Awesome shit that you should think about gifting to the people you love #1 – Mixtapes

Each year I try to give suggestions on great gifts for people that don’t take up space, don’t add unnecessary crap to people’s lives, and don’t play directly into the hands of huge retail chains that pump out poorly made trinkets.
2008 suggested what to do and what not to do for last minute present buying.
2009 listed some consumable gifts that won’t leave a trace when they’ve been used. (Well apart from the obvious trace a tattoo will leave.)

This year I’ve got a whole lot more ideas that I would be really stoked to receive. Many of them won’t cost a thing. Others will have a small but worthwhile cost. The physical things on these lists can easily be bought second hand, some can be created from your own hands. Some only require your presence.

We’ve all gotten lost so far down the rabbit hole that we don’t even realise we’ve turned into capitalist consumerist whores. He who dies with the most toys wins and all that rubbish. We all need new clothes, and new computers when our current ones die. This is modern life after all and a computer is an integral part of living in the modern Western World. But spare a thought for those 200,000 Kiwi kids in poverty when you’re debating whether to get the $800 leather bag or the $200 leather bag.

So without further ado – here’s the first in my list of awesome shit that you should think about gifting to the people you love:

he gave me a mixtape, i gave him my heart.


You thought these went out around the same time tapes did didn’t you? Well you thought wrong. Mixtapes are still one of the ultimate romantic gifts. And even if you don’t have much of a clue about the music your giftee will like it’s really the thought that counts here.

Make a playlist for a specific mood: your favourite songs for getting ready to go out, the best to cook to, a chilled out selection to have on in the background when there are people over, power ballads that everyone loves to sing at the top of their lungs.

Find all the rare b sides and live bootlegs from your giftee’s favourite band and burn them to disk with some homemade cover art.

Or the ultimate in selfish gifting (other than the old classic power tool gift that you really want for yourself) spend an afternoon (or a lifetime) cultivating your favourite songs of ALL TIME and put them on a flash drive. Your recipient might be exposed to some new music they love just as much as you do, and if nothing else they’ll have music to put on when you’re hanging together.

If all of my friends sent me 10 of their favourite songs I would get some much needed exposure to new music and I’d finally be able to offer up my iPod for the stereo when there are people at our house! Apparently I’m the only one who chooses to fill the majority of their soundscape with Finnish metal and sex addicted pop rockers.

Can we think about gingers for a moment?

Can we talk about this video real quick? I never knew about it when it came out (over a year ago), but it was bought to my attention on twitter just now. (ht Chris)

Half of you watching it will be all “LOL Gingers” “Gingers are hilarious and disgusting and deserve to be killed. Hahaha I’m so funny.”
But watching it was strange for me. These kids are white and look enough like me that seeing them rounded up that way really brought home how desensitised I am to seeing black people, or Asian people, or Jewish people, or anyone that has been historically persecuted treated like this.
Because I have seen scenes played out like that in movies, or even in news footage, and while horrifying and horrible and so totally wrong they still weren’t as shocking as they should have been.

This is my life. Sometimes.

Awful Noise - My Cardboard Life

Awful Noise by My Cardboard Life

My boyfriend plays the banjo. And guitar. And accordion, bass, piano, saxaphone, mandolin and probably a few other things with varying degrees of success.

He’s actually really really good. But sometimes banjo music isn’t very relaxing.

Because I’m Awesome and You’re Bored

I thought I’d share some sweet videos I’ve favourited on Youtube.

Neil Patrick Harris is the SHOE FAIRY. Fuck yeah.

Just like all the other movies from your youth you figured that if you watched Little Shop of Horrors again you’d ruin it because it wouldn’t be as good as your remembered right? If this one song is anything to go by I think that hypothesis is wrong!

500 Days of Summer wasn’t too awful, I guess. I mean Joseph Gordon-Levitt starred in it and I’ve loved him since I first saw 3rd Rock from the Sun. But this trailer looks like it’d make a much better movie!

You like True Blood too? Sweet.

My Happy Place

Lately I’ve found myself downloading more music than TV and movies. It marks a shift in my happy place from concentrating on characters and images, to letting myself go and feeling the happy instead.

I am a huge fan of both pop and metal. But more than anything I love mash ups and covers. I imagine this is a big part of the reason I love the TV show Glee so much.
Pop music covered by metal and alt bands kill me every time. Take something familiar and fun like Britney Spears’ Toxic and get a Ukrainian alt metal band to cover it with heavy guitars and just enough scream and I probably wouldn’t notice if Snape was standing at my door (maybe I should listen to this next time I get tattooed).

It was with much delight that I discovered the covers compilation albums ‘Rest In Peace’ then. I’ve managed to get volumes 3, 4, and 5 so far but volumes 1 and 2 are eluding me.

If you’re into this kind of greatness have a listen to my picks below and then try to get your hands on these albums!

Camisado – My Love (Justin Timberlake)

One-Way Mirror – Fuck You (Lily Allen)

Mushmellow – Toxic (Britney Spears)

Sick Puppies – Say My Name (Destiny’s Child)

A Smile From The Trenches – Hot N Cold (Katy Perry)

Afternoon Raj

Afternoon Raj water

While you could call me biased – I know a few of these guys personally and have been a big fan since I first heard them – there’s really no need to doubt my word though.

Afternoon Raj is a five piece band that mixes prog rock with reggae, dub, and ska influences. I love to skank so I have a huge amount of fun dancing to these guys! The Raj’s ringleader James Mason draws the crowd in with a huge smile and a genuine love for what he’s doing. Bede, Matt, Andrej, and Nick impress with guitar solos and great beats.

The crowd grows every time I see them play and more than a handful of us have learnt the words to their older songs. They know it and use it to their advantage! Their show on Saturday, at Wellington’s cool kid venue Mighty Mighty, kicked off with number one crowd favourite Lickity Split, a song that creeps up and kind of explodes. After a few originals guitarist Bede Eagle stole the mic to sing a cover (turns out it was another original!), I’m not sure what song it was but Brandon Boyd (of Incubus fame) could easily have been the one singing it. And then the short set concluded with a few newer originals.

Quite frankly I was relieved when the set finished, I was about to pass out from heat exhaustion. In a matter of 30 minutes I managed to go from tipsy and excited for the music, to AHH WOoo *dance* *dance*, to omg I think I’m going to drown in my own sweat, to I need fresh air and a chair or I’m going to throw up. It was awesome.

Afternoon Raj is the sound of Hawkes Bay in the big city, it’s the sound of summer, and it’s for dub and rock fans alike. These boys may work in offices by day but they’re drunk musical hippies at heart, singing at concerts bringing awareness to global warming and generally trying to save the world.
They’re yet to record an album, an album I’m looking forward to having on repeat, and I’m nervous about how they’ll capture their perfect live sound. They’re smart guys though, I’m sure they’ll figure it out.

Check out Afternoon Raj on Facebook and MySpace. (Don’t take the recordings on MySpace as an indicator of their talent, just an indicator of the style.)

Hear them in real life on the 6th of November at Watusi for a gig I am sadly going to be out of town for. :[

afternoon raj icecream

Photo credits to James Schollum

No Evidence of Disease

The words every doctor wants to be able to give their patient. So much so that a group of talented gynaecological cancer surgeons, spread throughout the US, named their band N.E.D. (warning music starts on page load).
The group of six are raising money and awareness about women’s cancer issues. It seems a bit unfair that so much talent is possessed by six individuals but I can forgive them as long as they continue saving lives.

September is Gynaecologic Cancer Awareness Month and N.E.D. have timed the release of their CD to coincide. The music is rocky and folky, influenced by U2, Foo Fighters, Rush, and Weezer. The doctors of N.E.D. believe that music heals, that it can help with the pain of chemotherapy, and even if that all seems a bit woo woo to you there is no denying that what they’re doing is great. If it helps women get educated about their health risks it’s worth it.

Please look after yourself, and get regular pap smears. They’re uncomfortable but over quickly and early detection of abnormal cells may mean you never get cancer. I know at least two women (my mum and sorta sister in law) who have had cells removed at an early stage and I hate to think what would have happened if the cells weren’t discovered during a check up.

For your listening pleasure I’ve included a widget with N.E.D.’s songs. Have a listen and if you like what you hear you can buy the CD or donate (Amazon|iTunes), it was released today and all proceeds go to the N.E.D. Fund at the Gynaecologic Cancer Foundation. My favourite tracks are She Sings and False Pretenses.