Monday, August 27, 2007

Caren Explains: Swedes Please!

Don't let my surname fool you: I come from a strong line of Scandinavians. To confuse things more, my mother is almost entirely of Scandinavian descent and yet she is an Irish citizen, while my father, who is of mostly Irish heritage, will never be able to achieve this status. If my mother moved to Ireland, my father would have to get a J1 visa to work at her B&B.

But ANYWAY... I'm partial to Scandinavians, particularly Swedes, particularly Swedes who make indie rock music.

There's a fun blog called Swedes Please that keeps track of the latest Swedes to arrive on the rock scene. I particularly like their IKEA-inspired t-shirt:

Most of my favorite CDs of the year have come from Sweden. I've been tracking this at in Part One and Part Two of "The Year of the Swedes vs Year of the De(e/a)rs" debate. Here's the short list:

Loney, Dear: Loney Noir
Download: "I Am John" (my favorite song of the year) courtesy of BrooklynVegan

Shout Out Louds: Our Ill Wills (out 9/11/07)
Download: "Tonight I Have to Leave It" courtesy of

Peter, Bjorn & John: Writer's Block
Download: "Young Folks" courtesy of Yellow Stereo

Jose Gonzalez: In Our Nature (out 9/26/07)
Download: "Down the Line" courtesy of The Glorious Hum

Jens Lekman: Night Falls Over Kortedala (out 10/09/07)
Download "Friday Night at the Drive In Bingo" courtesy of Stereogum

Tobias Froberg: Somewhere In the City
(Can't find a sample for you)

I'm From Barcelona: Let Me Introduce You to My Friends
Thank you to You Ain't No Picasso for turning me onto this band back in late 2005, well before they even had a MySpace page. And thank you to the band for sending me an I'm From Barcelona kazoo. Here's the terrific video for the catchy single... and that's how big the band is, btw...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Caren Explains: Kitty's Taste in Music

I moved to Candler Park this past weekend and will be watching Lauren's cat, Kitty, while Lauren is working in France.

Kitty is very confused about what is going on because Lauren is still here, but I have taken over Lauren's room.

Kitty is coming around, though. Today she sat on my bed and listened to me play music. When she didn't like something or got bored, she got up and left. When she heard something she liked, she came running back. I told her that, like it or not, I was going to judge her based on her musical selections.

Here is what I now know about Kitty's taste in music...

Wilco, especially Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
The Hold Steady
Yo La Tengo

Michael Jackson
I'm From Barcelona
High School Musical soundtrack

Kitty is such a hipster...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Caren Explains: Moving and IKEA

I am moving on Saturday. This is a stressful process because I am also working two jobs, volunteering, etc.

As I prepare to move, I am trying to visualize my new room and am reminded of IKEA. I love visiting their store because you can almost "place house" in it, that is, if you don't get lost in its maze-like layout... Looking for a postmodern family room? Here's 688 sq feet of neo-eclectic living! Or how about an eco-friendly kitchen? Try out the recyclable chairs in the showroom!

But my IKEA filing cabinet at work is broken, reminding me that IKEA might be cheap, but their products are a pain to put together. It took 4.467 hours to build it, when really I should've bought a pre-assembled one from Staples for $40 more.

Here is a great piece from Esquire illustrating this conundrum:

Monday, August 06, 2007

Caren Explains: Clap Your Hands Say G. Love

Back from Chicago, where we hosted "Paste Presents: Live in Chicago!" featuring unannounced performances from OurStage star, Haunt (who I liked a lot), Alec Ounsworth of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and G. Love at a small venue.

Ounsworth invited Elvis Perkins out for the performance and the two put on a unique acoustic show, which I especially appreciated, having seen both artists play multiple shows already. Ounsworth has such a recognizable voice (well, to anyone who knows CYHSY) and it was interesting to hear it away from the normal CYHSY sound.

The rest of CYHSY was supposed to arrive later for a full band, acoustic set, but travel problems prevented that.

G. Love took the stage last, for an acoustic set of his own. I made it upstairs from Door duties in time to hear "Cold Beverages," my fav of his songs.

Perhaps the most intense moment of the night was taking on not just one, but both, of my superiors at Guitar Hero II... unfortunately only 8 songs were available from the menu so all of my hours of practicing "Sweet Child O'Mine" were useless...

Here's a picture I took from backstage at the show (with my camera phone, so please forgive quality):

... and the writing on the bathroom wall:

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Caren Explains: Escalator Etiquette

The British are good at many things, like tea, cricket and "football," for starters. When I was living in London I quickly learned that another thing the British have mastered is Escalator Etiquette. This is a foreign concept to most Americans, particularly those frequenting Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport.

What is Escalator Etiquette?

I don't know if there is a formal definition. Here's what I consider proper rules of the game, though, from my observations and experiences:

1) Stationary on the Right; Fast Movers on the Left

If you are not going to walk/run up or down the escalator, you should stand on the right side , leaving a left lane for people in a hurry. In actuality, hurrying up or down an escalator saves only seconds, not minutes, of your time, but sometimes that is the difference between catching and missing a train or subway car or airport shuttle, so clear the way. This rule applies to personal belongings, too... don't leave your things on the left... keep them close to your body and close to the right side of the escalator, or else I think it completely acceptable for someone to push them aside.

2) Leave one 'step' between you and the person in front of you

This seems simple enough. Personal space is a necessity. Don't crowd the person in front of you unless it is impossible to do so. You wouldn't want someone all up in your business, would you? Right? Right.

3) High-step it like a marching band.

Remember when your parents were very weary of taking you on an escalator because your kiddie shoelaces might get caught in the groves? Well, just because you've moved on to better shoes and better coordination skills doesn't mean you should forget these warnings. I saw someone fly off the end of an escalator the other day because she was dragging her feet. Don't go airborne: high-step it, people.

4) Don't take pictures from the top of the escalator.

I'm not sure why tourists like to take pictures of people coming up escalators, but it slows up traffic. If you're going to take a picture, take it while you're on the escalator, not when you're at the top, because then you're going to cause a bottleneck, and we all know that escalators wait for no one.

This is for the betterment of our society. Trust me.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Caren Explains: Dancing to Daft Punk

One huge oversight on my part when gearing up for Lollapalooza was Daft Punk.

The French duo is one of the most popular and successful electronic acts ever to grace the Earth. They made house music that you know and love, even if you don't know that you know and love Daft Punk songs. Kanye West loves them so much he's sampled them in his new single, "Stronger." Etc etc etc.

I caught the set by LCD Soundsystem before Daft Punk, which was pretty killer to see, especially since James Murphy looks nothing like he sounds. They performed "Daft Punk is Playing at My House," which Murphy noted was interesting, but not ironic.

Daft Punk has rarely been seen out of costume, not since the mid 90s anyway.

Lollapalooza became a big dance party when they took the stage atop a pyramid-like structure. It was a frenzy, really. Everyone sang along to "One More Time," celebrating as they should. White Boy Dancing was acceptable for this limited time only. The man next to me was dancing like a gorilla screaming, "I'M FROM BARCELONA!", while two girls in front of me were decked out as if they were going clubbing.

Here's some great video from YouTube... watch it and be amazed by the light displays... (Facebook Note readers, go to the original post)

Opening, courtesy of tacvbo

"Technologic," courtesy of Shoegazzzer

"Face to Face," courtesy of Shoegazzzzer

Encore, courtesy of wrightaliesin

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Caren Explains: Lollapalooza

By the time this post gets time-stamped, I'll be in Chicago for Lollapalooza.

According to Merriam-Webster...

lol·la·pa·loo·za, Pronunciation: "lä-l&-p&-'lü-z&"
Function: noun
Etymology: origin unknown
Definition: one that is extraordinarily impressive; also: an outstanding example

Most anyone who keeps up with pop culture knows Lollapalooza to be one of the summer's best and biggest music festivals.

The first Lollapalooza was a traveling festival organized in 1991 by Perry Farrell (then of Jane's Addiction, now of Satellite Party). It died in 1997, was reincarnated in 2003, then died again. The fine folks at Capitol Sports & Entertainment (now C3 Presents) brought it back to life in 2005 in its present format - a weekend festival in Chicago's Grant Park.

I'm pretty pumped for Chicago, seeing old friends, tons of music, etc, though I am exhausted from recent traveling binges and lack of sleep.

Bands I've Never Seen and Look Forward to Seeing in My One Day at Lolla:
I'm From Barcelona
The Fratellis
Ryan Shaw

Bands I've Seen Too Many Times But Will Gladly See Again:
Colour Revolt
The Polyphonic Spree
The Rapture

And I must not forget the real reason for my trip! Paste Presents: Live in Chicago! party... secret line-up, intimate venue, OurStage bands and Guitar Hero on stage... stay tuned for pictures.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Caren Explains: Life as a Simpsons Avatar

In college I was kicked out of my Visual Culture class by my professor because I had never seen a full episode of The Simpsons.

"Are you American?!" he asked, completely flabbergasted.
"Are you Amish?"
"Get out of my class," he snarled. "Don't come back until you've watched an episode."

I thought he was kidding, until the guy next to me whispered, "I think you should go now...."

I still loved that professor, and I'll probably see The Simpsons Movie regardless of my lack of Simpsons knowledge, especially since I've now worked myself into the movie using the Create Your Simpsons Avatar tool.

What is an "avatar"?

According to Wikipedia: "An avatar (abbreviations include AV, ava, avie, avy, avi, avvie, and avvy) is an Internet user's representation of himself or herself, whether in the form of a three-dimensional model used in computer games,[1] a two-dimensional icon (picture) used on Internet forums and other communities,[2][3] or a text construct found on early systems such as MUDs."

So here's what I'd look like in Springfield:

As you can see, I am wearing many of my signature styles... red Gianni Bini shoes, Aviator sunglasses, jeans... my t-shirt even has a rubber duck on it... I'd probably hang out at Moe's a lot... not too bad, Simpsons Avatar tool.

You can make yourself or anyone else you know into a character, too, at brilliant marketing, brilliant fun...