A couple weeks ago, a client called me and asked if Sutra, that First Avenue joint owned and operated by Ariel Palitz was a good buy. After an eight-year run, Ariel has decided to say goodbye and leaked the news to connected people. I told my guy it was a good buy. Ariel and I worked on the Nightlife Community thing when I was associated with the New York Nightlife Association. She is a member of the community board, CB3, and therefore sees nightlife from many angles. Community boards are manned and womaned by locals who have a local viewpoint of what should be happening in the neighborhood they live in. Bars and clubs and such are often with odds with new development and people who don’t want to live near these late-night attractions. The not-in-my-backyard crowd (NIMBY’s) wants to turn vibrant cultural neighborhoods into bedroom communities. The flipside of this, of course, is that NYC is a place that has always been know for these late-night places, to the point that it has been dubbed, "The City That Never Sleeps." Outside of my crowd, people actually do want to sleep. Another reason clubs and bars and restaurants need to thrive is that they support students, actors, artists, and that ilk who make this city a place to be. The balance of these two opposing forces lay with people like Ariel and unfortunately others not as openminded. Sutra is still open, still happening, still creating vibrancy and supporting people. It is worth a visit while Ariel finds the right person to take her place.
Twenty-five years ago, a man by the name of Steve Wilhite, a programmer at CompuServe, wanted to devise a way that companies could display color weather maps online. To accomplish this, he created something called the Graphics Interchange Format, or the GIF. The GIF, despite being around longer than most people who actively use it, has had a hell of a couple of years, inspiring blogs, being used as a legitimate (at least in some camps) storytelling device for media outlets and inspiring Moving the Still, an Art Basel show completely dedicated to the art of the GIF.
Because of all of the sudden fame and fortune of the GIF, Wilhite was honored with that most prestigious of honors, a lifetime achievement award at the Webby Awards, an annual celebration of all things Internet. When asked about his honor and his creation by the NYT (ON IT!), Wilhite said he was still "annoyed" that there was a debate over the pronunciation:
“The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations,” Mr. Wilhite told the NYT. “They are wrong. It is a soft ‘G,’ pronounced ‘jif.’ End of story.”
On the heels of the wobbly Sod in the Seed EP and 2009’s altogether tepid Eskimo Snow, the new album from California indie hip-hop outfit Why? is a welcome surprise. While not exactly a return to the alternative rap dreamscapes of seminal debut Elephant Eyelash and sophomore effort Alopecia, lead vocalist Yoni Wolf and company have perhaps finally—and comfortably—split the difference between their fussily twee instrumentation and freestyle lyric delivery. As an added bonus, they’ve never hated themselves more.
“To be born is anything but this / the dying wish of a dinosaur’s dish / of no use / a shitty gift like a single slipper,” Wolf mutters in his characteristically nasal voice within the first thirty seconds of “Paper Hearts,” which, like many of the songs here and on Eskimo Snow features spare, pretty piano. But Mumps, Etc.’s beats are less schmaltz, more jangled skeleton. Making the burst of stately strings around the three-minute mark even stranger (not to mention lovelier). Well-titled dancehall reggae track “White English” slacks enjoyably, with Wolf doing what he does best: conjuring a lexically dense and often sinister stream of consciousness.
“Strawberries” is the sort of damaged, infectious art-pop at which The Unicorns excelled; it studs the mind with creepily whistled countermelodies and subversive bravado like “I don’t wear rubbers / And I don’t wear sunscreen.” We also hear that Wolf is haunted by things he said to school guidance counselors. If the jarring candor of his adult career is anything to go by, color me unsurprised. The take-away here, though: you’ve got to be weary of Top 40 musicians airbrushed and autotuned to perfection—treat yourself to an honest, shaggy mess now and then.
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While you were freaking out about this new Lana Del Rey video with A$AP Rocky, pretty much everyone on the Internet (or at least on Twitter), a bunch of other new tracks hit the airwaves and interwebs. Here are just a few of them.
Childish Gambino – One Up
"You ain’t likin’ what we doin’?" Donald Glover asks on Childish Gambino’s latest track. "Shut up." As a refrain, it’s a pretty simple and clear message to detractors of Childish Gambino’s music, but for the actor-rapper-comedian-prospective-Spider-Man’s fans, it’s a sign of greater things to come. Glover announced the release of the anticipated Childish Gambino mixtape, Royalty, which drops July 4th.
Big Boi – Gossip (feat. UGK and Big K.R.I.T.)
So far, the second released track from Big Boi’s upcoming Sir Lucious Left Foot followup, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, is mostly only available as a radio rip, which means it’s full of tags as well as two pretty fantastic featured performers. It’s not as ridiculous as the first release, "She Said OK," a porn-groove parody collab with Theophilus London, but what it is is catchy, with a minimal but effective beat and a brain-burrowing earworm of a hook. Listen over at Rap Radar.
Little Dragon – Sunshine
The soothing Swedes of Little Dragon frolic in a field in outfits that make some them sort of look like lost members of the Night’s Watch for the video for their lovely, atmospheric, pan-flute-tinged new track "Sunshine." The track was recorded as a singel to promote the new ABSOLUT Punch vodka drink and celebrate creative cocktailing, but we think they would have been a better spokesband for Bacardi Dragon Berry. I’ll just let myself out.
WHY? – Sod in the Seed
On the title track from WHY?’s upcoming new EP, Yoni Wolf reflects on pulling "up to Critical Mass / in a gas-guzzling Ford" and "throwing out his lumbar picking up checks." The clever rhymes are plentiful, as is the ribbing at the notion of "First World Problems," all set to a background of strumming and clinking percussion. In addition to the new EP, which drops August 14th, WHY? will be embarking on a pretty hefty tour of the United States and Europe, beginning August 24th with a stop in Columbia, Missouri. Supporters include Anticon labelmates Doseone, Jel and Serengeti.