“Scratch” is a young people’s animation and programming tool developed by MIT’s Media Lab in the USA. It has a half-million followers worldwide, mostly teens. Sort of like facebook, but more animation-y (therefore better?), it has a strong community of users who collaborate on designs and hang out at things like “Scratch Day” .
Incidentally, and the reason for this post, there is a Wellington “Scratch Day” happening on Saturday 22nd May in the CBD. There is a facebook event page you can RSVP to here. If you are a seasoned veteran of the scratching, or even just a curious n00b, go along and join in on the animation fun.
Grizzly Bear’s modern masterpiece Veckatimest now comes with a second disc of live tracks. Bonus! Reason enough to issue, even if you’ve already got a copy. If you haven’t heard it yet and you enjoy the work of The Arcade Fire, Radiohead and the rest of the meaningful-core elite, you’ll love it. Because it’s great.
Back in 2001 The Strokes were the coolest band on the planet, they released Is This It? to five star reviews and they did it with such nonchalance that it seemed totally effortless. Every single band to don a vintage jacket and squeeze into skinny jeans since then has tried, and failed to make a better indie rock record. Highly recommended.
Back in the late ’70s The Clash were the self-proclaimed “only band that mattered”, rather bold, but they got away with it. One of the best bands to emerge from the London punk explosion, The Singles chronicles their rise and growth from White Riot, to Should I Stay Or Should I Go.
Embryonic is the latest from Oklahoma’s finest, The Flaming Lips. Sprawling psychedelic epicness featuring the MGMT boys and a star turn from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ front-woman and Where The Wild Things Are soundtrack overseer, Karen O, who makes a lot of amusing animal noises. Good stuff.
Slacker-rock heroes, Pavement, have a new greatest hits collection out called Quarantine The Past, to coincide with their much-welcomed reunion tour. It includes tracks from 1989-1999, charting their rise from every hipster’s unknown favourites, to every hipster’s sort-of known favourites. The best of the bunch this week.
The result of a collaboration between Kid Koala and Dynamite D (as The Slew) to score a since aborted documentary, 100%, is a dark but dry mixture of rock guitar, electronic samples, hip hop and delta blues. Try and imagine that in your head. Well worth a listen for anyone interested in any of the above styles and people who enjoy impressing their friends with odd tidbits about musical origins.
X-Factor winner Leona Lewis now has her latest, Echo, on our shelves. From pizza waitress in 2006, to working with Justin Timberlake and Timbaland in 2009, it’s been quite the career shift for the Whitney Houston-esque songstress. It’s a mix of European pop and American R&B that should interest anyone who enjoys either.
Here are some new books. There are too many to write up! I would be here all day. SO here is a pretty collage of many the book covers, all helpfully hyperlinked to the catalogue entries of each book (which should provide an adequate description). So yeah, you will have to judge these books by their covers I guess.
Hey, remember the O.S.T. Competition? Oh good. You will of course recall that part one involved you re-imagining any YA book as a movie, then compiling it’s soundtrack. What an easy way to win prizes you probably thought. Well, part two is now open and it’s more involved, but you’ll win better prizes.
Now you must design the cover art for said soundtrack. There are no real restrictions on entries, you can bring in a printed version to any library, or email an electronic version to firstname.lastname@example.org . We’ll display all the artwork we receive during Youth Week (22-30 May), which means you could be (semi)famous.
Synthesiser Patel said he would make a trophy for the winner, so there’s that too.
To help with your NCEA reading requirements, we’ve produced a list of award winning books (24 in all, mostly young adult books but also a small handful from the general collection). It’s an impressive looking line up, so have a look!
Also, have a look at some of our other lists; there’s classic books (with haiku summaries), Maori writers, and books from around the world, for example.
Tyra Banks (who is on the telly!) has landed a deal to write a series of YA books. The books will be like Top Model meets Harry Potter, according to the article. Which would be terrifying, if last week’’s NTM was any indication. It will be titled Modelland. It will be out in about a year’s time.
Another book to add to this list. Blood of the Lamb: The Crossing by Mandy Hager is the first book in a fantastic new trilogy by a NZ author. Set on a pacific island in a post-apocalyptic world, it follows the fates of Maryam, Joseph, Ruth and Lazarus, as they attempt to free themselves from the oppression of the ruling elite who lord over the island’s inhabitants from a rotting cruise ship that became shipwrecked on a reef during the storms that destroyed the rest of the world.
Margaret Mahy liked it and reckons it’s a teen version of George Orwell’s 1984.
The second book in the series Into the Wilderness has also been released and can be grabbed from your local library.
When I first heard the title of Usher’s new record, Raymond vs Raymond, I thought perhaps it was a concept album based on the 1979 Dustin Hoffman starring drama, Kramer vs Kramer. I was sort of right. In the movie Dustin Hoffman and his wife divorce, leaving him to raise his son on his own, whilst in real life Usher and his wife recently divorced, leaving him to raise Justin Bieber on his own. None of that is all that relevant to the quality of the album though, which is top-notch.
2008’s crossover success story MGMT recently released their oddly covered second album, Congratulations. It’s a more toned down effort this time around, missing are the obvious hit singles like Kids and Electric Feel, but anyone who enjoyed their less immediate, more psychedelic numbers should be pleased with this one.
David Bowie’s excellent two-disc career overview, Best Of Bowie, is now in our collection. Do yourself a favour and track this down, because he is responsible for some of the best rock music ever made. Every song’s a winner, from his Ziggy Stardust days – The Thin White Duke, to whatever he called himself in the early 80s when he seemed to dance about in outback pubs a little too much.
My favourite ever band, Pixies, are now in the collection with a best of called Wave Of Mutilation. Don’t just trust me when I say they’re great, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke has openly admitted they were trying to rip off the Pixies on their first album, Kurt Cobain also shared a similar admiration. Noisy, weird and endlessly fun to shout along with.
Volume 2 / Brotha D & the Dawn Raid Family is a compilation showcasing the hip hop and R&B talent on Auckland’s Dawn Raid label. If local hip hip is your thing you’ll be glad to hear from the likes of Monsta Ganjah, Deceptikonz, Aaradhna and more.
UK indie buzz band The xx were the subject of much fawning in the music press last year for their debut The xx. Sometimes so much hype can set a young band up for a fall, but The xx overcame the magazine covers to deliver a solid album that should see them on the road to a nice career. If the genre dream-pop sounds appealing, this is for you.
More indie-pop, this time from Local Natives with Gorilla Manor. Described as “afropop-influenced guitars with hyperactive drumming and hooky three-part harmonies”, you know they’re going to be fun to listen to. A more easy listening Animal Collective, perhaps?
80’s goth/pop favourites The Cure are a band you should familiarise yourself with, and what better starting point is Greatest Hits? All the best bits from the post-punk days in 1979, to the elder statesmen pop days of 2001. It’s also a good starting point for the great, great British alternative scene of the 1980s.
Speaking of 1980’s alternative British bands, The Smiths were one of the most influential, and the most pleasingly literate (this is after all a library blog). As a colleague said when we were out buying these CDs, “The Smiths will always have a place in the hearts of teenagers, right?” Right. The sound of The Smiths is a very well compiled best of from Manchester’s finest.
If you’ve ever listened to a rock song and thought to yourself, “this is fine, but it’s a bit over-complicated”, rest assured The Ramones thought the exact same thing. Hey ho let’s go : greatest hits is a great overview from the original punks and the self-described Beatles on speed. It’s not stripped down rock and roll, it’s distilled rock and roll.
Ten is enough for now, but there’s a lot more on the way…
These books were sitting next to each other on display, all twin-like (note that the second book picture is for the first Gracie Faltrain book).
Carter Finally Gets It, Brent Crawford – “Awkward freshman Will Carter endures many painful moments during his first year of high school before realizing that nothing good comes easily, focus is everything, and the payoff is usually incredible.” (catalogue entry)
Gracie Faltrain Gets It Right (Finally), Cath Crowley - ”As Gracie begins Year 12, she has only one thing on her mind, and it’s not school work. It’s not even Martin, now that he’s dumped her for the third time. It’s soccer: a new season, a new team, a new league. This is the big time, the state trials, and Gracie can’t wait. Except there’s one small problem. The striker on the team, Kally, hates her, and will do anything to see Gracie fail…” (provided by publisher)
The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell is the prequel to the popular and trend-setting Sex and the City, which inspired the ridiculously popular TV series of the same name. The Carrie Diaries follows Carrie Bradshaw in her senior year in high school, so you get an idea of how Carrie became Carrie, how she got to love writing and (maybe) expensive shoes etc. All this with 1980s American culture as a backdrop – the hair, the clothes, the eyeshadow, the music.