MoSS? Monthly Mixtape: June 2014

june 14

Side A: Chris’ Picks

Side B: Todd’s Picks

Lolla 2013: Can Vampire Weekend and Grizzly Bear switch stages? Please?!

lollapalooza logoWhen I made that impulse buy, the Sunday ticket for Lollapalooza 2013, I was swayed by a couple of factors. One, my friend Travis Who Isn’t the Beast was going; the morning the one-day tickets went on sale, we were both waking in Chicago the day after the Sigur Ros show. He egged me on, and I was still riding the live-music high provided by the Icelandic trio. So without checking with the missus, I bought a ticket via smartphone. I’m a pushover. (As a result, I’m also probably taking the family to Chicago for the weekend, as it happens.)

Second, the killer roster, headlined by the Cure, my all-time favorites. I haven’t seen them in 13 years…it’s time. Vampire Weekend, Beach House, and Tegan & Sara also jumped off the poster. Looking at the artists and paying no mind to the logistics of stage placement and prominence, I envisioned a dream day as follows:

  • Palma Violets
  • Wild Belle
  • MS MR
  • Lianne La Havas
  • Wild Nothing
  • DIIV
  • Tegan & Sara
  • Beach House
  • Vampire Weekend
  • The Cure

Now that the schedule is out and logistics come into play, here’s what I’m looking at:

  • Guards
  • Wild Belle
  • Wild Nothing
  • Lianne La Havas
  • Tegan & Sara
  • Alt-J
  • Grizzly Bear
  • Beach House
  • The Cure

VW is the huge omission, but there’s not a whole lot I can do about it unless I want to sacrifice Cure position. VW will play before Phoenix on the other side of the park; Grizzly Bear precedes the Cure. That’s a bit of a nut-punch (I don’t get the Grizzly Bear love), but I am seeing VW in October, so I can live with this.

(However, I am considering starting a Kickstarter campaign to see if I can bribe Grizzly Bear to switch stages with Vampire Weekend. I might even match every dollar pledged to the cause. Check MoSS? regularly for updates.)

DIIV also falls off the list, which is a bummer, but they are playing much later in the day than I would have anticipated, so I don’t want to move too much at this point. I might be able to sneak off to Palma Violets between Guards (whom I’ve seen up close and personal, opening for Cults back in 2011) and Wild Belle.

All in all, I’m happy. I must admit, my Vampire Weekend tickets for the Kansas City show make this a much easier pill to swallow. But I’ve been getting a kick out of all the people whining on social media about the various conflicts. Like how in the world could you put Nine Inch Nails against the Killers? Or why are Mumford and Sons going up against The Postal Service?

It should come as no surprise that the day’s two headliners would be pitted on opposite ends of the park. And really, is there much debate as to which band you should see, assuming you can maneuver around the park as you wish?

If you need help making a choice, you’re in luck: I’m here to help. I’ll address some of the conflicts I’ve seen discussed on Facebook…


First off, why is Jessie Ware playing so early? 1:00 is the best she could pull?

Band of Horses vs. Crystal Castles (4:15): A bunch of wusses who make decent tunes against the manic energy of Ethan Kath and Alice Glass. Even though I fear their sound doesn’t translate well live, I’m still going with Crystal Castles.

New Order vs. Queens of the Stone Age (6:15): “Blue Monday” and “Bizarre Love Triangle” and “Age of Consent” and on and on and on vs. the guy whose best work (to my ear) is the stuff he did with John Paul Jones. New Order

Nine Inch Nails vs. the Killers (vs. Lana Del Rey?) (headliners): The worst tracks on The Downward Spiral would easily make the cut against the Killers. And LOLa Del Rey…come on. Nine Inch Nails

SATURDAY (a.k.a. “Bro Day”)

Heartless Bastards (6:00)/Death Grips (7:15) vs. The National (6:00) vs. Kendrick Lamar (6:45) vs. the Lumineers (7:15): Duh. The National

Mumford and Sons vs. the Postal Service vs. Azealia Banks vs. Steve Aoki (headliners): Duh. Get some sleep at the hotel


Palma Violets (1:00) vs. the Orwells (1:00) vs. Wild Belle (1:30): I like what I’ve heard of Palma Violets, but not quite as much as Wild Belle. Orwells are third, but not meant as an insult. Wild Belle

Lianne La Havas (3:00) vs. MS MR (3:30) vs. Baroness (3:30): Baroness might provide some much-needed testosterone, and MS MR is cool as shit. I’m going with La Havas just to stay in one area, but if everything were equal…MS MR

Grizzly Bear (6:00) vs. Vampire Weekend (6:30): Overrated vs. Hypeworthy. Modern Vampires of the City came out today; I’ve listened to it at least six times all the way through since waking this morning. The tracks that came out early (“Unbelievers,” “Diane Young,” and “Step”) are fantastic (“Step” in particular), and songs on the second half of the album (“Worship You,” “Finger Back,” “Hudson,” and even the quirky “Ya Hey”) get better with each listen. Seriously need to consider that Kickstarter/stage swap idea. Vampire Weekend

The Cure vs. Phoenix (headliners): Of course I’m going to say the Cure. How Phoenix headlines over Vampire Weekend baffles me, so I’m not even going to consider recommending the former against Robert Smith & Co. The Cure is sounding fantastic live with former Bowie guitar man Reeves Gabrels in the fold, and Simon Gallup is still the coolest guy in music.

If you’re going to Lolla, or even if you’re not, I’d like to hear the tough choices you’d make.

Live TV is hard (Or: The Day Pop Culture Passed Me By)

kevin_hart_snl_photo_001This weekend marked a major milestone in my life as a pop culture junkie. I had no clue who the guest host or musical guest were on SNL. This was unprecedented. Once in a while they will have an actor or borderline famous person on that I won’t be super familiar with but I always know who they are or what show/movie/team they are associated with. Quite often, they will have a musical guest on that I would never listen to but I will have at least heard of them. As I sat down to watch this week’s show they announced the host, Kevin Hart. Who the hell is that? Musical guest Macklemore with Ryan Lewis? Who the hell are they? Then I found out another piece of information about myself; I didn’t care! Normally, I would have rushed to the nearest Googler and looked them up, but I truly didn’t care. Had pop culture passed me by? Why didn’t I care who these people were? Who is Kevin Hart? Macklemore?

Ok, fine let’s find out. Give me a minute…

I just checked out the IMDb for Kevin Hart. Now I’m looking this up for the sake of this post. Lest anyone think I actually care who this dude is or what piece of shit TV or movies he’s done…

Kevin Hart has 50 acting credits listed in his IMDb. 90% of which I had never heard of. Here is the only credit in that list I have actually seen.

2005, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Smart Tech Customer

With a resume like that, I totally see why he was picked to host. To be honest the skits weren’t too bad. The Walking Dead one made me laugh.

And then there’s Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. I don’t want to go on too long about these guys because I’ll just come across like a music snob a-hole. I know, music is subjective and we are all entitled to like what we want. But Wow! People actually like this stuff! Two guys pretend to be rapping while eight guys pretend to play brass instruments behind them. My wife and I play The Beatles Rockband game on the PS3 from time to time. Maybe next week SNL will have us on. At least the fake music we play is worth listening to. I’ll be waiting for the call from Lorne Michaels. Take a look below. Since NBC are dicks about people embedding there videos, here is a crappy YouTube clip of someone recording the performance via cellphone camera.

You can check out a better quality video here…

After that performance last year’s Lana Del Rey debacle isn’t looking so bad.

What were you thinking Lorne? This year had been pretty good so far too. A good mix of young and old hosts. Decent musical guests. They lost some longtime favorite cast members like Andy Samberg and Kristen Wiig and brought in a few new people that are really good. That new blonde chick cracks me up almost every episode. Some of the previously lesser known cast like Bobby Moynihan and Taran Killam have stepped it up too. I guess they can’t all be home runs. At least we can look forward to Timberlake’s appearance next week. Those usually are home runs.

Nada Surf: Hey Everyone! We Put Out A Record Too!

With all the buzz of new releases by indie rock heavy weights like Sleigh Bells, Lana Del Rey and Frankie Rose, one release was a bit overlooked. Nada Surf quietly put out a new album in late January called The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy.  If you paid attention to alternative music in the mid 90’s then you are probably familiar with their most famous song “Popular”. Refresh your memory below.

After “Popular” the band struggled for a few years and were on the verge of becoming another one hit wonder. They had a resurgence in the early 2000’s after the release of Let Go and built themselves a loyal fan base myself included. Since then they have released several very solid albums. In fact, one of my favorite records of the last 10 years is Nada Surf’s The Weight is a Gift. The song “The Blankest Year” from that record was my anthem of ’05. Give it a listen. It’s only 2 minutes long. You can squeeze it in.

Yesterday I realized the new album was out(I can’t believe it’s been out 4 weeks already. I’m slipping) and quickly downloaded it. The first listen was pretty much what I expected. They have had one of the most consistent sounds over the years. After subsequent listens I found myself really enjoying it.  It’s not going to knock Sleigh Bells or Frankie Rose from my “Top 10 Albums of 2012 So Far” list, but it is pretty damn good. The band made a conscious effort to have more guitars and drums for a louder in-your-face feel. I think it works.  Their last record Lucky suffered from too many slower songs in my opinion. I was disappointed to see that Pitchfork gave them a pretty bad review. They basically called the new record “Dad Rock”. Here’s the quote I disliked the most.

“At a moment when indie rock could probably use a little kick in the ass, Nada Surf seem to have the right instincts, just maybe not the spleen to pull them off. Harder and faster isn’t necessarily a young man’s game, but it isn’t really Nada Surf’s either.”

I think that maybe they are catching shit for being too consistent. So if you are bored during this cold February weekend, give Nada Surf’s The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy a spin. Let me know if Pitchfork is right and I am turning into a Dad Rocker. Or if your are too busy to listen to the whole thing, you can check out their new single “Waiting for Something” below.

Road Trip Revelations

My job sometimes requires me to spend a lot of my day in the car. Today was one of those days with quite a few hours of windshield time. I don’t mind too much. It gives me valuable time to think, reflect on my life and most importantly rock out! So on days like today I sit back, relax and turn on my Sirius Stiletto. (Special thanks to my brother who so foolishly gave up this beautiful piece of technology. I love it. Endless commercial free channels of fantastic music) After four hours alone with my thoughts and the radio, I came away with a few revelations.

Lana Del Rey is over-hyped but talented

Yes, she’s been over-played. Yes, she tanked on SNL. Yes, she talks like Betty Boop. I don’t care. She’s great.  I listened to her song “Radio” around four times today and defy you not to sing along by the 2nd chorus.

Now my life is sweet like cinnamon
Like a fucking dream i’m living in
Baby love me cause i’m playing on the radio
(how do you like me now?)

Too much coffee makes you piss a lot

Side note: If your trip is over 2 hours long, cap the coffee at 12 oz.  Today I had roughly 24 oz and found myself with that uncomfortable feeling. Not to worry. I have the entire eastern half of the state mapped out by establishments with suitable bathrooms. I try to avoid the rest stops. I’m tired of the long looks from bi-sexual truckers named Carl. I’ve found that the best location for an emergency pit stop is McDonalds. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a McDonalds in this part of the state and you usually don’t run into some hobo washing his testicles in the sink…usually.

Anyone can cover Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” and it will be awesome

Today I heard versions of “Running Up that Hill” by Placebo and The Chromatics. Surprisingly enough they are both pretty damn good. I guess this Kate Bush gem is the perfect song to try and make your own.  You can’t get much better that the original though.  Check it out below.

Jack White is in a lot of bands. Also, there are a lot of bands with “Bear” in their name

The White Stripes, Raconteurs, The Dead Weather and now Jack White solo stuff. I listened to it all on the road today. Good god man. Take a break. We get it. You can write a lot of songs. 15% of them are good. Slow down a bit and maybe you could get that number up to 75%. Please just think about it Jack.

Today I also heard songs by: Bear in Heaven, Grizzly Bear, Bear Hands, Panda Bear and Minus the Bear.  I will pose to myself the same question once asked of Dwight Schrute from The Office . Which Bear is Best? I’m glad you asked. That’s a toughy. While all have their merits, today(based solely on car stereo volume levels) Bear in Heaven is the best bear.

I will skip any song by Wilco, Neutral Milk Hotel, or Animal Collective

I’ve tried to like these bands. I just can’t do it. I even change songs if I’m on the phone and one of these bands come on. Nice try Sirius but you cant sneak one by me while my celly’s blowin’ up.

I will not skip any song by Modest Mouse, Pixies, or Whitesnake

Yeah that’s right, Whitesnake. Sometimes you just have to tune in to Hair Nation and bang your head. Still of the Night! Still of the Night! Still of the Night! Rawk!

All in all it was a pretty good day.  Plenty of tunes. Plenty of pit stops. If you see me cruising down the interstate sometime in the future go ahead and wave. Just please don’t laugh while I’m doing my David Coverdale impression.

Live TV is hard (Or: Boom Goes the Lana Hype)

Lana Del Rey's SNL still frame

Hey, Packers. Isn't live TV hard? Love, Lana

I ate fried chicken this weekend with my fellow MoSS? CEO before playing some cards and catching the new episode of Saturday Night Live. The poultry was not procured from Flav’s Chicken Shack. But I’m going to paraphrase Flavor Flav (and Perez Hilton, as it turns out) all the same: the weekend of Jan. 14-15 was one where the hype could not be believed, thanks to the wonders of live television.

Lana Del Rey—the girl whose first album came out two years ago under her real name, Lizzie Grant, with the title of Lana Del Rey, an album that was quickly pulled from iTunes—hyperventilated her way through her Internet hit tune, “Video Games,” on Saturday Night Live on the 14th. (It was a bad omen when Daniel Radcliffe flubbed the simple introduction.) She got behind on the first verse, threw in some nonsense ad-libs, and forced Todd to look for the silver lining in the performance for the next hour or so while I sat there in a world of disapppointment and our wives railed against the performance/discussed a comparison to Bette Midler (Todd’s and mine, respectively).

It was the tipping point in the delicate style-over-substance tightrope walk she’d been walking for months. I’ve been skeptical ever since seeing how Pitchfork chose to present photo coverage from a live event. And even more so after seeing the video for her forthcoming album’s title track, “Born to Die,” which features Lana “hunkering down” with some dude who could easily have “American Apparel model” on his résumé before he apparently kills her and sets his own car on fire (or something like that). The first time I heard “Video Games,” I found myself quite impressed; now I’m asking, “Can anyone possibly take her seriously for much longer?”

She did recently sign a modeling contract, which makes me think that this singing thing is like Michael Jordan playing minor league baseball for a bit. It was worth a shot and a lot of people paid attention to it. Eventually Jordan went back to doing what he did well (directing a ball through a circle); soon she’ll be doing what she does with ease (looking good).

I suppose that’s one big reason her career hyperdrive was engaged, because, damn, she’s easy on the eyes. But she’s apparently very conscious of every last eye that falls on her, because she looked extremely uncomfortable up there. And my hyperventilation comment is not some bit of hyperbole; it truly looked like she was gassed by the second verse of “Video Games.” But before anyone should feel sorry for Lizzie, it would seem her looks are a big part of what Lana and her team use to gain attention. Meanwhile, fellow Internet sensation Abel Tesfaye (a.k.a. The Weeknd) released three mixtapes in a calendar year, all to at least modest acclaim (the first to very favorable reviews), but for the longest time people didn’t even know the dude’s identity, much less what he looked like. People were left with nothing but the music: nearly 30 songs full of smart sampling, inspired vocals, and lyrics that painted the clearest picture of a hazy party world.

I’ll probably give Born to Die a listen once it hits Spotify, but with 1/100th of the enthusiasm I had last summer. Somewhere I believe the band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (remember those guys, blogosphere?) is nodding solemnly about the situation Ms. Grant/Del Rey finds herself.

Lana wasn’t alone in her live TV misery this weekend, and unless she went out and role-played that “Born to Die” video after SNL, she probably is the least sore of this group of fallen stars:

Tim Tebow. He completed three passes in the first half of the Broncos game against the Patriots. Counterpart (devil!) Tom Brady completed five passes for touchdowns in the same amount of time. The Patriots outrushed the Broncos, thanks in part to New England TIGHT END Aaron Hernandez rushing for 61 yards, and tacked on nearly 400 yards of passing. The other New England tight end (the one who takes photos with porn stars) caught three touchdowns from Tom Terrific. Tebow ran for a paltry 13 yards and was limited to 136 yards passing. Everyone who made such a big fucking deal about Tebow throwing for 316 yards last week (as in John 3:16!!!!) should note that the Evil Lord Belichick simply rearranged those numbers, causing Tebow to have a below-average game of 136 yards. (And if my Bible study recollection is accurate, the Book of Belichick, Chapter 1, Verse 36 reads “Whilst one’s abstinence can be commended, my quarterback fucks the lady Gisele, and still the gods allow him to accurately throw an eight-yard hook and complete a 12-yard out route at will.”) In this battle of good versus evil, the hoodied reaper reopened a book of revelations about Tebow: he actually really pretty much sucks. Not as a person, but as a quarterback in the National Football League.

The New Orleans Saints. It’s so cute how they let that little boy stand in the middle of the Saints huddle, with real shoulder pads and jersey on, and lead the pregame chants! Look at him bouncing around with the players, so full of energy, so spunky, so…oh, wait, that’s Drew Brees. The NFL’s new passing yardage champ’s enthusiasm couldn’t conquer the road playoff curse of the Saints, even though the 49ers defense did its best to give the game away down the stretch. Yet the Saints allowed the game-winning TD with 9 seconds to go, giving San Fran another “The Catch” moment (I guess) and the Brothers Harbaugh hope for a Super Bowl showdown on Feb. 5. The NFC Harbaugh might hold up his end of the bargain, as the Niners will host the NFC title game, all thanks to…

The Fucking Green Fucking Bay Fucking Packers. My favorite team won 15 games this year, against only two losses. How great for those players! Except that one of those losses came in the single-elimination fun known as the PLAYOFFS! (And the other was against the Chiefs, which is almost as bad, really.) Dropped passes (nothing new, really) were coupled with a string of fumbles (even cult hero John Kuhn had his first career fumble) and the failure to defend a halftime Hail Mary touchdown pass. And the inability to tackle. Or cover receivers on third and long. Or convert fourth down. Or resist the urge to try an onside kick after tying the game at 10. Or whatever the fuck else. Aaron Rodgers was off the mark too, although his running kept the Pack alive for much of the game.

I’m convinced this is State Farm’s fault. Fucking commercials (which I found funny until Sunday evening).

Watching Green Bay suck it up against the Giants pretty much looked like this:

This guy got a Tosh.0 Web Redemption out of his shame. Maybe we’ll see Lana Del Rey on there soon.