Archive for the Music Category

Art Scenery

Posted in Art Industry, Music, Politics, Projects with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2010 by michaelchernoff

When I googled Albany NY artwork…one of the 3rd image that came up was the one above. It pretty much sums up what the visual arts environment is in the city as dull. There is practically nothing exciting here even-though NY state is a powerhouse supporter of American and international art efforts. Buffalo and Rochester seem to have more going on there than the state capitol. Even small towns in Massachusetts like the Clarke Institute and Mass MoCA exist there and yet Albany has nothing close to a contemporary art museum. The Art History Museum in Albany has a bunch of early American imitation Romantic sculpture and painting but almost never new art except for regional competitions. A lot of the private galleries in Albany seem stuck on themselves and give exclusive shows but guess what? They are located in Albany so nobody cares that much about their prestige. In the end there is no scene here and if there are people in the city that think there is they had better high tale it somewhere else if they want a career. Troy NY has the actual scene and everyone in Albany doesn’t comprehend that they have real contemporary institutes. They have an Arts Center and but its named the Capitol Region Arts Center…I know where it belongs.

After graduation I have no intentions of looking for work in Albany because there is not a future. There is no fertile support from city government or any grand institution…just Lark Fest. Aside from a few intelligent entrepreneurial artisans the rest are a rabble of makers who can’t get over how unwanted their bad pen drawings and acrylic paintings are. Sometimes I see the same drawings up in galleries and stands for consecutive years. Usually after a years time it’s a sign to stop promoting your failing work and make something better and hide it away for the day you become a superstar and have retrospective show in 20 years. The only gallery I affiliate with is the UAG on Lark Street. They are open and nice people and its fine for a quick show. But I don’t get the sense that anyone is building a major career there even among the names of the makers I appreciate. I don’t where publicity can come from in Albany that is outside its bubble. I haven’t had a major show yet solo or group wise but there seems to be some seriousness missing in the landscape.

There are no public competitions which is sad. Another sign of poor quality thinking in the city is all the unimaginative and juvenile graffiti all over Albany. In Spain they had more great graffiti than the cities could handle. Business owners pay artists to muralise their store fronts so that they don’t get vandalized out of respect. Some sites have been eliminated by Spanish government with so much excess. A little could stand to come over here. Instead of allowing hacks to tag the walls of Albany juried graffiti and mural contests could happen. There is so much available space in Albany. Work would be encouraged and paid for and the city would get a face lift.

Even UAG slackens a little as much as I consider the best open gallery in Albany (there are only 2 in the city I haven’t visited). Last night for a second time I went to the gallery to hear live music from rock and noise bands. On the one hand its positive that the gallery lets these young musicians use the small space as a free venue. And yet…the sound system is terrible, there is no one from the gallery supervising the event, the room itself probably isn’t the best for listening, and there is no advertising. I guess that’s a good deal for a band that isn’t paid for the event. Also you cannot really mosh or dance in an area where you might knock work of the walls and shatter glass frames from Michaels. I did hear some good bands like


LOFI Kabuki

X.N.T. (Jazz Trio: They do a lot of improvising but they sounded better than the last time I heard them perform)

Unfortunately I would not encourage bands to play at the gallery. There is not much profit unless you can really attract a crowd through a posse. In the end the creative world of Albany is a bad joke. Maybe if build a new arts museum, a public school that excels in visual arts instead of theater and music, have a real gallery district with regular hours, and city art competitions; then there could be a start for something better than half-assed attempts of pretending their a cosmopolitan air in the city of Albany.

Hurts…Feels Better

Posted in Artist, Music, Video with tags , on June 6, 2010 by michaelchernoff

Because I watch the music video channel in Barcelona so much I am staying hip to the music popular here. A band I had not heard of until seeing their video is called Hurts. They are new band with a debut song Feels Better than Love. Besides the song rifting my emotions side to side with the vocals and technotronic tinkers I didn’t think I would enjoy the video as much as I did. The pulses with a sort of 1930s German Art Cool scene wardrobe and basement studio set up. It is hard to decipher if it’s a play at first, then a dance rehearsal or audition. The video borders on a fictionalised group of avant garde individuals that most people read about instead of just being. Wanting to be futurists or dadaist…that is what the desire is and it is separate from what the audience in the video is searching for.

I am not sure how excited I should get about this band since I have no other songs by them. But I am hopeful to hear more from them. There is a sort of 80s electro flare to the song but I am not afraid of liking it publicly. Some of my friends are a little snobby when it comes to music and will probably not cling to it as fast as they did Boris. Time will tell how long I stay interested in Hurts.

Who Cares?

Posted in Artist, Music, Painting, Sculpture with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2010 by michaelchernoff

So I was diving around back into my past memories I remembered middle school. For the record System of A Down is one of the few bands I have enjoyed since age 13, considering most bands we’re into at that age are better left forgotten. In fact I was the one who exposed my classmates to the band because I was the only one who had purchased the Toxicity album and let them burn it to hell. But this isn’t the point…the story is that at this age I didn’t agree with the opinions of my classmates on SOAD.

Being teens and eager to know about pop culture because we aren’t 20 yet, guys would go on the SOAD website and recite word for word the meaning and thinking behind lyrics in Toxicity. It’s been so long that I can’t recall arguments but everyone thought the song Chop Suey was a celebration of suicide. I thought it was a protest song. Either way everyone went rabid and claimed “Hey dude it’s on the website…uh, deal with it.”

Talking about this isn’t just about music as far as I’m concerned. It is a story about products and what people think of them. Today I don’t know if I’m in favor of critics or artists explaining work. But just because some writer who has a decade more of experience than you in the world has opinion…doesn’t mean you have to recite it. In fact it can be rejected. For every artist there is always an idea and image attached to them for all time, and most of these labels I don’t think captures the pinnacle of artist achievement.

Louis Bourgeois…every time you google search her spider sculpture at the National Gallery collection in DC is the first and most circulated item in her career. But I don’t think it comes close to her best life’s work. The thing looks like those shitty sculptures that came to life in Beetlejuice (and that is very pop).

It’s a fucking spider, huge achievement? Or how about Van Gogh?

I think Starry Night is one of the most boring paintings I’ve ever seen. Every Van Gogh self-portrait painting interests me more than this. But these are the things typically thought of if you mention these people. It’s just critics knit picking what they think best represents these people…and sometimes I get the feeling this is just a form of cultural suppression. If we know creators for certain things then most people never get past it.

Another example to close this off…the Beatles, the best known Pop Rock Invasion band ever. It’s undeniable how influential they are but then Michael Jackson released the “1” album all of their best songs. Well I think Michael missed the Abbey Road Album. Maybe Number One is the product obsession and not the actual collective. We need singularities instead of a body of work because people want to know what a masterpiece is.

Another quick not due to Cao!

Posted in Music with tags , , on January 1, 2010 by michaelchernoff

I noticed another phenom Cao has studied is hip hop influence on Chinese culture. Here is an artist’s statement she made on her site for her project Hip Hop Guangzhou (2003).

If the bitterness of life could fade from our memory, how hard it would be for happiness to do the same? Take it easy, take it simple and happy, we don’t have to take burden. Nothing is important any more. All that people need is to form a whole, to dance without care and catch the eternity of happiness in a twinkling.

This is the 2nd time I’ve learned about chinese hip hop influence and it seems organic. Meaning that Chinese DJ’s and rappers largely rhyme about the social issues and disparities in China. Cao’s statement reaffirms my information on chinese hip hop. It’s not a obsesion or copying of American music or consumerism, but cultural diffusion that has given the chinese a new mode of expression.

But I’ve had limited exposure to chinese hip hop. I’ve only hear three musicians and I can’t recall their names.

Great Videos for 2009

Posted in Artist, Music, Video with tags , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2009 by michaelchernoff

I’m not sure why but lately I’ve been paying more attention to music videos. I just finished a book on MTV so my interest has been restarted lately. But this year I’ve seen so many great videos that appear more experimental than most of the shitty rock and rap videos I see on MTV-U since the network can’t afford to play videos on the founding channel. Honestly I find it hard to always find new music videos on youtube instead of on tv. But streaming videos becomes less and less profitable everyday.

These two videos by Major Lazer and Depeche Mode represent to me as playing on the sexuality that is in a majority of videos. Major Lazer’s great song Pon De Floor coupled with video direction by Eric Wareheim has men and women dry humping. Instead of softcore imagery of people grinding and groping each other is a strange performance of high sexuality. It translates actions through dirty dancing without the consequences that happen, namely relations. Just ridiculous dancing happens here. A Hole To Feed by Depeche Mode features people licking each others faces. The video captures simple embrace without idiotic videos of lovers chasing each other around for 3 minutes.

I could be wrong that this was a good year for videos and was no different from any other year. But god do I love these videos. I would have posted Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance video but vevo sucks on youtube and just doesn’t run well but it is also up here with these two. Gaga has brought back glam.

Major Lazer Discovery

Posted in Image Discovery!, Music, Video with tags , , , , , on December 25, 2009 by michaelchernoff

Going through youtube videos I subscribed today to Eric Wareheim’s channel. Besides writing and producing the Tim and Eric Awesome Show (one of my favorite shows currently) he also directs and shoots music videos for indie rock and hip hop musicians. I found a new music video for a group called Major Lazer. It’s the most bizarre music video of Eric’s I’ve seen.

The quick club beat to the song “Keep It Going Louder” is fun and energetic and features pretty vocals by Nina Sky. The group is composed of a duo of DJ’s Diplo and Switch. Their first and only album now is Guns don’t Kill People…Lasers Do. There is also a pseudo mythos behind the album. The character Major Lazer is a Jamaican Commando who lost his arm in a secret zombie war in 1984 and continues to fight vampires and zombies to this day. I only know a little about the duo but they are affiliated with groups like MIA and other bohemian Hip Hop artists.

Googoo Vinyl

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , on December 24, 2009 by michaelchernoff

As a late bloomer and still blooming with music I usually am not too trustworthy with my own musical tastes and attention. Most of the music I am exposed to or know is through sharing with my friends. Throughout highschool and college my music knowledge has grown heavier but one facet of enjoying music I feel suitable in is vinyl listening.

In my childhood I would listen with my grandfather his vinyl records of classical tunes and watch the needle touch the smooth black surface and create a soft emptiness between songs. Today he is gone but I still use his turn table for my enjoyment. Vinyl for me is a stay at home musical luxury where most of the music I hear in my room is on records. Anywhere else is usually mp3’s or CD’s. I have no illusions that turntables are a modern novelty now and in terms of space and management are less convinient than CD’s and iPods. But I have them and they are cheap enough in used stores and there is a sound quality difference.

But now there is a resurgence in the market of restarting vinyl usage. Fine let companies release new turn tables, and there are plenty of records lying dormant from baby boomers who have bought into their children’s ways of digital and compact music. But it really irks me now to see vinyl in music stores as new products. Not because it’s purposely retro but because the prices are ridiculous.

I first witnessed this new marketing device of new vinyl reproductions of bands like Kraftwerk and the hits of Queen and David Bowie in the Virgin record store in Union Square. Incredibly these famous musical identities were priced anywhere from 25$-60$. This music is well-known but what makes it more unbelievable is that these are “new” in the sense they are reprints of classic albums. Probably the same orignal releases are lying around in music stores for less money and are more genuine and sentimental than any  vinyl album in stock. More importantly was is the point of paying so much money for albums that have always been available for years?

The only recent vinyl I bought was new music by Dethklok (music from my favorite show Metalacolypse) and I had no quarrels because it was not released 30 years ago. Now I even see vinyl has reached the malls of my hometown and it seems like even more money than I remembered. Like 65$ for a reprint of Guns and Roses.

Even with these prices now people my age are investing in vinyl for almost no reason. I knew a girl who last year bought a turn table online and didn’t even know ow to drop the needle…and I’m thinking why did you but this when you barely know how to use it? A 50-year-old device? I guess to be hip you have to show how into music you are by buying a technology everyone threw away. Well many hipsters out there will be lining up to get artificial albums and reflect on them.

I instead would rather just see new musicians on vinyl and I have. Mostly its been rappers I’ve seen on new vinyl most likely due to the fact that DJ-ing has not died out and that vinyl is highly valued by them. So everyone if you want an Ramones album on vinyl then go hunt for one or just settle for a cassette. All new music is a free game listening medium…choose what to spend your money on.