Headlines, Music

Bob Dylan, let’s never do interactive again

Is Bob Dylan dead? He’s not right? I’m pretty sure the most famous marbled-voice folk troubadour is still alive and relatively well. I know he’s a little aged now, and sometimes, when he speaks, we have no idea what he’s saying- snapping out of it only during his most sanguine times- with his guitar. But really, there’s got to be a reason for this right?

An explanation is needed for this, his much talked about and heavily shared ‘interactive’ video for “Like A Rolling Stone”. The concept for this new media venture is you, the user, being given the opportunity to “make” a new video for one of Dylan’s most celebrated tracks. Now “make” is generously used here, and before you get your Michel Gondry/Spike Jonze video dreams up, let’s just say that the interactivity featured here is about as interactive as Night Trap the game was back in 1992. Which to say, wasn’t very interactive at all.

For sexed up males in 1992, Night Trap was a schlocky, and quite terrible, “sexy” video game made up of footage that was meant to be interactive. But unlike the games of today, all you could do with actual video footage was switch between scenes, hoping to catch up a glimpse of a half naked coed as she was stalked in her house.

This new interactive video gives you about as much control as Night Trap– except the “clever” part is that the video they use (synced footage from made up TV shows, movies, news broadcast) is singing along to “Like A Rolling Stone”.

I fumbled about, slightly confused as the video rolled footage from a reality show called “Bachelor’s Roses” (yes, that nice lady pictured above is singing a Dylan song). It left me wondering who these people were and thought maybe it was just an ad playing before the footage. Turns out, this WAS the footage I got to be ‘interactive’ with. I managed to get a few minutes into the video before I realized I couldn’t do anything but change channels and turn the volume up and down. Neil McCormick of The Telegraph asks; “is the interactive new video any good?”

No Neil, it’s not. It’s terrible.

What’s the point of this exercise? Perhaps Dylan, or more specifically, his label/management/PR, are just trying something new.

Perhaps this is all terrible because it’s Dylan and the footage used would best be kept on the TLC scrapheap. Either way, Bob, please, let’s never do interactive again.

The concept isn’t entirely at fault. What if you could make a Dylan video made up of old 60s footage? Now there’s an interactive video that would be worth your time.

Just imagine.


Headlines, Music

Why does Jack Johnson suck so much?

Andrew’s Hamburgers in Albert Park is a culinary institution in this part of town. Its family feel aesthetic is lined with the numerous awards and plaudits the small joint has received in all its years in business. True to form, Andrews is always filled come lunch time, and with its busy staff, the small kitchen area is teaming with workers, including principal owner Greg Pappas. With its cosy locale, there isn’t much room outside of your own head to contemplate anything but diving your teeth into the succulent patty, waiting for the juicy extras the joint is known for to satiate your taste buds.

There are very few things that can ruin this experience, or so I thought.

Recently, during a lunch time sojourn, my ears were met with the untimely and horrific sounds of the in-store radio playing Jack Johnson’s “Taylor”. The station in question was the local classic rock station and one of the reasons why they’re playing a song more than a decade old (other than the obvious) is most likely because Johnson is slated to appear at next year’s Byron Bay Blues Festival, a gargantuan collection of performances that next year will include Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, Iron & Wine and about a hundred other artists from all walks of life and backgrounds.

Yet as I tried to dig into my burger, my ears shrivelled to the size of raisins and my chest grew tight. My stomach churned and my head became weary. I knew it wasn’t the uneaten Andrews burger in my hand because that is scientifically impossible, so I knew it was the awful, awful sounds of Jack Johnson and that insipid song. But why? It’s hard to pinpoint the numbers and logic behind it, but as I packed up and walked out to finish my burger elsewhere, I was taken back to the song’s much played music video and deduced that my severe dislike for Johnson and his music stems from this 5+ minutes of film.

If you haven’t seen it (maybe it should stay that way), here it is:

It’s got all the hallmarks of a Jack Johnson video- the serene settings all tuned in to the plinky plonky music. It’s got the beach and surf and people dressed like they spend all day there. And then there’s Ben Stiller. Ben fucking Stiller. I don’t hate the guy but God damn it if his stupid facial expressions and his stupid acting in this stupid video makes me angry every time I see, or think about it. I hadn’t in a while too, which was great.

Back in 2002 when I was still living in Indonesia, MTV and Channel [V] still mostly played music videos and hashed through this piece of garbage relentlessly. I suspect this is the cause of my irrational reaction to it today.

Strangely, I don’t mind the Dave Matthews Band and I don’t think John Mayer is anywhere near as bad as a lot of people seem to think he is. Both are to some degree, musically similar, but I cannot stand Jack Johnson. Is it his surfer boy vibes or overtly hippy surfer commune-like aura? I don’t know. Through his six full length albums (all with ridiculously easy going, beach-as names like To The Sea, In Between Dreams and From Here To Now To You… and really, what the fuck is that?), I honestly cannot name a single song or have heard any music that happens to be Jack Johnson and thought, “oh yeah, this is pretty good”.

Maybe its because he’s always got a shit-eating grin on his face.

For some reason, his music has connected with a great deal of people other than myself and while that’s not a problem by any means, it ruined my Andrews Hamburger and that’s just not kosher.

Can one awful song be enough to dislike an artist for life? Apparently so.

Then again, maybe it’s Ben Stiller.

Music, Sight & Sound

LISTEN: Jimmy Hawk’s Yana Homme

I’ve seen Melbourne singer/songwriter Jimmy Hawk on two occasions. The first, backed by an electric band The Endless Party, jamming through some fuzzed out stellar rock n roll. The second, a more subdued duo outing filled with experimental electronic soundscapes and guitar-strewn pop. His latest work falls somewhere between the two. “Yana Homme” is beautiful lo-fi folk and is a great example of Hawk’s musical dexterity and vast range.

Perfect for wisftul introspection and quiet afternoons, the new single is out now on his own First Love Records. Check out the single above and watch the music video below, which was created by comic book artist Ben Montero.

Sight & Sound, Trailers

Watch the trailer for the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis

The Brothers Coen get folksy in their latest flick, Inside Llewyn Davis. Aside from being difficult to spell, the film features some finely tuned stringed music, as well as the acting chops of John Goodman, Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund and Oscar Isaac. Justin Timberlake is also in the film.

The film tells the story of oa young folk singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961. Guitar in tow, huddled against the unforgiving New York winter, he is struggling to make it as a musician against seemingly insurmountable obstacles—some of them of his own making.

Inside Llewyn Davis premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and will see US release this December.


Against Me! leave Sire/Warner

Against Me! have left major label Sire/Warner after a 5-year working relationship. In a blog post, front man Tom Gabel has expressed his gratitude to all those at Sire and has sent out an apology to all the fans effected by their recent rash of tour date cancellations;

“The last thing that we ever want to do, especially when the dates have us going to some of our favorite places in the world, but this past October a culmination of circumstances were engulfing us and we had to take some time off from touring to go home and sort things out. On a related note, after almost a five year relationship we are leaving Sire/Warner. We have nothing but gratitude towards all the people we worked with at the label and feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to make the records we made while with the label.”

Gabel continues to say that the band have scheduled a few radio station festivals in December before heading out on tour in January with Cheap Girls and Fences. The band have also recruited Jay Weinberg (Max’s kid) to handle drum duties. Weinberg was recently booted from Madball after differences between Weinberg’s lifestyle and that of Freddie Cricien surfaced.

Against Me! released the terrific White Crosses earlier this year.


Oh Mercy debut “The Good Life Never Ends” video

Melbourne folk/pop outfit Oh Mercy has debuted their new video for the track “The Good Life Never Ends”, a cover of the David McComb track.

The video was shot, in all places, a souvlaki shop in the dingy suburb of Richmond. Trust us when we say that among the many things in life you want as little as possible of, Richmond and souvlakis are two of them.

Oh Mercy recently released their new EP, Keith St.

Music, Videos

Video: Frank Turner – “I Still Believe”

English folk/punk singer Frank Turner has released his new video for “I Still Believe”. The track comes from his upcoming EP Rock & Roll, and is expected to be on the track list for his new full length album due in 2011.

The video, directed by Ben Morse, features a rollicking good time had by Turner and cohorts, set to speakeasy-toned backdrops and festive celebrations.

There are few in this world who capture the essence of being a true folk troubadour the way Frank Turner does. Bless he and his mighty stringed instrument! Who would’ve thought, after all, something so simple as rock n’ roll could save us all?