Video Fridays: Cracker

album-crackerSo, my band played last night, and I’m happy to report that it was the best performance we’ve ever done. It was so good and so fun that I’m still buzzed from it, and I’ve been able to think of little else all day.

At the same time, the band is starting to think about new cover songs to add to our repertoire, and the following, Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now) by Cracker is near the top of my list.

While we mostly do Rock & Roll from the 60s and 70s, I think this song, from 1992, is just such a great straightforward rocker that it would be a lot of fun to play. The connective tissue between the older stuff we do and this is that we focus on songs people can dance to, mostly mid-to-fast tempo, and I’m certain folks will get up and move to this Cracker song.

And then there’s David Lowery’s droll, edgy lyrics…and the lead guitarist’s hair…and the bass player in drag. Oh my!

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Last Flowers: A Promising Bellingham Band

Last-FlowersSince I write about music a fair amount here (245 out of 1,172 posts), I get contacted fairly often by musicians or band managers who’d like me to write about them.

It’s a bit flattering, but most of the time the music samples they provide are not my cup of tea and therefore do not inspire me to write about them.

It was a VERY nice surprise, then, when I was contacted yesterday by Nik Vinish, singer/songwriter and member, with Benjamin Lemons, of Indie duo Last Flowers, two Whatcom County, Washington natives (Bellingham is the county seat). Nik directed me to their SoundCloud page, specifically to this, a song called Lullaby For Nobody (Part 1) from their forthcoming LP, From A Piano Room:

I was immediately captured by Ben’s lovely piano intro, and when Nik’s vocals came in I could immediately tell that these were two very talented young men. The song continues, and at the 1:35 mark Nik goes into a falsetto and the song builds into a gentle crescendo, with drums and bass and horns entering, followed eventually by lush strings, all adding up to a very sweet, melodic gem.

On their Bio page at ReverbNation, they claim as their influences The Beatles, Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Death Cab for Cutie and The National, they say they’re a little bit Post Rock, a little bit Alternative, and so they’ve coined a new genre for themselves: Post Alternative.

But genre labels can only illuminate so much, and the ultimate test is the music. The other Last Flowers tunes available on SoundCloud now are from their approximately year-old EP and show tremendous promise, but I’ve spent a little time now listening to the rest of their upcoming LP, which they were kind enough to send to me, and I can already tell that it fulfills that promise.

Nik reports that he and Ben were both classically trained in piano, Nik mostly plays guitar and sings, and Ben plays keys, writes melodies and arrangements, and even does the majority of work on production and mixing.

Nik and Ben grew up at opposite ends of the county, met through mutual friends, and it’s clear that it’s a very, very good thing that they found each other. Kindred musical spirits indeed.

Testing Tumblr

tumblr-iconWell, it’s pretty clear by now that this Tumblr thing isn’t going away anytime soon, so I’ve bitten the bullet and I’ve set up a mirror blog there.

WordPress.com makes it super easy, with their Publicize tool, which I’ve already been using, such that every time I post something here it’s automagically posted on Facebook and Twitter as well. Now, everything will also be posted to the new Tumblr account I created.

The only bummer about the process, I discovered that there was already a Tumblr blog called Fish & Bicycles, and so I had to name my tumblr fishandbicycles-bellingham.com. I don’t know which of us came first, because, maddeningly, I can’t seem to find any way to determine when fishandbicycles.tumblr.com was started. Oh well.

Honestly, I have no idea how to use Tumblr otherwise, and I don’t see myself doing much with it other than having it act as an additional venue for the blogging I do here.

One cool thing, though, this is what my archive page looks after having retroactively published some of my more recent posts there (be sure to click to enlarge!):

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Jimi Hendrix, Korean Style

jimiSo, a friend of mine posted the following video of a young Korean woman, Luna Lee, playing Jimi Hendrix‘s Voodoo Child (Slight Return) on a traditional Korean stringed instrument called a gayageum, this morning and it just…

…blew.my.mind.

In fact, it blew my mind so thoroughly, especially affecting the language centers in the left hemisphere of my brain, that it’s making it difficult for me to fully express my thoughts on this video.

Suffice to say, the timing is very interesting.

Back in February, on a little getaway to Portland, Oregon, my wife, son and I stopped into a Japanese art gallery, where the gracious host, without our asking, played some beautiful traditional music for us on a Japanese koto, which is a VERY similar instrument.

Then, just this past weekend, my family and I, who have hosted foreign exchange students in our home for many years, welcomed into our home for the first time a student from Korea.

Anyway, I’ll get my mind back eventually, but, in the meantime, here’s the video (though I dare not watch it myself again right now, or else I’ll be fairly useless today), as well as a clip of Jimi doing the original.

Enjoy, but don’t plan on being functional for a while afterward.

What Part Of Equality Don’t You Understand?

LoveSeriously, I don’t get it.

The Supreme Court of the United States started to hear arguments today concerning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriages until the proposition was deemed unconstitutional by both the Federal District Court in San Francisco and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Consequently, the social interwebs are abuzz with activity on the subject, and many of my Facebook friends and I have temporarily changed our profile photos to the marriage equality symbol you see above, as sign of solidarity with our LGBTQ friends.

Still, one of my “friends” posted on Facebook that he disagrees, accompanied by this graphic:

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And you know, I find that absolutely stunning.

I mean, what kind of people come right out and say that they are in favor of discriminating against a certain other group of people and believe that said group of people do not deserve the same rights as everyone else?

Exactly! And so, I wonder how my “friend” feels about being in that company.

Whenever I think about this issue, I always think of that document that means so much to so many Americans across the entire political spectrum, irregardless of party affiliation, the Declaration of Independence, which famously states:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Now, I’ve researched this, and I’ve been totally unsuccessful locating that other draft of the Declaration, where that quote continues, “…except for gays and lesbians.”

Eyecatchers: Upcycling: Heather Kocsis

heather-kocsis-lead-2At first glance, it’s not at all immediately clear exactly what you’re looking at when you’re looking at the work of Ontario, Canada artist Heather Kocsis.

Her pieces look a little bit like paintings, but there’s so much texture and depth of perspective.

So, what the hell are they?!

The answer makes for a great installment in both my Eyecatchers and Upcycling recurring series.

Via Inhabitat:

If the measure of a truly successful piece of art is its ability to draw the viewer in, Heather Kocsis’ entrancing vignettes of New York City life certainly fit the bill. Handcrafted from reclaimed pieces of wood that have been broken down and painted to resemble miniature fire escapes, brick walls and windows, each diorama offers a new little world to be explored.

Most of the wood Kocsis uses to create her pieces is salvaged or given to her by others. Any wood that is dry and in good shape is utilized.

What I love the most about Kocsis’ work, besides the clever technique and the amazing attention to detail, is how these pieces capture the unlikely beauty of aging urban structures, a kind of beauty that stands in stark contrast to the clean, minimalist designs of modern architecture.

And, of course, that the artist uses mostly reclaimed materials appeals to my treehugging sensibilities.

Be sure to check out the more complete galleries at Inhabitat and Heather Kocsis‘ website, but in the meantime, here’s some more of her work. Enjoy!

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Tweet of the Day: @Rainn Wilson

By now, jokes about auto-correct could seem passé, but don’t tell that to the folks at DamnYouAutoCorrect.com.

Anyway, this one from Rainn Wilson today still cracked me up. LOL!

Video Fridays: A Tooth For An Eye

20130322-120449.jpgThis week’s Video Fridays installment is not your average music video.

Thanks to yet another wonderful find at Vimeo, I’ve discovered musical artists I’d been unfamiliar with: The Knife, a Swedish electronica brother and sister duo.

And, the video for their song A Tooth For An Eye, is a moving and fun experience, thanks to an ambitious and powerful theme: gender inequality.

From the description of the video at Vimeo:

“A Tooth For An Eye” deconstructs images of maleness. Who are the people we trust as our leaders and why? What do we have to learn from those we consider inferior?

In a sport setting, where one would traditionally consider a group of men as powerful and in charge, an unexpected leader emerges. A child enters and allows the men to let go of their hierarchies, machismo, and fear of intimacy, as they follow her into a dance.

Their lack of experience and vulnerability shines through, as they perform the choreography. Amateurs and skilled dancers alike express joy and a sense of freedom. There is no prestige in their performance. The child is powerful, tough, and sweet all at once, roaring, “I’m telling you stories, trust me.” There is no shame in her girliness. Rather, she possesses knowledge that the men lost a long time ago.

I know. Wow.

There are few things more pressing, in my mind, than for humans to be examining the state of boys and men. They are in crisis, continuing to exert a level of dominance over and violence toward women and each other that is tragic and not at all sustainable.

Boys are not born this way! They have simply, as The Knife put it, lost the knowledge, by having been raised as warriors in a dog-eat-dog, survival of the fittest culture.

As someone who has worked with men on these issues, helping myself and them to regain the knowledge that we can be just as sensitive and compassionate as females, I’ve seen amazing successes and I know that a different paradigm is possible.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Light @ End Of Tunnel

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Pornface: Not The Onion & Deserving of Compassion

not-onionSo, when I came across the following “news” item, my first now-regrettable response was that I should start a new Recurring Series here at Fish & Bicycles, featuring real articles that read like, but are not, articles from the news parody website The Onion.

I’m sure it’s not an original thought, but man, when I find examples of this, it really is hard to believe that these are real stories.

Today’s discovery, via Salon:

Man turns face into tattoo billboard for Internet porn sites, regrets it

Before legally changing his name to “Hostgator Dotcom,” Billy Gibby called himself “Billy the Billboard” because of his willingness to tattoo brand logos on his face and body. After receiving sums in the range of $75 – $1,000, Gibby (Dotcom?) tattooed the logos for several Internet porn sites on his face.

And now he really, really regrets it…

Gibby is hoping to remove the 20 tattoos covering his face. But in order to afford the expensive laser surgery, he needs a better job. But because of his facial tattoos, he is pretty unemployable, he told the Press.

So he is auctioning off more advertising space on his body to finance the procedure.

“I have space on my arms, hands, chest and the legs,” Gibby told the Huffintgon Post.

And so I was all set to laugh at Billy Gibby, and I even considered including a photo of him in this post, but then I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

If you read the whole piece you find that he has a serious mental health problem and a, gulp, family of seven to support, and it’s just unbearably sad.

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t made a mistake and felt the pain of embarrassment or even shame, and so my heart goes out to Billy, I regret my original impulse, and I hope that he finds peace.