on the Popularity of Empty Places

Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo!, recently announced that all remote workers would soon be required to report to physical offices. Whether or not the decision is agreeable, I find it interesting that this was apparently a matter of such great proportion that only the CEO could address it. I imagine a giant, monolithic Yahoo! office, tumbleweeds floating through hallways, and Mayer, alone, shouting into the emptiness: “Return!” Other leaders, managers, or vice presidents could have made an effort to wrangle up the herd. Or were they, too, hacking away at a keyboard in their bathrobes at home? Mayer’s decision to personally make the statement seems to indicate either a grand political maneuver, or a last ditch attempt to solve a monstrously large problem. Either way, the corridors of Yahoo! aren’t the only places that seem empty lately. In music and television, the echoes of solitude ricochet often. The French …

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on Love in the Time of… Hatebreed

Often resulting in injuries [4], the collective mood is influenced by the combination of loud, fast music (130 dB [5], 350 beats per minute), synchronized with bright, flashing lights, and frequent intoxication [6]. This variety and magnitude of stimuli are atypical of more moderate settings. Jesse L. Silverberg, “Collective Motion of Moshers at Heavy Metal Concerts.”  Cornell University, 2013.  The week before Valentines Day the top of the Billboard charts featured plenty of easy songs about romance – The Lumineers Ho Hey, Calvin Harris Sweet Nothings, Taylor Swift I Knew You Were Trouble. And for the first time in their 15 years of touring, the furious tracks by metal rockers Hatebreed crashed into the Billboard top 20.  On a night that some people reserve for Sinatra and soft lighting, the band spent this Valentines Day screaming from a stage in Virginia to a wild crowd. Whether in Buffalo or Raleigh, Jacksonville …

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to Robyn, on Being ‘Robotboy’

Hey Robyn! I was just listening to your song, ‘Robotboy,’ and I thought I’d answer all the questions you had. I hope this response relieves some of your worry: “Where you been?” I’ve been at work, or at home, or any of the other various places I go. I make a determined effort to find new ground as often as possible, even if it’s just a little thing – a new corner of a room to stand in, a new place to eat tofu, or a new building that would look nice in a photograph. ‘Where’ is an interesting concept. Sometimes I think of ‘here’ as more than just the place I’m sitting, or what city I’m in. Could ‘where’ also be a place I’m thinking of? Is where just the few square feet around my body? Is it everywhere I’m capable of being within a certain amount of minutes? …

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Another Trip to the Record Store

I made another trip to the local used CD shop, and left with a few bargains. I’m dumb to how the economic machinery of the music business works, and whether store-shopping is better for the musicians than iTunes – regardless, it’s nice to lose track of time while thumbing through the ‘G-H’ section looking for something fresh. Foals – Antidotes //// This album is full of tight acoustic breakbeats, bright guitar melodies, and the occasional horn blast. Without relying on heavy effects, Foals creates a dreamy soundscape that’s easy to get lost in. My neighbors are going to be hearing this one at 7 a.m. for a while – sorry about that! Broken Bells //// The brilliance of Danger Mouse was evident when he mashed up the Beatles and Jay-Z for the ‘Grey Album’, and this collaboration with the Shins’ James Mercer explores new territory – angsty pop with lush strings …

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A Trip to the Record Store

I’ve been getting nostalgic for the feel of plastic discs in my hands, so instead of sitting in my office and distractedly browsing Spotify, I went out to a few used record stores and came home with a bag full of music. Here’s what I copped – Basement Jaxx – Rooty  ////  The single ‘Always Be There’ showed up on my hard drive some time a few years ago, and catches up to my headphones every now and again. Its such a solid track, I’m going to give the rest of their tunes some overdue rotation. First listen of ‘Rooty’ already has me hooked. Kasabian – Empire  ////   Kasabian’s self-titled album from 2004 was amazing. I played the hell out of it, and saw them do a great show in Tampa, FL in ’06. The album was so good, I never bothered listening to any follow ups – until now! …

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On Rememberance (MCA, RIP)

If anybody remembers the first time they heard the Beastie Boys, good for them. I don’t. I do remember a general constant presence of their tracks in the soundscape of my life over the last 15 years. I probably got started with Check Your Head – in the 7th grade, making videos where my friends and I jumped around and lipsynched, throwing cardboard boxes at each other, smashing shit – our school let us broadcast it on the Friday video announcements, forever casting us as the raw funky fresh crew that tore up the middle school flow with unashamed idolization of hip hop heroes. Hello Nasty dropped and we were all like “so it is possible to stay fresh, FOREVER.” Something to strive for. To The 5 Boroughs hit and made me feel like even DC was getting better after 9/11. With so much heartbreaking music out there to turn …

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Finding the Arcade Fire

 Seven years ago, when I was working as a clerk at Tower Records, a kid came in and asked about “The Arcade Fire.” I had no idea what he was talking about, and this was during a time when customers asked me questions that I couldn’t answer, I usually got irritated and went outside to smoke. Something about this kid – he was younger than me, and innocent looking – made me think I should try and help him out. I thumbed through every overflowing pile of discs in the huge store, ticking off at least half of an hour, looking for “Funeral.” It was out there somewhere, and when I found it and handed it over to him, I felt some kind of pride. “A satisfied customer!” I had no idea that in 2012 I’d be watching them perform songs from “The Suburbs” on the TV show Austin City …

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The Roots in Concert

I had the pleasure of shooting the Roots in concert at the Fillmore Silver Spring on the 30th. I have been a fan of the group since as far back as I can remember and getting a chance to check out their show and do some creative work of my own was truly a great experience. They played many of their new-ish songs, including several from How I Got Over, and did a crazy medley of Sweet Child O’ Mine and Bad to the Bone. Really an awesome way to close out 2011.  Thanks to the Fillmore and the Roots for making it happen.

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Travel Tunes

In preparation for spending much time waiting in airports, bus terminals, etc. I’m carefully selecting appropriate music for my destinations.  For Spain, I’m into Natalia Clavier lately. She sings in Spanish over mellowed out jazz breaks.  I heard her first when she opened for Los Amigos Invisibles at the 9:30 club a few weeks ago. Despite only seeing her last two songs, I was impressed.  Los Amigos put on a fun show too, and I’ll be jamming to them in Spain also. Bajofondo, the tango-dance project of Gustavo Santaolalla, is going to be in heavy rotation. Santaolalla, who I heard from his work in movie soundtracks like “Babel” plays a spooky Mexican guitar on his solo album.  South American rockers Juanes and Carlos Vives are energetic and probably a good jolt for waking up in the morning.  Both fuse Latin rhythm and instrumentation with pop and rock song structures. I …

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