November Music Reviews: Maps, Arms, El Perro Del Mar

The King Khan BBQ Show, Invisible Girl, (In the Red) – Doo-wop garage rock outfit the King Khan & BBQ Show could be the freaky offspring of Frankie Valli and the Ramones, and they’ve got the records (not to mention the semi-legendary live shows) to prove it. The Canadian duo’s latest album includes love ballads (“Third Ave”), get-up-and-dance numbers (“Do the Chop”) and even a track infused with bestial noises (“Animal Party”). Combining nostalgic melodies, surf guitars and edgy distortion, Invisible Girl would make both Frankie and Joey proud. — Hunter Fleetwood

Echo & the Bunnymen, The Fountain, (TBA) Lead singer Ian McCulloch has an ego to rival the Gallagher brothers, but with an album like The Fountain and indebted fans such as Coldplay, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Killers and the Flaming Lips, it’s hard to blame him for his lack of humility. The 11th studio release from Echo & the Bunnymen is arena-rock at its finest. Flames (or cell phones) will flicker throughout concert halls during the soulful, reflective tracks “Idolness of Gods” and “Forgotten Fields,” while heads will bop along to English-pop grooves “The Fountain” and “Do You Know Who I Am.” — H.F.

Arms, Kids Aflame, (Gigantic) New York indie rock vet Todd Goldstein, of the Harlem Shakes, pops out a solo project that, while prominently featuring guitar twangs and range-running warbles, refuses to settle on one sound, jumping between dance-driven tracks and pin-dropquiet folk. Goldstein’s styles run the gamut, but add up to an effervescent affair with a proper dose of gravity. “Oh sister, say a prayer for me,” he intones on the album highlight “Shitty Little Disco,” to which we say: Amen. — Foster Kamer

El Perro Del Mar, Love is not Pop, (The Control Group) In 2006, El Perro Del Mar, Sarah Assbring’s solo outfit, released a record brimming with beautiful songs distilled from melancholy. Assbring turned layered harmonies and instrumentals into depressing dirges (“God Knows” was the best of the bunch) that were described as Spector-esque. But compared to Love is not Pop, her over-produced third album, those two early records were relatively spare. With the exception of the mysterious “Better Love,” the mournful melodies that were Del Mar’s trademark are drowned out by the bass and percussion of her friend, dancehall producer Rasmus Hägg. Love may not be pop, but this album is; jettisoning the sad-sack act discards the very qualities that made us want to indulge El Perro in the first place. — Mimi Luse

Maps, Turning the Mind, (Mute) James Chapman, who goes by the stage name Maps, follows his acclaimed 2007 debut with a set of thoughtful, trippy space jams. Instead of transforming his melodic mental states into psychedelic snoozefests like some of his shoe-gazing elders (here’s looking at you, My Bloody Valentine and Spiritualized), Chapman injects each song with a shot of user-friendly indie pop. The result is a chemically balanced record that travels just as well on a walk to work as it would on a different kind of trip altogether. — Cayte Grieve

Malakai, Ugly Side of Love, (Domino Records) Two guys from gray-skied Bristol may seem an unlikely pair to turn out a debut record filled with sun-soaked, love-saturated beats, but we’ll take our happy where we can get it. Malakai, which is Hebrew for “angel,” have crafted a reggae-and-rock-influenced, libertine-friendly album that would be the perfect soundtrack to any feel-good summer rom-com. Ugly Side boasts some charmingly carefree tracks, including the beach-centric “Moonsurfin’,” which features the line, “You left your phones and moans behind and headed off for summer climes.” The perfect autumn escape. — Eiseley Tauginas

Harper Simon, Harper Simon, (Vagrant/Tulsi) Take the talented Harper Simon, add a troupe of big-time producers, throw in a banging band and then toss in a little help from the legendary Paul Simon — Harper’s dad — and the result is, unsurprisingly, an effortlessly engaging singer-songwriter debut. If at times the songs sound a bit similar, at least it’s all in the name of heartfelt folk. Lovelorn amateur guitarists will surely study the sheet music of “The Shine,” while “Shooting Star,” one of the album’s strongest tracks, is pure pop magic. — E.T.

Google Mapping in Paris

Google Maps has moved on from the big intersections and broad avenues in Paris to the tiny pedestrian walkways so that Street View covers all these nooks and crannies. “The idea is to be able to offer 360-degree images of places that were inaccessible before,” Google spokesperson Anne-Gabrielle Dauba-Pantanacce said in an interview. The fact that Google wants to conquer all the streets by photo is not really a surprise. However, how they do it is fairly interesting. Ironically, all these photos must be taken “by hand” — i.e. on a goofy-looking tricycle that sports a long pole in the back.

The pole holds an octagonal platform with eight cameras on the sides and one on top. Every minute, the cameras take bursts of high-definition photos to allow online users to get a virtual tour of the area. The riders, decked out in Google T-shirts and white helmets, are currently visiting well-known sites such as the Chateau de Versailles west of Paris, the Jardin du Luxembourg on the city’s Left Bank, and Les Halles in the busy center of the French capital; they’ll be done mapping Paris as of the August 20. Northern France is next, and then in the fall, the south. Similar tricycles already hit the UK and Italy earlier this year, but Greece is not next on the list; authorities there want more privacy safeguards in place before they allow the cameras in. As for the bikers themselves, they’re enjoying their time cruising the city. “I rode two hours this morning,” said 25-year-old Gregory Landais, who was taking a break after cruising through La Defense, France’s touch of Manhattan. “For a site like this, it can take up to five hours.”

Mapping the Swine Flu

imageNothing says “pandemic” like a scary map! Even though the swine flu may not be the next black plague, you can still chart its progress with fun cartography.

The MSNBC Map is one of those color-by-numbers guys: peach is good, maroon is bad. The Google Map gives a little more detail with ages and symptoms, while the BBC map is interactive, showing the flu’s progression through the world.

What If Your City Got Nuked?

Well, for one thing, you’d be tuned into BlackBook for all the latest coverage regarding the state of the new world order, right? Previous to this happening, though, assuming you don’t want to be vaporized, and you’re the kind who likes to live a life free of risks, there’s an online toy that’s the bees (apocalyptic fetishist’s) knees for your sort. Via i09, meet the Ground Zero mapplet, which is designed to Google Map the approximate result of a nuke going off somewhere near your apartment.

Here’s how it works: you type in a location you want to see the theoretical destruction of. You pick the kind of impact — anything from an intercontinental missile-carrying nuke to an asteroid — hit “nuke it,” and click on the pin to watch the chart light up. Kind of gleefully macabre, no? Enjoy the rest of your day.

Oh! And for the record, if some bad shit were to go down in Times Square — typically home to most of the famous pop-culture destructions of New York — the BlackBook offices would only suffer (maybe) first-degree burns from a 15-kiloton explosion (which is discounting the radiation, looting, etc, whatever else comes after a nuclear going off). But anything larger than that, really, and we’d be unavoidably screwed.

Google Maps Illustrates Damage Done by ‘Cloverfield’ Monster

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Last year, when hype was building over the J.J. Abrams mystery movie that turned out to be Cloverfield, word spread that the monster terrorizing Manhattan had giant crab-like parasites that fell off its body to land on the streets of Manhattan. I suffer from severe arachnophobia, and agree with Ricky Gervais that nothing should have that many legs.

Anyway, then the reviews came out with mentions of “an infrared Aliens-esque attack scene in the subway by the monster’s vicious Rottweiler-sized tarantula/crab hybrid offspring,” that settled it. I was never going to see Cloverfield. But now, thanks to the magic of Google Maps and movie nerds, I can check out where in Manhattan all the things in Cloverfield happened, in blissful, griddy precision. (You’ll need to zoom out on the map above to see the info points due to a an outlying Coney Island notation.) Mercifully, the Beatrice was spared.

Google Loves the F Train

imageGoogle Maps added the New York City subways to their mapping system yesterday. Take that Mapquest, Yahoo Maps, HopStop, and all you MTA cronies. Now you can choose between driving directions or public transit directions, utilizing the friendly red flags to demarcate where’re are headed. Google has over 70 public transportation systems available online, including Chicago, Tokyo, San Francisco, and Montreal.

London-Adjacent Cheap Hotels, Circa 2017

The $32 billion Crossrail rail system was given the green light by Her Majesty, and plans are now underway to begin building sometime in 2010. Vivisecting the railways already in place, the East/West Crossrail will transport 200 million passengers a year, connecting Heathrow directly to central London, and shuttling many a tourist through Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk. In addition to relieving pressure on the Tube, this opens the doors for travelers to save a pound or two in boutique hotels that will no doubt spring up along the lines.

LA’s Hottest Lesbian Nightlife

imageMonday is the new Sunday, you know. In Los Angeles, it’s six days a week, at twelve clubs sporting hundreds of eligible bachelorettes — and few ineligibles thrown in for drama. Every night is a good night to meet someone. Check out our daily recommendations, plus a map after the jump. Ladies, time to swerve.

Tuesday Fuse Events own Tuesday nights. The party migrates frequently — be in the know by emailing {encode=”” title=””}. Previously at Eleven, the scene moves to Republic Lounge on September 9, where DJ Saratonin spins a mix of electro, Latin dance, and hip hop. Vibe is low-key with a posh undertone.

Wednesday Aptly named, Booby Trap a roaming Wednesday-night party. Underground club girls take note: The DJs are always spinning edgy electro dance in some gritty Hollywood venue. Space is usually tight but packed with a sweet hipster crowd, so no one seems to complain. Get on the list at {encode=”” title=””}.

Thursday Heat, hosted by Fuse Events at Here lounge, brings out a super-young trendy dance club crowd with a mix of lipstick to baby dyke, butch girls and Shane look-a-likes. Platinum at East West Lounge is the place to go to find the 35+ executive lesbian mafia type.

Friday Truck Stop at Here lounge, yet again hosted by Fuse. Every woman on the prowl shows up here. The club hits capacity by 11 p.m. (the lines start snaking through the alley), so get there early, or be able to drop names at the door. Truck Stop bartenders play Coyote Ugly and shake their (fine) asses on the bar every hour, on the hour. The midnight show involves “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and several pints of water thrown around, not to mention the copious, gratuitous body shots or private dances. Old-school die-hards still hit up Girl Bar at Ultra Suede, the longest-running lesbian dance club in Los Angeles. Once a month, roll out with Catwalk; gay boys and girls sweat to electro dance at Vertigos.

Saturday Get on a list. Choose your poison: Girl Bar goes Latin at the Factory one Saturday a month, and Fuse hosts a roving party one Saturday a month (next is August 16 at Eleven).

Sunday Ladies Touch hosts an afternoon party at Benevento in West Hollywood from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Also, an unorganized party of lesbians hands out at the Abbey, drinking Mimosas all afternoon. Seasonally, Falcon has lively L Word showings — the cast has been known to show up, hooting and hollering with the rest of the crowd.

Mind the Map

To out-of-towners, comprehending and maneuvering New York’s subway map can be a daunting task. To New Yorkers, comprehending and maneuvering New York’s subway map can be a daunting task. Does the R train stop at 36th St.? How do you get on the G from the yellow line? What the hell is a Canarsie? It isn’t because we’re dim or unfamiliar with our city’s central nervous system. It’s because the map sucks.

With just a little revamp, it can simplify the lives of millions of natives and tourists alike. Case in point: in 1972 Massimo Vignelli designed a Metro map based on London’s famous Tube design. It opted for precise, angular turns instead of the river-wild meanderings of today’s map, and had each train represented by its own deserved line. Men’s Vogue recently commissioned Vignelli to update his map with thirty years worth of changes, which was released as 500 limited-edition prints (they all sold out today). Gone are the colorful blue-green nature signifiers (blech!)—this thing looks like a microchip, one that’s hella easy to decipher.