Saturday, July 30, 2011

Chicago, You're Critical Mass Is Being Sponsored By Urban Outfitters ...And Levi's!

I woke up this morning to an e-mail from Urban Outfitters ( buy one pair of shoes six years ago...) that I couldn't help but feel was a couple of project coordinator's well-intentioned, yet somewhat clueless attempt at cross promotion.

The cross promotion in question is (sub)Urban Outfitters team-up with Levi's to promote the jeans maker's new 511 Commuter. As seen in the video below, Levi's put a ton o' gimmes into these jeans to make them appealing to the ever-present stationary fixed gear rider with a warehouse/projector set-up:

Judging by the comments on YouTube, this promotional video has indeed generated the "I want 'em!" buzz the brand was looking for. However, as several female commentators noted, these jeans are being marketed only to guys - which makes sense, since Levi's is strictly making the 511 Commuter for dudes. As one of these commentators also noted, any female urban bike rider looking to utilize the wondrous attributes of these jeans will have to buy the men's size small (a brilliant bit of irony, given the trend a couple of years ago of skinny fellas buying girl's jeans - NATCH!)

Now personally, I'm not a fan of the oh-so-skinny 511's. I tried on a pair once and honestly, couldn't peel them off my leg fast enough. There's just something about looking like you're in a denim ballet that doesn't appeal to me. The looser, yet slightly more dignified skinny-cut 513's are more my speed (Hear that Levi's? Why not extend the Commuter brand across your other "urban" jeans platforms?)

But the Levi's jeans end of this promotion wasn't what was giving me the arshole. No, it was UO's cross country, town-to-town free bike tuning promotion that made me groan through my eyes-closed-shaking-head-back-and-forth guffaw.

While the "Custom Levi's Commuter Tailoring," "DIY Bike Bag" and the "And More" sound slightly appealing, it's the "Bike Tuning With An Expert Mechanic" that ultimately elicits a "tsk, tsk." I mean, I can see where, in Urban Outfitters' mind, that this promotion makes total sense (since UO has their own line of fixed gear bicycles, and all), but looking at the tour stops (seriously, Asheville, but not Davis, Baltimore or Seattle???), I'm going to venture to guess that most - if not all - of these cities have at least (!) one bike shop. Imagine how pleased these bike shop's proprietors must be to know Urban Outfitters and Levi's are doing their jobs ...FOR FREE! Slap, meet face.

(Wait! New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Portland? They have a small cadre of messenger bag manufacturers, right? Hey, they'll be pleased with Urban Outfitters x Levi's traveling swiping-food-from-mouth show, too!)

Anyhoo, if you're looking to "get in the saddle" and take your LBS for granted - or if you're a LBS owner in one of the cities listed above looking to meet the brains behind this fabulous event - here's where Urban Outfitters' and Levi's semi-free (I mean, you're still gonna be buying these $78 jeans, right?) events will be:

New York City
Friday, 8/5
Ace Hotel 20
West 29th Street

Sunday, 8/7
Ace Hotel
20 West 29th Street

Thursday, 8/11
UO Center City
1627 Walnut Street

Friday, 8/12
UO Headquarters
5000 South Broad Street

Washington, DC
Saturday, 8/13
Dupont Circle
Massachusetts Avenue

Monday, 8/15
UO Asheville
15 Haywood Street

Wednesday, 8/17
UO Poncey-Highland
1061 Ponce DeLeon Avenue

New Orleans
Friday, 8/19
Esplanade and Frenchman Streets

Monday, 8/22
UO UT Campus
2406 Guadalupe Street

Thursday, 8/25
UO Wicker Park
1521 North Milwaukee Avenue

Friday, 8/26
Critical Mass Ride
Dearborn & Washington Streets

Sunday, 8/28
UO Uptown
3006 South Hennepin Avenue

Tuesday, 8/30
UO Saddle Creek
745 North 14th Street

Thursday, 9/1
Pearl Street
1795 Pearl Street

Salt Lake City
Saturday, 9/3
Washington Square

San Francisco
Monday, 9/5
Levi's Plaza
Lombard & Battery Streets

Santa Barbara
Wednesday, 9/7
Stearns Wharf
State & West Cabrillo Streets

Los Angeles
Friday, 9/9
Bicycle Film Festival

Saturday, 9/10
UO - Space 15Twenty
1520 North Cahuenga Boulevard

Thursday, 9/22
Ace Hotel - The Cleaners
1022 Southwest Stark Street

Friday, 9/23
Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA)
1241 Northwest Johnson Street

Saturday, 9/24
Chris King Factory
2801 Northwest Nela Street


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hot Mummies On Mummies Action!

I'm loathe to admit this, but I've been suffering a bout of 1990's nostalgia for, oh, the past decade or so. First it started with a Netflix run of all those indie-slacker films from the 90's starring Parker Posey and/or Eric Stoltz. Then it was buying skateboard decks on eBay from that period. And more recently, it was purchasing on vinyl all those old shoegaze, riot grrrl, garage rawk, and even some (uggh!) grunge albums that I once had on cassette.

Needless to say, it's pretty fuckin' sad. I'll never be in my late teens/early 20's again, so why waste the time looking back, right? Well, for starters, the 21st century is pretty dismal so far. Secondly, the 90's were pretty awesome. I won't go into it, but yeah; good times for a lot of things then.

One such 90's band I've recently rediscovered is the super lo-fi garage rawk ruckus of The Mummies. For those unfamiliar with this band (and it should be said that if you aren't, it sucks to be you), The Mummies were a four-ish piece band from the Bay Area who played ear-bleeding, organ-fueled garage punk akin to The Phantom Surfers, Supercharger and The Mighty Caesars. They recorded their "budget rock" records using the absolute shittiest equipment they could seemingly find, and wrapped themselves in bandages when performing on stage while insulted everyone in the crowd between songs. They didn't give a shit about getting famous, and only released their records on vinyl since they had a seething hatred of CDs (up until the turn-of-the-century, that is).

In other words, The Mummies were (and still are) fuckin' awesome!

Anyhoo, while updating my iTunes library (as per my OCD), I was going through some songs that didn't have names and album art, when I stumbled upon a couple of songs by The Mummies lacking both. I figured like Big Black, The Mummies probably wouldn't have any records or songs on iTunes (if the band hated CDs back in the day, they must absolutely despise the digital domain format, right?)

But here's where it gets hilarious. 

Clicking on the "ping" button, iTunes took me not to The Mummies (they aren't on there at all, by the way) but instead directly to a band called Here Come The Mummies. At first I thought I had stumbled upon some brand new Mummies records, or at least some sort of best-of recordings - since the dates for these albums placed them in the mid-Aughts. Pressing play on one of the songs, however, revealed these records not to be by The Mummies or yore, but rather a newer band that plays a sort of hyper-kinetic, funk-twinged novelty-rock (as one reviewer notes, Here Come The Mummies' funk-fueled antics are perfect for any fan of The Dave Mathews Band, Coldplay and U2 looking to "cut loose"). It was like looking into the alternate universe on that show Fringe; sorta similar, but different.

While both bands outfit themselves in bandages, head to toe, Here Come The Mummies and The Mummies are complete and total polar opposites. The Mummies DIY punk ethos dictated lo-fi production values, black and white album cover art and a sneering disdain for, well, almost everything ('cept food, 'cycles and girls, of course). Here Come The Mummies, on the other hand, are a fairly slick outfit, with high production values, photoshopped album covers and a party vibe Sammy Hagar's fans would appreciate. 

A boner-inducing 7" record by The Mummies.
Here Come The Mummies' Everlasting Party (note the clown in upper left-hand corner). 

Now I don't know, because I wasn't there, but something tells me that the members of Here Comes The Mummies had to know about The Mummies, since it appears that the former is remarkably similar to the latter. I mean, I could be wrong (and often times I am), but c'mon! "Mummies." Musicians dressed in bandages! This is just too much of a co-winky-dink, dont'cha think?

Sure, Here Comes The Mummies play horn-infused infused party funk (think Red Hot Chili Peppers meets Weird Al Yankovic), but I can't help but think that these "wacky" dudes totally ripped The Mummies off. Let's ponder it: one day back when, the members of the as-yet-to-be-named Here Come The Mummies are having a pow-wow, trying to come up with a hook for their band, when one of them comes tumbling in to the clubhouse with a Mummies record in hand and an alleged Grammy in the other. "Guys, check this out! Let's dress like these dudes and ape their schtick! They're totally obscure. Who'll ever know?"

"Okay," said the unidentified, alleged Grammy-winning lead singer. "But just to cover our asses, let's call ourselves Here Come The Mummies." Then they toasted with some Mike's Hard Lemonade or Miller Lite's or whatever and got to work on "wrapping" their funk energy and stage make-up around their new mummy theme.

Simply cut off the "Here Come" and *voilĂ !* instant The Mummies sticker!

Between these two groups, it's simply a matter of taste, like eating a burrito at La Taqueria versus one at a Chipotle. One is authentic, delicious and resides in a "colorful" part of town, while the other tastes like a funk band.

Ultimately, it comes down to this: The Mummies were punk rock-n-roll, through and through. They were dangerous, hilarious and fun to get shitfaced to. They didn't like you, but you still loved them (the way all dysfunctional relationships should be). Here Come The Mummies, on the other hand, are some sort of good time Charlies, whose funk-flavored shananigans go over well with the Starbucks, galleria mall and Erotic Ball set. One band had a converted ambulance they used as their tour van, while the other plays ocean cruises. One band is The Mummies, while the other most certainly is not.

Gimme budget rock, any day.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fiver - Episode VI: Citizens On Patrol

I think I'm the only person in the world who's "meh" on that new Harry Potter movie. It's not that I'm trying to be overtly cynical or a contrarian, but I just don't see what the big hub-bub is all about; little kid wizard, a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, a baddy that looks like a lizard, magic wands, everyone getting all English-y up in there, yadda, yadda, yadda... 

I guess I'm just not under Harry Potter's *ahem!* spell.


1. Washed Out "Amor Fati"
From the album Within And Without (2011, Sub Pop Records)
Honestly, I feel like a perv looking at the cover of Washed Out's new album. Hot young stick figures getting it on, writhing around all sweaty and stuff... Yep. A total perv.

 2. Ty Segall "You Make the Sun Fry"
From the album Goodbye Bread (2011, Drag City)
Speaking of pervy sex stuff, this song by Ty Segall sounds like one of those bed burners about lovers whose wild passion ignites a lip-locked body heat between 'em 24-7. You know, two people so enslaved by their lust for one another, that clothing is a mere formality. I mean, you're getting that from this song too, right? Right?!?

3. Woods "Any Other Day"
From the album Sun And Shade (2011, Woodist)
"I won't believe that it can't get worse..." Oh, given the climate of politics in this country, I wouldn't bet on it.

4. Youth Lagoon "Cannons"
From the single July/Cannons (2011, self released)
Last Fiver, I presented you with the A-side of Youth Lagoon's latest single. Because I'm lazy and feckless, here's the B-side.

5. Caitlin Rose "Shanghai Cigarettes"
From the album Own Side Now (2011, Theory 8 Records)
Tough gurls are pretty damn hot'cha. Listen to the way Caitlin Rose belts this nifty lil' ditty out like she's doing so between shots of whiskey, puffs from a hand-rolled cigarette and replacing the carburetor on her '64 Ford Falcon. See what I mean?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

DEATH GRIPS - Shit's Fo' Real

I'm not even going to pretend to no anything even remotely relevant or insightful about rap and hip-hip. My miniscule knowledge of the genre begins and end when I was but a wee skate rat in the 90's, hyped on the sounds of  jazz-infused beats and lyrical ninjitsu of The Wu Tang Clan, NWA, The Pharcyde, Cypress Hill, and Del The Funky Homosapien. This music was deep, though-provoking and fun to listen to. As soon as the atonal chest-thumping and wallowing self-aggrandizing FM bullshit quaking from retired police cruisers started making the rounds in the late-'90's and throughout the Aughts, I pretty much tuned out.

But then Sacramento's Death Grips kicked-in my door, duct taped me to a chair and punched me in the face repeatedly until I was paying attention to hip-hop again.

Rap meets noise meets absolute bedlam; that's the only way I can properly describe this group. Harsh, brutal, janky and fuckin' fun to listen to, Death Grips has managed to pump new life into this flagging music genre and save it from the fate punk rock suffered in the mid-90's: irrelevance.

Here's proof:

Go get their Exmilitary Mixtape here for free! 

A Rocket Science Alliance Internet Compilation - Surrender: Faded Memory Music

Hot on the heels of my last post, I decided to take those songs by The Caretaker and mash them up with Dirty Beaches, Darius, and man behind The Caretaker himself, Leyland Kirby, to make this Lynchian-esque compilation soundtrack. 


Surrender: Faded Memory Music
(Click on the song titles for audio, then go out and buy these band's records! You'll find vinyl to be surprisingly superior.)

1. The Caretaker "The Sublime Is Disappointingly Elusive"
2. The Caretaker "Libet's Delay"
3. Dirty Beaches "West Coast Bird"
4. The Caretaker "False Memory Syndrome"
5. The Caretaker "The Great Hidden Sea Of Unconsciousness"
6. Dirty Beaches "Horses"
7. The Caretaker "It's All Forgotten Now"
8. The Caretaker "Camaraderie At Arms Length"
9. Dirty Beaches "Lord Knows Best"
10. The Caretaker "Lacunar Amnesia"
11. Memoryhouse "Lately (Deuxieme)"
12. The Caretaker "Tiny Gradations Of Loss"
13. Darius "Warm"
14. Leyland Kirby "Memories Live Longer Than Dreams"

Thursday, July 7, 2011

THE CARETAKER: All's Forgotten

I love old, forgotten things. 

Things with age, and cracks, and time worn into them; the more faded and flawed, the beautiful. Perhaps it's some silly romantic notion of moments that once were, but never actually experienced - complete with the ghosts and phantoms from all of those faded old black and white photographs lingering for a spell and floating through dusty sunbeams that seep through brittle and yellowed blinds, settling upon creaking furniture and musty old books. Melancholy things made of materials deemed obsolete, yet still standing the test of time as their longevity, more and more, is prone to becoming a see through, faded memory susceptible to loss as the days, years and decades pass. 

This, then, is the soundtrack wafting through those decadent lost hallways...

(choice selections):

The Caretaker's latest album is titled An Empty Bliss Beyond This World, out now on History Always Favours The Winners. Inspired by Stanley Kubrick's 1981 masterpiece, The Shining, The Caretaker's Leyland Kirby sculpts lost, hazy found sounds into reverberant memory music, al a' the film's ethereal ballroom scenes. Kirby also drew inspiration from a 2010 study linking Alzheimer's patients relative retention of verbal information when placed in the context of music. Sampled heavily from old, scratchy 78 RPM jazz records, An Empty Bliss is the sound of haunting memories vaguely remembered in patches, swirls and false starts layered upon fading stops. Simply brilliant.