Thursday, March 22, 2007

Now I'm going to have that Royksopp song in my head all day

I've been noticing something strange lately when I watch TV: bands I actually like and respect are licensing their music to television commercials. I know this is by no means a new occurrence, but it seems to be happening more often recently with so-called "indie bands." There are plenty of people stalking usually late-night across the Interwebs who will start throwing around the S-word (rhymes with "fell out"), so I'm not going to make any kind of judgment call on this issue. I just wanted to point it out because I thought it's odd.

I'll just be, you know, sitting there, and suddenly I'll hear a voice I know--often a voice I love--on a commercial for something I don't want or could never afford, and the disconnection there is immense; it's disconcerting, even disorienting. This particular trend actually started, for me, a few years ago, when I heard Modest Mouse's "Gravity Rides Everything" in a Nissan commercial. I honestly thought I was dreaming at the time; I think I was watching Conan O'Brien, and it was late, and I thought I'd dozed off and imagined it. I remembered the ad recently and lurched to my computer like a madman, googling it like a conspiracy theorist looking for UFO snapshots. I can't find a video anywhere but it definitely happened. The whole thing seemed strange because at the time I was really enjoying the album (that was The Moon and Antarctica) and it seemed to me to be so diametrically dissimilar in philosophy to the commercials I was seeing at the time. But there it was.

Cut to years later, a few weeks ago, when I was sitting around, catching up on back strips of some of my usual webcomics with the TV on in the background, and suddenly heard Tracyanne Campbell's unmistakable voice. I looked up to a commercial that turned out to be for Coldwater Creek, a clothing company I won't bother linking to because honestly there's nothing there you need to see. I was sure it was a Camera Obscura song but my optimistic brain was reluctant to believe that the two could be connected. Another Google search and it turns out I was right again. I sort of slumped over halfway at the ridiculousness of it, right there in my chair, and might've uttered a slight whimper--or at least a sigh--having just seen the band perform at the Bluebird days before and falling at least three-quarters of the way in love with them. Coldwater Creek? Really? The commercial's imagery is more in touch with the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants side of things than anything else, and, yes, Tracyanne Campbell is a woman (and how!) and, yes, the music is pleasing, inoffensive pop, but, still, how did that deal go down?

(That internet search did, however, did lead to my now-regular readership of a fellow Denverite's blog; she'd written an entry about the same experience.)

Another instance along the same lines--also strange, but not nearly as disturbing--is the latest in Geico's actually rather brilliant Caveman series of commercials (a few of them--1, 2, 3, 4), this one featuring Royksopp's catchy "Remind Me" (also check out that commercial's shorter companion piece). And I guess Royksopp is maybe a little more commercially friendly than Modest Mouse or Camera Obscura is known to be--I did, after all, hear that same song the other day at work--but it's still not something you expect to hear on national television.

And then, tonight I caught a Sears commercial featuring another voice that was very familiar to me; after fighting it, but knowing the sad truth, somewhere deep down, I came to terms with the fact that the voice was Neil Halstead's; the Sears advert somehow managed to secure for their own evil capitalist purposes Mojave 3's "Running With Your Eyes Closed" from their album Puzzles Like You. Quick pop music history lesson: Mojave 3 members Neil Halstead, Rachel Goswell and Ian McCutcheon were all members of seminal shoegaze band Slowdive, who were nearly as critical to that genre as were the revered (by me, by all) My Bloody Valentine. What that means, simplified: one of the most important voices in all shoegaze music can be heard, now, in a Sears ad.


Oh, and I can't forget hearing The New Pornographers' "The Bleeding Heart Show" in a commercial for The University of Phoenix. How inspiring! How life-affirming!

I don't know what this all means. My first instinct is to be wary of (or downright horrified by) this trend, but then I wonder if there's ever a bad time or place for good music; wouldn't that Coldwater Creek ad, for example, be even less appealing with some generic light-rock tune? Would I have even noticed that van commercial without the Modest Mouse song? I'm really battling some rabid fandom demons here. Leave a comment, push me one way or the other, and I'll go down that road.

Edit: in a similar development, Devendra Banhart's "Insect Eyes" lends a decidedly creepy feel to the new teaser trailer for upcoming horror flick The Hills Have Eyes 2. The songs works quite well. I'm all for the "indie/commercially mainstream" union in this case.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I am having a love affair with this ice cream sandwich

And also with Laura Veirs (in particular, the song "Magnetized," which really ought to be on her MySpace page). She's got everything I loved about Lisa Loeb when I was seventeen (intelligent lyrics, a charming bookishness, hot librarian glasses, she's a girl who plays guitar, etc.), plus her music is infinitely more grown-up and listenable (although I'll always love Lisa Loeb for calling her band Nine Stories).

I discovered Veirs late, probably the same way a number of people did: as the voice of the pregnant girlfriend of the American soldier in The Decemberists' song "Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)." She has one of those voices I'd like to have sex with. Just the voice, y'know? Y'know. Oh, and Veirs grew up in Colorado Springs, which is kind of cool. I mean, it's a shitty town--real shitty town--but it's cool that she was so close, or... or something. Okay, yeah, it really means nothing.

Speaking of sexable voices, here's a list of some other voices I want to have sex with (a list which includes a few people with whom I'd actually like to have sex--you know, like, with their bodies. I'm not going to tell you which ones those are):

Jeff Goldblum's

Scarlett Johansson's

Sir William Murray's

Jenny Lewis's

Joanna Newsom's

And while I'm throwing pictures around, I'm very happy to remind you that Phil Smith

will be here in a day or two.

I need to go and spend some alone time with that picture of Scarlett Johansson. It's melting my brain. I can't... I can't go on.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


To which I respond:

Oh my lord, I didn't know you were coming. I wasn't ready.

I will be.

See you in ten days.

And his speedy return:

i know man, i didn't think you would be.
just lookin' out for ya.
i'll bring some epinephrine loaded hypodermic needles, but i'm afraid you're going to administer them to yourself.

So now we're counting down.

And already there's been beer and liquor with Glenn, on not his first or second but in fact third night in town--no more time to waste.

Monday, March 05, 2007

I have the lightest brightest friends

If you've been around at all you know the characters, and if you were around last summer or last winter break you'll remember a handful of key players, a ragged, broke, well-read, well-dressed bunch, geniuses every one, out-of-towners hardly down and out, at least one growing his beard out: these are my friends.

Word has it Glenn Negretti's back in town for a week or so and this morning a message from Phillip, inconspicuously, 9:04 a.m.:

well patrick mate, i just wanted to warn you that i should be in town in about 10 days...get your rest while you can; we'll sleep when we're dead.

Winter break he was reading War & Peace drinking vodka nightly sleeping (hood up) when he could get the sleep and keeping me from a saintly existence. I've gotta ready mind & body for him every time and I don't care who you are you should be ready to be with us too.