Music store: The Dears

Ewa and me saw this band in London, on the South Bank Center, in a events that commemorated the 10th anniversary of some discographyic company. The Dears were not even the headliners (Midlake were, that was the day I discovered them; check the music store archive to read about them). I learnt about their existence through Radiohead... yes, yet again. Tom Yorke gathered a list of his favorite songs from 2007, and among them was a song from The Dears. I downloaded the songs, thinking (quite rightly, I must say) that if I like A and A likes B, I will like B as well. And how right I was.

I remember that the guy presenting them complained about the critics, which would define The Dears as bad copies of a whole list of other well-known bands, and he argued that critics that can only describe a band by comparing them to others should get out of the way and do something else. He had a point really. It is true that you cannot avoid hearing influences in their music (Radiohead themselves, The Smiths, Doves...), but it's unfair not to acknowledge the arrogance and lack of fear of these guys when it comes to music: the use of a myriad of instruments, the musical landscapes, the way they can express all sorts of feelings with their songs... they have been defined at times as pretentious. I don't get why. Some of their songs are indeed grandiloquent, but they work. Hell they do. This is, to conclude, very good pop rock. Some of the best around. Together with Arcade Fire, these guys have placed Montreal in the musical maps. Big time.

With songs such as Find the way to our Freedom, Expect the worst 'cos she's a Tourist, Hate then Love, I feel deep, Never destroy Us, No hope before Destruction... this band has all the tickets to become either a cult band or a mass success... not sure what would be better. I just happen to be very happy to have discovered them.

Here's the video to the melancholic You and I are a Gang of Losers:


Quote: Philip K. Dick

Charles Freck, becoming progressively more and more depressed by what was happening to everybody he knew, decided finally to off himself. There was no problem, in the circles where he hung out, in putting an end to yourself: you just bought into a large quantity of reds and took them with some cheap wine, late at night, with the phone off the hook so no one would interrupt you...

At the last moment (as end time closed in on him) he changed his mind on a decisive issue and decided to drink the reds down with a connoisseur wine... so he set
off on one last drive and bought a bottle of 1971 Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon...

Back home again, he uncorked the wine, let it breathe, drank a few glasses of it... tried to think of something meaningful but could not... and then, with a glass of the Cavernet Sauvignon, gulped down all the reds at once.

After that, the deed being done, he lay back... and waited.
However, he had been burned. The capsules were not barbiturates, as represented. They were some kind of kinky psychedelics, of a type he had never dropped before, probably a misture, and new on the market. Instead of quietly suffocating, Charles Freck began to hallucinate. Well, he thought philosophically, this is the story of my life. Always ripped off. He had to face the fact - considering how many of the capsules he had swallowed - that he was in for some trip.

The next thing he knew, a creature from between dimensions was standing beside his bed looking down at him disapprovingly... "You're going to read me my sins", Charles Freck said. The creature nodded and unsealed the scroll. Freck said, lying helpless on his bed, "and it's going to take a hundred thousand hours." Fixing its many compound eyes on him, the creature from between dimensions said, "...Your sins will be read to you ceaselessly, in shifts, throughout eternity. The list will never end."...

Ten thousand years later they had reached the sixth grade. The year he had discovered masturbation. He shut his eyes, but the could still see the multi-eyed, eight-foot-high being with its endless scroll reading on and on...

Charles Freck thought, at least I got a good wine.

A scanner darkly, 1977


The man with a higher IQ than Einstein

...Fischer was also the (then) highest-rated player in history according to the Elo rating system... Because of his accomplishments up to this point in his life as a pioneer of professional chess, the select list of people who have beaten Bobby Fischer in chess, the fame he brought to himself and the game in the 1970's, and the epoch of IBM Deep Blue in the last 1990's (after which those few who ever had a higher rating than Fischer's peak can now be defeated by a machine), some reference works and some of his biographers rate him as the greatest player that ever lived...

...Fischer was also an expert at solving the fifteen puzzle, which he completed in under 25 seconds multiple times. He was also an expert at playing pinball machines and early video games such as Space Invaders...



Pen art

Yes, he does it with a pen...


Photo store: Saverne, France

Back in April 2004, on a climbing trip to France, me and Tijl.


Quote: Nassim Nicholas Taleb

...Aside from the misperception of one's performance, there is a social treadmill effect: you get rich, move to rich neighbourhoods, the become poor again. To that add the psychological treadmill effect; you get used to wealth and revert to a set point of satisfaction. This problem of some people never really getting to feel satisfied by wealth (beyond a given point) has been the subject of technical discussions on happiness...

...I will set aside the point that I see no special heroism in accumulating money... we should remember that becoming rich is a purely selfish act, not a social one. The virtue of capitalism is that society can take advantage of people's greed rather than their benevolence, but there's no need to, in addition, extol such greed as a moral (or intellectual) accomplishment...

Fooled by Randomness, 2004


Music store: David Bowie

Natural from Brixton, England, David Bowie is a rare animal in the music industry. Again, this is a musician that produced most of his best work in the seventies. I am a big fan of the 70's... and of the 90's, not so much of the 80's (except for some people that made it a less boring time to live in, such as New Order, The Smiths or The Cure, to name a few). And David Bowie has that sort of magic, gloaming quality that somebody that grew up musically in the 90's such as myself attaches to the 70's, that romanticism long gone, that extreme concept of freedom.

Because that's the taste of his music, it has that kind of timeless odd beauty. And it does feel like flying to a different planet, where many little David Bowies wonder around, whistling hyper-dimensional melodies. Funny creature the man.

I was thinking for a while about which songs to post here. The amount of great numbers is vast: Space Oddity, The Man Who Sold The World, Life on Mars, Under Pressure (yes, it's not a Queen's song), I'm Afraid Of Americans, Little Wonder... I finally decided to go for two surreal gems, delicious pieces of music, from 1971 and 1980 respectively. Enjoy Changes (with the great line ...time may change me, but I can't trace time...) and Ashes to Ashes (absolute madness!):


I couldn't resist...

Get ready for this hilarious video about Belgians (in Spanish):


Quote: Charles Bukowski

...I got lost somehow, began staring at her legs. I was always a leg man. It was the first thing I saw when I was born. But then I was trying to get out. Ever since I have been working in the other direction and with pretty lousy luck...

...So there I was, back at the office the next day. I was feeling unfulfilled and, frankly, rather crappy about everything. I wasn't going anywhere and neither was the rest of the world. We were all just hanging around waiting to die and meanwhile doing little things to fill the space. Some of us weren't even doing little things. We were vegetables. I was one of those. I don't know what kind of vegetable I was. I felt like a turnip. I lit a cigar, inhaled, and pretended that I knew what the hell...

Pulp, 1994


Happy new year!!

Shall you have a marvelous 2008.