2007 - %3, September

Neato Viddys on the Intertubes: Bugs

| Fri Sep. 7, 2007 6:11 PM EDT

From what I understand, the weight of all insects on Earth is more than the weight of everything else in the universe combined, or something. Well, I for one welcome our new insect overlords, and in an attempt to rectify their absence from the music video scene, I've collected some clips starring bugs, about bugs, or featuring a band named after bugs.

ZZT - "Lower State of Consciousness"
In which the latest bonkers techno club banger is set to close-up footage of, well, ants; the blipping, buzzing effects end up sounding like communications from the alien-seeming creatures.

Menomena - "Evil Bee"
In which the secret of how bees make honey is revealed: they get drunk on flower juice and then barf it up in large factories. Is that right?

The Bees (Band of Bees) - "Who Cares What the Question Is?"
In which the UK combo's sunny, Beatles-esque jam accompanies them on a claymation trip around the world

Osaka Popstar - "Insects"
In which the indie band's novelty hit is given a cute lo-fi animated treatment, with the band played by puppies pursued by scary bugs. Better watch out.

Gnarls Barkley - "Gone Daddy Gone"
And this semi-oldie but goodie, in which the band, as wee tiny buggies, proves life can be tough even for the chitinous.

Any more I missed, commenters?

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Friday is Thy Day for Music News

| Fri Sep. 7, 2007 3:06 PM EDT

Common

  • Rapper Common pledges to stop "disrespecting homosexuality" and using the N-word in his music, after being approached by gay fans and, uh, Oprah, respectively. "I wanted to show a step for myself toward improving on certain things," he said, in an apparent attempt to imitate the sentence structure of Miss Teen South Carolina.
  • Radiohead's Johnny Greenwood: Okay, we're done recording our album, now we just have to "decide what we should do with it." Let us listen to it, maybe?
  • French singer/actress Charlotte Gainsbourg is recovering after brain surgery to remove a hematoma suffered during a water skiing accident. Gainsbourg, the daughter of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, released her album 5:55 earlier this year, a collaboration with Air, Jarvis Cocker and Neil Hannon.
  • The AP says music videos are going low-budget, due to less cash on hand at the record labels, or maybe people just like treadmills and Zach Galifianakis.
  • Washington Times Editor Gets Desperate, Compares the Surge to the Battle of Midway

    | Fri Sep. 7, 2007 2:14 PM EDT

    Rambling screeds on right-leaning editorial pages are often stuffed with unintentional humor and unintended self-parody, but the op-ed by Editor in Chief Wesley Pruden in today's Washington Times really takes the cake. In between busily accusing Democrats of hoping for bad news on Iraq ("only bad news makes their hearts sing") and pretending some "Let's not pay taxes or follow laws" crazy on the internet is representative of the Democratic party, Pruden came out with this gem:

    Some of these doom-criers would have swooned in the miserable spring of 1942, when Rommel's unstoppable march across North Africa was finally stopped by the British at el-Alamein. Halfway around the world, the U.S. Navy turned back the Japanese tide at Midway.

    So if you're keeping track, Iraq is Vietnam, General Petraeus is Bernard Montgomery, the surge is the First Battle of el-Alamein, the insurgents are Nazis (or Japanese), and Democrats are (again!) a fifth column that only wants to see America lose, the terrorists win, and babies cry. Bravo, Mr. Pruden. Your achievements in convoluted overstatement are truly impressive. Bravo.

    — Nick Baumann

    We're Making Progress in Iraq! Heard That One Before?

    | Fri Sep. 7, 2007 1:49 PM EDT

    In advance of next week's big pro-surge push from the White House and Gen. Petraeus, MoveOn.org points out how many times we've heard that we're making progress in Iraq.

    Bush on APEC...OPEC? Tomato, Tomahto

    | Fri Sep. 7, 2007 12:28 PM EDT

    Bush is tired, this is all hard, hard work, plus he's jetlagged. Which all spells trouble for the man who has a hard time speaking, let alone spelling.

    Today at the APEC business summit in Sydney, Australia, the prez served up a couple of major gaffes, astonishing even for him.

    First, he addressed the crowd at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, APEC, not as the key regional inter-governmental working group, but as the similarly-acronymed, but oh-so-different, oil cartel, thanking Prime Minister John Howard thusly:

    "Mr prime minister, thank you for your introduction. Thank you for being such a fine host for the OPEC summit."

    He caught himself on this one and amended his mention. But then, as he was wrapping up, Bush commended "Austrian troops" in Iraq. There are, in fact, no Austrian troops in Iraq, but there are 1,500 Australian ones.

    He failed to correct this mistake, though you'd never know it from the transcript. You see, the White House offers transcripts of all of the president's speeches, but they are consistently edited and cleaned up to weed out the big and small flubs. No mention of Austrian troops therein, meaning Bush will come off as much smoother in the historical record.

    Dep't of Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics: Iraqi Casualties Edition

    | Fri Sep. 7, 2007 12:24 PM EDT

    Josh Marshall and the crew at Talking Points Memo are looking into this issue of casualties in Iraq — the right and the left are both throwing around statistics on civilian deaths that support their respective positions on the surge, and Marshall wants to figure out what's really going on. But until he does, you should take a look at this very good Washington Post story on why the government's and military's numbers, which they say prove deaths are down by half, are bogus.

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    New Music: Stateless

    | Fri Sep. 7, 2007 12:52 AM EDT

    Stateless
    Let me tell you about my dad. He's a farmer in a small town in Nebraska, where I grew up, and while in many ways he conforms to rural Midwestern stereotypes—no-nonsense, hard-working, libertarian—in musical taste, he's completely off the map. I'll get him some CDs for birthdays or whatever, and it's been both amusing and heartening to see what makes his "playlist." Let's just say there is no bigger Coldplay or Zero 7 fan in the whole Central Time Zone than my dad. This is a guy who wears the Coldplay T-shirt I got him to church (much to the amusement of our young pastor), and wore out his copy of Zero 7's Simple Things so badly I had to get him a new one. So now I'm always on the lookout for good stuff my dad might like: not too crazy, soulful, maybe with some piano. UK's Stateless will be the next CD I grab for him, and I think he'll like about 2/3 of it.

    Hailing from Leeds, England, Stateless fit into the Mo' Wax/DJ Shadow trip-hop world, but with the spirit of Radiohead, if not the grandiosity. I included the Portishead-reminscent "Inscape" in my Top Ten back in June, and that track's chilly, underwater feel only offers a glimpse of the variety on their self-titled album on K7. New single "Bloodstream" (featuring Lateef the Truthseeker) leads off with a simple piano melody, then adds a jazzy beat, but lead singer Chris James takes the spotlight with a voice that's both emotive and restrained: "I think I might have inhaled you/I can feel you behind my eyes," he sings, in as straightforward a definition of "lovesick" as you'll hear. Tracks like "Bloodstream" and "Down Here," with their hypnotic piano refrains, will be my dad's favorites, but "Radiokiller," with its syncopated dance beat and electronic flourishes, proves they're not worried about alienating the AARP set, and "Crash" echoes Boards of Canada's vaguely menacing minimalism. While I'm not a lyrics guy, some lines do seem to revert to cliché, and not every melody line is as inspiringly fresh as "Bloodstream." But overall, it's a highly enjoyable debut. I'll let you know what Dad says.

    Listen to the whole album (after providing your e-mail address) at the elaborate K7 home page, or at their MySpace, or grab a couple mp3s on the blogs: MonoCrave features "Bloodstream" and "Blue Trace," and Cellmates hosts "Radiokiller." Of course you can pay for the album at iTunes. Video for a live performance of "Bloodstream" after the jump.

    Breaking: Osama bin Laden to Make 9/11 Video Address to U.S.

    | Thu Sep. 6, 2007 5:45 PM EDT

    As being reported now by CNN, Osama bin Laden plans to make a video address to the United States on September 11th. This is according to information picked up by the SITE Institute, which tracks jihadist Internet chatter. The Al Qaeda leader is expected to warn of new terrorist attacks. If true, this will be Bin Laden's first video appearance since shortly before the 2004 presidential election. Looks like Petraeus might have some competition in next week's news cycle...

    Major Report on Status of Iraqi Security Forces Presented in Congress Today

    | Thu Sep. 6, 2007 4:00 PM EDT

    Here are the findings of the Independent Commission on the Security Forces in Iraq, a group of military and law enforcement men sent out by Congress to examine the status of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF):

    "The Commission finds that in general, the Iraqi Security Forces, military and police, have made uneven progress, but that there should be increasing improvement in both their readiness and their capability to provide for the internal security of Iraq. With regard to external dangers, the evidence indicates that the Iraqi Security Forces will not be able to secure Iraqi borders against conventional military threats in the near term.
    "While severely deficient in combat support and combat service support capabilities, the new Iraqi armed forces, especially the Army, show clear evidence of developing the baseline infrastructures that lead to the successful formation of a national defense capability…. In any event, the ISF will be unable to fulfill their essential security responsibilities independently over the next 12-18 months…
    "In some areas, they have been vulnerable to infiltration, and they are often outmatched in leadership, training, tactics, equipment, and weapons by the terrorists, criminals, and the militias they must combat."

    The Commission presented these findings at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier today. They are the kind of lukewarm results that either party can use to their advantage. And that they did.

    In questioning, Ranking Minority Member John McCain focused on the good. According to the Commission's report, the Iraqi Army's efforts to weed militias out of its ranks is "achieving some progress." It's "operational effectiveness is increasing." The Air Force is "progressing at a promising rate." The Navy is "making substantive progress." (The Ministry of Interior, the National Police, and the border security forces are subject to strong criticism in the report.)

    Bono Pays Tribute to Pavarotti

    | Thu Sep. 6, 2007 3:29 PM EDT

    Bono and Pavarotti
    U2 band leader Bono has paid tribute to Luciano Pavarotti, whose collaboration with the band Bono reveals was at the opera singer's insistence. Writing on U2's official website, Bono says Pavarotti "lived the songs, his opera was a great mash of joy and sadness; surreal and earthy at the same time; a great volcano of a man who sang fire but spilled over with a love of life in all its complexity, a great and generous friend."

    The U2 star details how Pavarotti pestered the band to write him a song by "continually" calling up their housekeeper until the band agreed. The collaboration would eventually result in the delicate single "Miss Sarajevo" from the Passengers album. Pavarotti also once ambushed the band in Dublin with a film crew, hoping to convince them to play his festival in Modena. Bono and Pavarotti's duet performance there is pictured above.

    Pavarotti died this morning in Modena at age 71.

    [update] Here's the video for "Miss Sarajevo," by the U2/Brian Eno/Pavoratti project Passengers, whose weird echoey chords owe more to Eno's Another Green World than anything else, but just try not to get shivers when Pavarotti comes in at the 2:59 mark.