Serenading strangers on Chatroulette

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You’ve probably encountered Chatroulette by now and you may not want to look or think about it again. That’s understandable. The randomly connected webcam chat site designed by a 17 year-old Russian kid isn’t exactly the most noble concept in the world. As with most chat-based economies, it quickly descended into pornography with seemingly thousands of voyeuristic males using the site to show off their penises to complete strangers. It’s like Babestation – that satellite TV equivalent of phone “chat” lines except with anonymous lonely dudes in darkly-lit bedrooms broadcasting to unsuspecting and curious first-time users.

However there has been plenty of examples of ingenuity from those using the site to suggest it’s not just guttered minds who occupy the world. Last week’s music video by I Am Un Chien shot entirely on ChatRoulette is a fine example of the creativity people are getting up to.

By now though, the most famous example is a guy called Merton who recorded himself on Chatroulette singing funny improv songs to whomever appeared on the other side of the chat window. The hoodie-wearing Mervyn took the most obvious characteristic of the random stranger and incorporated it into his piano-based song. His two videos quickly went viral.

Second video.

Meanwhile, dorky piano player and songwriter Ben Folds performed an ode to Merton in a live setting at two gigs in North Carolina and Virginia on his North American tour. Over the course of his performance, while hooked up to a big screen for the 2000 fans in the audience, Ben Folds cheered up a sad-looking man, serenaded a guy sitting on the toilet and attempted to coax strangers out of darkness.

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Videos of the week: Jonsi, Hot Chip & eh, Phish

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Hot Chip feel better
Comedian Peter Serafinowicz is responsible for Hot Chip’s new music video which also doubles as an X-Factor revenge fantasy.

Jonsi’s video session
Sigur Ros frontman Jonsi performed four songs in a working men’s club in Bethnal Green, London accompanied by composer Nico Muhly.
Watch in Pitchfork.

Phish.. in 3D
America’s popular jam band played eight sets over a three-day festival weekend in California last year. The resulting footage will be released in US cinemas in 3D.

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Free Phoenix album, album cover collages & other links

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Free Phoenix live album
It’s been too long since the French band played Ireland but for now, we have to contend ourselves with this free live album recorded in Sydney.
Download Phoenix live album.

10 creative album cover collages
Taking a combination of multiple vinyl covers and making a consistent collage is the new Sleeveface.
Read at Oddee.

How to name a global web giant
Where web giants like Apple, Google, Microsoft got their names from in the first place.
Read at Businessweek

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Band of Blogs: LCD Soundsystem, Jamaica, The National & Plan B

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LCD Soundsystem get lairy
The first single from the final LCD Soundsystem album was leaked last week. Drunk Girls is a shouty pop song destined to catch on at summer festivals, particularly Electric Picnic where the band will play in September.

Imagine a rock band produced by French electro producers Justice. Too late. It’s already happened. Jamaica are a duo produced by Xavier De Rosnay of Justice who were formerly known as Poney Poney. Their sound is immediate, lean Gallic rock with a glass-thin edge.
Listen / Watch the video for I Think I Like You Too’.

The National’s Ohio song
With the highly anticipated High Violet album coming in May, the Brooklyn band have released a teaser cut from the record. Bloodbuzz Ohio feels like another step up for this already revered indie group.

Plan B’s soul turn
Formerly a gritty London rapper, Plan B has set his sights on becoming a young soul crooner, and my, it actually works, falsetto and all. If it at first you don’t succeed, go the Smokey Robinson route.
Listen to tracks at Soundcloud.

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Sites of the Week


Aidan Kelly
The personal blog of Aidan Kelly of Candy Collective, a photographer based in Dublin.

9 Bean Row
Winner of the Best Newcomer award at the Irish Blog Awards last week, this blog covers recipes and meals from an Aussie foodie living in Ireland.

The Lady Loves Books
Jennifer Ryan is a bookworm who writes about her obsession with the printed word on her blogspot.

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The best of Irish music blogs


Ireland has a healthy mix of music bloggers, who largely focus on independent music with a healthy interest in what’s happening on the ground. Here are 10 Irish music blogs you should check out:

MP3Hugger – Dubliner Kevin has been posting great songs quietly without much fanfare since 2005. Mostly likely to post little-known indie-pop bands who deserve greater exposure such as Dublin’s Scared Animals or Galway’s Low Sea. (

Asleep on a Compost Heap – Verbose, witty, measured, tangental. All of these words apply to Darragh McCausland’s personal space on the web which manages to coherently cover life in Kells, musings on minimal techno and verdicts on the indie albums du jour.

Those Geese Were Stupefied – Karl McDonald is a young Irish writer who takes his music as serious as most scholars take James Joyce. His Irish interview series is essential reading for followers of this country’s music.

Cubikmusik – Cubik’s interests lie in electronica, soul, R&B, beats and hip-hop and you’ll find an eclectic selection of the above on his blog along with his regular “Under the influence” series with producers and musicians.

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