Monday, March 30, 2009

Peelander-Z

PEELANDER-Z **1/2

P-Pop High School

Super fun time punk explosion number 1!

When your live show features Kaiju-style wrestling – with human bowling! – then you'd better be able to bring the crazy with your songs. On their fifth full length, the self described “action comic punks” put sanity in a headlock and work up enough spastic energy with their short blasts of bilingual punk to defeat even the most boring of killjoy mini-bosses. In fact, at times it seems less like the band is playing their instruments than punching the buttons on a wicked combo attack. Yes, it may seem like campy, Engrish, cos-play to some, but with songs as fun as The Clash-on-a-cartoon-bender “Let's Go! Karaoke Party!” you'd have to be a real bakayaro not to play along. (Eat Rice Records; www.peelander-z.com)

Alternative Press

Faunts
















HQ: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
NOW PLAYING:
Feel.Love.Thinking.Of
Friendly Fire


THE STORY SO FAR:
Forming a band in remote Edmonton can be hell on a band's touring schedule. But then again, says Faunts drummer Paul Arnusch, "In the snowy months a band might have more time to hibernate in their basement studios and fine tune their records." That paid off for Faunts, a band who've built up a steady stream of fans since 2000 on the strength of their meticulously crafted, dream pop.

WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW 'EM:

A lot of bands are blending the atmospheric textures of electronic music into a rock band format, but few are doing it was well as Faunts. The band envelop indie pop song structures in a dreamy electronic haze, and on this record, add new wave pop to the repertoire as well. "Back in the old days we were primarily using ambient sounding guitars and glorious builds, but as the pendulum swings, we ended up using more eighties style electronic drum loops and chorus on the guitar," says Anusch. The marriage is seamless here. "If you try to approach music with feeling, if you listen to a sound or melody and associate it with a feeling, then use those elements you have in you to portray a new feeling in song, everything is gonna fit together whether it comes from a guitar or a drum loop."



YOU LIKE? YOU'LL LIKE: Stars / Broken Social Scene / Postal Service

Alternative Press

Are job fairs really worth it?

Tips on how to lessen the frustration and maximize your luck

CAREERS. Searching for a job is tough. Sometimes attending a job fair can be even worse. They often seem impersonal, frustrating and fruitless — even more so now with fairs being swamped with more-than-usual applicants as the economy continues to tank and unemployment rises.

But there are a few things you can do to maximize your experience, says Kate Lorenz, an editor at Career Builder.com, and one of the authors of the new book “Career Building: Your Total Handbook for Finding a Job and Making It Work” (Collins, $17).

Networking and making the right introductions are obviously important. But there’s another factor to consider, she says. “Job fairs are a great resource for job seekers because it exposes them to employers and positions that they might not have considered otherwise.” Expanding your search criteria, even on the spur of the moment, will yield more results.

Once you’ve zeroed in on a company that looks promising, it’s crucial to remember that this will represent the first step in a potential recruiting process. “People should treat job fairs as they would an interview,” she says. A few ways she recommends you can do that:

1. Market yourself. This is your chance to shine. Wear a suit, put a smile on, hand out business cards and bring copies of your resume.
2. Do research before you go
. Learn what companies will be at the fair and compose a cheat sheet of a few facts about each.
3.
Make it a two-way street. Ask questions and listen. Ask about the company, positions it’s hiring for and the next steps.
4.
If you’re frustrated, don’t let it show. Your pessimism can be a turnoff. It can be conceived as your overall attitude.
5. Don’t apologize for being out of work. A lot of people are in your situation, and hiring managers know this.
6.
Send a thank-you note. Follow up with the people you talk to with an e-mail or mailed note – you want to be remembered.

New York Metro

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Friendly Fires

It wasn't so long ago that dancing to rock music wasn't obligatory. During an obscure period known as the '90s, a wave of stasis struck rock fans throughout the world. Independent rock as we knew it then was more about chin stroking, or, on rare occasions, a practice termed "moshing." Ask your history professor. Shit was weird.

Of course, some genius around the turn of the century happened upon the relics of a bygone age known as the '80s. Back then, they had things called new wave and post punk, where people used guitars and drums to get people dancing. Next thing you know, we're locked tight in the pocket of a new decade of four-on-the-floor and high-hat beats and warbling crooners trying to hit the high notes while doing aerobics onstage.

Friendly Fires are the latest UK rock band to suckle from that historically fertile, dance-powered teat. Dance rock, new wave, disco rock, whatever. It's chiming synths and bouncy basslines from a band that sounds like they spent a lot of time listening to The Cure, along with plenty of German techno, '80s NYC post punk and the haze of shoegaze.

It wasn't always that way, says singer Ed MacFarlane on the phone from Prague: "We were really into more avant-garde and experimental music." Post rock? Yikes. That didn't last though. "It got to the point where we said, 'What is the music that we really like?' And what we like is a catchy melody."

No shortage of those on their self-titled debut. But more importantly, you can dance to it. Especially if you're listening to their breakout single, "Paris"—a controlled explosion of percussion, bells, snares, toms and the essential hand claps. The music sounds like the charged-up house beat playing in Club Wherever, circa whenever. "Our music definitely has a dance influence," he says. "But I don't think that's the be all and end all. I prefer to think of it as romantic music, or epic. Dance is at the core of what we're about, but we're not just a party band. We're a bit more than that."

Indeed. On "Paris," the smooth vocal of the verse contrasted with the soaring chorus illustrates the point. It charges the entire set with a grandeur and a layered beauty more akin to pedal-wanking shoegaze than generic thump. "The kind of dance music I like the most is more accessible dance music." Music, he says, that you can dance to and have an emotional connection with.

Trace the same pattern on the songs "White Diamonds" or "Jump in the Pool." It's as if the band pauses midway through a song, amidst the beat push and finger snaps and cowbell, to catch their breath, then get caught up gazing longingly at the clouds. Oh, and look, that's a pretty sunset, isn't it? There's emotion in the details, and the ache of the vocals. But before too long, here comes the beat again. And the drums. The drums. The drums.

FRIENDLY FIRES

WITH WHITE LIES

AND THE SOFT PACK

SATURDAY 3.28.09

PARADISE ROCK CLUB

967 COMM. AVE., BOSTON

617.562.8800

8PM/18+/$15

THEDISE.COM

WEAREFRIENDLYFIRES.COM

Friday, March 20, 2009

Barcode: The price is right

We've been complaining about the prices of cocktails in Boston the past couple of weeks. When it's gotten to the point that a few ounces of alcohol mixed with juice is selling for the same price as the average entree, something is seriously out of whack. Have bar owners checked the state of the economy lately? If they're going to charge $15-$20 for a cocktail, it had better come with a shoulder rub, or a resume consultation.

So, with the economy in mind we sought out a few lower priced cocktails at some of our favorite swank bars, and the results were surprising. While happy hours are illegal in Massachusetts, there are some watering holes that have managed to set up cocktail specials that are extraordinarily wallet- and palate-friendly.

At the always top-notch Gaslight, they are running a Le Mois De Fous (month of the crazies and the seven winds) special. From 5-6:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m.-midnight on Sunday through Thursday, restaurant-goers can avail themselves of five specialty cocktails for a measly $5.95. The real find is the Joker (below; Bacardi, ginger cognac, parfait amore, passion fruit, orange juice) with its cavalcade of fruit and spice.

"Orange and ginger are paired a lot in cooking," explained bartender Joe O'Connor. "So this plays on that."

Speaking of cooking, the cocktails on the special list are served with amuse-bouche like bacon wrapped dates stuffed with blue cheese. Truth is, Gaslight's cocktails aren't that expensive to begin with. The near perfect Boston Common (basil, vodka, elderflower liqueur, $9) is herbaceous, green, and sharp.

Nearby Aquitaine is running a similar special 5:30-6:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday for $5. Like Gaslight, the drinks are served with the chef's whim hors d'oeuvres.

"Happy hour is so great," explained manager Nicole Perry. "But unfortunately we can't do it. This is our way of offering something like that."

We were more than happy with classics like the Americano (sweet vermouth, Campari, soda), an orange aperitif garnished with a flame kissed orange peel, the Blackberry Bramble (gin, black currant liqueur, lemon juice), sparkling and thick with dark fruits, and the Ramos Gin Fizz (egg white, cream, orange blossom, soda, gin) a creamy aromatic blend.

Five dollars for a cocktail in Podunk is a bargain. In the South End or on Newbury Street, it's practically theft. We found a great $5 concoction at Sonsie: the Stimulus Package cocktail (tequila, Alizé, pineapple juice). Taking the pressures of the economy quite literally, they've designed a simple, fruit-forward, rocks drink. Bursting with passion fruit from the Alizé, and naturally sweet from the pineapple, it's tropical and refreshing, and best of all, priced to move.

Gaslight, 560 Harrison Ave., Boston. 617-422-0224. www.gaslight560.com; Aquitaine, 569 Tremont St., Boston. 617-4248577. www.aquitaineboston.com; Sonsie, 327 Newbury St., Boston. 617-351-2500. www.sonsieboston.com

Boston Globe

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Nightlife Picks

BLOC PARTY When a band's music makes you want to move as much as UK dance punks Bloc Party, then you know they're probably going to be pretty good DJs as well. You might have missed their show tonight, but queue up for the after party as DJs Russell and Matt from the band lay down a night of indie and electro. 10 p.m. Nov. 19. Vinalia, 34 Summer St., Boston. 617-256-4093, www.FutureClassic.net

LOCK AND KEY No, it's not that type of key party. The concept of this singles event here is pretty simple. Men get keys, women get locks, only some of which match up with each other. Your job is to figure out who your match is. It's a pretty good ice breaker, and should provide a good excuse to go chat up that cutie over there. 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20. $20 advance. $30 doors. District Lounge, 180 Lincoln St., Boston. 978-204-5295, www.lockandkeyevents.com

EASTIE FESTIVITY The last time people were this poor they had to invent swing dancing to dull the pain. Celebrate that ingenious convergence by dancing the way they did back in the Great Depression at this dance and exhibition. Throw in a little Salsa and Argentine Tango and you've got all your bases covered. No partner necessary. 2 p.m. Nov. 22. $15 advance. $20 doors. Hilton Boston Logan Airport, 1 Hotel Dr., Boston. 617-834-9876, www.eastiefestivity.com

ARMIN VAN BUUREN Renowned the world over for his production work, DJ gigs and studio albums like “Imagine” and “Shivers” Netherlands-born trance DJ Armin Van Burren hits the decks at the Roxy this week for a party from King Size Boston. Never heard of him? He was only voted the number one DJ in the world by the DJ Magazine. 8 p.m. Nov. 24. $50. The Roxy, 279 Tremont St., Boston. 866-926-8499, www.wantickets.com

Boston Globe

Monday, March 16, 2009

Careers: Pursue Your Dream Job?

Pursue Your Dream Job?

When you’ve lost your job, there are a couple of paths you can take. The first, and probably more reasonable, is to spend time searching for a new job in your field. The second and easier option is to wallow in self pity. But maybe it’s time to consider a third: pursuing your dream job.

Of course there are a few things to consider before making the plunge, says Debra Wheatman, director of career counseling at Vault.com, the online database and resource for job searching.
Most creative fields, says Wheatman, are now experiencing “the same type of economic crunch that other sectors of the economy are.” The main culprits are the music and publishing businesses, both in shambles thanks to the Internet.
But Wheatman says it’s that very problem that might provide the artistically ambitious with an avenue toward achieving their goals. Want to finally finish the novel you’ve been working on? Self-publishing has exploded online. The same goes for musicians as well. The Internet is your publicist, distributor and manager all rolled into one.
Don’t be quick to dive headlong into uncharted waters, though. “If you’re a young person just out of school and you find yourself unemployed, it might be an OK time to try your hand at something that you’ve always really wanted to pursue,” she says. On the other hand, if you’ve got a family and a mortgage? “It might not be such a wise idea,” she cautions.
Probably sound advice, but sound advice isn’t for rock stars and literary geniuses. Go for it. You’ve got nothing but time now.


New York Metro

Friday, March 13, 2009

Barcode: M Bar & Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental

A menu is supposed to read like an expository essay: short, to the point, and packed with useful information. When they become as sprawling and dense as a Russian novel - hard to follow and riddled with unfamiliar names - no one's happy.

Most of the time all that an unwieldy text needs is a good editor to whip it into shape. At M Bar & Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental they've edited their weighty drinks menu - literally, you could kill someone with this thing - into a user friendly format. Broken down by base spirit on each page, it's a handy way for people who know they prefer gin to find something to their taste, or to branch out to another spirit.

The staffers are useful resources for navigating the text as well. Their highly professional demeanor, almost overly formal (but who can complain about that?), certainly reminds you that this is a luxury hotel. The garrulous beer drinker (Hafbrau Helles and Harpoon IPA, $6) we struck up a conversation with assured us the service is always on point.

We might have to join him in a beer next time. While $15 isn't the upper limits of cocktail prices in Boston these days, it's certainly not cheap.

We found a few that were worth it anyway, like the Kremlin (Vodka, Ume liqueur, lavender syrup, green tea, soda). Tall, lean, and elegant - literally, with its beautiful orchid garnish, and figuratively, with the easy notes of lavender and Japanese plum - this was something special. Lightly carbonated from the soda, it's punchy enough to coalesce on the palate, and with its green tea components you could almost convince yourself you're drinking something good for your health.

Speaking of garnishes, bartenders everywhere could take some notes on the presentation of the cocktails here, such as the Swinging Tokyo (Gin, limoncello, yuzu juice, raspberry puree). Stop plopping shriveled lime wedges on a martini glass! Instead, consider the diced fruit poetry of this well-appointed glass: a full, juicy lemon wheel draped with a lengthy flourish of twisting lime. As for taste, with the citrus of the yuzu and limoncello, this drank like the boozy end of a bowl of spiked sorbet. Save this for after dinner.

In our opinion, there's no bad time to drink a cocktail as spicy as the Akuma Margarita (tequila, Cointreau, house sour, hot peppers, lime, Tabasco). Akuma means "the Devil" in Japanese. This is serious, sweaty business, popping with chunks of red jalapeno. It gets its deep orange from muddling the peppers with Tabasco. With two long jalapenos resting on the rim of the glass like devil horns, it's another unique, and playful presentation. It's clever thematically and emblematic of the extra step that M takes to ensure that the resolution of your evening is a happy one.

M Bar and Lounge, 776 Boylston St., Boston. www.mandarinoriental.com/boston/dining/m_bar

Boston Globe

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Glovebox: Spin

Jodie Baehre’s piece “White Noise”
Jodie Baehre’s piece “White Noise”


Artists Spin Old Vinyl and Cassettes Into New Works

PROFILE.
Still got boxes of old vinyl records and cassettes tucked away in dusty corners of your basement or closet? Perhaps you should be thinking of them more as fertile ground for artistic expression and nostalgia instead of junk.

At least that’s what the people behind the new art exhibit “Spin” at Rescue Apparel and Accessories in Allston have been up to.

Organized by Glovebox, a local non-profit art group that helps artists find non-traditional spaces to exhibit their work, “Spin” is one in a series of themed shows they put on throughout the year.
“The theme of this show is one of dedication to how things used to be and how far technology has come in such a short time,” says Glovebox artist Kevin Hebb. “Cassettes and vinyl records were chosen as canvasses for their classic iconography and simplicity.”

Featuring the work of more than 20 artists, the show displays a broad swath of medium and material, all specifically made with, or conceptually drawn from the idea of these utilitarian musical objects. Once familiar and every day, their increasing obsolescence can’t help but imbue the cassettes and vinyl with a sense of the passage of time.

Glovebox co-founder Jodie Baehre’s piece “White Noise” illustrates that point well. “I decided to focus on the actual cassettes,” she explains. “I had planned a couple of pieces, but the all white series looked so sleek and shiny. Many people thought they were ceramic because of the EnviroTek (an environmentally safe resin) used to finish them.”

Indeed the altered cassette tapes give off such a bright, simplistically designed glow, they resemble iPods. That temporal disconnect is probably part of the point.

For her piece “Audi Alteram Partem” her partner Liz Comperchio took a more abstract collage approach.

“I was focusing on words that have to do with sound,” she says. “Listening, and or experiencing music and or life. The Italian phrase ‘Che cosa suona come?’ translates to ‘What does it sound like?’ I have an image of a cowboy wrangling cattle with the phrase ‘audi alterum parem: hear the other side’ which is ambiguous in its intended meaning.”

“Is it referring to the show theme, or the act of the cowboy and the bull?” she asks. “Is it addressing a language barrier that the piece explores? We are given a set of sensory features and we distribute them without thinking ‘where or how else could I experience this?’ In what ways can I truly hear something?”

While you may not be able to hear anything from these cassettes and records anymore, perhaps with this exhibit you might be able to truly see them for the first time.

‘SPIN’
Through March 29
Rescue
252 Brighton Ave., Allston
MBTA: Green B Line to Harvard Ave.
Free, 617-202-3838
www.gloveboxboston.com

“Audi Alteram Partem” by Liz Comperchio
“Audi Alteram Partem” by Liz Comperchio

Boston Metro

Monday, March 9, 2009

Laid off? What to do now

Four frugal steps to take financially after you get that dreaded pink slip

There are a lot of financial issues to consider once you’ve been laid off, and not just the fact that you aren’t pulling in a paycheck anymore. Financial advisor Dan Moore says there are four things that everyone needs to plan for.

1: Unemployment benefits
“The sooner you get your application in, the sooner you will start receiving benefits,” he says. “A quick online search on how to collect insurance benefits will give you a good general overview of who qualifies and who doesn’t.”

2: Assess your finances and reduce expenses.

“Regardless of your employment status you need to know where you stand financially from a cash flow perspective. In other words make a list identifying all of your monthly expenses. Once you have a handle on your monthly income and expenses you can calculate your net cash flow, which is net income minus expenses. If the result is a positive number, then consider yourself lucky.” Next, says Moore, separate your expenses into “wants” and “needs.” “If you are cash flow negative,” he says, “then the responsible thing to do is to cut most or all of the ‘wants.’”

3: 401(K)
Don’t leave it with your old employer, says Moore. “They actually own the plan and it is better to roll it into your own traditional IRA where you can have more control.” This shouldn’t be in an issue unless you’re dipping into the fund. “I strongly recommend against this,” he says “due to high taxes and penalties.”

4: Health insurance

“If you can’t enroll in a spouse’s coverage, then you should find a broker who will shop the market for you,” says Moore. “Most health insurance brokers focus on groups and not individuals, so as a last resort you may have to go to the carriers directly.”


New York Metro

Friday, March 6, 2009

Barcode: Sensing

Waiting for a warm up

The latest in a long line of hotel restaurant bars is the recently launched Sensing at the Fairmont Battery Wharf. Opened by celebrated Michelin chef Guy Martin, it's based on his Parisian restaurant of the same name.

Here Martin and company transplant the focus on fresh, regional ingredients to the Boston waterfront. It's an approach the mixologists behind the bar share as well, with a variety of seasonal cocktail recipes made with fresh herbs and spices.

Many of the drinks we tried were the type of summery cocktails that would definitely be better enjoyed outside along the water, taking in the view of the maritime city's comings and goings. (Sensing will eventually feature seasonal outdoor dining.)

On a bracing winter night, we found solace at the visually pleasing hand-laid tiger marble bar, and in a few glasses as well. The Cilantro Sting (cilantro, Serrano chilies, Absolut, Patrón Silver, fresh lime juice, $17), in particular, was a welcome respite with its layers of heat and spice from the chilies and tequila. They're pressed into the glass with a substantial portion of cilantro, which makes for a grassy, dry, and well-balanced mix.

The Katana (Absolut, Nigori Sake, fresh lime juice, pressed cucumbers, $17) was a second crisp, pleasing option. Like many of the others it leaned heavily toward the vegetal side.

The Oak and Sage Margarita (Sauza Tres Generaciones Anejo Tequila, Grand Marnier, fresh lime juice, pressed organic sage, egg whites, $17) was a playful variation on the margarita with a wholesome eggy froth, and notes of lime and orange playing off one another. The oak of the aged tequila, and a heavy sage base give this cocktail its name, and most of its flavor.

"The sage gives an earthiness to what otherwise might be a summery drink," said bartender Jason Brown.

Other options like the Pomegranate and Cucumber Mojito (pressed cucumber, organic mint, Bacardi Light, fresh lime juice, pomegranate juice, soda, $17), a dark fruit and minty vegetable blend, and the Seaport Lemon Smash (Ri 1 Rye Whiskey, muddled lemon, organic mint, sugar, $14), an evenly sugared, citrus-and-spice variation on a Mint Julep, had us gazing out the window longingly, waiting for the warmth of summer so we could properly enjoy them in concert with the scenery.

Until the winter breaks, however, we don't see ourselves going back. Sure, if you're staying at the hotel in the first place, you probably have money to spare, but stopping in for a cocktail after work, or on a weekend night just doesn't make sense with such prohibitively priced drinks. Perhaps at some point that, like the seasons, will change.

Sensing, 3 Battery Wharf, Boston. 617-994-9000. www.fairmont.com/batterywharf


Boston Globe

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Video Game Orchestra

Joy shtick

Student musicians take arcade games to the next level



PROFILE. Ask anyone from the video game generation to hum the song from an old game like Super Mario Bros., and they’ll be able to do it instantly. It may have been a decade or two since they’ve played a certain title, but the music remains just as memorable as the game play. That’s an emotional, and nostalgic response that the Video Game Orchestra, and its creator Shota Nakama are going for.

For a few years now bands like the Minibosses have been tapping into this phenomenon with an indie rock based approach to video game music, but the Berklee College of Music affiliated VGO, with a 45-piece chamber orchestra, five-piece rock band, and 40-plus member choir have exploded that concept onto a much larger scale.

“There are a few professional video game orchestras existing,” says Nakama, a native of Japan, who organized the VGO with classmates Simon Lee and Kian How, “but we do more contemporary music, so we added rock band and choir to the chamber orchestra so we can play any sound. It actually blends quite well.”

It’s a result that he credits to the performers’ passion for the material. “If you go and talk to any orchestra, most students, they hate being in the orchestra. They are either doing it for scholarship purposes, or they’re just there not liking the music as much. With video game music, people like it and they want to be there.”

The orchestra’s repertoire is comprised of 25 songs and counting.

But there is a big difference between those old eight-bit songs and the more complex music of today’s video games. The VGO also performs music from more cinematic titles like God of War and Silent Hill that border on the traditional film score territory.

Nakama says it’s not quite the same as film music, where you are more restricted.

“You have to be syncing the music with the picture. The nature of video games are, you don’t know if a player is going to spend two hours in the same space, so it has to be melodic and memorable. You have to entertain people, or they get bored.”

The same rules apply at an orchestra performance. In order to remedy that boredom factor, the VGO will show clips from various games while they are performing, aiming for a more immersive game play experience than you might expect from an orchestra.

“Entertainment is the biggest part,” he says. “In a lot of classical orchestra performances you go in the room and sit down and are as quiet as possible and focus on every note they play. But that’s not really what we want. We want to entertain people, to give a great show. We want people to say ‘what we paid was worth it.’”

And to hopefully not hit the reset button.


Exactly what games will the VGO be covering?
“From Final Fantasy, Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog," says Nakama, "pretty much everyone knows what we are playing. It’s a nostalgic moment like when you were a little kid and playing those games and feeling great.”


The Video Game Orchestra
Tomorrow, 8:15 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center
136 Mass. Ave., Boston
MBTA: Green Line to Hynes
$10, 617-747-2261
www.berkleebpc.com

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bands We Should Like, but Don't

Globe music critics put it on the line to reveal the major musicians and acts they should like - but really do not - including Dylan, Bruce, and The Beatles.





Led Zeppelin

When people talk about classic bands they don't like, they're really speaking in a coded language. For example, "I don't like the Beatles" is the same as saying "I'm a liar." But when I say that I don't like Led Zeppelin, there's no subtext. A lot of it has to do with Robert Plant's fiendish, helium-powered caterwauling. I tend to prefer bands with vocalists, not police sirens in tight pants. The lyrics, which run the gamut from unimaginative doggerel to too-imaginative fantasy goofs, don't help. Listen to "D'yer Mak'er" if you need a reminder. Sure, they inspired a lot of great bands, but should we not then hold them accountable for the thousands of downright awful imitators they've inspired? Remember that whole hair metal thing in the '80s? Who do you think put the bustle in those dudes' musical hedgerow? And grunge? That was basically goateed Led Zeppelin on smack.