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Archive for the ‘Dan the Automator’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: CHRISTMAS REMIXED: Holiday Classics Re-Grooved (2003).

This has been one of my favorite Christmas albums for many years now.  Most of the songs remain faithful to the original with just an upbeat drum track underneath the vocals.  I’m sure some parts are sped up and some parts are looped over and over.  But it’s all in good fun and really gets these songs moving, tastefully.

Andy Williams – “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” (A Shrift Remix)
We liked this song so much we used it for a home video one year.  The horns are terrific and Andy Williams is pretty awesome in general.

Bing Crosby – ” Happy Holiday” (Beef Wellington Remix).
This song adds a big old fun dancey drum beat and loops the orchestration.

Dean Martin – “Jingle Bells” (Dan the Automator Remix)
There’s some fun scratching on this and Dan manipulates Dean’s voice here and there.

Kay Starr – “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm” (Stuhr Remix)
A big fun bass line is looped and a horn melody is tacked on. I think her voice is sped up a tad, but it’s not too noticeable.

The Cathedral Brass – “Joy to the World” (Mocean Worker Remix)
This track adds some drums and some synths to a jolly instrumental.

Johnny Mercer – “Winter Wonderland” (Rise Ashen’s Brazilian Beach Mix)
Lots of drums and percussion added to this.

Charles Brown – “Merry Christmas Baby” (MNO Remix)
They have stripped out a lot of the music in this and made it kind of slow.  The original is my least favorite Christmas song and the is my least favorite track here.

Berlin Symphony Orchestra – “Nutcracker Suite” (Baz Kuts Breaks Mix)
But this is one of my favorites. I love the Nutcracker and this is just a an awesome way to add some other kinds of dance to it.

Louis Armstrong & Velma Middleton – “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (Mulato Beat Remix)
Both performers had a blast with this original song.  And Mulato Beat don’t do all that much to it–mostly playing around with Louis’ performance–leaving in all of the laughs that were in the original and just making it a bit more dancey.

Duke Ellington – “Jingle Bells” (Robbie Hardkiss Remix)
I love the way this one loops a small part of the horn melody as a hook and then uses all of the tubular bells to push the song along.

Bing Crosby – “The First Noel” (Attaboy House Party Mix)
This opens with Bing talking over a thumping beat and then the whole choir sings along and it really works.

Mel Tormé – “The Christmas Song” (Michael Kessler Open Fire Mix)
This is slow version by the Velvet Fog.  They echo Tormé’s vocal on sounds seven more foggy.  A mellow ending to a righteous disc.

[READ: December 1, 2017] “The Journal”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection

This story was pretty trippy.

On her 12th wedding anniversary, Laurie found her husband’s journal in the nightstand.  She flipped through it without actually reading it. She saw words like dinner, rest, etc, as well as some pictures.  Nothing useful, but she felt bad for snooping.

It had been a long time since she felt close to him.  That night, they went out to dinner and had a polite meal.

The next morning she woke up and every time she looked at words, they seemed to wiggle off the page until the page was blank. (more…)

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almostsilentSOUNDTRACK: DELTRON 3030-“The Return” (2013).

Deltron3030-EventII-caa19c164f9e01c2441aab420c0b54356b261e87-s1After thirteen years, alternative rap supergroup Deltron 3030 is back.  If you’ve forgotten, Deltron 3030 is comprised of Dan the Automator, Del the Funky Homosapien and DJ Kid Koala.  Evidently the album is chock full of guest stars (which I usually dislike, but the guest stars are a weirdly unexpected bunch–David Cross, Amber Tamblyn, chef David Chang?–so I’m curious to hear what they are going to add to the sound.

Okay even I admit I don’t really remember what the first Deltron album sounded like, but if memory serves this seems to be picking up in that same spacey vibe that made Deltron so weird and fun.

There’s a story going on here, told in Del’s awesome rapping style–mellow and trippy with big words and convoluted phrasings.  Of course, this is only track 2 on the record so I don’t know exactly what the story is about.  But I know that Deltron 0 is back and I’m pretty excited to hear the whole thing.

You can hear this track on NPR and you can watch the intro track (featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt) here:

[READ: September 20, 2013] Almost Silent

This book collects four of Jason’s previous books “Meow, Baby,” “Tell Me Something,” “You Can’t Get There from Here” and “The Living and the Dead.”

“Meow, Baby” (2006) is a collection of  “short stories” from Jason.  They feature the same (looking) cast of characters as most of the other Jason books I’ve read (anthropomorphic animals), but there’s a few additions: a mummy, a zombie,a  skeleton and a vampire.  None of the pieces are titled and the only way to know when each is done is when you see his signature.  This is just to note that if there is a mummy in two stories, it’s good to know he’s not necessarily the same mummy.

The stories are quite funny with variations on mummy stories (wrapping your head in a bandage after you are hurt, getting an erection(!)), and vampire stories (the same looking guy is always following him with a stake) and some very amusing domestic scenes with skeletons.  I enjoyed the one where the mummy comes out of the sarcophagus, looks at a newspaper and then walks back into the sarcophagus with a look of despair on his face (his face is still covered in bandages—Jason has an amazing way of expression even with people who have no faces). There’s also a whole series of skeletons who climb out of their graves and go about mundane tasks .  There’s even a guy dressed like the Terminator who has some funny moments where he misses the opportunity to say his trademark lines.

The last few pages are three panel strips—like daily cartoons .  Were they ever shown in newspapers?  These show that Jason is also very funny at punchlines, not just dark stories and black humor.  True, all of these three panel comic are black humor (with the same cast of zombies, vampires, mummies and skeletons), but he really makes some funny and unexpected strips here. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: GORILLAZ-Plastic Beach (2010).

I have been a huge supporter of Gorillaz since the drew their way onto the music scene all those years ago.  It’s true that part of my love for the band was the art of Jamie Hewlitt, who I assume doesn’t really have any input anymore.  I also love Del the Funky Homosapien (who is also missing).  But I’m almost slavishly devoted to Damon Albarn, so I was pretty psyched when I heard they had a new album coming out and that it was getting rave reviews.

I was severely disappointed when I heard the record. 

“Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach” features Snoop Dog who is phoning it in from a vacationland far far away.  He was more exciting on his cameo for The Lonely Island.  Even musically, it’s not very interesting.  “White Flag” is more promising, with the cool flute and string intro, but the rap by Bashy (which I wanted to like because of his accent) is just bland.  And Gorillaz must agree as the rap is less than a third of the song. 

“Stylo” has a cool bass line but the track overall is surprisingly discoey.  The Mos Def bit is interesting but I guess I’m not a fan of Bobby Womack, as I don’t care for his part of the song at all.  “Sweepstakes” has some interesting parts but the intermittent yelling of “Sweepstakes” kind of ruins it for me.  “Plastic Beach” features Mick Jones and Paul Simonon but you’d never know it.  And I actually don’t enjoy the manipulated voice much here, it sounds uncomfortably like early 80s technology.  “Cloud of Unknowing” is barely there at all (sorry Bobby Womack, I’m, not convinced)

It’s probably unsurprising that my favorite song with guests is “Superfast Jellyfish.”  I love De La Soul (although their “dopey” sounding rap is a bit much).  But I like that they play up the cartoon feel of the song (and the band).  I also didn’t even realize that the main singer was Gruff Rhys until a few listens in.  And since I love him, it all plays out nicely.  I also like “Glitter Freeze” because fun with keyboards can be interesting. I didn’t realize it was Mark E. Smith until recently.  I’m not really sure if that makes any difference since he just says a few words, but things are always more interesting when he’s around.  Of course, this song could have been 2 minutes instead of 4.  “Some Kind of Nature” features Lou Reed.  Reed has been hit or miss lately and this is more miss than hit.  “Empire Ants” features Little Dragon (unknown to me).  It is very slow to get to the interesting part, but when it does, the song is pretty cool.  The other song with Little Dragon, “To Binge” is wonderful.  It reminds me of a track from A Clockwork Orange and it also features some great lyrics. 

The few songs that I like on the album are ones that are credited to just Gorillaz.  “Rhinestone Eyes” is a bit lazy for my tastes, although the second part of the song really showcases the first decent melody on the disc, and the introduction of Damon’s voice is like a salve.  “On Melancholy Hill” has the best wispy keyboard intro this side of early 80s Madonna–a wonderful counterpoint to the title and lyrics.  “Broken” is actually a little too mellow for me, but again, the melody is a nice one.  “Pirate Jet” is a simple, dopey song that ends the album in a kind of limbo state.

I’m confused by all the rave reviews, especially the one that says the album is chock full of singles.  I mean, “Dare” now that’s a single.  I guess I just miss Del (and Russel) way too much.  And frankly, even the artwork is pretty lame on this one.

[READ: January 10, 2012] “Center of the Universe”

Simon Rich never fails to make me laugh. Sometimes his ideas are completely original.  Other times he takes a fairly common observation and runs with it into a land of lunacy.  And sometime he takes an idea that seems like it’s been done before but he puts a fun twist on it and makes it entirely his own.  Such is the case with this.

The very simple premise is that while God is busy creating the earth, his girlfriend is not only complaining that he never spends time with her, but she also feels slighted that he doesn’t seem to care how hard her job is.

A wonderful part of this scenario is that God has not yet finished making the earth–He’s only on the sixth day–but His girlfriend, Kate, is hanging out in Chelsea reading a magazine impatiently waiting for Him to show up.  (more…)

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[WATCHED: December 17, 2010] Scott Pilgrim vs the World.

I was delighted to finally get to see Scott Pilgrim vs the World on DVD. And man, it did not disappoint.  I love Michael Cera, so even though he’s not who I pictured as Scott Pilgrim, he played the character quite wonderfully (although he was within the realm of the “Michael Cera” character, he had an air of the sinister about him which was quite captivating).

The movie did  great job at capturing the hyper real video game quality of the books (I love all the little extra details which were not cute comic book details (like the phones printing RIIIIIIIIING) but simply part of the world they lived in.

I thought that the compression of this long (but not too long) series was wonderfully done.  Although I missed some aspects of the book, I thought it was all handled very well.  Plus, I liked the increased presence of the awesome Wallace and I really liked the way they adjusted the Knives storyline so that it could conclude at the same time as Ramona’s.  That’s very different from the final book, and, while I think the book’s version is more elegant (and fitting a longer story), for the movie, that truncation worked very well and allowed for a fantastic conclusion.  The end was great thanks to the introduction of the cool video game that Scott and Knives play early in the movie–a game which was made up for the movie.

I’m also thrilled to finally know how to pronounced Sex Bob-omb and I’m also thrilled to hear how much they rocked (Beck did most of the band music and über-god Nigel Godrich made the score for the rest of the film. Other great bands on the soundtrack include Metric, Broken Social Scene, Dan the Automator and Kid Koala.  I sort of ignored the soundtrack when it came out but I think i may have to go check it out now.

So in the movie, Scott must battle Ramona’s seven evil exes to win her love.  As for the seven evil exes themselves, they were all fun (and nicely diverse).  I enjoyed seeing Ann Veal (her?) working with George Michael Bluth again and Jason Schwartzman was simply terrific as the evil Gideon.  Also terrific was Satya Bhabha as the over-the-top first evil ex and Chris Evans as the bad-ass actor boyfriend.  I was only bummed that the Katayanagi brothers were given kind of short shrift (but hey you can only have so many characters).  The fight scenes were really well executed and fun.

The only weakness I would say in the film is that I thought Ramona was a little flat.  It was hard to know just what was so compelling about her for Scott (aside from the act that she was in his mind-portal all that time).  The book gives more details that show their relationship build, but the movie left that out.  I’ve never seen her in anything else, so I don’t know whose fault that was.  This compromises the ending a little bit because the decision between Knives and Ramona is actually kind of difficult (where it really shouldn’t be).  And yet, I thought the ending was really well done, with Ellen Wong really stealing the show).

The DVD itself is pretty awesome and there are a ton of special features.  Although Scott Pilgrim vs the Bloopers was a major let-down.  The movie is so understated that none of the bloopers are over-the-top hilarious.  However, the trivia track that you can play during the movie (I watched about ten minutes of it) was very interesting.  I especially enjoyed reading how parts of the movie that were finished before the book actually made their way into the book because O’Malley liked them so much.

I’m also thrilled that they filmed the movie in Toronto.  The trivia track points out all kinds of interesting locations.  From The Torontoist:

The first thing Wright did when he met O’Malley here in 2005 was visit all the real-life locations.”Pretty much everything that was in the book, we shot the same place Bryan had drawn,” he says.

A perfect example is the house in which Scott and his pal Wallace live. In reality, O’Malley lived at 27 Alberta Avenue, though he thinly disguised it as “Albert Avenue.”

As any true fan knows, however, the drawings in the book are actually at number 65, down the street. So, that’s where they shot, turning the garage door into the apartment door.

And there’s plenty more details in that article.  Like that those romantic and perilous stairs are real stairs on Baldwin St.  (I love crap like that).

It’s a really enjoyable romp of a film, unjustly ignored in the theaters.  And perhaps best of all…in no way is it setting itself up for a sequel!  A movie that just ends….how novel!

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