Wednesday, December 30, 2009

On the future of magazines:

Anyone who's seen the living room of my apartment can tell you, I'm a magazine hoarder collector. And while I usually get annoyed with the "death of print journalism" talk, its sadly one of the more visible effects of the current recession, as magazines are (pun) folding left and right.

But just as Amazon's Kindle has proven successful for the millions who would rather not spend hours reading a classic novel on the computer screen, there's a need for a similarly portable, visual-friendly solution for magazine-lovers. Thankfully, innovative thinkers at research and development firm BONNIER R&D are hard at work testing these concepts.

Mag+ from Bonnier on Vimeo.

As for the "death of print" discussion... Here's a great round-table interview by Jeff Chang (*author of Can't Stop Won't Stop) with Alan Light, former editor of both Spin and Vibe magazines, about the collapse of the latter publication earlier this year. Joining them is Raymond Roker, longtime editor of URB and recent Huffington Post and Washington Post blogger/columnist.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

25 Best Albums of 2009

I realize it's already been done by every reputable site in the past month, but I can't let the year end without posting a list of my favorite albums of 2009. This was my last year working in college radio and I spent the majority of it without a show of my own, so I had plenty of time to consume and review new music before it came out, with a hunger.

1. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

An instant-classic, perfect long-player without a single miss-step. The deep cuts like "Countdown" and "Rome" measure up just as high as unavoidable singles "1901" and "Lisztomania."

2. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion

Remember when you first laid eyes on this album cover, and your mind was already thoroughly blown? Now think forward to the first time you heard it and you had to put your entire head back together and scrape yourself out of your chair. Their new "Fall Be Kind" EP is amazing in its own right, but MPP set a new standard for experimental music and defied all the detractors and imitators.

3. Lee Fields - My World

Authentic old-school soul revival from a master who was cranking out these styles in their heyday. Combines the sounds of Stax and Philadelphia with Southern-style crooner ballads and funky instrumentals.This is what Mayer Hawthorne's debut album should have sounded like, but it doesn't even come close.

4. Bear in Heaven - Beast Rest Fort Mouth

I've just recently acquired this album, and I'm happy to say I've bought into the hype and am unable to quit listening. Drags a bit toward the end, but quite possibly the strongest debut of the year.

5. Washed Out - Life of Leisure EP

Washed Out is another new artist that's been on heavy rotation for me recently. You may shudder or balk at the assigned genre terms like "chill-wave" or "glo-fi" but these are some undeniably deep cuts, the perfect soundtrack for waking up on a cold morning or spending a lazy sunday in bed.

Continued after the jump...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas card creative process

So Danielle and Casey, a couple of designers decided to go a step above the usual holiday card route this year and make their own card & dvd. They recorded the process as a time-lapse video, below:

our creative process/. 01 from Casey Warren | MIND CASTLE on Vimeo.

song: Feist - "Mushaboom"

The Beauty of Slow Motion

Coming home for the holidays, it's really felt like time is passing in slow motion this past week. Without work, school or musical endeavors to keep me busy, the days just go by at a different pace. And I'm hardly complaining.

Slow motion has an unexplainable way of highlighting the simple, hidden beauty in everyday sights like traffic and street scenes. Now add a couple hundred brightly colored bouncy balls, and observe the results:

song: José González - Heartbeats

We've reached a point where flash mobs are more often seen as a guerilla marketing tool than as artistic expression, having been co-opted by commercials and used lazily in television shows. But this footage of a spontaneous mass pillow-fight recently filmed in Manhattan looks great in slow motion, giving it a different kind of emotional feel.

NYC Pillow Fight 2009 in Slow Motion from 9elements on Vimeo.

song: Ida - "Late Blues"

Slow motion even displays the beauty in pure inane silliness and human contortion, as can be seen in this music video by Japanese hip-hop producer Nujabes.

song: Nujabes - "Luv (sic) pt.2"

Simple concepts carried out with visual grace.
Maybe its the feeling of stepping back and appreciating the small details.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Finding my footing.

Blog check, testing one two three...

Welcome to Midwest Square(d)

Maybe I'm a few years late in jumping on the Web 2.0 bandwagon, but I was busy with a little thing called college... where I read too many blogs created by others.

From here out, this will be a place for my personal musings on culture and creative inspiration. I'll also post videos and content worth checking out, usually within the context of a specific theme. But sometimes these things just speak for themselves.

While I may not post daily, I will do my best to remain relevant and original.
I mean, that's what blogging and life are all about, right?