Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

Chiptunes For President

"Dawn Metropolis" by Anamanaguchi

Last week, Jared featured an article spotlighting the music of “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.” I now feel it is my solemn duty to take’s Chiptune virginity.

According to Wikipedia, “A chiptune … is music written in sound formats where all the sounds are synthesized in real time by a computer or video game console sound chip.” Basically, Wikipedia really should have just said: “Chiptunes are awesome video game-type music happy go fun time. (Citation needed.)” Sweet, right?

Ratatat – “Lex” Classics (2006)


Music Geek: Hunting for records an essential part of musical journey

See, I can look classy every now and again.

When I search for records, it’s not an easy process. I often find myself inundated with those pesky round things — be they CDs or vinyl — as I flip through album after album. It’s not always particularly easy to find exactly what you want, supposing, of course, there is something in particular you’re interested in finding. It’s often the case that I’ll search shelves with no specific end, only the means: Exploration and search.

I’m under the impression that this is an essential part of my “musical journey” — a nebulous term I’ll adapt for use under a number of different circumstances with varying success. Half the fun of getting a record is looking for it, flipping through racks and racks of music, and finding that one specific item you’re willing to drop your cash on — or that stack of records you really, really don’t need right now. (more…)

Wes Anderson flexes musical muscle in The Royal Tenenbaums

Wes Anderson, film director known best for emergent classics like The Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore clearly knows what he’s doing with film — but can we say the same about the use of music in his films?

The Royal Tenenbaums proved definitive in capturing the feel of music in a Wes Anderson film; by now, it has become a trait of his cinematic auteur theory. The overarching style — especially as it’s exercised in the film — is most crisply defined by the Mutato Muzika Orchestra’s rendition of the Paul McCartney-penned classic, “Hey Jude.” Replete with harpsichord, the track defines the mood and feel of the film as a whole.

While we may be able to attribute much of the musical consistency across Anderson films to the use of the Mutato Muzika Orchestra — the Mark Mothersbaugh-helmed production company has also made at least some appearance on Anderson’s Bottle RocketRushmore, and The Life Aquatic — we can pinpoint some other important attributes of Anderson films that extend beyond Mutato Muzika.


Music Geek: Record stores at crossroads, but there’s time to recover

See, I can look classy every now and again.

While in Phoenix for a computer-assisted reporting conference — NICAR 2010, which has a name nearly as exciting as possible for this sort of this — I took a jaunt over to a couple record  stores, interested, of course, in seeing what sorts of wares were on offer. What I found was surprising and depressing, inspiring and enlightening.

My first stop, Circles Records & Tapes was one which I’d recently discovered was either closing or had already closed. To my delight, I found it to have not yet closed, and a large advert touting their 50-percent-off liquidation sale made the whole thing all the more tantalizing. It was, then, a bit unfortunate to discover that the store was very much into the process of closing its doors, and the merchandise being liquidated included a few miscellaneous albums on vinyl — nothing of real note, excepting one of the many Brian Eno collaboration projects — and a slew of very cheap, obscure, and low-quality CD releases. It was no real pain to walk from the store empty handed, as I’d already assumed it had closed for good, and my plans were primarily to visit a store a few blocks away, Revolver Records. Anything I would have picked up at a Circles would have been merely a happy accident.


Star Trek inspires bizarre musical efforts

Star Trek, a show that’s inspired millions of geeks around the world (myself included,) has perhaps inevitably spawned some very bizarre musical tributes. From filk to electronic remixes, Gene Roddenberry’s 1965 masterpiece has lasted 45 years, and given the success of the latest film in the Star Trek universe (even if it is set in a slightly different but importantly similar universe), it looks like it’s set to continue for some time yet.

1. Dark Materia — “The Picard Song”
What. A. Song. This one needs no introduction — it’s probably the best Star Trek-inspired track to date. This mashup of classic Jean-Luc Picard quotes compiled by Dark Materia is great; it’s not his only output — he also produced two tracks you’ll find later in this list.

2. The Firm — “Star Trekkin'”
I loved this song as a kid, but now, it’s a little grating. If you want to annoy yourself and every single person around you for a few minutes, give this a spin. I can only imagine how my mother must have felt.


Mark Linkous, Sparklehorse leader, commits suicide, leaves musical legacy

Mark Linkous, leader of rock group Sparklehorse, committed suicide yesterday in Knoxville, Tenn. He leaves a musical legacy that spans four full-length albums as Sparklehorse and two in collaboration with Danger Mouse and Fennesz. Linkous also worked as a producer, notably with outsider music favorite Daniel Johnston. Share your thoughts on the death of Linkous below.

PLAYLIST: Music, working combine for entertainment, productivity

Few things change your working environment more than good music. In my experience, music is often an essential part of work, whether I’m working on some routine data entry, trying to plow through that last line of code, or getting a last-minute news feature ready for publication. Here’s a short list of some of my favorites.

Pavement – “Spit on a Stranger”

When I’m working, I need something that will capture my attention but not demand it — Pavement’s “Spit on a Stranger” somehow hits on the right side of the line: It’s something rare. A catchy melody and evocative guitar work define this song, and over the past few days of working, I’ve not been able to turn it off.

David Lynch, Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse project rumored for summer release

Dark Night of the Soul is an album written by Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse that was planned for release with a book of photos by David Lynch. The book of photos was released in early 2009. Due to disputes with the record label, though, the album was not released with the book of photos — instead a blank CD-R labeled: “For legal reasons, enclosed CD-R contains no music. Use it as you will.”

The album is now rumored for release for Summer 2010. From what we’ve heard of the album so far, this is nothing like the Broken Bells collaboration of Danger Mouse and James Mercer. It has a dark, surreal feeling — full of complex layers of mind-bending sounds and faraway vocals, all quite fitting for a David Lynch art project.

The album features a wide range of artists, including James Mercer, The Flaming Lips, Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, Frank Black of the Pixies, Iggy Pop, Nina Persson of The Cardigans, Suzanne Vega, Vic Chesnutt, David Lynch, Scott Spillane of Neutral Milk Hotel and The Gerbils. (NPR)

The book, Dark Night of the Soul is available for purchase on their official website, You can also listen to the entire album at