Showing posts with label pop. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pop. Show all posts

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Gotye live in San Francisco, a gorgeous show for a gorgeous record

Gotye at Coachella last weekend (
Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

Last night, Gotye performed at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, in between Coachella performances, fresh off Saturday Night Live. You can definitely say that the Belgian-Australian artist is the hottest ticket of the moment.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve most likely seen the sexy and innovative video and heard Gotye’s hit tune “Somebody that I Used to Know” featuring Kimbra covered on Glee, American Idol and everywhere else (Maybe you heard me singing it? I can't stop). What you might not know is that the song is not a one-off, but part of a beautifully written and produced album called Making Mirrors which transfers well to the stage.

Wouter “Wally” De Backer’s song-crafting has grown in leaps and bounds since the 2008 “Mixed Blood”. “Eyes Wide Open”, “Save Me” and surprisingly “State of the Art” are exquisite songs which could easily be released as singles.

Gotye has been compared to Elliott Smith, Sting, Peter Gabriel and I would throw Imogen Heap into the mix, creating a genre-defying, sample-saturated wall of sound. Watching De Backer perform these tunes is watching him switch from playing various percussion instruments, sample –filled keyboards and pushing his voice to unfathomable heights in pitch, volume and timbre. Experimental keyboardist Tim Shiel joyfully plugged away at his set of electronic toys.

The only time I felt the music suffered from too much sampling (the five-piece band also included a guitarist and bassist) was in the soul tunes “I Feel Better” and “In Your Light”. Live horns are always better; sampled horns are sort of sad.

Continue reading my article on

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Silly Little Love Song Mix for Conspiracy of Venus (and a show!)

A mix of cheese-tastic love songs

I've been keeping myself super busy lately with three different ensembles. One of them is the 40 women community chorus Conspiracy of Venus. I sung with them a few years ago and rejoined earlier this year. Tomorrow night is the last show of the season and will be my first show singing with them (I'm still learning the music).

We are currently look for new songs to sing for next year and Joyce, our conductor/arranger really wants to perform some straight up love songs since we basically don't have any! So I made a mix of some of my favorite cheese-tastic, silly, love songs.

If you'd like to check out the Conspiracy of Venus show tomorrow night at the Rickshaw Stop, details are below the playlist.

MONDAY MAY 30TH - Memorial Day
SeaweedSway & the Songbird Festival Present:
Dustin O'Halloran w/ the Magik*Magik String Quartet
+ Conspiracy of Venus
at the Rickshaw Stop!
8pm doors / 9pm show. 155 Fell St, SF, CA 94102

We go on first at 9pm.

Tickets: $15

If you're not familiar with the choir, we are an all-women community choir singing songs by tom waits, leonard cohen, joni mitchell, bill withers, bjork, & the pixies, to name a few...

See the SF weekly writeup for this piece about the show.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I crush hard on music: Adele and Brass Menažeri

Okay, sometimes I more than crush. We'll have a short love affair and I get that chill up my spine. I feel a certain joy. I have to listen over and over a again. Turn it up in the car or just watch the musicians in awe. I go to bed and wake up with the tune in my head.

Right now I'm totally obsessed with Adele's pop tune from the album 21 called "Set Fire to the Rain". (The 5th track for those of you who don't do song titles.) I mean, the whole album is so good (well most of it) but I just can't get enough of this one.

It's the perfect pop tune. Not annoying but chalk full of gut wrenching emotion. A catchy lick. A string arrangement. A wall of sound. Adele hits those notes perfectly. It's an 80s pop ballad cleverly disguised as one from 2011. But it feels real.

The other night I went to the Make Out Room to see the premiere of Chasing the Moon's Brass Menažeri podcast. Co-creator and producer Scott McDowell introduced the podcast by explaining that he has a crush on this band. He totally hit the nail on the head.

I am so enamored by Eastern European Balkan brass bands. It's so sexy. These folks have to be so right on to pull off this kind of music, and Brass Menažeri always nails it. Love this band.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Why Britney Spears' and Rihanna's "S&M" is the worst guilty pleasure ever

Beyond the obvious, the new collaboration from Britney Spears and Rihanna is a catchy tune. Now that I'm driving 6 hours in the car for work per week, I'm more liberal about what radio stations catch my attention, and I heard the new "S&M" on a top 40 station yesterday.

I am no prude when it comes to enjoying a good pop tune, but I just keep thinking, "I feel so badly for parents!" How does a parent deal with this?

People have been singing about sex for decades, from "rock with me all night long" to Britney's "I'm a Slave 4 U." But at least in those songs, you could easily tell a child that they were referring to dancing or something. I think what puts me on edge about this song is how specific it is.

Whips and chains? Geez, it's not sugar coated at all, is it? It's not poetic at all. I think that's what's missing, artistry.

Parents, how would you/how are you handling this type of thing? It's not like you can keep these tracks away from children when it's all over the place?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Florence + The Machine at the Oakland Fox Theater, a review

Florence and The Machine at the O2 Empire, Shepherd's Bush, London, 28th September 2009
Photo by preamble

WOW! This woman is INCREDIBLE. Because it's not super professional to say that on, I just wanted to get that out of the way here :)

Anyone who takes their cues from Bjork is okay in my book.


Florence and the Machine - Dog Days Are Over VMA
Uploaded by samiam2546. - Explore more music videos.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Greg Laswell finally gets to rock out with a 5-piece band, and the catalyst to starting this blog in the first place

Greg Laswell holds a special place in my musical being. He was the first post on this blog.

It was a lonely September evening when I went to see Greg Laswell by myself at Cafe du Nord in 2008. But it was there that I decided to go home and actually start writing. I had been thinking about it for awhile, but there was something about discovering this musician and seeing him play live that actually convinced me to do it.

So thanks, Greg.

I'm super excited to see him play with a 5-piece band on a bigger stage. The energy of his music calls for more sound, and somehow the two and three piece groups I've seen him with always left me a tad disappointed.

READ THE PREVIEW OF THE THIS SHOW at the Independent next Wednesday HERE

Please click through, even if you don't read it, I get a penny every time you go to my Examiner articles! MAKE ME RICH!! lol. I don't have a day job anymore!!

And for those of you not in the Bay Area check out his tour dates here, he'll be heading through the Midwest, East Coast and Canada in the next month or so.

And stay tuned for photos and review from a fellow Examiner Amber Gregory.

Watch Greg try to sing backwards (to make it look like he's singing forwards) while people destroy the set in the background.

Greg Laswell Featuring Ingrid Michaelson "Take Everything" HD from OTTO ARSENAULT on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Help fund My First Earthquake destroy a record studio

This is actually my favorite MFE official photo, love that it's taken in front of the DeYoung Museum

My First Earthquake has quickly become my favorite Bay Area band. They are silly, irreverent and fabulous live. They have a song about cooking a chubby boyfriend into a meat pie for godsake! And the music is something out of a hip '80s video game.

And they are also nice people who suggest meeting for the best pancakes in San Francisco early on a Sunday morning.

I'll be plugging their music and their album-making campaign tomorrow (Thursday October 21st) morning on KUSF 90.3 FM (you can also use this link to listen online or later) between 8-9 AM PCT.

But for now, READ MY ARTICLE that came out of a breakfast interview with the band. And donate some cash if you feel like it, you have until Saturday morning.

Friday, September 10, 2010

"Double Rainbow" and "Bed Intruder Song": The Gregory Brothers and Auto-tune

"You are so dumb, home, home, homeboy" says Antoine Dodson

Okay fine, I give in. Theses songs are totally catchy and I totally admit that I can't stop watching/listening to them. I might even download them.

So, according to the New York Times, the "Bed Intruder Song" has made it to the 39th spot on itunes as well as number 89 on the Billboard chats. The Gregory Brothers have split the proceeds of the song with "unintentional singer" Antoine Dodson who is using his money to move his family out of the projects. That might be the best part about this story.

So if you've not seen this yet, watch it. If you've watched it a million times, here it is again: "Bed Intruder Song"

I'm a little late to the game with this one, but this is "Double Rainbow" inspired by this video of a guy freaking out over a double rainbow in Yosemite. It's intense.

I'm finding that you need to have a certain sense of humor to really appreciate the ridiculous awesomeness that is auto-tuning. Musicians, like Ke$ha (article soon to come), have instead of using it to "fix" pitch and instead use it in the open to create pitch.

Love it or hate it, you have to admit that when use right, it's absolutely hysterical.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Green Day plays one helluva live show and is just enough angsty for this 30-year-old

Billie Joe is a whore for attention, I'm sure of it
photos from by white menace

There's something pretty special about seeing a band play to its hometown/area while at the same time badmouth the area that you grew up in. Hearing Billie Joe tell San Diego and Los Angeles to "fuck off" right after playing there is pretty hysterical.

There's also something really special about being angry about a ticketing will-call snafu that almost sent me home, and then being able to work it out to some perfectly angsty pop punk. I love being 30 and still able to bounce around with the teenagers.

I love Green Day's interaction with the crowd. It's really physical, letting them pull and push them around, from both the pit and the stage. It was also fun to see Green Day show off their chops, both with their own music and covering other music. (See the setlist here, you'll see they covered quite a few rock tunes from Journey to Zeppelin.) Billie Joe proved that that nasaled vlocal thing is just for aesthetic value, because his vocal chops on those hard rock covers were pretty spot on.

Read my review of the Saturday, September 4th show at Shoreline Amphitheatre on HERE

Billie Joe encourages fan to stage dive

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Relentlessly Cheerful Art - Pop Art icon pairings

'Bein' Green'

Kirk Hamilton posted a link on facebook today for James Hance's "Relentlessly Cheerful Art." Had to share. You can buy prints for $10 (or originals for around $250 which is actually pretty reasonable, if you can swing it). See more at his website. The titles are really cute too.

'The Flower Of The Force II'

'The Dark Starry Knight'

'These Are The Droids We're Looking For'

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Who is your favorite Beatle?: The results to an informal survey

The Beatles battle it out for your affections

For months I've been asking you all: "who is your favorite Beatle?" (Sorry if it's been annoying!)

In honor of Ringo Starr’s 70th birthday and Paul McCartney’s live performance return to San Francisco at AT&T Park this Saturday, July 10th, I’ve finally posted these articles on (one for every Beatle).

Thank you to all of you who responded. Your responses were fascinating and I had so much fun writing about this topic!

In my findings, the order of most popular to least popular went like this: John, George, Ringo, Paul. A scientific national poll of Americans had a very different opinion (Paul is "America's favorite Beatle").

So who is your favorite Beatle? Are you a fan of the rock’n’roller who got political? How about the quiet spiritual one? Maybe your favorite was the cute one who wrote silly love songs? Or perhaps you go for the underdog? Please feel free to disagree.

And just because: please read this fabulous essay on (if you haven't already) entitled "Scenes From An Alternate Universe Where The Beatles Accepted Lorne Michaels' Generous Offer." If you are a Beatles fan, you will be moved. Please read at least until the battle of the bands between The Beatles and the Electric Mayhem. It's brilliant.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lady Gaga outs Don't Ask Don't Tell?

I wonder if Congress' willingness to repeal the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy in the military had anything to do with this video... It also shows how damn bored our boys are over in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lady Gaga concert photos from Monday December 14th in San Francisco

These are photos my friend's Sharon and Jeffrey (who I met waiting in line for RENT) took from about ten feet away from the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium stage in San Francisco. I have to give them props for waiting in line for so long to get such a great spot. While you can sure find better professional quality photos, there's something fun in knowing that a regular person with a regular camera can get such a great view.

At the Gaga concert the night before I was hanging out over on the side, not able to see a whole lot. At least the Civic Auditorium has giant digital screen for us short people.

Enjoy! And thanks for letting me post your photos Sharon and Jeffrey!


Monday, December 14, 2009

Lady Gaga fans in San Francisco dress to impress: a photo essay

Yesterday I got a surprise phone call from a friend who had an extra Lady Gag ticket: did I want it? YES!

Yes the show was fun and crazy and WOW what is she wearing now???

I wished that Gaga played a little more piano however. She only tickled the keys for two songs. But, that's okay. I was there for a stage show, and that's what we got.

But the highlight for me was seeing how the fans came out in full force, dressed to the nines, even a Lady of Perpetual Indulgence was in attendance.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Adam Lambert doesn't stand alone as openly gay male pop star: six musicians to check out

I wasn’t going to broach the subject of Adam Lambert's "coming out" into mainstream pop culture post-American Idol , but after hearing and reading reactions all across the board I had to get my two cents in. I, sometimes painfully, sat through most of the American Music Awards and can’t believe the media is getting their panties in a bundle over this. Nevermind, I can believe it, that’s what the media does. I guess I’m part of that, eh?

In the midst of all this Prop-8 nonsense, I do believe it is the double standard that is to blame. But there are two double standards at work here: that of gender and that of sexuality. As many have said before me the Britney Spears/Madonna kiss was okay with the media. They are both straight women. If Melissa Etheridge pulled what Adam Lambert did, I think there would have been a similar noise. Blatant homosexuality is threatening to mainstream media. This we know.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Green Day and "American Idiot" Berkeley Rep Cast to Record New Version Single "21 Guns"

This is only the beginning of the staged production of American Idiot's rise in popularity.

According to cast member and star John Gallager, Jr's twitter the cast of American Idiot at the Berkeley Rep went into the studio yesterday to record "21 Guns" with Green Day. It is rumored that the production will spread onto Broadway and the big screen.

Personally I'm looking forward to the cast recording of American Idiot. The arrangements are spectacular. I saw the show opening night just over two months ago. READ MY REVIEW HERE and can't quite remember who sings "21 Guns" (it might have been one of the female characters), but the cast was terrific and it's bound to be good.

Green Day's singer and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong is producing the track, which will hit the radio at the end of November and be made available for purchase through all digital retailers. With bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tre Cool the band will also shoot a video for “21 Guns” with the American Idiot cast. The digital version of the "21 Guns" has gone platinum, selling more than one million downloads, while the video won three 2009 MTV Video Music Awards in September, including “Best Rock Video.”

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Lady Gaga on SNL

Lady Gaga's awesome hair bow

I really like Lady Gaga. I don't like ALL of her songs, but I'm impressed by her talent and her crazy weirdness. It's interesting to see what she's going to wear next.

As far as pop stars go, I wish they were more like her. Along with women like Alicia Keys, she writes her own songs (she was discovered while she was a songwriter for Pussycat Dolls, Britney and Fergie) and plays piano.

I know she says all these ridiculous things, but I think at this point she says them just to see what the reaction will be. The media must be fun to manipulate once to realize it's all bs anyway.

Anyway, this is a cool performance from SNL last week. I love this weird hoop thing she's got going on. And I LOVE the alternate version of "Pokerface" with the alternate "New York" lyrics.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Collective of San Franciscan pop this Thursday: Blue Rabbit, Kirk Hamilton and Conspiracy of Venus

My best friend from elementary school made this collaged poster/flier for this show coming up on Thursday, I love it. She's a member of The Conspiracy of Venus chorus that sang with for a few months when I first moved to the Bay Area. Read the article here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I'm sorta loving this Chris Brown song in all of its incarnations

I was not a fan of Chris Brown until I saw this video of the coolest, cutest, happiest wedding procession ever to exist. I've watched this 6 times or so (youtube viewers have watched if over 18 million times. I love it. It makes me so happy and I have no idea why.

If you love it too, go to the site the couple made in honor of the popularity of this video where they are raising money for Sheila Wellstone Institute, dedicated to ending domestic violence in our communities.

I happened to find this video today while poking around youtube. It's the promo video for Kollaboration: an all Asian American concert that occurred in February in Los Angeles.

I already love Kina Grannis and I've seen David Choi (gorgeously pop perfect voice) performing duets with Kina. BUT WHO ARE THESE OTHER VELVET VOICED WOMEN?? I'm sort of in love. The four sisters are Jazmin, the other lady is Jane Lui (click on their names to hear more). I'm feeling the Asian American love and wished I had known about this show back in February.

So I can't get "Forever" out of my head now. Thanks alot...