Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Enemy

"You're Not Alone"

There must be a factory in the UK where they churn out snarling "The Next Oasis" bands. But as long as they keep writing songs with Paul Weller's eye for detail and Joe Strummer's pint-raising choruses, we'll fall for it every time. (The Enemy performs at Great Scott Sunday.)

Tuesday Events

FILM
With special celebrity guests, a series of receptions and parties, workshops and panels, and most importantly lots and lots of films, the 10th Annual Roxbury Film Festival is a unique opportunity for filmgoers to take in a series of movies made for, by and about people of color. Running through August 3, highlights of the festival include a screening of the film “Of Boys and Men“ followed by a q+a with its inimitable star Robert Townsend. (7:30 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave. Boston. 800-440-6975. mfa.org) On Sunday August 3, the powerful actress Ruby Dee will appear after a showing of her new film “Steam.” (5:30 p.m., MFA). Tonight at 5 p.m. things get started with a “Clean Mic” local comedy showcase (Slades 958 Tremont St., Roxbury Crossing. 617-442-4600) hosted by Corey Manning. For a complete list of venues, films, events and festival pass tickets: 617-541-3900. roxburyfilmfestival.org.

DINING
Hotdogs at the ballpark is a nice bit of Americana mythology and all, but come on; the last place you’ll catch us eating is at a sports stadium. That doesn’t mean we don’t like to chow down while watching other people exercise, so perhaps a trip to Sebastians Interactive Kitchen for their Gourmet Baseball Dinner is in order. Tonight chef Michael Fuller will prepare a multi-course bbq dinner featuring items like Stadium Beer-Basted Baby Back Ribs and Ballpark Smokehouse Sausages while diners gather round the kitchen, watch the Sox game on TV and interact with the cooks while they prepare your meal. It’s the restaurant equivalent of having seats behind home plate, although heckling is probably discouraged. 6:30 p.m. $75. Sebastians, 1 Devonshire Place, Boston. 888-563-8334. InteractiveKitchen@Sebastians.com

MUSIC
Considering that the proceeds from most concerts usually go to such great causes as beer money and repairing the broken-down van, the benefit tonight for Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace seems a little more weighty and worthy of your hard-earned rocking out dollar. With the folk rock of Celia Slattery, the Katrina Degel Jazz Quartet, the powerful folk songwriter Deb Pasternak, power-pop rockers Media Made and the country blues of the Porch Party Mamas it’s a collection of musicians as diverse as the veterans they’re supporting. 21+. 8:30 p.m. $15. Johnny D’s, 17 Holland St., Somerville. 617-776-2004. johnnyds.com


Boston Globe

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Barcode: Red Sky

Red Sky, neon dreams

One thing you might notice wandering into Red Sky on a Tuesday night, past the DJ set up by the open windows overlooking the low-slung lounge couches, is that the room is filled almost exclusively with young women. They're at the bar and crowded around the plush banquettes tucked in the corners of a dining room that stretches deep and narrow toward an open-air kitchen. They're everywhere. What sort of strange paradise is this?

What it is, in fact, is "Ladies '80s Night," a weekly promotion that offers women a free three-course meal - with a $10 drink minimum. So, in honor of that most fluorescent of decades, we ordered drinks perfectly suited to the scenery. The Funky Monkey (SV Silk vodka, banana liquor, OJ, grenadine, Galliano float, $10) served in a stemless martini glass, was a saccharine explosion of neon pink typical of Red Sky's cocktail menu. "That's like a space drink," our friend said. "I thought it would be bright, but that's some Technicolor action."

"This tastes like a million bucks," he continued, "but it's not sophisticated at all." No, but perhaps it doesn't need to be. A quick glance around the room found groups of women wielding the cocktails like boozy, glowing light sabers.

The Melo Grand Martini (New Amsterdam gin, midori, pomegranate, lime juice, Sprite, $10) and the Key Lime (Triple 8 Vodka, Triple Sec, lime juice, sour, star fruit garnish, $10) were a bit more complex. It still wasn't high-end mixology, nor was it particularly well suited for pairing with food, but after a few of them a strange thing started happening. Between the colorful, sugary drinks and the irresistible '80s songs, everything coalesced into hazy fun. A group of girls behind us started singing along to "Total Eclipse of the Heart," and we let ourselves, just this once, get a little carried away.

Red Sky Restaurant & Lounge, 16-18 North St., Boston. 617-742-3333. redskyboston.com

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Warped Tour

There are a couple of things you can expect every year at the Vans Warped Tour: brutal heat, highly dubious fashion choices, plus punk, emo and hardcore kids living the dream. We asked some of our favorite bands making the stop this week how shit is going down on their end. TO THE EXTREME.

WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST WARPED TOUR AS A FAN AND AS A PERFORMER?

Phil Labonte (All That Remains): It was actually 10 years ago. I was singing for Shadows Fall—we had won a battle of the bands and got to play the "local" stage. We played right after Hatebreed got done on a bigger stage directly opposite us. They finished and said, "Thank you, we're Hatebreed! Now turn around and check out our friends in Shadows Fall!"

Michael Guy Chislett (The Academy Is ... ): This is my first time as a performer and as a fan! I'm Australian and it doesn't reach my shores, but I have always known about it. It sounded like festival heaven ... and it is!

Stephen Christian (Anberlin): I went in high school. I saw all these amazing bands, but never thought that I would ever play at one—the thought never even crossed my mind. A year later, one of our friends got to play one date, and we were so jealous. Eight years later, we are playing the main stage, and I couldn't be happier. In your face, Upperoom!

WHAT ARE THE BEST AND WORST PARTS ABOUT PLAYING THE TOUR?

Nathaniel Motte (3OH!3): Best: getting to watch Justin Timberlake Live From Madison Square Garden on repeat at all times. Worst: having to sometimes sleep and not being able to watch Justin Timberlake Live From Madison Square Garden on repeat at all times.

Billy Pruden (Confide): The best part is all the people we get to meet and play to, but the worst part has to be the weather and the heat.

WHO IS THE BAND THAT IS KILLING IT EVERY NIGHT?

Matt Wilson (Set Your Goals): August Burns Red consistently killed it. They were the only band I saw that wasn't on the main stage who drew a huge crowd.

Charlotte Sometimes: Evergreen Terrace tears it up with their huge rock sound and their synchronized flying tiger kicks.

WHAT'S THE WEIRDEST SHIT YOU'VE SEEN GO DOWN THIS YEAR?

Jake Turner (Say Anything): In St. Louis, during Gym Class Heroes, a fan said some shit to (lead singer) Travis from the crowd, and Travis hit him over the head with the microphone. Really crazy, but the dude totally deserved it!

Joey LaRocca (The Briggs): Andrew WK played on an off-day of the tour, but he just played on a keyboard and an iPod. He mostly just said random things and danced around like an idiot. It was kinda sad.

Matt Manning (From First to Last): Kids getting carried off in an ambulance after chugging hot sauce.

Warren Oakes (Against Me!): Two dirty weirdos go into a port-a-potty, in 100-degree heat, in Miami. They proceeded to "get it on" in the hot, stinky port-a-potty. Is that weird or just gross?

Matt McGinley (Gym Class Heroes): My bassist and I were caught out in a gnarly Kansas rainstorm when an anonymous band member comes streaking by with a Solo cup covering his privates, all the while screaming, "Where's the BBQ?!?"

Weekly Dig

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hearthrob

DANCE
“Its like really weird, the crowd is like a really mixed group of people,” explains Greg Fournier, host of the extremely popular bi-weekly dance party Hearthrob. “Like sometimes I’m looking around the room and I say ‘Whoa. That goth dude that comes here is talking to my dentist, who's sitting next to some kid in a rabbit suit and they all happen to know each other. Weird.’" Sounds awesome. Having a dentist, we mean. But the night itself it off the chain too, with the best DJs around and packed dance floors full of kids just blasting off. “It’s like a house party but then like some ill international DJs show up and play. Everyone goes nuts and dancing ensues.” Tonight DJs Baltimoroder, Redfoxxx and Morgan Louis hold it down. 21+. Free. 10 p.m. Middlesex Lounge, 315 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge. 617-868-6739. middlesexlounge.com

Boston Globe

Miou Miou

"Le Petit Punk"

Cartoon bluebirds and friendly woodland creatures frolic through the space animated here by the cutest little
Czech band ever. It's French pop expérimentale, like the synth and brass playtime pop of Stereolab, but without the downer politics.

Stream the album at mintyfresh.com
Boston Globe

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

3 Doors Down

ROCK
What may just be the single greatest rock band in history to ever come out of Escatawpa, Mississippi, 3 Doors Down have been rocking bros the world over since the release of their hard-charging modern rock smash “Kryptonite” in 2000. With some fifteen million in album sales on the strength of parking lot power ballads like “Here Without You” and “When I’m Gone” the band have kept the success rolling this year with their #1, self-titled album. Tracks like the earnest “It’s Not My Time” and the support-the-troops rock of “Citizen Soldier” find the band in top form. They perform tonight with brothers in stadium rock balladry Staind and Hinder. 6:30 p.m. $18-$68. Comcast Center, 885 South Main St., Mansfield. 617-931-2000. ticketmaster.com

Boston Globe

Andre Dubus III

BOOKS
It’s one of the worst reasons you could ever come up with to vote for a politician, but thinking “that’s the type of guy I’d like to have a beer with” about a novelist, well that’s just fine by us. Andre Dubus III fits the bill nicely, and with his reading at the Newtonville Books “Books and Brews” series tonight, we may get to the chance to do just that. The celebrated Massachusetts-based author of the bestseller “House of Sand and Fog” returns with another portrait of our all too human failures, a book about the darkness of sex, love and violence. He reads from “The Garden of Last Days” tonight and at Porter Square Books on Tuesday, July 29. 7 p.m. Free. Newtonville Books, 296 Walnut St., Newtonville. 617-244-6619. newtonvillebooks.com

Boston Globe

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Barcode: Durty Nelly's

Faneuil Hall is known for a lot of things: street performers, tourists, the smell of fish wafting over from Haymarket, and whatever it was some historical dudes did back in the day. But even more than that, it's known for its Irish pubs. Now, we can't in good conscience send you down there on a crowded weekend, but during off-peak hours, Durty Nelly's is worth a visit.

While a lot of the pubs in the neighborhood are more cattle staging areas littered with TVs and Irish kitsch, there's a sense of the authentic (or at least what passes for it) at this small pub with no food and a long wooden bar. The low ceilings, musty books, and tea-cup and biscuit-tin décor enhance the sort of poetic pint-glass musings an Irish pub is supposed to engender - just be prepared to strike up a conversation with the person you're literally rubbing elbows with. Over the course of a Smithwick's ($4) we heard at least four languages/English dialects and saw at least five stages of inebriation.

Durty Nelly's, 108 Blackstone St., Boston. 617-367-2114. somersirishpubs.com

Just around the cobblestone corner is the popular Green Dragon, established in 1654. Like Nelly's, it's owned by the Somers Pubs group, but we found it a lot less inviting. The antique mirrors and ornate curtains expressed a charm of sorts, but the collection of loosened-tie after-work types, children, fanny packers, popped-collar college bros, and hungry men wolfing down shepherd's pie somehow made us homesick even amid the American Patriot vibe. The Irish pub here is as American as take-out Chinese food.

In a way, the bar seemed a metaphor for Boston itself: filthy with history, but not entirely sure how to carry all that weight into the future. On the way out, the theme from "Cheers" of all things came on. Outside, a camera-toting dad hustled his son in front of a Revolutionary War soldier statue. "Let's take your picture with this guy," he said.

"Why?" asked the boy.

Good question.

Green Dragon Tavern, 11 Marshall St., Boston. 617-367-0055. somersirishpubs.com

Boston Globe


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Alejandro Escovedo

Punk to country, he plays it all

Veteran rocker and longtime critical favorite Alejandro Escovedo walked an adoring crowd through the steps of his long and varied career on Thursday. The show invoked his history as a pioneering punk act and alt-country innovator in the '70s and '80s. But the performance drew mostly from solo recordings of a more recent vintage, particularly his new album, the roots-minded "Real Animal." The six-piece rock band eased into a stirring cello and violin instrumental to begin the show before transitioning into the foreboding bass funk and joyful chorus of "Put You Down." Every bit the showman, Escovedo chanced a few windmill swipes at his guitar during an extended outro climax. The lengthy instrumental passage, driven by some seriously rocking cello, laid out the band's blueprint early on. (That's right, rocking cello).

One might have expected the combined effect of the busy instrumentation and four vocalists to amount to sonic clutter, but each piece resounded clearly. Susan Voelz's violin was particularly strident, doing much of the melodic heavy lifting and coloring in around the edges. The band's harmonies coalesced throughout, but nowhere so well as on the rousing, Springsteen-style rock of "Always a Friend" and the aching "Sister Lost Soul." The latter was a road-weary slice of jangly Southwestern Americana, a winding, dusty trail of a song, almost exuberant in its heartbreak.

Further along the band stirred up a swirling maelstrom of harmonic strings, but it also proved capable of quieter, more introspective moments as on the acoustic, border song romance of "Rosalie."

More exciting was the country punk of "Chelsea Hotel '78" and "Real as an Animal." "Get animalistic," Escovedo instructed the audience as he stalked the stage and jerked the mike stand, "but not with each other."

The final song, "Castanets," he explained, had the misfortune of somehow ending up on President Bush's iPod, according to a story in The New York Times. "So we stopped playing it for a while." Now that Bush is leaving office soon, they felt safe to play it again. You can take the musician out of the punk band apparently, but you can't take the punk band out of the musician.

If that anecdote wasn't enough to have the medium-size crowd eating out of Escovedo's hand, a double encore of covers of "All the Young Dudes" and "Beast of Burden" certainly did the trick.

Boston's Tulsa, led by Carter Tanton, won a lot of new fans with a country-leaning opening set. The three-piece relied on chiming cascades of guitar and Tanton's plangent vocals and harmonica to erect walls of reverberating melancholy.

Alejandro Escovedo

With Tulsa

At: Paradise Rock Club, Thursday


Barcode: Townsend's

When it comes to after-dinner drinks, most of us need some guidance. Just when you think you've figured out what varietal to pair with dinner, along come ports to complicate matters. But if you let the experts do the heavy lifting for you, you may be pleasantly surprised. At Townsend's in Hyde Park, owners Michael and Rosalee Talon have selected a flight of ports and dessert wines ($20) paired with a rotating selection of Rosalee's homemade truffles. It's quite literally a crash course on how to taste.

The ruby-colored fruits of the Désirée-chocolate-infused zinfandel port were matched with a bittersweet chocolate infused with Guinness. The dark, cloudy cream of the stout made the bitter truffle's flavor leap forward. Likewise with the white chocolate and lime truffle paired with an Italian muscat. You don't taste the citrus until you sip the muscat, and then it's right there. Woah. Magic. The middle course here works as a sort of palate cleanser. Too many flavors in a row, explained the couple, and you lose some of the flavor.

The final step of the flight pairs a Broadbent 7-year tawny and a bittersweet chocolate infused with earl grey and dipped in milk chocolate. The complex bergamot aromas of the tea presented themselves with the introduction of the Tawny's spice.

"Try to coordinate the two in your mouth," instructed Michael. "Taste the experience of both simultaneously. You don't want to wash it down." Good advice. These flavors, with a beginning, middle, and end, are meant to be savored.

Townsend's, 81 Fairmount Ave., Hyde Park. 617-333-0306. townsendsrestaurant.com

Friday, July 11, 2008

10 Essential Songs About Books

When you're in a band you've got a lot of musical equipment to move, so you don't always have the room to carry a book around to let everyone know how smart you are. One sure fire way to remedy that is to work literary references into your songs. Think of it as pretentious rock stars doing their part to trick kids into appreciating literature. By now we're all familiar with old standards like the Police's "Don't Stand So Close to Me", and everyone knows you can't swing a paperback without hitting an allusion in a Morrissey song, but here's a few they might not have covered in your English Lit classes.

"This Is Just a Modern Rock Song"
Belle and Sebastian

It'd be hard to miss the bevy of literary references littered throughout the catalogue of these twee Scottish indie folkies, but just in case you did, head book worm Stuart Murdoch spells out the band's thesis pretty clearly in this one: "I'm not as sad as Dostoevsky, I'm not as clever as Mark Twain…" he sings. He's right, of course. No one is. But as far as rock goes, their rare blend of pithy humor and sad sack introspection make B&S about as close as it gets to these two literary giants.

"Roseability"
Idlewild

What is it about Scottish bands and books? Perhaps one of the most intelligent and referential lyricists in the past decade, Idlewild's Roddy Woomble and band have made a career out of draping huge guitar anthems over even huger philosophical queries about post-modernism and the line between fiction and reality. If you ever thought the stream of consciousness writings of Modernist American Gertrude Stein were difficult to parse ("There is no there there"; "Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose") then good luck figuring out the meaning behind this cryptic, scorching rocker.

"Killing an Arab"
The Cure

The French existentialist Albert Camus cast a long shadow over the history of rock, influencing everyone from The Fall, who took their name from one of his books, to Magnetic Fields, who poked fun at his moping acolytes in song, but this classic of Lit Rock is the best known example. Taking its cues from Camus' The Stranger, the song follows the book's narrative of a man lashing out at the perceived indifference of the world through violence. As if Cure fans didn't have enough to be depressed about already.

"Love and Destroy"
Franz Ferdinand

This wouldn't be the first rock song influenced by The Master and Margarita, Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov's brilliant and biting political allegory about a mysterious magician who wreaks mischief and judgment on 1930's Moscow. Its influence can be seen in everything from the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" to songs from Pearl Jam, Elefant and The Lawrence Arms. This song, with its refrain "welcoming black, the queen of the ball/ It's dark beneath the Muscovites' sky…Margarita. love and destroy…" is adapted directly from the books harrowing third passage.

"Golden Skans"
The Klaxons

It took us roughly a hundred listens to get past the glorious celestial harmonies and beat driven euphoria of this new rave track and pay attention to the lyrics. But once we did the allusions to British sci fi author J.G. Ballard became apparent. Taken from their album Myths of the Near Future, which is also the name of a Ballard short story, "Golden Skans" is, like much of Ballard's work, a head trip into science fiction dystopia. "Light touch my hand, in a dream of Golden Skans, from now on. / You can forget our future plans."


"Song for Myla Goldberg"
The Decemberists

Probably the most literarily dense, and lyrically dexterous band playing today, The Decemberists, and lyricist Colin Meloy, offer no shortage of allusions throughout their work. Much of this song, and in particular the lyric "Put paper to pen/ to spell out 'Eliza'" follows the plot of contemporary American novelist Myla Goldberg's "Bee Season" about a girl named Eliza, who, amidst a variety of familial melodramas takes part in a series of spelling bees. Lines like "seraphim and seaweed swim where stick-limbed Myla lies…" only further bolster Meloy's poetic bona fides.


"Bukowski"
Modest Mouse

Drunken, shambling, religiously defiant, perversely eloquent poet laureates of American decay…Charles Bukowski and Modest Mouse' Isaac Brock have at least a couple things in common. Although from the sounds of this track it's not necessarily a connection that Brock and band exactly relish anymore: Scraping off a bit of the rust and downplaying the glamour of self-destruction, Brock sings: "Woke up this morning and it seemed to me/ that every night turns out to be / A little more like Bukowski. /And yeah, I know he's a pretty good read/ But God who'd wanna be such an asshole?" Good question.

"Talking of Michelangelo"
Bayside

Chuck D, Tori Amos, Rush and the Manic Street Preachers, not to mention everyone else ever, have all wrestled with T.S. Eliot's towering achievement of Modernist poetry. The New York band Bayside tackle it head on with a song that takes its title from the poem's refrain. Echoing the premise of a lonely, introspective, perhaps suicidal man wandering the streets at night reflecting on beauty and regret, both narrators struggle with Hamlet's existential conundrum -- which Eliot alludes to himself -- and conclude with meditations on drowning. Perfectly apt inspiration for an emo band, come to think of it, as Eliot presages future stylistic concerns with lines like "arms that are braceleted and white and bare…" and turns an obsession with talking to a girl into a life and death matter.


"The Booklovers"
The Divine Comedy

Taking the name from Dante's epic poem, Irishman Neil Hannon set the bar pretty high literarily speaking. References throughout his songs to Wordsworth, Fitzgerald and Chekov only upped the ante. But this track, name-checking some seventy writers from throughout history, has to have set some sort of referential record. A catalogue of names followed in each line by an aside: ("Katherine Mansfield: [cough cough]"; "Vladimir Nabokov: hello, little girl…"; "Umberto Eco: I don't understand this either…") are packed with enough literary in-jokes on the authors' lives and work to keep NPR beard-strokers captivated for weeks.

"Sun in My Mouth"
Bjork

Perhaps one of the only vocalists capable of matching the idiosyncrasies of avant-garde American poet e.e. cummings in song form, Bjork sets the entirety of his poem "I Will Wade Out" to music. It's a stunning collision of styles, and Bjork's vocal haunts the lyric ("In the sleeping curves of my body/ Shall enter fingers / Of smooth mastery / With chasteness of sea-girls / Will I complete the mystery /Of my flesh") with a sensual wash of beauty.

Alternative Press

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The New New Coke

In recent months, smokers may have found themselves feeling anxious and irritable, and not just for the usual reasons. A redesign of the Camel Lights packaging (the first since the brand's inception in 1913), coupled with a remix of the cigarette's long-standing recipe, poses a challenge to consumer brand loyalty.

The graphics on the package have been streamlined and stylized with bolder metallic colors and the cigarette has been enhanced with a blue stripe. It's still too early to tell what, if any effect the rebranding, launched in March, will have on sales, says RJ Reynolds Tobacco spokesperson David Howard. Camel Lights sell higher than all other Camel styles but Howard says, "part of the push behind this packaging refresh" was that the Lights' share of the market had become relatively flat. "In our focus group testing with adult smokers, both franchise smokers—current Camel smokers—as well as smokers of competitive brands, the response was very positive. Franchise smokers said that they liked the packaging as much if not more than the current packaging, they also liked the blend as much and found it at parity with Camel."

Rosie, a 22 year old from Allston and a Camel Lights smoker, was confused by the under-the-radar switch. "I thought I had mistakenly been sold a package of Camel Turkish Golds." The new design may have colored her impression of the cigarette's flavor at first. "I checked the package and thought maybe the taste was in my head, like I had just gotten a stale pack."
Elizabeth Miller, assistant professor of marketing at Boston College, says history has proven such switches risky. "There is always a danger when you change your formula when you're trying to attract new people, that you might make loyal users upset," she explains. "The classic example, of course, is Coke, when they changed their formula in the 80s. People were extraordinarily upset and they had to change it back."

Retaining the base of their franchise smokers was a priority for the Winston-Salem, North Carolina tobacco company, as was catching the attention of smokers of competitive brands. Whether either goal is ultimately achievable, particularly with smokers—who are, perhaps more than any other type of consumer, drawn to the predictability of ritual and the familiarity of their brand of choice—is debatable.

Susan Fournier, associate professor of marketing at Boston University, conducted six months of research on consumers' reactions to change. Products like cigarettes or caffeine tend to breed more resistance. "These are literally addicted people, and brand-addicted people," she says.
The experiment found that the stronger the subject's relationship was with the brand—"people who had a metaphoric relationship more akin to a partnership"—the more jarring the reaction when a product was altered. People with weaker relationships to brands, what Fournier calls "flings," were more open to change. "For people who were in flings, they thought of changes as exciting, because it brought new vitality to the brand," Fournier says. "Whereas the other people felt betrayal, like, 'Oh! You're not the brand I married!'"

As with romantic relationships, many react to perceived scorn by acting out. "I will definitely try out new brands," says Rosie. "I'll probably switch at least for a while, in the hopes that other folks do too and the new Camel Lights end up losing them money."

Joshua Sheppard, 21, used to buy Camel Lights by the carton. "But now I am hesitant to even pick up another pack," he says. "Even though it breaks my heart, I've been favoring Parliament Lights lately."

These reactions seem incongruous with the intent of Camel Lights' redesign and the new "higher end" recipe which calls for "premium" tobacco, using more leaves from higher on the tobacco plant's stalk.

"It doesn't taste like higher grade tobacco at all," says Rosie. "I suppose it's more 'flavorful,' but personally I think less is more. It's harsher, and the smell is way more intense."

Howard acknowledges iconic branding creates resistance to change, but insists, "Innovation cannot be restricted to brand new things. You've got to be willing to even take something as iconic as your Camel base and say, 'Hey, can we take something that's already great and utilize innovation to make it even better.'"

Perhaps the biggest lesson of the New Coke fiasco—which Fournier dubbed a "marketing Chernobyl"—is that the company learned it didn't really own the brand. "In a cultural interpretation of branding, you're more just the steward of the brand," Fournier explains. "And the consumers own it."



Weekly Dig

Predator Politicians




Slate.com

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tone Loc and Peaches

"Wild Thing Remix"
Woah. This remix, featuring two of the hottest, hookup-minded rappers of two separate eras is on some Batman and Superman team up level. The inimitable Peaches gives new life to Loc's heavy breathing classic, trading randy verses with the man himself.

Watch it here

Boston Globe

"Fire and Ice"

For his book “Journeys,” photographer Ron Rosenstock traveled throughout Death Valley, California and Iceland capturing the delicate poetry and natural power of two contrasting types of landscapes: glacier and desert. The images, presented in an exhibition called “Fire and Ice” at the Panopticon Gallery, suggest a sense of subtle movement in the ripples of sand in the wind (“Sand Wave, Death Valley, California” above) but also broader ideas of permanence and our place as humans in the ecosystem at large. Through distance and proximity our perspective on the world around us comes into a clearer focus. Through July 28, Tues.-Fri. 10 a.m. -6 p.m., Sat. 11-5 p.m. Panopticon Gallery, Hotel Commonwealth, 502c Commonwealth Ave., Boston. 617-267-8929. panopt.com

Boston Globe

Gregor Samsa

On “Rest,” the third album from Brooklyn (by way of everywhere else) band Gregor Samsa, the band utilizes a symphony of classical instrumentation (cellos, celesta, vibraphone, clarinet, synths, organ, guitars) to draw out long, yawning chasms of space in their sound. Thoughtful, hypnotic repetitions of atmospheric embellishments and celestial vocals resound through the chiming apexes and muted quieter moments. Its introspective music that nonetheless projects outward in all directions, warm and ambient electronic in style, but organic and human in heart. The nine piece band plays a rare Boston date tonight. 8 p.m. $12. Café 939, 939 Boylston St., Boston. 617-931-2000. ticketmaster.com

Boston Globe

Writing

There are plenty of actually useful courses you can take at the Boston Center for Adult Education. “Getting to Know Your Spirit Guides and Guardian Angels” for example or “Spanish for Travelers.” But “Freelance Writing”? Come on. Ok, to tell you the truth it‘s definitely the most rewarding job we‘ve ever had (sleeping in) and gives us the opportunity to see (the couch) and do (get free stuff) things we never would have otherwise. “Getting paid to write articles for newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and the web is simpler than you think -- not to mention fun, exciting, and potentially lucrative!” reads the description. Find out some of the secrets to getting your career going in this course tonight. We’ll let you in on one: magic. 6 p.m. $59 - $68. BCA, 5 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. 617-267-4430. bcae.org

Boston Globe

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Barcode: Esquire's Best Bars in Massachusetts

The first thing we do when a national magazine puts out one of its annual Best Something in America issues is flip through looking for Boston mentions. Partly because we're provincial homers, but also because we want to see just how badly they messed it up. Esquire's party for its Best Bars in America issue last week inspired us to take a closer look at three of their picks (which also included Doyle's Cafe, Charlie's Kitchen, No. 9 Park, and the B Side Lounge).

"There's no scientific process for determining if a place is a 'best bar,' " explained Esquire's Ross McCammon. "It simply has to do its 'thing' very, very well."

Eastern Standard

Why they chose it: "World-class cocktails"; impressive size

What we think: ES has become the Dresden Dolls of Boston bars. You can't open a local rag without reading its praises. And for good reason: It's found a niche that wasn't being filled - a spot with old-school, big-city hotel charm and casual fine-dining aspirations.

528 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. 617-532-9100. easternstandardboston.com

The Beachcomber

Why they chose it: Fried oysters, sand dunes, rock bands

What we think: There's something to be said for the bar-at-the-edge-of-the-known-world feel here. Sure, there's some Cape damage issues, but the breathtaking views, rock-club vibe, and daily shotgun wedding of townies and tourists trekking to the source for their Wellfleet oysters make it a worthy road trip.

1220 Calhoun Hollow Road, Wellfleet. 508-349-6055. thebeachcomber.com

People's Republik

Why they chose it: Soviet propaganda décor, eccentric regulars, simple pints

What we think: It's good for Cambridge Commies like us to descend from the philosophical tower every now and again to rub elbows with the proletariat for a round of darts or a proper Guinness pint, even if it means getting ours hands a little dirty.

876 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge. 617-491-6969. myspace.com/peoplesrepublik

Boston Globe

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Feist

We had some really nice things to say about Feist, but we wouldn't want to be accused of blowing anymore sunshine up her ass, so let's jump right in.

So this is one of those "funny" columns where I ask you snarky questions to prove how indifferent I am or something. But for some reason I was reluctant to give you a hard time. Do I have the wrong idea about your sense of humor?

Did you think I wouldn't be able to take it? What gives you the impression I can't defend myself and dish out snarks with the best of them? Or are you saying you just didn't want to open the gates and welcome my e-wrath?

Ok fine, I suppose I wouldn't be professional if I didn't try...You're a pretty big get for a little old alt-weekly like us. Did your publicist blow it on this one?
It appears so! Hehehehehe. (Kidding of course)

At every level of the music business, from local, to touring indie, to national and international, you've probably encountered all manner of a-holes you previously never even imagine existed. What's the worst kind for you?

The Fill-Up-Space-With-Unnecessary-Compliments-Wind-Bag Type. With my pals we have an expression: "Having sunshine blown up your ass." Sorry, I guess I should say "butt." It's about when someone is lathering you up in compliments because they think it's a catch-all way to communicate to you. As if the musician is relating to the world through a prism of their own ego. It makes me cringe.

I know it's been a while, but man, your cover of Inside and Out might be the only time anyone's ever improved on the Bee Gees. How the hell did you do that?
See above answer. (sorry, I had to)

Seems to me you're in this sort of weird position where both the indie kids who read our paper and their moms think you're the shit. Do you feel more drawn to either side of this artificial divide I just made up on the spot?

I was always polite to the moms. You gotta be polite to the moms. And now that half my friends have had kids I'm starting to realize moms are just kids who had kids.

But there must be certain, I don't know, "human" things you miss when you're performing as a "star" on, like, the Grammys and in bigger auditoriums from the days of playing clubs like the Middle East here in Boston or whatever. But I'm sure the pluses are pretty big, right?

Playing the Grammies had nothing to do with music, is what I've decided upon reflection. Actually, I think the larger the "stage" the less potent the reality of what you're doing. Nothing can be defined by a 2 minute 25 second slice of extreme pressure. I'd rather sweat on 100 people at the Middle East than try to stick a bookmark in 50 million peoples' attention span any day.

Weekly Dig

Teenage Prayers

Gorier side of Teenage soul

‘Everyone Thinks You’re the Best’ is more than an album title for Prayers

Brooklyn’s Teenage Prayers take a stab at rewriting the American songbook on their debut full length, “Everyone Thinks You’re the Best.” It’s a crafty batch of soul, rhythm and blues and garage, you know, the type of stuff they used to simply call rock ’n’ roll. Now’s your chance to catch them on the way up before everyone else starts losing their junk over them. Singer Tim Adams, whose dirty, soulful vocals give the band much of their distinctive, retro-fitted style, says he is what ties their wide range of styles together. “I think that what we do vocally is a thread that carries through,” he says.

When was the first time you remember music moving you to a sort of spiritual or overpowering place? Does playing so many shows take some of the luster off that magic or increase it for you?

I knew I wanted to be on stage before I could actually make or write music. This was early college, and that Christmas I asked for and received an electric guitar and a Peavey practice amp, but I couldn’t play it at all. Maybe a few power chords, and “Wild Thing” by The Troggs. That was it. Anyway, the first time I ever went on stage, it was this “band” called 1660. I signed out a half-hour of time on the coffee house’s Open Stage night and went around gathering anyone who had musical equipment they were willing to lug out. I don’t remember how many people ended up making it, maybe seven or eight. When our turn came, we just plugged in and let ‘er rip … One half-hour of nothing but noise. That was a pretty overpowering place to be, and that’s still my favorite place to be, in the middle of all that volume, swirling around. That’s the best.

When people talk about your band being “soulful” what do you think they mean? What does soul mean to you at this point in musical history?

Soul means the same thing as it always meant. Yes, soul is a style of music, but it’s also an approach to music, one of absolute conviction and sincerity, the sense that someone is withholding nothing. That authenticity is and will always be around. We have our smart-ass numbers … that’s just me writing from the head, pulling from the Randy Newman kit bag, edging into, dare I say it, satirical terrain, but for the most part our music is gorier stuff. When I think of what our music means, I picture unspeakable things.

Your song “Good Voodoo” also seems to have a really positive vibe. That seems surprising. It’s so rare to hear anything besides negativity lately.

I’m glad you find it positive. I don’t want to elaborate too much on that. As David Lynch says, “If things get too specific, the dream stops.”

Girls on Prayers

It’s been a while since we heard from WBCN Rock and Roll Rumble winners Girls Guns & Glory, so we asked Ward Hayden, singer for the local alt-country act about tonight’s show. “I’ve always said to them that if I had any money that Cassavettes would be the band I’d like to invest in. ... They just own the stage each and every time they play. ... And Teenage Prayers are incredible as well. They have a ton of energy and emotion in their music and have a great indie rock, alt-country sound.”

Velvet Fly

Growing up on the outskirts of New York, BethAnn Hoyos and Lorrinda Cerrutti, co-owners of The Velvet Fly, a vintage clothing boutique in the North End, each spent time traveling into the city on the lookout for one-of-a-kind vintage items. When they met years later in Cambridge, Hoyos, then a clothing store manager, and Cerrutti, a high school art teacher, wanted to replicate that experience for others. "We knew there was a need for a boutique like this in Boston that carried both modern and vintage clothing at a reasonable price," explained Hoyos, "and from that thought The Velvet Fly was born." A year after launching their venture, the duo's hoping to expand their offerings, and has even dipped a toe into the world of celebrity styling. Recently, they were thrilled to see Baby Phat clothing designer and TV personality Kimora Lee Simmons wearing some of their fashionable finds on her Style Network show "Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane." Hoyos caught us up on the details.

Q. How did the styling opportunity with Simmons come about?

A. We understand that someone from Kimora's team, or her stylist Lauri Eisenberg's team, came into our store and liked it and took a card. We were in total disbelief when Eisenberg contacted us and told us we would be helping style [Simmons]. We were very honored and excited to be asked.

Q. What impact does that sort of thing have on sales or the profile of the store?

A. We hope that this opportunity will broaden our client base and make us available to work with more personal and celebrity stylists.

Q. As a retailer, what do you do to set yourself apart?

A. Most of the clothing we carry you won't find at the other boutiques in Boston. We use a combination of small independent designers mixed with major companies and then we add in the vintage pieces that are one of a kind. Anyone who buys a vintage garment we take a Polaroid of and put up on our bulletin board to help us catalog what we sell and because there are no two garments alike. Most days Lorrinda and I are here helping personally outfit our customers while some of our great regular customers come in to lounge on the couches and offer advice while looking for their own outfit to wear out that night. We have a lot of fun. That's the best part of the job.

Q. How have you been keeping things affordable?

A. We try to keep our prices consistent. Lorrinda and I like to put ourselves in our customers' shoes and try to find garments that are well priced and establish a wide price range to accommodate most people's wallets. It's an ongoing battle to fine good quality items for reasonable prices.

Boston Globe

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Rocktapussy

Eight arms to hold you
There comes a certain point toward the apex of any electro dance night where things start to blur and you think you’re hallucinating monsters in the corner. Maybe that’s just us. Tonight, however, we can assure you that the monsters are 100% real when the Kaiju Big Battel host a sweaty dance throw down with a performance from our brand new crush of the day, Chicago’s electro DJ duo Rocktapussy. They mash up everything from Debbie Gibson and Robyn to Sonic Youth and Chris Farley. Hawt. Perhaps tonight the Kaiju monsters can be dissuaded from their usual goals of destroying the city, and for once agree to just destroy the dance floor. 9 p.m. 18+. $8- $9. Middle East Upstairs, 480 Mass. Ave., Cambridge. 617-864-3278. mideastclub.com

Boston Globe

Tanya Morgan

"Hip Hop Is Dead 2"
Sorry, Nas, it seems the reports of hip-hop's untimely demise were largely exaggerated. Cincinnati/Brooklyn crew Tanya Morgan trade verses over a pleading '70s soul sample on this summertime loungin' track, breathing life back into the form rhyme by rhyme.

Hear it at audibletreats.com

Boston Globe

Beth Orton

A staple of trendy coffee shops, chic lounges and melodramatic television dramas for years, not to mention a certain Sidekick writer’s lonely college dorm room on Friday nights, English singer Beth Orton’s 1999 album “Central Reservation” is still a classic of lush beauty and gloomy charm. We called her blend of strummed acoustics and electronic ambience folktronica back then, but we all made a lot of other questionable choices in the nineties too, so we’ll let that one slide. Her last record, 2006’ “Comfort of Strangers,” was another showcase of Orton’s unique and chilling voice. She performs tomorrow night. 9 p.m. $20- $25. Calderwood Courtyard, Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave. Boston. 800-440-6975. mfa.org

Boston Globe

Foot Fetishes

“Since I was very young I have looked at shoes and found them looking back at me.” Sounds spooky, but it’s how Acton based artist Gwen Murphy explained her motivation behind her latest exhibition “Foot Fetishes: Soleful Sculptures” to us recently. “This series of sculptures is my way of bringing out the presence I see in each pair.” Each of the sculptures on display imbues a pair of shoes with a personality and a presence, from the humorous to the downright nightmarish. You may never be able to step lightly again. The show begins today and runs through September, with an artist’s reception on Sunday, July 13. Free. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. The Gallery at Dunia, 43 Nason St., Maynard. 978-897-8850. dunia-ecostore.com

Boston Globe

Rain: The Beatles Experience

When the Rain comes
Part of the deal with tribute bands is not only do the performers have to play the role of great musicians from the past, but so do the audience members. So that means you’re gonna have to scream, tear at your hair and weep like crazy teenagers when Rain, The Beatles Experience takes the stage tonight, or else it’ll ruin the illusion for the rest of us. Rain, the nationally renowned Beatles tribute act run the whole gamut, from the early pop years to the complex psychedelic period, performing many of the songs the Beatles themselves never played live in concert. There’s no telling how much longer this whole Beatles thing is gonna last, so you might as well look into it while you can. 7:30 p.m. $42- $50. North Shore Music Theatre, 62 Dunham Rd., Beverly. 978-232-7200. nsmt.org

Boston Globe

Rock Climbing

Technology really is wonderful isn’t it? There isn’t a chance in the world you’d ever get us to go anywhere near an actual mountain for a simple hike and a picnic, never mind find us dangling from the side of one by a rope over a gaping chasm. But with indoor climbing walls, like the 30 foot one with eight climbing stations and a number of smaller boulder areas at Boston University, we can experience what it’s like to scale the walls of a mountain without the actual, you know, impending death. Tonight they host an open house. Free. 5 - 7 p.m. Boston University’s Fitness and Recreation Center, 915 Commonwealth Ave., Boston.

Boston Globe

Lobstahs

We’re still trying to get over the fact that at some point in history a fisherman pulled a lobster out of the water and thought to himself “Yeah…I’m totally gonna eat that.” And yet here we are today, and lobsters are a universally beloved delicacy. With that in mind, all throughout July The Kingfish Hall, Todd English’s seafood dining destination, has prepared 31 Days of Lobster, a series of reasonably priced daily lobster specials like tempura lobster tails, and brown butter lobster sliders. Yeah…we’re totally gonna eat this. $25. Kingfish Hall, 188 South Market Building at Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston. 617-523-8862.

Boston Globe

A Jihad for Love

Sometimes its easy to lose track of the true meaning of words in all of the measured, even-tempered political discourse we engage in in this country about our relationship to the Muslim world. But jihad, in its original sense, meant more of a struggle to walk in the path of God, not its current connotation of holy war. In that spirit, the film “A Jihad for Love” looks deeper into the Muslim world, telling the stories of people who we never hear from: gay and lesbian Muslims. Tonight and tomorrow Filmmaker Parvez Sharma and producer Sandi DuBowski present the film in person. 7:15 p.m. $6-$9. Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard St., Brookline. 617-734-2500. coolidge.org

Boston Globe

Melissa Etheridge

Sweet Melissa
This may revoke our membership in the Top Secret Indie Snob Society, but so be it: We've always sort of liked Melissa Etheridge. "I'm the Only One" and the Grammy-winning "Come to My Window" from her 1993 smash "Yes I Am," with their desperate pleading emotion, still work that indefinable magic on us to this day. She just seems like the everywoman we want to have a beer with. Aside from the millions of dollars, worldwide success, and celebrity status that is. She performs tonight and tomorrow. 7:30 p.m. $62.75-$107.75. Cape Cod Melody Tent, 21 West Main St., Hyannis. 617-931-2000. ticketmaster.com

Boston Globe