As I’ve blogged about before, I’m a big fan of Rock Band. Well, it looks like my fingers will be getting a lot of exercise this week, because “I Didn’t Say I Was Powerful, I Said I Was A Wizard” by Chiodos has just been added to Rock Band’s ever-expanding library of downloadable tunes. This track isn’t quite the fret board burner that “Time Bomb” by Old 97’s was, but it’s definitely a fun groove to just get locked on to and rock out with. You can get it as part of the “Warped Tour Pack,” and although that tour has gone way downhill in the last five or so years, there are still a number of good artists each year, Chiodos being one of the best.

Chiodos on MySpace

Inglourious Basterds

June 24, 2009

Ever since I heard Internet whispers of this movie a few years back, I have been eagerly anticipating its release. Tarantino doing a spaghetti-western influenced WWII flick? Could it get any better? Well, for starters, how about an extended trailer featuring one of my favorite bands, Murder By Death?

Followers of this blog will remember Murder By Death from the Harley ad I posted earlier, and now they are featured in what looks to be Tarantino’s finest film since Pulp Fiction (though I also loved the criminally underrated Jackie Brown.) “Comin Home” is the first track off last year’s brilliant Red of Tooth and Claw, and it has me even more pumped to see all the blood splattering action. The movie has a tentative premiere of August 20, hopefully those of us fortunate to live in large media markets get it a little earlier. From the reviews I’ve scoured through on the net, opinions are extremely divided, but I think that is just because it’s a Tarantino film and he has become an ever-polarizing character. We’ll see, but I have high hopes.

As for Murder By Death, they will be playing here in LA on September 17th, opening for another great band, The Gaslight Anthem – a perfect touring pair. It should be a great night of classic Americana rock with a modern flavor. You know I’ll be there, and if you live in LA and don’t attend, you pretty much don’t exist.

Inglorious Basterds Official Website

Murder By Death on MySpace

Here’s to Dreaming

June 23, 2009

Gotta love those people over at Gillette. Earlier this year (during the Daytona 500 actually), they premiered a new Young Guns ad that featured “Sound the Alarm” by Shapes of Race Cars – easily one of my favorite tracks of ’09, and now they have just premiered a new ad featuring Derek Jeter, Tiger Woods, and Roger Federer, and the song “Dream Within a Dream” by Action Action. Think it’s a coincidence that the ad came out right as the US Open was ending and Wimbledon was beginning? Haha. Unfortunately for Gillette, Tiger didn’t win, but I will be shocked if Federer doesn’t take Wimbledon – I always love watching his game on grass.

As for the song, I had heard of Action Action before, but wasn’t too familiar with their music – many bands get lumped into the whole post-punk/synth rock genre, and it’s easy for good ones to get lost in the shuffle. However, after seeing this ad the other day and hearing the beautiful, droning synth, I knew I had to hear more,and “Dream Within a Dream” has been on repeat ever since…unfortunately, the album’s not out yet so I have to be streaming it on MySpace, but once it is, you can bet it will get worn out on my iPod. Unlike many of the aforementioned synth rock bands, Action Action actually has solid songs that serve as the backbone for their sound, not the other way around. 

Action Action on MySpace

Ed Templeton

June 12, 2009

One part of the sports world that I had never paid attention to prior to moving California, was extreme sports. I always thought of that type of stuff as quasi-sports, a sideshow spectacle. However, living so close to the annual Summer X-Games changed all that for me, and after seeing it live, in person, I came to realize that these were athletes, not just adrenaline-junky punks (well, maybe they are all adrenaline junkies…but still). After getting more into extreme sports, I also learned that the culture really (more than any other sport) incorporates art and music. Perhaps it’s because skateboarding, bmx biking, etc is kind of an art in itself, but it seems like skate videos always have cool artwork, great music, etc. and that the participants all care a great deal about it – and nobody embodies this ideal better than Ed Templeton, an extreme sports/arts renaissance man.

ESPN recently featured Ed on their website, and you can watch the video segment below to learn more about this amazing skateboarder/artist/photographer/entrepreneur. In addition to his award-winning photography, his own skateboard company, and his arts magazine, Ed still manages to be actively involved in the skate community, and as you can see, the man can still tear it up on the board.  My assertion that extreme sports seem more connected to music is also affirmed by the choice of music in Ed’s segment (I doubt these were accidental choices) as they used Minus the Bear’s “When We Escape” right at the beginning, as well as Castaneda’s “You Can Do It” (which starts with about 3 min, 22 seconds left on the countdown).

Minus the Bear has obviously built a huge fanbase over the years, and if there was any doubt as to whether the band would still have “it” after losing multi-instrumentalist/producer Matt Boyles before the latest album, I think “When We Escape” puts it to rest. The lush instrumentation, smooth transitions, and slick implementation of poly rhythyms is all still here, and the band is sounding as good as ever.

Castaneda isn’t quite as well known as Minus the Bear, but I feel as though it won’t be long before they are. Hailing from the Los Feliz neighborhood here in LA (home to endless great indie rock acts past and present), Castaneda combine electronic music with the driving guitars and beats of many bands like Talking Heads, Joy Division, The Strokes, etc. I think they have the best use of synths this side of MGMT, so make sure to check them out, too.

Minus the Bear on MySpace

Castaneda on MySpace