Copyright 2010 Steve Cross

Whoa. Just whoa. I just read on Brooklynvegan that Kelley Anderson has left Those Darlins. A bit of a shock to me, really, but at the same time, I’ve known Kelley (and all of them) for years and I know that Kelley is a very driven and ambitious woman with lots of talent. I’ve no doubt she’s got some awesome projects up her sleeve and I can see how the rigorous touring of Those Darlins may have become a bit too much. I mean, look what she did by founding the Southern Girls Rock & Roll Camp! That grew into Youth Empowerment through Arts & Humanities, one of the coolest non-profits around, and a cause well worth your support & time. I have no doubt that Those Darlins will power on ahead with the talents of Jessi, Linwood, and Nikki, plus whomever replaces Kelley. The above photo is from a documentary project in which I spent a few days on tour with them, as is the one below. These haven’t been published anywhere else, and I intend to keep it that way- so please don’t download and/or use these!

Copyright 2010 Steve Cross

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Eating lunch with the Darlins in the Bronx.

So I’m back! It was a blast and I’d do it all again in heartbeat. I don’t have time to give a full rundown, but quite possibly the most memorable moment was realizing that a tornado was hitting Brooklyn while Those Darlins were soundchecking in Bowery Ballroom. Here’s the official weather report from the NWS. Needless to say, tornadoes are pretty rare in NYC. Thankfully we were in Manhattan while all this was happening. Those Darlins have some great new songs on their new record, and their setlist for this tour is mostly those new songs, peppered with the favs from their debut, and the free single “Nightjogger” which you can download at the Nashville Cream. Basically they’ve taken on a bit more of a pure rock & roll character, and drummer “Sheriff” Linwood Regansburg has taken on a much more prominent role in the songwriting, and even sings on one of the new songs, though they’re not yet playing that song live. Stay tuned for more on them and more on the results of my photo documentary project.

Meanwhile, here are some awesome things I came across while catching up on all my RSS feeds:

Vaccines absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, do NOT cause autism. A new study explored every possible way that thimerosal containing vaccines (TCVs) could be linked to autism and there was none. Absolutely no connection whatsoever; the same findings as the many other studies that have been done to investigate the claims of the anti-vax crowd. In fact, the result hinted that the administration of TCVs between birth and 7 months may actually reduce the risk of autism. It’s very simple, get your kids vaccinated! If you don’t, you are a threat to public health. Vaccines are one of mankind’s greatest scientific breakthroughs and have saved countless lives. There will always be a miniscule (and utterly negligible) risk of a bizarre allergic reaction or other complication, as there is with any medication or vaccine, but that risk is far, far, FAR outweighed by the benefits. And those risks have now been proven once and for all NOT to include autism.

A pair of astronomers have made an official prediction that the discovery of the first truly earth-like exoplanet will happen in less than a year- May of 2011. They used a well-known methodology called Scientometrics to make this prediction. I’d venture to say that to me, nothing in the field of astronomy, or even science in general, is more exciting than the very likely possibility of life on other planets. The discovery of the first true earth twin is a major step in that path. I really hope this prediction comes true.

Five awesome facts about NASA’s next robotic mission to Mars, the Mars Science Laboratory (a.k.a. Curiosity) which will launch in late 2011.

23 amazing photographs from the 1940s and 50s of nuclear bomb tests conducted by the US Military. This New York Times photos series is utterly fascinating, mainly because of images 5 through 7. Most of us have seen plenty of images of the mushroom clouds created by nuclear blasts, but those 3 images are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. They were taken with a super high-speed camera and literally captured the blast at the very instant the explosion began. If I saw this image out of context I would probably think it was a microscope image of some sort of virus. The amazing irony here is that both a virus and an atomic bomb are incredibly destructive, yet in such completely different ways.

The actual scale of the observable universe, from the smallest possible thing the largest possible thing, is utterly impossible for the human mind to comprehend. Mathematicians came up with the concept of “orders of magnitude” to help with this, but I say it’s still impossible for any human to really grasp. But this fun little interactive Flash animation is pretty cool way of displaying the concept. (Via Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Twitter)

First, I must point you to the official Next BIG Nashville schedule. It’s up, and it will probably change, but it’s there so start planning which sacrifices to make. Planning your schedule at these types of music festivals is always a delicate balance between seeing people you know and like, and branching out to see some new acts you might not get to see otherwise.

Secondly, I have some exciting news that some people know about, but others don’t. I will be doing a photo documentary project with Those Darlins next week; joining them on a week-long leg of their tour with Strange Boys and Gentleman Jesse & His Men. I got the idea after the death of famous rock photographer Jim Marshall last year. News of his death got me thinking about his photographs, and how a lot of the truly iconic shots are very casual, candid, off-beat images taken off the stage. I thought about how I could do more of that type of behind-the-scenes work (not that my images will ever be as iconic as Marshall’s shots of Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, and the like), and I thought of Those Darlins. I’ve known them for years, they’re some of the best people I know, they have room in their van, and after some discussions with their awesome manager John “JT” Turner, this idea is now becoming a reality. They’re what most would consider a mid-level act, but they’re headed for higher places and I think it’s the right time to do this type of project with a band like them. Those Darlins know how to party, and I think the results of this little experiment will be interesting. So, if you’re in Chapel Hill, D.C., New York, Cambridge, or Brooklyn, I hope to see you at one of the shows! Obviously, I may not be posting much next week…

My other news is simply that Miami Horror is awesome and you should go buy their album now. Seriously, I’ve been seeing mp3’s from these guys popping up in the blogosphere for a few months and I kept thinking “oh, this is an awesome track… nice…” But just yesterday I saw my friend Joseph’s review of their debut album on his blog Nashville Nights and it finally clicked in my head that these guys were different than your average “3 or 4 singles a year” DJs/producers. I urge you to checkout the quality interview Joseph did with them as well… I totally agree with his sentiment that it’s hard to find a good, quality dance floor album these days. There really are no sleepers or filler on this album- pure quality all the way through. Honestly this material is exactly what I personally want out of electronic/dance music: it’s got a great disco-ey, funky groove to it, smooth bass lines, and most of all the songs are songs, not just a bunch of loops layered together that build and fade (via trancewave). If you like Cut Copy, AIR, or Neon Indian, you will love this record. This is the best thing to come out of Australia since Silverchair. J/K J/K J/K

Miami Horror-I Look To You (Ft. Kimbra)

Oh, and the link to buy the album goes to Amazon. Fuck iTunes and their non-mp3/non-DJable formats. And while I’m at it, fuck their new ugly skin/layout for iTunes 10, too.

Some cat humor to lighten up your day. Cats Are Always Doing Shit. Via Yewknee.

Remember that Canadian tour the White Stripes did a couple years back? They made it into a documentary, and it’s coming out this fall. It also finally has a title: The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights. I’m looking forward to footage from all those impromptu, intimate/acoustic shows they did. Via PFK.

Last summer a new band straight out of high school called The Turf burst onto the local music scene. These kids instantly caught the attention of several Scene critics and local music fans with their catchy brand of dance-rock. I remember seeing them at Mercy Lounge once and was impressed by how tight they sounded at such a young age. They disappeared just as quickly as they appeared, though, and several members went in various directions to pursue college. This summer they’re back, and they’ve got a brand new album called Fascination of a Sort. While the dance-rock wave may have crested a few years ago (at least from a commercial marketability perspective), that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t love them. I haven’t yet heard if they have any shows booked this summer, but keep checking their Myspace page for updates. Here are a couple of tracks they were kind enough to send my way for posting:

The Turf-Julio’s Jean Shorts

The Turf-Prey

I came across some truly unique and gorgeous landscape photography today. Tim Simmons has a slightly different take on landscapes than most. He uses artificial light along with what appears to be HDR imaging to accentuate certain aspects of the natural beauty of his surroundings. You can’t go wrong with any of the galleries, but the snow gallery was especially intriguing to me. I’m still not exactly sure how he lit some of those scenes….  Via Joshua Blankenship blog.

Scientists in Isreal have created an artificial black hole. Not the kind that sucks in everything, just the kind that sucks in sound waves. They used Bose-Einstein condensates, which are clouds of atoms that have been cooled to almost absolute-zero. Using two of these, they created a tiny area of extreme low density which allows the atoms between the clouds to flow at nearly 4 times the speed of sound. As with most amazing scientific discoveries of this nature, the event was incredibly small and lasted only 8 milliseconds, but it’s still pretty cool because this is essentially a small-scale analog to “real” black holes in space. Via Discovery News.

Today is the annual free cone day at Ben & Jerry’s. From what I’ve heard, they’ve gotten the issue of long-line-management down to a science, and it shouldn’t take as long as you think it will to get through. Good luck! I honestly don’t know if I’ll do it or not…

The Protomen won last night’s Road to Bonnaroo 8 off 8th. They join The Features, who won the first installment of this 3-part series. The final one happens Mon. May 18th.

The 2009 Lollapalooza official lineup has been announced. Headliners are: Depeche Mode, Tool, the Killers, Jane’s Addition, Beastie Boys, and Kings of Leon. It takes place August 7-9 in Grant Park, as always.

Diplo and Switch have a new Jamiacan dancehall-inspired project called Major Lazer. It’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect when you mention those two and dancehall in the same sentence. Stereogum has 2 free mp3’s.

The new Zooey Deschanel film 5oo Days of Summer screened at the Nashville Film Festival this past weekend. Not exactly sure of the Nashville connection to this film, but Nashvillest has a nice guest blog review by Winston Hearn.

A documentary film on renowned inventor and thinker Ray Kurzweil has been made. It’s called Transcendent Man. According to my NetFlix, a release date has not been announced, but it’s in the Tribeca Film Festival. Kurzweil theorizes that humanity will reach a technological singularity in the next 30 years, and that the only way for us to survive is to learn how to become literal cyborgs- meld our minds with computers. Here’s the trailer.

Space.com reports that the lightest exoplanet thus far has been discovered in the famous Gliese 581 system. This latest planet is called Gliese 581 E and is the 5th planet found in this system. It’s only 1.9 times the mass of earth, but unfortunately it’s VERY close to its host star, orbiting it in a mere 3.15 days. That means it’s way too hot to support life. The only planet (that we’ve discovered) in this particular star’s habitable zone is Gliese 581 D, but it’s 7 times the mass of Earth, and though it’s thought to have a rocky core, it’s probably completely covered by a vast deep ocean. In other words, it’s a waterworld. So that would preclude any land-based life forms, but there certainly could be life in those oceans!

Finally, the Onion reports that NASA has officially embarked on the biggest, most epic delay in history. Indeed.

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