Tag Archives: music

R.I.P. Amy Winehouse

When I got that fateful text this morning from my friend James — he’s the Grim Reaper of dead celebrities and is, usually, the first to tell me when someone famous has died — I knew it must be someone kinda big by the way Christine reacted when she saw it. But, wow, how totally sad to hear that it was the very talented Miss Amy Winehouse.

We don’t have any of her full-length albums, but, I remember like it was yesterday the first time I heard Amy Winehouse’s now-iconic single “Rehab” on the radio. I was driving somewhere by myself and got so excited by the crazy-retro sound (not to mention the fact that they were playing this strangely hypnotic song on Top 40 radio!) that I called Christine at home and told her to turn on the radio RIGHT AWAY!

I know it sounds crazy now that the song has become so popular, but, wow, the first time I heard it, that shit was crazy. The music, her voice, that look, wow, where the hell did this chick come from? Insanity!

I know she had all kinds of substance abuse issues and was probably a bit genuinely bonkers to boot, but, love her or hate her, Winehouse was the real deal, baby. And that’s what makes the news of her death so damn tragic. I mean, just think of what she mighta done, musically, down the road…so sad.

I’ve been reading a lot of online tributes and XMRadio is playing all kinds of musical and call-in tributes on The Spectrum (XM28) but the coolest article I’ve found yet is this one by Chris Wilman at Reuters. Great, insightful stuff from someone who actually interviewed her. Check it out.

R.I.P. Amy Winehouse, you will be missed…

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Happy last Saturday…

I’m pretty sure we’ll all still be here on Sunday, but, just in case, wanted to make sure I got in more short blog post. Oddly enough, as much as I love this song, I don’t think I’d ever actually seen the video before, and lemme tell ya, it’s pretty lame, even by early-80′s bad video standards.

But, Debbie Harry’s “Cousin Thinny” looks rad, and, come on, who can resist her trail-blazing white girl rap?! Seriously, that shit floored me as a kid. I remember getting chills the first time I hear that insanity…so cool!

Anyway, happy “Rapture” day, amigos. Hope to see you on the other side…or, you know, Sunday. Whichever comes first…

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Radiohead’s “The King of Limbs” is available now!

Like all good Radiohead fanatics, Christine and I downloaded the band’s latest release “The King of Limbs” when it became available as a digital download back on February 19th. But for those of you who decided to hold out for a hard copy, well, the wait is finally over!

That’s right, amigos, as the super cool Radiohead.com flyer above reads: “The King of Limbs” is available now on CD at “all good record stores”. And though it’s a bit more mellow than the band’s last release, “Limbs” totally grows on you over time, and has at least three songs that are soon-to-be Radiohead classics. So, get thee to a “good record store” already!

And in the meantime, please enjoy this video for the song “Lotus Flower”. This is one of my favorite new songs on the album and though the video is very stripped-down and totally minimalistic, if you dig Thom Yorke doing a crazy, skinny-man dance for almost five minutes, you’ll love it!

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The Elvis Sandwich @ Peanut Butter & Co., NYC

Last Saturday would have been Elvis Presley’s 76th birthday, and though we didn’t get to celebrate his big day like we usually do, we did ring in Elvis’ 75th birthday in high style last year. So, let’s just consider this post my 2011 birthday tribute to the King. Happy birthday, dude!

Last January 8th, Christine, Greta and I had just arrived in New York City for a friend’s wedding. There was snow on the ground and a definite chill in the air, but, it was Elvis’ birthday and we were determined to try the Elvis sandwich at Greenwich Village’s legendary Peanut Butter & Co..

I mean, sure, we’d had peanut butter and banana sandwiches before (at Graceland no less!) but the fine folks at Peanut Butter and Co. add two key ingredients which really set that freaking sandwich on fire: honey and bacon. It sounds kinda weird, I know, but, trust me when I tell you that this tasty-ass sandwich is a thing of rare beauty, amigos. Incredible!

Washing the whole thing down with a truly decadent Fluffernutter Shake — which consisted of peanut butter, milk and Marshmallow Fluff! — we scooped up a few jars of dark chocolate and honey-infused peanut butter to go, wished the King a happy birthday and set about touring Manhattan.

And when it came time for our last meal in NYC a few days later, guess where we headed? You guessed it, right back down the street to Peanut Butter & Co. for more of their savory/sweet Elvis-y goodness.

Now, if book-ending your first big family trip to New York City with Elvis sandwiches doesn’t spell true fan devotion, well, I don’t know what does.

Happy birthday, EP. We love you!

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Alanis Morissette’s Christmas miracle!

Her ex-boyfriend’s marriage to Scarjo may have gone down in flames, but it’s all good news for Alanis Morissette and her husband, rapper, Mario ‘Souleye’ Treadway. The couple, married this past May in Los Angeles, welcomed their first child, a baby boy named Ever Imre Morissette-Treadway on Christmas day.

I don’t know what Imre means exactly, but, I do seriously dig the name Ever. So, congrats all around and here’s hoping the birth of her first child only adds to the depth and complexity of Alanis’ angsty-arty jams. Yes, haters, Morissette still releases new CD’s, and I have them all to prove it!

Congrats again to the happy couple and bouncing baby Ever. Long may you rock!

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The Ramones to receive Grammy Lifetime Acheivement Award!

How many Ramones have to die before the Recording Academy gives the punk pioneers the freaking respect they deserve? The answer, apparently, is three out of four. But, hey, better late than never…

The Ramones will be joined by fellow inductees, Miss Julie Andrews, our second-favorite inductee, Dolly Parton, The Kingston Trio, The Juliard String Quartet, Jazz great Roy Haynes and Gospel king George Beverly Shea. And even though the event will not be televised, we will be cheering on our boys from home by blasting some of their badass tunes on the iPod.

Congrats on your big night, guys, we only saw you play live once (opening for Pearl Jam in San Diego in what can only be described as a life-altering concert experience), but, wow…what a show! All hail the once and future kings of punk!

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“The Sing Off” returns!

OK, how rad was the season-two premiere of “The Sing Off” on NBC last night?

So totally radical that Christine — who was dead-tired after helping me finish the Christmas decorating — stayed up till almost 1:00AM to watch the two-hour season premiere in its tune-filled entirety. Yep, it was that good!

No worries if you missed the first episode (the eliminated groups weren’t that great anyway) but if you love that fake-ass, studio-recorded stuff they do on “Glee” then you’ll really love watching the real thing done right in front of a live studio audience. Holy crap, some of these guys are ah-mazing!

So, please, please, do yourself a favor and check out the rest of the very short season of “The Sing Off” on NBC. And for the love of God, pray that those goofy stoners from the University of Oregon in Eugene sing at least one more Lady Gaga song before they get voted off, that shit was off the hook! WOW!

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The Beatles on iTunes!

Hooray! At long last the entire Beatles studio album catalog is available on iTunes. Could we have picked a cooler week to get iPhones than the first week that the Fab Four become totally downloadable? I think not!

And could those rad-ass print ads and commercials be any more awesome? I’m sorry, but, wow…that shit is gorgeous! Long live Los Beatles!

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Rockabye Baby…take me away!

Last week, Greta’s gigantic lower molars came in with a vengeance and lemme tell ya, it was not pretty. Non-stop crying, bleeding gums, no eating, no sleeping, urgh…it was hellish. And that was just us! You can imagine how bad the week was for poor little Greta!

Seriously though, whether you’re the one growing the new teeth or not, teething totally f-ing sucks. There was, however, one bright spot last week and that was the fact that we scored some swinging new Rockabye Baby music to help all of us through those long, sleepless nights. Hooray!

Of course, we already had a pretty rocking collection of Rockabye’s lullaby jams on hand — Coldplay, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins and The Beatles Vol. I — but, trust me, even The Beatles get old after the thousandth late-night listen.

Thankfully for us, Rockabye has s-loads of other bands on tap. So, first we checked out Björk, which, as you can see, has the coolest cover of the bunch. The lullaby versions of her songs were good, but since her music is kinda trippy and lullaby-ish already, it didn’t really sound that different.

Metallica, on the other hand, was capital-A awesome! Rocking Greta to sleep to a lullaby version of “Enter Sandman” made me wanna bang my head like a madman. Um…you know, a very sleepy madman. Anyway, it rocked.

Green Day was also excellent, but a few of the songs were so rocking that Greta started dancing in my arms. Not the best trait in sleepy-time music…but we will definitely listen to this one in the car on road trips. Awesome stuff, guys!

Surprisingly, our favorite of the latest bunch of Rockabye Baby CD’s was No Doubt. Crazy, huh? I mean, we have a few of the band’s regular CD’s and some of Gwen’s solo stuff, but have never been hard core fans…until now!

Seriously, the lullaby versions of No Doubt’s songs are absolutely gorgeous. I defy you not to shed a tear while listening to that lilting lullaby version of “Simple kind of life”. And when you think about what she’s singing about in the real song and how your new life with this amazing baby is anything but simple…wow, it kills me every time.

And best of all, the No Doubt Rockabye Baby is just great music. Period. Seriously, this album is so good that even people without babies would dig it. So, if you only have the cash for one Rockabye Baby CD this summer, No Doubt’s is the one I’d buy. Actually, I’d still probably get the Beatles one too…Rockabye’s soaring version of “Across The Universe” makes me cry my ass off. Beautiful!!

We’re currently on a waiting list (!) at the library for a couple more Rockabye Baby CD’s (Rolling Stones, anyone?) so, we’ll let you know what we think of those when they come in. But for now, thank you Rockabye Baby, for saving our butts last week…you guys rock!

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Google celebrates Pac-Man’s 30th

Wow, today was really a big day for 30th anniversaries…who knew that video game legend Pac-Man was celebrating a monumental birthday today as well? Google knew, that’s who!

And in honor of the big yellow dude’s 30th birthday, the crazy-cool folks at the Googleplex are featuring a fully playable Pac-Man game where their logo should be on their home page. Wocka wocka yeah!

Better yet, if you double click the “insert coin” button on said home page, you can play a two player version of the game with Mrs. Pac-Man, who, as everyone knows, was always way cooler than her husband. I mean, hello, she had a bow on her head and shit. How cool is that?

And even though I can’t figure out how to insert a fully playable version of Pac-Man into my blog, I can share with you one of the best songs ever written about a video game. I’m talking, of course, about Buckner and Garcia’s cheese-tastic “Pac Man Fever”!

My brother and I practically burned a hole in our 12-inch single of this song back in the day and now you can too. Click here to celebrate thirty years of the sweet yellow fever. Happy 30th, Pac-Man!

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“Merry Swiftmas” to all…

As you know, Christine and I are crazy Christmas music geeks with KOST 103.5 playing non-stop in the casa and XM Radio’s handful of holiday-themed channels pre-programmed in the Chenbot. And though we usually pick up a couple of new songs and CD’s here and there every year, it is very rare that a song strikes a chord like the one we just heard tonight.

Recorded by Avril Lavigne’s former musical director and lead guitarist, Evan Taubenfeld, “Merry Swiftmas” is a sweet, goofy ode to 2009′s cutie of the year, Taylor Swift. And not only is it funny as hell, but it’s also a genuinely catchy song with some great hooks. And best of all, it is now available on iTunes, so, yay!

Check out Taubenfeld’s new “Swiftmas” video below and if it doesn’t have you reaching into your pocket for 99 cents, well, maybe you just don’t love Christmas as much as you thought you did…

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Scarlett Johansson + Pete Yorn = Best Music Video Ever!

Longtime readers know of my deep and abiding love for Scarlett Johansson, but what even I didn’t know until this morning is that aside from looking lovely and acting her ass off in some amazing movies, Scarjo can actually sing! I mean, I knew she had an album a while back, but, no offense, so did Paris Hilton.

"Relator" single album cover

And while I can’t vouch for the quality of the entire album Scarjo released this week with indie slatwart Pete Yorn — it’s called “Break Up” — I can say for sure that the song and video for their first single “Relator” is freaking awesome!

Christine and I often Tivo cool music videos for each other to find when they wake up and you can imagine my surprise when the little rocking, retro-fueled video (linked below) bleep bleeped onto my screen this morning. Sheer. Pop. Awesomeness. Thank you, sweetie!

"Scaryorn" in Jim Wright's awesome video for "Relator" #2

"Scaryorn" in Jim Wright's awesome "Relator" video!

"Scaryorn" in Jim Wright's awesome video for "Relator" #3

Seriously, I loved the song so much that I watched the video at least ten times today…even Greta was tapping her feet! And even though the song comes a little too late to be our official 2009 summer jam — that honor goes to the equally jamming “1, 2, 3, 4″ by the Plain White T’s — something tells me “Relator” will be getting a lot of play on our iPods this fall.

To see the video for yourself, click here. And in the meantime, rock on Scaryorn, we don’t just love your song and music video…we totally wanna be you guys! Um, you know…minus the whole breaking up part…

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Kanye West: A-hole extraordinaire!

OK, normally MTV’s Video Music Awards are totally fast-forwardable. Overlong, boring and packed to the gills with live performances by people who Christine and I can’t stand — last year offered us the Jonas Brothers and Lil’ Wayne, nuff said — but as you can tell from my previous post, this year, the show was kind of insanely watchable. Emphasis on the insane!

Host Russell Brand was almost as cheeky and hilarious as he was last year, and the opening tribute to Michael Jackson was very cool, even if Madonna got a little Madge-centric sometimes in her speech. I mean, come on, your worst review for “Swept Away” was better than whole years of Jackson’s life, so, stop with the comparisons already…

Taylor Swift @ the 2009 VMA's #1

Taylor Swift @ the 2009 VMA's #2

But the real fireworks last night came when Kayne West interrupted Taylor Swift’s sweet-ass acceptance speech to tell the crowd that he thought Beyoncé should have won instead.

Yep, the man who famously said that George Bush hates black people and gets all bent out of shape when he doesn’t take home enough gold at award shows is judging the winners and losers in categories he’s not even eligible for! WTF?!

Sorry, dude, I’ve seen every video in that category and Taylor Swift’s was the best in the bunch. The song rocked, the video told a story (shocking, I know, in today’s boring-ass video age) and it looked great. What else is there?

Taylor Swift @ the 2009 VMA's #3

And honestly, whether you liked her video or not, for you to interrupt Ms. Swift’s speech like that to tell the world that she didn’t deserve the award she’d just won was just plain shitty. And on live TV no less? Yikes, ain’t no half-ass apology gonna make up for that shit…

I mean, seriously, you can make fun of George Bush and you can act like an egotistical prick all you want, but you verbally beat down America’s Sweetheart on national TV…well, that shit’s gonna haunt you.

Have a nice life, a-hole!

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My apologies to Lady Gaga…

Dear Lady Gaga,

I know that in the past I have disparaged you to no end in both my blog and in conversations with my friends and family, but after watching your totally bizarre, insanely awesome performance at last night’s MTV Video Music Awards, all I can say is…please forgive me. You seriously rock!

Lady Gaga at the 2009 VMA's

I don’t know if I understand everything you did last night onstage — the “Phantom of the Opera” stuff was cool, but you lost me with the crutches and wheelchair bit, and the blood-soaked ending was just plain crazy! — but anyone who can pull off totally bizarre, performance-arty shit like that with a straight face is cool in my book.

And though it was obscured by fur, feathers, a golden mask and bright red lace for most of the night, the earnest look on your face tells me that you are not just toying with us, but are, in fact, totally batshit crazy.

Lady Gaga @ the 2009 VMA's #2

Lady Gaga @ the 2009 VMA's #3

And for that, and so much more, I gotta tell ya, I kind of love you. So, please forgive me for anything bad I might have said or thought about you in the past. You truly are one fearlessly freaky lady and the music world is a better place because of it. Yep, I even like your music now too…crazy, huh?

Rock on Lady Gaga!

Your newest fan-

Yeti9000

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Paula Abdul quits “American Idol”

According to the Los Angeles Times (and her own rambling Twitter feed) Paula Abdul announced this evening that she is not, I repeat, not returning to “American Idol” next season. Whoa…big mistake, FOX! I mean, love her or hate her, losing Paula is the beginning of the end for “Idol” in my book.

Paula Abdul hiding her tears with crazy shades...

Sure, Abdul is straight-up insane most of the time, and her comments as a judge literally make no sense, but I firmly believe that Paula’s brand of Coked-out crazy is a vital component of “American Idol’s” success. And with “Idol” glut sullying the pop landscape, does anyone really watch that show for the singing anymore? Hell, no! For me, “Idol” is and always will be, Simon, Paula and Randy talking trash. Oh, and Kara’s a’ight too.

I don’t know what the execs at FOX are smoking…but letting Paula slip away over money is just plain stupid. It’s even more insulting when you consider the fact that Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest just got gignormous raises. Cowell I understand…he is the show, but Seacrest? Please, anyone could do that job. And yeah, I’m talking to you, Brian Dunkleman!

But Paula’s brand of bat-shit crazy is one of a kind, man. You simply cannot replicate it, and all the new judges in the world won’t be able to replace the whacky little gem you’re losing today. So, for the love of all that is holy in reality TV, pay the woman what she wants and get Paula back to the “Idol” judging table where she belongs!

Long live Paula Abdul, and more importantly, long live the crazy!

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Last Call Doritos for the King of Pop…

On the eve of what I expect will be a pretty rocking memorial to Michael Jackson, Christine, Greta, Ryan, Laura and I climbed into the Vue to do a little MJ memorial tour of our own. First Laura, Greta and I drove to the Staples Center to see the crowds and sign the massive placards they had set up for fans.

But that line was crazy-long, it was hotter than hell, and, well, we did have a baby with us, so, we opted for pictures and a quick drive-by instead.

MJ #1

MJ #2

Later in the day, Christine and Ryan  joined us for a jaunt past the ever-expanding crowds outside the main gates of Forest Lawn, where Jackson is to be buried. That was cool too and we got some nice action shots from the car, but the highlight of our MJ memorial tour was our trip to the Jackson family compound in nearby Encino. Located just a couple of blocks off of Ventura Blvd., this is the house where Michael and the rest of the kids were raised when the family moved to California from Indiana.

Michael mania being what it has been the past couple of days, we weren’t expecting to get very close to the house or the sea of flowers out front, but, just in case, we came bearing a card for the family and a baggie of “Last Call” Jalapeno Popper-flavored Doritos for the Man in the Mirror to enjoy in the afterlife.

Yes, I said Doritos. See, earlier in the day, Laura and I had seen a friend of Michael’s joking on TV about Jackson’s bizarre eating habits. She said something about him being a hard core vegetarian since he was younger, but joked that that didn’t stop him from loving junk food like Doritos, which he enjoyed regularly.

MJ #3

MJ #4

MJ #5

So, when we were mulling over what gift to bring the King of Pop, the half-eaten bag of “Last Call” Doritos seemed like the perfect fit. Christine, of course, was mortified by the idea, but Ryan and I stuck to our guns, labeled the plastic baggie with a message for the King of Pop and headed off to Encino.

But what came next took us all by surprise. I mean, sure, we thought it would be cool to see all the fans and the messages and artwork they created for Jackson, but I don’t think any of us realized how emotional it would be.

Seriously, amigos, it was like Graceland West. For the first time since all this insanity began, we actually realized the true depth of feeling that the world had for this dude. And I know it sounds corny, but there was a real sense of magic outside the family home.

MJ #6

MJ #7

MJ #8

MJ #9

I don’t know if it was the crowd — who were very quiet, friendly and respectful — or the fact that the setting sun cast a dreamy glow over the place, but the whole aura outside the Jackson family compound was really amazing.

I’m sure there will be many memorable moments from the official funeral and memorial service today, but for us, this was it…a truly moving send-off to the once and future King of Pop.

To see more of the scads of Michael Jackson-themed pics I took over the past couple of days, click here. And in the meantime, here’s hoping MJ digs the Doritos as much as we did…

MJ #10

MJ #12

MJ #11

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Michael Jackson (1958-2009)

First Ed McMahon, then Farrah, and then, inexplicably…Michael Jackson? Yikes! What a lousy week to be a 1970′s icon. Not only is Jackson’s death completely shocking, but, it’s also very sad to me for one key reason.

See, I loved Michael’s early stuff with the Jackson 5 and his groundbreaking music videos are literally seared into my memory banks from watching them so many times, but the thing I’m most sad about today is that Michael Jackson never got to truly come back from crazy town.

Michael Jackson #1

The upcoming farewell concerts (that, sadly, will never be) in London aside, Jackson never got to have the true career resurgence I always felt he was owed. I mean, love him or hate him, the dude was a freaking musical genius that we will probably never see the likes of again.

Not only could he sing and dance with the best of them, but the dude knew how to write and market amazingly beautiful pop songs. I defy you not to move your body when “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” is playing. I mean, seriously, his music shimmered!

The problem with Jackson was always his personal life. And while a huge chunk of Jackson’s personal problems can be laid square on the bulky shoulders of Jackson family patriarch Joe Jackson, I gotta say that a lot of the craziness that haunted Michael Jackson in later years was sorta self-inflicted. Sure, he had a hard-ass childhood, but that doesn’t excuse everything.

And whether he really was guilty of all the stuff he was charged with over the years or not, the fact remains that Jackson was a very strange dude who long ago lost touch with reality. My sincere hope for him was that someday he would put out an album on par with some of his best early solo work. You know, something that would make even the most jaded Jacko hater remember what he was famous for in the first place.

Michael Jackson #2

Michael Jackson #3

Michael Jackson #4

I mean, shit, if Britney Spears can come back after shaving her head and going batshit crazy on a nightly basis for years, why couldn’t the King of Pop? Sadly, the answer to that question is that he just didn’t have enough time. And while the grand Michael Jackson comeback I always hoped for will never be, I can take solace now in the fact that the music he left behind is pretty damn spectacular.

So, rest in peace, Michael J. I know your time here was brief and not always sunny, but I can assure you that the worst days are behind you and that your legacy as the once and future King of Pop is pretty rock solid in our book.

Keep on rocking, amigo, and, by all means, make sure and say “hey” to your ex-father-in-law, Elvis, for us…

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Free live album from Coldplay!

I know it seems like all I’ve been blogging about these days is “Not Forgotten”, but there have been several other cool things going on in the past couple of weeks. And the free live album download from Coldplay is totally one of them!

Released as a “thank you gift” to their fans, the album is entitled “Left Right Left Right Left”, and features live versions of some of Chris Martin and company’s rockingest tunes from their last few albums. I’m not usually a fan of live albums, but, I gotta tell ya, this one soars. Their live version of “Viva La Vida” is so awesome, it gives me goosebumps. Every. Single. Time. Seriously, it’s amazing!

Free Coldplay album cover!

And at this price — that would be, I repeat, zero dollars! — how can you lose? I mean, the worst thing that could happen is you download the album, hate it and delete it. Easy peasy. But, trust me, you will not hate this Coldplay freebie, amigos. So, download a copy for yourself here and enjoy!

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Rockabye Baby CD’s rock!

Christine and I had read about Rockabye Baby CD’s — which are basically lullaby versions of popular rock songs — a while back but it wasn’t until our friend Ginger got us the Coldplay album that we actually heard one in its entirety. And though the concept sounds a bit odd, I gotta tell ya, the music is really amazing…

Since we loved the Coldplay album so much, we quickly ordered two more of the Rockabye Baby CD’s on Amazon.

Rockabye Baby Radiohead!

I picked the Rockabye Baby Radiohead album (which rocks!) and Christine chose Rockabye Baby The Smashing Pumpkins which positively soars. Seriously, the lullaby version of “Tonight, Tonight” left all three of us breathless. Actually, I don’t know if Greta was breathless from the music or from breastfeeding, but either way, she totally digs the tunes.

Radiohead seems to be here favorite right now — I did not coerce her, I swear! — but she loves all three of her Rockabye Baby CD’s so much that it’s practically all we play for her on the iPod.

And aside from sounding truly awesome, and hopefully introducing her to some rocking good jams before she discovers the unspeakable horrors of Miley Cyrus and the JoBros, the music puts her to sleep like nobody’s business…so, yay!

Rockabye Baby Coldplay!

Rockabye Baby The Smashing Pumpkins!

To sample some of the super cool Rockabye Baby music for yourself, visit their crazy-cute site here. And if you’re looking for a cool baby shower gift, look no further…because these CD’s kick some serious ass!

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Lux Interior (1946-2009)

Found out late last week that Lux Interior, the “Godfather of Psychobilly”, and lead singer of The Cramps died at the age of 62 in Glendale, California. Yes, that Glendale, California. Who knew that a rocking dude like Interior lived and died a few blocks from the place my brother calls home. Crazy…

Crazier still was the fact that it was my brother, Ryan, who first introduced me to Interior and The Cramps’ strange brew of classic rockabilly, punk, and straight up hilarity. I kid you not, amigos, the distinctive sound he created with founding bandmate, wife, and only permanent Cramp member, Poison Ivy, was insane.

RIP Lux Interior!

RIP Lux Interior #2!

Their music was gritty, raw, beautifully written, and filthy as the day is long. And though I loved a lot of the stuff my brother was grooving on in the mid-to-late-80′s (and still do…long live Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds!) The Cramps had a sense of humor that truly set them apart from some of the other dark-ass shit Ryan listened to back then.

I think he probably has all their best albums on vinyl or, horror of horrors, on…cassette tape, but the one Cramps CD I have is “A Date With Elvis”, and it rocks! I’m sure hardcore Cramps fans would tell you that “Elvis” was the band’s sell-out record, and maybe it is, but to me it was their most polished, lushly musical album and if you haven’t heard it, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

Christine and I have spent the whole weekend rediscovering it and, trust me, “A Date With Elvis” still packs a serious punch. From the jangly opening chords of “How Far Can Too Far Go?” to the children’s chorus is “People Ain’t No Good” and the swinging “South Pacific” vibe of the hilarious “Kizmiaz”, Interior and company prove themselves to be masters of not just the psychobilly genre, but straight up rockabilly as well.

And the way they recall some of the early Sun Studios work by fellow madmen like Rufus Thomas and The King himself in such songs as “It’s Just That Song”, “Cornfed Dames”, and “Can Your Pussy Do The Dog?” is freaking ingenious. And best of all, it’s just really good music. Seriously, you could dance all night to these songs. Hell, we did!

I guess the thing I found most shocking about Interior’s death was that he was so young, I mean, Joe Strummer, most of The Ramones, and then this…what the hell? Why all the good punk rockers gotta die so young, man? Sad…

Our thoughts go out to Interior’s widow, Poison Ivy, right now. I know it’s small consolation at a time like this, but here’s hoping you know what a huge impact you and your husband’s music had on these three impressionable youths. RIP, Lux Interior…long may you rock!

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Enya: “And Winter Came…”

OK, I know I can’t be the only Enya lover out there…I mean, the woman has four Grammy’s and an Oscar Nomination for God’s sake. But in our circle of friends and family (barring my Grandma Romero and my Dad), I am the only hard-core lover of all things Enya.

It’s not that Christine doesn’t appreciate some fine Celtic songsmithery now and again, because she does, but, for some reason…she’s just not that into Enya. Sad, huh? All I know is that before our little girl arrives on March 8th, my goal is to have her hooked on Enya…big time!

Enya "And Winter Came" #1

Seriously, I’ve been blasting those New Age Irish jams in the general direction of Christine’s belly every chance I get. And though our baby girl had no reaction to speak of when I played her Enya’s dreamy 2005 release “Amarantine”, she did kick up a storm to Elvis a few nights later. So…I have the sinking feeling she shares her mother’s feelings towards my beloved songbird.

Either way, Enya has a new CD out this year and for New Age Christmas music fans, it’s a doozy! Yep, that’s right, she may have put out a couple of holiday singles over the years, but 2008 marks the first time the fair maiden from Gweedore, County Donegal has released a full-fledged Christmas album.

And lemme tell ya, this record delivers on all fronts. Casual fans will love it, Enya haters will gag on their eggnog and true, dyed-in-the-wool Enya lovers from way back will be in weepy tune heaven. Seriously, there are some beautiful, shimmery Christmas jams here, amigos. Really lovely stuff…

Enya "And Winter Came" #3

Enya "And Winter Came" #2

Working once again with longtime-producer Nicky Ryan and his wife, lyricist Roma Ryan, Enya belts out some amazing songs here, and even if they weren’t composed in the haunting Loxian language Roma Ryan and Enya invented for “Amarantine”, they do the trick. I mean, hey, if you dig the music, does it really matter what language the gal is singing in? Hell no!

So, if you’re in the mood for some sweet, Middle-earth-friendly Christmas tunes, pick this album up, pronto. I promise you, it’ll be the talk of the Shire…every Hobbit you know will be dying to burn it off you.

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Radiohead rocks the Grammy nods!

OK, I know what you’re thinking, the Grammy’s haven’t been cool or relevant since, well…never. But that said, I was still very excited to hear that Radiohead scored a whopping five Grammy nominations for their lush, rocking “In Rainbows” album yesterday.

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Also glad to see Coldplay in the running for so many awards and Eddie Vedder scoring a surprise Best Solo Rock Vocal nomination for his soaring song “Rise” from the “Into The Wild” soundtrack. Right on, Eddie!

But still, my boys from Radiohead cracking the Album of Year category is still the highlight of my day. There’s no way in hell that they’ll actually win that award, but just the fact that they got in there with a “pay what you want” album initially released solely on the internet is pretty damn cool. And who knows, maybe they’ll even get to play at the actual award show, which would kick ass!!

Wow…seriously, I’m so freaking happy right now that even the total Grammy-tastic nomination of the Jonas Brothers for Best New Artist can’t dampen my joy today. Go, Radiohead!

To see a full list of this year’s nominees, click here.

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Um…is this really news to anyone?

Clay Aiken, the Barry Manilow of the 21st century is gay?! Shocking! Next thing you’ll tell me that old union-busting scab Ellen Degeneres is married to a woman! Oh, wait…nevermind.

Congrats on the whole coming out thing, dude. And for the love of God, please stop repeating your Christmas Special, because, cheesy as it is, Christine and I watch it every time that shit airs! Yikes…

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Nano-chromatic: The new 4G iPod Nanos are here!

Since Christine and I are already a three iPod household — our old grey iPod mini, Yoda, is for the cats, yo! — we need another iPod like we need another season pass on our Tivo. But, man alive, the new iPod Nano’s announced today by Apple are so damn pretty, we might just change our minds…wow!

To read more about the many new features of these gorgeous little Nanos — I seriously wanna sprinkle them on ice cream or something! Yummy! — and the new-feature-tastic iPod Touch models (also announced today) check out the links below. And, as always, go Mac!

Apple Hot News: New iPod Nano

Apple Hot News: New iPod Touch

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Radiohead @ The Hollywood Bowl

After all the drama associated with scoring the tickets back in April, Christine and I finally saw Radiohead in concert at the Hollywood Bowl this week. Hooray!

The band was in town for a two night stay at the Bowl and we saw the Monday night show (8/25), which according to the vastly different set lists I saw for both nights, seems to have been the better of the two shows.

For not only did the band play almost all the songs from their haunting new album “In Rainbows”, but they also did a beautiful, stripped-down cover of the Neil Young classic “Tell Me Why” from his “After The Gold Rush” album. Thom Yorke’s voice on that song was straight up beautiful. Really amazing!

And better yet, the band also dug deep into their vast library of tunes to play some of our favorite songs from “Kid A”, “Amnesiac”, “Hail To The Thief”, “The Bends” and even, to the delight of the crowd, one of their best-loved albums, the band’s seminal “OK Computer”.

Man alive, when those opening chords of “Karma Police” filtered through the Bowl during their final encore, you could probably hear the audience screaming from space. That place went insane!

Also surprising was a stirring rendition of the song “Cymbal Rush” from Thom Yorke’s underrated solo venture “The Eraser”. I thought it was cool that the rest of the band let him play one of his own songs during the first encore, and the fact that he flubbed up on the piano and actually had to start again was very funny and totally endearing. Yorke actually told the crowd to “Shhh” so he could remember how the song went…hilarious!

And though the music was absolutely transcendent, the things the band did with lights and video screens was out-of-this-world amazing. I seriously doubt Christine and I will ever see a show that beautiful, I mean, those lights onstage were just gorgeous.

I’m not sure how they worked the light magic, but the stage was draped with these kind of chandelier-like tubes (they might have been glass) that lit up, changed color and even simulated rain.

As you can see from the pictures — which appear here “on loan” from fellow Radiohead fan Amy who took them at the band’s Tampa show in May, thank, Amy! — the set was almost too beautiful to look at. Truly dazzling…

And cooler still was the way the band used the Bowl’s groovy new video screens. Rather than simply filming the performance, they actually split the screens into quarters with each section highlighting a different band member playing live.

Even more amazing was the fact that there were virtually no cameras visible onstage. So, I don’t know what kind of crazy hidden camera tricks they were working, but that shit was super cool. And just when you’d get used to the arrangement of the screens on the monitors, they would change up and rotate, collide, even overlap. I joked with Christine that it was enough to give you a seizure…but wow, what a way to go!

And though some of the jackholes seated near us were a little loud and totally annoying — one poserish ho bag spoke in a fake English accent all night…grrr! — the sweet scent of some fairly primo weed wafting through the multicolor air all around us more than made up for them.

All in all, a pretty amazing night under the stars with Radiohead…wow…

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“American Mall” song on Rock Band!

Heard the other day — from my non-gaming friend Ginger, of all people! — that the video game Rock Band is releasing some new downloadable songs to the Xbox 360 this week. And while the bands involved are both very cool — Duran Duran and Devo! — the biggest news in this household is that the other downloadable song is going to be “Get Your Rock On” from “The American Mall” soundtrack! Cool, huh?

Of course, I don’t own Rock Band (yet!) and we have a Wii, not an Xbox, so even if we did have Rock Band, we’d still have to wait a while to play the song. But how totally cool that MTV is releasing the song on Rock Band at all…yay!

I’m assuming Ginger heard about this latest development through one of her many visits to Duran Duran fansites and not from a sudden interest in hard-core gaming, but either way, thanks for the heads up, amiga! You rock!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go buy an Xbox and sneak it into the house before Christine gets home from work…

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Wii Fit Jams: Music to sweat by…

OK, let me start by saying that the one and only complaint I have about our beloved Wii Fit so far is that several of the workout “games” don’t have any musical accompaniment. Sure, the hula hoop workout has some music and the yoga has some dreamy sounds floating by in the background, but the jogging is totally devoid of music.

Now, the visuals on the island jog are gorgeous and the sound effects are awesome, but I like me some music when I jog…so rather than dash off an angry letter to Nintendo, I made an iPod playlist especially for my Wii Fit workout!

These aren’t the best songs on my iPod — and lord knows they aren’t the worst! — but if they get me moving and get the old blood pumping, then, good, bad or totally cheesy, they made the list. That said, I’m warning you ahead of time that this is definitely not the kind of music I recommend blasting from your car stereo as you cruise Hollywood Blvd. with your homies.

But if you’re working out in the comfort of your own home in the middle of the night, then have at it, amigos. This Wii Fit playlist is for you!

Before I list the songs, I should also add that this list is by no means permanent. I dumped about 5.5 hours worth of Wii Fit worthy music into the playlist and really only use the first 42-45 minutes worth of tunes, so, needless to say, I change the list up a lot. But as of right now…this is my list…

Since I usually start with about ten minutes of hard core hula hoop-ing — don’t laugh, that shit is harder than it looks and man, does it make you sweat! — I begin my workout with Van McCoy’s roller rink classic “The Hustle” (3:47). I know what you’re thinking, but trust me, disco and hula hoops are kind of like peas and carrots…they just work.

Next up is another glittery, disco-era jam, Sister Sledge’s “He’s the Greatest Dancer” (3:25). I know it’s lame, but when I’m mid hula, it’s fun to imagine that the Sister’s Sledge are singing about me. That’s right, for a little over three minutes…I am the greatest dancer! Or, you know, hula hooper…

From here, I transition to classic, mid-60′s Elvis Presley for 2.07 minutes of “Bossa Nova Baby”. Dying for the hula hooping to end, I finish up the session with 2.38 minutes of Neil Diamond’s jangly, and, dare I say, “cracklin” good, “Cracklin’ Rosie”.

This next song was tricky as I needed something to bridge the hula hoop workout and the jogging program…music to put your jogging shoes on to. So, what better transitional tune than The Doors’ “Break on Through” (2:27). It doesn’t really take me that long to tie my shoes, but since pressing all the buttons and stuff does burn up some time, I figured, why not have some music to do it by? Right?

Now, the first song in the jogging program is the one I have changed the most. It’s hard to get the right balance of a great song and one that offers a nice, slow-build to the workout. So, as of right now, that song is Barbra Streisand’s “This is One of Those Moments” (4:04) from “Yentl”. I know it’s a pretty gay-ass jam, but hey, it does build up momentum and that’s all I was looking for.

Following “Yentl” is Mama Cass’ rocking “Make Your Own Kind of Music”. I have had that song on CD for years but only started really enjoying it since it was used on “Lost” a couple seasons back. If you haven’t heard this song yet, you’re missing out, amigos. Mama Cass rocked as a solo artist! Too bad they didn’t have Wii Fit in her day…know what I’m saying?

Next up, I am loathe to admit, is another embarrassing song: Alanis Morissette’s “Front Row” (4:13). Yes, it’s true…deep down I am a sulky twenty-year-old Liberal Arts chick with a Lilith Fair fixation. But seriously, despite the cold, disapproving glares from my wife and friends over the years, I have always dug Alanis. So…suck it, haters.

By this time, my heart is pumping and it’s time to turn up the volume, and since nobody does that better than Courtney Love, the next song on the playlist is Hole’s “Violet” (3:23). This song is like smelling salts to me…seriously, I could be out cold, hear those opening chords and be totally revived in seconds. It’s that good! And speaking of good, next up is Ben Fold’s equally-jamming “Zac and Sara” (3:10). What can I say? Nothing keeps fatty jogging more than some sweet, smoking, Southern piano! Go, Ben!

The next spot on the playlist is another one that has been changed several times. I think I started out with some Nick Cave and Avril Lavigne but have somehow ended up with Geri “Ginger Spice” Halliwell’s one solo hit “Look at Me” (2:44). I know, cheese-tastic. But I’ll tell you what, that zippy, UK trash-pop ditty keeps me moving, baby. So, rock on, “girl power”!

By this point, my little Mii has already made several laps around the Wii Fit island and is desperately in need of some inspiration to carry him to the 30 minute mark. This time, that inspiration comes from The Killers’ lush, almost insanely beautiful “Read My Mind” (4:06). Wow…this song shimmers almost as much as that virtual surf in the distance of Wii Fit island…amazing!

With the Wii FIt finish line in site, I segue back to The King for Elvis Presley’s kick-ass cover of Chuck Berry’s jaunty “Memphis Tennessee” (2:10). Wow…nothing like an ice cool song to counteract the sweat rolling down my shiny forehead! Yee-haw!

And then, as the clock ticks down the minutes in the upper right hand side of the screen, Neil Diamond returns to play me on home with “America” (4:17). When I have timed everything just right, I actually sweep across the finish line just as Neil belts out that “My country tis of thee…TODAY!” action. Man…what better way to end a workout? Thanks, Neil.

And just like that, it’s time to tally up my 42 Wii Fit fitness points — you get one point for every minute you work out — and hit the showers. Like I said, my playlist is a strange and ever-evolving beast right now, so if you have any cool tunes to add or, more likely, subtract, please, feel free to leave me a comment…

In the meantime, que viva los Wii Fit jams!

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Weezer: “The Red Album”

Six studio albums into their career, one of our all-time favorite bands, geek rock pioneers Weezer, have released what is probably their finest CD yet.

A nerd rock masterpiece, the so-called “Red Album” — a companion of sorts to their self-titled Blue and Green albums — finds our boys boldly branching out in whole new directions. And the effect is just plain dizzying…I shit you not, amigos, this Rick Rubin-produced album is kind of the band’s version of “Pet Sounds”.

And if you haven’t checked out The Beach Boys’ iconic “Pet Sounds”, well, get thee to iTunes, my friend. It will literally change the way you think about L.A. pop-rock, hell, even music in general. You’ll love it! And judging from the songs on “The Red Album”, Weezer clearly did too!

Having mastered the catchy pop-rock hook in previous outings, lead singer Rivers Coumo and company have taken everything they’ve learned over the years and crafted something really special here. “The Red Album” has a sonic maturity and a winking, self-deprecating charm that will leave you laughing and weeping at the same time.

Seriously, some of the songs here are f-ing beautiful! And the lyrics…wow! Track four’s “Heart Songs” about the bands and musicians — Cat Stevens, Quiet Riot, Devo and Debbie Gibson to name a few — who inspired Weezer on their way to greatness is hilarious. Especially cool is the way the song totally changes midway through with the injection of a pounding, grunge-laden guitar riff.

Instantly darkening the tone and deepening the emotion of the song, the intensely-personal lyrics here portray the profound impact of Nirvana’s groundbreaking “Nevermind” on Cuomo and his bandmates. Poignant, heartfelt, and catchy as all hell, the song wraps up by detailing the band’s own rise to fame. If there is any justice in the world, “Heart Songs” will be Weezer’s next “Buddy Holly” break-out hit. It’s incredible.

Even more sophisticated is the band’s “wall of sound” anthem, “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)”. Incorporating military-style chants, police sirens, manic, hip hop urgency, the epic rock drama of a vintage Queen ballad, and Aaron Copland’s soaring “Appalachian Spring”, the song is destined to be a classic.

And just when you think it can’t get any cooler, this almost six-minute opus incorporates some of the slyest, self-reverential humor ever recorded. I mean, really, who else could chant: “I am the greatest man that ever lived…” with such deadpan sincerity? Awesome!

And the rest of the album is equally bad-ass, with “Pork and Beans” and the more traditionally-Weezer-ish “Troublemaker”, destined to get plenty of airtime this summer. And the final song on the album, “The Angel and the One” is so simple and lovely that you’ll want to listen to it every night. I think that Richard Cromelin, in his review for the L.A. Times nailed the impact of the song when he described “The Angel and the One” as “end[ing] this march through the material plane on a note of spiritual transcendence”.

You got that right, Richard! Oh, and even better than the album is the price! I bought the standard 10-track version CD at Circuit City on Tuesday for $5.99! Insane, huh? But I should note that I have since found at least two other versions of “The Red Album” for sale online.

Amazon has a 14-track “Deluxe” edition available for $11.99, and iTunes has a 15-track “Deluxe” edition for $12.99. Hmmm…guess I’ll have to buy the other tracks online. But hey, even at 99-cents a pop, the entire album will still end up costing me around $10.99, so I’m still way ahead!

Rock on, Weezer!

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Nine Inch Nails: “The Slip”

Let me start by saying that I am, at best, a casual fan of Nine Inch Nails. I mean, sure, I bought “The Downward Spiral” just like every other grubby, unwashed, flannel-shirt-wearing film student in 1994. But since then, I just haven’t really bought much of Trent Reznor’s music.

It’s not that I don’t dig his work, because I totally do — his songs on David Lynch’s “Lost Highway” soundtrack are so awesomely scary, you’ll never sleep again! — but for whatever reason, he’s just not one of those people that I follow religiously. But after checking out the band’s latest album, “The Slip”, I might just have to change my tune!

Not only does “The Slip” recall the raw, grungy, feedback-heavy NIN of yore, but it is also infused with a really mellow vibe that is kind of dreamy. Oh yeah, and did I mention that the album is available to download online for FREE?

Yep, like my boys Radiohead and Coldplay before him, the creepy cool Mr. Reznor has hopped on the free music bandwagon in a big way, and I’m happy to report that he does not disappoint.

“The Slip” kicks some industrial-strength ass, and aside from making for some rocking, mood-tastic music — I’ve had it on in the background all day and I’m still loving it — this might just be the NIN album that brings you back into the Reznor fold. I mean, hell, it worked for me…

While the entire album rocks, my favorite is the second track “1,000,000″, which is so cool and so gritty, you’d swear you were hearing it live. And with several format choices available for download at NIN.com — I opted for the high-quality MP3 version, but true audiophiles will probably be more inclined to download the higher-than-CD quality 24/96 WAVE version — you practically are.

Interestingly enough, while enjoying my free NIN tunes today, I came across another free online album the band released in March called “Ghosts I-IV”.

Almost entirely instrumental, Reznor said at the time that “Ghosts” is the kind of music he always wanted to make and give away for free, but never could till now. Awesome! I have only downloaded the first nine songs so far — the entire 36-track album ranges in price from $5 for the basic MP3 tracks to $300 for a super deluxe edition — and they are gorgeous. Haunting, melodic, the tracks practically shimmer…really, it’s beautiful.

So, while I go unearth my flannel shirts and buy the rest of the tracks from “Ghosts I-IV”, I urge you to check out both of the free NIN downloads for yourself. As Reznor writes on the download page for “The Slip”: “We encourage you to remix it, share it with your friends, post it on your blog, play it on your podcast, give it to strangers, etc.”

And while I haven’t gotten around to remixing it yet, I am telling you guys about these two rocking free downloads, so I guess that counts.

Que viva la free music revolutíon!

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I hate Ticketmaster!

Just spent more than half an hour trying to score Radiohead tickets on Ticketmaster.com and, man alive, what a nightmare!

Aside from the ticking clock at the top of every new window: “You have two minutes to complete this page before your tickets are released”, I guess I took too long on the last window — yes, the LAST WINDOW — and just as I was hitting the “Order Tickets Now” button, my time expired and I had to start all over again from the beginning. Ahh!

Then, after speedily completing each window on my new order, I was informed that all the tickets in my price range were sold out. Oh, no you didn’t, Ticketmaster! So, after changing up my order and opting for the $49 tickets instead — I was hoping to get the cheaper $39 tickets — I found out that those too were all snapped up for Sunday, August 24th at the Hollywood Bowl.

That left one other option…Monday night, August 25th. So, one nervous breakdown and two shit fits later, I finally managed to score tickets for that show. But then the real shit storm came my way in the form of service and handling fees totalling $24, almost half the price of the original tickets! Ahh!

At the end of the day, I guess it’s worth it, because Radiohead is totally on my list of bands I need to see live before I die, but wow, Ticketmaster, I kinda hate you right now, baby.

And best of all is that the tickets aren’t even that great…our seats are in section U1! That’s that tiny orange sliver way in the back on the seating chart above. If we’re lucky, with those new big-ass video screens, we might just be able to make out the band. But hey, as long as we can hear Thom York and company rocking down the Bowl, I’m cool…

But seriously, wow…I still totally hate you, Ticketmaster.

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