29 January 2008


Watch this (maybe you've already seen it):

Then this:

Get it? Michel Gondry is a strange, radical genius. Seriously.

Thanks for making my day, Creent.

25 January 2008

They've Done It Again

I knew there was a video in the works for Black Mirror. I had no idea it would be THIS.

Have fun fiddling with the audio and removing different tracks (drums, vocals, hurdy-gurdy, etc.) to create your own version of the song. Crazy Canucks and their interactive, web-based musical videos... Applause!

UPDATE: This is blowing my mind. A couple killer audio combinations:
  • 1+2+5=just vocals and drums
  • 1+5+6=just vocals and strings
Dig in. Leave your favorite mash-ups in the comments, yeah?

CORRECTION: I should be referring to these mixes as "mash-downs" (thank you, Kyality). And don't forget to hit the spacebar, kids...!

I Can't Explain Why (And I'm Sure I'll Immediately Regret It)

But I feel compelled to share this photograph:

My little brother unearthed what appears to be my first appearance in an American Apparel ad. I can't stop looking at it. Wow. Just wow. Do you feel sorry for this kid? Do you appreciate his unknown hipster fashion? Can you say anything to help me finally digest what I keep seeing here?

24 January 2008

Feist + Fireworks = New Levels of Crushness

Patrick Daughters delivers another stunning clip for Feist, this time for my favorite Reminder track, I Feel It All. There's not a lot to say about it other than it's fantastic and I've been watching it for the last 24 minutes, straight. Start your day the only way you should — watch it right now:

Check out the higher-quality QuickTime HERE.

Remember when she sang the same song on a bus? I do.

14 January 2008

The Mystery, Revealed

I didn't mean to tease the upto12-reading audience for an extended period of time. In fact, I didn't mean to tease at all. The truth is, I mostly forgot that I had hinted at a mystery album until a few of you reminded me. Anyway, friendly shopkeep Chris at Slowtrain ran straight to the shelves and grabbed this album when I told him to pick my final purchase on Thursday:

As far as a review goes, let's just say that I have no plans for taking Chris up on his if-you-don't-like-it-I'll-buy-it-back guarantee. In fact, I wouldn't even think of it. As far as I can tell, French Quarter is a one-man, singer-songwriter operation that dabbles in the sort of hushed emotional songs I tend to enjoy a bit too much. It's solid stuff and begs for repeated listenings before you can form any sort of opinion about the album as a whole.

Let's do this music critic/record label style: If you're a fan of Bon Iver or Andrew Bird or any other soothing, strumming, soft spoken crooners (even Elliott Smith fits the bill), you'll dig this album. Pick it up at Slowtrain or other independent record stores in your area.

Visit the French Quarter MySpace page (as much as I typically detest MySpace pages, it appears to be the only online source for info about the band/man/etc.).

10 January 2008

Lunch Meeting = Slowtrain

If you live in the greater Salt Lake metropolis and you're not buying your music at Slowtrain, it's time someone called you to repentance. Taking advantage of a lunch meeting downtown, I emptied my pockets of any remaining Christmas cash and felt good doing so. Shopkeeper Chris was playing a Mirah album that found its way into my bag (along with an Elliott Smith record and the newish Band of Horses LP) and — seeing as I still had about $15 to burn — let him choose my final purchase.

I don't want to spoil the surprise until I've given it a good listen, but Chris is a kind fellow who even backed the choice with an if-you-don't-like-it-I'll-buy-it-back-from-you guarantee — and that's about as solid a recommendation you'll find anywhere.

So that's that. Slowtrain is awesome and I only feel moderately self-conscious and lame every time I talk to the good folks there. Which, if you're wondering, is a hu-u-uge upgrade over the way I normally feel at record stores.


A Warning (I Guess)

Ever have the feeling that today is gonna be the day (totally not in the Wonderwall sort of way) to change things for a while? I've got that feeling today. That no matter how it all goes down, things are gonna be different tomorrow. There's no avoiding it and no going back. And there's no telling if it's in a good way or a bad way. Truth told, it'll probably fall somewhere between in the end. And that's okay, too.

I guess I'm just saying that when everything's all scrambled tomorrow, don't say I didn't warn you.

07 January 2008

The Shortest Flight To Minneapolis, Ever

A couple months ago, Nick Hornby's newest novel, SLAM, was on sale at the Costco for $10. I threw it in the cart and I don't think Mrs. upto12 even noticed it was there hiding between the dino nuggets and the boneless/skinless chicken breasts. Still, last weekend's non-stop from SLC to Minneapolis (and the return) were the first opportunity I had to dig in.

It goes without saying that I loved it. I've made no secret of my Nick Hornby fandom here. But SLAM was a cut above even my more favorite Hornby works. I can't describe it and it's likely illogical (like everything else I love/enjoy/obsess about). It may have something to do with Tony Hawk. It may have something to do with child rearing. And it may not having anything to do with either. Just know that Nick Hornby's characters are some of the most endearing, likable, funny people you'll ever meet. And I was sad that SLAM ended after a mere 309 pages.

Buy the book wherever you prefer to buy books. I'd lend you mine, but it's already been promised to Kyality. And then Kakie. And then about 18 other people.

02 January 2008

Let's Not Forget...

One of my more idealistic arguments against end-of-year lists is that they all seem to place the grandest importance on albums, movies, songs, artists, etc. that have only had to establish their place in our minds for a month or two or three (or 12 at the most)—as a result slightly minimizing and/or abandoning the lasting greatness of artifacts that've maintained their place for a decade or more. I have a hard time believing that we'll all feel the same way about things a few years (or even weeks) down the road. Some things need time. I may adore the new Spoon album right now, but it's only been spinning 'round my noggin for a couple months at this point. What if its charm wears thin? And what if something else I've only given half a chance becomes my album of the quarter century?

With all this running through my mind, I've spent tonight doing a few essential things (mowing down some day-old Kung Pao, bathing the Wilson brothers), a few not-so-essential things (recounting some Christmas cash to see if I really have enough for a new guitar) and procrastinating everything else (work, mostly). To keep spirits up around the upto12 home – and likely spurred by the recent re-release of this classic – I fired up U2's Rattle and Hum.

I've been in love with R+H for more than 15 years (it's been out for 20 and if that doesn't make you feel old, I don't know what will) and after spending the last three weeks reading about the grandeur of bands that haven't been around for 15 months and albums that haven't been listened to 15 times, R+H stands out as something incredible and still unmatched. From the opening bars of Helter Skelter, Bono abuses the audience with every possible aside, rant and sermon. In some ways, it's unthinkable — here's an up-and-coming Irish band, fresh off a huge commercial success, covering the Beatles and Dylan-via-Hendrix (and even sampling Hendrix's Star Spangled Banner later on...), jamming with B.B. King, stammering about the hills of San Salvador and U.S. foreign policy. There's no subtlety within the tracks of R+H; every note seems packed with bombast and brash overstatement.

And somehow, in the midst of it all, it's the details and the almost-under-the-radar moments that drive R+H to its celebrated status: the breath-y "yeah" as Desire kicks off, the fade-out of Van Diemen's Land that leads to the single question from an interviewer (Q: "What would you say has happened between the writing of the Joshua Tree album, the recording of the Joshua Tree album and, uh, the tour and now the new songs?" A: "I don't know."), the Edge letting loose with flourishes of non-solo solos that still blister my ears, Bono's reference to Hill Street Blues in Bullet the Blue Sky...

In the last 10+ years, I've made a hundred mixtapes featuring tracks from R+H and nearly every one of them has included a mash-up of the Bonologues (thanks, Kyality) found on this album. It's just too perfect to have Side B open with Bono asking, "Am I bugging you?" a dozen times (not an easy task in the CD-to-cassette days) with an emphatic "I don't mean to bug ya!" at the end of it all. Another perfect bite: Bono's enunciation of "Ar-tists! A-gainst! A-par-t-heid!"

Yeah, this post is a mess. I'm too emotional about Rattle and Hum to write anything reasonably subjective or convincing, but if you've got it in your iTunes or on CD or on tape or 8-track or vinyl, do me a favor: Put it on, turn it up, sing along. Close your eyes at the crucial turns and the burned-in-your-brain choruses. Think about the trapeze artist and the little person you vaguely remember from the All I Want Is You video. And, remember that some albums should be on your Best Of lists every year—no matter when they were released.

p.s. - If any of you happen to find R+H on vinyl in better-than-average shape, just buy it and send it my way. The used vinyl selection here in the greater SLC metropolis lacks. I'll reimburse your costs, yeah?

01 January 2008

Happy New Year, Indeed

Maybe I'll gather some end-of-year thoughts and name a couple favorites. Maybe (I'd hate to make/break any promises here...). Until then, Thom Yorke and the boys delivered another fantastic webcast last night. This time they played all of In Rainbows. Yeah, all of it. No complaints here (obviously), but since when did the Paranoid Androids become the superfriends of cyberspace? I guess the boys bought a new server and aren't afraid to use it. Good on them, eh?