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Toro y Moi Anything in Return
Similar Artists: Daft Punk, J Dilla, Caribou, Hot Chip, How to Dress Well, Miguel
Genre: Pop, Bubblegum, R&B, Hip Hop, Funk, Chillwave, Disco, House, Trance, Soul
As unprofessional as it may sound from a critical standpoint, I really tried to not like this album. I tried to dismiss the infectious bubblegum pop songcraft and titillating synths. I tried to find fault in the high pitched teenage vocals which are used unflinchingly in nearly every track. I was originally tempted to give this a low(er) score because of how corny and sour tasting the tracks can be, but if I’m being honest, through all of these critical thoughts, in the back of my mind I was thinking about how I couldn’t wait to play this music at a party. With mind blowing production and a plentiful amount of singles, this is a release you will want to test out in large groups at preferably spacious arenas. While previous full lengths “Causers of This” and “Underneath the Pine” may have been more visionary, this is more impressive, ambitious and massive.
With 3rd album, “Anything in Return”, Chaz Bundwick has reestablished himself as a bona-fide pop star comparable to contemporary R&B acts “Miguel” and “The-Dream”. His voice has never sounded this spot-on and confident. One could imagine hearing many of these tracks on the radio, which couldn’t be said about Toro y Moi’s bedroom-leaning previous work. This new found radio-friendly style may cause some detractors, but will undoubtedly gain him more fans than he will lose. Much like Daft Punk’s move from Homework to Discovery, Toro y Moi is on his way from being an indie producer to a sold-out stadium act.
Chaz Bundwick has never quite fit in with his peers of the so-called “Chillwave” micro genre (a tag which he of course hates, despite the fact that he is known as one of its progenitors). He is too disco to be compared to Panda Bear, too hi-fi to be compared with Neon Indian, and way too serious and non self parodical to be compared to Ariel Pink. Although on first listen one might feel that Chaz is “having a laugh” when a track’s influences span five decades worth of pop music, you will soon realize there is no irony. This is both a positive and a negative, for it is what makes Toro y Moi original as well as why the music can be so off putting.
The album doesn’t quite have filler, but the first four tracks pretty much sum up the variety and breadth of influences offered throughout. The first of these, “Harm in Change”, contains shimmering piano chords reminiscent of something off of a “How to Dress Well” LP. First single, “Say That” is brilliant funk pop that exists as the album’s danciest moment. “So Many Details” is a few shades darker, and although its rhythms are not nearly as avant as its creator believes they are, it is still a welcome and memorable track. “Rose Quartz” mixes an assortment of perfectly placed vocal samples with a steady drum pulse and trance synths. If these first tracks are deemed the most exciting, the remaining nine are comparatively chill (save the emotional bombast of the last two).
So it turns out that I do like this album. Perhaps it is a testament to its artist’s supreme confidence that “Anything In Return” can exist outside its noticeable flaws and be seen as a perfect party record. When I listen on in the future, I’m not going to be thinking about what this album doesn’t have, I’ll be too busy enjoying it as the complete statement it is.
1.) Harm In Change*
2.) Say That*
3.) So Many Details
4.) Rose Quartz*
8.) High Living
9.) Grown up Calls
11.) Day One
12.) Never Matter*
13.) How’s it Wrong*
* – Album Highlight
Henry Wagons’ EP “Expecting Company,” brings the vintage Johnny Cash sound back with a twist. Wagons, of Australia, expressively howls through the 7 track EP with the accompaniment of other vocalists on almost each track. It’s a trippy sound with raw vocals that are undeniably full of Western masculinity.
Wagons’ has carefully paired other vocalists on his tracks, where not to shadow his talent, but rather compliment each note. While I listened to the opening track, “Unwelcome Company,” I felt transported into Wagon’s and Alison Mosshart’s state of mind, which was probably altered by some sort of recreational supplement. It encompasses that 1960’s sound and channels the track “Jackson” by June and Johnny Cash, with a darker edge.
During “Give Thing’s a Chance to Mend,” I could not stop thinking about film. Initially I was confused why I felt I was in a movie and then it came to me. All I kept hearing was Nancy Sinatras “Bang Bang” in the female vocals section. I did a little research and found that this song with featured in the film Kill Bill. The similarities are almost frightening. The strum of the guitar progression, the sound of the vocals and even the tempo; it’s a good song, but I still feel the album altogether is missing something.
The track that saved it for me was “I Still Can’t Find Her.” It sounds original and catchy (yet not annoying) while keeping me interested. The track tells a story and is musically and lyrically captivating. It has that something that the other tracks don’t have, and for me that’s heart.
Don’t get me wrong, the other tracks on the album are good, but it feels like Wagons may be trying a little bit too hard. His problem is trying to balance being too cool with a sound of country and a side of raw rock and roll. Sometimes a little bit of everything doesn’t make an album commendable. He should stick to what he’s good at and that can ironically be found in “I Still Can’t Find Her.” Since it’s a short EP it’s fairly inexpensive, so give it a listen it’s at least worth the exploration into Wagons’ head.
Boy oh boy did Beyonce have a lot to live up to last night. After being criticized since her supposed “lip sync” at the Inauguration a couple of weeks back, she knew she had to bring it hardcore to the Super Bowl. So did she accomplish that? From my point of view and several millions of people, she freaking did.
The anticipation built as the 2nd quarter ended. Coming out in a leather, dominatrix type outfit, she blew the stage up with several of her different hits from “Baby Boy” and “Crazy In Love”. It was the only time during the entire show that I actually stood close to the television screen to get a better view as to what was going on. I was HOOKED. The best part of course was when her Destiny’s Child crew, Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland, popped out of nowhere to do “Bootylicious” and sing on her uber-huge hit “Single Ladies”. Cue to me going ballistic. Everything about the performance in itself was electrifying, as she herself is exactly that kind of an entertainer. There was really no need for a zillion backup dancers, bands, or anything else to distract from what people really wanted to see- her.
This was an improvement by a million miles from the Black Eyed Peas two years ago, and even Madonna a year ago. It seemed to flow a lot better than both of theirs and to silence her critics, she performed the whole damn thing live. That is an arena that is very tough to do so, and she did it. Freaking phenomenal.
According to ABCNews.com, she generated 5.5 million tweets (I made about 1.2 million of those), and many joked she was the one that caused the 34 minute power outage to happen as a result of how great it was. There were also rumors of the triangle finger sign she gave to the camera. Some people thought it meant illuminati (look it up), others thought it was designed for her hubby Jay-Z, who is known to make that kind of a symbol.
People who book the performers at the Super Bowl need to remember a night like tonight. Quite frankly, since the Janet Jackson one back in 2003, and perhaps the Prince show a couple of years back, the halftime shows have been a snore fest based off of what i feel of them afraid to book younger performers. There is nothing wrong with that, and there are several artists now that are an somewhat of a level that Beyonce is on and they can carry that kind of momentum. I wouldn’t mind seeing a repeat of tonight in the years to come, but Beyonce once again proved why she is queen of the castle and will stay that way for a while.
The magic of New York City in the snow is too enticing for any one with a camera to miss. During some recent flurries I grabbed my cameras and headed from my apartment on 55th Street over to 7th Avenue and then up and over to Central Park. The giant flakes made for phenomenal texture. It was amazing to see the city functioning in the midst of this beautiful atmosphere.
A recent story in the media that has been huge is of course the fight between Chris Brown and Frank Ocean that happened the night of January 27th outside of a recording studio parking lot. This fight was over a parking space. Yes, a parking space. Today, The Boombox has stated that Ocean will not press charges over the alleged incident in where Brown punched him and got jumped, stating-
“As a child I thought if someone jumped me it would result in me murdering or mutilating a man,” the R&B star wrote on his Tumblr page Saturday. “But as a man I am not a killer. I’m an artist and a modern person. I’ll choose sanity. No criminal charges. No civil lawsuit.”
If you have been living under a rock or in a country where music doesn’t exist, Chris Brown has had quite a few altercations over the past couple of years with several different people. The most noted one is four years back where he beat the living hell out of Rihanna the night before the ’09 Grammys. Now, they are allegedly back together and doing music as well (“Nobody’s Business”, “Birthday Cake Remix)”. That is a story I could write about forever, but as I’ve stated in the past, it’s her choice. She wants to go back to that, and not listen to the millions of people who think she’s a fool to go back to the modern day Ike Turner, then go for it. Be an idiot.
He has also gone after a slew of other people from Jenny Johnson, Raz-B from B2K, Miranda Lambert and so many more. I find it interesting when this cat came into the game about eight years ago. He screamed rising star, and was the nicest guy in all of his interviews and I generally loved his persona and music. I don’t get why he went from that to now looking like a Dennis Rodman lookalike who has to be so freaking gangster in everything he does. It’s baffling to me that he wants this image, but then again he still has ten million fans on Twitter, so he must be sadly doing something right. Sadly.
All the reports online don’t really favor Chris in this because of said history with other artists and of course Rihanna. He was seen with a cast on his arm recently, which should garner some sympathy, but for the masses of people who believe he shouldn’t be a celebrity anymore with his abuse against women, it falls on deaf ears. Plus Frank Ocean really isn’t know for being controversial in that kind of arena. He is just a talented dude. This fight better not have been over homophobia either, because that would just further Chris Brown on his tour of ultimate douchebaginess. Both of them are up for the same Grammy Sunday- Best R&B Album. Go Frank.
If you are gay and either live in New York City or have traveled here, chances are you went to a gay bar and saw your run of the mill go-go boy dance on a tabletop collecting ones. Yeah, it’s fun, but it doesn’t go beyond the simple wink and the five dollar bill being shoved somewhere inappropriate. It never goes beyond those lines of a personal interaction or getting to know the actual guy that is really your customer. This is where Adonis comes in. The actual venue of this place hosts some of the hottest men in the world in a very relaxed and chill environment. They do this twice a week on Wednesday and Saturday’s, and once a month, they host a private party that elevates what happens at the bar on an even larger basis. Just take a look at some of the pics in this article for example.
There are major differences between Adonis Lounge and a strip club that can be for men and women. One, it is not seedy whatsoever. It actually is a very inviting atmosphere. The men there are always having a nice conversation with all of the customers or patrons, and make them feel at ease with their personality and fantastic looks. They have even hosted some of the biggest gay porn stars in the world right now from Samuel Colt to Zeb Atlas to name a few, and they always bring their A game to the event. I have gone in recent months, and have had that exact experience, even making friends with some of them outside of the place. I am a sales and advertising person in the first place, and know how to get my point across without overdoing it. These guys do exactly the same. Chances are you are going to leave feeling pretty good and happy you decided to go.
This week, I sat down with the man behind all of this, Timothy De Iturriaga. Usually men in this position tend to be power hungry and a bit of a dick, but Tim was the exact opposite. He is one of the friendliest men I have ever met, and his attitude reflects the success of the events that he throws. Here is my interview with him.
So tell me just a little bit on how you started this concept?
I started dancing about nine years ago, for females. My older brother was working on Wall Street and needed extra money. He sent some photos out to agencies that turned out to be a stripping company. They asked him if he wanted to start dancing and he obliged. He started dancing at an event called “Hunkamania” and after three or four months I wanted to do the same.
I got hired at this hush hush place that was a gay strip club by me as a massage boy. I did really well, worked there for about five years. After that time, a light went off in my head where I realized this was the only place in New York City that was actually doing this type of venue. I thought I could do it better. I saw there were a lot of problems at the one I was working at. I was fortunate enough to get a spot in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and started my own show there. It started small, and then started to grow.
What was the original reception when you went out on your own?
The reception wasn’t good. The only customers I was getting were my customers who I built a repoire with. Without those dozen or so people who showed up every Thursday, I wouldn’t have made it. After a while word of mouth spread, and little by little more people started to show.
Was there a lot of competition for you at that point?
At that point, the competition was Club 20 and they were huge. I never thought I could compete against them. They started this whole format, and nothing else like this in New York City. There wasn’t an alternative. I still thought I could do it better than what they were doing though.
At what point did you start to see success?
I started it as a monthly party, getting a little bit of a positive outcome. Then I did it twice a week, and stayed there for six months. Got by, still there were some nights where there was only 8 or 10 customers and had the same amount of dancers. Those dancers stuck by me until now, and still have the opportunity to come back whenever. Even though people didn’t want to make the trip from Manhattan to Greenpoint, the event itself was gaining a lot of steam on the message boards and through word of mouth, so people were knowing about it more and more as time went on.
You talked briefly about this, but you seem to have loyalty to the guys that helped you start this, the dancers I mean. How important is it to keep that loyalty?
There is such a high turnover rate in this business in general. Week to week, month to month you see a bunch of new faces. There are a handful of guys that to this day are still with me, and they have been there from day one. We are talking years they have been there, so it’s good to see that they have stuck by me and have managed to stay really relevent in an arena that is tough to do so.
What can a new customer expect when they go to your venue?
To start, at Adonis it is Male for Male. People don’t think they actually exist, they only think ones that exist are the go-go boys dancing on top of the boxes. This is a much more intimate experience. You are going to see thirty, if not more, beautiful men of all ethnicities and backgrounds, mingling on the floor. Even if you can’t afford to come there and spend a decent amount of money, you can come and have a drink and enjoy a conversation with a bunch of different guys. It really is a great time.
What is your ultimate goal for all of this?
It’s become that and more. Everyone always ask if I want to get my own club, I don’t. Don’t want to do it six or seven days a week. The one thing that differentiates me from the other ones in the country is that it gives me the liberty to bring in a ton of different gay porn stars. Many of these venues can bring in two or three a year, I can probably bring in that amount a month. In any given year I can bring in forty of fifty guys with names. I can make it really interesting and different each time and making it a unique experience for the customer.
So as stated before, if you are a man into men, and are looking for a nice and relaxing evening surrounded by some really awesome guys both inside and out, Adonis is the place for you. Check it out every Wednesday and Saturday night and be on the lookout here for more updates as the weeks go on!
221 East 58th Street
Take the E, F or M trains for best ways to get there.
Last night marked the series finale of 30 Rock after seven long seasons, and the show ended as it lived: full of rapid-fire humor, Tracy Jordan’s antics, Jack Donaghy’s classic manipulative tricks, and Liz Lemon being as neurotic and frantic as possible.
The first half of this double header finale revolved around Jack Donaghy’s quest for happiness and Liz adjusting to being a stay at home mom. Neither goes particularly well as Liz immediately starts a fight on a moms only message board (with an anonymous poster that happens to be her husband nonetheless), while Jack goes off to formulaically fill out a pie chart with various things that are “supposed” to make him happy (such as faith, hiring a guy off the street to co-anchor for today, and a threesome with Nancy Donovan and Elisa. Despite filling in his happiness pie chart entirely, after reaching a number of goals (including an angry screed by Nancy Pelosi), Jack feels more disappointed than ever and leaves the job that he worked his entire life to get. Conversely, Liz and Criss come to realization that Liz would make the better breadwinner of the couple and Liz goes off to find a new writing gig. This ultimately leads to Liz and Jack getting into the most tumultuous argument in the seven year run of the show after Liz feels betrayed by the fact that Jack made her “want more” (in terms of dreams, expectations, and generally not settling).
Tracy and Jenna on the other hand, formed the backbone of the show’s two B-plots. Jenna attempts to adjust to the show’s cancellation by throwing Jenna-style tantrums but cannot cope with the fact that absolutely no one is listening to her. As a result she tries TV (only to be forced to play roles like corpses) and movies (only to find everyone in Los Angeles is younger and prettier than her). Tracy meanwhile is upset that Kenneth is not around to do him a favor as he used to in his positions of both page (and janitor), leading to a heartwarming moment where he “releases” Kenneth from his entourage.
The second half of the show revolves around a major plot development that occurs in the first half with Liz having to put up one final show of TGS in order to fulfill a contract obligation to Tracy Jordan. However, a monkey is thrown in a wrench when Tracy runs away in order to ensure the show never happens, unknowing of a hefty penalty in his contract that would be owed to him if the show does not reach the 150 episode milestone. As a result, Liz has to chase him down in order to shoot the final episode. Liz ultimately finds Tracy in a strip club, where Tracy is running from the show in order to avoid having to say goodbye.
Meanwhile Jack is trying to patch up with Liz after the tumultuous argument that occurred at the end of the first part of the show. This ultimately leads to Jack hitting rock bottom and various cast members wondering if Jack was looking to off himself. However, this turns into Jack’s final manipulative game, as Liz finds him boarding a boat to find his true bliss, only for it to turn into the shortest boat trip of anyone’s life after deciding to push a “see-through dishwasher”.
The show’s final C-plot involves Frank and Toofer trying to get Lutz to move off of Blimpie’s when he got to choose the writers’ final lunch. Nothing however will work to make Lutz not pick Blimpie’s as he chosen it for revenge after all of the hell the other writers have given him over the past seven years (until Liz, who is tyrannical about food throws Lutz in her office tells Cerie to order sushi and dessert). However, Lutz takes the ultimate of measures to ensure that the writers’ will eat Blimpie’s, come hell or high water.
The finale as a whole impressed, often juggling four plot lines through both halves of the show, with neither section feeling particularly crowded, and giving every cast member a proper send off, be it Jonathan finally screaming at Liz how Jack was all his, Pete’s attempt at faking his death, and Tracy’s father finally returning from buying that pack of cigarettes. This comes as no surprise, however, as 30 Rock has done an excellent job this entire season of wrapping up lingering plot arcs, whether it’s Kenneth’s final rise to the presidency of NBC (a long term callback to a remark Jack mentioned in which he stated that “Kenneth will be running this company in five years”), Jack’s final realization that despite her salty interior, his mother was really caring for him the entire time, or Liz’s adoption arc that mysteriously fell off the face of the earth somewhere in the middle of season three.
The (in this case, absolute) final verdict: 30 Rock went out with the sort of ending that a show of it’s caliber deserved. Despite the massive changes that many of the major characters had over the course of the show, it took lengths to prove that it’s central characters (Jack, Liz, Kenneth, Tracy, and Jenna) were still at their core the people that they were at the start of the show. As has been the case all season, the show managed to neatly tie up a number of unresolved loose plot lines, whether it’s Jack’s unresolved love life or the Liz Lemon adoption arc that disappeared from consciousness over the past couple of seasons. A terrific sendoff (and the first of many this season for NBC’s Thursday night lineup) for a show that was fearlessly frenetic and funny.
This past weekend I paid the ridiculous $12.50 to go see the 2013 horror movie Mama. Mama is co-written and directed by Andres Muschietti, co-written by Neil Cross, and produced by Guillermo del Toro. The movie has a dark, cold feeling to it. The colors all seemed very ominous and frigid. The special effects were mediocre and the soundtrack was not memorable.
The story begins with a wall street broker gone rogue who shoots his work partners and then returns home to execute his wife. After brutally murdering his wife, Jeffrey, proceeds to kidnap his 2 daughters, Lilly and Victoria. The three of them flee in his Mercedes and, because of the icy roads and Jeffrey’s manic state of mind, crash into the woods. Of course, he finds a cabin to hide out in, because there’s always an abandoned cabin in an isolated wooded area (yes, I am being sarcastic). Turns out, the cabin is already inhabited by “Mama.” Mama is the ghost of a mental patient from the 1800’s who escaped and kidnapped her baby from an orphanage. Mama isn’t too fond of Jeffrey and he “disappears”,so Mama looks after his 2 daughters.
Cut to 5 years later. Lilly and Victoria are found in the woods, because of their Uncle Luke’s relentless efforts, and, after some psychiatric treatment, move in with their uncle Luke (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain). As one can imagine, the girls have adapted to living in the woods and the younger of the two, Lilly, being an infant when she was brought into the woods, walks on all fours and can barely speak. The elder daughter Victoria is slightly more adjusted. The creepiest part of this movie was the way the girls walked and spoke. Lilly contorts her body in ways that seem very unnatural. Also, the sounds Lilly made were completely unnerving, think The Grudge and Signs. Eventually, the girls start speaking to “Mama” and playing with her. The first entrance of “Mama” was actually unexpected and terrifying, causing everyone in the theater to jump out of their seats and scream, followed by a rolling laughter. Although the ghost looked a little to digital for my taste, she was disturbing nonetheless. Distorted face and disjointed limbs. The movie reaches its climax when we find out “Mama’s” story and her jealousy, over taking care of Lilly and Victoria, causes her to attack any adult in her way. The ending was actually quite unexpected and almost brought a tear to my eye. But you’ll have to see it I don’t want to spoil the whole thing for you!
Mama definitely had its scary moments. I would define it more as creepy than scary. The acting was actually pretty good, especially by the youngest daughter Lilly, played by Isabelle Nélisse. I have to say, as a horror movie buff, that I haven’t seen many good frightening flicks made in the past decade or so, but Mama was worth the watch, but maybe not the $12.50 movie ticket.
Similar Artists: Emeralds, Tangerine Dream, Tim Hecker, Fennesz
Genre: Kosmiche, Space-Rock, Experimental Ambient
A first for my album reviews, I gave this a go with neither listening to any of “Mountains” previous work, nor knowing what style of music they played. My reasoning behind this was for the sake of removing preconceptions from the music, and allowing myself a clean slate in which to hear it. For some reason, I was expecting “Centralia” to be either “Godspeed” post-rock or “Crystal Castles” arcady synth pop. I found out that I had much more work cut out for me when it turned out that “Mountains” are more indebted to the Kosmiche of “Tangerine Dream”, or more recently, the now defunct “Emeralds”.
Brendan Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp of “Mountains” build their sound through the use of insurmountable synths/guitar. The Brooklyn based band creates effervescent soundscapes with a deeply textured, ever-changing electronic palette. While many spacey synth/guitar duos have been known for impromptu, half improvisational affairs, “Mountains” stand out (much like Julia Holter’s work) because it is organized and flows naturally from one theme to the next. Fear not, for this does not mean they don’t delve into the trippy, kaleidoscopic or hallucinatory; terms you would certainly use to describe the impeccable, 20 minute long centerpiece “Propeller”. The scene that “Mountains” are a part of is a cluttered one to say the least, but because of the fastidiousness that went into the production work, “Centralia” stands out among the band’s peers.
Centralia’s beauty is shown off quickly on 11 minute opener “Sand”. The heavy, stylized production incorporates whirring synths and a zoned out keyboard refrain. Near the end of the piece, the elements are washed out by swelling orchestral strings. These strings seem particularly demanding of one’s attention for how rarely they are used to such delirious affect in music of this variety. The album progresses to include other, surprising, instrumental forays, such as the arpeggiated acoustic guitar on “Identical ship” or “Tilt”, and the huge, feedback laden, black metal guitar chords on “Liana”. “Living Lens” ends the spaced out journey with a slice of delectable ambient wash. Highlights are abundant, so picking apart the album by playing tracks separately or out of order is not recommended.
It is easy for an artist to become engulfed in the random when dealing with music this massive, but everything on this album sounds necessary. There are no cacophonous yowls or overly drenched atmospherics. If there ever was a veil to curtain the talent of these two artists, it is surely pulled away on “Centralia”, and my god have they got some!
2.) Identical Ship
3.) Circular C
7.) Living Lens
* – Album Highlight