Something to Watch/Listen To: “Latin Boys”

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I, uh… I don’t know what to make of this.

This new music video comes straight out of Panda Bear’s upcoming album Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper. The video for “Boys Latin” is definitely an awesome one, combining CGI animation with a mild cel-shading technique and a watercolor-like color pallet. It’s also pretty weird, in a good way. Take a look!

Once I sit through the whole thing, it looks to me like a neat visual interpretation of finding a soul-mate and starting a family. I’ve also seen others interpret the infecting plant life as a traumatic event that one must emotionally deal with. Either way, making sense of this one requires a fair amount of interpretive thinking, and that’s pretty cool.

The music is also a joy to listen to. A hypnotic beat plays background to some wonderful synths and haunting vocals. I haven’t yet listened to much of Panda Bear or his group, Animal Collective, but this has definitely made me interested.

You can pre-order Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper on itunes here. 

Jingle Things: “Mr. Christmas”

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When I was a kid, my family and I would head to Oklahoma to spend Christmas with my extended family. On our way back, a common tradition of our’s would be to go through a drive-through gallery of Christmas lights. Some of the displays were funny, others touching, all of it beautiful. Some of my most moving memories involve neon lights illuminating the night sky. It may not seem like much, but it’s the little things that make it all worth it.

So believe me when I say that I get why people love coming to see the house of Mr. Christmas.

This is a documentary from last year that I just came across whilst searching for holiday-themed short films. It takes a look at California-native Bruce Mertz who, for over thirty years, has entertained local residents by decorating his house in elaborate light displays during the holiday season. People from all over the country would stop by and be mesmerized by the glowing light show, one that’s timed to touching Christmas music.

The documentary also talks about Mertz’s life story. Though I’ll let you watch it to see that for yourself. He’s had a rough go of it, but he’s persevered and found something that continues to make him happy.

All in all, it’s an interesting portrait of an interesting guy. Well timed, too. It seems after this year, he’ll be hanging it all up. If you want to see this light show in person, make an effort to do so this holiday season.  It may not seem like much, but it’s the little things that make it all worth it.

To find out more about Mr. Christmas, you can visit the film’s Facebook page here.

Something to Watch: “HitRECord on TV: Season 1”

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Before we start, a disclaimer: I’m very biased about this one. See, I actually appear, for a quarter-of-a-second, in three episodes of this TV show. Because of this, I initially didn’t think it would be a good idea to write about this one. But I legitimately believe that, if you’ve been interested in anything I’ve talked about on this blog, you’re very likely to enjoy this show. Just be aware that this is a project that I’m, in a small part, a part of.

Anyhow, have you ever heard of HitRecord? Well, it’s a production company, founded by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, that’s a little bit different than other companies. HitRecord works with an online community of artists who work together on projects of all kinds Whenever a project becomes commercially viable, the company looks to find ways to distribute it, sharing the profits with the artists that worked on it. They’ve published everything from books, to albums, to short films.

Earlier this year, they made a TV show.

Consisting of eight episodes for it’s first season and airing on cable network PivotHitRecord on TV premiered last January and has recently been made available as a box set. It’s a variety show, hosted by Gordon-Levitt, that showcases short films, animations, music videos and documentaries made by the community. Each episode also has a theme, including examples such as space, money and patterns among others.

I would talk more about my opinions on the show but, again, I don’t exactly have a lot of credibility on this subject. Suffice to say, I’ve really enjoyed the show, whether I was in the episode or not, and I’d recommend it wholeheartedly. However, HitRecord has put the first episode of the show “Re: The Number One” up on their YouTube page, so you can take a look for yourself and see what you think.

If you liked it as much as I did, there are several ways to watch the rest of the season. Pivot still airs the show on several occasions and you can also download every episode on iTunes and Amazon. Most recently, the show has become available as a box set, which includes collectible books about the show and downloads for the season’s episodes. You can find that here.

Oh, and if you want to see what I do on the HitRecord site, you can visit my profile, JustCallMeRyan.

Jingle Things: “Home for the Holidays, Vol. 2”

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So, remember when I said that song “Holiday” led me to a whole compilation album? Well, today I’d like to talk about that. Om Records is a record label that focuses on electronic, dance and hip-hop music. In the years of 2010 and 2011, the label collected a number of their more winter-centric releases into a compilation album, titled Home for the Holidays. Of the two volumes, I’ve gotten a chance to listen to the second one and I highly recommend it.

As I said before, the high-energy romp “Holiday” by Body Language (which I talked about last week,) is included on the album. Joining it is a collection of lounge-ready electronic and jazz fusion tracks all fitted with elements of the holiday season. From Montesco’s mesmerizing rendition of a classic in “O Holy Night”, to the beautifully relaxing “Dreaming of Santa” by The Electronic Tabernacle Symphony, the feels of Christmas are pretty well explored.

It’s all makes for some wonderful music to throw on as you’re chilling during these winter nights, and the number of styles on display here adds some nice variety. Above all, it’s just nice to hear Christmas music that sounds a little different than what you may be used to hearing. If that sounds like what you’re looking for, then I recommend you seek out Home for the Holidays, Vol 2.

You can find and download Home for the Holidays, Vol 2 on iTunes and Amazon.

Jingle Things: “Holiday” Music Video

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The holiday season is here! Every Wednesday leading up to Christmas, I’ll be highlighting an interesting something-or-other for you to enjoy as you deck the halls. This week, I want to show you a music video that was released a couple of years ago, but that I just recently discovered.

Set to the song “Holiday” by Body Language, the stop-motion music video tells the tale of two stuffed animals falling in love and attempting to escape a toy factory. It’s got everything! Action, romance, dancing and, uh… suggestive scenes… Ahem.

Anyhow, it’s a joy to watch and works great with the song it’s promoting. Speaking of the song, if you’re having trouble making out the lyrics, don’t worry. You’re not alone. But it’s still extremely catchy and combines that techno-pop sound I love so much with the sounds of the holiday season. Have a look-see!

Here’s a fun fact: that video was animated by Starburns Industries, who have done work for [adult swim] shows such as Moral OrelMark Shelly’s Frankenhole and Rick and Morty. Imagine that! Of course, that video led me to discover a whole compilation album. But that’s a story for another post.

If you like the song “Holiday” by Body Language, you can find it on iTunes here.

Something to Listen To: “Ghostly Essentials: Music for Makers”

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A wise man once said: “The best things in life are free.” Indie record label Ghostly International knows the value of this very well. As I’ve discussed before, you can already find a number of free compilation albums collecting music from all over the label’s catalog. Well, now they’ve just added to that collection.

Released as a companion to the contest Ghostly is currently running in partnership with 3D-printer producer MakerBot Industries, Ghostly Essentials: Music for Makers collects ten tracks that have been “specially curated to help soundtrack your creative process”. The compilation include works from Ghostly favorites such as Matthew Dear, Beacon, Solvent and Lusine among others.

As I quoted above, the product description promises this album to be the perfect soundtrack for creative work. And I have to admit, these atmospheric, electronic tracks have been doing a good job of keeping me engaged as I write this very post, but they also make for a really cool listen on their own. On top of that, most of these tracks have been released over the past year. So if you’re looking for a guide to what the label has been up to recently, this is a good place to start.

But again, it’s free! If this sounds interesting, go ahead and download it and see for yourself. I’ve got to hand it Ghostly for once again providing a free and easy way to explore and discover the music of some great artists.

You can download Ghostly Essentials: Music for Makers here. And for more information of the related contest, follow this link.

Something to Listen To: “Now There is We”

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I’ve noticed lately that my musical tastes are starting to drift towards jazz sensibilities, so I’ve been looking around for cool indie music in that genre. It’s a pleasure, then, that one of the first things I’ve come across is this wonderful single from the Berlin-based group Jazzanova. “Now There Is We” is an uplifting piece with some wonderful vocals from Paul Randolph and a solid groove stringing it all together.

But instead of just sitting here telling you about it, why don’t I show you? The official music video is embedded below. Take a listen!

You can download “Now There Is We” on iTunes and Bleep. To learn more about Jazzanova, you can visit their official site.