Monday, March 29, 2010

PAX East '10

This post is mostly a filler because I have things to say, but I need to sleep.
If you've never heard of Penny Arcade Expo, try imagining the coolest thing; now double it; now imagine its younger brother: that's kind of what PAX East is. To be more accurate, PAX is an exposition, primarily focusing on video games, but including tabletop games, and music, and stuff. The difference between PAX and shows like E3 or the GDC is the emphasis on the importance of the individual.

I only detrained a few hours ago, after a ten hour ride from Boston, so you'll forgive me if you have to wait a while for details.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Show Review! - Deerhunter!!

Oh, boy, Deerhunter! But wait. First let's start off with the opener, a lil' band called The Strange Boys.These guys come from Austin, Texas, and while I'm not sure how old they are, they all looked pretty young (the singer and guitarist especially). They played a sort of lo-fi-garage-y pop, very much in the vein of bands like Black Lips and Smith Westerns. They were really fun (my friend said they were "too happy") and when they announced that they had one song left, some fnas in front of me yelled for two more, and the band gladly obliged. I was pretty glad they did, I really enjoyed their set, some good ol' energetic, happy music.

And on to Deerhunter! While these guys unfortunately weren't the headliners (they were opening for Spoon), they were the band I was there to see. I remember hearing somewhere that their shows were so incredible that they were more like experiences than concerts, and I kinda have to agree with that. From the moment they came on, I was pretty captivated, they were just really, really amazing. They kept a good feel through their setlist, and played a lot of what I wanted to hear, including some of their more popular songs (Never Stops, Nothing Ever Happened) and they closed with the 10 minute version of Calvary Scars. I thought live, they had a lot more energy than on the albums. My friend remarked that the more ambient, experimental, washy instrumental parts went on for too long sometimes, but I really like that sort of thing, so I thought it was excellent. I heard some other people in the crowd saying it was boring and things like that, but if that's what they think then they obviously suck. My one complaint would be that they didn't play Strange Lights (my favorite song), but the show was great even without it.

Spoon came on after, but I left early. Britt came on by himself for the first two songs, and that annoyed me, made it seem more like the other guys were just backing him up, and it's just the complete antithesis of what a band should be like, I think. The music sounded good though (and angst-tinged).

If you've got a chance to see Deerhunter, go out right now and buy tickets. They're really quite amazing.

- Alec

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

James Jean

I will preface this post with another apology. My computer has been out of commission for about a week, so I apologize for my lateness.I imagine Alec will have some good posts coming up, though, so get pumped.
As for this post, I'll be showing you the work of a fella named
James Jean. I haven't gotten a chance to talk to him personally,
but there is an abundance of information on his facebook page
(and a notable scarcity on his website.) To paraphrase his bio:
James was born in Taiwan, and currently works out of Los
Angeles. He's the second artist I've featured with a BFA from
the School of Visual Arts in New York. Interestingly enough,
he's done a lot of cover art for DC comics, which earned him
the attention of some pretty big clients: the New York Times,
Rolling Stone, Atlantic Records, Playboy, and Nike. I've had
trouble finding his commercial stuff, but here's something.

Okay, as troubling as some of his stuff is, I really, really like it. I'm a fan of narrative-driven art, and he's got that down. I feel that often, self-explanatory stuff just doesn't do it for me, and I think there's good fun to be had in interpreting the kinds of stories that artists like James come up with, as dark as they often are. I think anyone who sees his art won't be able to help being engaged by the bizarre environments that his surreal characters inhabit. It's pretty interesting to look at the development of his style over the years. Something that persists throughout his portfolio is a unique use of color. Combinations of colors convey some complex emotions and draw the eye in curious ways. I do hope you will enjoy his work as much as I do, so here's something nice before we part.
Later, gators.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Drums!/When I Was 12!

Hello everyone!

First, let me apologize for it being a while since we had a post. It's my fault, and to make it up to you, this post will feature two bands.
Lately, the weather's been awesome. Warm, sunny, and very little to no bugs. I just want to be outside all the time and listen to happy, summery music. That's where The Drums come in.
You might have heard of them, they got some hype last year for their song "Let's Go Surfing". I've been listening to their appropriately titled EP Summertime! and I really really love it. They sound a bit like the more surf-y songs of the Beach Boys if Robert Smith (of The Cure) was their singer. My favorite song of theirs is probably "Saddest Summer", which, despite the name, is the most dance-y song on there. Once the bass starts going, it is just impossible to feel down or sad, or anything other than happy. They're putting out their debut album this year I believe, and it should be great. Hopefully it comes out in time for summer.

Next up, When I Was 12. The easiest way to describe their sound would be a twee, folky version of Au Revoir Simone. They've both got girl singers who sing in harmony, but I'd have to say that I prefer When I Was 12. I'm a twee fan, so that's one point for them, but their songs/melodies/harmonies are really, really, sweet (and I don't mean sweet as in "sweeeet, brah", but as in "aww, that's so sweet). They mostly sing love songs and the like, but I think they do it in a nice way, and they don't really come off as super cliches, the way a ton of love songs do.

Anyway, that's what I've been listening too recently.

- Alec

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wesley Eggebrecht

Hello everyone, I've been so busy recently, it feels like weeks since I last posted, and Jamnesty is almost a distant memory, but I can scarce describe how good it is to have this source of regularity to come back to. So, some personal news: I was approached about being the staff artist for the school newspaper next year, so that should be a really cool thing to look forward to. I'm hoping that I don't find myself with too much on my plate, which could easily become the case, considering I plan to take five Advanced Placement classes, along with a pre-college course thing that's worth two credits. That, however, is a story that is yet to unfold.

Feels like quite a while since my last art review. Today I want to show you some work from a young man named Wesley Eggebrecht. Unlike some of the other artists I've talked about, I haven't asked Wesley about his creative process but I can tell you that he has a BFA in Illustration, and examples of his more traditional stuff can be found on his blog. Something I really love about his work is the super-expressive faces on his characters, almost to the point of caricatures. What adds to that is his bold use of color as demonstrated by the example above. If you head over to his blog, you can take a look at his t-shirt designs, where he has some cool/clever shirts. I'm not sure if any of them are for sale, but you can buy prints of some of his illustrations. From what I can deduce, he is freelance, and contracts with various companies that want neato designs - maybe something like what I might do when I become a good design kind of guy. His blog is pretty cool, too, though there's a bit of crass language, and some edgy, sort of grotesque characters, so it is not for everyone, but do check it out.

Sometime soon, I will try to make and post some original arts, so look forward to that.


Monday, March 15, 2010

The Gloom, pt 2.

Today is just full of music! Well, I guess I've been extra moody lately, so here is another mix (think of it as a sequel, I suppose) filled with sad, depressing "emo" songs. This one gets a little more loud and angry I suppose, something the first one kind of skipped over maybe. Anyway, if you're in a good mood, you can skip this over I suppose and just listen to Daniel's post below. I guarantee it will get your feet moving (probably).


1. This Will Destroy You - Quiet
2. Modest Mouse - Edit the Sad Parts
3. Wilco - At Least That's What You Said
4. The National - Theory of the Crows
5. Animal Collective - Banshee Beat
6. The Antlers - Wake
7. Smog - To Be of Use
8. Cap'n Jazz - Oh Messy Life
9. Dinosaur Jr. - Raisans
10. Jawbreaker - Ache
11. Built to Spill - Carry the Zero
12. Pavement - Strings of Nashville
13. Justin Vernon - The Orient. And the Gatsby's Slew of Choices.
14. The Go Find - New Year
15. Liars - The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack
16. Cymbals Eat Guitars - What Dogs See
17. The Microphones - I Want Wind to Blow
18. Modest Mouse - Bankrupt on Selling
19. Sigur Ros - Untitled 8

p.s. If you understand the title reference, I will be super happy.

- Alec

A Brief Music Post

Good news, everyone! I made a mix! Party Time!. At the behest of a buddy, I threw together some songs to move your feet! It starts a slow and picks up to some pretty frantic stuff, so give it a listen.

More good news! I've got a vid of Sash Callsen from Jamnesty, and I am very excited to share it with you. It's on his facebook page, so promise not to stalk him on anything, okay? VID. It's a recording of his original song, but all of the songs he performed are up there, and this is one of my most enthusiastic recommendations for things that you should check out, so check it out!

My next post will be an art post, as it should be.


Friday, March 12, 2010

More Music, More Coffee, More Important Things

I'm gonna follow suit and start off with a bit of a shout out to some friends of ours. We really have some talented friends (especially Grace Tuttle, who's Jamnesty photos we're using), so if you've got some time, check out the box to the right, you will not be disappointed.

Next on the list, Amnesty International! I think these guys are great. People, in general, are dicks, but Amnesty goes out of its way to protect against human rights violations for everyone (even if you are a terrorist/mass murder kind of guy). I really think it's a good organization (which is why I'm a member) and I'm glad that Jamnesty turned out well, and after Folabi spoke it really seemed like people cared about what was going on, so I think it's safe to say Jamnesty was a success.

Anyway, my favorite act was these two guys, Mike Pilger and Jordan Balaber. They played two Grizzly Bear songs, and then played one of my favorite songs ever, Fireworks by Animal Collective. Maybe I am a little biased (because they played songs that I know and like), but I really thought they were the best there. The mandolin really added a lot to these songs, and they had some spot on harmonies. During Fireworks, they had some really good energy, and even the large bro/ho population of our school seemed to be enjoying it. They had some really cute/goofy banter (they're best friends) and they really were a great pair. Also, Jordan Balaber's got some pretty cool tunes on his myspace

My next favorite were these two, a brother and sister pair, who hail from the Czech Republic. Her name's Kristyna Gocova, but I feel really bad, because I don't know his name! (he doesn't go to our high school). They played some Czech songs, and they were really good. She's an amazing singer and he's quite good himself. It was really interesting to me to hear the Czech lyrics, and even though I didn't understand them (they did give a brief summary of what the songs were about) the music and the way they sang gave you an idea of the feeling and the emotions behind the songs. They didn't play this at Jamnesty, but during their audition, the covered the song A Mighty Leviathan of Old, by Vandaveer, and I thought it was better than the original.

Last but not least, Lara Sagatov and Ben Draper. They played some covers that I didn't know the names of, but there last song was a song that Ben wrote, and it was pretty good (there was a good backstory to it as well). They're both great singers, and they had some pretty excellent harmonies on some of their songs. Lara also played banjo, which really helped their performance stand out I think.

While we didn't cover all the bands, none of them were bad, and everyone did a great job. It was quite a success, and we're looking forward to next year's (I'm trying to convince daniel to play with me).


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Music, Coffee, and Important Things

Hello, my friends.
First things first, on the right side, we've added a little tab for our friends on the internet, so maybe give them some clicks. And regarding the titular subject, JAMNESTY! Jamnesty is our school (JMHS)'s Amnesty International club's big spring fundraiser. For those who aren't familiar with Amnesty International, it's an organization that promotes human rights around the world, and works to spread awareness of human rights crises; noble, right? Jamnesty is a kind of music-coffee-house event that features student bands, free coffee, ambiance, and this year, a guest speaker.

This is Jamnesty's third year, and by some miracle of publicity, we managed more than 300 guests. Thanks is due to the astounding talent of the musicians that performed, and the efforts of everyone involved in its preparation. A special thanks to Folabi, the guest speaker, and the Director of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Office of Amnesty International, so pretty darn important. Other awesome folks: Mr. Douds and Mrs. Jones, the teacher sponsors, and Sydney Zwicker and Quinlan Maggio, the presidents.The whole thing was a big hit, and a load of fun for everyone.

So how about a music review? I know Alec is better than me at these, but it's my turn to post, so I'll give it my best shot. We both picked a few to cover, and rather than cover them in the order they played, I'll start with an act that is very special to me.
I should say, Alec wasn't really the head guy for the act, Dan Nothaft was, and they performed under the band name "Concrete Cloud," so that should give you an idea of their sense of humor. At any rate, they were far from professional, but Dan on vocals, harmonica, and keyboard was maybe my favorite performer of the night. I was pretty fond of his original song "Seaglass Woman," wherein he forgot a verse but masterfully recovered. I hope Alec can do a better job of comparing it to some known band, but I found it reminiscent of a band called Beulah. What really did it for me was their cover of Like A Rolling Stone. I'm telling you, folks, Dan Nothaft channeled Bob Dylan like a router channels the internet. To say it in a less weird way, he was super. I felt it, you guys.

Another musician I feel deserves major recognition is Sash Callsen, the opening act, and a vocalist/guitarist for the closing act.
As I recall, he sang a cover or two, and an original song that I seriously dug. He's got a different, sort of high, sort of nasaly singing voice, but it is in no way annoying. I wish I could talk about it in a more intelligent way, because I'm not doing him justice, but he was just a great act to listen to; very relaxing and clearly passionate. If I manage to get a hold of any kind of recording, I will not hesitate to post it.

The last act I'll talk about now is a delightful group of ladies going by Strictly Ornamental.
They started with a cover of an Acid House Kings song, This Heart is a Stone, a fun little diddy and I think it is well described as exactly what you want this band to sound like. The song was very cute, with lighthearted lyrics and some playful glockenspiel action. I greatly enjoyed the singer's (Zoey Jeong) voice; it was vaguely boyish, and sweet and emotive. They followed with a cover of Incubus' Here in My Room, which I actually liked a lot more than the original; and closed with Best Imitation of Myself, by Ben Folds Five. I hope it will suffice to say that while they are a bit of a "girl band" if you know what I mean, they are a very good one. Honestly, I'd like to talk a bit about everyone, but that would be selfish and tiring.

I would like to finish by saying a big ol' thank you to our buddy Grace Tuttle, who provided all of these snazzy pics. So maybe patronize her Flickr, yes? Link's over on the right.

It's all yours, Alec


Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I would say that, in general, my favorite songs are sad and emotional. It's good to feel gloomy sometimes, and after you hear a song that you really identify and connect with, there comes catharsis. That's what this new mix is designed to do. Hopefully, after this series of depressing songs end, you won't end up depressed, but will instead have realised something and gotten something out of it.

(The name comes from a lyric in the song Broke by Modest Mouse (although I think the particular lyric is not in the version I put in the mix...))


1. Where Lies My Tarp? - The Microphones
2. It's Cool, We Can Still Be Friends - Bright Eyes
3. Baby Blue Sedan - Modest Mouse
4. How to Disappear Completely - Radiohead
5. Is This Really What You Want? - "Jesus Christ" (The Indie Band)
6. Upside Down - Banjo or Freakout
7. Sleep the Clock Around - Belle and Sebastian
8. Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl - Broken Social Scene
9. Machine Gun - Slowdive
10. Sometimes - My Bloody Valentine
11. Sunken Treasure - Wilco
12. Blood Bank - Bon Iver
13. Sleep Spent - Death Cab for Cutie
14. Broke - Modest Mouse
15. Here - Pavement
16. The Sea is a Good Place to Think of the Future - Los Campesinos!
17. That Summer, at Home, I had Become the Invisible Boy - The Twilight Sad
18. About Today - The National
19. Gone - M83
20. Some Things Last a Long Time - Daniel Johnston

- Alec

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Matt Marblo

If you like cool things, this guy's your guy. Matt Marblo/ Wolfentir/ Wolfenheim is a student and "prentice sorcerer" at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Here's a cool thing that he made:
Matt's illustrations- and lately his animations- are an assortment of very cartoony, often surreal characters. His style is unique and his characters are cute, and mostly original, though sometimes influenced by television or various nerdy sources. I'm a big fan of his textures, namely the noticeable ones he creates with lines, but also the subtle ones that he creates digitally. A great example of his use of textures and color is:
The first work of his that I saw prompted me to ask him about how he made it. Like the lovely man he probably is, he was kind enough to respond in simple terms.

" i draw in flash overtop a regular drawing i scanned in, then ill add color n such and for the shop i brought it into photoshop and opened a texture i had downloaded, put it on a new layer and set it to overlay and ajusted the opacity settings until it looked good."

What a guy! And I think I will probably be doing something like this for my own illustrations in the future, now that I have the resources to do it. Anyhoozles, as his animation skills develop, Matt is definitely somebody to keep an eye on and you can do just that by clicking here. He's got some stuff for sale for pretty cheap, so totally buy it or something.

Oh! and I tribute him, not Adventure Time for my use of bendy arms.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Not Afraid to Love Frightened Rabbit

Frightened Rabbit: Great, great, great Scottish band. It's kind of hard for me to describe their sound with an adjective other than Scottish. They (to me at least) epitomize the Scottish music scene at the moment, and they've been a major inspiration for other great scottish bands (The Twilight Sad, We Were Promised Jetpacks). Plus, the singer (Scott Hutchinson) has got a pretty thick (although easily understandable) accent.

These guys got a good bit of attention after putting out their album The Midnight Organ Fight in 2008. All of it was well deserved I think, the album was quite good, although I am still angry at myself for thinking the title actually referred to organs (instrument) instead of being a euphemism for sex (which, considering the album is mostly about his breakup, should have been pretty obvious.)

Anyhoo, they just put out their a new album, The Winter of Mixed Drinks, on March 1, and boy, is it good. It maintains their gloomy-ness and much of the overrall sound is similar (which is a good thing), but it sounds much more mature. As an album, I think I prefer it to The Midnight Organ Fight, but my favorite songs are still mostly from their previous effort (I probably haven't just haven't had enough time with the new one yet).

You can stream the whole thing here, on NPR: If you've only got a short amount of time, my favorites at the moment are probably Swim Until You Can't See Land, The Loneliness and the Scream, and Skip the Youth.

Here are my favorite tunes from Midnight Organ Fight:

Hope ya enjoy - Alec

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

More Excuses

I'm actually much more excited about this picture than the painting in it. Having said that, I am pretty excited about the painting too. It's a work in progress and by the mercy of oil paints, I've been working on it intermittently for a few weeks. You may notice that the canvas is way tiny, well, at my disposal, I have only small canvases. The scene is from one of the photos from Oregon, which I mentioned a while back. I apologize for the brevity of this post, but my computer died an awful death so I'm stuck with a tiny laptop that was presumably built for elves.
In the first stop on my road to college, I visited VCU this weekend, a relatively new school, established in the 60's, and known mainly for its Arts and Nursing schools. I arrived expecting little, but was pleasantly surprised. The university, situated in the middle of Richmond, features a wide range of buildings and and equally diverse student body. If I had my computer, I would describe it in greater detail but suffice it to say that I currently regard VCU as a safety school of sorts (with its relatively high acceptance rate), but at the same time, I would be in no way disappointed if it ended up being the college I attend.