Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Music & the Ad:: Honda & Weezer's "Buddy Holly"

This commercial featuring a family in a Honda singing Weezer's "Buddy Holly" (1994) has been ubiquitous on Hulu the past week. It was directed by Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking, Up in the Air, Juno) for ad agency RPA and is an homage to a scene in "Step Brothers" (2008) featuring GnR's "Sweet Child O' Mine" (1987) [video].

Here's the 60sec extended cut that's particularly cringeworthy:

The concept is to sell to the older Millennials…now with kids, minivans, and a Southwestern vacation. The VP of advertising for Honda told Brandchannel they are striving for marketing that's more fun & youthful. OMG, superfun! Yes, it's very postmodern with its referents and Inceptionesque levels of nostalgia, but the only kick I'm feeling is one to the head. It's not that I feel Weezer or Buddy Holly is sacrosanct or some pop culture violation has occurred, but that the execution is awkward. Yes, it might seem be more "real" with the off key notes and the depiction of family life, but I'm inclined to agree with Spin's harsh take:

"Their awkward, off-key cover of “Buddy Holly” makes you wish that you were listening to Weezer instead of these jabronis, but also is off-putting enough that you get the sense that maybe you’d be better off if you just never listened to Weezer again."
Reitman can veer into too earnest territory (Juno & Up in the Air come to mind, but less so in Thank You for Smoking), which isn't my cup of tea, but the issue might be that the spot is trying to thread that line of being hip and wholesome, but executionally comes off as forced and strange. Silent Generation grandpa chiming in is just plain tough to watch.

I remember this song quite a bit in summer of 1994, splitting time between LA & Eugene, Oregon, along with "Sabotage" by The Beastie Boys, "Loser" by Beck, and ¡Simpatico!, a Sub-Pop album release by DC-area band Velocity Girl. I loved the Spike Jonze video for "Buddy Holly" that riffed off of Happy Days, which is still worth watching.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Newmusicmonday #116: The Provincial Archive

The Provincial Archive recently won the Edmonton Music Prize for their 'It's All Shaken Wonder' album. Their "Daisy Garden" infuses indie folk with jangly pop that brings together its quirky lyrics with an infectious sound. Singer/guitarist Craig Schram noted the song was about his grandmother's struggle with the decline of her mental state, although it's sure to touch many who feel out of sorts when it comes to relating to the world.
"I'm out of order, don't throw me away…"

"Bad Kids" from their latest caught my ear on CBCr3 [profile & streams]. A cover of Elliott Smith's "Son of Sam" was on their 'Hide Like a Secret' EP released earlier in the year. Smith noted the song isn't about the serial killer, a dark touchstone of a year that means a great deal to me: 1977.

Monday, December 22, 2014

David Bowie Is Floating in Space

Vidcap from The Venture Brothers, "Showdown at Cremation Creek (Part II)" (S02E13) (2006)

I've noticed for a while that Bowie has a fixation on space, space travel, & aliens. Those who aren't Bowie fans can play this while perusing the titles:

Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space by Spiritualized on Grooveshark

I submit:

"Ashes to Ashes" 1980 from David Bowie on Vimeo.

Monday, May 19, 2014

MadMen "The Strategy": Home

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 11.33.34 AM 1 If you hate spoilers…go away. This week's ep of MadMen "the strategy" (s7e6) was pretty straightforward & I felt moved things along. The theme of home & family was framed by the seeds of doubt that Don planted in Peggy's mind about creative strategy for Burger Chef, which was about the dad giving approval for the mom not cooking, relieving family tension—an idea Lou loves. -Pete visits his daughter, realizes he's not a part of his daughter's family, & that Trudy is moving on (while a nanny takes care of his kid) -Don is trying to get Megan to think of NYC as home again. -Peggy is starting to lament being 30 & not being a mom & homemaker. -Bob is trying to create an 'arranged' home w/Joan to create a façade of being a family man for Buick. This could have been dealt with in the blunt trope of a culture war with Lou representing antiquated notions of family, juxtaposed against the headiness of the sexual revolution of 1969. Instead, it's clear that the idea of home, family, & the interpersonal isn't so cut & dried. all of these characters struggle in their relationships to find happiness, but is that the problem? The final scene has part of the Burger Chef team as a 'work family'. Don is the dad & the (incestuous) kids are Peggy & Pete (whoops, this isn't Lars Von Trier's MadMen), but they're at the table…a third space family table, in a restaurant that's shaped like a house.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Newmusicmonday #115:: Green and Glass

0002488519_10 This blog is turning into a blog of missed connections and a celebration of the end of eras. The next post on Blossom Café (a restaurant, not a band) will solidify this. I missed Green and Glass, who (I think) had two shows in Brooklyn recently, one at The Manhattan Inn. I can't remember how I stumbled upon them, but I'm glad I did. There's a hint of Stereolab & Lætitia Sadier at their mellowest in their sound. The syncopated horns and very accessible vocals make for some interesting indie pop, but it might be a tad austere for some. They also remind me a bit of earlier Au Revoir Simone, sans harmonies. I think "cement & metals" is a fine example of what I (think) I'm talking about:: "Wash" has strings (harp) that add a crisp texture to the sound. The band members are Sam Decker, Dave Flaherty, Andrew McGovern, Lucia Stavros, and Ryan Dugre. I wish I knew more about them

Monday, April 21, 2014

Newmusicmonday #114:: Prince Innocence

This intermittent installment of Newmusicmonday features Prince Innocence, consisting of Josh McIntyre and Talvi Faustmann. This short interview gives a brief introduction to the band, but I liken their synth pop sound to 80s Giorgio Moroder cleaned up and updated for 2014. One of my favorite tracks is "Dissipate" that slips around you with its sexy charm:
"Golden Hour" has that Moroder sound: PRINCE INNOCENCE - GOLDEN HOUR from jason harvey on Vimeo. I really like the cinematography for the video for "To My Right":  and "Girls" & "Shells" both hold tight a melancholia within that doesn't let you totally forget your bittersweet life.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

MadMen "Time Zones": Bossy Girls & Disposable Men

elisabeth-moss-mad-men-701-time-zones"Time Zones" (s7e1) was interesting, but I might be reading way too much into things, which I'm wont to do. So, I was looking for the current themes that Weiner et al. are projecting onto 1969 and I sensed two. One was "Lean In" & the other was the disposable male. While on the surface, there are a lot of transitions going on in the wake of the agency's musical chairs, I think Joan & Peggy were the most interesting stories. 

Peggy has always been about competence on the job, while Joan has a preternatural understanding of org politics and embeddedness. Peggy no longer has a mentor to watch over her and I don't think she wants one. She feels she has the chops, but wants to put her imprimatur on the work she does. She doesn't always connect with people well or play the political game cleanly (like with her new boss) and is smart enough to know it. Joan is tired of being treated like a secretary and while she has performed her role well at the agency, she now wants mastery of accounts, not ops. Both Peggy and Joan want what the other has. In "Lean in" speak, Joan got her seat at the table & now is seeking greater legitimacy. Peggy is navigating the "jungle gym" of org politics, particularly after the shakeup.

Don & Roger are having to tackle with their own obsolescence in their personal lives. Don always does his balancing act between control and destruction. His (what I call) "50 shades of Draper" escapade with the neighbor last season put a fine point on that. Don realizes he's all dramaturgy (albeit talented), but he sometimes is having trouble controlling his masks. Megan doesn't need him and doesn't seem to really want him, at this point. Roger still wants to be the grand patriarch and has been able to smooth over his transgressions with cash. His control over his daughter is in jeopardy now she has found "truth, light, & forgiveness", but another sticky wicket is his inability to control Joan and her love life. 

OK, so while this was supposedly 1969, in my experience over many years of going to Canters on Fairfax, I never got a sandwich that fast.

Monday, February 10, 2014

NewMusicMonday #113:: The Pack a.d.

cover-300x300 "Mining the virtual bins" of CBC Radio 3, I found a gem this morning. The Pack a.d. hail from Vancouver, BC and at least to me represent where much of the 90s grrrl angst should have gone. Tuneful sneers by Becky Black with a solid percussive beat by Maya Miller are addictive. My ADD nature wants the songs around 2 minutes, but that's quibbling. The bilingual/French songs evoke 80s French new wave acts and one of my favorite tracks, "BC Is on Fire" (2011) simply rocks like it should: Currently on Nettwork Records & on tour, they hit Toronto on 3/8 (Horseshoe), Montréal on 3/26 (Casa de Popolo), & here in NYC on 4/2 (Mercury). Check out more music & videos on CBCradio3. Twitter     Facebook 1499641_10151883870481198_1559299551_n

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Music & the Ad: Bowie's "I'd Rather Be High" (Venetian Mix) & Louis Vuitton

I saw this ad on Hulu in December and NME had a good overview last month. The song featured is Bowie's "I'd Rather Be High" (Venetian Mix), The ad was directed by Greek director, Romain Gavras, who also did "Born Free" for MIA. The exteriors were shot in Venice and the gracefully aging David Jones is at a postmodern costume parties mixing styles and eras. The ad is part of the campaign for LV's L'Invitation au voyage—Venice collection. The anti-war song is an interesting choice, but the ad with its bricolage works in its juxtapositions. The song's harpsichord and Bowie with his alt-yet-mainstream-friendly style are crossing boundaries of cultural capital visually and in a way that's on-code with the brand. The official video, directed by Tom Hingston, is far less sumptuous and fashion-friendly, but closer to the song's meaning: The “Love Is Lost” vinyl single has great artwork with a cutout sleeve featuring the remix and an expanded reissue of "The Next Day Extra".    bowie_love_is_lost_vinyl_2-500x498 bowie_love_is_lost_vinyl_1-500x501

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Hipster & the Ad: belVita Blueberry

I only get to see commercials on vacation, other than Hulu ads, so I've been soaking them in. This one caught my ear, as I was working on some stuff in hotel rooms in New Mexico & Colorado. I mondegreened "belVita" as Velveeta, which made absolutely no sense when you factor in it was for breakfast bites. I thought the song was catchy & very millennial hipster chic, in a good way. Katie Malia stars in the ad as a bit of a manic pixie dream girl, but that's the point. She gets all her energy from these Nabisco bars. My final mondegreen was morning wood for morning win, the latter is the title of the spot and the focal point of a hashtag campaign. More on the ad here.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Toronto Centre By-Election Prediction

Toronto Centre, looking towards Yonge & Bloor from 30 Gloc, July 2011. Kenneth M. Kambara

I'm skeptical of polling results that aren't commissioned by the parties in Canada, in the wake of the recent Alberta and BC debacles. I understand it's hard to get good data without a huge budget. The latest Forum poll has the Liberal-NDP race in Toronto Centre heating up to 47 to 39%, respectively for Chrystia Freeland and Linda McQuaig. I have concerns with the poll, as it's skewed older (62% of the sample are 55 or older), overrepresents Liberals (58% of the sample compared to 41% of the vote in 2013), and I do believe it used landlines. I'm sure it was weighted, but I'm leery of putting too much stock into it.

That said, I thought it might be interesting to examine the data, looking at how the 2011 vote mapped onto current preferences. The 2011 vote distribution was:
Rae (LPC) 41.01%, Wallace (NDP) 30.21%, Moore (CPC) 22.64, Michelson (GPC) 5.02%

Using back of the napkin calculations from the latest Forum poll, Freeland is holding on to only 64% of Rae's vote. She's getting 25% of the Conservative vote, 12% of the NDP vote, and 45% of the Green vote. That puts her roughly at 38%.

McQuaig is holding on to 86% of the NDP vote, getting 31% of the Liberal vote, 12% of the Conservative vote, and 36% of the Green vote. That puts McQuaig at around 43%.

What should be troubling to Freeland is that she's only managing to hold on to 64% of Rae's vote and only getting 25% of the Conservative vote. My sense is that Freeland and Trudeau have been pitching a fairly centrist platform and the fact that more defections from the Conservatives in an urban riding should be a cause for concern. McQuaig is holding on to 86% of Susan Wallace's total and siphoning off almost a third of the Rae vote. Progressives may be moving towards the NDP and rewarding Mulcair's tough stance against Stephen Harper.

By elections are strange animals. Lower turnout is to be expected and the ground game tends to matter more. Turnout will be the key, but if the NDP wins, the data at the polling district level will be telling. If the NDP is able to win neighborhoods in St. James Town and Regents Park, they have a shot at making inroads into communities with new Canadians. If the NDP can win Cabbagetown, the Liberals have a lot to be worried about, as they're losing their grip on the upper middle class. I'm not quite sure progressive Liberals will be that motivated to vote for Freeland, so their turnout may be lower. The NDP seems energized with a youthful energy and has tighter messaging. If the NDP wins or is within 5% of Freeland, it's a huge accomplishment for the party and will cause some soul searching in the Liberal camp.

I think this will be a nailbiter and predict Linda McQuaig (NDP) will pull it off, just north of 40%. 

Update: I was wrong. See update on the new blog site.

Monday, July 29, 2013

newmusicmonday #112:: Eleanor Friedberger

I've always liked Eleanor Friedberger of The Fiery Furnaces, a duo with her brother. Her songs on her solo album, Personal Record, are all collaborations with John Wesley Harding. Here's a Fresh Air [NPR] review of it by Ken Tucker.

The breezy track below and eye candy video might mask Eleanor's depth for some, but she does indeed make short work out of good songcrafting. There's an infectious Aubrey Plaza vibe to the music video that encourages repeat viewings...

A live performance of the track on Fallon is also below.