Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rio underwater

Meanwhile, this is what is happening in Rio right now. Torrential rains cause chaos and destruction for 40 years, and the annual monsoons are getting worse. Way to drown the Olympic spirit.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

One Bloor

This pretty cool building is going up at Bloor and Yonge, arguably the center and busiest intersection of Toronto. The 65-storey building of condominiums is supposed to be a "civic icon" -- a statement, but "not too loud a statement," in typical Canadian fashion. Thanks to the wavy exterior (a design I last saw in Chicago) no two balconies will be alike. And it will have access to the subway line.

Recently heard

Groove Armada - Black Light Groove Armada's latest is a bit of a betrayal to their fans. It's not that I expect the disco/funk brilliance of Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub) in every album, but the boys seem to have disappeared into a different band. What's with all the generic rock songs with a screaming lead singer? Yeah, "Paper Romance" gets a pass, but the rest is mediocre and grating. Even the tunes that aren't too bad ("Time and Space," "History") lack the luster of their previous work. I'm all for a band's evolution, but Groove Armada has been devolving lately. Boring, disappointing and un-dance-worthy.

Goldfrapp - Head First
Speaking of the evolution of a band, check out Goldfrapp. Their latest is different from all their other albms, yet it feels like a completely logical and natural part of their work. It sounds like a long-lost Goldfrapp early album from the 80s. They embrace their pop (and synthpop) tendencies, which suits Alison Goldfrapp's breathy, delicate vocals perfectly. Here's the video for first single "Rocket":

Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part Two
Yes, everybody paid attention when she took off her clothes in Dallas, but Erykah's latest is anything but political. This is a collection of slow-burning jams, with thick beats and a funky, old-school vibe. Feel-good music for the most part. Despite the fact that her voice is getting progressively cartoony, this is no run of the mill R&B -- just listen to "Gone Baby, Don't Be Long" or "Turn Me Away." But using politcs to buffer up a light album about love and hooking up seems like a cheap shot.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Black Eyed Peas (almost) live

The Black Eyed Peas took it to the next level on Tuesday, March 30th with their exclusive "The E.N.D. World Tour 2010," being broadcast live from the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles into hundreds of theaters across North America. This one-night-only concert was the first to be broadcast live and shot in 3D at the same time (not sure what the 3D is for, but it seems obligatory these days).

The show is tight. This is a two-hour music video choreographed to perfection and making use of state of the art lasers, lights, HD visuals, flying stunts, dancers and dozens of (very cool) costumes to assault all your senses at once.

The Peas spared no expenses for this tour -- the stage alone cost 8 million dollars.

Here’s Taboo on a TRON-like flying bike. transformed the arena into massive club party as a cyborg DJ on an elevated platform.

Fergie did it all among her numerous costume changes:

She flexed her lady lumps...

...sang Sweet Child O' Mine with Slash...

...became an awesome robot-dominatrix....

... all while looking glamorous.

And who knew had such crazy moves?

What I like about the Black Eyed Peas is how epicurean they are, how admittedly escapist but with an ultimate message of positivity. Their imagery is bigger than life -- they look more like a group of superheroes than a band.

Why then, in a concert that is all about fun and peace, was wearing a belt of bullets as an accessory?

Despite the occasional mixed message, the concert was groundbreaking. This is New School and the Peas have proven they have enduring power. They may as well be the future of music.