Hot Chip: "Over and Over" Video
There's something odd about Hot Chip. Some fracture between conception and actuality that makes them all the more intriguing. Ostensibly Hot Chip sign up to the Hip-Hop dream as espoused by MTV Cribs and presumably as lived by, ooh, Pharrell Williams? They just seem to have some problems translating it to Wandsworth, SE London, is all. In fact they seem to have trouble squaring it with the equal, but to some extent opposite, influence of, say, Bill Callahan from Smog. Or Lambchop. Or Crystal Gayle. So, instead of doing the obvious thing and working out what sort of band they are going to be, they conclude that they will be all of them at once. And then they'll make it all in a room smaller than the box room at your Mum's house. With whatever's lying around. That is, whatever's lying around - toy trumpets, kazoos, blah. This to conform to a cherished idea of Brian Wilson's that, in the studio, anything goes. "Whereas a band like Primal Scream simply want to BE The Rolling Stones for one album, then King Tubby on the next, and Royal Trux on another, we prefer to make references in miniature to the spirit of the records and performances we love and admire," says vocalist/keyboard player Alexis Taylor. Unlike most of their heroes and role models, however, Hot Chip prefer things to be slightly off or too loud or in some way odd, and set great store in the accidental nature of recording. Perhaps it is this that gives them the slightly homemade feel that permeates the whole "Coming On Strong," and makes it an album so high on charm.
On this week's Crave, we take a first look a gadget that truly blows, an optical game controller that looks like a kazoo. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield gives us some more cooking tips from space. And Hotello is a hotel room in a box. Sounds uncomfortable, no? All that and more on this week's episode.
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There's still time for us to strike entrepreneurial gold, we talk "malicious circuits," and Microsoft blah blah blah blah. Also, Popcorn Hour starts shipping its magical streaming box of wonder and it looks like we're in store for some wiener whistles.
Our editors have picked the best notebooks, laptops, or Netbooks--whatever you call them.
New TVs ship with settings that make them look good in the store, not in your living room. Sharon Vaknin shares some easy ways to get your picture looking the way you want it.
These days, it always seems to come back around to food, and analyzing each other's food issues is pretty enlightening. Here are some tools to appease the inner food critic.
Molly Wood shows you some tweaks and tips to get your HDTV in tip-top shape for football season, tennis season, or whatever sport you are into.
This week we freak out about Slingbox outages that have hit users around the country (fortunately, the problem seems mostly solved at this point). Then, we check out the two big tech firm ousters of the past week: HP's CEO and Apple's head iPhone guy. Dan goes over some recent NYC subway nightmares, and how the MTA's high-tech makeover isn't moving very quickly. And finally, we check out candid shots of a gorilla that got his paws on some poor zoo visitor's Nintendo DSi XL.
What To Do When You Are Dead, Armor For Sleep's second installment due to be released February 22, 2005 is a record that will breathe new life into the carcass of thought provoking albums that has been lying on the side of the road which is the post hardcore/emo/rock whatever scene for years. Through the prism of buzz bands that flash and burn in dirty clubs under piles of screaming kids who will denounce them a month later it gets harder for words like longevity and individuality, originality and endurance to surface in the wash of MP3s and P2Ps that carry them to spread and deletion. In every band stickered corner in every smoke filled club from New York to California, Armor For Sleep has been showcasing their unique sound to thousands of kids who show up religiously and repeatedly to sing every word almost to the point of absurdity. In the past two years they have supported Fall Out Boy, Taking Back Sunday, Midtown, From Autumn To Ashes, Further Seems Forever, Bane and countless others. They have also done their own full U.S. headlining tours. If the last two years have been only a prelude to what the band is ultimately capable of, and if the success of their debut album "Dream To Make Believe" is any indication, Armor For Sleep is destined for canonization in the fluctuating music genre they have helped to create from the ground up. "We have seen our friends bands blow up overnight," says singer/songwriter/guitar player Ben Jorgensen, "and we?re always happy for them. We have just been working hard focusing on our sound and touring nonstop until we are so close to the brink of insanity that it hurts." Bands grow. Whether it's constant touring, self-reflection, or just being jaded from the crap bombarding modern rock radio, bands mature. "We?re not afraid to write the songs we want to write," Jorgensen said, admitting that the band was a little timid with their debut album. After working with producer Machine (Clutch, Lamb of God, White Zombie, King Crimson, Vision of Disorder) in an assortment of studios in Hoboken, New Jersey for two months, Armor For Sleep emerged with the 11-song album equipped with their signature evocative vocals, and hauntingly catchy melodies. Noted for his work with progressive metal bands, it was Machine's first time producing a band with a sound like Armor For Sleep, and what came out of it is sure to bring a new kind of reverence to the rock and roll community. With the first lines "Believe the news / I?m gone for good," of the opening track, "Car Underwater," listening to the album is like taking the hand of a ghost as he guides you around to the different people and places he likes to check up on, and in doing so, tells you the story of his life. Digging deeper into the musical styles of their genre, what comes out of What To Do When You Are Dead seems less like an experiment and more like what happens when everything just clicks and gears start turning by themselves, creating an album that promises to shine like fresh flowers on the gravesite of an industry of regenerated soulless music to fall asleep to. What To Do When You Are Dead offers the perfect balance between a self-contained concept album and a powerful collection of songs, completely unaware of each other?s existence. "We wanted this record to be a record where each song could be listened to individually," Jorgensen says "But still have a story flickering through every song, pointing the listener down the path we?ve paved for them." Where Dream To Make Believe dealt very much with time and space, What To Do When You Are Dead moves in cinematic scenes through the passage of life and death. The lyrics have the band's original literary presence that makes this album feel like every line was specifically written to fit with every guitar note, bass line and drum beat in perfect cadence. As the album moves from an actual death, to being in heaven and alone, to floating above the trees of a hometown and walking as a ghost through a graveyard, Armor For Sleep encompasses the feelings so inherent with youth. The feelings of loneliness, of social suicide, and of being an outsider conveyed in their songs put them in time with the music, and in the category of bands that connect with an entire generation, something the bigger bands of today seem to fall short of. But don?t expect them to realize the power they have over the people listening to their records. "We are just doing what we love," Jorgensen says, "what never crosses our minds is what other people will like... we just write music and I just write words that make me feel something in my gut. That is our only platform and always will be." The sound is delicate and combustible, using both clean and distorted guitar tones with a lot of slide power chords and punctuating notes that appear like gunfire across the appropriate tracks. The lyrics are meticulously crafted, smart and well placed and Jorgensen's voice is soaked with reverberation and infectious melody that can be both calm at times or impetuously turbulent. The ancient Greeks never wrote obituaries. Instead they asked only one question: Did they have passion? After their major success in such a short time, it is obvious that Armor For Sleep has a positive answer for that question. What To Do When You Are Dead is that answer.