Author: Jeff Giles


Stream Now: Bubonik Funk, “TV on My Head”

Funk rock gets a bad rap because of the way it’s been misappropriated by frat-friendly bands like 311 and Sublime, but when it’s good, it’s good — check your Funkadelic records for further reference. And while North Carolina’s Bubonik Funk has a long way to go before they can be mentioned in the same breath as those guys, they’re off to a pretty good start with their EP, Oddfish, Volume One; as evidenced by this track, the band’s got enough funk to live up to its name, knows how to get silly without being dumb, and will sound pretty great on the playlist at your next barbecue/hacky sack tournament/other assorted bro-down. Put a TV on your head here, and check out Bubonik Funk on the web.

Claire London

Stream Now: Claire London, “Hit the Switch”

For a song that threatens to start a revolution with boots to the ground, Claire London‘s “Hit the Switch” is suspiciously pristine — a chilly tower of sound sculpted out of the digital ether using buzz-burred electro-stomps and a small army of gracefully deployed synths. But if its sterile sonic aesthetic is at odds with those lyrics, “Switch” still has its share of old-fashioned fire, chiefly thanks to London’s voice, which clambers from intimate purr to throaty howl and back again. This kind of tension is an old trick, but it’s still delicious — like drinking a hot adult beverage in a cozy spot while staring out at a rainstorm.


Stream Now: Japanther, “Take Me In and Let Me Go”

Japanther? Is that like an Indiantelope or a Mexicostritch? I don’t know, but I do know that the Brooklyn duo’s new single, “Take Me in and Let Me Go,” is a colorful blast of melody that’s just ramshackle and raucous enough for a Saturday night. Cue it up while you’re getting ready to go out and raise some hell; repeat it while you’re cruising the streets on your way to your various hedonistic weekend pit stops; play it one last time before you fall down and pass out, on the brink of Sunday morning whether you’re ready or not. It’s that kind of song.

I Am Snow Angel

Watch Now: I Am Snow Angel, “Grey White December”

Here in New Hampshire, it just yesterday broke 60 degrees for the first time since November, and we’re all in full-on spring fever, so I don’t know what the hell I’m doing listening to a song called “Grey White December” by an artist who calls herself I Am Snow Angel — let alone putting the track on repeat while I sail away in synthy bliss. But here’s the thing: While I may not have much patience for snow or winter right now, “Grey White December” is a truly beautiful song — a moody pop confection that comes across like a blend of early Eurythmics and mid-’90s Donna Lewis. Now that I write that, I see that it shouldn’t work, but it does; even if you’re soaking in the sun right now like me, you may not be able to resist huddling in this song’s wonderfully wintry chill. You can hear more of I Am Snow Angel’s music here; in the meantime, take a few minutes to experience the stop-motion delights of the “Grey White December” …


Stream Now: TOWER, “Can’t Vibe”

Modern pop music tends to be so personality-driven that getting an email from a band like Tower is as refreshing as it is bewildering. Who are they? “A new band called Tower.” Where are they from? “From LA’s SFV.” That’s all you’re supposed to know at the moment, apparently — well, and also that their debut single, “Can’t Vibe,” is “a party track about attraction.” These guys are so resolutely faceless that if you gave them a sword or spaceship logo, they could be the 21st century version of Toto or Boston. Does that mean corporate rock is coming back? I kind of hope so, because at least those bands knew how to have a little irony-free fun. Speaking of which, here’s “Can’t Vibe,” a synthy collision of melody and groove that manages to sound like a lost Scritti Politti hit without being self-consciously retro. The guitar crunches, the bass burbles, and the keyboards swirl behind sunny-yet-cool vocals that stutter and soar into the pop stratosphere; the more I listen to this thing, the more …

Luke Elliot

Stream Now: Luke Elliot, “Virginia”

If Jerry Lee Lewis and Bob Dylan had a baby, and then that baby had a baby with Tom Waits, it might grow up to sound like Luke Elliot‘s “Virginia”: a bright, raspy, shambolic burst of sound that herks and jerks with greasy-haired abandon without ever straying too far off the melodic rails. Kicking off with a little Tourette’s piano before giving way to Elliot’s warmly ragged vocals and repeated blasts of rockabilly guitar, “Virginia” makes you want to dance even before you figure out what Elliot’s shouting about — and tells you a story once you’re ready to sit down and listen. Elliot’s upcoming EP, Provisions, is due out May 6. Like the man here.

Rory Partin

Stream Now: Rory Partin, “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me”

You say “soulful big-band crooner,” and I say “There’s somewhere else I need to be right now” — most of the time, anyway. But Rory Partin is a happy exception: Although his sound is such that he’s likely to be lumped in with the Bubles of the world (and I’m sure his music will play well to that demographic), Partin isn’t as slick as those guys, and his best songs are set apart by a sharp sense of humor and a dash of gospel grit. For example, here’s “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me,” from Partin’s upcoming summer-scheduled release. He isn’t reinventing the wheel here, but I can’t help but smile at a guy who rhymes “room” and “honeymoon” with “take a pin to a heart-shaped balloon” — and I love any background vocals that put me in mind of the peerless Sir Harry Bowens and Sweet Pea Atkinson. Check it out below, and load this onto your favorite portable music device for the next time you’re dumped while wearing a suit and tie.

Ryan Hobler

Stream Now: Ryan Hobler, “All Along”

Ryan Hobler‘s “All Along” sounds like early morning sunlight through your bedroom window, with a haunting melody that moves with dreamlike grace — all of which is utterly appropriate, because it’s a song about the bittersweet ways in which dreams can use our memories to offer us temporary refuge from the troubles of our waking hours. Bounding behind a driving melody, pushed along with an acoustic guitar and topped off with tuneful vocals that soar on the verge of the falsetto stratosphere, it serves as a suitably haunting appetizer for Hobler’s upcoming full-length effort. As my colleague Rob Ross put it, Hobler’s sound is “Airy and light with that early ’70s Harry Nilsson/Gilbert O’Sullivan pop-ness about it.”


TV on DVD: “Newhart: The Complete Second Season”

The Bob Newhart Show is the Newhart sitcom that most people seem to remember most fondly, but for me, it’s his second long-running series, Newhart, that really hits the spot. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the 1982-’90 CBS hit has been comparatively neglected over the years, never quite latching on in syndication the way its predecessor has and only seeing its first season released to DVD. Given that Season One of Newhart arrived on DVD way back in 2008, it’s seemed reasonable to assume that subsequent sets were doomed to remain in limbo. But thanks to the folks at Shout! Factory, Newhart: The Complete Second Season is now here and ready to take its spot of honor in your home video library. Watching these 22 episodes, it’s hard not to think about how differently TV shows tend to be handled now. While Newhart was certainly a known commodity in the early ’80s and Newhart was already an Emmy-nominated hit as it entered its second season, it’s easy to see the showrunners tinkering with the formula here …


Video Premiere: Dog on Fleas, “I Must Be a Genius”

It’s February, which means two things: One, many of us are trying to ward off the coldest weeks of winter with multiple cuddly layers (or, ahem, bourbon); and two, Mardi Gras is just around the corner. Which is why Dog on Fleas‘ new single, “I Must Be a Genius,” is so timely, what with its sunny melody and Crescent City feel. Drawn from the band’s brand new eighth album, Buy One, Get One Flea, the song celebrates what the Tom Tom Club referred to as the Genius of Love — the idea that while the heart sometimes feels like a blunt instrument, it might actually be the smartest muscle in your innards. Or perhaps that’s overthinking it. Either way, “I Must Be a Genius” is a delicious bite-sized chunk of pop music from some of its proudest practitioners, and a perfect appetizer for the glorious goodness that awaits discerning listeners within Buy One, Get One Flea‘s grooves when it arrives on February 18. In the meantime, check out tracks from the record here — and …

The 78 Project

Album Review: Various Artists, “The 78 Project”

Nine times out of 10, if I heard a group of people were going around recording musicians’ performances live to 78 using a vintage direct-to-disc recorder, I’d roll my eyes and silently hope they choked on their mustache wax, but reading about The 78 Project gave me pause, because the folks behind it managed to rope in a lot of incredible talent — Richard Thompson, Loudon Wainwright III, Rosanne Cash, and Marshall Crenshaw appear, and that’s just on Side One. Toss in a song from the mighty Joe Henry (with Lisa Hannigan), and The 78 Project had my money months ago. The idea, as alluded to in the above paragraph, is annoyingly cute: Lug around a Presto recorder and a stack of lacquer disks to capture unvarnished live performances that — given the equipment and recording constraints — sound like they might have been recorded by Alan Lomax. It’s the kind of thing that forces you to ask yourself whether you’re listening to raw honesty or affectation. That’s a thorny question, but still a compelling …

The Big Chill

On Reunions

Reunions are the Hostess cakes of the music world — they often sound like a treat, but by the time they’re finished, you’re left feeling dissatisfied and a little unclean. And these days, band breakups tend to last about as long as your average soap opera character stays dead, so listeners have learned to distrust the idea of a permanent creative split; as soon as band members go their separate ways, we clamor for them to get back together — until they do, at which point we complain that their new stuff sucks. It can seem a no-win proposition, one it’s become progressively easier to be cynical about from a fan’s perspective — so when, say, Randy Brecker decides to call his new group the Brecker Brothers Band Reunion even though the other Brecker Brother, Michael, passed away in 2007, it might seem safe to dismiss. But that’s because most reunions don’t really live up to the true meaning of the word: they’re just people getting back together, minus the spirit that bound them to …

Brian Moote

A Fine Mess, Episode 7: Comedian Brian Moote

How to you go from growing up on a Washington farm to getting a master’s in social work to embarking on a career as a stand-up comic? You don’t get to ask that question every day, but Brian Moote proves the exception to the rule in this episode of A Fine Mess. He’s been featured on the first two seasons of MTV’s Money From Strangers, performed on Nickelodeon’s stand-up series Mom’s Nite Out, and has also been seen on the USA Network’s Characters Welcome. And now he’s here! WE’RE SO LUCKY. This episode finds us delving into everything from life on the road to the horror of doing a 30-minute set before a hostile crowd at a reggaeton concert. You think your job’s tough? Try living on baskets of fried cheese. As I say in the intro, I’ve avoided interviewing comics for A Fine Mess until now, simply because there’s no shortage whatsoever of podcasts featuring comics talking about their craft. But all the fear and blockage that creative types deal with is multiplied when …

Darden Smith

A Fine Mess, Episode 6: Songwriter Darden Smith

One of the biggest sources of pop music’s appeal is its immediacy — the way a well-written song can take you on an emotional journey in 3:05, and have you singing along by the time it’s finished. My guest for this edition of A Fine Mess understands the beauty and power of simple pop economy, but he’s also unafraid to trust his audience’s willingness to take it slow — to spend time with a record, really absorbing it, instead of devouring each track in pursuit of a quick three-chord sugar rush. I first became acquainted with Darden Smith‘s music in 1993, when he was a “new artist” (on his third album) getting a Sony-backed push for his Little Victories LP. While that record contains some of the more radio-friendly tracks in his catalog, he was still an awkward fit — on the Chaos Recordings imprint, where he shared label space with Bacdafucup-era Onyx, as well as on the Top 40 playlists of the era. Little Victories was right at home in my tape deck, however …


The Lamborghini Aventador Roadster

The Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 defines the sport auto Supertest towards an extrovert appearance and delivers what it promises optical.The sporting facilities are at its best, as it would naturally. It’s like always and not everywhere the large, lofty promises, which gives a relationship maintenance and substance. It is the small, endearing details that make up the key to lasting success. But even if you’re Batman himself, you’ll have a hard time getting your hands on one of these mean machines. And yet there are so lovable alien form like this, which will make your day – and far on this side of each border region. To awaken the bull named 700-4 Lamborghini Aventador LP from St. Agatha to life, the driver is initially stopped to open a small red flap on the center tunnel. But quite as explosive and difficult to follow the following on the press of a button dramaturgy is then but fortunately not represent the red fuse cover is just a metaphor – not an obstacle. 700 hp and top-class racing technology This …


The Spectacular Simplicity of Gravity

Despite some rough patches in the script, Alfonso Cuaron’s film is a visual wonder. This movie rips a ground from under our feet, in “Gravity” shine George Clooney and Sandra Bullock as astronauts mainly fighting for survival in space. A simple story is captivating with magnificent pictures, 3-D sound effects for new and classic movie. Early in the film, when Matt asks Ryan what she likes best about their space walk, she replies, “the silence.” The Cuarons would have been wise to supply a bit more of it. When was it last at the end of the credits so quiet in the cinema? Only the breathing sounds of the side people are heard, then breaks from somewhere a soft “wow” the spell. It is as if the audience has to make sure only gently 90 minutes from the brilliant “Gravity“, to be truly arrived on the ground. No sooner is the fatal message arrived, hurtling approach a huge swarm and debris hitting the shuttle. Stone and Kowalsky, connected by a lifeline to survive the collision and find themselves floating in …


Bowers & Wilkins Speakers

Few simple powered speakers for the PC has been around for a tenner.You do not have to spend much more to give his ears to hear something. But who wants to treat his ears something, you have something to fall deeper into their pockets: From about 80 Euros you get even speaker structure, the “sound of something” that produce audible bass and which still makes listening to music for several hours of fun. But what gets who spends a multiple thereof, are PC speaker is on the desk, which cost 400, 500 or even 800 euros? You pay all the money only an expensive name and chic design? Or is the difference really audible? Even turned up they still sound clear and round, without distorting the complex construction pays off. Since the first would be the Bose Computer Music Monitor, which acts initially tiny. Ridiculous 12.5 centimeters, each of the two boxes high, 6.5 inches wide. That for as little speaker after all supposed to pay about 400 euros, makes me skeptical. Good sound volume needs that everyone knows. And volume have …


Vespa GTS 300 Super Review

Before content review box and a Vespa scooter is not conventional, but a special kind to ride on two wheels with leg shield. Whether the new technology in the 300 GTS Super blends with the traditional look, clarifies the practical test. The Vespa GTS 300 Super is not just a scooter.It is the top manufacturer of Italian tradition, the successor to the glorious GS and sellers at the big scooters in Germany.No wonder real hot scooter Vespa or Lambretta times now.The first brand is rather forgotten and the second still successful. But with the new 300 Sport is respectively sportiness in the foreground, and less racing. So it first went on the famous Milan ring road towards Linate. On cue, all went – we were now only 18 because the colleagues Ehn and Farkas are demolished because of a (almost) red light – the heads of a. High-speed test. To have, as always, the lightweight overweight chosen for themselves. The Ancestral Scooter Territory Thither namely asked us Piaggio for the first test drive with the GTS 300 Super. Super …


Product Review: Onkyo LS3100 Envision Cinema 2.1-Channel Bluetooth Speaker System

Looking to beef up your home theater system, but don’t have a ton of room or a few thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket? Onkyo is here to help. To prove it, here’s the LS3100 Envision Cinema Speaker System, a three-piece setup that’s as simple to set up as its sound is beefy. Designed to combat “thin sound” using “an immersive 3D soundfield using just two speakers,” it’s a sleek mid-priced alternative for folks who aren’t in the market for a true 5.1/7.1 system, but who are still looking for something more powerful than their television’s speakers. Perhaps more impressively, it’s also a good fit for people whose tech skills run toward the Luddite end of the spectrum. How simple is it? I had my LS3100 wired up within 10 minutes of opening the box, and that includes taking out the parts and connecting the wires. For your money, you get a receiver, two satellite speakers (designed to sit on sculpted stands that can also be used to mount them into the wall), …