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Monthly Archives: November 2009

LogosFinding an album in a “used bin” which hasn’t been released yet should typically throw up a few black flags. This was the case when I discovered the latest Atlas Sound album in a record store on the Penn campus. Luckily for me and my eight dollars, the album must have been placed there mistakenly and I became the benefactor of such a mistake (the most likely case in my finding it there was what I bought was actually a promotional copy). This specific album had been my most anticipated release during the preceding months. In the first place, lead-off single “Walkabout” features guest Noah Lennox (Panda Bear of Animal Collective), another track features Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, and the album itself is the solo project of Deerhunter’s frontman Bradford Cox. The last Atlas Sound album, Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel, has played a minimum of 43 times on my iTunes (not to mention that I own the record on vinyl as well).

Logos lives up to the precedent set by Let The Blind… immediately with its first two tracks. “The Light That Failed” and “An Orchid” sound like what could have been b-sides to Let The Blind… These two sound hazy and lonesome. But, excitingly for the listener, the third track “Walkabout” brings in new sounds for the project. This song is upbeat, fun, and vibrant. According to the press material that was sent to promote the album, Bradford Cox and Noah Lennox (Panda Bear) collaborated over their European tour to create the song. It takes what is typical for Panda Bear, specifically pop melodies, and loops them into what is a bona fide summer dance track.

Following “Walkabout” are two tracks that unveil the folk side of Bradford Cox. “Criminals” and “Attic Lights” both tell stories while being toned down much in the way in that the album’s first two tracks are presented. The eighth track, “My Halo” is another which could be bunched into this grouping. When I saw Atlas Sound live, Bradford Cox actually performed “My Halo” using a harmonica. In a recent interview with Pitchfork Media, Bradford Cox reveals that he has been listening to Neil Young as of late, the influence is definitely visible throughout Logos.

Returning to the upbeat quality of “Walkabout”, the sixth track of the album “Sheila” is the most blatant pop song of the entire record. Yet the song is quite deep despite its upbeat guise. The songs plays on themes of longing and death, but most importantly the song is about living. After “Sheila” though the album plays into its centerpiece. The eight and a half minute “Quick Canal,” featuring vocals and words by Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, is a dizzying and cryptic opus that proves to be a beautiful segue onto the album’s latter half. This latter half is also the most electronic sounding part of the album. “Kid Klimax,” “Washington School,” and the eponymous “Logos” continue with the vibe that “Quick Canal” started.

What makes Logos so entirely satisfying is that it offers a pot pourri. Call it pop, electronic, or even folk, they’re all here and they all melt together into a fantastic and wholesome album. The album paces itself along the same lines of the latest Deerhunter full-length, Microcastle. Microcastle is beautiful, sampling genre after genre to create a sound of its own. The same can be said with Logos.

Near the end of the aforementioned Pitchfork Media interview, Cox says that he wants to develop a fanbase that will stay loyal no matter what direction he or his band decides to take. He is well on his way. The fact that another “digital 7′” was released under his Atlas Sound moniker just last week on the Deerhunter blog, which sounds completely different from Logos and is completely amazing, shows the musical genius that is Bradford Cox.

(Reviewer’s Score: 4.2/5)

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After two years with virtually no lineup changes in Formula 1, the 09-10 off-season has been hot with new deals… Here are the noteworthy deals for 2010.

-To begin with, two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso is leaving Renault (who arguably had the worst car on the grid in ’09) to move to Ferrari, the most prestigious team in Formula 1. This will give the team an undeniably strong driver lineup with Felipe Massa (coming back from his injury).

-Reigning drivers’ and constructors’ World Champions Brawn GP are to reveal a completely new driver lineup for 2010. Brawn GP has been bought by Daimler and Aabar Investments as of today, next year the team will be called Mercedes-Benz GP. The last time that Mercedes-Benz had a factory team in Formula 1 was in 1955. It is rumored that their driver lineup will feature two Germans, with the likes of Nico Rosberg and Nick Heidfeld.

-McLaren is retaining ’08 World Champion Lewis Hamilton. He will likely be partnered with ’09 World Champion Jenson Button. This would create a situation at McLaren with two world champions as drivers. The last time this was the case was in 1989 with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, which also took place at McLaren.

-Rubens Barrichello, who finished 3rd in the ’09 drivers’ standings, is leaving Brawn GP to drive for the famous Williams F1 team in 2010. His teammate will be Formula 1-rookie Nico Hulkenberg.

-There will also be four new teams in Formula 1 in 2010, this will undoubtedly bring new drivers in the sport. USGPE and Lotus have yet to announce their drivers. Although Campos has revealed that Bruno Senna will be one of their drivers. Senna is the nephew of the late-Ayrton Senna, three-time World Champion. The new Manor Grand Prix Team has also revealed that Timo Glock will be one of their drivers.

-Kimi Raikkonen has yet to sign a deal with any team for next year. This may see the ’07 World Champion opting for a sabbatical in 2010. His contract was terminated early at Ferrari, to allow for Fernando Alonso’s entrance. Raikkonen was rumored to make a return to McLaren, although it seems that Jenson Button will fill that vacancy. Raikkonen has a termination clause in his Ferrari contract which gives him around $15 million, a sum others teams are unlikely to compete with. Thus, it would be more lucrative for the Finn to take a year off.

-The underrated Robert Kubica will be driving for Renault F1 in 2010. He is leaving the defunct BMW-Sauber F1 team. It is rumored that Renault will pull the plug on their F1 efforts before next season, like BMW. Therefore, Kubica may yet be out for a drive next year.

Psychic Chasms Well, I think I just blew-out the speakers in my DMC Delorean. Alan Palomo’s first album as Neon Indian, Psychic Chasms, is a treble-overloaded, sun-washed trip to 1980s nostalgia.

“Glo-fi,” an indie music aesthetic that developed out of the Brooklyn music scene this year will most likely die over the winter. All of the songs that came out of this fad have seemed to really benefit by the fact that they were released over the summer, given that all of the songs from this aesthetic had a distinct summery aspect. Bands like Washed Out and Small Black produced solid singles, but Neon Indian appears for now the only to have used the aesthetic successfully in an album format.

Every song on this album produces visions of washed-out swim trunks, warm air, beaches, and blonde hair. That is what gives the album the summery-feel, but what gives it the 1980s feeling is how the album plays. The albums sounds like a cassette that’s tape has been stretched out over repeat listens. Synths, cheap MIDI guitar, drum machine, and the aforementioned treble-overload also play a role.

The premier single, “Deadbeat Summer,” which received a good amount of airplay over college radio stations this year and, “Terminally Chill,” are the best examples of Palomo creating the distinguishable “stretched-out” sound (which he was able to do by using 70s & 80s italo-disco samples, thank you for the tip “Anti-Neon”). Although the best track on the album has to be “Ephemeral Artery,” the club-banging track on the album. I can just picture a Pontiac Trans-Am screaming down a desert highway with this song playing. My only criticism about the album is that it could have done without the intro (“(AM)”) and outro (“7000”), which seem to only be present for the sake of filling space. The opening to “Should Have Taken Acid With You” is a bit harsh and out-of-place as well. Nevertheless, the album is undeniably fun.

Unfortunately, it seems that if Neon Indian releases another album in the future, it won’t be appreciated in the way that Psychic Chasms has been. This is because the aesthetic is most likely going to be ruled by the music community as a fad. The 2000s are soon to be over and it won’t be long until music artists are recycling something else. The early-2000s saw the post-punk revival (bands like Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and the late-2000s saw the development of neo-1980s music (Crystal Castles, Neon Neon, any “glo-fi” band). Post-punk got old quick, and so will “glo-fi.” Artists that are to release music under this “glo-fi” aesthetic in the future are, in my opinion, late to the game.

(Reviewer’s Score: 3.5/5)

FIA Senate President Nick Craw has revealed that Formula 1 may make a return to the United States in the near future. The last Formula 1 race in the United States was in 2007 at Indianapolis.
In a SpeedTV interview Craw said, “I think everybody from the commercial rights holders to the teams and sponsors see the absence of a US Grand Prix a huge liability.”
In 2009, there wasn’t even a race in North America, although the 2010 provisional Formula 1 calendar does have a date in Montreal, Canada in June.
Craw also commented that if the United States does get a Formula 1 race, it will most likely not take place in Indianapolis. “If you’ve seen some of the Taj Mahal’s being built for the F1 circuits these days I don’t see any budget for that in the United States so I think that it is more likely that we will see a temporary street circuit in or around a major metropolitan area and there are two or three right now looking at that possibility,” Craw said.
New York City has been rumored time and again for hosting a Formula 1 race, although personally I see that as a logistical impossibility. CART attempted to host a race in downtown Manhattan during the mid-1990s but were unsuccessful.
Street circuits, throughout United States grand prix history, have been the most common route for hosting races. There have been United States grands prix on the streets of Long Beach, Las Vegas, Detroit, Dallas, and most recently Phoenix in 1991.
I completely agree with Craw’s comments about the United States not being able to host a grand prix on a permanent circuit. None of US’s permanent circuits are of the caliber that Formula 1 would expect, the closest tracks to suit Formula 1’s needs are either Indianapolis (which has been ruled out as an option) or Laguna Seca (which hosts MotoGP races, but doesn’t have the infrastructure needed for Formula 1).
As we can see from a track like Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi (pictured below), which hosted its first Formula 1 race a few weeks ago, someone would have to shovel out some serious cash to build a track like this in the United States.Yas Marina Hotel
…I wonder if one of those “two or three” cities is Philadelphia…(doubtful).

Beast Rest Forth Mouth Upon listening to Bear In Heaven’s second full-length album, Beast Rest Forth Mouth, I initially thought that Bear In Heaven was a band ahead of their time. Fusing together 00s emo with 70s progressive rock. But, as I thought progressive, it made me feel that Bear In Heaven are instead borrowing more from the past. “Borrowing” has been a major trend in music this year. “Lo-fi,” and the latter “glo-fi” borrowed deeply from the 60s and 80s respectively. Now that Bear In Heaven is drawing from the 70s, it isn’t something unexpected. Their previous release, Red Bloom in the Boom, sounded like Pink Floyd to some critics. This time around, Bear In Heaven sound more like Neu!, yet more pop than avant-garde.

Although coming from the deep-south (actually New York City via Alabama and Georgia), one would expect the band to be hailing from Berlin. Several of the tracks on this album utilize a “motorik” beat, a characteristic of krautrock (a genre which developed in 1970s Berlin). This pattern is something that is utilized during the albums most pleasing passages. The lead-off track “Beast in Peace” is a fine example, and the swirling synths of “You Do You” is another.

Yet what allows this album to stand out among other releases this year are the lyrics, and Jon Philpot’s intriguing vocals. This is where the aforementioned 00s emo draw comes from…Usually when one thinks about emo, one thinks of pop music, and that is exactly what Bear In Heaven executes here with such success. The first single off of this album, “Lovesick Teenagers,” on its first listen comes through to the listener as simple pop. Despite how simple it does sound, it is appealing how John Philpot conveys so much emotion. While meditating on such emotions, it never comes off as overly emo. It is actually satisfying that the band isn’t afraid of spilling too much. The subsequent track, “Ultimate Satisfaction,” comes across as even “poppier,” with its stadium-filling sound and anthemic “Coming Down!” chorus.

If you’re getting turned off by the praises that this album is getting from my appreciation of pop, side 2 comes across as much more mellow. What side 2 does offer is that it makes the album more full and encompassing. Side 1 definitely has the hits, but side 2 plays as more distant, but equally as satisfying.

To say that this was an album I was looking forward to this year would be false. I honestly knew nothing about this band until this release on Hometapes. I’m glad to have heard of them now as I am fully impressed. This will be an album that will royally mess up my “best of 2009” list.

(Reviewer’s Score: 3.5/5)

No chance first of all at USF1 (or is it USGPE?) being competitive against the reigning World Champions. But what the headline is really about is that Ross Brawn has just recently slammed the new-to-F1 team for 2010. When Ross Brawn was asked what he thinks of the chances of USF1 appearing on the grid, he replied that the team has a 0% chance. The USF1 team has yet to begin crash testing components for their 2010 car, something that BrawnGP has been doing for the past two months. Another interesting point is that FOTA (the Formula One Teams Association) held a vote recently regarding teams selling their entries to the 2010 season to other teams that weren’t received entries to the championship. Every team voted against the motion, except for USF1… Are Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson getting cold feet? The two had just recently signed a sponsorship agreement between themselves and YouTube for next year.

On 23 October, 2009 Jean Todt became the new president of the FIA (Federation l’Internationale de l’Automobile). He was elected into office to take the place of Max Mosley who had been serving as president since 1993. Ari Vatanen was competing against Todt in the election for the presidency.
Despite the controversies that plagued Mosley’s tenure as president time and again (namely the 2008 sex scandal and the 2005 United States Grand Prix), Mosley was by and large a formidable leader. His contributions to motorsport and road safety must be recognized. He was also a major role player in bringing F1 to its current heights (with much help from former-colleague at March, Bernie Ecclestone).
What makes Jean Todt’s new position is the conflict of interest that his presidency implies…let’s begin with a quick background check…
Todt’s managerial career began in the 1980s heading the Peugeot works effort in the World Rally Championship. While managing, the rally team proved to be very successful, winning world titles in 1985 and 1986. The manufacturer battle during these years, between Peugeot and Lancia, developed cars that reached speeds that would make the FIA (then headed by Jean-Marie Balestre) ban them prior to the 1987 championship season. Todt was also heavily involved in Peugeot’s successful Paris-Dakar and Le Mans teams during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In 1993, Todt was hired by Ferrari to be the general manager of their fledgling F1 team. Ferrari had just finished their worst championship campaign and were looking to bring their team back to the top of the F1 pecking order. Todt proved to be what the team needed; he hired key members that were pivotal in developing Ferrari to what they would become in the 2000s. Ross Brawn was hired as race strategist, Rory Byrne as chief aerodynamicist, and the then two-time world champion Michael Schumacher was hired as their driver. The successes that followed (no less than seven manufacturers’ titles and six drivers’ titles) would return Ferrari as a major power in Formula 1. The marque accrued enough power to threaten their withdrawal from the sport twice in the 2000s, resulting in a high stakes poker game over television advertisement revenues between the FIA and the major car manufacturers that had huge sums of money tied into the sport. The leverage that Ferrari was able to find against the FIA made some believe that if there was no Ferrari, there would be no F1. The fans would go wherever Ferrari went (Ferrari threatened to try their hands in American open-wheel racing, good think that they didn’t…). Think something along the lines of if the Yankees left MLB, what would that do to the sport? To put F1 on par with baseball again… How would baseball fans feel if George Steinbrenner became the commissioner of MLB?
The FIA has already showed a strong amount of favoritism towards Ferrari, especially in the “spygate” scandal of 2007 where a former Ferrari employee passed confidential information from Ferrari to the McLaren F1 team. When this case resolved in England’s High Court of Justice, McLaren was banned from the 2007 world championship standings and was fined $100 million… The FIA presidential term is four-years in length, it’ll be interesting if Ferrari receives any more favoritism over the next years.