The other day I was in Aquarius Records buying the Ditty Bops CD (read my review on Stylus here). While I was chatting with the friendly chap behind the counter, I noticed a box of CDs that said FREE - TAKE ONE. I picked one up and saw that it was a split release with White Magic and American Analog Set called Songs of Hurt and Healing, in a gatefold cardboard sleeve with nice artwork. Pretty good score for a free CD.

When I turned it over, I noticed something curious -- a small red Tylenol logo. "Brought to you by Tylenol?" I wondered aloud, to which the clerk replied, "Oh, I think that's a joke." I shrugged my shoulders and dropped the free CD in my purse and went on my merry way.

Back at home behind my computer, I took the CD out again to study it. There was a URL in the liner notes: OuchTheWebsite.com. So I went there. Sponsored by Tylenol indeed!

So it's no joke. Some mutinous and/or delusional marketing honcho at Tylenol has decided to market to the indie rock counterculture skateboarding shoegazer set. On the content-rich site, you can click on "Ouch Zines," "Ouch Events," and "Team Ouch" which features a photo of skater Tony Trujillo. Here's the explanation of the tenuous connection between a mass-marketed pain reliever and marginalized artists:
Life hurts and anyone who tells you differently probably hurts the most. Whether you like it or not, pain’s a part of life. But pain isn’t always a negative thing, and for some, it’s actually something worth celebrating. To do anything meaningful, you're going to have to deal with pain, whether it's physical or emotional or somewhere in between. It's just part of the process.

Ouch is a program brought to you by the good people who make Tylenol® to showcase those individuals who face pain in order to create something positive. These amazing people brave the cuts, scrapes, bangs, bruises, headaches and heartaches to do something innovative pursuing the things they love.

But we don’t just showcase the talent, we get them to do the work too. To get an inside look into the pain of living, we’re letting the stories come directly from an inspirational collection of artists, writers, illustrators, musicians and photographers who bring their own piece of artistic vision to this project.

This concept is so preposterous it's brilliant. I'm all for underground artists benefitting from corporate cash and exposure -- the cash cow conglomerates should be taken advantage of whenever possible. But I just can't imagine a legion of hipsters adopting Tylenol as their painkiller of choice because they suddenly feel Tylenol's down, understands them, speaks their language.

I highly recommend visiting OuchTheWebsite for comic relief. Hurry before funding for this ill-conceived marketing ploy is inevitably yanked and the yahoo responsible for it is unceremoniously canned.


Ben Gibbard is ready for his close-up.

Watch the video for Death Cab For Cutie's "Transatlanticism" here.
Watch the video for The Postal Service's "We Will Become Silhouettes" here. (via Stereogum.com)

I'm partial to the Postal Service video, directed by "Napoleon Dynamite"'s Jared Hess.

You can read this week's "When the Lights Go Down In The City" on SFist.

You could also read my review of Tilly and the Wall's Wild Like Children on StylusMagazine.com.

And take your vitamin C so you don't get as sick as I did this week.


'Member when I accused Mark McGrath of being aggressively-annoying for co-hosting Extra and dueting with Shania? As if that weren't enough, he's now a judge on American Idol!! I thought the triumvirate of RandyPaulaSimon was impenetrable. Can you imagine how many has-beens, never-weres and legitimate celebs would have wanted that spot? And they give it to McGrath?? Somebody lock up his agent, we've seen enough of him.

Also, somebody lock away whatever pills Paula's on. Does no one notice the lolling eyes, crooked smirk, slurring and inability to concentrate?? Is Paula the new Anna-Nicole?

Dear Robbers on High Street,

You are not Spoon. Thought you needed a reminder.


Best way to spend $0.99 on iTunes right now: John Legend's "Used to Love U"
You can't argue with those background vocals: 'Holla, holla, holla!'

Happy Birthday to me! The Constantines are playing Cafe du Nord on May 8th. And Spaceland on May 9th. Either way, they'll be the perfect birthday present.


New writing links:
-- Today's When The Lights Go Down In The City on SFist.com
--Review of the Papercuts Mockingbird on StylusMagazine.com

So I thought I could just review records, try to be honest and informative, and thus avoid upsetting anyone, but I'm already seeing how this record review racket is dangerous business. If I get a CD from a publicist/label and don't end up being able to review it, will they be justifiably angry? And forget writing a positive, thoughtful review for a band you like if you're not going to give it an "A+". I hear the Papercuts are upset by the "B-" I gave them. I didn't realize a "B-" was so offensive, I was just giving myself wiggle room for records that change my life or revolutionize our cultural landscape. For the record, I don't consider myself a "critic" or any more or less qualified to judge a record than any other music fan. I just love to write and hope that I can turn people on to good music. Stay tuned to watch my naive optimism slowly crumble.

Have I mentioned how amazing the novel The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant is? I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys art, history, politics and forbidden passion. I'm almost finished with it; it managed to hijack my interest away from The Time Traveller's Wife.

How good is Project Runway? In the beginning I loved Austin, but he's not proving to be versatile enough. I initially dismissed Jay for his showboat tendencies, but now his demonstrated design skills are giving substance to his soundbytes. Because of her calm personality, Kara doesn't get as much screen time, but I wager that she wins the competition.

This photo should be on a postcard.


Eric Myers made this comic based on one of Blu's journal entries.

And, I'm a day late, but this week's When The Lights Go Down In The City is up on SFist.com.


Yesterday John invited me to a set in Alameda where he was shooting a bit part for the movie The Darwin Awards. The movie stars Winona Ryder and Joseph Fiennes, and John was in a scene with fellow music legend Jerry Harrison. They played locals in a bar who get in an argument with Fiennes' character.

I've never been to a movie set before, so the whole thing was pretty interesting. Actually I think it would be very boring if I had to be around it every day, but spending a few hours there was fun. I watched John & Jerry shoot their scene three times. Everyone treated me like royalty since I was "John's friend" -- definitely the right way to visit a movie set. We ended up having an unsavory paper plate catered lunch with Fiennes, who was reserved and quiet, with enormous caramel colored eyes. Winona is tiny and gorgeous with perfect porcelain skin.

I blogged about this on SFist too.


My review of Rocky Votolato's Suicide Medicine is up on the Stylus Magazine site.

By the way, it was Nyla who pointed out that those lyrics were paraphrased from James Joyce's The Dead -- I had no clue. Thanks for making me look like I have some book-learnin' Ny!


Listmania: My year-end list on SFist.com. I'm especially proud of my Ignatius Reilly reference and use of my friend Chris' pseudonym, and the Joseph Arthur link will take you to a bunch of great live songs. While you're at it, read Mary-Lynn's and Rita's too.

Dear America,

I would like to introduce you to Feist, our first great musical discovery of 2005. Go to her website immediately and listen to every song clip and watch every video available. Then help me get my mitts on a copy of her record let it die, which is not yet available Stateside.


P.S. Thanks to the listmania of Torontoist Joshua for turning me onto Feist.

P.P.S. Nyla, you're gonna love her.



I'm watching Subterranean and just saw the video for Kasabian's "Club Foot". In the video they look pretty hot, in a scruffy Hungarian kind of way, and the song is growing on me. I think they're actually from England, but I can't be sure since their website is acting up on me right now. Speaking of hot Hungarians, check out the new song by my friends in Phaser here.

I also just saw the video for Chromeo's "Needy Girl", which sounds an awful lot like Timex Social Club's hit "Rumors" from the '80s. Look at all of these rumors, surrounding me every day. That's a good jam, so I checked out Chromeo's website, only to uncover a rollerskating goldmine. If only I were this good.

New Year's Eve was surprisingly fun. I didn't get back from Houston til around 7pm, and if it weren't for Jason's heroic efforts, I would have probably gone home and gone straight to bed. We ended up having a tasty dinner at Blue Jay Cafe and then headed to Rickshaw Stop to ring in the new year. Well, when I say "ring in the new year," what I really mean is "look at our watches confusedly as 11:59pm turned into 12midnight, then 12:01, with nary a countdown, confetti shower or champagne glass in sight." Hello! That's the whole point of New Year's Eve, is it not? Without an obnoxious countown, spontaneous cheering, and making out at midnight, it's just another night on the town. We finally found the real revelry at a warehouse party in SOMA that Blakely and Xavier told us about. The hipsters were out in droves, with their angular bleach blond and/or dyed black haircuts and jeans tucked into their boots. The music was great, the atmosphere was relaxed and fun, and Jason looked almost as dashing in his tie as Dawn did in her feather boa.

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