Josh Grier (of Tapes ‘n Tapes) Interview

With Tapes ‘n Tapes already scheduled to play some forty dates this summer in support of the band’s forthcoming sophomore release, Walk It Off, the Minneapolis quartet are likely to need their rest by the time everything has wrapped up. Lead singer and guitarist Josh Grier suggested otherwise in this Q&A however, hinting that this may be just the beginning for Tapes ‘n Tapes this year. Reeling from a year of scattered shows and recording the band has a lot of pressure on it to succeed with Walk It Off; many feeling that it could either validate or disprove the hype stemming from it’s hugely successful debut, The Loon. Thankfully, aside from the band’s upcoming gauntlet Grier was able to take some time to answer a few questions about Walk It Off, the band’s success and its ongoing collaboration with charitable causes.

When the band released the first single “Hang Them All” online it did so by offering a free version of the track via both mp3 and the audiophile-friendly FLAC formats. Typically an mp3 is enough to spark interest in new material, what inspired the rarely-seen FLAC release?

Josh Grier: We are all kind of audiophiles, so we thought it would be cool to offer up a really high quality version of the song (and get it as close to what it really sounds like) for any other audiophiles that might be out there.

Akin to the decision by some to make the actual release of their album’s news-worthy (Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, etc.), Tapes ‘n Tapes have really created a stir in the past month or so by playing very limited venues and “secret” shows. With the growing popularity of the act what spurred the decision to play the smaller shows and clubs?

Josh Grier: We really like to play in smaller clubs, so we figured it would be fun to play some smaller shows. It also seemed like a good chance to try out a lot of the new songs live.

At the band’s “secret” show at St. Paul’s Turf Club you mentioned something to the effect that you wrote “Conquest” in a bubble, not really being aware of The White Stripes’ release last year. Is there any music that really influenced you in preparation of writing “Walk it Off”?

Josh Grier: Nothing in particular. I think the thing that influenced the new record the most was playing so many shows together over the last few years. We just have a better feel for each other’s tendencies, and it let us mess around with things more.

I’ve heard that it has been the band’s idea to creatively follow the color scheme from the album art of The Loon, but who came up with the stencil idea?

Josh Grier: It was actually Keri Wiese’s idea, and we were all into it. Can you really go wrong with neon? She did the artwork for The Loon and Walk it Off(and does pretty much all of our design stuff).

The band is no stranger to providing support to good causes, last September joining a great production for the Mercedes Gordon I-35 Bridge Benefit for instance, but what was behind the recent decision to partner with both the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and the Avon Walk For Breast Cancer?

Josh Grier: With an album title like Walk it Off how could we resist doing something with a charity walk? But seriously, it just seemed like a good thing to do.

Between backing these types of events, playing a host of fantastic local shows including last year’s Grand Old Day in St. Paul and just being seen aound town attending shows makes it hard not to feel like you guys haven’t really been affected by the success that followed The Loon. What has kept you close to Minneapolis and very much apart of the city?

Josh Grier: Basically, we all really enjoy living here (other than when it’s snowing in late march…).

I remember searching for the band’s performance online shortly after it played The Late Show with David Letterman back in 2006 - the first video I found was a reaction video of sorts filmed of people watching the performance live at The Hexagon Bar. While the short video is a bit tedious and dry I think it shows that people were and are behind you for these sorts of moments. How did you feel before playing the show and can you compare it to your upcoming performance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien?

Josh Grier: I was excited and scared during Letterman. It was pretty crazy to be playing on a show that I watch all the time. I think Conan will be rad. I love Conan, and am super excited to for it. This time around, I think I’ll be a little more relaxed and get to enjoy it a bit more.

While at SXSW recently, during an interview with SPIN, you guys were asked about the impact of the “support on the web” on bands. In the case of Tapes ‘n Tapes, how much difference has it made to your career to have around 26,000 MySpace friends, a healthy relationship with sites like Pitchfork and the support from various other sources including blogs and the hilarious Aziz Ansari “Clell Tickle” short.

Josh Grier: All of that stuff has been really helpful. We appreciate it.

The band will be playing an astounding twenty-nine dates on the first leg of its upcoming tour, all with the Austin-based trio of White Denim. What encouraged the decision to play with these guys?

Josh Grier: We really liked their EP (and had heard they were awesome live, and good guys). They were looking to go out on tour at the same time as us, and we were really glad it worked out for them to tour with us.

Following those dates and a very brief break, the group will then head over to Europe for another eleven dates - any idea of who will support you for those shows?

Josh Grier: Not yet…

And then I imagine - you’ll rest?

Josh Grier: We’ll see…

Aaron Booth "Voice In The Night” (Influenza)

Approach Influenza as a series which serves to help give insight as to where music is born; these are the thoughts, influences and the inspirations directly from the mind of the artists. In this edition, the first from Calgary-based singer/songwriter Aaron Booth, he expands upon “Voice in the Night,” arguably the most infectious song from his forthcoming Back Stories release. The self-proclaimed roots-pop songsmith describes the track’s lyrics as those which help calculate the emotional ability to take each of life’s actions without a grain of regret. Later suggesting the arrangement to be in the vein of Pet Sounds, Booth concludes that despite his near decade long recording history he has only just begun.

On “Voice In The Night”:

This is a song about navigating life’s sea of intangibles: “Our winding road leaving the light / nowhere, somewhere, we will arrive / I hear your voice in the night.” One makes thousands of choices each day, yet nothing is ever certain. All decisions carry risk, and yet something propels me forward with enough energy that I don’t look back or think much about the other paths I could have taken. With varying degrees of success, confidence and proficiency, I accept uncertainty, push ahead and rationalize this driving force into the unknown as a voice in the night, like a beacon or lighthouse guiding me through the darkness.

While that sounds a bit heavy, “Voice In The Night” really carries a message of optimism. And I think the driving, buoyant feeling of the music creates my desired context of hope for the underlying meaning of the song. The arrangement is designed to have many layers of melody and counterpoint voicing - a sonic tapestry. I want the listening experience of this song to be one of envelopment, like a cozy blanket. It’s a new approach I’ve been taking to arrangement, inspired by artists such as Steve Reich, Philip Glass and even Bach. Though I think Brian Wilson is the artist who creates the most warmth for this style of arrangement on the Pet Sounds album. I love the idea of small melodic fragments woven together to create a huge, dynamic, sonic landscape to explore over multiple listens. I’m only scratching the surface of this arrangement style in “Voice In The Night” but I plan to explore it further in my upcoming recordings. - Aaron Booth

ESPN Bracketologists

It’s really good to see ESPN sticking to their guns and delivering what they do best these days: humorous commercial segments. With the NCAA Basketball* tournaments sweeping the nation’s televisions, offices and betting lounges I thought it’d be appropriate to give a little time to focus on The Bracketologists - ESPN’s latest spoof series capturing a number of personalities who may be creeping around your bracket pool.

First off is a damn good man, a fine hockey player and The King of Miami- Dave Hill - playing the part of The Sponge.

Second up is the hilarious Ben Schwartz, oft-College Humor contributor as well as freelance writer for shows such as The Late Show, Robot Chicken, Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update. Ben plays The Poser:'s The Futurist Interview


Gnarls Barkley "Run"
Black Kids "Hurricane Jane"
Black Mountain "Queens Will Play"
Drive-By Truckers "Self Destructive Zones"
Cat Power "Metal Heart"
The Battle Royale "Shook Up"
Yeasayer "2080 (live)"
Man Man "Top Drawer"
The Young Dudes "Doin' Crimes"
The Hands "Praying Hands Will Make Fists (Or Be Cut Off)"
Gay Witch Abortion "Action Cop"
Tapes N’ Tapes "Hang Them All"

[Interview first aired on]

The Raconteurs “Consolers of the Lonely” Review

Booking a release within a month of the album being mastered Jack White gave news that The Raconteurs’ new album Consolers of the Lonely would see a blanket release in a matter of days of his surprising announcement - online/radio/retail…everyone would get their taste at the exact same time. It didn’t take long for one cog in the mechanism to ruin the mystique of the revolutionary scheme however as Apple briefly made tracks available via its iTunes store four days prior to its scheduled release. All in all it was a splendid idea, though its delivery was harnessed by error and as with last year’s White Stripes’ pre-release folly a full-blown Jack White retail/media/internet tongue-lashing is as entirely expected as it is reasonable. He and his band mates tried to do something unique, something that had never been done with an album of such magnitude before - and they were shot down. But one positive comes of this whole ordeal, that being that there is indeed new Raconteurs material!

The album’s lead track, “Consoler of the Lonely,” initially shows a band reconvened on the same level as which it left off at the end of 2006’s Broken Boy Solders tour. That being said Consolers of the Lonely might very well be, for lack of a better comparison, the full album equivalent to how divergent “Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn” was to last year’s Icky Thump.

The Brendan Benson-helmed “Consoler of the Lonely,” however, rings true of BBS bothy rhythmically and lyrically, Benson offering a smoother contrast to White’s rasp in the song, “Hadn’t seen the sun in weeks, my skin is getting pale, haven’t got a mind left to speak and I’m skinny as a rail.” From there, White’s skipping guitar blends optimistically into “Salute Your Solution,” the song’s blend from power-heavy to stomp-rock and back again derailing continuing any thought that this release would sound anything unlike its predecessor. But then “You Don’t Understand Me” follows, and in doing so harnesses a rarely heard side to the band, one only teased at by BBS’s “Together.” The song’s bass-driven piano gently erupts into a multi-dimensional sing along. The unique deviation serves as a doorway into an exploration of a number of unique sounds and songs that hadn’t been previously equated with the band before; The Raconteurs’ “Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn” if you will.

Mentioning of “Old Enough,” NY Magazine published on its Vulture blog, “They’ve traded the proto-prog for a full-on (sometimes fiddle-enhanced) country sound.” Ripping into the track is indeed a fiddle, but the combination between that and the song’s ripe, bubbling organ - both floating over the almost silenced wave of distortion creates a magnitude unlikely of such a track. Though the two terms are arbitrarily close to one another”Old Enough” is closer to a revival sound than country, nonetheless introducing an unexpected feeling of freedom to Consolers of the Lonely.

What follows includes the throbbing trumpet and piano of the Western feeling, chopsticks interluding “The Switch and the Spur,” the heavily grind-slide guitar and banjo-based “Top Yourself,” topping off with the Stairway-introspection of “Rich Kid Blues.” Though not to say that The Raconteurs aren’t a rock band, surely they are, but this last song sounds something akin a reach towards mammoth Dave Grohl-sized ’70s rockstardom. The blur between rock and experimentation is dominated by this song, demonstrating that despite the album’s diversions and easily misconstrued direction it is an album with one primary direction.

Pushing the statement that Consolers of the Lonely is a strictly aimed rock and roll album are tracks such as the blazing “Hold On,” the simple “Attention” and “Five on the Five,” a song that was heavily favored during the band’s 2006 tour.

The album ends with White’s best storytelling effort on the album, “Carolina Drama.” In it a young man is faced with a bloody situation and and a questionable truth. Starting the story with its ultimate conclusion, “I’m not sure if there’s a point to the story but I’m gonna tell it again, so many other people try to tell the tale not one of them knows the end,” White ends without explaining its finale. Much like the song, White represented his band prior to the release of Consolers explaining little of what the album would be about, or what it would sound like, but rather that it had an end and would be up to the listener to decide what happens from there. Consolers of the Lonely isn’t nearly as straightforward or surface-level as Broken Boy Soldiers, it takes many diversions and is overwhelming with its defiance towards a uniform sound. And despite some finding out the realization of the album sooner than expected, the release is ultimately worth celebrating because of that realization: Consolers of the Lonely is a fantastic album that sounds anything but what one may expect it to sound like.

Muja Messiah "True Lies" (Influenza)

Approach Influenza as a series which serves to help give insight as to where music is born; these are the thoughts, influences and the inspirations directly from the mind of the artists. Here, Minneapolis-based MC Muja Messiah compounds his thoughts on “True Lies,” one of the near thirty tracks on his latest record MPLS Massacre. First defining the beat as a shift into a modern sound, he identities that his personal tastes weren’t always in the best interest of the record. Finalizing this thoughts on the song he identifies his underlying beliefs on 9/11, the bin Laden/Bush connection, the hypocrisy of the country’s War on Drugs and “the lesser of two evils” in reference to this year’s forthcoming Presidential election.

On “True Lies”:

It all started wit’ this this gutter ass track that my man Naj did! I loved it but it was on some Mobb Deep/Wu-Tang shit! My daughter heard it and said she hated it! I had to remind myself I can’t just be picking beats because I liked it. If I did my shit’ll still be sounding like ‘93, because that was my shit! Anyway my engineer/producer Charlie and he agreed I need a more up-tempo track. He played this shit for me where the voice he sampled sounded like the chick was singing “cashmere thong!” - I’m like that’s it baby and my daughter love it.

I wrote the lyrics to “True Lies” after I watched the second debate wit’ Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. I got geeked at the possibility of a black president, but soon realized it was probably too good to be true. I figure it’s gotta be a catch! Then I did the knowledge to the fact that Cheney and Barack were distant cousins, “It’s all based on blood ya’ll niggaz think I’m bugging, Mohammed Atta, uh-huh they was bluffing” and kind of got angry at the fact that America got this shit on lock for real! Knowing society is ruled by fear as The U.S. Government has got everyone running around waiting on the next terrorist attack, when in actuality them terrorist niggaz is bitches! “They’re all a bunch of wimps, terrorism don’t exist to me its all politics, democratic dictatorship,” but when its all said and done it’s all about the lesser of two evils! That’s why I’m riding wit’ Obama baby despite the “True Lies”! - Muja Messiah

Snoop Dogg & Everlast Team For “My Medicine”

Along with stories of his youth football league, wearing a kilt and playing hockey, Snoop Dogg and Conan O’Brien recently discussed Snoop’s recent album Ego Trippin’, in particular a collaboration with Everlast entitled “My Medicine.” “I love country music,” Snoop recalled, “so what I did was I had my partner Everlast come in and help me write this song.” Conan then asked him, “In the song you implied in your opinion that the original country music stars were like the original gangsters.” And Snoop does, and Snoop’s probably right.

Likewise, I think of many modern country musicians, rebel-based country, as modern punks. Punk doesn’t exist anymore in the sense that it once did, but a spirit within the music announcing clearly that “I will do what I want, when I want” is preached ever so honestly by a crew of musicians miles from CMT…that’s a bit beside the point however. A friend brought to my attention the conclusion of Twang Nation’s review of the track, “With all the carpetbaggers storming Nashville for easy money and demographic diversification I can’t imagine Snoop thought that his rep really needed him to do a country tinged song on his latest release. I respect him for doing it with the spirit many of those others will never reach.” Maybe my leanings towards the thought of punk aren’t as far from the point as originally thought.

Call his music rap, call it hip hop, call it rock, country or even punk…this song isn’t nearly as bad as you think it’d might be. The song is somewhat laughable in theory, as O’Brien was quick to joke about, but not for one second do I question Snoop’s sincerity.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds "Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!" Review

Age is only important when numbers are empowered, it is the knowledge and depth of a spirit which embodies true substance. All the same, having crossed half a century, the idea behind who Nick Cave is leans increasingly closer to that of an ageless poet. The Guardian‘s Alexis Petridis concluded his thoughts on Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! by explaining his envious take on Cave, “It’s hilarious, chilling and exhilarating: further evidence of the unique and enviable position Cave finds himself in at fifty.” And while 50 is just a number, so too is 14 – a number representing how many albums Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds have released. With 14 studio albums, a triple disc rarities collection, multiple live releases, a decade old retrospective release, and over 200 songs behind them – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds have just released a set of new material depicting the band as lively, inspired and full of substance as ever.

In 1996 Pat Blashill wrote of Cave in his photography-centric Noise from the Underground, speaking too of Lydia Lunch and Foetus retrospective glances, “Cave and these others authored a new American gothic, a haunting subgenre of spooky and screeching music with lyrics about serial killers, AIDS, or other modern madnesses. In the hands of these singers, a little knowledge was a powerful artistic device.” If only one could look ahead into the future and see Cave as an enduring storyteller rather than a brooding intellectual one might not have been startled by the bounce and drive of “Albert Goes West.” The song’s unwavering guitar-heavy rhythm depicts a version of the Bad Seeds rarely seen, an honest-to-god rock band. Uncharacteristically the song’s fast pace allows the listener to dispel theory that Grinderman had little impact on Dig!!!, rather Cave, Warren Ellis, Martyn Casey, and Jim Sclavunos seem to have imposed a new energy onto the rest of the band, one reminiscent to that found in 2003′s “Bring it On” or even 1996′s “The Curse of Millhaven.”

And while consistently scattered, the smoothness of the harmonic shift throughout the album suggests a band comfortable with itself. “Today’s Lesson” finds the Bad Seeds chanting repetitively “We’re gonna have a real cool time” only to be balanced by the dramatics of Cave, “cause the game is never won by standing in any one place for too long,” sung on “Jesus of the Moon.” Equaling each directional commitment is a reverse thrust in theme, for each American gothic agonizing in retreat there is a reckless Australian screeching with enthusiasm and vibrancy.

The dynamic of each song may gesture to any number of previous recordings by the band, but the wonder of Dig!!! comes in that it’s an album unexpected. The record delivers with no waste, perfectly identifying the strengths of the band without reaching extravagantly far. “Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors can’t fix,” rants Cave repeatedly in “We Call Upon the Author,” as if to say that he has finally learned when to cut himself short to strengthen his words as a whole – giving them more substance through emphasis than through dictionary-length thoroughness. And who are we to question, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! is brilliant in its diversity, fluent in modern diversions and — after all — Cave is 50 now, he probably knows what he’s doing.

Portishead "Third" Review

What has been roughly 10 years in the making finally sees release in the form of Portishead's Third, the aptly titled release from the Bristol-based trio largely for helping standardize trip hop in the mid ’90s. With the exception of a few scattered contributions and a Beth Gibbons solo album, the group has been largely unspoken for in commercial recording since its 1997 self titled release. Since then mystique and anticipation have blossomed around the band’s absence. Now releasing an album of new material, matching its first two releases with an 11 song track listing, Third may act as a question rather than an answer to the band’s layoff. Not only does Third‘s release serve to question whether or not Portishead is still a relevant in a changed musical landscape, but it also suggests it valid to ask whether or not the trip hop Chinese Democracy was simply worth the wait.

Performing its first full set in roughly a decade at last year’s All Tomorrow’s Parties: A Nightmare Before Christmas festival, the group presented five new, and at the time still-untitled, tracks. Capturing the interest of fans the world over, the new material was received with a stark feeling of separation when contrasted with of the sounds of both Dummy and Portishead. The thoughts of a music departure are quite suitable, for to call the new music trip hop would be a disgrace to both what the term came to represent and to the honest beauty of the variation in Portishead’s sound visibly apparent with Third.

“I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve you and I don’t know what I’ll do without you” moans Gibbons on “Nylon Smile.” Almost serving as an echoing conclusion to 97's “Only You,” Gibbons now playing the role of a songstress who has achieved her romantic grasping. Much in the same sense, Third seems to repeal any bloated stabs at grandeur which may be expected, rather its tracks are heavy with reaching innovation and variety in place of excessive beat-hugging.

“The Rip” blooms with a stench of cheap 90s ambiance, accounting for a sound that could be construed as appropriate of the album if out of the context of the rest of its songs. But its sound grows appropriately while adjusting to the delicateness of Gibbons’ lyrics in a way that Air’s denser electronic may have melded with Charlotte Gainsbourg had her 5:55 taken a darker direction. Likewise the track’s following sounds further shed any idea of repetition between this and any other Portishead album; “Plastic” determined in its minimalist orchestral texture, and “We Carry On” sounding of deceiving gypsy with Adrian Utley’s guitar acting as a deceptive monkey scouring for unguarded pocket change.

And as the album continues to relax, “Deep Water” surprises as a ukulele-driven ballad, waxing just before Third chomps with “Machine Gun.” The song’s Downward Spiral beat provides a uniquely hard shell, an environment surprisingly suitable for the harmonically quenching Gibbons. Its beat unfolds into a psudo-industrialist electronic rhythm, one a bit too basic to be a Squarepusher anthem, though it teases some of Tom Jenkinson’s earlier subtleties.

Perhaps “Threads” is as close to what was last heard from Portishead, post-Portishead. The song’s early violin moan captures a hair of what was 1998′s live Roseland NYC album, Utley and Geoff Barrow adding haze to the near-transparent sound. “I’m always so unsure” groans Gibbons as “Threads” begins to wail, possibly attributing a few words to the theme to not just the album but the group’s prolonged recording hiatus. When so much is expected of a band so talented, yet so remotely unusual, uncertainty is not merely granted but presumed; however Third as a solid body of work fulfills in its surprising assuredness, failing to even whisper suggestions that Portishead was ever irrelevant. Third is 10 years worth of anticipation fulfilled.

Brandon VanVliet (of Restraining Hollywood) Interview

Last November I met a man by the name of Brandon VanVliet and he presented me with a DVD of a movie that he had made called People Talk. At the time I didn’t know who he was, but I later came to find out that he plays the role of President, Co-Founder, Producer and Director for a local independent film company here in the Twin Cities called Restraining Hollywood.

People Talk is the epitome of a b-movie, it’s gritty footage depicts dialog just as raw as the acting. That’s not a criticism though as it coincides with the company’s mission statement:

“Restraining Hollywood is Located in Minneapolis/St.Paul, Minnesota. We Specialize in Dark Comedies Using local talented actors and musicians. If you’re sick of the same old sappy, crappy big-budget, cliche Hollywood films then look no further!!! It all started in the fall of 03′..A simple idea made up by Braden Palmer & Brandon VanVliet to make indie films & music videos..”

Allowing me some time, VanVliet answered some introductory questions I had at the time, many of which focused on the city’s limited independent film scene, People Talk, and his company’s forthcoming feature Trust Me. The following took place over the course of a few emails last November, Trust Me is scheduled for release this summer.

In terms of direction and the film’s theme, where did you draw from for inspiration?

Brandon VanVliet: Aaron Palmer (DJ Skagnetti), who used to work with Restraining Hollywood, came to me with the idea for People Talk (in the) Summer of ‘04 while I was making my first film - a comedy/horror called Up North. I fell in love with the idea and we had a blast making People Talk. I guess it was slightly based on a similar situation Aaron had dealt with years ago while trying to throw a birthday party…or attending a birthday party…or something. You’ll have to ask him - our influences came from each other, real life situations and our environment.

It’s a bit tacky, but Kanye West has this line “people never give em flowers while they can still smell em.” While I equate the meaning behind the story’s ending to something along those lines, were you aiming for a particular message when writing the story?

Brandon VanVliet: No, not really, we just did that shocking ending to throw the viewer off and end it in a charmingly disturbing manner! If there was any message at all it would an an exploitation of the type of characters in the film who tend to be quite like most people in this day and age; rude, flaky, self-centered and egotistical. No, I’m not trying to make films with a message, nor am I trying to educate - I’m just trying to entertain you.

I haven’t really heard much about an independent movie scene in Minneapolis, how did you get involved and are there any contemporaries worth looking in to?

Brandon VanVliet: I always wanter to make films and be in films as far as I can remember. I never had the equipment or the know-how when I was younger. Then in 1999 when I was twenty-one I moved to The Cities to go to broadcasting school. After that I went to acting/modeling school for a minute. Then in 2003, while I was DJing at a strip club in Minneapolis and finding myself quite bored and miserable, I realized that if I didn’t get my ass in gear I’d miss my window - so I sort of jumped in head first. I started writing short stories that ended up becoming scripts, bought a camera, got a computer with editing software, put a crew together, etc.

As for the Minneapolis film scene, there definitely is one…sad to say it’s pretty small…it’s nowhere as big as the music scene. There is good stuff worth checking out, you definitely have to look real hard though. In this day and age anyone can take a crappy little hand-held camera, film something, edit it, put music on it, put it on the internet and call themselves a “filmmaker;” there are a few cats in the city that are doing cool stuff though.

What kind of mistakes did you make with the production that you’d like to avoid with your next film?

Brandon VanVliet: Oh, lots of mistakes - the kind you learn real fast from! As far as People Talk goes, there are a lot of things wrong with it and a lot of things that make it unique and fun! It’s a great second film and I’m proud of it…I don’t ever want to watch it again, but it’s still special to me in a weird way. The biggest mistake(s) I’ve had with my production is working with people that want to get into this whole film making thing for the wrong reasons - you have to be real careful about who you work with on a project. Nine times out of ten people are usually the worst part about film making. Everyone wants to help out or be a part of it until you give them a script or assign them a little work - then they tend to scramble and the complaints start to pour in; lots of dreamers and not enough doers! I’m glad I’ve experienced some bad luck - I learned my lesson and I’m better because of it. We’ve got a great new team now and I’m excited!

The soundtrack is a bit strange in terms of being compiled by local and international acts…what factors helped influence the direction you went when choosing the film’s music?

Brandon VanVliet: The main character, Vincent, is a musician so we wanted a very musically-driven film. There are a lof of great genres - alt. rock, metal, hip hop and electronica all mixed up on the soundtrack. A big influence was that a lot of my friends are in bands around The Cities so I used lots of their music for the project. I pretty much begged and they said yes.

What are you planning for your next film?

Brandon VanVliet: Well, the next film is already show and we’re in the process of editing it. It’s called Trust Me and there’s so much to say about this one that I don’t even know where to start - we are scheduled to release this one late Spring/early Summer of 2008. We will have pictures and the first trailer up by January on our website and MySpace. I will say this, it’s about a lawyer that gets busted for a crime he didn’t commit…he has to go to treatment…while in treatment he realizes he was set up so he hires a P.I. to find this mysterious man…

I’m just going to leave it at that, we have some great actors in this one - not to mention another scorching soundtrack!

What is your relationship with Restraining Hollywood?

Brandon VanVliet: I’d like to think I have a good relationship with Restraining Hollywood - I’m the company’s Co-Founder, President, whatever… We’re on our third film and I’ve produced, directed, written, acted, budgeted all of them. I don’t know - it’s all I do and all I want to do. We also do music videos: for more information people can go to the website. Restraining Hollywood is like a psycho ex-girlfriend I can’t get rid of.

The World’s 50 Best Works of Art

The original idea behind the Culture Roll was to explore various non-music related items without subtracting too much attention from the focus of the site…it’s “kinda like a blogroll, but more like a place to put links about cool stuff.” Ultimately however, it has become a place to dump funny videos…which isn’t a bad thing necessarily as I loves me some humor, but it’s just not what I set out to do. There’s a lot of culture out there that infects each of our lives, however it just so happens that in the past two months my life has been heavily affected primarily by music and humor. Today I was introduced to a list curated by critic Martin Gayford laying out The World’s 50 Best Works of Art (and how to see them)…or at least the world’s best works of art as far as he is concerned.

While I attended a liberal arts university I, myself, never took a proper art course of any type; as such my only education has come from personal research, extended stays around the Americas and a sweep of the local happenings here in the Twin Cities. When I come across these types of lists or postings the vast majority of such subjects are either new to me or are pieces that I only have superficial ideas about before delving a bit deeper into the subject matter. Though this particular list is limited to its author’s bias (I myself am biased towards a lot of early 20th Century Russian artists ala Kandinsky for…whatever reason) it’s a brilliant starting point for those such as myself, those who are just beginning their appreciation of art.

While I generally appreciate the difficulty to succeed in presentation through the medium I am typically not a big fan of sculpture as a whole. That being said, in his article Gayford introduced me to two abnormal pieces by the assumed definition of the term: the Nasca Earthworks and Spiral Jetty.

RZA & Inspectah Deck “You Can’t Stop Me Now”

When clashing the anticipation behind last fall’s Wu-Tang Clan release and the forthcoming RZA solo there is really little comparison; while RZA is the strength behind the group’s beat his solo works aren’t nearly as highly regarded as even the sixth chamber in the ‘Tang manifest. That being said, despite some critical praise last year’s return of the Shaolin kings’ release came with a great sense of deficit, especially considering the album’s lack in pure beat - a stronghold that RZA has kept consistent even through the post-Forever days. “You Can’t Stop Me,” however, offers what may be the best non-8 Diagrams cut in the following months from any of the group’s members, even including the cuts from The Big Doe Rehab. No matter what materializes from RZA’s release this track serves purpose in that it proves that despite his taunts that this will be his last solo, the man is far from done.

Heroes of Popular Wars "Goodbye" (Influenza)

Approach Influenza as a series which serves to help give insight as to where music is born; these are the thoughts, influences and the inspirations directly from the mind of the artists. In this edition, the formulation of a recent track by the Brooklyn-based group Heroes of Popular Wars is explained by the group’s DJ, S2K. Describing the song’s transformation from conception to layered actualization he delivers “Goodbye” with humanity in spite of its overwhelmingly synthetic feel.

On “Goodbye”:

Music technology is so powerful, so capable of doing so much so quickly, it can be overwhelming. When we first started composing the material for this EP I found myself getting bogged down in minutiae - a lot. I’m a techno-phile and German which means I can obsess about processes endlessly. I discovered that the best way for me to be most productive was to impose limits on myself for every project; sometimes a simple time limit, sometimes a limit more arbitrary. For “Goodbye” I did all of the initial sequencing on a Sony Playstation using MTV Music Generatorsoftware. That meant that I was constrained to using only the beats and keyboard patches bundled with the software. In fact the limited storage (a PS1 memory card) could only handle two imported samples.

They open and close the song: a recording of my grandfather, and a recording of my mom’s church choir. The song was pretty much a mess until we all got into a rehearsal space together and totally opened up the arrangement. Our keyboard player, The Elloneer, came up with a great simple piano hook, she discovered some incredible percussion variations to match and contrast the samples. We were all pretty pleased with ourselves and when we finally got into the recording studio The Blue Eyed Devil laid down the guitar tracks that I think make the song. - S2K

Question. Is the process of documentation made more important when the timing and impressiveness of its subject is second to none, or rather does is the subject a casualty of circumstance to be considered a mere bystander to the recording process? To view Yeasayer’s contribution to La Blogothèque’s unparalleled Take Away Show series is a unique experience of interaction and amazement, one that I think could not have been documented had any of the elements been slightly different.

“We’re going to do it, we’ll do it good.”

To improvise such versions of their own songs suggests that the band’s music isn’t just a set of songs to its members, but rather choruses that have been repeated over and over in dream to a point of concrete unforgettableness.

La Blogothèque, if only acting as a window into a few moments of time, has proven to be far more important and successful at capturing the spirit of music than the rest of us music blogs in one fell swoop.

Or maybe it’s just a blog and just a band, either way…quite entertaining, wouldn’t you say?

Atmosphere “Shoulda Known”

Settling, “That drug got you like I want you,” Slug drops a rhyme out of his own play book, indirectly citing a reply he gave The Onion’s AV Club last month during an open forum for their Valentine’s Day issue.

Q. What is your advice to a couple in which one person is sober, and the other is addicted to crystal meth?

A. Personally, I don’t believe in the risk. The addict needs to get well. The addict also needs to examine how he/she could ruin the lives of the people he/she loves. The addict won’t do either of these things if the addict can take advantage of the love and nurture of his/her lover. My advice is to wean off of each other. Send the addict to treatment. And once the addict learns to establish a love for self, the addict may actually end up mentally and emotionally available enough to love another person correctly. Or not. Either way, throwing away one life trumps throwing away two. I don’t believe in the risk. (AV Club)

While we’ve heard the story before in Atmosphere’s ever-deepening catalog, Ant’s beat delivers what was teased on the duo’s recent set of EPs - a deep bounce that refreshingly clings to the ears of its listener; definitely indicating that When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold might be a yellow brick road to some of the year’s best local hip hop.

NOFX’s “Backstage Passport” Video

Seven years ago I moved right before NOFX was going to play a show in my hometown of Calgary…six years ago the band’s show got rained out when I tried to see them at the Warped Tour here in Minneapolis…(then I lived in small town Iowa for a while)…now, when I finally have another chance to check them out (playing this Sunday at The Myth here in The Twin Cities) I have to bail on the show for a hockey game I have to play…things just never seem to work out. So until they come back around I’m going to have to settle for clips like this, a teaser for NOFX’s forthcoming eight part series on Fuse documenting their recent world tour.

The Majestic Twelve “Eminent Domain” (Influenza)

Approach Influenza as a series which serves to help give insight as to where music is born; these are the thoughts, influences and the inspirations directly from the mind of the artists. In this edition, The Majestic Twelve’s Kenyata Sullivan discusses the dark story behind his recently penned “Eminent Domain.” The focus of the delicate track establishes a story of injustice in his native North Carolina, questioning the ethics of how the Town of Cary pursued its Highway 55 expansion, examining the real impact it had on the road’s neighboring citizens. Rather than lashing out however Sullivan channels his focus, sentimentally aiming it at the shame of the story by questioning the government’s failure to separate ethics from legality.

On “Eminent Domain”:

When I was in the studio a couple of days ago working on the new Majestic Twelve disc, I read an article in The Independent about a woman who’s land was taken by the city of Cary, NC via eminent domain (meaning that the government forced her against her will to sell it to them for the “greater good”). The woman was poor, and she’d had a premature daughter who’d died when she was only a week old back in the 1970’s. The woman and her family couldn’t afford a funeral service, so they built a small coffin themselves, and buried their little girl beneath a tree in the yard.

Last year, the city said the grave didn’t matter, and they took that part of her land against her will, so they could expand a road. They dug her daughter’s grave out of the ground with a backhoe while she watched from her kitchen, crying with her preacher. The heaps of dirt pulled up from the backhoe were not thoroughly searched, and her daughter’s bones were not found. The city, in order to make what they thought were amends, bought a new headstone for the girl, and stuck it randomly somewhere down the road.

The story struck me, so I wrote and recorded this song about it that morning instead of doing what I’d originally planned. Be forewarned that it has the kind of mainstream progression that I have a sentimental fondness for, but is likely to make most indie rockers squish their faces up with rage like they accidentally just swallowed a Celine Dion shaped potato bug. - Kenyata Sullivan

Heroes of Popular Wars "There's the Bell" (Influenza)

Approach Influenza as a series which serves to help give insight as to where music is born; these are the thoughts, influences and the inspirations directly from the mind of the artists. In this edition, the inspiration behind a recent track by the Brooklyn-based group Heroes of Popular Wars is explained by the group’s front man. Under the alias of the Blue Eyed Devil he shares the song’s story, a soft aching attempt create something out of devastation. The resulting track comes from when the decision was made to overcome the emptiness of love removed by pushing forward with inspiration and drive.

On “There’s the Bell”:

I’ve always been interested in moments that seem to outweigh others. The song, “There’s the Bell,” is about a concentrated moment in time when the things you have anticipated, maybe for a long time, actually happen.

A few years ago, a girlfriend decided she couldn’t date a musician anymore. She told me she was moving out and that the movers were scheduled to come the next day. It’s tough to argue with that logic, so I helped her pack up. We were ready the next morning when they were scheduled to come but the movers were late. We had finished the last errand we would ever run together and I was afraid to talk because I thought I might get upset. So we sat, silent and brooding, for most uncomfortable two hours of my life until the movers arrived begging for the doorbell to ring.

The melody and the verse came to me in the next day or so. I was so excited to fill this bad energy place with something positive that I slammed all the music together in an hour but the problem was I was so excited that I wrote many complicated verses. Everyone agreed that the key was to just cut and cut until, eventually, we had the nerve to just sing that one line over and over. S2K, our DJ and other singer, balanced out the simplicity by recording some of those annoying corporate phone messages and loop them into a “beat,” kind of the way The Books or an old school hip hop DJ might. Our drummer, Campbell, plays vibes instead of live drums to further add to the spare, lonely quality that is supposed to represent that original moment. - Blue Eyed Devil