Archive for the ‘Monday’s Suggestion’ Category

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Monday’s Suggestion (01-03-11)

In Monday's Suggestion,Music,New York City,Rich,Uncategorized on January 3, 2011 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , , ,

Asobi Seksu Release New Single “Trails”

Asobi Seksu

 

“Trails”, the first single off of Asobi Seksu’s upcoming fourth release starts off in a wall of dissonant, bagpipe-esque noise.  If this were to continue another ten seconds it would be annoying, but in its current incarnation it creates a ‘come hither’ allure that begs you to keep listening.

From there the song opens up into the sort of dream pop that has come to characterize the band’s sound.  Lead singer Yuki Chikudate sings and coos over carefully layered synth and a rolling drum beat heavy on tom work and accented with single shakes of a tambourine.

Overall, there is a sort of hope and wonder to the song that recalls Metricthe XX and Chairlift.  If the new record Fluorescence is full of this breed of expansive shoe-gaze, look for this album to finally push Asobi Seksu from darlings of the underground to mainstream contenders in 2011, similarly to how “Crystalised” did for the XX last year.

Asobi Seksu’s full length LP Fluorescence will be out February 15th on Polyvinyl Records, and the band will be supporting the release with a North American tour.  You can download Trails for free here and check out their tour dates on the band’s myspace.

Recommended If You Like: The XX, Metric, Chairlift

– Rich

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Monday Suggestion (12-27-10)

In Monday's Suggestion,Rich on December 27, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , ,

MAD MEN

So I’ve been sick in bed for the past two days, what a way to end the year right?  As a result I haven’t really had the chance to write this blog.  However, in light of this I’m going to suggest what I’ve been doing with my time while sick (other than watching the Giants break my heart).

Mad Men is an AMC original program based on the Advertising Industry in the 1960’s, specifically the firm Sterling Cooper and it’s ace Creative Director turned partner Don Draper.  This show is full of sexual harassment, whiskey, cigarettes and all those other descriptors that can be applied to the good ol’ American way of life in the 60s.  Its captivating, funny, sexy and makes you want a drink and a smoke.  What else do you need in a TV show?

I just finished Season 1 on Netflix, and other than Modern Family, this might be the most addictive show I’ve seen in a really long time.  I’m late to the game (the show started in 2007), but luckily I’ve been able to get a fresh start as I haven’t watched a single episode prior to starting Season 1 in November.

I’m going to leave this post brief, as I’m going to take a nice hot shower and try to steam the crap that’s chilling in my sinuses out before I leave for first night of recording with Dussel Has Friends.

Here’s two videos that I think summarize the show well.  Seriously, go get into it…

Rich

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Monday’s Suggestion

In Matt,Monday's Suggestion,Music on December 20, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , ,

Nebraska, by Bruce Springsteen, In Particular, “Highway Patrolman”

Putting Springsteen in the title runs you the risk of turning off hand-fulls of readers at a time, which is why I’ve been waiting for the right set of circumstances to suggest this album, and in particular this song. (There’s just a general weirdness behind the dichotomy of this suggestion that I can’t really explain or justify. It’s like, in a remote way, when you have two people that you call your best friend. I don’t want to just pick one to suggest. I could just suggest the album and, that way, the song would be covered; or just sever ties and go solo with the song; and maybe that’s what I should do since there’s this impulse to highlight it. But I don’t want to. [Additionally, there’s a chance that you may be a reader to whom the top assumption about Bruce Springsteen repelling people sounds really off base because Bruce is first and foremost extremely popular, which means it’s more unlikely to come across someone who wouldn’t be at least interested in reading an article about him. In that case, all I can say is we probably come from different orientations, but we can ultimately agree on how good the Boss really is.])

Anyway, the circumstance is-

  1. it’s the Christmas season, which is steadily on its way to becoming longer than the calendar seasons, and means a lot of hassle, both functionally and psychologically, one driving the other;
  2. work has been overwhelming (not entirely unrelated to Christmas, but now I’m perseverating);
  3. additional pressures pinned to writing (that is to say, trying to keep head above water), and I have a headache tonight.

Now, the reason why this subject fits those circumstances, is that Springsteen is really easy. Everyone knows him and has an opinion that’s set and dried, although this latter aspect could be the cause of difficulty if I was planning on making this about trying to change people’s minds.

There is no reason to think differently about Bruce Springsteen. Or, at least there’s no reason for someone to try to persuade another person against his/her tastes. But despite being aware of this, it’s really hard for me to imagine anyone not liking this song, if not being really moved by it. It could fly pretty well on its own as a suggestion for the week. Structurally, it’s of craftsmanship-grade quality. And artistically, it’s like Cain and Abel set in 20th century America, with irony that is as tragic and profound as the works of Shakespeare. It’s Steinbeck.

But as soon as I listen to the song, I want to listen to the whole album. If you’re the type of person who is turned off by Bruce Springsteen, be apprised that this song and album are NOT what you dislike about Springsteen. It’s not Glory Days or Thunder Road. There’s no saxophone. It is made up of the songs you hear on the radio that turn off the background noise of traffic and stress, with the first thing you hear when your inner monologue starts again being “Wait, is this Bruce Springsteen?”.

Sony has blocked the original recording off of YouTube, which is the best version. But this is the best one I found on YouTube.

Here’s a version by Johnny Cash. So if you hate Springsteen, the odds are pretty high that you’re into, or at least respect, Cash.

Nebraska. This is the title track and probably responsible for the “haunting” descriptor that is probably used most commonly in descriptions of the album as a whole.

Johnny 99. Ok, this one fits more with the popular Springsteen persona. But it’s still fantastic.

-Matt

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Monday’s Suggestion

In David Foster Wallace,Matt,Monday's Suggestion on December 13, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , , , ,

The David Foster Wallace Audio Project (title is also link to title’s subject)

Picture, and the only one, that is used for the minimalist design of the webpage.

This is debatable, and possibly something that would have bothered him to hear, but David Foster Wallace may have been a better talker than a writer.

(Now, this is hopefully only to make a point about his conversational faculties and not just because I want to tell my little story about seeing him in person.) My first encounter with David Foster Wallace, past his name and contemporary fame, was at a reading in San Fransisco (and I’ll leave it at that as a token of good faith and continue on with the sentence, sort of cramming as much into as few streams of thought as syntax will allow so as to undercut as much suspect self-absorbed mood as is reasonable to expect), during which he dug, and described in his positively lucid phraseology, a basic furrow of differences between reading something and hearing it read. Mainly along the lines of experience: How he experiences them: how they feel; how they impress on him; the finer points of a more complicated engagement with the two different types of perception. I don’t remember him using this phrase at the time, but “how it feels on your nerve endings” is pretty much one of his ways of describing basically the same idea.

I forget most of what he said at that reading, or at least have lost access to a coherent order of the memories of the things he said that would make it possible for me to retrieve or reconstruct the vaguer ones, but I remember this having a huge impact on me that I didn’t fully appreciate until much later on when I became, what is, admittedly, a devoted follower (pathetic, also admittedly), not just of his work but of him.

So, blah, blah, blah, (severing this now in order to just leap fully back into my promise to not become absolutely indulgent in personalizing this blog post) a good place to start with DFW is in hearing him talk about writing, literature, and life. And DFW is someone totally worth getting into. And if you already consider yourself a howling fantod (which, if you do then you know what that phrase means) and do not already know this website, then you will find plenty of new ground to trod.

This is the second week in a row where it seems I’ve given a suggestion that has been lite on the description and heavy on the instruction, drifted even farther toward the instruction. I can’t say that I’m just noticing it now and it was wholly unintentional, but I can add a little adjunct description here on the end. The website basically just comprises a collection of audio recordings divided in four sections: 1. “Interviews & Profiles” 2. “Readings” 3. “Eulogies & Remembrances” 4.”Brief Interviews Staged Readings”.

-Matt

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Monday’s Suggestion

In Matt,Monday's Suggestion on December 6, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , , ,

An Article, a Segment, and an Announcement

1. An Article-Life As We Don’t Know It by Michio Kaku in the Wall Street Journal today (that was actually up on the WSJ.com last night.)

Kaku is a professor of theoretical physics at CUNY and sort of a high order B-celebrity in the society of pop-physicists; just a step below the likes of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Stephen Hawkins. He hosts a show on the Science Channel called Sci Fi Science: Physics of the Impossible and has been on a spectrum of TV and radio media from CNN, Fox News Channel, and Al Jazeera English to The Colbert Report and Opie and Anthony. And this article is his two cents on NASA’s announcement that a team of scientists funded by it have discovered life based on arsenic, on Thursday.

2. A Segment-

RT is Russia’s Al Jazeera or CNN. It’s American branch is headquartered in Washington D.C.

3. An Announcement-NASA-Funded Research Discovers Life Built With Toxic Chemical

Sometime last week NASA emitted a teaser to the press that suggested it would release definitive evidence of alien life, which turned out to be true with a catch because the alien life happened to come from Earth. The catch itself, although its existence was predictable, is significant for a much longer time after the initial let down, as is part of the jist of Kaku’s article.

If nothing else, this discovery adds a little more credence to Jeff Goldblum character in Jurassic Park when he says “Life finds a way”.

-Matt

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Monday’s Suggestion (11-29-10)

In Monday's Suggestion,Music,Rich,Uncategorized on November 29, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

Fences

If you’re currently in your mid to late 20s and were labeled an “emo kid” at some point in your younger days, chances are Fences, the recording alias of 27-year-old songwriter Chris Mansfield, captured your current mindset on his debut album.

Don’t know if this applies to you?  Let me provide a little more background.

Music: When you were young(er) you found solace in bands like Taking Back Sunday, Saves The Day and Thursday.  You thought the “Blue Album” was awesome, but Pinkerton was Weezer’s classic.

Books: You love Kerouac and Bukowski, Plath and Hemingway and there was a period of time where you obsessed over the idea of existentialism.

Film: With regards to film you had two dynamic duos you lived by (Wes Anderson/Jason Schwartzman and Tim Burton/Johnny Depp).  You made it your goal to find the happy medium between these two personas…and then marry Zooey Deschanel.  This is why you’re now incredibly jealous of Ben Gibbard (if you’re a girl replace Zooey Deschanel with Joseph Gordon Levitt and Ben Gibbard with whoever he’s dating).

If any of this sound familiar you’re probably going to relate to Fences.   If not there is still an aspect of your youth that could tie you in…you drove around aimlessly, often for entire nights.  You’d drink in parking lots and go to basement shows and house parties, but mostly you’d just drive around and listen to music, ending up at a diner in the waning hours of the night.

If you’re still reading this probably rings a bell to some degree, and the questions you strung yourself out on while staring out the passenger window of your friend’s 92 Volvo are the same ones you examined in your head as you stared out the subway window on your way to work this morning.  Questions like “where is my life going?” or “what did I do wrong to him/her?”.  These may be the same questions you had back then, but you definitely don’t approach them the same way.

Fences encapsulates this more mature approach.  You aren’t screaming anymore, you’re reflecting quietly.  Where Chris Carraba crafted Dashboard Confessional out of a refusal to move past his high school heartaches as he entered his late twenties, Chris Mansfield has constructed Fences out of a desperate need to get past that time in his life.

Fences self-titled debut album is full of the shoe-gazing self-reflection that so many of us have adapted as our comfort zone.  It’s the soundtrack to a late night drive or a long night at a dive bar.  In fact, I find something fitting about the fact that this album was conceived in Seattle.  Probably because it gives me the same feeling I used to get when watching the cult classic “Reality Bites”.

The bottom line is this album is as therapeutic to the listener as it likely was for Mansfield to write.  If you don’t have your life figured out yet, give it a listen.  You probably won’t figure out anything by doing so, but trust me you’ll still feel a little better afterwards.

Recommended if you like: Cassino, An Horse, Tegan & Sara

– Rich

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Monday’s Suggestion

In Matt,Monday's Suggestion,Periodicals on November 22, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lapham’s Quarterly

…is kind of a potpourri of historical literary and visual nuggets strung together on one thematic subject, such as education, nature, money, travel, war, sports, medicine, religion, or, as is the most recent Fall 2010 issue, cities.

To ratchet down a little more tightly on the modus operandi, it’s beaded by the more elemental aspects of each subject.

Taken from this Fall 2010 volume on cities, the pieces, which are on average 3 pages long and are woven with pictures: artwork, drawings, topography, and photos; and quotes, don’t really go beyond simple reflections on certain functions from cities throughout history and geography. So what it’s attempting is basically to distill its own conversational offerings to one locus made of many parts, kind of like a city which is one place representing many parts of a region. This is not to say every issue would hit the same kind of high-railed parallel, since ‘The City’, as a subject happens to provide advantageous material, but its obvious that they are all meant to be compiled in this stew-like format.

The nuggets also come from a seeming comprehensive spectrum of voices such as Plutarch, Woody Allen, Dostoevsky, anonymous, Michelangelo, Marco Polo, Groucho Marx, Salmon Rushdie, Gershwin, Pericles, Camus, Virgil, Flaubert, Wallace Stevens, Frank Lloyd Wright, Joyce, James, Hernán Cortés, Lyndon Johnson, and, of course, E.B. White, who you might guess would be the writer they started the issue with…but on second thought it’s really top-heavy with, almost completely European and American writers, and so should really be looked at as a traditional, Western-academic (male) fueled treatment. There are so few Asian and Middle Eastern guys, not to mention women, and no Africans.

You know what it’s sort of like, altogether? One of those commercials for celebrity causes like the ONE campaign. You’re bowled over pretty much immediately with the sudden urge to be as totally involved and connected with all civilization, throughout the past and present, as all the people displayed in this piece or promo, joined with the sudden reminder of the vastness, and abundance, of your ignorance to it to the point where you feel, simultaneously, inspired and deflated, like you have a ticket to Willy Wonka’s glass elevator but no time to get to it before it takes off.

But that doesn’t mean it’s ultimately daunting to read. It fits in well with a work week. The pieces are short and reflective so that they can be read incrementally. The really brilliant thing about it is that they can be educational while soothing.

-Matt

This is the 2nd installment of Periodicals. Sorry for the total lack of concrete information on the publication, but here’s a link to its website and the thing it, the best way to get a feel for what the magazine is, like in some minor ontological way, would be to flip through and read it for a bit at a book store.