Sunday, October 31, 2010

it's not trash, it's garage

I hate that you can spend so much time listening to music and still miss so many great bands that are out there. The flip side of that is great, though: there's always a new opportunity to find something you love. A group or artist from any era or genre can catch your ear and you're a new fan. And that's nothing to be sad about.
I was recently introduced to The Ettes. They've been around since 2006 and, while I was completely oblivious, released three great albums. I'm going back through their catalog now and loving the garage-y vibe. Here's a sample:

Download The Ettes - I Get Mine

And another, complete with cutesy video:

They were even cool enough to have a song on the Whip It movie soundtrack. Or Drew Barrymore was cool enough to put them on there. Maybe she's out there looking for brilliantly talented folks - like blog contributors - with panache and intelligence so she can support them and take them out to dinner in a romantic interlude kinda way. Please, please, say it's so.

Anyway, if you're down with the garage rock thing you should check them out.
On a related (and more timely) note, the band's singer, Coco, works with a side project named The Parting Gifts. This group is pretty exciting because it also features members of Reigning Sound and The Raconteurs, and there's at least a little involvement from The Black Keys. It's a veritable who's who of the current garage rock scene, in a way. I don't have the fancy connections to give you a preview mp3 in this case so we'll have to lean on youtube again:

The Parting Gifts have an album coming out in a couple weeks so keep your eyes peeled.
What discussion about garage rock would be complete without posting some MC5? None, so here you go:

Download MC5 - Ramblin' Rose (Live)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fallout: New Vegas - The Music!

Yes. I am one of those nerds. I loved the music from Fallout 3. I loved the music used in both Bioshock games. The classic songs that bring you back to a gentler, nicer time. Except, well, those games aren't gentle or nice. They're brutal, in fact. And that may be why I love them. Well, now with Fallout: New Vegas? We get more of the classic sounds. Hell, I was so psyched for this game when I saw the initial trailer. It features one of the songs we're posting today. Check it out.

While the game can slog on for points, the pros heavily outweigh the cons, in my opinion. There are a few bugs and glitches, but nothing that really ruins the game experience for me. Hell, just do what people tell you you should be doing - SAVE OFTEN! This game is massive. There is so much to do, and even though I've been playing a lot since the game came out last Tuesday, I still haven't made it onto the strip. Part of the reason for that is I'm more enamored with the Mojave Wasteland. I'll get into the strip soon. I promise.

The music, however, is what I love the most. The trailer above features the track "Jingle, Jangle, Jingle" by Kay Kyser. His big band sounds are featured in this number. Those certainly were the days, eh?

Download Kay Kyser - Jingle, Jangle, Jingle

Now the next track is one people probably know. It's hard to make a game about Vegas and not include some mention musically of the Rat Pack. Dean Martin is featured in the game's soundtrack with one of his better known hits - "Ain't That A Kick In The Head". And it fits in the sense that when you start the game? You're not kicked, but shot, in the head. How's that for a shitty day?

Download Dean Martin - Ain't That A Kick In The Head

Now this last one, I had heard before. Living in the South for a while, I guess I couldn't help that. It's not a bad thing. Being exposed to a lot of the old crooners growing up as a kid was a great thing. It helped get me into singers like Louis Prima, for example. Hell, getting to see Sam Butera perform twice (for free!!) while living in Las Vegas years ago was one of the biggest thrills for me. I only wish I still had the picture I took with him. :sadpanda: indeed. Anyhow, this song is one that's featured prominently if you're out in the wasteland. It's by Marty Robbins, and the song is "Big Iron". This is a guy that had the crossover appeal before the alt-country tag was there, I guess you could say. A lot of his songs were played on pop radio, but to be honest, pop radio then mixed genres moreso than it did now. Anyhow, this is a great tune, and it's perfect for the times you're trekking out in the middle of nowhere.

Download Marty Robbins - Big Iron

And speaking of Bioshock, have you guys seen the gameplay video for the upcoming Bioshock Infinite? I don't know about you, but I am excited for this one, also. Also, go buy some music. Don't be cheap!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Seems like you got a little more than you asked for

I sometimes wonder if Lady Gaga just bit all the great things about pop stars like Michael Jackson and Britney Spears, sexed it up, magnified it, perfected it, and then realized... oh...I could have just stolen all of this from Peaches!

The Canadian-born Peaches has always been completely out there and on the edge of performance art. She has pushed past comfort levels on sex, gender,  and fashion. She's been doing that for over 10 years. That means all the women pop and rock stars who have a bit of extravagance in their albums and on stage did it in the wake of the very talented Peaches.  

M.I.A. ... I'm calling you out. You too Ms. Aguilera.

More by Peaches Rocks

Some of the Peaches first shows included strap on dildos and stage blood.  She's recently performed with what she calls a "pussy-light"

You might think Peaches is just shock and awe. I had thought that before, until I learned that she plays all her own instruments, programs all her own beats, and produces her own albums.

She was signed to Sony but was dropped after her big budget video was released. It revolved around Peaches sitting in a locker room while her armpit and pubic hair grew to Rapunzel-esqe lengths. Peaches has opened for Queens of the Stone Age, Nine Inch Nails, and Marilyn Manson.

If that isn't enough to get the message across to you about her eccentric individualism, I'll tell you a story about the one-woman show interpretation of the  Andrew Lloyd Webber/Sir Tim Rice musical "Jesus Christ Superstar" that she decided to take on earlier this year. At first, the people who owned the rights to the musical said nope... but she was persistent and finally got the opportunity to put on the show on March 25-27 an Berlin's HAU1. You might be thinking it was a disgusting disaster. Right?

Not according to Artforum::

“Not only did Peaches set it off, she managed to surprise us all by showing off an expansive vocal range, a musician’s natural sensitivity to the dynamics of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score, and an emotive prowess that is rarely if ever displayed in her own, less holy, music.”

I've only seen parts of this musical, and it doesn't seem totally outside what she would be interested in. Still, I had to learn why she wanted to do this. It's a lot of work and probably was exhausting to make it happen and then to perform it alone all night. Doing a bit of research I found this quote from The Peach herself:

"When I was 16, I often sang the whole musical to myself all alone in my room. It tells an entire story without spoken text, only with vocals, in the style of a rock opera. I'm a performer, my concerts are extravagant and play with exaggerations. This project allows me to do without all this. I wanted to confront this task totally exposed, because it is a possibility. It's a question of stamina. Performing 'Peaches Christ Superstar' is the most intense and powerful stage experience I have ever had."

Those of you who are intrigued but dissapointed you missed those dates in Berlin, never fear. She's coming Stateside and it's probably a once in a lifetime kind of event.

Here are tour dates for 'Peaches Christ Superstar':

Dec.10 -- Boston -- Institute of Contemporary Art
Dec 11 -- New York -- The Concert Hall at New York Society for Ethical Culture
Dec 14 -- Chicago -- Portage Theater
Dec.17 -- Los Angeles -- Orpheum Theatre
Dec. 18 -- San Francisco -- Herbst Theatre
Dec. 21 -- Toronto -- Queen Elizabeth Theatre

But wait there's more!
Because I like you, I want to give you a BONUS! A remix treat just for you.

Download Peaches - More (Robert Oleysyck Remix)

Robert Oleysyck - Tracks - SoundCloud

Sunday, October 24, 2010

do you know the grinder man?

If you look up "cool" in the dictionary I think there's a picture of Nick Cave next to it.

Nick Cave

I've been a fan since Murder Ballads and I can't think of anywhere he's slipped since. Of course, I'm mostly referring to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds here, but that's not the point of this post. If you're not familiar with them, please check them out before continuing. You owe it to yourself. Zink said the same thing back in 2009, but it needs to be reiterated.
The point of this post is that Cave's side project, Grinderman, recently released an album. Grinderman is really an offshoot of the Bad Seeds, comprised of Cave on guitar (which he generally didn't play much before) and core members of the band. The writing style is different and the overall approach is more raw and less concerned with commercial success. The end result is just good, interesting rock music.
The first Grinderman album was released in 2007, and promptly knocked a lot of socks off. It was aggressive and ballsy. It was pretty damn good. Here's a track from that album:

Download Grinderman - Depth Charge Ethel

The new album is more subtle. The songwriting seems to be more cohesive and, even though there are moments of experimental craziness, more accessible. Let's keep it simple this week and just let you decide for yourself with a few tracks.

Download Grinderman - When My Baby Comes

Download Grinderman - Heathen Child

And here's the video for "Heathen Child" that got a lot of buzz for being so bizarre. I recommend listening to the song on its own first (above), then jumping into this acid trip.

Pick it up and enjoy it. Nick Cave is still making some of the best rock music out there right now.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Goodbye, oh false paradise

It was a tiny blurb; it was a compelling blurb. It lead me to recognize the CD on the New Release Wall on a record store visit a few weeks later. "On their debut single, a cover of Johnny Cash's 'Big River', this Muscle Shoals sister act sings like angels while Jack White shreds like a man who met the devil at the crossroads and punched him in the nuts."

Who wouldn't want to buy something like that?

So I pointed the CD out, Mookie bought it for me, and I was tasked to write about the album. I played it in my car on the way back from the record store. Mookie got to listen to the new Less Than Jake in his car. I had only one word to offer for my review of the Secret Sisters' eponymous debut album: "BORING."

When Mookie asked about Jack White's involvement, I was totally confused. I no longer had any idea what had moved me to want this album.

There are covers on this album. But not Johnny Cash covers. Hank Williams, George Jones, lots of covers on this album. And they're covers of good songs, so of course... Who doesn't have a soft spot for "Why Baby Why"? But you're going to go all apeshit over this debut album full of covers? Come on.

And I get folk music. I get old-time country. I would love to be reborn as June Carter Cash. But this is too much ado over what? Elvis Costello is performing with them. Jakob Dylan. Gregg Allman. John Mellencamp. Elton John! Just what is happening? What do I not understand? Their voices are good. Sure. Nothing wrong with it. Is it about their innocence? Come on. Is it because we've decided to return to innocence? Is that what this is about?

I don't want to hate on these sweet girls, but I'm just left asking what no one else will.  I guess it's always been my way.

Nellie McKay has been doing this same kind of music for several years. But Nellie McKay is not innocent. Nellie McKay also recently released an album.  Of original work.  This album is called Home Sweet Mobile Home.  How is that for your "music for people"?  ::wink::  She recorded her debut album with her mother, despite also having duets with kd lang and Cyndi Lauper on same.  So what's going on here?

Maybe there's room for both.  I just don't want you to get caught up in the current hype without realizing who came first.

Please check out Nellie McKay.  You're going to love it.

Download Nellie McKay - Adios

Here is Track One, presumably their original work, from The Secret Sisters.

Download Secret Sisters - Tennessee Me

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's an Animal Collective sort of day

I honestly am at a loss for what to post today. So why not post remixes of everybody's favorite indie-rock darlings - Animal Collective? There was the ever popular remix that was done by Dave Wrangler of "My Girls", which admittedly gets played quite often by myself, still. We also had the flip of that, where Animal Collective were on the remix tip. They did justice to French band Phoenix's "Love Like a Sunset".

Well, now I feel like bringing you a little more of the awesomeness. These aren't necessarily new remixes I'm bringing you. However, this is what I've been listening to as of late.

The first two are remixes of "My Girls". It is off of their almost two year old album Merriweather Post Pavilion, which became an unexpected landmark of an album for these guys. With that sort of success in hand, it should be expected that people would start wanting to remix your work. Well, with the success of "My Girls" came just that. As I mentioned, Dave Wrangler took a stab at it and did a great job, in my opinion. Well, now we have a couple more remixes. These were done by Mexicans With Guns and HATCHMATIK. I have to be quite honest. The name Mexicans With Guns might be, right now, one of the most unfortunate names in music. Considering everything going on in Mexico, and all. But I have to admit that I love the name. So here are the remixes done by HATCHMATIK and Mexicans With Guns.

Download Animal Collective - My Girls (Mexicans With Guns remix)

Download Animal Collective - My Girls (HATCHMATIK remix)

The last of the remixes is a chilled out one of Animal Collective's "Daily Routine" by St. Louis' Phaseone, also off of the same album. This one is a bit of a re-working, as it adds more fullness to the original, with an electro feel to it. It's also well over two minutes shorter than the original, which is odd for a remix, too. So enjoy this one!

Download Animal Collective - Daily Routine (Phaseone remix)

Go buy stuff.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

There is no hell more harsh than a memory

Winter takes the warm away.
Spring takes the cold away.
Summer takes the rain away.
and Fall took away my friend.

Download Eyedea and Abilities - Hay Fever

I was in a daze on Sunday. I was back on my couch watching football. I had spent a lot of time on this couch this weekend. You see, I was participating in ExtraLife, a 24 hour video game marathon to raise money for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. The marathon is no 5k race. Nothing that easy. The marathon was to play video games for 24 hours straight. From Saturday 8AM to Sunday 8AM.

I fell right into deep sleep at 8:01 sunday morning and woke up at 1PM. Watched some football and walked around my house like a zombie, unsure what to do next.

Then I watched the late game, Skins almost beat the Colts, and then started to feel the weight of sleep on my head again. I planned on doing one last check of email and facebook and then head back upstairs to go back to bed.

That's when I caught the news in my facebook feed.

RIP Michael Larsen aka EYEDEA. The 28 year old MC and indie rap legend passed away today at his home in Minnesota. Our condolences to EYEDEA'S family and our friends at RHYMESAYERS. "Ya know I'm saying Kinda just turned around from the whole situation Rejecting everything that was going on Thats how I walked into heaven. I Walked away, walked away, walked straight into heaven...I Walked away, walked away, walked straight into heaven..."
I sat there crushed. Totally unexpected and way before his time. We lost a great artist and lyricist. The underground Hip-Hop scene just lost a major player.

Eyedea started his career in the late 90's early 2000's with rap battle wins at Scribble Jam and Blaze Battle. Although his technical skills are sharp as a knife, it's his ability to tell a story in his raps. Another rapper that does this is Tupac, and it's one of the reasons that I am such a fan. If you can rap and tell a story, I'm totally impressed.

While listening to Eyedea all of Monday, I realized there is even a track by both Tupac and Eyedea with similar subject matter but with two completely different perspectives.

Tupac has a track he did under the Makaveli moniker that relates to the relationship he has with his gun. Check out Me and My Girlfriend below.

Download 2Pac - Me And My Girlfriend

Tupac loves his gun. Like any relationship it has its ups and downs. Relationships can sometimes be very toxic. Eyedea lays down a story about a boy and a gun that starts to take a bad turn, but luckily doesn't have the ending you might expect.

Download Eyedea and Abilities - Time Flies When You Have A Gun

And it wasn't until the day that he got rid of it that he felt like he was safe / no longer a slave to that piece of shit.

Weaving a tale so perfectly into a rhyme and then into a rap song is something many rappers should learn. Otherwise you aren't connecting with anyone. I've connected so strongly to Eyedea, Tupac, Biggie, and Jay-Z because they master the art of storytelling in rhymes.

For some reason though, with the exception of Jay-Z, this tends to coincide with an early exit of life and career. Rest in Peace Eyedea. You will be missed.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Brits are playing at my house....fer realz.

So last week, I bashed the crap out of what is essentially a rip-off of an old Boney M tune. Gotta be honest that I won't back off that review. I have a ton of DJ buddies and producers here in Boston that I talked to about that track, and they were all in agreement. Not good. Well, I got a polite but contentious e-mail forwarded to me about the somewhat negative review about the "remix" of the tune. I won't go into detail, but this week's track is sort of a way to show how to be genuine about how you portray a song.

A remix? Is a unique interpretation of a song that you have. It's not using the majority of the original - with minor tweaks that anyone with access to Logic, Ableton, etc. has - and slapping an acapella over it. I was just listening to a Derrick Carter set where he played a remix of an old Bjork tune, and thought to myself, "Now this is what a remix is." I'm not bashing those tunes. There is a talent in making them. But what separates a proper remix from a bootleg or mash-up is pretty cut and dry, in my opinion.

The track today sort of exemplifies this. It doesn't take itself seriously, and it's presented as a mash-up. Now, I have to be clear that not all mash-ups are good. This one, however, is one I liked. A lot. The fact that there is a video accompaniment? Makes it that much more clear how seriously the kid took this project. So fans of The Beatles, The Kinks, and/or LCD Soundsystem? You should check this one out. It was done a couple of years back by a guy that goes by the name FAROFF. And hey, if you're in the San Fran area? Go check him out Saturday, October 23rd. I bet you'd hear lots of goodies like this one.

Download FAROFF - The Brits Are Playing At My House

And you really need to check the video. It's damned cool. A video mashup, of sorts.

Monday, October 11, 2010

THIS JUST IN: A Picture is Worth 369 Words!

Un bon croquis vaut mieux qu'un long discours
-N. Bonaparte


The artwork for an album is just as important to me as the music itself. It lends itself to creating an initial impression before listening to an album, and then after listening, you look back and maybe gather a new impression. Sometimes an album cover will be very simple and straightforward. Like just a picture of that band. This is usually a bad sign for what's inside. I have been wrong, but normally, if the band didn't get creative on the outside, the music lacks that same creativity and enthusiasm.

I could have done the "Top Ten Album Cover of All Time" kinda thing that a lot of music mags and sites like to do. You have likely seen those ad nauseum. I want to do it a little different. I want to share three album covers that I thought were interesting enough that they actually got me to buy and crack open a cd case and get me to listen to what was inside. Thankfully, the music was as interesting as the image outside!

The Birth
First off is the album Birth by the band Stardeath and White Dwarfs. This is just insane looking. That guy looks like he is scared and crazy and maybe also experiencing G forces in a centrifuge. It's crazy looking isn't it? But then when you listen to the album, it doesn't match. Or does it?

Download Stardeath and White Dwarfs - Age Of The Freak

The album has a Dark Side of the Moon feel to it. After listening to the album, I get the album cover. It makes sense. Maybe this image is how maybe you look in your minds eye when you go crazy. When you start to unravel. Maybe I am stretching! Well, that's what is says to me. One thing is for sure, it's an unforgettable album cover.

Y LA BAMBA - Lupon
I'm lucky, because I have access to bands and can ask a question or two about a song or an album. I recently emailed the PR for the band Y La Bamba to ask what this album cover for Lupon was all about. It doesn't NEED an explanation, but I just knew there was something deeper to this one. An older man with a strong manly mustache that has lightning coming from his eyes like tears. Then, if that wasn't enough, a cute kitty on his forehead whose eyes are shooting out the name of the band.

Let's listen to a song while we wait for the PR guy to get back to us.

Download Y La Bamba - Juniper

That voice right? Young and beautiful with a warble of an old soul. The harmonies with the others in the group make it seem dreamy. Heavenly.

Ok...I got the info about the cover. Ready? The man in the picture is the grandfather of the frontwoman, Luz Elena. She has never met the man, but his influence on her father, Guadalupe, was a heavy one. Luz says this about her father:

My father had a difficult time with forgiving my grandfather for his childhood dark memories. Carrying his frustration and anguish on his Kin...projecting guilt, resentment, and  confusion.

Her father's friends nicknamed Luz's father Lupon. The cat on Lupon's forehead represents Luz. It's her spirit-head on the third eye of a man she's never met. Trippy huh?

I wasn't expecting all that. That's what I mean though. You can hear that heaviness in the album, along with some hope and rebirth. Maybe heaviness is the wrong word. It's more like a melancholy sadness. Still, there is struggle. You can hear the struggle of woman surrounded by a family of men, the only daughter among many sons. Usually, the first man a woman ever loves is her father. Imagine a father with some daddy issues, and the affect that might have on a young woman.

When I first got the album Blew It Again, it was in a simple CD case with a white cover that had the name of the band and the album. It was meant to just get the music to reviewers and radio stations as soon as possible. I liked the album, had planned on writing about it, and then suddenly many months had passed. I was re-listening to the album recently and finally iTunes was able to load some album art. It's a young teen girl with a pony tail and a blue shirt that ends right past her nipple. Showing some "neathage," or at least I think that's what that is called. I never really thought much about the ripped corner. I guess I should have known it was a bit of censorship, but for some reason I never processed it that way. I just assumed it was some artistic touch. When I decided that I really wanted to write about this band, I checked out their website and found the album cover you see on the right.

I tried to contact the bands PR to get more info on the girl, the idea behind using that picture as the cover, I needed answers. Alas, no response as of right now.

The sound of the band is lo-fi gargage rock. Don't let this hinder you though. I am sure that when I say lo-fi garage rock you think it's gonna sound like crap? Not so. The band just does a lot with very little. It stays fun yet sounds beautiful. Check out a track:

Download Electric Tickle Machine - Gimmie Money

Curious about the bands name? I was too. Look what I found on the bands website:

I think it'd be best if I explained the rationale behind our name (which is not a euphemism for a vibrator). Electric Tickle Machine is meant to be a reference to the evolving relationship between humanity and technology, specifically the vessels through which we process and regurgitate our culture, art and entertainment.

If that's not enough to sell you on picking up this album, check out the video below. It makes me want to buy two copies on vinyl, frame one and hang it on my wall!

Electric Tickle Machine (live on KEXP at Cutting Room Studios NYC) from KEXP RADIO on Vimeo.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I Won't Always Live In My Regrets

There's a quiet dream 
I'm not supposed to think
Eating away at my mind

I've been trying to get some other posts written for you.  One is an open letter to an admired artist.  Another is a sweet tribute to a sweeter little indie piece.  But they don't make it to the keyboard.  They roam through my head while I listen to the music and these thoughts, these posts, refuse to come out.

There's always some baggage you gotta check
I'm trying
Hope that you'd understand
I'm sorry boy, I'm not cut for this no more

Instead, I am writing about a band you all already know, and their highly-anticipated new album.  That's right, Jimmy Eat World released Invented on September 28, after working on it for what - two years or something?  I've never been the biggest JEW fan but I have many close friends who are.  I admit they have a big sound; one that's layered and sometimes enrapturing. I just never got heavily into them.

Once though, a long time ago, Jimmy Eat World did move me... On one extremely depressing December day in 2001, I had felt completely spent, useless, and lost.  I realize that being moved by a catchy pop song is just about the height of  pathetic clichè; but it happened, and in all the years since then it has continued to happen.  It just takes some time; little girl, you're in the middle of the ride.  They wrote it during a dark and directionless time for the band as well.

So here I am, almost nine years later, reviewing their seventh album. Never seen them live. Never written about them before. Never thought I would either, but feeling like now is the time. Yes, I am moved again.  While I re-evaluate, and re-structure, and ask that little girl what ride exactly she was in the middle of, I'm open to find out:  What's up.  What's going on.  Kind of poignant that the track "23" happens to fall in my iTunes just on top of the new album.  So go back to '04 for a minute with me:

Download Jimmy Eat World - 23

You'll sit alone forever
If you wait for the right time
What are you hoping for?
I'm here I'm now I'm ready
Holding on tight
Don't give away the end
The one thing that stays mine

So how far have they come and where are they going? What's with the slight difference in sound between then and now?

They told Darryl Sterdan of the Toronto Sun:

Over the years, we've been building up an arsenal of recording equipment to the point where we've been working primarily out of our own space for the last two albums. I guess for a while there we were big on getting the absolute best sound we could and getting things perfect. But going into Invented, we kind of threw a lot of that out the window. It's like learning everything you can about an instrument and then forgetting it all and just playing.

There are a lot of things we just let slide. A lot of the main vocals were recorded the very first time I tried singing them, right after I had written the lyrics. And I think I used one guitar for this whole record. We tried incorporating more restraint on this. There are mistakes. There's sloppy stuff. On the song Invented, you can hear the chair I was sitting on creaking. But I think it works for the tune.

Learn everything you can.

Then forget it all... And just play.

If you're really as tough as your defenses let them fall.

I am having a really hard time choosing a track from Invented to share with you. One track is desperate and pleading, another strong and challenging, that one just plain epic.

You already know what Jimmy Eat World sounds like. So I won't feel guilty posting the last track from the album. It fits best with the tone of this post.

So... what were you protecting yourself from?

Download Jimmy Eat World - Mixtape

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Why Barbra Streisand?

Why her? Why her of all people? In the latest in a series of sample heavy electronic tracks coming out, we present the duo Duck Sauce - comprised of Armand Van Helden and A-Trak - and their track "Barbra Streisand". Now, for those who haven't somehow seen the video that's been released for it? I'm gonna show it to you.

First of all, that woman is beyond annoying. More annoying than Barbra Streisand, herself. And Armand, you've got Boston roots, and do everything in your power to ignore that, now. What a fucking joke, man. The showing off of who's who in this video is incredibly irritating, also. I don't care who you guys know. Seriously. I know some cool and talented people, also, but I would never feel the need to boost my ego by showing it off. Some may say, "Well, they're showing what's what in New York City." Fine. New York is one of the largest cities in the world. I would hope that they had some talent. Again, don't shove it down my throat.

Now, how about we tell you where these guys snagged the sample from? Boney M's "Gotta Go Home" is the winner in this department. Check the video below, also. Seriously. Have producers gotten this lazy? Can't you people use samples in a creative way that's still catchy? No? Okay, I hear the message loud and clear. Armand's foray into samples isn't new, either. He's done this for the better part of a decade, now. While it was cute to start off, it's getting tiresome. A-Trak isn't helping matters, any, by throwing his hand into this. Is this track catchy? Yes. But so is the Boney M tune it ripped off. And now we see a plethora of "remixers" doing nothing more than using programs like Ableton to lay down an acapella over it and viola! A remix! One of those "remixes" is here. While it still takes some talent to do this stuff, and a little ingenuity, doesn't it smack of cheap when you do this to a tune that blatantly rips off another one?

Download Duck Sauce - Barbra Streisand

Download Duck Sauce - Barbra Streisand (Just Banks How Low remix)

Download Boney M - Gotta Go Home

And you may want to grab these quick. God knows how long before we get a nasty email wanting these off the site.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Keep walkin', let the foot leave a track

Friday October 1st, Minneapolis rapper Slug and DJ/Producer Ant took the stage as the group Atmosphere for their Las Vegas stop of the "To All My Friends" Tour. The openers, all fantastic, were Blueprint, Grieves & Budo, and DJ Rare Groove.

A predominately white crowd was wrapped around the escalators, waiting to get in to the House of Blues inside the Mandalay Bay. This was a relatively early show, with doors opening at 5PM.  All-ages shows must often start very early when the venue is inside a casino!

Ant and Slug
This is the first time Atmosphere has sold out the House Of Blues in Las Vegas. I've seen a ton of shows at this venue, but it's been a long time since I have seen a sold out show here. In this bad economy, concerts have suffered. To sell out the House Of Blues is a testament to the popularity of both Hip-Hop and of Atmosphere. It doesn't hurt that the group takes such good care of their fans. Slug was walking outside the venue, thanking fans in line for coming to the show. Ant was upstairs out front of the merch desks during the opening acts to take pictures and sign albums for fans.

It takes more than a handshake and an autograph though. You must be able to deliver the goods on stage. Deliver they do.

When Atmosphere hits the stage, they start the show with "Trying to Find A Balance". This was a perfect track to start a packed-to-capacity show. It's a song about Slug's struggles with getting the respect he felt like he deserved early on in his career. It's a song that speaks volumes about the tough road as an artist and a rapper.

Slug and company are all rockstars.  Obviously, I say this loosely, since I am talking about a hip-hop group. Although it is not a huge stretch to say they rocked, since on stage there were a guitar and a keyboard player. If we think of DJ Ant as the drummer then the picture is complete. The performance is what earns Atmosphere the "Rockstar" title. Sluggo brings such a passion and energy to the stage. He stirs up the crowd into a frenzy, so much so that a fight breaks out. Slug admonishes the security for kicking out the wrong person, then goes into a slow jam to mellow out the audience. That's all the mellow we get, when the group puts the foot back on the gas pedal for the rest of the show.

Atmosphere played a lot of great cuts from some of their older albums, but there were a few songs off the new album, To All My Friends, Blood Makes The Blade Holy.  It's a great album that shot up to #2 on iTunes top 10 album downloads the week of September 11, 2010. Among long time fans, it seems to be a bit of a disappointment. Many felt that it's not as serious and heavy as previous efforts. I think they are wrong though. It's an album by a group in a different state of mind. Now that the band no longer needs to work multiple jobs in between tours to pay bills and raise families, there is no fire and drama in the lyrics of Atmosphere's rhymes. Instead we have a group who is thankful for their success, but still executing their music and art at the highest levels. I hope after seeing some of those songs live Friday night, that the fans on the fence about this new album might have had their opinions revised. The new song "Freefallin'" was one of the highlights of the show for me.

Atmosphere were a long way from home, but the crowd treated them like hometown heroes. I'm sure this won't be the last time Atmosphere sells out a venue in Las Vegas.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

the great white hope

Whitey (aka N.J. Whitey), one of my favorite artists, was supposed to release his newest album, Canned Laughter, Vol. 2, on September 2nd. I hopped onto his myspace page that day to find the following message:

"'CANNED LAUGHTER Vol.2' delayed indefinitely due to lack of funds, press, food and rent. Canned Laughter 1 is now available free from over 100 torrent sites. Help yourself. It's possibly the last you'll hear from me."

I haz a sad.

I stumbled across Whitey's work over the summer and almost immediately fell in love. His twisted pop sensibility struck a chord with me. He loves fuzzy basslines, I love fuzzy basslines. He likes swingin' beats, I like swingin' beats. He's a bit misanthropic, I can dig that. I just like the guy's style.

Whitey has had a bit of a rough ride. His 2004 album, The Light At The End Of The Tunnel Is A Train, was a striking release that got him a decent amount of acclaim as the Next Big Thing. In 2007 he was working on his followup release, Great Shakes, until it was leaked to the internet. Consequently, the album was not released and Whitey's label dropped him. That's what wikipedia says, and it has to be true if you read it there, right?
Here's my confession: I'll admit I have downloaded the tracks from Great Shakes. Regardless of the fact that it's three years after the whole label debacle, I feel a bit guilty for that. However, if the album were ever officially released I'd buy copies for all my friends. I like it that much. If it had hit the radio when it was supposed to it could have been a game changer. At least I think so.
Whitey seems to have had more trials along the way, including another unreleased album, and ultimately released Canned Laughter, Vol. 1 on his own this year. It was exciting to hear him back in form and I was optimistic about Canned Laughter, Vol. 2, thinking maybe it would all work out this time around. Apparently not.
I hope it's not true. I hope to see more releases from Whitey in the future. I wish I could do something, so I'm doing the best thing I can: letting you know he's out there. Give him a listen. If you like him, get his albums and play them for your friends. At least enjoy the guy's music, what we have of it.

Download Whitey - Dinosaur

Download Whitey - The Up Sound For The Down People

(Again, I feel a bit wrong linking to a track from Great Shakes but it's just so good.)