Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Wed 30 Jul 2008 8:00 am   //   Posted in: Music, TV, Videos

Ben Lee TV

I dig this 1990s-inspired music video for Ben Lee’s “American Television”:

Mon 14 Jul 2008 8:00 am   //   Posted in: Music, Technology

Best Scopitone ever?

(Continuing my Scopitone obsession…)

At the beginning of this clip, the Tornados seem like a bunch of squares, what with their brown suits and robot helmets. But wait til the end when they light a huge fire and fight with the cops!

Sat 12 Jul 2008 6:22 pm   //   Posted in: Music, Technology

Today’s history obsession: Scopitones!

Scopitone vintage ad

Suddenly, I’m obsessed with finding a Scopitone machine.

What was the Scopitone? It was one of those splendid electro-mechanical clunkers that people relied on for entertainment in the pre-digital world. Scopitone was one of several brands of European-made jukeboxes that played 16mm films on a built-in screen, kind of like an early version of MTV. They appeared in bars in the 1960s and had apparently vanshied by the end of the decade.

I’m sure the machine was a marvel itself, but oh the videos! Think Leslie Gore, Bobby Vee, French pop music and burlesque striptease. The Scopitone films are saturated with jiggling girls, barely rehearsed dance numbers, and vivid tertiary colors. The surviving recordings, at least the ones you can find on YouTube, will haunt you with their warm, analog sound.

Susan Sontag listed Scopitone films as part of the “canon of Camp,” right between Tiffany lamps and The Brown Derby restaurant. Here we have camp in the form of a weird, forgotten collision of culture and technology. I’d love to see a Scopitone machine if one still exists somewhere.

Credits: Info about Scopitone from Wikipedia,, and the Scopitone Archive, where I found the vintage ad that appears at the top of this post.

I was inspired to look up Scopitone after it was mentioned in this week’s episode of The Venture Bros.

Thu 26 Jun 2008 12:00 pm   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, Music

Cold War Kids in Prospect Park

Last summer in California Brian introduced me to the rock-and-roll music of the Cold War Kids. Friday evening the kids are playing a $3 show at the Prospect Park Bandshell. This concert is mandatory. Either you’re going to be there or you need a valid excuse.

Sat 21 Jun 2008 5:06 pm   //   Posted in: Music

Free song

The free single on iTunes this week (until Monday) is “Can’t Find the Words” by Karina. You’re going to want to have this song, because it’s perfect for summer. And it’s free, so why not?

Sat 31 May 2008 8:32 pm   //   Posted in: Music, Videos

Another cool animated music video

“Handlebars” by Flobots. Good song, great video. Check it out here.

Thu 29 May 2008 9:57 am   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, Music

Who’s Brooklyn is it anyway?

Two big Brooklyn cover stories this week.

    1. Marc Ferris does a fine job explaining the Brooklyn country music scene in the Village Voice.
    2. In New York magazine, writer Adam Sternbergh examines Brooklyn through the prism of the Brownstoner real estate blog.*

      If you read these stories, you’ll think they’re about two different cities.

      The borough I know is the one in the first story, a place where all sorts of people manage to live in close quarters and get along, everybody listening to their own style of music. It’s not a nervous hive of interlopers bickering about real estate.

      *Get your hands on a print magazine to fully appreciate the Seussian illustrations by Zohan Lazar that accompany the article.

      Fri 23 May 2008 5:35 pm   //   Posted in: Music, Videos

      Weezer still vaguely in step with the times

      The new Weezer video for “Pork and Beans” is on YouTube and about YouTube.

      Tue 13 May 2008 10:00 am   //   Posted in: Music, TV commericals, Videos

      Slightly more productive

      They Might Be Giants have recorded a whole series of Dunkin’ Donuts commercials. Here are two of the latest ones.



      Mon 5 May 2008 8:00 am   //   Posted in: Music, Technology, TV commericals

      iPod commercials and the 30-30 rule

      Some people think 2:42 is the perfect length for a song. On further consideration, I’m thinking 30 seconds.

      Gradually, maybe over ten years, TV commercials have emerged as the best way to debut new music. Not radio (Over!), not MTV, not AOL, not MySpace. It’s great if you can get your song into an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, but it’s even better if you can get your song into something like a car commercial. Years ago, music fans would turn against bands that they thought were corporate sell-outs. Now I think audiences are so wise to the entertainment marketing machine that nobody is shocked to learn that some musicians are in it for the money.

      For a few impossibly lucky bands, success comes in the form of an Apple commercial (like the two videos above). It’s a safe bet that Apple doesn’t have to pay these bands a dime to license their music. The labels probably lobby Apple pretty hard to get songs into these ads.

      Apple advertising songs are their own genre. The tunes are happy, upbeat. They are from bands that sound familiar but that you’ve never heard of. They have a uniform volume level, so they sound good through a set of uninsulated iPod headphones in a train or on a treadmill. And most of all, they sound absolutely tight the first time you hear them in a 30 second commercial (which, coincidentally, is the length of a song preview on iTunes). But these songs aren’t destined to become classics or outshine the product they are advertising. The novelty wears out and they get tiresome just in time to make room for the next song — and the next Apple product.

      Let’s coin a 30-30 rule for iPod commercial songs: They sound great in 30 second clips, and they wear out after 30 plays.

      Today, I can’t get enough Yael Naïm’s “New Soul” and The Ting Ting’s “Shut Up and Let Me Go.” Ask me in six months if I can even remember the names of these artists.