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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mike Mictlan & Lazerbeak - Prizefight

Holy shit. That is all.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


This new Gucci record has got some of the illest tracks I have heard in a while. Just a shame that when Gucci is finally blowing up, he lands himself in jail (again). As if October's mixtape trio of The Cold War: BrrrrRussia, Great Brrritain, and Gucciamerica weren't enough, this LP is definitely a standout. Beats + Rhymes are on point, and I would like to point out some great collab choices by Gucci. Most rap albums I listen today are littered with meaningless collabs, obviously intended solely to inspire radio play. Gucci picks his crew wisely though, and I like the idea of having Baby and Wayne guesting on the same track. Also Usher making an appearance? not sure if I am into it but the track is pretty fiery. Shout out to Mike Epps! 8/10

Friday, November 13, 2009


Speaking of Ghostface's new album, I don't know who thought this song was a good idea, but "Stapleton Sex" is THE most dirty song I have ever heard in my 20+ years of life. It would make Luke from 2 Live Crew blush. It's so inappropriate that I'm not even embedding it here, I'm just going to link it: dirtyness here.

For once Tipper Gore may have been correct in thinking Parental Advisory stickers were necessary.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Well, haven't updated in a minute, so I figured I would update about what I've been getting into.
1) TRAVEL: Barcelona
Gotta admit, I did not know much about Barcelona at all before I got there, aside from the few things I had seen or read in skateboarding videos and magazines about how wild the spots were there, and how cops just didn't care. Well, I've got to say, I was pretty surprised. To me it felt like Southern California x the Lower East Side x Miami Beach, so pretty wild shit. People don't eat dinner until well past midnight, and even though I had to walk across the entire city, it was a blast. Would (and will) visit again.

2) SPORTS: Arsenal
Obviously, the Phillies are a priority, though being 5000 miles away, and them losing to the NY Roidees (ARod has a portrait of himself as a centaur), I had to turn to my European team: Arsenal. Obviously I can follow them online and catch the occasional game on TV at home in the States, but actually going to a match at Emirates Stadium was unreal. Fans singing and standing the whole game, riots, hooligans, etc etc. Anyway, they are climbing the tables, Chelsea can suck one.

3) MOVIES: Paranormal Activity
Heard a lot of hype about this movie from friends at home, but didn't really know what it was about. I decided to hold a screening, and was not disappointed. OK, the whole hand-held mocumentary gimmick was a bit much, but I thought it was cool and better than 99% of horror movies I have seen in the past few years (I'm reserving that 1% for Saw VI, which I plan on watching this week). The ending was wild, and it was a great Halloween time flick.

4) MUSIC: Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City
Weird album title, but when has Ghostface ever not been? This eighth major studio release from Wu-Tang Veteran Ghostface Killah, in my opinion, is a breath of fresh air. Sure, I like Wu as much as the next guy, but I like the way Ghost switches his shit up on this record, mixing his trademark complex/abstract flow with a more R&B sound. Slept on this for the first few weeks it was out, but I am feeling it now.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Xaphoon Jones

I haven't posted much on this blog since coming to London, but seeing as I have a presentation due Wednesday and about 300 pages of reading before that, I think now is a good time to post.
I just picked up some crazy mash-ups from Xaphoon Jones from Chiddy Bang. Until about 5 minutes ago, I had no idea who he was, but then I checked my friend's twitter and it linked me to Hype Machine. At the same time, go and check out Chiddy Bang and download their tracks for free on their site.
Check out more on Xaphoon Jones here, best mash-up ever. Kanye+Lupe+Radiohead and Clipse+Led Zeppelin. And if you enjoyed that, pick up the entire mixtape at Pretty Much Amazing...

We knew Xaphoon Jones first as the producer and the sampling mastermind behind the quickly rising Chiddy Bang. Chiddy Bang owe most of the publicity they get to the tight, slick samples this guy has crafted for them. Like a musical pickpocket, Xaphoon Jones showed us that he has an ear for contemporary music and making it work in unconventional environments. With his debut eponymous mixtape, Xaphoon pushes passed the boundaries we thought he had and dips into soulful Motown favorites, East Coast Rap, and Reggae.
The Xaphoon Jones Mixtape Vol. 1 introduces us to a very young, very talented producer full of promise, if not power. Pretty Much Amazing is proud to present this mixtape for your consumption. Download it, put it on your iPod, burn it onto a CD, play it at a party, send it to your friends.
1. Intro: Fnish The Quartet
2. You Need (Clipse, Led Zeppelin)
3. Darwin Deez – Bad Day (Xaphoon Jones Remix)
4. Testify (Radiohead, Kanye West)
5. Chiddy Bang – Pro’s Freestyle 1.0 (Xaphoon Jones Remix)
6. The Answering Machine
7. Stuntin’ Like Atari (Theodore Grams, Lil Wayne)
8. Chiddy Bang – Fresh Like Us (Xaphoon Jones Remix feat. Theordore Grams)
9. Marvin Gaye – Heart It Through The Grapevine (Xaphoon Jones Remix)
10. Theodore Grams – Another Day
11. Swimming In The Sky (Passion Pit, B.I.G., Beyonce)
12. Theo’s Apple Juice Break
13. I Wanna Know Now (Bob Marley, MGMT)
14. Darwin Deez – Radar Detectr (Xaphoon Jones Remix)
15. Marva Whitney – Unwind Yourself: The Interlude
16. Money
17. Bmore SoulClash Mini-Mix
18. The Bay Vs. Diz (Strings Mix)
19. The End

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall 09: New Music Review

Well the fall season is fully upon us as today is the first day of autumn. Over the past 3-4 weeks a huge number of albums have been coming out, here are a few I've chosen to review:

1) Jay-Z "The Blueprint 3"

Jay-Z has consistently dominated the rap game since his first record. Granted he's had a few clunkers (kingdom come anyone?) but for the most part he's a legend. The Blueprint 3 was much hyped as 2009's "Black Album", but I would have to say it's not on the same level. There are some classic fiery Jigga tracks (Empire State of Mind, DOA, Run this Town, etc etc) but there are also a few throwaway tracks (Venus vs Mars, etc.). Overall an improvement for Jigga, and a good way to end the blueprint trilogy. 7.5/10

2) Kid Cudi "Man on the Moon"

Admittedly, I am not a big fan of Kid Cudi, so you should know this going in. Anyway, I had heard mixed reviews about this album so I decided to give it a spin. Was a little surprised about how "out of the box" this record sounds. Definitely not your typical radio rap album, it's filled with electro-spacey beats and personal lyrics. OK, so Cudi can come creative, but to me this is just sounds second rate tracks that couldn't make it on 808's and Heartbreaks (which is dogshit to begin with). Guest spots by MGMT and and Ratatat will make this a sure hit with weirdo college electro-indie nerds. 5/10

3) Raekwon "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II"

Oh wow, finally, this month, we have the long awaited sequel to Raekwon's 1995 masterpiece "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx". Fourteen years seems like a longtime to wait, but this record is solid all around. Classic minimal Wu beats with Raekwon's trademark complex flow make this a must listen for any self-respecting Wu-Tang fan. My favorite song might actually be the unreleased track that comes with the album, "The Badlands" featuring ill verse from the likes of Ghostface. Modern classic. 8/10

4) Paramore "Brand New Eyes"

Paramore has long been a guilty pleasure of mine, so you know I downloaded their new LP follow up to 2007's "Riot!". Sure enough, this record brings that same pop-punky sound coupled with Hayley Williams' clear-as-a-bell voice to make some real alterna-teen bangers. This record has a few more mid-tempo tracks than I would prefer, but these tracks are definitely well written. When the band does kick it up, it's well worth the wait. 7/10

5) Alice in Chains "Black Gives Way to Blue"

Nineties grunge masters AiC return after a long hiatus, mostly caused by the death of frontman Lane Staley. Luckily, they found a replacement who could fill the large shoes of Lane. BGWtB could easily have been recorded in 1996, as the band mixed heavy wah drenched guitar riffs with haunting vocal melodies. This record is sure to turn the heads of even the AiC purists who doubted the new vocalist. 7.5/10

6) Maximum Penalty "Life & Times"

NYHC OG's Max Pen are dropping their first release in a while with "Life & Times", and, I've got to say, it's pretty impressive. In a world where most old school hardcore bands can't seem to recapture the magic of the 80's and 90's, Maximum Penalty are doing a pretty good job. Not only do they discover their old "Easy Side Story" writing style, but expand upon it into a modern hardcore classic. 8.5/10

Friday, September 4, 2009

Matt's Picks- Best of Summer 2009

So my summer is pretty must over at this point (wah) but I thought I pick a few highlights of my four month vacation. All in all pretty productive few months, visited the South, worked in Europe, chilled on the West Coast, now back in Europe for a while. Here are the highlights:

Best Albums of Summer 2009 (in no order)

1) Trapped Under Ice- Secrets of the World
Baltimore natives and current pit-masters really set it off this summer with their LP follow up to 2008's Stay Cold. The new TUI is one of the hardest records I can remember coming out, and the LP proves that these guys can write new material but still keep it interesting. They toured with Terror, Madball, etc. on the 10 for 10 tour this summer, and I'm sure they will be touring for the rest of the fall too. If you are a fan of heavier music, this album is a must listen.

2) Title Fight- The Last Thing You Forget
This three song EP is a great follow up to 2007's Kingston, showcasing the maturing Title Fight's mastery of blending pop punk with 90's emo and melodic sounds. From slow pensive instrumentals (the B-Side) to innovative vocal melodies and trademark tempo changes, I'm sure this EP swill serve as a warm up for what is sure to be a great LP in 2010.

Best Summer Blockbuster:

Inglorious Basterds
When I heard about Tarantino's new flick, I wrote it off as another rehash of some obscure exploitation film, but once I started to see a few trailers, it definitely sparked my interest. World War II movies are some of my favorites, and the fact that he had assumed the guise of a spaghetti western director for this one definitely added an interesting spin. After the seeing the film, I can definitely say it's Tarantino's finest work to date. Sure, the midnight premier theater was filled with pseudo-film buff nerdsters know-it-alls (average Tarantino fans), but that didn't ruin it for me. Blending elements of spaghetti western and classic film noir, Tarantino managed to produce not only his most entertaining film, but also the most visually pleasing. For my money, my favorite scene, showcasing the director at his best, was the rendezvous at the pub. It was a classic Tarantino roundtable dialogue, but this time there was a surmounting tension, and the feeling that anything could happen at any time. Finally after a 20 minute set up scene of pure dialogue (in subtitles!) Tranatino hits the irony button and shows a less than 5 second shootout. Classic! The giant face in the smoke at the end too was also very ill.

Best Show of 2009:
Cold World-> Floorpunch @ This Is Hardcore Festival (August 15)

Although I saw many great sets this summer, my personal favorite would have to be the back to back Cold World set into the Floorpunch set at This is Hardcore in Philadelphia. Despite the insane heat, Cold World put on probably the best set I have seen them play (at least in the last 3-4 years). The sold out crowd was going nuts, constant dives and sing alongs, overall just a great atmosphere, people just going off for fun, which is tough to find at most shows these days. After Cold World played to an insane reaction, I was going to take it easy and watch Floorpunch from the back, having already seen the first 2 of their 3 reunion shows this summer. Of course though, they had to go and open with Jeff Perlin actually dueting Breakdown songs (All I Ask + Safe in a Crowd), and people just lost it. The rest of their set was awesome, also got a great reaction with plenty of pit action. Best back to back sets of the summer, hands down.

Honorable Mentions for Summer 2009 "Best Of":
1. Arnold Palmer Lite tall cans
2. Title Fight Secret Show
3. Breakfast Burritos @ Beach Liquor in Carpinteria, CA
4. Paul Blart: Mall Cop on Blu-Ray

EDIT: Just listened to the Blueprint 3. Fuck the haters, shit's fire.
Key tracks: Empire State of Mind, Run this Town, Off That, So Ambitious

Monday, July 20, 2009

Beastie Boys News

Today, famous Beastie Boys MC, Adam Yauch has revealed that he has been diagnosed with a small form of cancer in his Parotid gland.  Fortunately, however, the cancer is very treatable, and will only delay the Beasties' much anticipated upcoming album, Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 1, a few weeks.  Below is the official announcement from 2/4 Beasties.

In more positive news, however, the Beastie Boys have released an unexpected collaboration project with fellow NYC rap legend, Nas, called, "Too Many Rappers".   They debuted this project at Bonaroo, and this track is the first single from new Beastie Boys album, released later this fall after Adam Yauch's cancer treatment. It's a fuzzed out spacey drum loop, reminiscent of "Intergalactic", featuring classic Beastie verses plus a twist surprise verse from Nas.  Definitely interesting stuff here, can't wait to see what else the Beasties have up their sleeve for the new record.  Peep the track at the link below:

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Street Sweeper Social Club - 100 Little Curses

It's everyone's favorite radical rap-rock supergroup! Street Sweeper Social Club has made a video for their first single, "100 Little Curses." It features Breckin Meyer from Garfield, Road Trip, and Rat Race fame, as well as Drea de Matteo from The Sopranos, Sons of Anarchy, and soon Desperate Housewives.

And it includes Tom Morello going buckwild on a guitar, as well as Boots Riley's awesome fro and sideburns. I wonder who the other two guys in the band are.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Paramore New Shit

Oh snap, it looks like everyone's favorite female-led pop-punk band is back at it. They've just announced that their third studio LP will be titled Brand New Eyes and will come out September 29th. It will come out on Fueled by Ramen, the same label they've been signed to since the beginning. Rob Cavallo will be the producer on this album. And for anyone who actually regularly reads this blog, you may recognize that name as the man who produced every Green Day until the latest piece of trash. But at the same time, he's produced Paris Hilton's album, Avril Lavigne, David Cook, and so on. But Paramore's last single, "Decode" off the Twilight soundtrack was Paramore's first work with Cavallo. If the album sounds like that, all should be good.

Paramore has also stated that the first single off Brand New Eyes will be "Ignorance," which will be available on iTunes and Amazon and other digital retailers July 7th. That's also the same day you can begin pre-ordering the album on Paramore's site.

Track listing:

  1. "Careful"
  2. "Ignorance"
  3. "Playing God"
  4. "Brick by Boring Brick"
  5. "Turn It Off"
  6. "The Only Exception"
  7. "Feeling Sorry"
  8. "Looking Up"
  9. "Where the Lines Overlap"
  10. "Misguided Ghosts"
  11. "All I Wanted"

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Clipse Kinda Like a Big Deal Video

The return of the hardest rappers alive.

Clipse has released their latest video, for their single "Kinda Like a Big Deal." The track and video features Kanye West, which is unfortunate, but whatever. The video is a generic hip-hop video, honestly, nothing special, but because it's Clipse, it warrants a post.
The new album from Clipse, Till the Casket Drops, drops September 8th. Unlike their past two (three, really), this album isn't produced solely by The Neptunes. Instead, Clipse is following in the steps of Lil' Wayne by having the game's biggest and best producers on the album. Everyone from Swizz Beatz to Timbaland to Kanye to Rick Rubin have a hand in the production.

Read more at RollingStone.com.

Monday, June 22, 2009

HBO's The Pacific

It is my firm believe that the greatest thing ever put to film is the ten-part miniseries Band of Brothers. Produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, who also gave us Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers told the story of Easy Company of the 2nd Infantry of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment during World War II.
Now, we have the trailer to the not-really-a-sequel, The Pacific. While Band of Brothers focused on the Army's role in Europe, The Pacific deals with the Marines in the Pacific, duh. Also, most of the filming took place in Australia. It's said that the entire project created 4000 jobs in Australia and generated nearly AUD$180 million for the Australian economy. With a budget of $150 million, it's the most expensive series ever filmed in Australia. The Pacific is adapted from two memoirs: With the Old Breed by Eugene Sledge and Helmet for My Pillow by Robert Leckie. These memoirs include the battles at Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester, Peleliu, Okinawa, and Iwa Jima, so it's very likely these will appear in the miniseries.

Look for it on HBO in the US March 2010.

Fuck the Bureau, I'd Rather Be Spending Euros

My List of what's "big" in Italy right now:

1) Partying:
The summer has arrived here in Rome, which means that all types of tools are roaming the streets in search of a party. Luckily, my neighborhood is home to Rome's finest night spots, so I get to see the cream of the crop. For instance, say you are raging at the river banks club, La Maison, with Fat Joe, when you feel the urge to take a dip. Well you're in luck because this club has not only one but two swimming pools for you to swim in, suspended safely above the revolting waters of the Tiber. No joke here, this pic is from my own cell phone.

2) Weird Hideous Velcro Designer Shoes
Don't really get the "look" behind this one. Somewhere between a nun's orthopedic and a weird spaceman slipper, I'll let the Euros rock this one, too bad their Air Max's cost $300.

3) Dime Piece Models
Italy has a rep for its young fillys, and this is NO JIVE

Saturday, June 20, 2009

New Album Releases

In the past few weeks, a lot of new albums have come out from a wide range of artists.

dredg - The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion
First, one of my favorite local bands independently released their fourth album. Dredg comes from Los Gatos, CA and until recently was signed to Universal and Interscope. However, they were dropped from their label and decided to release their new album, The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion on their own Ohlone Label. Like their other albums, this album is inspired by high-brow art. While El Cielo is inspired by Dali's Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening, The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion is inspired by Salman Rushdie's essay "A Letter to the Six Billionth Citizen." Additionally, bassist Drew Roulette describes the album as "a rock and roll record, filled with experimental journeys and eccentric jousts." Yeah, that sounds like dredg. Anyways, it's a damn good album, so I recommend you all go check it out.

Street Sweeper Social Club - Street Sweeper Social Club
Surely, the biggest album to come out recently was Street Sweeper Social Club's debut, self-titled effort. And it is an absolute banger, as if there was any doubt. Tom Morello and Boots Riley, 'nuff said. It's nice to hear Morello's riffs against some angry leftist, revolutionary lyrics again. And might I say that Boots Riley is a much more angry and Marxist individual than Zach de la Rocha. Morello says of the album, "Revolutionary party jams. It's got huge steamroller riffs combined with depth, charge, funk, while Boots unloads clip after clip of incendiary rhymes rich with satire and venom." Boots Riley adds, "This is a time when the working class is being fleeced left and right. More families will be homeless and more people will be jobless. They'll need something to listen to on their iPod's while storming Wall Street."

Now if only someone can make a SSSC/One Day as a Lion mashup. It's half of Rage, the best half at that. They could call it One Day as a Street Sweeper. I came up with that myself, but you can use it.

Kasabian - West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
The third album from the Leicester-based quintet is titled West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum. Guitarist Sergio Pizzorno has called the 52-minute album to "the soundtrack to an imaginary movie." Also, Rosario Dawson appears on track 7 "West Ryder/Silver Bullet." Apparently, West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum was a loony bin in England nears Leeds in the 19th century. And that's where the title comes from. I just wish they used the album cover from the "Vlad the Imaler" single:

Mos Def - The Ecstatic
This is the fourth solo album from Brooklyn-based rapper Mos Def. The title likely refers to the ecstasy that Obama induced in America. The first single off the album, "Life in Marvelous Times," is an Obama track. Anyways, Mos Def has been called the best lyricist alive. Esquire magazine has this to say about Mos Def and his second single, "Quiet Dog Bite Hard," "Because there is no better lyricist (or deliverer of lyrics) in music. Not hip-hop. Music." So, yeah. Well, the production is incredible, but what do you expect from J Dilla, Madlib, Oh No, and Chad Hugo. Somehow, with so many different producers, each track still sounds uniquely Mos Def. Given Mos Def is one of those crazy black guys with conspiracy theories about the government, his lyrics are incredible and his album is solid.

Other albums this week include Wale's new mixtape Back to the Feature, Incubus' greatest hits/b-sides compilation Monuments and Melodies.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Flyer Than the Rest of Them

Finally...delayed a couple months, Wale's new mixtape is finally coming out today. You can pick Back to the Feature up, probably around 7 PM Eastern at WaleMusic.com.

Ah, free music, it's better when it's legal.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Scorsese Returns: Shutter Island

This October my favorite director, Martin Scorsese, will return with his first major feature length drama since 2006's The Departed. Shutter Island is a suspenseful mystery, which follows the journey of a young detective investigating the disappearance of a patient at an island prison for the criminally insane. The slick 1950's art-deco-y look of the movie is right up my alley, and the proven chemistry between Scorsese and lead actor Leo DiCaprio is sure to make for must see cinema. Marty hasn't really delved into the suspense/mystery genre since his remake of Cape Fear, which is actually one of my favorite Scorsese movies. So naturally, when I first heard about Shutter Island, I was pretty excited. Just today, however, I saw the trailer, and I have to say it looks awesome. Combine Scorsese's incendiary vision and DiCaprio's skill as a cop in a mysterious 1950's setting, and I think you have a pretty unbeatable setup. Anyway, the movie looks unreal, a must see (hopefully they will have it Europe somewhere in October), so be sure to check it out. Until then you can see the trailer here.

Also: keep an eye open for some new updates chronicling my life as I begin my summer job as a Vatican City tour guide LOL

Friday, June 5, 2009

Wale - Chillin

Wale (The King of the DMV) still hasn't put out that new mixtape with 9th Wonder. He claims it will come out next week, but that's when his LP is supposed to drop as well. My guess is that the mixtape comes out sometime next week, but the LP won't come out until next month. At this point, Wale is just taking his sweet time with releasing new music. But he did have time to make a video for his latest single "Chillin." The track and video feature Lady Gaga, who still confuses me. I don't know if she's hot, and this video does nothing to help me decide. It's those weird bangs she has. But apart from Lady Gaga, there are a lot of DC cameos, including Ben's Chili Bowl, Universal Madness, Slim Charles, Bun B, and Young Chris. Wale also hit up Bodega, the shoe store behind the Snapple machine, for the video. Too bad that shop's actually up in Boston, not in DC. Wale's also been on tour these past few months, promoting his album on the Attention: Deficit Tour. His last East Coast stop was in DC, at the 9:30 club. Check out footage from the show below:

New Hilltop Hoods

For any of you who have listened to our show, you've probably heard our favorite Australia hip-hop group Hilltop Hoods. Well, they've come out with their first single in three years, with a new album next week as well. The new single is entitled "Chase That Feeling." Check out the video here. Also, for anyone who's heading to Australia this summer (winter for them), be sure to check them out when they tour. Not only that, but Hilltop Hoods is touring with Classified, our favorite Canadian rapper. If only I had an excuse to go to Australia, I imagine it's exactly like that Jackie Chan movie. Tour info here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

311 - Uplifter and Other News

Check it out! 311 released their latest album yesterday, entitled Uplifter. And if their first single "Hey You" is any indication, this album should be pretty solid. 311 stated ahead of the release that this, their 9th studio album would be their heaviest yet. I have yet to listen to it, but I'll update this post once I do later today.

Update: This album is definitely not the best thing 311 has put out. Probably not in their top 5 albums (Soundsystem, 311, Transistor, From Chaos, and Evolver in no particular order). But it's still decent alt-rock with a twist of dub and reggae, classic, average 311. Some tracks would be perfectly at home on other, older albums (i.e. "Something Out of Nothing"). This track has heavy guitar and bass lines and a harmonized, nearly nonsensical chorus that is the band's trademark. The lyrics are generically forgettable, but if you are listening to 311 for insightful poetry, you are an idiot. This is easy-to-enjoy summer music. And wow, look when they decided to release it!

Over the years, what 311's been best at has been creating one sound that merges so many different genres: rapping, rock guitar riffs, reggae steel drums, and dub echo and reverb. It's almost formulaic on some tracks, but that comes with having mega-producer Bob Rock on your album. For reference, he's the same guy who's worked with Simple Plan, Metallica, Bon Jovi, and Motley Crue. He produced St. Anger, Slippery When Wet, and The Offspring's new album Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace. Take that as you will.

Yet, one aspect of Uplifter that separates it from past 311 albums is its acceptance of the indie sound (see "Too Much Too Fast"). It sounds like 311 channeling Weezer (new Weezer unfortunately). Too poppy for me. That being said, this album is definitely heavy on the whole, just like their older albums (pre-Soundsystem). I honestly think this album would be much more well received had it been released between 1995-1999, instead of now when alt-rock is more acoustic and melodious than powerful and groovy. What's interesting to see is how much 311 and Incubus have diverged in recent years. While both began as reggae-loving, alt-rock, funk acts in the 90s, Incubus has embraced a more mellow sound, while 311 has stuck to its angsty, almost punk-chanting sound. Sure, 311 has it's lighter moments (i.e. Amber, My Heart Sings, Love Song), but on the whole, it's a much more heavy and groovy band than most out there. For evidence of this, check out the new tracks "India Ink" and "Never Ending Summer" that is some powerful stuff. I love these tracks, but some of the other tracks sound too generic, but it's all definitely better than Don't Tread on Me. Needless to say, the funk abides, and P-Nut dominates. Just look at the silly bastard...
Overall, it's a bunch of 3-4 star tracks, nothing spectacular. The best tracks are "Hey You," "India Ink," "Never Ending Summer," and "Jackpot."

Other News:
  • Arctic Monkeys New Arctic Monkeys on August 25th! And if you didn't know, the third album from the British quartet is produced by QOTSA frontman Josh Homme, with the help of James Ford. That's some heavy shit. You can find more info here at CoS. The album has no title yet, but it has a track list:
  • 1. My Propeller
    2. Crying Lightning
    3. Dangerous Animals
    4. Secret Door
    5. Potion Approaching
    6. Fire & The Thud
    7. Cornerstone
    8. Dance Little Liar
    9. Pretty Visitors
    10. The Jeweller’s Hands

  • High Fidelity BU My boy Garrett is sitting in his apartment in Boston these days with little to do, so he's decided he will be updating his blog 3-5 times per week this month. Let's see if he keeps it up. Check it out here.

  • Asher Baby! Asher Roth, fresh off his debut album has already gotten big enough that he is headlining his own tour. Of course, he's bringing some friends along, including Kid Cudi, B.o.B., Pac Dic, and 88 Keys. So, along with Lollapalooza and opening for the blink-182 reunion tour, Asher is going to headline "The Great Hangover Tour." I'm pretty excited about seeing Asher, Cudi, and B.o.B. in great small venues. I just wish I was back in DC to see them at 9:30. So, check out tour dates and other info at CoS.

  • Dr. Dre for Dr. Pepper Like Dr. J and Dr. Love (Gene Simmons) before him, Dr. Dre will now appear in a Dr. Pepper ad campaign. So, instead of finishing Detox, Dre has decided to put out crap like Relapse and to make Dr. Pepper commercials. Oh and to continue taking steroids. Great. At least we get a short preview of some new Dre beats in the ad's background. Check it out below:

  • Pearl Jam Recently, Pearl Jam has announced that their new album Backspacer will be sold exclusively at Target. You'll also be able to pick it up at "independent retailers" and from Pearl Jam's site. Not only that, but the band played a secret show in Seattle a little while back and filmed it with director Cameron Crowe. The shoot will apparently be a part of a new Target ad campaign just as Christina Aguilera had done with her last album. Not only that, but for the first time in 20 years, Pearl Jam is without record label, so it's safe to say that without Target's partnership, this album would probably not see the light of day. You'll be able to pick up a copy of the album in Fall. For now, Pearl Jam premiered a new song, "Get Some," on Conan on Monday. Check it out below:

Friday, May 22, 2009

New Tracks From Base Trip

Base Trip artists The Throwbacks and Rapper Steph have recorded new songs, and they've made a couple tracks available for free.

Get The Throwbacks new track "Cooties" here. And Rapper Steph's new track "Present State of Mind" here.

And if you like these tracks, check out their MySpaces and learn more about Base Trip. If you don't know about Base Trip Records, head over to our little profile and history of the label here.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Vibe Magazine Best Rapper Ever

About a month ago, I posted about Lupe Fiasco, and how I think he's the best rapper alive. While writing this, I found out that Vibe Magazine had done a bracket the previous summer trying to find the best rapper alive. Unfortunately, Eminem won. But, I just found out that Vibe has redone the bracket for this summer, but instead of best rapper alive, it's best rapper EVER. So, rappers like 2pac, Biggie, Big Pun, Eazy-E, and others are going to be on the list. Since this bracket clearly will include many more rappers than the previous bracket, each leg of the bracket is 32 rappers, for a total of 128. And to help you make your choices, Vibe lets you click each rappers name to find out more, and you can even listen to a sample of each's music by clicking the tiny red arrow beneath the names.

This year, the play-in spot, to compete against the overall #1 seed (Eminem) was another bracket in itself. Vibe basically took all the up and coming rappers like Drake, Wale, Kid Cudi, Charles Hamilton, Bobby Ray (B.o.B.), Asher Roth, Jay Electronica, and Blu and made them compete. Voting ended for this already, with Kid Cudi beating Wale for the play-in spot. Check out the bracket here. Still, I think all 8 of these rappers are better than Eminem, so...nonsense.
Check it out here. And download the bracket here.
Round one voting lasts until the 24th, and the bracket will go through 7 weeks.
Round 1
Bracket 1.
Bracket 2.
Bracket 3.
Bracket 4.

PS. If anyone noticed or cares, I changed the layout to the blog to make it wider since I was getting annoyed with all the video edges getting cut off.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Stringer Bell, the singer

If appearing in The Office wasn't enough, Stringer Bell (actually Idris Elba) of The Wire fame has decided to move into music. Yeah, I know. And you know what's scary, his first single "The Best I Can" isn't bad. In fact, it has a very Gnarls Barkley sound to it, despite the auto-tune and over-production. Check it out below:

Elba has decided to use the name "Driis" for his musical career (I don't know why Stringer Bell wasn't the obvious choice). Check out his MySpace. He actually released an EP back in 2006 entitled, "Big Man." After the 3rd season of The Wire, Elba released this freestyle about his character and his rumored return to the show, check it out:

He plans to release another single in July called "Please Be True," with an album by the end of the year. He describes his music as "a hybrid, everything from drum'n'bass to jazz." And now that his part on The Office is over, he can focus on music. He says, "My personal agenda has always been about musical ambitions. Music's a jealous bitch – I want to take time out [from acting] to finish the album." He's even planning to tour Europe and hit up the festival circuit in 2010 with his band the Trampions. There's more info in this months's NME.

PS. Dominic West (McNulty) actually appears on Eminem's new album Relapse as a crooked cop, surprising huh? Check out the intro skit "Dr. West," where McNulty advocates Eminem take more drugs and drink more. I can now see why Eminem chose McNulty for this part.

And according to NME, even Lt. Daniels, Namond, Michael, and Poot are into the music scene these days. Check out the link to NME's blog to find out more.

And don't forget about Cheese, I bet he has a music career in the works too.


Fox premiered the pilot for the show Glee last night, and having nothing better to do, I watched it. And though the show is a musical about a glee club, I actually really enjoyed the show. Honestly, I shouldn't have underestimated the show. It does come from Ryan Murphy, who created and produced Popular and Nip/Tuck, so I should have known that the show would be a hilarious critique of high school culture and would have great characters. But one of the main things I loved about the show was that it didn't contain any actual songs in its soundtrack. Instead, it had a capella, glee-club versions of both famous songs and the score. Strangely, this feature added to the humor of the show. The songs from each episode are also now available on iTunes thanks to a deal between Columbia Records, Fox, and Apple.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about, this is the a capella version of "Don't Stop Believing." And dare I say, of all the TV shows and movies this song has been in, including The Sopranos, this may be my favorite rendition:

Check out Ken Tucker's review from EW:

Has there ever been a TV show more aptly named than Glee? It both embodies and inspires exactly that quality. Yet if I tell you the show is about a high school glee club and features bursting-into-song musical numbers, you might react as I did initially: I wanted no part of that. I'm not a musicals kinda guy.

But this comedy from creator Ryan Murphy (Nip/Tuck) is so good — so funny, so bulging with vibrant characters — that it blasts past any defenses you might put up against it. Glee will not stop until it wins you over utterly. It's the story of Will (Matthew Morrison), a high school Spanish teacher who takes over a pathetic glee club filled with misfits.

Murphy takes what could have been moldy, cliché figures — such as Rachel, the persecuted girl (Lea Michele), Finn, the football hero who really wants to croon (Cory Monteith), and teachers like cheerleading coach Sue (the wonderful Jane Lynch) — and brings fresh details to them. Rachel asserts, ''Being anonymous is worse than being poor…. Fame is the most important thing in society.'' At first, you want to barf at a sentiment like that, but then Glee makes the battle to overcome anonymity seem like a higher calling.

That's surely the case for Will, who's trying to distance himself from his high-pressure, baby-craving young wife (Jessalyn Gilsig, wonderfully tightly wound). Will is inspired by recalling the one time he was truly happy — when he sang in his own high school glee club. In a healthy way, he's going to channel his nostalgia into making the club, called New Directions, glow: ''There’s no joy in these kids…. That’s why they all have a MySpace page,'' he says. Glee is all about sparking ambition, getting kids off the sofa and doing creative things. But it also has a healthy dose of sarcasm and skepticism to offset its peppy interpretations of Journey hits. The production numbers show the sweat and constructive criticism that goes into good performances.

The series is getting a big push from Fox, which is premiering the show in what would seem an ideal spot for its core audience, right after American Idol. But Glee is still the little musical-comedy-drama that could...bomb. As terrific as it is, it's a risk. Why? Because there’s nothing else like it on TV. Because regular episodes won't begin airing weekly until this fall. (Future musically adept guest stars will include Pushing Daisies' Kristin Chenoweth.) And because lots of folks may feel as I do, that Idol has pretty much ruined young-people-singing-passionately for me. But I was persuaded by Glee's cagey little mind as well as its big, throbbing heart. I think you will be too.

The show didn't get the best ratings last night, even though it followed uber-trash American Idol, but Fox has made the pilot available on hulu and fox.com for the entire summer, so that everyone can watch the show before it premieres in September. I've embedded it below, so check it out.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cage, Chris Palko, Cage Kennylz

White rappers are quite plentiful these days, between Eminem, Asher Roth, the Beastie Boys, El-P, Aesop Rock, Bubba Sparxxx, Buck 65, and Classified. But another white rapper that tends to fly under the radar (until now) is Cage, signed to El-P's Def Jux label.

Most critics compare Cage to Eminem since both are sadistic, depressed (white) rappers with a penchant for violent and disturbing lyrics. This unfortunately led to a feud between the two back when Eminem released The Slim Shady LP. And while most young Americans know Eminem's story, through his autobiographical film 8 Mile or through his incredibly personal lyrics, few know Cage's even more frightening and horrific story. Def Jux calls Cage's story "one of the most insane, crazy, tortured and triumphant stories you could imagine."
Born Chris Palko in Würzburg, Germany, Cage was born to a father in the military. When Cage was four, his father was dishonorably discharged for selling and using heroin. The family returned to upstate New York, where Cage's father continued using heroin, even at times making his son pull the tourniquets around his arm as he shot up. When Cage was eight, his father was arrested during a police standoff. His father was threatening his family with a shotgun when the state troopers arrived. Eventually, Cage was kicked out of high school while living with his mother and abusive stepfather. His stepfather beat him repeatedly, so violently that he left a scar above Cage's eye. Like his father, Cage began using drugs, including LSD, mescaline, weed, and booze. His mother sent him back to Germany to live with his uncle, where he was often beaten.

Returning from Germany after only a year, Cage fell into trouble frequently, getting arrested multiple times for drug possession and violent altercations. By the age of 16, he found himself on probation. So, when he was arrested again, his mother argued that he was mentally unstable and had him sent to the Stony Lodge mental institution.
Cage stayed at the mental institution for a total of eighteen months, where he became a guinea pig for a drug that was eventually released as Prozac. As with many kids misdiagnosed with depression, Cage was put on Prozac and became suicidal. On multiple occasions, he attempted suicide, first by trying to hang himself by his shoelaces, and then by trying to overdose on his lithium medication. Due to his so-called mental instability, he was often confined to a straitjacket for up to 13 hours.

When he turned eighteen, Cage was released. However, due to the effects of all the medication and "treatments," Cage had developed into a bi-polar young man. Nonetheless, while at Stony Lodge, he became a fan and student of hip-hop. While locked up at "The Lodge," Cage focused inwardly on his storytelling and lyrical delivery. So, when he got out, he began rapping under the name "Alex," as in the character from A Clockwork Orange. This book, being so relevant to his life, goes on to be frequently referenced in his lyrics and artwork, especially in the track "Agent Orange." With his tortured imagination and grotesque imagery, Cage made a name for himself on the New York underground circuit. Through his contacts with Pete Nice (3rd Bass), Bobbito Garcia, and DJ Stretch Armstrong, Cage began performing at the late night mix shows. Around this time, Nice and Garcia were contracted with major-label Columbia Records and had an imprint, Hoppoh Records. Since they both respected and understood Cage's style and delivery, they were near signing him to their label. Unfortunately, every time Cage was set to record, he was too high to spit anything decent.

He lost the Columbia record deal and eventually moved back home and got deeper into drugs. He also found out that he was having a child. in 1997, after 3 years away from the game, Cage released a 12" of "Agent Orange" on Bobbito Garcia's newly formed Fondle 'Em Records. After a few more singles and a successful attempt at a hip-hop group (Smut Peddlers), Cage signed to Eastern Conference Records, the precursor to Def Jux. Soon, he releases his first solo LP, Movies for the Blind, which sold over 15,000 copies in the first two weeks. The world tours came soon after.
Teaming up with his fellow Eastern Conference rappers, Cage created the underground hip-hop collective known as the Weathermen. Camu Tao, El-P, Aesop Rock, Yak Ballz, Tame 1, Breeze of the Juggaknots, Vast Aire, and Cage all came together to create a collective supergroup and released a mixtape in 2003 entitled The Conspiracy. After leaving Eastern Conference over alleged non-payment, Cage joined El-P's recently launched Definitive Jux Records, where El-P helped Cage to create his even more personal and introspective album, Hell's Winter in 2005. While Movies for the Blind was essentially Cage playing the role of a drugged-out, bitter, misogynistic, vile character, Hell's Winter was devoid of drug references and the visceral imagery that made his first album such a cult classic. After losing all the major underground rappers to Def Jux, Eastern Conference Records has, for all intents and purposes, folded.

Recently, Cage has been working on his third solo album entitled Depart From Me, which should be released June 29th. In anticipation of this release, Cage offered a free EP today that contains five new tracks. You can pick that up here. Or download the tracks below (from MTV2). And honestly, I'm a fan of Cage's early work, but the new tracks are so much better. The development and movement away from his tortured soul has led to much more emotional and evocative tracks (see "I Never Knew You"). Also released today was the video for "I Never Knew You," which features cameos from Shia Labeouf, who directed the video, Aesop Rock, El-P, Yak Ballz, and artist Alex Pardee, who did the art for Cage's new album. In it you can truly see how deranged Cage actually is, yet also how far he's risen. He went from an abused child to one of hip-hop's most praised underground MCs, even being featuring on MTV2. But, in the video, Cage still appears to be a man defeated. Check it out below:

To summarize: a junkie father, violent standoffs, abuse, drugs, arrests, mental institutions, failed suicide attempts, drug testing, losing a major record deal, having a child...that's Cage. Spence D of IGN writes, "That Cage was able to turn an abusive childhood, not to mention time spent locked down in a mental facility, into a money making creative endeavor is a testament to his tenacity and will to survive." It makes for a much more compelling story than Eminem's life, which is why Cage's good friend Shia Labeouf (of Transformers fame) has claimed that he would like to star in and possibly direct a biopic of Cage's life. If Eminem got to make 8 Mile, then Cage deserves to make his movie too.

Recently, El-P, Cage, Yak Ballz, and Aesop Rock have been working on the first official Weathermen album. Keep an eye out for that by the end of the year or early next year. Also, Cage recently performed at SXSW and on the Paid Dues tour in late March.
I Never Knew You EP
1. I Never Knew You
2. Follow The Bleeder
3. Tongue In A Sharks Mouth
4. Hell Oh
5. It’s The 80’s Again
(via MTV2's Subterranean blog)

Sherlock Holmes Trailer

Since I posted several trailers the other day, I'd feel bad if I didn't post this exciting trailer from Guy Ritchie's new film Sherlock Holmes. With Robert Downey, Jr. in the eponymous role, Jude Law as his trusted sidekick Dr. Watson, and Rachel McAdams in some role that requires her to look attractive, this film looks like a winner. And with Guy Ritchie directing, you know there'll be plenty of humor and violence. From this trailer, it's evident that there'll be quite a bit of slow-motion fist fights, one of Ritchie's specialties (see Snatch.). And though this film looks like a typical summer blockbuster, Warner Bros. decided this season was too crowded and will release this film on Christmas.

After watching the trailer, it really just looks like Shanghai Knights without Jackie Chan. There seems to be way more fighting and swashbuckling than actual deductive reasoning and intellect. I just wish Holmes wore a deerstalker still instead of a fedora like Indiana Jones. Lame.

The Last Thing You Forget

Title Fight, pranksters and good friends of mine, from Kingston, PA combine classic pop punk with 90's emotional and melodic hardcore to create a refreshing take on the old formula. Just yesterday they posted a new song, "Symmetry", from their upcoming release, The Last Thing You Forget, which will drop June 13 on Run for Cover records. You can order the record and merch here.

Symmetry, for my money, is Title Fight at their best, with relentless energy alternating between the pensive draw of Jawbreaker and the blistering attack of Lifetime, with ease. Knockout guitar work and classically catchy vocal melodies, featuring a guest spot by Boe Joynton, frontman of Transit, are sure to be a hit with Title Fight fans and newcomers alike.

Although TLTYF is only 3 tracks, it will keep fans in check until their full length drops some time in early 2010. I suggest you check this band out this summer, they will be playing most of America so if you want to see a fun summer show and to chill with some fun happy dudes, look no further. TF in 09, WB takeover.

side note: Another favorite band of mine, Tiger's Jaw, just signed with Run for Cover records. They are an incredible band, and will be putting out some new stuff this summer. Until then you can also pick up their last LP from the Run for Cover webstore.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

New Trailers

I was just searching the Internet and stumbled onto quite a few new trailers for movies I'm pretty excited about. Check out the trailers below:

The Road
The first is for the next film based off of a Cormac McCarthy book. Two years ago, the Coen Brothers adapted No Country for Old Men to great reviews and many Academy Awards. So, it goes without saying that Hollywood now has a renewed interest in McCarthy's catalog. The next film on tap is an adaptation of the bleak, frightening The Road, which follows a father and son as they travel their way across the desolate wasteland of a post-apocalyptic world. Cannibals hunt them, yet through it all, the story focuses on fatherhood (though in the most extreme of circumstances). Nevertheless, from the trailer, it looks like they've taken some liberties with the story. For one, it seems like the mother character, played by Charlize Theron, will have a much larger role. I understand that you can't cast Theron in a film and not get her full worth. She's an incredible actress, so it's almost a waste to not take advantage of her skills. But I do get annoyed with films that adapt books and make unnecessary changes like that. The trailer also seems to have way more explosions and less cannibals, which is lame. McCarthy's books are overtly gruesome and frightening, so gruesome that many of the elements of his stories can't be portrayed on film. Imagine an adaption of Blood Meridian. Well, you don't have to because Hollywood has decided that will be the next Cormac McCarthy adaptation. I just wonder how Hollywood will make a film about scalp-hunters. The Road is directed by relative newcomer John Hillcoat, whose filmography includes music videos and the 2005 Australian western The Proposition. Oh, and Omar Little is in this film for all the fans of The Wire.

New York, I Love You
After watching Paris, Je T'aime on Netflix a couple years ago, I thought it'd be a cool idea to make the same films about other cities, like London or San Francisco. And now, they've made another one: New York, I Love You. Like the original, this film is a series of short vignettes that come together as a series of love letters to the city. Each short film features a different director, including the likes of Jian Wen, Mira Nair, Brett Ratner, Allen Hughes, Shekhar Khapur, Natalie Portman, Fatih Akin, Joshua Marston, and Randy Balsmyer. And with so many short films, there are also many famous actors in these films such as Bradley Cooper, Andy Garcia, Hayden Christensen, Rachel Bilson, Natalie Portman, Orlando Bloom, Christina Ricci, Maggie Q, Ethan Hawke, James Caan, Blake Lively, Drea de Matteo, John Hurt, Shia LaBeouf, Burt Young, Chris Cooper, Eli Wallach, and Cloris Leachman. As a sucker for travel films and romance type nonsense, I love films like these that incorporate the charm of the city into the love lives of the characters. Apparently, the next in the series will be Shanghai, I Love You and Jerusalem, I Love You.
Check out the trailer below:

Here's a film that got astounding reviews at Sundance and is currently competing at Cannes. It won the 2008 Audience Award Prize, which in past years has gone to great indie films such as Grace is Gone, Hustle & Flow, and The Wackness. This film focuses on a 16 year girl, who lives in an abusive house in Harlem. She's pregnant with her second child and still stuck in middle school. The film features some of the most powerful black backing and musicians. For instance, Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey are "presenting" this film, while Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, and Mo'Nique all act in the film. Mo'Nique actually won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance for her role in this film. Furthermore, Lee Daniels, who directed Monster's Ball, directed this film.
Check out the trailer below:

This film comes from Rob Marshall, the guy who directed the Academy Award winning musical Chicago. Like that film, Nine is also a musical and also features an absolutely incredible cast. This film is something of a remake of Fellini's landmark film 8 1/2, but takes a musical approach to the film. Normally I wouldn't care about something like this, but when I found out that Daniel Day-Lewis was the star of this film, I started to care. The guy hasn't made a bad film, ever, so I doubt he starts here with Rob Marshall directing. The supporting cast includes: Marion Cottilard, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Fergie, Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson, and Sophia Loren.
Check it out below:

On a final note, it's rumored that a trailer for Toy Story 3 will play before Pixar's Up!, so look for that in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

100 Greatest Underground Hip-Hop Songs of the Last 15 Years

Twitter again has its benefits. I follow Aesop Rock's twitter, and he recently posted this link:

I don't know who James Gunn is, but this list is incredible. Can't argue much with it, especially with so much Rhymesayers, Def Jux, and Quannum on the list. I don't see how Massline artists get no respect though. The best part though is that there are a bunch of artists and songs I've never heard on the list, so it's time to get downloading!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Country Album I Enjoy

It should be needless to say that I am not a big country music fan. Unlike my roommate, whose favorite song is "Little Bitty" by Alan Jackson, I am much more fond of hip-hop and alternative rock. Nevertheless, I stumbled upon an album today that's classified as country, yet remains highly enjoyable--Steve Earle's Townes. Earle shares more with folk musicians than with typical country music (i.e. Garth Brooks, Big & Rich, that guy who married Renee Zellweger). He still relies heavily on the acoustic guitar and on some tracks, the banjo. And while any reference to the banjo deserves a mention of the frightening film Deliverance, I actually enjoy the banjo on some of the tracks.

Having never listened to much country or folk music, I didn't know what to expect when I picked this album up. Like most folk music, it's simple, relaxing music that's perfect for the beginning of summer. I especially like the track "Lungs," which features Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine fame. Additionally, the folk sound is reminiscent of the sound Tom Morello creates on his Nightwatchman albums. Other tracks on Townes reminds me of the O, Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack, which clearly shows the extent of my country and folk music knowledge. And to further show how big of a loser I am, I am going to say this: several songs have similar sounds to those found in the score to Deadwood and Firefly, both of which are Western-style shows. Ironically, the show take place roughly 700 years apart, but that's for another post.

Still, the basic guitar strumming and life-lesson extolling lyrics come together to make beautiful songs that are much more meaningful and memorable than typical country tracks about Ford trucks and steak. I'll admit that that's an unfair, bad, and inaccurate generalization, but from my ignorant stance on country music, that's what I see, and I honestly don't care.

This album is interesting in that it's actually a series of covers of Townes Van Zandt songs. Earle, who was a disciple of Van Zandt's decided to honor his passing with this album. The songs chosen were favorites of Van Zandt's as well.
Some of you may recognize Earle not as a musician, but as an actor, especially if you are a fan of The Wire in which Earle played Walon, Bubbs' sponsor. He plays a large role in the fifth season, which is the same season on which he sings the title track "Way Down in the Hole." Another one of his songs, "I Feel Alright" was also featured that season.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Random Thoughts

So Decker and I have finally finished this, our sophomore, year in college, so the "I'm bored and don't want to study posts" will either disappear or increase exponentially. It depends on how summer goes.

In other news, Wale's latest mixtape, Back to the Feature, has again been delayed. It was meant to come out April 29th, then May 7th, and now...who knows. His debut LP is also supposed to be released soon, so maybe we'll get both albums around the same time.

Also, Wilco still sucks.

Monday, May 4, 2009

New Shows on NBC

So, the networks' upfronts are pretty soon, so that means most of the channels are putting out previews of their new shows for next fall. NBC recently said that they are only picking up 6 new shows, partially due to the economy and partially due to the fact that Jay Leno will take up 5 hours of primetime a week next year. Of the 4 dramas and 2 comedies, only 2 look good, so I embedded the below.

The first is a new comedy starring Joel McHale, who can honestly do now wrong in my book. It also stars Chevy Chase in a role that was probably meant for Jeffrey Tambor, and features the black guy from Derrick Comedy. The show, about students and tutors at a community college, will probably fit nicely in with The Office and Parks and Recreations. I'm really liking the trend of moving away from traditional sitcoms in favor of more single-camera comedies. Check out Community below:

The other show I thought has some potential is Parenthood. The show is getting a lot of good press, but that obviously doesn't mean much in terms of how a show performs (i.e. Studio 60). This show's got a great cast, including Peter Krause, Monica Potter, Erika Christensen, and Craig T. Nelson. The show is from the writer of Friday Night Lights and Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.

NBC also has two medical shows, which I bet do reasonably well now that ER is finally off TV. All I know is that Friday Night Lights is coming back, which is all that really matters.

Green Day

What happened to this band?

Let's say this, they definitely know their new demographic, but I just wish they hadn't changed their sound in order to appeal to tweens and pop-punk princesses. Green Day used to stand for something, maybe picking your nose and making farting noises, but at least they weren't pretentious and self-involved. Their original sound, which lasted (in my opinion) through 1997's Nimrod, was less Linkin Park angsty and more teenage rebellious. They were punk because they captured the emotions and humor of being young, now that they have matured, the band is so much more about faux-punk with their pseudo-riot instigating music. This is clearly exemplified in their totally manufactured/produced new image. When Dookie came out, the band wore whatever they found laying around their house, but now they wear matching black, faux-anarchist gear, almost a Sex Pistols-revival fashion. Guyliner, faux-hawks, matching black and red outfits with ties of course. They act like are incredibly depressed and oppressed by the man, but in reality, their new image and sound helped to propel American Idiot to over 5x platinum in the US. That album sold over 12 million copies worldwide, more than every album since Dookie combined. Talk about a reinvention. Back in the early 90's, the band looked so much like typical teenagers that during Woodstock 1994, a security guard confused bassist Mike Dirnt for a fan trying to get on stage and punched several of his teeth out. And speaking of Woodstock 1994, I present the infamous mud fight:

The band used to be obnoxious, now they are so completely mainstream. This is further exemplified by the band's hiring of legendary producer Butch Vig for their new album. For their previous 4 albums (not counting Warning), the band had worked with Rob Cavallo, but felt they needed a change that led them to work with the man who worked with Nirvana on Nirvana and the Smashing Pumpkins on Gish and Siamese Dream.
Billie Joe Armstrong declares, "This album is more... religious", and is influenced by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and The Beatles, to name a few. The previous work sounded much more like classic punk bands such as The Ramones, The Clash, the Sex Pistols, The Jam, and the Buzzcocks. Their early work had distorted guitar, fast, manic drums, and high-treble bass. They wrote short, fast-paced, humorous songs, now their songs come in multiple parts or are 9 minute rock operas like "Jesus of Suburbia."
They are trying too hard to become the next U2. When did a band that started out singing about the joys of squatting in a burned out house in West Oakland come to the conclusion that it was their job to save the world? U2 maintains its air of world savior, but does it knowingly. Green Day on the other hand, tries to act in a similar manner through the guise of being punk, anarchist, and counterculture rebels. Their angst-ridden lyrics amount to nothing more than preaching to teens who don't understand the intricacies of the world's problems. So, while Green Day's lyrics have escalated from being about nonsense to being about world problems, their target demographic remains ignorant teens who like to act like they know what's going on in the world, but get all their information from sources like The Daily Show and South Park. So when Armstrong sings, "Well, it’s enough to make you sick/To cast a stone and throw a brick," he's not appealing to people who really know what's going on, instead he's instigating a sort of anger in teens that only adds to their confusion. And worst of all, the band tries to act as if they aren't doing what they are doing, which contributes to all the criticism the band has begun receiving.

Jon Pareles of the New York Times has this to say about the band's new sound: At a time when younger punk-pop bands are singing about girl trouble and professional envy, Green Day has dared to offer something far denser and more demanding: a whirlwind of thoughts about activism, redemption and destruction. The rage and sorrows of “American Idiot” are pushed even further in “21st Century Breakdown,” in songs where idealism and the urge to annihilate are constantly grappling, never far apart.

Though the band has received quite a bit of acclaim for the later work, including multiple Grammy nominations, many in the punk scene and music industry see the band's later work as hypocritical and insincere (since ingenuine isn't a word).

Legendary Sex Pistols member Johnny Rottern had this to say about Green Day, "So there we are fending off all that and it pisses me off that years later a wank outfit like Green Day hop in and nick all that and attach it to themselves. They didn't earn their wings to do that and if they were true punk they wouldn't look anything like they do."

At the same time, The Killers' front man Brandon Flowers describes American Idiot as "calculated Anti-Americanism." He felt that the whole image and production that went into the album was a stunt. For instance, the live CD/DVD was recorded in the UK and Germany, rather than in the US. The concert DVD shows thousands of Europeans singing along to "American Idiot." Flowers said, "I just thought it was really cheap. To go to a place like England or Germany and sing that song - those kids aren't taking it the same way that he meant it. And [Billie Joe Armstrong] knew it."

The constant whine and depression that has become Green Day's sound is mirrored by their apocalyptic, graffiti-styled artwork. This only adds to their faux-punk image, which deters true punk fans.
Sure, there is something to be said for maturing musically, but I don't think the band has matured as much as they've turned away from their original fans in favor of the Hot Topic, suburban mall tween crowd. This band used to play 924 Gilman, now they cater to the same crowd as Paramore and Linkin Park. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just that the band has such lofty goals, but the reality of the situation is that they aren't actually leading the cause for any change in the world. I have nothing against them singing socially-conscious songs, but doing so with such an air of self-righteousness is appalling and depressing.

P.S. This was our 100th post. That's pretty cool.