L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
California and beyond

Category: Music

Your morning adorable: Beatboxing cockatiel struts his stuff

Color us impressed by YouTube user brett76herman's beatboxing cockatiel.

We've seen dancing birds, ball-playing birds, birds that enjoy bath time and a number of other unusual winged creatures. But we've never seen a bird that was this talented at beatboxing.

Someone get this cockatiel a recording contract!

Your morning adorable: Guinea pigs form a rock band (sort of)
Your morning adorable: Talented cat plays the theremin

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: brett76herman via YouTube

Devo hosts a record-listening party for cats

Live video chat by Ustream

Q: Are we not cats?

A: We are Devo listeners!

The always-interesting New Wave band Devo ("Whip It") is promoting its new album, "Something for Everybody," out Tuesday, with a "Live Cat Listening Party."

That's exactly what it sounds like: A live-streaming video depicts about 20 cats wandering around while the album plays, ostensibly listening to it (but, we suspect from a few minutes' worth of watching it, not paying too much attention).

Ohio-based Devo's latest album represents something of a comeback for the band, which opted to turn to fans to choose the track listing. It streamed 30-second clips of songs online and let listeners decide which 12 tracks would ultimately wind up on "Something for Everybody."

Learn more about Devo's latest offering at The Times' music blog, Pop & Hiss. Learn more about cats ... well, here.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Your morning adorable: Guinea pigs form a rock band (sort of)

We recently marveled at YouTube user flybybutterflies' smart and well-trained hamster, who can run a tiny agility course (yup, like the ones for dogs, only smaller) without breaking a sweat.

This fine Friday, we're marveling anew at the success of flybybutterflies' positive-reinforcement training methods on typically untrained animals such as guinea pigs, hamsters and even a goldfish.

Jing Jing and Wilbur, flybybutterflies' talented guinea pigs, aren't just musically inclined, they also play basketball and dabble in agility.

Your morning adorable: Guinea pigs eat watermelon
Your morning adorable: Talented rabbit plays the piano

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: flybybutterflies via YouTube

'Glee' star Lea Michelle speaks out against fur in a new PSA for PETA

If her vocal talent weren't reason enough to love "Glee" star Lea Michelle, the fact that she's a vocal opponent of the fur industry may endear her to animal lovers. Michelle, 23, recently filmed a public service announcement for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to raise awareness about what's wrong with fur.

"I wanted to get involved with PETA's antifur campaign because it's just how I was raised ... to believe that you should not wear fur," Michelle explains in a video interview. (You can see the full interview on PETA's blog, but we'll warn you that it contains some graphic imagery.)

Beyond caring about the animals that suffer for the production of fur, Michelle cares about other animals as well -- she doesn't eat meat and has rescued, at various times, a stray dog and several stray kittens while on the set of "Glee." (When "Found" posters for the dog didn't draw a response, a "Glee" cast member adopted him. Michelle kept two of the kittens herself.) 

Michelle's antifur PSA alongside rescue dog Sailor was apparently sweet enough to melt even the snarkiest heart: In a post on his frequently catty celebrity gossip blog, Perez Hilton merely wrote "What a cute pup!" before giving a brief summary of the video.

California Assembly votes to close loophole on fur labeling
Guess it wasn't faux: Celebrity fur-wearer Catherine Zeta-Jones tops PETA's Worst-Dressed List

-- Lindsay Barnett

Your morning adorable: YouTube star Maru the cat plays the tambourine with his tail

We're big fans of Maru the cat's impressive work in the field of Adorableness. Maru, a Scottish fold from Japan, has stretched the boundaries of what it means to be a cute cat and become an international celebrity in the process.

We can watch Maru's "greatest hits" all day -- particularly his exploits attempting to jump into a large cardboard box. His latest video installment, shown above, was uploaded just this past weekend and has already garnered more than 130,000 views!

Fun fact: Scottish fold cats are born with ears that point straight up, like most cats. When they're around three weeks of age, some kittens' ears spontaneously fold downward at the tip; other kittens' ears remain straight and never form the breed's classic fold at all.

Your morning adorable: Bengal kitten does a crab walk
Your morning adorable: Talented cat plays the theremin

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: mugumogu via YouTube

WebClawer: Rock 'n' roll finches bring their music to London; complaint about PETA U.K.'s Hitler-themed ad dismissed; dachshund Spork gets a reprieve

-- French artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot enlisted a flock of zebra finches for his upcoming exhibition at London's Barbican concert hall and art gallery. But these aren't just any zebra finches -- they're rock 'n' roll zebra finches. Boursier-Mougenot created a walk-through aviary for the musical birds, complete with a Gibson Les Paul guitar for a perch and cymbals doubling as water and food bowls. "If you want to understand a creature then you have to interact with it," Boursier-Mougenot said of the aviary project. "Here, I am not using the birds, I am collaborating with them." The birds were obtained from a company that supplies animal actors for the entertainment industry. Not exactly what Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-honored singer-songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen had in mind when he wrote "Bird on a Wire," we suppose, but the prospect of animals creating music is an intriguing one, nonetheless. The exhibition runs through late May. (The Guardian)

-- A new study shows what any owner of multiple dogs already knew: Dogs gain specific information from one another's growls, despite the fact that the sounds may be indistinguishable to human ears. Researchers first recorded the growls of 20 adult dogs in each of three unique situations: When guarding a bone, when approached by a threatening stranger and during play. They then used a computer program to analyze the sounds and discovered that the play growls tended to be shorter and more high-pitched than those the dogs made when they were guarding food or when they felt threatened. Then came the second part of the twofold study: Playing back the recorded growls to live dogs in a research setting. Forty-one adult pet dogs from Austria and Hungary were each offered a meaty bone as the researchers played the recorded growls. The team observed that the dogs jumped when they heard the recorded "guarding" growls, but didn't when the play growls or threatened growls were played. (Discovery News)

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Happy National Poultry Day!

It's National Poultry Day, and we can't think of a better way to celebrate than by listening to a talented -- okay, maybe not that talented -- chicken play the piano. (Since we're all about celebrating animals here at Unleashed, we won't celebrate the way many people around the U.S. will today -- by eating chicken. Heavens, no! In fact, we once had the pleasure of teaching a nice rooster named Jimmy Cracked Corn to flap his wings on command using positive-reinforcement training, so it's safe to say we're fans of the humble birds.)

Beanie might be somewhat less virtuosic than other notable animal pianists like Nora the Piano Cat and Beamin the beagle, but we still give him an A for effort. (Yup, Beanie is a male chicken.) After all, his brain is about the size of a human fingernail, so have to give him credit for the attempt!

Your morning adorable: Celebrating chicken athletes the world over
Only in New York: Officials investigate chicken-kissing incident on subway

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: jrw92046 via YouTube

Your morning adorable: Talented cat plays the theremin

We're crazy about this musical Scottish fold cat, whose talent on the theremin is undeniable. (The theremin, for the uninitiated, is an electronic instrument controlled without physical contact by the musician playing it. It was created by Russian inventor Léon Theremin, whose fascinating life story is detailed in the documentary "Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey.")

If there were an all-cat Beach Boys cover band, we think we know who they'd call to play the theremin part on "Good Vibrations." (Although this cat, and these cats, would also be in the running.)

YouTube star Nora the Piano Cat inspires a concerto
Your morning adorable: Talented beagle plays the piano

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: blancbonn via YouTube

Your morning adorable: Talented rabbit plays the piano

If you were impressed by the keyboard-stepping antics of Nora the Piano Cat and Beamin the beagle, you're sure to love Elissa, a piano-playing rabbit who lives with YouTube user stclairtr.

Elissa is a Flemish giant, a breed of domestic rabbit known -- you guessed it -- for its large size. Beyond their heft, however, Flemish giants are also considered an especially docile breed that tends to get along well with people.

Your morning adorable: Angora rabbit is a furry soccer phenom
Your morning adorable: Rabbit navigates an agility course

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: stclairtr via YouTube

LOLcats review music

In case you hadn't noticed, LOLcats have been everywhere.

The cute kitty pictures with misspelled captions dominate a popular blog called I Can Has Cheezburger, inspired an off-Broadway musical and are the subject of two bestselling books.

And now, as the LOLcats might say, "We r in ur CD collekshun, revyooing yoor muzik."

Kristyn Pomranz and Katherine Steinberg, the brains behind the stage production of MusicLOL, put together a series of LOLcat pictures critiquing some popular bands for the Times' Pop & Hiss blog.

Check out the nine LOLcat music reviews.

-- Mark Milian

Images: Kristyn Pomranz and Katherine Steinberg


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