, Black Sheep Boy (+ Appendices EP). Not as rocking as The Stage Names, but for fans of The Stage Names, worth a listen or two before the purchase.

My music consumption seems to have fallen this month. And I still have 50+ emusic downloads to burn through in the next two weeks...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Office quote of the night

Somewhat scattered episode, but I suppose setting the stage for things to come. Quote of the night (by Angela): "Cat heaven is a beautiful place. But you can't get there if you're euthanized."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Top 10 favorite moments from "The Office" season 3

"The Office" is consistently at the top of my favorite shows on television, along with LOST and above 24. More than any other comedy on TV, I think it best depicts the complex and subtle interactions between people of all different personality types. Though most of the characters are charactitures, there's always some bit of realism and truth to even the zaniest things that Michael, Dwight, Kevin, and the rest all do (and I must admit that I adore the realism, subtlty, and slow pace that the Jim/Pam relationship exhibits). The Office is the only TV show I can watch over and over again and not get bored with (I've rarely been able to sit through a second viewing of LOST, even though it is one of my favorites) - this is often because there are so many subtle bits that are easily missed on first viewing.

In any case, here are my top ten favorite moments from season 3 (in no particular order):

  1. Dwight: "How would you like to sleep with the district manager?" Angela (thinking he means Michael): "No, I don't care if that's how they consolidated power in Ancient Rome." Funny because you know Dwight's asked this before!
  2. "A Benihaha Christmas" - Michael X's the arms of the Japanese waitress that he brought as a date to the party, so that he can tell her apart from the others. Cmon, you knew exactly what he was doing.
  3. Jim and Pam hiding Andy's phone in the ceiling tiles, causing Andy's "brain to break." I did this to my officemate's cellphone once, and it took half an hour to retrieve from the ceiling. And I broke a ceiling tile in the process.
  4. Dwight saving Jim from an eminent beatdown by macing Roy. And Dwight macing Andy on his return to the office. And Dwight then relinquishing his entire armory full of weapons (throwing stars, nunchucks...)
  5. Stanley chewing Ryan out for talking to his daughter again at Poor Richard's (sadly this only appeared in the deleted scenes).
  6. Jim and Dwight's sales call, cause it showed how good a team they really could be when they want to.
  7. Jan throwing Michael in the bathroom during the cocktail party, and Michael's response: "but you said this is your private place!" Cause you know this has come up in the past...
  8. Basically, everything with Pam this season: her first first date in 9 years, taking up art lessons and no one but Michael showing, her tense interactions with Karen at the end.
  9. The best Ryan and Kelly moment of all time: Kelly: "What is so stupid about wanting to name a baby Usher? Usher Jennifer Hudson Kapoor." Ryan: "Don't you see why that's insane?"
  10. Two great Toby moments: 1) after Ryan gets moved in with Kelly and they start bickering, Toby: "I don't know if Michael intended this as punishment for me, but if he did...genius." 2) after Michael threatens to withhold himself from Jan unless she gives him a raise, Toby starts writing down the details of Michael's statement. Michael: "what are you writing, perve." Toby: "Just preparing for the deposition." And then Toby's talking head: "This may be the first time that a male subordinate has attempted to get a modest, scheduled raise by threatening to withhold sex from a female superior. It will be a groundbreaking case when it inevitably goes to trial." The best part is how amused and slightly thrilled Toby seems as a result.
  11. And, of course, the final voice over by Pam as Jim seems to have turned down the NYC job - interrupted, of course, by Jim asking her out to dinner. So believably done and well acted, and an excellent end to the season.

What to look forward to this season? Ryan as Michael's boss. Jan becoming increasingly erratic and driving Michael up the wall. Darryl and Andy as series regulars. The further developments of Pam and Jim, Dwight and Angela. And, 4 one hour episodes to start things off!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Patrick Watson: Polaris Prize winner

Patrick Watson was recently announced as the winner of this year's Polaris Prize, Canada's equivalent of England's Mercury Prize. He was in the running with, among others, Arcade Fire (for Neon Bible) and Feist (for The Reminder). His album Close to Paradise was released earlier this year (I think - can't remember if I got it at the end of last year or beginning of this year). It's an enjoyable listen, but I don't think it's terribly remarkable - to me it is very, very much like Parachutes-era Coldplay. Nonetheless, here are a few of the notable tracks: The Great Escape, Luscious Life, and Drifters.

New release Tuesday

Boy has my music consumption plummeted the past few weeks as data work has given way to writing and presentation preparation. Nonetheless, today's a big day for new releases, as new albums by Jose Gonzalez, Devandra Banhart, and Iron & Wine all drop today. Of these, Iron & Wine seems to be getting the best reviews, but with coupon they're each $10 at Newbury Comics, so if I can hold off on the Itunes downloads until the end of the day (and manage to remain productive), then I think I'll be visiting Newbury on the way home. And probably pick up the latest Go! Team as well. (Unfortunately none of these new releases are available via emusic. No matter, I'm highly anticipating the debut of the 1900s - Cold & Kind - which drops next week, and seems like it will be offered on emusic.

When I'll have time to listen to all of this new music, now that's another story.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Album surprise of the day

Beirut's latest (The Flying Club Cup) isn't officially released until October 9th, but it has made an early debut on emusic and free napster. Zach's first release (Gulag Orkestar) really didn't work for me: highly influenced by an Eastern European sound (think gypsy music), I appreciated the unique composition and style, but his constant crooning didn't work for me. I was going to pass on The Flying Club Cup for this reason, but after free napstering two tracks, it became an instant purchase.

Moving west through Europe, The Flying Club Cup is Beirut's "French sounding record" (just as Sufjan's working through the states, apparently Zach Condon is working his way through all musical styles of Europe) : horns, accordians, ukeleles, tamborines, strings, waltzes. I actually much prefer this style to the Balkan sound of Gulag Orkestar. Although Zach's still a crooner, this doesn't annoy me nearly as much as it did on the last album. Try the following tracks, for starters: Nantes, A Sunday Smile, Cliquot. And, he's also on The Takeaway Show.

This sound surely doesn't work for everyone, but I'm very pleasantly surprised at how much I'm digging The Flying Club Cup.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Two bands you should know

1. Lucky Soul. 1950s pop, complete with do-whaps, brass, organ, strings, and songs about summer love. They released a series of singles/EPs, and their full length debut earlier this year was the excellent The Great Unwanted. Give any of the offerings on their myspace site a try, very representitive of their style. (Also streamable FOR FREE from the best kept secret on the net, free napster.)

2. Walker Kong. Minneapolis-based band, so that should be enough right there. Can't speak to their earlier stuff, but Deliver Us From People is pretty solid. And, Andy Warhol and the Honeybees is quite possibly my favorite track of the year. Also accessible from their myspace site.

Boring post because I'm tired

Hmmm, it seems that the amount of new music that I listen to is directly correlated with how much I am using Census data. The last two weeks: writing another draft. Hence, I think the only new music I purchased was the pretty nice Black Sheep Boy (and follow-up EP appendix) by Okkervil River. But in other good news I now own a spiffy new laptop with a 160 gig hard drive that can hold all of my music and a quarter of my data. No longer must I try to figure out which external hard drive I put an old album on!

I really have nothing interesting to share. Other than lately I've found music to be the most energizing thing in the morning. Given serious lack of sleep (in the office 8:30AM-11PM these days), I'm surprised how well the right choice of morning music can put a bounce in my step and a smile on my face by the time I reach my office. Not that you care, but here's what I use to start my morning:
  1. From doorstep to about 50 yards from Shaws: Either Way, from Sky Blue Sky by Wilco. (Basically, because the track begins, even before the band jumps in, with the lyrics "Maybe the sun will shine today, the clouds will blow away." Reminder that every day is a fresh start.)
  2. From Shaws to the doors of the Porter subway: Keep the Car Running, from Neon Bible by The Arcade Fire. Cause once the band jumps in after the short string/guitar intro, the heart starts beating and the bloods flowing.
  3. From top of Porter to the bottom: Right Moves, from The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter by Josh Ritter. 'Cause it's good stair/escalator running music. (Really, the only exercise I get these days).
  4. And then I'm stuck. Need something that keeps up the energy until I make it to the department. Options usually include Atlas by The Battles, 1234 by Feist, To Go Home by M. Ward, The Painter by I'm From Barcelona, and Andy Warhol and the Honeybees by Walker Kong.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Free music alert!

One of my favorite newly discovered bands of the last year, Great Lake Swimmers, recently released a free 5-track live EP (courtesy of stereogum). These are five of their better tracks (and in fact don't sound that different from the studio versions). Good introduction to a band that everyone should check out!

Monday, September 10, 2007

"Pitchfork Gives Music 6.8"

"Pitchfork Gives Music 6.8": The Onion publishes Pitchfork's review of music. Pretty hilarious. My favorite quote:
"Music used to be great, but let's be honest, it's a 6.8 now at best," said
Los Angeles resident Lowell Radler, 23, who admitted that he just looked at the
rating rather than reading the whole review. "I seriously might never listen to
music again."

That said, I think Pitchfork is a very useful site as an aggregator of music news, and as one of many sites from which to get the latest reviews. I always rely on multiple sites for reviews
rather than trusting the word of a single reviewer anyhow, so Pitchfork reviews
are usually irrelevant for me. (Though I still haven't forgiven their middling
review of The National's Alligator).

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Song titles that would make good paper titles

Inspired by Neil:
  • "Bigmouth Strikes Again" (The Smiths. About the impact of office gossip on productivity?)
  • "If I Had $1,000,000" (BNL. Self-explanatory.)
  • "It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career" (Belle and Sebastian. Another "long-term effects of job loss" paper?)
  • "My Mother Was a Chinese Trapeze Artist" (Decemberists. Intergenerational diffusion of human capital?)
  • "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box" (Radiohead. Unique spelling must remain intact. Urban crowding, from immigration?)

Really, there are so many excellent choices from the Smiths: "Shoplifters of the World Unite," "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now," "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want," "The Queen is Dead, "A Rush and a Push and the Land is Ours."