Friday, December 19, 2008


Thanks for reading SFR's arts blog. We're excited to announce that we've moved over to! Come check us out!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Check out my interview with the wild and weird Shelley Hirsch on SFR's Web site, and then check out Hirsch herself Sunday night at the Santa Fe Complex.

Friday, November 14, 2008

It doesn't even matter

It doesn't even matter if the new Bond movie Quantum of Solace sucks. The theater, which I'll be in at 7:30 will be packed. If I weren't sick I'd be super excited for Bond and crappy nachos, but since I am I may just have to sneak some tea into the theater.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


There are no words. Just watch:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Castanets City of Refuge Review

City of Refuge
Asthmatic Kitty Records

The easiest words to describe Castanet’s fourth studio album, City of Refuge, are “sparse” and “atmospheric.” These are both apt but only skim the surface of what Ray Raposa set out to do when he recorded the album alone in a Nevada hotel room.
City of Refuge is a dark, introspective album that allows Raposa to expose himself through narrative, delicate guitar picking and metaphor. It is an album where its songwriter truly does take refuge, returning to the theme not only in the album title but as a two-part song. “Refuge 1” finds Raposa mid crisis, announcing his intention to “run to the city of refuge.” Near the end of the album, after he’s explored himself emotionally and musically, he breaks out traditional blues chords for “Refuge 2,” adds an echo to his voice and begs the “city to take back the whiskey, cocaine and the heavens.” The running didn’t pay off the way he expected it to, but something beautiful and personal happened there.
Though the album traces a personal struggle, it’s not without its tender moments. As with any re-evaluation of the world, the mood is not consistent. The gospel song “I’ll Fly Away,” which has been recorded by everyone from Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch, Johnny Cash and Kanye West, is a moment of false redemption within the search. It’s the moment that Raposa thought he was looking for, and it’s followed by the instrumental and Calexico (without the horns)-esqe “Hum”—a song of travel from the city that leads nowhere but right back to the beginning. In fact, no matter how many times Raposa tries to escape into refuge, and refuge itself, he’s left with only himself. Despite the attempt to either repress the pain or reach catharsis, City of Refuge, like life itself, never fully lets go. And in that constant search lies one of the most introspective and beautiful albums of Raposa’s career.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Stalking America

Rob Paravonian loves him some America!

Now normally I don't find allusions to abusive relationships funny at all, but somehow Paravonian has managed to take the ideas of stalking and obession to a place where they're so over the top they actually work. "Whose your founding father bitch? She'd better say it's me."

Maybe what makes this so funny is that we're all so overprotective right now. Judging from the status updates on my friend's Facebook pages if McCain wins everyone I know, with the exception of the one soul brave enough to admit pride in his Republican vote, will have a complete and utter breakdown.

Maybe we are a little too obsessed with this election. So no more. Ignore it until tonight. Don't spend the day fretting about something that's out of your hands now, unless you haven't voted yet--in that case GET OFF THE INTERNET AND GO GET IN LINE.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Books litter my office. They're on shelves above my desk, stacked in stolen postal service boxes under the table and overflowing from the tops of filing cabinets. Many of these books aren't of the kind I want to read but every once in awhile my snobbish intellectual side is treated to a Nobel Prize winner or a new translation of an old classic.

Today, that surprise waiting in my mailbox was a new translation of Kafka's Amerika: The Missing Person. I've got an old, beat up illustrated copy that I worked my way through years ago but, as is often the case with unfinished novels, there was something off about it. The new translation is based on a slightly different text than the version I read, and I'm looking forward to diving into this new edition to discover further the strange worlds that Kafka created, and which influenced so many of my favorite writers from around the world.

Droppin' Dollars

In his beautifully written treatise on heroin, Junky, William Burroughs said, "Junkies have no interest in sex and they have no interest in other people except as suppliers of junk. They go around looking younger for a few days. Then they need more."

After throwing down a cool c-note yesterday on nine beautiful new pieces of vinyl I understand that sentiment. Buying music on records is, to me, like buying a painting. Except that at $10-$20 a pop I can afford to bring home several new pieces. Since I've been deep into this drone-y post rock thing as of late I cleaned the Candyman out of A Silver Mount Zion and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It wasn't a direct response to my blog of a week ago in which I quoted an article about how women don't buy records by those types of bands, but it certainly didn't hurt to go against the notion.

I also hooked it up with The Raveonettes' Lust Lust Lust, an album I've had on my computer for some time and finally wanted to blast through the house. The duo sounds like The Jesus and Mary Chain would have if they'd been around when a '57 Chevy was new. I already knew the album, but when my friend behind the counter saw it and exclaimed, "YES!" I knew it would sound even better.

Also purchased was the new Castanets, City of Refuge--which I reviewed for this upcoming Wednesday and am madly in love with--an album by Jana Hunter--who helped Castanets but is amazing in her own right and something I've been meaning to pick up for awhile--Xiu Xiu's Fabulous Muscles and Explosions in the Sky's The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place.

Burroughs is right. As soon as I left I didn't care about talking to my friend any longer. I simply wanted to sit in my room on the floor and listen to all of these albums. Hours worth of music, most of which I already know and love, but wanted to explore more deeply.

The idea of vinyl is silly to some. It's big, it's bulky and it's antiquated. But it sounds so nice and rich. MP3s really just don't cut it for the true music snob, such as myself. A few weeks ago I interviewed the band Pillars and Tongues who shared with me a great story of
bassist Evan Hydzik picking up a copy of a Brian Eno album that he had on CD and his dad's old copy of vinyl. Hydzik threw them both across the room. The CD shattered, the record slid to a stop and Hydzik and fellow band member Mark Trecka put it on and listened to it. It's beautiful that a 20 something year old piece of plastic held up. Sure, records shatter and scratch, but they degrade so much more slowly and really are more sturdy. When the sound on a record atrophies it adds to the music, as it does on cassette tape, but on CD a scratch can be fatal. MP3s are given this weird benefit of the doubt that they'll last, but there's nothing to hold onto there. Album art in a program that no one looks at, the loss of liner notes, and if your hard drive goes down...goodbye music. Sure, it's easier to collect hundreds of files, which I certainly have, but it's not the same to scroll through a list as it is to sit uncomfortably on the floor and figure out what to listen to through a more tangible experience.