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MP3: New Foals "Orient," G.e.R.M. remix
MP3: New Kaiser Cartel "Ready to Go"
Beyond Earth Day: Great Wines for Sustainability
Bannos Rolling Back Prices to Celebrate Heaven on Seven's 30th
LOLLA 2010: Gaga, Strokes, Arcade Fire, Devo, Mavis Staples, Erykah Badu, Phoenix, MGMT, XX, Hot Chip, Jimmy Cliff...
Longman & Eagle Brunch Debuting New Cocktails
Can You Taste the Blood in Your Mouth?
Fun with Words ... Really?
Remember When Music Was Exciting?
Details Names Paul Kahan's Salsa Best in U.S.

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APRIL 27, 2006
All-Year Foos

No, you're not looking at little metal soldiers gearing up for war (but these days, who knows who's going to get shipped off?!), but Design Within Reach's All-Weather Foosball Table. Made entirely of stainless steel, this stunning piece can live inside or out, enjoy sunning itself in rays or bathing in raindrops and won't corrode or dull from the elements.

The Rafael Rodriguez-designed piece will make you the envy of all your friends because not only will you have the coolest foosball table, you'll also have a great sculpture when it's not in use -- which may be never.


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APRIL 22, 2006
iPod Travel Cases

Before heading to Puerto Vallarta in late February, I scouted a few portable speaker systems for my iPod and came across a couple that were really fantastic.

The two that really impressed me were the Altec-Lansing IM5 and SonicImpact's i-Fusion.

They both have amazing sound, regulated bass output, recharging capabilities and can be plugged in or powered with batteries. And from a design point of view, they both show great promise.

keep reading after the jump...

Continue reading "iPod Travel Cases" »

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Product Review: Nokia 6682

I've been looking for a great way to get all of my communication tools in one place and have tried out a variety of gadgets, including a couple Blackberrys (more to come on that). One of the smart phones I came across was the Nokia 6682. With its sleek design, email functionality and built-in 1.3 megapixel camera, I thought my problems had been solved.

Or so I thought.

While there are a lot of things I love about the phone, there are a couple that bug me.

Full review after the jump...

Continue reading "Product Review: Nokia 6682" »

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Bluewick Soy Travel Candles

A few months ago I came across a wonderful line of candles by Bluewick. Crafted entirely of soy and complex exotic scents, the candles burn longer and cleaner than most regular wax candles.

Bluewick has four distinct product lines -- Original, Groove, Happy and Illumina -- and most candles come in the pocket travel version, which I love. These compact candles fit in your bag, pouch or pocket and create an ambiance of home when you're on the road. Or at dinner. Or sitting outside in the gazebo.

The pocket candles have a burn rate up to 15 hours while the full size version can burn for close to 85 hours. These candles don't just smell great they also have a beautiful, clean design and make a great gift.

I love the Dewberry, which combines grapefruit with black and red currant to create a sublime, relaxed and pleasant aroma.

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APRIL 17, 2006
Editors Live in Chicago: Holy Shit!

Preparing for my interview earlier this afternoon with Editors lead singer Tom Smith, I read something that I found interesting. It said that Editors was poised to be on of the UK's most important bands of this decade. I have no idea who wrote that but after experiencing their hyper-paced hour-long live set tonight in Chicago, I am jumping on that statement's bandwagon.

I was taken by Smith's intelligence and sexy deep voice during our chat today, but one thing that I kept noticing was how he almost nervously kept touching his head and running his hands over his face. At first, I thought it was just because he was tired.

What I realized is that this 24-year-old guy who has been catapult into the spotlight over the last six months has so much intensity bottled up that he has to get it out in any way he can. On stage, he balances his hearty guitar playing and magnanimous singing by thrusting his arms, flailing his hands and kicking around the stage. It's so out of control that it's almost controlled.

The band tore through their set playing almost everything off their much-buzzed-about debut The Back Room, including "All Sparks," "Blood" and "Munich," with the crowd hanging onto every moment, knowing that sooner than later Editors would leave and the much less engaging Stellastar* would hit the stage.

Editors are poised to be one of the most important bands of the UK this decade? Indeed. And the US. And likely many parts of the world. They have presence of arena-sized proportions. At one point, I think during "Camera," my pal leaned over just after Smith sat at a keyboard, and intoned that he even had the Chris Martin spotlight working. Later, when one song started out sounding rather poppy and grew to an explosion, the same friend said this band could be another U2. Personally, I hear elements of early U2 in their music, but until I saw them live, I never knew how similar the band's personalities really were. And that's a good thing.

Editors are finishing up this current tour and are coming back to play Coachella and Lollapalooza and more dates this summer. If you can, make sure you catch them in your town. It's absolutely worth it.

Keep your eyes posted for the full interview, where Smith told me that they had recently recorded a cover of R.E.M.'s "Orange Crush" for a Q Magazine compilation. I asked him to play it last night at Metro, but he's the only band member with vocal chops and he needed a second voice to do the piece properly. When I suggested he use the crowd, he just grinned. I knew it wasn't going to happen, but it would've been cool.

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APRIL 13, 2006
Lag in posting

Hey y'all -- just a quick note to let you know that I'm a little slow in posting right now. I'm knee-deep in setting up about 20 interviews with everyone ranging from Debbie Harry and Wolf Mother to Slayer, Robert Randolph and Widespread Panic. It's a huge assignment for the Associated Press and it's taking up much of my time. This just means more great music content for you.

That said, I'll get back to posting the things I love ASAP.

on deck: uber Go-Karting, In-Motion 5 dock for iPod and F2 Designs...

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APRIL 10, 2006

Back in the late '90s, my erstwhile boss raved about a singer/songwriter named Josh Rouse. At the time, our music tastes differed, so I never bothered to check out the young troubadour.

Looking back, I can safely say I was I stupid.

In 2003, I decided to give Josh a try, as he just released 1972.

Boy, was I glad I did. 1972 clocked in at No. 1 on my top 10 list that year and has remained one of my all-time faves.

Since then, Josh got divorced, met a girl and moved to Spain. Last year, he released Nashville in homage to his former home and just put out Subtitulo, an album that reflects time in his new dwellings: Valencia, Spain.

Like everything he puts out, Subtitulo has that signature Rouse charm: beautifully written tales set against his lovely voice. He draws you in and allows you to see the picture he's painted. If you close your eyes, you can genuinely see the scene he conjured when writing a particular song. It's hard not to fall in love with Josh's voice when you hear it.

I spoke with Josh about two weeks ago just before kicking off a North American tour on April 1. We talked about life in Spain, giving up drinking after being sent to the hospital a few years ago and the haters on his fan forums. We had some initial phone issues, but the fourth try was golden.

Read the interview after the jump or stream it.

Continue reading "INTERVIEW: Josh Rouse" »

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APRIL 06, 2006
The Fog's Rollin' In

At a recent dinner party, I glimpsed genius in the form of a small half-wheel of cheese: Cypress Grove's signature Humboldt Fog Chevre.

I've been getting more and more into cheese, thanks in part to a few friends who insist on getting cheese plates whenever we hit spots like The Tasting Room and Bin Wine Cafe. And one genre I've fallen hard for is queso de cabra, a.k.a. goat cheese.

So when I saw the beautiful specimen sitting on the plate at the party, I had to dig in. What first attracted me was the pure white color surrounding a strip of gray that ran through the middle, truly looking like the morning fog rolling in. It reminded me of when I lived in San Francisco and gaze out my big bay windows onto Twin Peaks and watch this rolling mass of white heading my way.

But it was the taste of the award-winning wheel (it won a blue ribbon at the 2005 American Cheese Society Competition) that drew me in. Its soft texture and smooth and creamy flavor are such a delight on the palate. I went out and got some of my own and paired it with wasabi crackers, which was strangely delicious.

Cypress Grove has a whole line of chevre to delight your senses. I also enjoyed the Bermuda Triangle and Pee Wee Pyramid. But one thing I really appreciate about the cheese is that it is made among the statuesque redwoods of Humboldt County, California -- one of the most intense and magical places I've ever visited.

Humboldt Fog is available at Whole Foods as well as iGourmet.

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APRIL 03, 2006
LIVE REVIEW: CYHSY vs. Beth Orton = No Contest

The night started with great pomegranate margaritas and crabcakes at Uncommon Ground before settling into the balcony of Metro to catch 2005 music phenomenon Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. I mention the restaurant because just after we got there, the band was finishing up their meal with the parents of one of the guys, who I then sat next to during the show. Talking to this man, you could tell he was so proud of his kid, whose band exploded last year on the strength, not necessarily of their bouncy, high-spirirted music, but on word of mouth of eager music fans hanging out online. The dad told me he had a huge book filled with CYHSY press clippings. And this time last year, who the fuck knew this band?

From the moment they started playing, you could feel their energy -- it was the most connected I've felt to a live performance in awhile (possibly not since Arcade Fire played last fall?!). "Over and Over Again" almost invites you to get up on stage and dance with them. It's like when you're a kid watching the Muppet Show and you start dancing around your living room during the upbeat, happy musical numbers. CYHSY could easily have gone the mopey route of many of their contempraries but it's lucky for the rest of us that they're seemingly happy guys.

Keep reading the review after the jump...

Continue reading "LIVE REVIEW: CYHSY vs. Beth Orton = No Contest" »

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Emerging Artist: Lisa Kowalski

In my opinion, Lisa Kowalski is one of Chicago's best painters. Her use of color, strokes, depth and detail have always made me take a step back in amazement. I met Lisa through friends about 2 years ago and have watched her growth. She's always creating new pieces and has shows through the city as well as occassional openings in Wisconsin.

I was lucky to score six paintings (two different series) last year and have proudly hung them throughout my home.

While I don't think she has a current website (if I find one, I'll post it), you can check out some poster re-creations or visit the gallery where she showed last year.

UPDATE: I talked to Lisa. She's currently looking for a good designer to help her revamp her site. If you know anyone or want to get in touch with Lisa directly to discuss her work, shoot her an email.

More images after the jump...

Continue reading "Emerging Artist: Lisa Kowalski" »

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