Category Archives: Music

What a Way To Make A Livin’

Last weekend was pretty great. I got to witness the marriage of two dear, dear friends, and the next day saw Clybourne Park at Woolly Mammoth Theatre. And then the cherry, of course, was seeing Dolly Parton with friends that night.

#winning, right?

I really, really liked the first act of Clybourne Park. It was moving and beautifully acted, funny, and heartbreaking. (There were a few moments where the audience’s laughter struck me as bizarre, though, because I was tearing up. Anyway!) The second act, however, was unpleasantly farcical at times and as one friend put it, “Gentrification 101.” We speculated the reason why we didn’t much care for it was because it didn’t really delve any deeper than black-couple-is-wary/white-couple-is-offended. I don’t know about you — and perhaps it’s because I’m part of the liberal media — but most young white folks I know are far more self-aware than the couple in the play.

Still, I’m glad I went. The acting was pretty brilliant and the post-show discussion was cross-generational and enlightening. Many thanks to Rachel Grossman at Woolly Mammoth for inviting me to participate.

Now… Can we take a moment to talk about Dolly Parton?

She sounds AMAZING for someone who’s been in the business for so long. Amanda and I were trying to figure out why she still sounds so good — compared to, for example, Mariah Carey, whose voice is a wreck (still love her) these days. She must have a strict vocal regimen. And as someone who doesn’t have a particularly deep knowledge of her songbook, I found laying out on a blanket and drinking Andre while Dolly jammed on stage extremely enjoyable.

And speaking of alcohol — I’ll be at Bar 7 tonight talking about gentrification with some awesome folks brought together by the Humanities Council of D.C. I think things get started at 6:30. Swing by if you can.

Update: Abdul Ali has a piece at City Paper that much more eloquently gets at my issues with Clybourne Park.


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Filed under D.C., Music, Race


I came home this evening and nothing felt like how it should be
I feel like writing you a letter but that’s not me…you know me
Feel so fucking angry; don’t wanna be reminded of you
But when I left my shit in your kitchen, I said goodbye to your bedroom
It smelled of you

Mr False Pretence, you don’t make sense
I just don’t know you
But you make me cry, where’s my kiss goodbye?
I think I love you

— “Take The Box,” Frank (2003)

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Filed under Music, Women

Bait and Switch

I expected there to be rapping at the Donald Glover / Childish Gambino show, of course. Gambino is Glover’s musical alter-ego and the IAMDONALD tour announcement made no bones about it: this was a comedy-rap show.

But I didn’t expect it to be so heavy on the rap. Glover’s comedic intro was pretty funny, but after about 15 minutes he switched over to music and didn’t quit for another hour. Which is fine, I guess, but as I haven’t really listened to the EP, it wasn’t really getting it for me. Still, it was clear he was loving what he was doing on stage, and I don’t blame him for using his fame to do what he loves.

However, it should be noted that Glover raps most frequently about having a large penis and how he uses it to have sex with women of various races.

Update: My friend Amina quickly schooled me after seeing this post: “it was a concert. not a standup routine. he has 2 eps out. that he very excitedly distributed on the innanet.” Fine.

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Filed under Music


Busy week and my energy is flagging. Only Robyn can help.

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Filed under Music, Women

Why So Many Cake Tribute Videos?

they laugh, they make money
he’s got a gold watch
she’s got a silk dress
and healthy breasts that bounce on his Italian leather sofa

I was going to write a post about the Cake concert I went to on Saturday at the 9:30 Club (it was great) and how Cake is better than you remember, but as I was looking for videos to illustrate the post, I discovered something funny: There are a lot of student- and fan-made videos for Cake songs.

Meanwhile, official videos are harder to find. And that, I think, is somewhat more interesting than talking about a concert you probably had to attend to enjoy, so instead, let’s look at some amateur Cake videos.

“Nugget” — Fashion Nugget (1996): This one is just strange, but playful (Note: This is the unedited version in which the chorus is “Shut the fuck up / Learn to buck up.” You’ve been warned.)

“Short Skirt, Long Jacket” — Comfort Eagle (2001): Below, a fake band pretends to play the song while an attractive woman smiles and jogs and plays with her hair.

“She’ll Come Back To Me” — Fashion Nugget (1996): This one is somewhat
professional looking, and pretty cool…until it gets all faux deep when a headless woman in underwear gyrates on the lead’s lap as he looks away sadly.

“Sheep Go To Heaven” — Prolonging The Magic (1998): This is a video made up entirely of clips from My Little Pony. No sheep or goats appear.

I’m not sure why Cake songs lend themselves so well to video tributes (or, rather, so poorly). Perhaps it’s the lyrics of the songs, which often go from literal to whimsical and back again?

she’s got a serrated edge that she moves back and forth
it’s such a simple machine, she doesn’t have to use force
when she gets what she wants, she puts the rest on a tray
in a zip-lock bag
in the freezer

At any rate, this post may not be of interest to people who aren’t Cake fans (whoops, should have mentioned that earlier!), but it was fun to research.

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Filed under Music

A Praise Chorus (For Amazon’s Cloud Player)

I’m on my feet
I’m on the floor
I’m good to go
And all I need is just to hear a song I know

At 10 (!!) years old, Jimmy Eat World’s best album, Bleed American holds up almost shockingly well. It only had one hit, “The Middle,” and that isn’t even close to the best song. I’m sure you remember the video: At a party full of underwear-clad hot young things, one couple manages not to succumb to the pressure to strip down, and instead leaves the party together, fully clothed.

I was reminded of my affection for this album today while browsing Amazon’s MP3 store, where in the last 24 hours I’ve purchased more music than I have in the last year. This is thanks to Amazon’s new Cloud music player (Amazon account required, but of course you have one), which is available via browser and has an all-too-convenient app for Android. There’s no Apple store app, duh, since it would compete with iTunes.

As you probably know, a cloud player circumvents the need to carry music on one’s phone or tablet. This is pretty sweet, since my Android phone doesn’t have much space on it, and switching out music is tedious. And while I have a lot more room on my new Motorola Xoom (it is awesome, by the way), the convenience of the cloud player still beats having local copies.

Downsides? After the initial free 5gb of storage, you have to pay for more. It comes in tiers from 20gb up to 1000gb, and it costs a dollar per gig, per year. There seems to be an unannounced promotion right now where if you purchase an MP3 album, it bumps your storage up to 20 gigs for free (for a year). But the biggest downside is that’s possibly too easy to spend money. You can purchase music on the fly, and even more clever, music purchased through the store doesn’t count against your storage space. The interface on both browser and app are snappy and easy to use, as well.

Smart, smart planning. Couple this with the free streaming Amazon is offering to Prime members, and it’s clear they’re really trying to put a dent in both Apple’s and Netflix’s market shares. And while I’m a bit of a Google acolyte who was waiting on their cloud player, it’s pretty exciting to have another option — especially one that integrates with my life so well. I’m definitely curious to know whether Google will let the Amazon app co-exist with its own, whenever it comes out.

My praise for Jimmy Eat World, it should be noted, comes with a caveat. The album’s still very much of its time — but for my money ($5), it’s the best album of the alt-rock-pop-late-90s/early-aughts.


Filed under Music, Technology

Links: Make It Easy On Yourself

Thanks to Julian introducing me to the fascinating documentary 30 Century Man, about reclusive (and incredible) singer Scott Walker, all news about Republican Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and the Madison protests gets filtered in my brain through Walker Brothers songs. It’s a little late for Gov. Walker to take this advice, but still, here’s “Make It Easy On Yourself.”

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Filed under Music, Politics, Women