Showing posts with label music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label music. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Skin & Earth From Lights And Dynamite Comics


I am used to my interests intersecting, but usually because a game I like is adapted to a comic, or a comic that I like is adapted to a game or a movie. This might be one of the few times that a musician that I like is adapting their music to a comic book.

The electro-pop artist Lights is adapting her upcoming album Skin & Earth into a comic book to be published by Dynamite Comics. Skin & Earth is the follow up album to her phenomenal release Little Machines.

If you haven't heard her music, you should.




Lights' music is poppy, but with hidden depths that linger with you after the music. The first song that I ever heard from her was the fluffy "Toes," but it was one of those songs that made me want to listen again and again. I think she is in a similar vein to Ellie Goulding, but not quite as low key as she is. Once you start listening to Lights, you definitely won't want to stop.

I am really looking forward to seeing how this comes out. We need more voices in comics, and I think that this book has the chance to be an extraordinary one.


"I feel my whole life has lead up to a project like this" says Lights. "It's a complete convergence of everything I love - music, comics, post-apocalyptic romance, crystals, wine and powerful ladies, all perfectly entwined. It'll be by far my most care-free and fierce album yet. I think now, more than ever, people need a reason to listen to a whole record, and this is mine."

"In recent years, the worlds of comic books and music have come together to produce some of the most exciting and immersive books on stands," says Dynamite CEO and publisher, Nick Barrucci. "To have the opportunity to work with such a talented and dedicated musician who is both writing and drawing the series herself will be a truly unique treat for both her fans and ours."

The comic series follows a young woman, En - a reflection of Lights herself - as she struggles to find hope in a hopeless world. Caught between romance and cults, gods and mortals, En is led down a dark path by new friends/lovers into a twisted fantasy world, forcing her to dig within and find the strength to overcome. Set in a post-apocalyptic future where corporations rule, Skin & Earth is an adventurous tale of loneliness and deceit, but ultimately becomes one of self-discovery and independence.

Skin & Earth #1 will be solicited in Diamond Comic Distributors' May 2017 Previews catalog, the premier source of merchandise for the comic book specialty market, and slated for release in July. Comic book fans are encouraged to reserve copies with their local comic book retailers. Skin & Earth will also be available for individual customer purchase through digital platforms courtesy of Comixology, Dynamite Digital, iVerse, and Dark Horse Digital.



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Kieron Gillen On Diversity


Kieron Gillen has written some of my favorite comics over the last few years: Phonogram, Young Avengers and Wicked + Divine. He's also work on Thor and other properties around the Marvel Universe. Some of the things that he writes resonates with me, particularly because of his use of pop music as a thread through his writing. I've found a few good indie bands because of his comics (and I rediscovered my love for the unappreciated British power pop band Kenickie).

In the wake of Warren Ellis' long-running email newsletter, I've started following the newsletters of a couple of other comics creators, and Gillen's newsletter is one of them. If you know of any comic creators doing email newsletters like this, let me know. I'd love to see more. I would love to see more RPG creators doing something like this as well.

In my recent post from Warren Ellis' newsletter about privacy, one of the links was to setting up a free email newsletter. I think that it would be interesting to see people like Steve Kenson, or some of the OSR people even, give this a shot. It is sort of like a private blog. I've been considering it myself.

However, I digress. This post was going to be about Gillen. In his newsletter of today he posted a quote from his self-introduction to a panel about diversity that he was a member of a a comic convention. I thought the words were good ones, and helped sum up why people like myself call for wider representation, and a greater diversity of views, in comics, role-playing games, and other forms of media, geeky and otherwise.

I hope that you like what he said as much as I did. I think that it should be provoking some conversations.
Here are a selection of diverse thoughts about the state of diversity.
Perfection is impossible. Relax. “Progressive” imply change. There is no utopia, no stasis. Even the most radical in the room will be Germaine Greer one day. In 20 years time, almost everything all of us are about to say will be problematic. Especially, I suspect, the word “problematic.”
Hearing about girls sitting down and reading Ms. Marvel in the middle of a comic shop and breaking into tears would move anyone. Even a monster like me. However, as important this is, we must not forget the powerful effect on people other than those depicted. By consuming culture about people other than ourselves we flower, and our capacity for understanding and empathy expand. Diversity of culture we consume is one of the the best weapons we have to improve the world. In as much as I was saved, I suspect was saved by Tenar in Ursula Le Guin’s Tombs Of Atuan. I think that Rey may yet save a generation of boys.
It is heartbreaking when I speak to my female peers and say they’ve never had a female role model.
I often wonder how having female heroes effected Jamie McKelvie and my own work. We’re monsters, but I suspect less so.
Diversity is not just a social justice issue. Diversity is a formalist issue. Diversity makes better art, as it is truer to the world. The world is diverse. If the art our culture produces does not have the diversity of the world it pertains to show, the art is failing us.
As a creative community we are in a position where all but the biggest dinosaurs agree that diversity is good. We are all pro diversity. This is a problem, in the same way that almost everyone expresses anti-racist sentiments in a world when everyone, via the background radiation of society, is to some degree racist.
To quote Jordie Bellaire’s campaign, Comics Are For Everyone. However, that should not be confused with All Comics Are For Everyone. You cannot please everyone. That is both a truism and a directive. You should not be trying to please everyone. Ironically, the self-censorship makes less diverse art including less diverse world-views.
Creatives are not just a machine to deliver diversity.
Creatives are petrified in Writing The Other. To be honest, Creatives are petrified of Writing The Same.
I have a test for diversity. If you are using the Bechdel test in any seriousness, your writing about diversity is almost certainly pretty poor. This is surface level reading of culture. Really thinking about sexuality, about gender, about race, about everything needs to be deeper.
In a single work of art, Diversity is a zero sum game. To write a love triangle between men in Young Avengers I had to include more men. As such, I had less women than I’d like in Young Avengers. An expectation of full diversity inside any individual work actually limits the stories you’re able to tell.
Diversity is necessary but not sufficient. Treating bad art with good diversity kindly is worse than useless, because if we do then we are reducing the value of our critical opinion’s coin. As such, it worries me when I see articles about my books which have the #1 reason to read it being the diverse cast. That petrifies me.
The biggest problem in comics is the lack of diversity in the talent pool. Frustratingly, there is no quick fix for all manner of tedious economic reasons. There is a medium term fix. I believe in five years, the industry will be almost unrecognisable. I am optimistic, god help me.
I think white men should probably shut up more. So I will.
He also mentions "formalist" in this introduction, and in case you're wondering what that means, he had some talk about it over here.

I hope that his words spark something in some of you.



Thursday, February 05, 2015

Welcome To Mashup Culture

I've been seeing people in my social media "circles" talking about an Isosine mashup over the last few days. I wanted to welcome you to the wonderful world of mashup culture. For those of you new to the "scene," I thought that I would make a few introductions to some of the producers who have been doing cool stuff over the years. Some of the things that I am about to share are going to be cool, others are going to be weird and a lot of them are going to be both.

The simple question to start with is "What is a mashup?"

The simple answer is that it is an acapella from one song (the vocal track) mixed with the instrumental track from another song. Of course it gets complicated quickly from there. A lot of mashups take components from a lot of different places and weaves them into something new and interesting.

My first exposure to mashups came from an article in a music magazine years ago, back in the early 2000s, when I read about a producer known as the Freelance Hellraiser spliced the vocal track from Christina Aguilera's "Genie in a Bottle" with the instrumental track from "Hard To Explain" by The Strokes. It was, at the time, mind blowing. The song itself came out in 2001, but it was a year or two before I would hear it myself.


In a world with DJs Earworm and Schmolli, this almost seems quaint now, but at the time it changed my perspective on music. Ask some of my friends, they'll tell you what a pain in the ass that I was about them.

This wasn't really the first mashup. This was just the first that a lot of people heard. People like the Evolution Control Committee were doing mindblowing audio collages that sometimes had social commentary worked into the remix. Their "Rocked By Rape" mix took soundbites from then CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather to show the exploitative and sensationalistic nature of the evening news.


For me, mashups were the music of science fiction, and the remixers were creating cyberpunk audioscapes for our world of tomorrow. Plus they had a good beat and you could dance to them.

That was then. What about now? The rest of this post is going to feature links to some places around the internet where you can find what I think are some of the best mashups around. They aren't in any particular order and I am sure that I am going to leave something out, so I will probably re-edit this periodically. If you think I should add something to this post, please leave a comment with a link to a site.

One of the things that I love most about mashups is that the community is international, and you get to see some cultural perspectives that you might not normally get to see and you can re-hear music that was once familiar from those new perspectives.

For me, the best starting point is the Bootie Blog. Bootie started as an event at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco, and has since spread around the world.  I actually DJed in the Second Life Bootie club a few years ago, and had my music and our dancing avatars streamed into the real life club. Yeah, it was before anyone really showed up, but we didn't care. Those of you in Seattle, be sure to check out the Bootie event there. Their site does a (sort of) monthly list of some of the best mashups out, and they compile a yearly "Best of" as well. You can also find holiday music and an archive of the Dean Grey American Edit mashup album floating around the site as well.

Mash-Up Your Bootz comes from Berlin.

Check out their "Best of" for 2014:


The Bootie Blog and Mash-Up Your Bootz are probably two of the best places to keep current on who is doing what in the mashup scene. They are both also very good for finding links to the producers who are doing these things. Once you head down this rabbit hole, you may not come back.

Another favorite of mine, a collaboration from a few years ago, is the Mashed In Plastic project. Why do I like Mashed In Plastic? Each song on the compilation used music and samples from David Lynch movies (or television shows in the case of Twin Peaks). I love the freakish creativity of this project.

Party Ben is a DJ and remixer based out of San Francisco. His music is very danceable and very fun. His mixes sound simple but they have a complexity to them that is lurking just below the surface.

The DJs From Mars are DJs from Italy who create some really creative multi-source mashups (meaning that they tend to do more than a simple acapella from one song plus an instrumental from another song types of mixes).

Loo & Placido are a remix team from France. Their mashups are a bit trippy, and they seem to enjoy the more chaotic elements of this style of music.

The Hood Internet bases most of their work on hip hop music, mixing them with a lot of indie and alternative stuff to come up with weird new sounds.

One of the best multi-source mashers would be DJ Lobsterdust (outside of DJ Earworm, but there's a link to him at the top of this post). Act quickly (at the time of this post) and you can get a massive .zip of his work from 2004 to 2014.

Last, but not least, is Alan Black. I like him because his work is weird. It isn't going to be for everyone, but SF fans may like his work themed around Inception and Star Wars.



There is enough music linked in this post to give you hours and hours of listening. Check them out and enjoy.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Music Talk: Arcade Fire's Reflektor and Diane Birch's Speak A Little Louder

I haven't talked about music in a while on here, so I thought that I would mention a couple of new CDs that have come out in the last couple of weeks. In this post I am going to talk about Arcade Fire's Reflektor and Diane Birch's Speak A Little Louder. What do the two have in common? Not much, but they are two strong records. Let's talk about why.


It has been three years since Arcade Fire's last album, The Suburbs. I have to admit that I was a late adopter of The Suburbs, but it really grew on me. It was a haunting, in places, reflection on urban and suburban life in the early 21st century with cyberpunk dystopian overtones to it. Once the record grew on me, I would have thought that it would have been hard to top. The Suburbs has spent so much time in my car stereo that it might be getting grooves in it.

Reflektor manages to be a follow-up to a strong album without going back over the same ground again. Fans of The Suburbs will definitely find songs on this that they will like (mid-tempo slow burners like Afterlife, Here Comes The Night Time II and Supersymmetry are all reminiscent tracks) on this, but it is much more than The Suburbs II. Reflektor, the opening track, starts the record with the expected Arcade Fire flourish. It is a catchy and upbeat track that draws you into the album. This song is just one remix away from being a strong danceable track. We Exist follows up with the sort of indie pop/dance track that you would expect from Arcade Fire, and Flashbulb Eyes flirts with the lyrical approach that the band is known for, with a sound that fuses their normal sound with an almost Tropical vibe.

I was not a big fan of Arcade Fire before The Suburbs, but something about that album really clicked with me. On Reflektor, the band takes everything that I liked and cranked it up into a record that is probably going to be a favorite of mine for a while (at least until they put out something new that manages to surpass this).

Reflektor is a solid album, and a great follow-up to The Suburbs. If you haven't given this band a chance yet, you should check out this record. So far, this record feels like it will have the same infectious multi-listen groove to it that The Suburbs does, making me want to keep playing this disc. Definitely check it out and pick it up.


Next up is Speak A Little Louder, the third release from Diane Birch. If you have not yet heard Diane Birch and her soul-infused, almost Southern gospel approach, go back and get her two earlier releases The Bible Belt and The Velveteen Age (in collaboration with The Phenomenal Handclap Band). Be particularly certain to catch her infectious cover of The Sisters of Mercy's This Corrosion.

Are you back now?

Speak A Little Louder definitely has its ups and downs, and while nowhere near as strong of a record as her debut, The Bible Belt, it still is a showcase for Birch's great voice and piano playing. On tracks like Lighthouse, Love & War and UNFKD Birch is at her strongest on this release. Pretty In Pain and All The Love You Got all also both good songs. Birch channels her inner Ann Wilson to good effect in Frozen Over.

I am torn on this because, while Birch's singing is still excellent, it doesn't feel like the writing on this record pushes towards the potential of her voice. It is a solid record, but most likely one that will not be burning up any one's Best of 2013 lists. Give this a listen or two, and then go back to The Bible Belt for the good stuff.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Chamber Band: The Soundtrack To Your Next D&D Game

I know that you've heard of nerdcore music before, and while that can be cool I am really only going to listen to so much hip-hop music. I was then surprised to discover that there was a nerdy band (doing music inspired by gaming and D&D stuff) that had more of an "indie" rock sort of vibe to them. Think of The Lumineers or Of Monsters and Men (maybe with a harder edge at times) singing about their D&D game, and you have an idea of what the band Chamber Band sounds like.

Photo by Jay Hoffman

You should check the band out at their Bandcamp page and pick up their digital record Deities in your favorite digital music format. I really got into the songs Lawful Neutral and Shapeshifter. Asmodeus is well worth a listen as well. The production values on this record are slick and hold up to comparison with any mainstream or big label release you might be listening to. I am a fan of bands with boy/girl harmonies with their vocals, and Chamber Band delivers on that with crisp singing of well-written lyrics that you don't just have to be a nerd to want to listen to.

Photo by Lauren Bilanko
Seriously, if you haven't already clicked on the link to their Bandcamp page and bought this, you need to do that right now. Gaming is about the DIY approach to things, and now bands can do the same thing (with sites like Bandcamp and many others). Just like how gamers can put together a game book that they want and need and put it up on sites like Lulu.com or RPGNow/DriveThruRPG and get it out to the people that it will connect to, musicians can do the same thing. This is something that we should all support, because that cool virtual garage band of today could very well be the next big thing, and Chamber Band definitely has the talent to be that thing. All that is needed is that missing piece...you.

Tell me what you think of this record once you have it. I'm curious to hear your takes on it as well. This record should be the soundtrack to your next D&D game.

Friday, May 04, 2012

R.I.P. Adam Yauch

This is going to be a controversial statement but, I think that in the long term (and in terms of musical legacies of my generation) that that Adam Yauch and the Beastie Boys are going to end up with a cultural and musical signifigance that's going to surpass Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. If it hasn't already.

It's time to pass the mic.

Rest in Peace, Adam, you've deserved it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Some Records Store Day Releases

Here are a couple of the releases that you can look forward to on Record Store Day.
First we have a collaboration between The Flaming Lips and New Fumes, with a very NSFW music video after the jump.


Record Store Day

It's time again for Record Store Day (sadly not free like Free Comic Day or Free RPG Day, but you take what you can get). The fun starts on Saturday April 21, 2012.

Here in the Saint Petersburg, Florida area Bananas Music and Daddy Kool Records are taking part in the event. I believe that Daddy Kool is going to have live music as part of Record Store Day.

Here's the list of the special stuff that is being released just for Record Store day.

I'm looking forward to a few of the things, the Beach House and Regina Spektor singles look cool, and there is a single for Starman from David Bowie. There is all sorts of good stuff for all sorts of musical tastes.

Here's a couple of great quotes from artists who are involved, or have been in the past:

"My early record shopping experiences were my musical backdrop. It's not just the ability to touch, see and smell an album and the artwork...it's the fact that you are in a Real Place with Real People...and not just any people: other music-obsessed freaks like you. I discovered so many bands by just hanging out, talking to shopkeepers, getting recommendations from some random dude who was flipping through the Nick Cave bootleg box as fervently as I was. Every time I am in a different city on tour, I make a point to hit the indie retail record stores to see what they're spinning and selling, because i just LOVE being there...my own personal and sometimes anonymous church. You can't get that feeling sitting behind your computer, ever."

- Amanda Palmer (The Dresden Dolls)

“Independent retail has always been the backbone of Porcupine Tree’s exposure in the US, and from the very beginning, the band was proactive in trying to associate with as many indie retail stores/chains as possible. We’ve always respected the aesthetics of the “pure” record store, and the importance of knowledgeable staff who can recommend great stuff to you because they truly love music and know what they’re talking about, and are not selling vacuum cleaners or washer/dryers in the next section over. Porcupine Tree would never have reached its level of retail exposure without the indie stores, we’ll always stand with them.”

- Steve Wilson (Porcupine Trees)

"The indie record shop is the nucleus of the nerd...the internet has it's temptations but physically digging for booty? there's no substitute."

- Ursula 1000 (DJ on ESL – Thievery Corporation label)

"Before all of them were shut down by itunes and downloading, my local indy record stores were perhaps the only reason life was worth living. It’s strange to think that there was a time that an album you've never heard of could be sold to you because of cool artwork and a successful listening station session. Every Tuesday, you'd walk in, say what's up to the same 3 people who are always there working, and feast your eyes upon the 'new releases' shelf. Seldom did I walk out with any money left. And I was fine with that. Now my city doesn't have any independent record stores."

- Mac Lethal

“We are drowning in a sea of Myspace, blather, and too much information. Music is everywhere and nowhere. The independent record store is the solution, a place staffed by friendly (or not) people who are actually paid to weed through this crap and help you find the good stuff.”

- Dean Wareham (Luna)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Culture Bully's 2011 Mashed


File this under Music and Mashups. Culture Bully has posted their 2011 Mashed compilation. You can find it here. This incredible production from The Reborn Identity (one of my favorite producers) kicks off the compilation.

The Reborn Identity - Cosmic Lifeforms (Florence + The Machine vs Carbon Based Lifeforms) by The Reborn Identity

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Best of Bootie 2011

Here is Bootie's Best of Bootie 2011 mashup compilation. This is the continuous mix version. They also have an unmixed version with the individual tracks available.


Best of Bootie 2011 by bootie

Downloads and extras can be found at the Best of Bootie 2011 page. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

RCRD LBL Free Halloween Mixtape

As long as I am posting "mixtapes," here's one of Halloween-type music compiled by the fine folk over at RCRD LBL. Like music? Like free music? You should check them out.
For me, Halloween is strictly about screams and sweat, straight up thrills, nightmarish parties, and sweet sweet (ear) candy. The louder, the weirder, the filthier, the better. Between witchy Purity remixes, Hussle Club dubstep, blinded-by-blood Atari Teenage Riot cries and Koralleven’s rave horsewhip skinning Britney Spears, our Halloween Thrillers playlist will prepare you for the darkest day of the year. And when it comes, you best dance ‘til you die.




Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Music Mix Challenge: 80 in 90

I like music. I like finding new music. It's always interesting to hear what others are listening to, even if I don't like it. When I was a kid, I loved making mixtapes for people. So, let's make a little bit of a challenge, shall we?

I want everyone within the sound of my virtual voice to put together a virtual CD of some of their favorite tunes right now. The stuff that is burning up in your iPods and MP3 players and computers and you want to share with other people. It can be the brand new latest hot track, or it can be something older that you still can't stop listening to. Regardless of age, it has to be music you love...not the stuff that blogs and magazine and critics are talking about. And it has to be something you want to share, regardless of how goofy it might sound. Musical genre or style doesn't matter for this, just that you love the music.

Now, here's the challenge part: You have 90 minutes to put together 80 minutes worth of music. It doesn't matter when you start doing the assembly of track, you just can only take 90 minutes to do it once you start assembling. Once you have that, put it into a format you can share with the world. It can be the tracks you've picked in a .zip file and shared on Mediafire (send me a message if you would like the tracks hosted for you instead), or it can be a continuous mix put up on a site like Soundcloud. Just make it so that it can fit onto a CD, and that it's in a format that's burnable. I'd prefer people stick to an MP3 format obviously, but if you want to do it in some other format just make sure that it can be easily read and burned by most home computers.

Tweet and Facebook about this, share with your friends online and off. Let's get a crapload of music together so that people can be introduced (or reintroduced) to some new stuff. If you tweet about this please use the #80in90 hashtag so that we can find each other and share the wealth. If you have questions, hit me up on Twitter or in the comments on this post.

Let's share some music.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Movie Score Meme

Use your music player to create the score to a movie. Yes, I got this from someone's journal. That's the point to it being a meme. I will admit that some of these themes contribute to a strange overall movie, unless you're going for a Joycean type of film. Pass it along.

So, here's how it works:
1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, MusicMatch, Media Player, iPod, etc.)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every scene, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new scene, press the shuffle button again
6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool

Opening Credits: Are "Friends" Electric? - The Tubeway Army
Falling in Love: Information - De-Phazz
Breaking Up: The Vampire Club - Voltaire
Prom: Planet Rock - Afrika Bambaataa
Life's OK: What Is It About Men? - Amy Winehouse
Mental Breakdown: Sign of the Times - Brian Ferry
Driving: Stranger - Clan of Xymox
Getting Back Together: Jump - Aztec Camera
Birth of Child: Playground Love (Vibraphone Mix) - Air
Wedding Scene: Stand and Deliver - Adam and the Ants
Final Battle: This Is Not America - The Pat Metheney Band with David Bowie
Death Scene: Eventide - Claire Voyant
Funeral Scene: A Whiter Shade of Pale - Annie Lennox
End Credits: Add It Up - Violent Femmes