Monday, July 31, 2006
Let's take a minute to celebrate, along with yahoo.com and its minions, "Double Threats ": The top 4 music videos by those talented few who can both act and sing.
Double Threat: Top Actress/Singer Videos
1. Stars Are Blind. Paris Hilton. [Screen credits: Bottom's Up, House of Wax, The Hillz]
2. Check On It. Beyonce.[Screen credits: The Pink Panther, Austin Powers in Goldmember, Carmen: A Hip Hopera]
3. Beat Of My Heart. Hillary Duff [Screen Credits: Cheaper by the Dozen 1 and 2, Raise Your Voice, The Perfect Man]
4. These Boots Are Made For Walking. Jessica Simpson [Screen Credits: The Dukes of Hazzard]
Sean "the d, the i, the d, the d, the y, the d, the i, the d, it's Diddy!" Combs is ready to make an entrance so back on up. On October 3rd, the self proclaimed shiny suit man is set to release his new album appropriately titled Press Play. Now a few years back there was all this talk about releasing a dance alubm, and Diddy was bouncing all over the world [literally, cause he can do that]mixing it up with various producers who hold major clout on the dance/electro/house scenes. That fun in the sun came to an end and Diddy went back to the drawing board and is back with, an [insert gulp here] R&B album?!@#
That's right, Puff is ready to get his Pharell on with an album free of samples, "fun singing" [not be confused with actual "singing" as he explained to Fox News], and a whole host of guest writers [surprise surprise], producers, and artists also known as collaborators; Kanye West, Will.i.Am, Timbaland, Pharrell, Mario Winans, Rich Harrison, Brandy, Christina Aguilera, Mary J. Blige, Ciara, and Nicole Scherzinger from the Pussycat Dolls [the one that does all the singing] to be exact.
Will the album be as 'earth shattering' as 1997's No Way Out? Who knows? Gotta respect the man's ambition and humility surrounding the whole affair. As he told Fox News, the man is nervous. [And by the way, why is Fox News the news outlet releasing all this info regarding P.Diddy's next move?] The whole experience has been like "jumping off a cliff into the ocean." Hmm, that's funny, many of us who were coming of age during the release of No Way Out that are now growing older feel that way everytime we give something released by you a chance. It's quite the ride.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
MID JULY 2006
According to an article in the Mirror Justin Timberlake has spent plenty time, in the words of T.I. living the good life:
"The drugs that I do have been done in my own private time," he admits. "I've never been arrested... though that's not to say I won't...I've done way too many drugs already. I've already inhaled and I've already - who knows...?"
On the topic of nicotine and heroin taken from the same article:
"Some drugs haven't been legalised because it will ruin the other drugs, like nicotine and tobacco...Nicotine is more addictive than heroin. I'll leave the preaching to the preachers - my grandfather is a preacher - but I believe that you don't do anything to excess.
But in the end Justin knows when to wise up and let go:
"They always say too much of a good thing could be a bad thing. I try to live my life in a well-rounded manner. We all make mistakes."
Maybe that is why in his cover story for the AUGUST issue of GQ Lisa DePaulo notes that:
"...He has no vices to speak of (except for "a couple of beers" while watching ESPN); he likes to golf, snowboard, and bake-yes, bake."
Whatever gets you going Justin. Play it cool,keep it safe, and keep churning out the hits. And make sure you don't go bumming "cigarettes" from the Snoop D-O-Double-G.
Y'all may not know this, but there once was a time where Janet, "Ms. Jackson if you're nasty" Jackson was subtle. In a time not too long ago, Janet could be heard telling her suitor 'let's wait a while', cause in reality 'that's the way love goes'.
And then she got her hand on some velvet ropes and unleashed the sexual beast we all know and love. The final 3rd of that album, from I Get Lonely to Anything got all freaky deaky, building on the sexual come ons of Anytime, Anyplace from her previous album Janet.
From there on out, a revealing Janet gets her freak on sections became the norm and was to be expected. From Velvet Rope's follow up All For You, tracks 5 to 7: When We Ooo, China Love, and the orgasmic climax of Love Scene (Ooh Baby). And from the follow up to that album Damita Jo, tracks 15 and 16: Warmth and Moist. I kid you not, those are the titles, and she is not talking about early morning moisture, fresh baked pie, or the feeling one gets when basking in the sunshine.
Getdowngirl goheadgetdown! Quite an imagination this one has. It's no surprise that many a Janet fan didn't see the whole nipple show during the Super Bowl as a "wadrobe malfunction." [Come on Justin, you ripped it off after the line 'bet I have you naked by the end of this song.' What, were to believe you reached across her chest like that to pull her in for a show stopping hug?]
If her songs are any indication, Ms. Jackson talks the talk and walks the walk. And apparently so can her pint size pup [giving hope to us short men all over the world]Jermaine Dupri. In a new issue of Essence magazine, Janet tells of how in the past she has been too much for her male counterparts. In relationships men would tell the sex fiend to slow her roll, "'OK, hold on, wait a minute.'" Prompting Janet to ask her girlfrineds such questions as "'Aren't we supposed to be the ones who say, 'Wait, not tonight, I have a headache'?" Leading to feelings of discomfort and inadequacy I'm sure.
Not with Jermaine Dupri though. In him she has found a man who can 'dance all night.' According to Janet, with Jermaine she doesn't have to say a word, "he knows I'm ready. Any time, any place." Don't be surprised if any of the previous quotes form the genesis for a song or two on Janet's upcoming album 20 Yrs Old.
Recoginze that sweet little girl with the long, shimmering locks of gold and breast for days? Yeah I do too. What's up with her? Why is she looking like that...on public television? It's all good though cause it's a new day and there's our girl again with long flowing black hair stepping out in Las Vegas and actually looking decent and well put together. [Let's hope she didn't let the Las Vegas night life pull here in for the baby's sake.] Yep, looks like everything is in its right place for the moment. Well if you disregard the fact that the Spederline clan were in Vegas to shoot the video for K-Fed's first single. Still waiting for that one to hit Itunes.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
Earlier this week on a very funny repeat of Late Night with Conan O'Brien [his interview with Steve Carrell was comedic gold] actress Kerry Washington recounted a very exciting trip with her girls to Las Vegas:
"So my girls and I went to Las Vegas...I have never been to Las Vegas so I decided to go...so we had some tequila shots and I had four...Somehow I got seperated from my group...so next thing you know I am sitting inside a stretch Hummer and I look over next to me and there is Paris Hilton. I don't know how I got inside this Hummer...you know how you have those black out moments? Well anyways Paris Hilton is sitting next to me and she is rapping. She had her CD in the car and she was rapping along to it... She was pretty good."
Early morning, Los Angeles or some place like it. Hillary Duff and punk rock boy-toy Joel Madden of Good Charlotte unwind in bed after a night of hanging out and partying with some friends. Joel fights the urge to get up completely as Hillary sits up against the headboard, catching up on the latest news and current events online from her laptop.
Hillary: [Screams and hits pillows startling Joel] GOD NOT AGAIN! All this talk about my virginity is so yesterday. [Pouts. Takes a sip from a caramel latte.] Damn Elle magazine. [Burps. Giggles heartily.] Sorry baby. [In what she feels is an older journalist's voice.] Hillary Duff is a virgin. I never said that! I would never say that. [Takes another sip. Attempts to speak and finish swallowing at the same time.] I mean [gulps and swallows], like, I don't know, like how did the writer get that out of what I said? [Looks over at Joel, who is still under the covers but it now facing her and trying his best to look attentive.] Why is this important? You know? Like why is that anyone's business. [Takes a sip, attempts to talk while finishing her sip] Whatever. [Gulp. Swallow. Burp. Sigh. Places laptop on the bedside table. Looks at Joel.]Now I'm all worked up. [Pauses. Looks ahead. Then back at Joel.] Wanna do it?
Joel: [Stares at Hillary. Silence. Shrugs his shoulders as if to say sure why not?]
Hillary crashes into her man and just like that, the day begins.
Friday, July 28, 2006
We don't like to admit it, but sometimes it ain't just the music that pulls us in to a band. Sometimes clever marketing, imagery, and/or a name can pull you into a band way before you even hear a lick of music. Now it's a well known fact that I hardly if ever listen to the radio, so it is easy for a band or an artist that is getting heavy rotation on national outlets to pass me by if I don't read about them or catch their music video by chance.
Imagine my excitement when one day long, long ago when I came across a band with the name Panic! At the Disco! How sweet is that? Finally a band that wore it's genre on its sleeve. Disco! Glam! Gender bending! Drugs! Sweat! Rock and fucking Roll baby!
[little did I know, the emo-ish and theatrical video I would catch midway through quite often staged at some wedding belonged to this band. I never watched it long enough to see who the band was. As I and you will see the music would not be for me.]
Finally a band that didn't just choose some eye grabbing to get their indie/hipster on. No. No. No. I even said to myself, it's a shame that more people aren't making music like the Scissor Sisters, The Ark, or Elton John and David Bowie in their prime. Glad glam/pop/disco/dance music is making a comeback. Imagine my surprise when I rushed to Itunes as I often do for sound clips and heard not the sound of some Bowie or Disco fans, but a band more along the lines of Fallout Boy. So misleading. Their album is titled A Fever You Can't Sweat Out for christsakes. Boy was I dissapointed. Another good name gone to waste.
I don't know about you, but when I see a name like Panic! At the Disco! I wanna get my boogie on and rock out with my cock out, maybe make out a little bit on the dancefloor with whoever is closest to me, but I don't want to get all emo with it. No. No. No. NO. I want to revel in the music of artists putting it down like this:
PANIC!FROM THE STEREO!
1. Hot Child in the City-Nick Gilder
2. Shudder to Think-Hot One
3. Tell Me a Story-Iggy Pop
4. Get it On (Bang a Gong)-T.Rex
5. Spirit in the Sky-Norman Greenbaum]
6. Father of a son-The Ark
7. Mary-Scissor Sisters
8. More, More, More-Andrea True
9. 20th Century Boy-T.Rex
10.Oh!You Pretty Things-David Bowie
11. Wild World-Cat Stevens
12. It takes a fool to remain the same-The Ark
13. Rocket Man-Elton John
14. Gimme Gimme Gimme (Man after midnight)-ABBA
15. Danger (High Voltage)-Eletric Six feat. Jack White
I remember burning Rilo Kiley's Take Offs and Landings album about 3 years ago. I remember not being moved by it. I remember not playing it all. I remember purchasing More Adventurous. I remember it becoming one of my top albums of 2004. I remember getting an advanced copy of Jenny Lewis' solo album Rabbit Furcoat and shouting its praises from the rooftop to whoever would listen. I remember buying the album when it hit stores. [take that RIAA] I remember wondering why it was getting no airplay aside from college stations for the most part and then being pleasantly surprised when one day "alone, jealous, and stoned" this video came on MTV2. [A channel that gets it right more times than not.]The Laugh-In premise, the comical undertones, and the old school down home vibe of it all is just as transfixing as the album itself. I remember sitting in a room during the summer of 06 reading the paper, reflecting on life and playing this song, nearly being brought to tears for the first time, something that had never happened during previous listenings. At this place, at this time of uncertainty and upcoming changes(?)in my life, Jenny's 3 minute song about surviving hit a nerve and egged me on to hold on to hope and I remember thinking, now who can't use a little bit of that right now?
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Step Up, Take the Lead, and Save The Last Dance Honey or else they'll be saying 'You Got Served Son!'
One of the best things about not having any obligations to anyone on weeknights this summer [besides catching up and reveling in good times] is catching up on television I did not have time for during my last year of school, and allowing myself to be a loyal fan to quality reality television fluff like FOX's So You Think You Can Dance?
Unlike those who are back for a second helping, I am new to the show, only in its second season at the moment, but I will always have a soft spot in my heart for dance and this show is stellar for the simple fact that it is showcasing to people both young and old a world of dance that is more than that which is being offered daily in music videos on MTV, BET, or VH1. [Not that I am saying I don't like me some music video choreography, cause I do] The contestants dance each week for a loud, uproarious audience, [not an easy thing to do at all] doing something they love, so much so that they tackle styles and genres that were previously foreign to them, in a matter of two to three days without talking back or putting a frown upon their faces. No, everything we see is for the love of the game [and I guess the cash, car, and dancing with Celiene Dion prizes ain't too shabby either.]It's a mode of talent showcase reality that may have some legs as long as there are great dancers in America. And there should be. Plus how long can we subject ourselves to American Idol/America's Got Talent/The One/Rock Star/Master of Champions/Making the Band/etc, etc. At least for the moment, So You Think You Can Dance? feels fresh.
But you know what I won't stand for? Yet another "dance" movie staring some hot piece of eye candy with a plot that at 80-90 minutes seems a little long. Now I ain't gon lie, I can tolerate Save the Last Dance , edited, on TBS for the sheer so far from being oscar caliber it's entertaining to watch factor, and I even checked out Honey due to my own curiousity about it all. [Plus who passes up a movie where Jessica Alba's character relies heavily on the latin boricua heritage of Dark Angel?] And now we got Step Up starring Channing Tatum. Last time I checked, wasn't this dude making me feel unattractive as he towered over me as I walked past an Abercrombie and Fitch? And the movie studio and the folks involved with the flick want you to believe this kid has got game, offering up You Got Served moves and b-boy stances in the commercials, and a scene of Mr. Tatum in a little girl's ballet class just for shits and giggles cause every b-boy has a heart youknowwhatI'msayin?
Maybe I am being cynical. This could turn out to be a quality movie right? And Mr. Tatum may have done all his own stun-, I mean dancing right? Like Beyonce and her 'Sasha' persona, maybe this model[/actor] has some acting chops and an inner Usher Raymond lurking within his soul. Who knows? I won't til it hits TBS, VH1's Movies that Rock, or the CW. [Wouldn't it have been nice to have seen this late night or one weekend afternoon on the soon to be obselete UPN?]So you think you can dance Mr.Tatum? I, along with those who helped craft and put this film together are probably hoping you can dance and get your act on in a suave and convincing manner.
Now if you'll excuse me I am still in the process of understanding why I allowed myself to get so emotional over the exit and farewell dance of Allison on tonight's episode of So You Think You Can Dance?
Remember Grammy Night 2004? [I know you probably don't cause very few people who aren't paid to care about them do, especially those in my age bracket, but just pretend with me aight?]Remember how the clock struck eight and we were all on the edge of our seats waiting to see how the show would open? And then remember how orgasmic our emotions and bodies became when the lavish scenic view of the Staples Center made its way to the stage and there before us stood Beyonce Knowles and the Purple One. Yes, Prince was back on top and as was the case with Sheila E., Carmen Electra, Appleonia, and Vanity 6 before her, Beyonce was playing muse 2 the pharoah and that shit was exciting. Seemed everyone was partying like it was 1999 up on that stage.
Yeah, seemed. You know outside of her movie roles Beyonce can be quite the performer and actress and word on the street is she is not too pleased with her performance with the purple one. Looking back on it Beyonce sees her inner persona "Sasha" front and center taking control, hogging the microphone like it was her job. At digitalspy.co.uk she even goes on to say that when performing solo she has a tendency to let Sasha run free, but luckily she knew how to curb her enthusiasm during her Destiny's Child years. Yeah, okay Beyonce. Many of us were there with you during the recently defunct DC years and none of us were suprised when you went solo. Sasha may be in full force now, but she also made a few guest appearances back in the day.
If anything all of the fans signing that petition looking to see a new version of B's Deja Vu video should cool down a bit, considering that the spasms, maniacal dancing and faces present in the video aren't those of Beyonce Knowles, but instead belong to the stage hogging, over the top, give em all you got antics of the one they call Sasha.
Places you won't see this video:
1. #1 on MTV's Total Request Live
2. Da Basement with Tiga on BET
3. Alongside four other clips nominated for best r&b video or video of the year at the BET Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, or even the VIBE Awards Show.
Places you will see this video:
1. The Sci-Fi Channel.
2. All over music channels in India, Korea, China, and Japan.
3. As a bonus feature on one of the next Pirates of the Carribean dvd's.
You ever watch a television show and say to yourself what song is that playing in the background cause it's just so expertly cut into the scene. Yeah...JT... man. Boy did I have high hopes for this video. This song is different for you, but it works. I was expecting some girls with fat asses, and slick choreography. Instead we get a choppy episode of Alias or 24 with almost headache inducing editing choices, or a sneak peak at the new Bond flick, or your channeling of Matt Damon in the Bourne series. Yeah it's sexy in some parts and it's nice to get a glimpse of you feeling the music with your fingers and all and underneath disco balls, but a little more of that and a little less confusion and incoherence would have been awesome. Don't be surprised if your fans get all let's draft a petition on your ass like they did with Ms. Knowles.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
So I thought I was done with blogging for the day. And then it happened. Behind me from the other room came a sound I am now unfortunately all too familiar with. You see here in Southern California we have this chain of clothing stores Ross, it's pretty much TJ Maxx with a different name and smaller/less exciting selection. So Ross has a new ad campaign, and the slogan is something about making changes. Fade in, fade out, white background, normal, mildly attractive girls in 'hip looks' [jean jackets of all shapes, sizes, and colors, fluffy skirts, all smiles] dancing and looking oh so exuberant. The sdtrk for all of this? A male vocalist who I am sure is American trying to sound British [not in a Brandon Flowers kind of way, less mockery or creative reimagining and more this is my take on what a foriegner sounds like kind of vibe]. What is he singing? "Time to make a change. Cha-cha-changes. Cha-a-a-a-aanges. Cha-cha-changes!" It's David Bowie's Changes, but it's not. I know what it is. It's awful, that's what and everytime that damn commercial comes on, and trust me, it comes on a lot, I scrunch my face and shake my head, frowning thinking to myself WWDD [What would David do?] if he knew this take on one of his classic hits was being reimagined like this? Everytime a classic rock tune is thrown into a commercial people bitch and moan about integrity, and selling out, and how it's such a crime, but in my opinion this whole pretending to be the rock star and reworking the song so to avoid any fees, fines, and costs to anyone is much much worse.
And don't even get me started on Hillary and Haylie Duff's new version of Madonna's Material Girl.
I'm sorry what? Uh huh, uh huh. Oh!...Oh! Well okay then. So what you're saying is these are just photos of Lindsay Lohan at Jeremy Piven's 41st birthday bash in Malibu. You sure she isn't in a dressing room or taking a much needed bathroom break?... No... Oh I see. She's just posing in front of some random door?... Hmm. That's cool I guess.
The following passage is taken from today's Calendar section of the Los Angeles Times. Now normally I would add my own witty/biting opinion or social commentary, but here I think I am going to just let the words speak for themself. After all when I read it I had to go back and read it again and simply took a breath and said, "hmm."
In the works: Actor Vin Diesel and Black Entertainment Television are developing an animated series based on the exploits of military leader Hannibal of Carthage. The project, "Hannibal the Conqueror," is scheduled for the fall of 2007 and would be the network's first animated series.
Okay, so how is it that Adult Swim gets a cartoon with music,plot lines, and voice work from Andre 3000 [not to mention the gangstalicious screen adaptation of Aaron McGruder's The Boondocks] and BET gets a cartoon from Vin Diesel based on the military exploits of Hannibal of Carthage? What the hell is that about? When is it going to air? Saturday mornings following T.D. Jakes? Inquiring minds want to know.
Monday, July 24, 2006
So there's this show on UPN, excuse me, the CW, America's Next Top Model. Each week in the latter half of the show's hour, the female contestants take part in a grueling/extraordinary/chance of a lifetime themed photo shoot, ultimately producing a glossy photograph selected by the panel of judges as the girl's best that is then used to decide whether the aspiring model can "remain in the running to become America's Next Top Model." Phew. Got it? Good. For some reason this comes to mind when viewing the above picture of Pharrell Williams. I'm thinking the theme for his shoot was non-threatening gangsta chic...in Milan.
So there's this movie from the 80's that holds a special place in many a twentysomething's heart. It's got monsters, a Cory, and a hillarious yet infectious soundtrack selection from Cyndi Lauper. At the ripe old age of 21 I finally caught a glimpse of this flick and I wasn't impressed, but hey that's just me. But I can see how as a young person growing up and watching this in the 80's that there is just something totally awesome about kids embarking on parentless adventures, befriending freaky looking monsters, and jokes at certain kids [usually the tubby ones] expense. The spirit is joyous and looking to show you a good time. Such a spirit is recaptured and brought to life in Monster House. All star animation and an all star cast [Maggie Gyllenhal, Jason Lee, Steve Buscemi, Nick Cannon, Kevin James, Jon Heder] bring this witty, smart, and suspenseful flick to life. The previews, posters, and CGI effects may lead one to believe this is simply a kid's movie, but trust me, it is not. During tonight's viewing the adults laughed just as much as the kids, and sometimes the adults laughed while the kids didn't. [There were a few screams and some crying which were appropriate seeing as how the movie was a lot scarier for the youngins then friendly previews may let on.] In the end you will be pleased mainly because at the end of it all it Monster House stands on its own as simply being a good movie. One day it will be looked upon with the same admiration as that 80's flick. Just give it some time cause baby it's good enough.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Remember back in the day when the only guy George Michael was affiliated with was that other dude from Wham! Well we have come a long way baby. George has a new single out entitled An Easier Affair, a funky dance groove that is not too gay [well except for the subject matter, he's free to be himself, etc, etc.], he is set to embark on a tour which sold out in under an hr, and I could have sworn he was this close to "getting married" to his long time partner Kenny Goss. Yeah things seemed to be looking up for Mr. Michael. Well at least until our boy George [ha! I am too clever] got caught finishing up a late night rendezvous in a park in London with a unemployed 58 year old van driver. Of course George was pissed when he got caught shouting such ridiculous lines as "I'll sue you" and "Are you gay? No? Then f*** off! This is my culture! I'm not doing anything illegal. The police don't even come up here any more. I'm a free man, I can do whatever I want. I'm not harming anyone." I don't even know what to say. You would think that getting caught with too much cannabis and out of it in February or soliciting sex from a cop in a Beverly Hills bathroom a couple years back would be enough of a rush [or being in a long term relationship?], but I guess not. I just don't know what to say. I love George Mi...cheal's music. I'm currently blasting whatever music I may have of his. [now playing: Carless Whisper]Nobody's perfect, but come on George, you should know better. Cruising for sex at night in a public park? Come on now George! Come on!
The Clash-Rock the Casbah-Combat Rock
The politics aren't checked at the door. Midway through the song Joe Strummer lets his string of socially conscious lyrics expolde into an earth shattering shriek that is somehow fitting and not too long, but not too short. And best of all, it all coasts along on this groove, an underlying piano melody that comes to life during the chorus, the sounds of tribal like free form drumming beneath Strummer's vocals during the verses, and that oh so subtle bass line; so crisp, so clean. And like any good pop song, it does not over stay its welcome [clocking in at three and a half minutes] and it's got a chorus that sets the dance floor on fire. For those six lines everyone's together rockin'the Casbah, whether the shareef likes it or not.
See that woman to your left. Doesn't she just look so goddamn happy? I mean look at her, she just exudes happiness. It is practically oozing from her armpits. A few minutes ago there I stood in my kitchen flipping through channels and there she was, radiant, clevage barring, and just real, going on and on on some rant about beauticians on It's Showtime at the Apollo! that had the audience [for the most part] rolling out of their seats. As the camera went back and forth between shots of Mo'Nique on stage telling it like it is and the audience laughing their asses off like some sort of urban version of America's Funniest Home Videos audience it hit me: I need to get my ass to New York, have a few drinks, smoke some herb [shit maybe lots], and get my ass in that crowd. Think about it, booing talentless hacks on national television, people watching [with hillarious results], and I get a free performance twice by some hot hip-hop and/or R&B artist where said artist will probably yell into the mic trying to out loud the backing track. Everyone in that audience just looks so goddamn happy. I haven't seen this much urban glee since last night's rerun of Comic View on BET. Who's with me?
Saturday, July 22, 2006
"How come everytime you come round my London, London Bridge wanna go down?"
Those words listed above are taken from the chorus of Fergie's debut single London Bridge [Oh Shit!] I ain't gon lie. I have no idea what the hell she is talking about in that line either. But after a few minutes spent carousing the web I think I found an answer over at ew.com. Big ups to Rebecca B. for helping me get to the bottom of this.
Q:"How come everytime you come round my London, London Bridge wanna go down?"
A:I believe "London Bridge" might be referring to her British heritage and some fine dental work.I'll let you make the rest of the connection.
Oh Fergie you so cleva!
Aliza Shapiro: Do you think you get more questions about that [her music being about nothing but sex] because you’re female and this isn’t what you're supposed to be doing?
Peaches: Yeah! Do you think someone would ask Ludacris why he sings so many songs about sex? No! Would you ever ask a rapper that? No! “Hey man, it’s ’cause I’m a motherfuckin’ gangsta!” That’s what I’m gonna tell people from now on. “I write about sex cause I’m a motherfuckin’ gangsta!” Like, leave me alone. What is your repression? What's your problem?
Peaches: So, yeah, people say, “Oh my god, you’re so ’80s! I love your retro ’80s thing!” And you know why? ’Cause in the ’80s, gay ruled. People could actually fucking do what they wanted. Look at pop culture in the ’80s — it’s pretty fucking amazing.
Aliza Shapiro: But, like, drag kings and people doing masculine drag in the ’80s? Not so much.
Peaches: But they think anything gay, any queer positive thing. Look at how men were in the ’80s — it was almost like that was the standard, you had to have the Flock of Seagulls hair-do. And so now everything’s gay. “That’s so gay.” The way we use the word, its crazy.
Friday, July 21, 2006
Jack White on performing with his new band The Raconteurs:
"I'm a different person from what I was two years ago, which is about keeping out of negative environments getting into positive environments. This band is a positive environment. It's about positive musicians, not negative musicians. Not negative hipsters, who are demons who prowl the Earth and used-record stores."
Britney Spears is itching to get back in the limelight y'all. Motherhood is a blessing and all, but it seems Ms. Spears is pining for the days when mugging for the camera did not include an exhausted looking baby dangling from one's side waiting to get his momma in trouble in some way, shape, or form. No, no, no posing nude for Harper's Bazaar has reminded Brit of the way things use to be; word is she escapes to a piano from time to time to put her thoughts on wax. [I'm picturing a scene not too unlike the one in Crossroads where she showcases her newly written "poem" I'm Not a Girl Not Yet A Woman to the male lead. Deep and introspective.]
Looks like Britney is refusing to let motherhood slow her down...completely. Aside from getting her Alicia, no Vanessa Carlton on[where did she go? Is she still dating that Third Eye Blind guy?}, Britney has also been busy collaborating with her partner in crime [more times than not] Kevin Federline. Apparently they have recorded not one, not two, but three, count em, three duets together, one of which will appear on K-Fed's debut album Playing With Fire. I don't know how I feel about all of this. Will it be able to top the touched by the hands of God shine of Eddie Murphy's and Michael Jackson's oft-remembered but rarely played single Wassup up with you? Only time can tell...
1-Tonight, Tonight-The Smashing Pumpkins
3-Ask Me Anything-The Strokes
4-You Are What You Love-Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins
6-Eleanor Put Your Boots On [Album Version]-Franz Ferdinand
8-I'll Be Your Man-The Elected
9-Ruby Tuesday-The Rolling Stones
10-Total Eclipse Of The Heart-Bonnie Tyler
11-Wordless Chorus-My Morning Jacket
[Lucy if you are reading this it is still one of my favorite songs of all time. Those vocal theatrics at the end are just orgasmic. Talk about pulling the listener in. This is how you start an album. One of the reasons why they are one of my new favorite bands.]
12-Eleanor Rigby-The Beatles
13-This is the Sweetest Little Song-Butch Walker and the Let's Go Out Tonite's
14-When You Were Young-The Killers
15-Rodeo Town-The Kills
16-Turn Into-Yeah Yeah Yeahs
[Photos courtesy of towlerload.com]
Partner #1: Baby I am so glad we decided to spend a night out on the town.
Partner #2: Yeah that down payment on our home can just wait. But Madonna? SHE CAN NOT!
#1: Yes girl I feel you on that one. Wait a minute, is that who I think it is in front of us?
#1: That can't be...oh my god-
#2: It is!
#1: I'mma go talk to her.
#2: Naw baby leave Gayle alone. Let her enjoy her night out with her girlfriend that is not Oprah.
#1: ...........Fuck it I'm going to say hi
#2: Ooh girl you are wrong...WRONG
#1: So how was she?
#2: She is niiiicce. And those shoes. Looking fierce. AND she loves her some Erotica. That is her jam!
#1: Who was that other not Oprah bitch?
#2: I don't know but I love the whole matching outfits thing.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
See that artistic and deep collage of images sitting next to this prose. Yeah that's Tyrese Gibson, rapper/singer/actor/'damn he's lucky his career didn't go the way of Sisqo's' extraordinaire. Well if all that doesn't look nice enough on paper, the "thunder from down under" [Watts]is adding rapper to his list of things he can do. Yeah that's right, rapping. This fall Tyrese will be releasing his double album fittingly titled Alter Ego One disc will be full of r&b tunes while the other will be full of nothing but hip-hop complete with some of the hottest collaborators in the game, Snoop Dogg, Game, Chingy, David Banner, Mannie Fresh, Paul Wall, Ice Cube and Kurupt.
If he can pull all of them I guess we should try to take it seriously. Unless they are in it for the money. Big ups to Tyrese for trying something new, and following his passion. And gotta love his modesty, it's for the love of the game, not to become the biggest lil pup in the hip-hop biz.
[Oh just in case you are keeping count so far I know of three double albums coming our way soon: Back to Basics, Christina Aguilera, Release Therapy, Ludacris, and now Alter Ego, from the Thunder From Down Under[Watts], Tyrese.
This seems to be the sentiment many of Beyonce fans are echoing after viewing the video for her new single Deja Vu. Damn girl. Your fans are hard to please. It's bad enough they can't love the song for what it is [a damn fine wink and nod to a previous hit that never feels stale] and keep comparing it to Crazy in Love. Naw they can't stand the shot in New Orleans, Color Purple-Voodoo-Shakira channeling video. In fact, I don't know if you know this B, but they got a petition going demanding that Columbia Records gets you to go back and start from scratch and hopefully think up something better than what they see now as a "hot mess."
[Read more about it here: http://www.petitiononline.com/dejavu06/petition.html]
Girl they even list even reasons why the current video is wrong and just not needed:
A) There is no clear story or theme to the video
B) The dancing is erratic, confusing and alarming at times
C) The sexual themes and shots between Ms. Knowles and Mr. Sean Carter PKA Jay-Z, are alarming and show unacceptable interactions between the two
D) The fashion in this video, while haute-couture, is unbelievable and ridiculous
E) The editing, while professionally done, causes one to get dizzy and disoriented
F) The overall feel of the video leaves a sense of much to be desired
G) The video is very disappointing and is not a clear representation of any of the songs themes
Damn B. I must admit, when I first watched it I was like 'well that was different' and didn't really vibe with it until I read others interpertations and explanations of the whole voodoo vibe and just being possessed by it all, thus explaining the erratic free form dancing and the like. But I would never go this far to suggest that you do the whole damn thing over again. Shit, if fans did this all the time can you imagine how many record companies would have petitions coming their way?
It starts like Borderline, then fades slowly into a Holiday/Jessica Simpson mash-up, calypso drums and all. The vibe is smooth, fluffy, and [intentionally?] retro. Just like this video. Rollerskates? Check. Booty shorts? Check. Disco Moves? Check! Check! Check! IT'S ALL HERE. Those of you expecting a hot dance number starring Christina Applegate, Eva Longoria, Christina Milan, and Ms. Simpson will be deeply dissapointed. (Those of you hoping for an Andy Dick/Ryan Seacrest dance off wil weep into your pillows a little harder) No, all the dancing is left to the "urban" skaters who manage to bounce, boogie, AND glide all at the same time!
Now the song and video has been much talked about for nearly a month and a half now, and it is no secret that I am a fan of the fluffy summertime vibe of it all, so I went in looking for a good time and like the folks over at stereogum I walked away with a few questions of my own.
1)Will anybody find the opening where the girls rip jokes straight from the headlines funny? [Especially those whose lives are the basis for a joke.]
2)Really Mr. Seacrest? THAT was your cameo? Actually scratch that, money well spent.
3)Andy Dick...yeah still trying to figure out how I feel about your screen time. Don't hate any of it, just don't know how to take it yet. Something is distracting maybe? Your haircut perhaps? Or Jessica's relying heavily on the act of contorting one's face to express emotion? Her version of acting perhaps?
4)After seeing Jessica molest that poor ice cream cone I wonder why she's still single? [Or not. I hear she may be barking up Dane Cook's tree. Maybe.] Nick Lachey needs to provide a special edition commentary on the dual disc cd/dvd combo. I am sure said scene will conjure up tons of old memories of the good times he once had with the Christian songbird.
5)Why does Maria Menounos allow her man to just gawk at Jessica like that? Right next to her?
6)Did Jessica do all of her own stunts?
7)I know the girls are "stepping out for a public affair," but since when did Jessica Simpson acquire this underused Entourage? [who I am sure were all happy to come to the set, make faces, and skate laps for God knows how many takes. It probably inspired this the next day. [http://sleazyainteasy.blogspot.com/2006/07/random-bits-of-hatefulness-that-my.html]
All in all. I was entertained. Do I need to see it again? Probably not.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Is he or isn't he? That is the question that seems to still plague we blacks [and a few members of other races and ethnicities] to this very day. Who better than Dave Chapelle to give us some insight/take a look into the ever powerful "immortality" if you will of the great late (?) great rapper Tupac Shakur.
1. The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker and the Let's Go Out Tonites-Butch Walker and the Let's Go Out Tonites
2. 'When You Were Young'-The Killers
4. 'Good Weekend'-Art Brut
5. 'Watching the Detectives'-Elvis Costello
6. Show Your Bones-Yeah Yeah Yeahs
7. Self Titled-Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
I have what some may say is an odd relationship with the band We Are Scientists.
Sometime in the fall of 2005 I had to miss a Monday night cd screening and charting session with my two fellow music directors at the radio station. Evan, my roommate and fellow music director brings home a single that I just have to hear because he knows that it is up my alley. [he was right, as he was 99.9% of the time when it came to music I would like] The single: Nobody Moves, Nobody Gets Hurt. Instead of spinning it, the single is never opened and remained on my desk til graduation. Ooops.
Sometime before Spring flipping through channels and am completely transfixed by this infectious song that is playing out in front of me on MTV2. And that chorus that is repeated so many times, 'my body is your body/I won't tell anybody/if you want to use my body/go for it..'. The video? You guessed it. Nobody Moves, Nobody Gets Hurt.
Later that week I listen to sound clips from the album [cause hit singles or videos by bands I don't know sway me like that. I know my appetite is just insatiable] and run out in buy it. I give a listen all the way through. Doesn't grab me like I expected it to. Though Inaction does become my 2nd favorite and most spun track on the disc.
From there on out only Inaction and Nobody Move.. would be played or when I play the album I would listen to it from start to finish. But get this...whenever I play the album now it's because I am reading some blog, or article, and the band is mentioned or a song and I am like oh yeah I have that album and I play it...all the way through for the most part.
Earlier this week Read about the band's latest single or something and started to play the album again. The album reaches the second to last track and I am taken aback by how great it is, sharp and in your face, and how much it reminds me of the music by one of my favorite bands, HOT HOT HEAT. And then I thought to myself, you know what, this plus a Hot Hot Heat track could be the start of yet another "mixtape"
And there you have it,
[Quite the build up eh?]
ONE/Feel Good Hit Of The Summer/QUEENS OF THE STONE
TWO/Dance Dance/FALLOUT BOY
THREE/Good Weekend/ART BRUT
FOUR/You Are a Runner and I am My Father's Son/WOLF PARADE
FIVE/Get in or Get Out/HOT HOT HEAT
SIX/It's A Disaster/OK GO
SEVEN/Worth Wait/WE ARE SCIENTISTS
EIGHT/Red Light/THE DEAD 60'S
NINE/Speaking in Tongues/EAGLES OF DEATH METAL
TEN/Watching the Detectives/ELVIS COSTELLO
ELEVEN/Broken Boy Soldier/THE RACONTEURS
TWELVE/Black Tongue/YEAH YEAH YEAHS
THIRTEEEN/Bricks & Mortar/MOVING UNITS
FOURTEEN/This Devil's Workday/MODEST MOUSE
SIXTEEN/This Boy/FRANZ FERDINAND
SEVENTEEN/Sister/SHE WANTS REVENGE
Now if you'll excuse me I gotta go. All this talk about We Are Scientists has got me hungry for for their tunes. Although I may have to bump that new Peaches album, IMPEACH MY BUSH, cause that shit is off the chain.
LL Cool J- Around The Way Girl/ Loungin [Who Do Ya Luv] (Feat Total)-All World Greatest Hits
It should be no secret by now but the soundtrack to my childhood was heavily urban; walking to school, riding a bike, getting my ass whooped, yes, all these activities where scored by various artists of the hip-hop and R&B genres. I was all about taping songs off the radio [a precursor to Itunes] and coping me a cassingle from time to time. Yes, in the words of Ms. Nefertiti Lovelace, 'a fucking cassingle.' Best believe I had these two tracks on a tape.
Nowadays Ladies Love Cool J has become a bit of a one trick pony to some, he's either taking his shirt off [oh god not again], ripping his shirt off [oh god not again], or being all syrupy [oh god not again] with yet another single where instead of following mom's demand to knock you out, he wants to hold you down or something. [Oh wait, is that a J.Lo/Fat Joe track? Whatever it's in the same vein.] Now I am not saying a slow jam rap track is evil cause when it's done right, it's goes down like droplets of Cristal from the hair to the face to the breasts and so on. Yeah.... Take that. Take that.
With these two tracks LL got it right and the come ons felt genuine ["she's sweet as brown sugar with the candy yams"], brand new, and at the time were a change of pace from the brotha who pledged to knock you out before going back to Cali. That hook on Around The Way is just silky and demands to be repeated, as is the case with the hook from the then ubiquitous Loungin feat those forgotten Bad Boy vixens Kim, Keisha, and Pam. [a.k.a. Total]. The beat is loud and heavy with a slight hint of New Jack, but loudness here does not mean overbearing, instead it means bass heavy and complementary, coming together with LL's come hither, 'bet ya man can't do it like me' lyrics to groove you as you sit back and watch the man in action. The same thing goes with Around the Way Girl. True hip-hop heads may dismiss these tracks and choose to highlight the grit that made LL a force to be recokened with in his early days, [especially considering the similarities shared between many of his post year 2000 slow jam raps] but there once was a time where the idea was novel and a break from the grit resulted in genuine and refreshing takes on what it is like when a "gangsta" takes a stab at love.
Take 5-David Bruebeck
Saturday, July 8, 2006. Another warm and subdued summer evening for my friends and I. The lure of LA's night life has passed us by and instead we sit together in an apartment, pulled in by the lure of each other's company, laughter, chilled drinks, and entertaining conversation. Adding to our beatnik vibe is the sound of 50's music playing at a low but still decipherable level in the background. The jazzy and heavy on the instrumentation sounds of the hits playing in the background never failed to keep my head bobbing or my foot tapping. Such is the case with this jazz standard and classic covered by many that shines to its fullest effect in this version. For 2 and a half minutes the music is all hi hat and piano and of course the ever present jazz flute. It's sexy, subdued, and smoky. Then at 2:30 something else happens, the song becomes possessed by off kilter yet controlled sounds of drums and percussion adding more intrique and dare I say it sex appeal to the composition. Before it all becomes too much and you are set to climax the song slows down returning to it's roots, the hazy bare bones of the piano, percusion and jazz flute easing you into an ending that is sharp, precise, and harmless. Like a summer breeze, it makes you feel fine.
Lauryn Hill/Doo Wop (That Thing)/The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Need some reason for my rhyme? Just hit up you tube or dig into some music video vault sure to exist somewhere on the internet and peep the video. One video becomes two, giving us Lauryn Hill and her performing crew circa the 1950's and circa now. The 1950's half is just as appropriate as the present one, as one listen to this hip-hop/R&B gem [in which both the" guest rapper" and singer on the hook is the same person] conjures up all you see in the nostalgic scenes: motown soul, back up singers, synchronized stationary dance movements sure to make your parents say 'what y'all know about that there?', all coasting along to the song's old school production complete with horns, keys, and shimmering harmonies. Now look again at both pieces of your screen and aside from the features of soul music both present and past you see Lauryn in a joyous, sun filled block party setting. Everyone has stepped out in their best fits, bobbing their heads, looking good and having hot fun in the summertime. It's all fire hydrant blasts, sugar water drinks, humidity, and apartment building stoops; summertime to a t!
So earlier this week I posted what I felt could be a great candidate for the title of song of the summer. From here on out til the end of this glorious season I will be posting songs I think will forever be great every summer til the end of time.
Janet Jackson-Someone To Call My Lover
From the minute this song starts with a few strums on an acoustic guitar you are set up for a truly breezy jam of the summer. With lyrics that are conversational and everyman but not fluffy and throw away, Janet sings of a man who has to be out there. [ "maybe they'll meet in bar, maybe he'll drive a funky car" who knows?] And as is the case with many of Janet's songs space is allotted for a dance break, [one of the best things about Janet's hits] meaning that the vocals drop and the song coasts for a good minute or two on a groove complete with acoustic guitars, and 808 not too unlike the beat that underlies Freak Nasty's now gone but never forgotten hit of yesteryear, Da Dip. And who doesn't love the soft buoyancy of the 'I Yi, I Yi, I Yi, I Yi' refrain? Hear that and try not to sing along or move your hips with each syllable. Kudos to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis on effectively using that Venutra Highway [by America] sample also.
Ah summertime - insert a more relaxed and refreshing and less condescending/ eye rolling sigh of relief here- the sun is shining, the nights are cooler, and everyone's looking to, in the words of Magic Johnson shortly before a film beings in his movie theatre chain, 'have a good time!' Summertime 2006 is also shaping up to be quite exciting for us pop music fans out there, seems a lot of pop music heavyweights are coming out of hibernation with plenty to show for it. So in honor of the Justin's, Furtado's, and Simpson's out there sit back, relax, enjoy these cool days of summer and
Vibe With Me:
1/Lose My Breath/Destiny's Child
5/All Nite (Don't Stop)/Janet Jackson
6/Come To Me/JC Chasez
8/I Want To Love You Girl/Thicke feat. Pharrell Williams
9/Enough Cryin'/Mary J. Blige
11/Really Rich Italian Satanists/Dirty Sanchez
12/Black History Month [Alan Braxe & Fred Falke Remix]/ Death From Above 1979
13/Drop it Like It's Hot/Snoop Dogg feat. Pharrell Williams
14/Rocket Ride/Felix Da Housecat
15/She Wants to Move [DFA Mix]/N.E.R.D.
17/Put the Needle On it/Dannii Minogue
18/A Public Affair/Jessica Simpson
[Why? Because I like the goddamn song, what?]
Summertime is here. And in music land you know what that means...SUMMER JAMS, N***A WHAT!@#* Hmm, excuse me, but I get all excited around this time cause I get to download, buy and bump me some jams that just scream summer the minute you hear them. The kind of jam you can hear and wouldn't be out of place coming from a car at the Arco gas station on 76th and Western in South Los Angeles or spun by Lindsay Lohan at some cracked out up til dawn beach party bash that we all wish we were cool enough to crash or take part in.
Yes it is summertime, and that means we need another 'Crazy in Love' or 'Yeah'; a song that from the minute you press play, at that 0.01 mark, it grabs your ass; a song that will be perfect for a summer breeze or at the start of a new year when the clock strikes twelve; a song so well crafted, so attention grabbing, and just HOT that it is universal enough to make the hipsters, the mothers, and all other crazy motherfuckers get on the floor and shake that ass.
Recently the New York Post concoted a list of potential 'Summer Anthems of 2006' and came up with this [Read more about it here: http://stereogum.com/index.html?page=2]:
Nelly Furtado and Timbaland-Promiscuous
Justin Timberlake-Sexy Back
Beyonce w/ Jay-Z-Deja Vu
Jessica Simpson-A Public Affair
Shakira and Wyclef Jean-Hips Don't Lie
Tony Matterhorn-Dutty Wine
Gnarls Barkley-Smiley Faces
Christina Aguilera-Ain't No Other Man
The Strokes-You Only Live Once
Now this is one hot ass list in my opinion. Kudos to the folks over at the Post. Now upon first viewing one thing you notice is that well Luther ain't gon make the cut. [I apologize, I know he is deceased and I love me some 'Never Too Much' but come on.] Look again and you realize that while Crazy and Hips Don't Lie are great songs that will continue to get people on the dancefloor for years to come [clearly Shakira and Gnarls had their eyes on that whole timeless title thing] they are getting a little old and were more like late winter, 'look here comes the sun it is Spring' jams. And our boys the Strokes are dogged by the fact that people just don't care anymore [you know all you 'cool' kids have moved on/ they have gotten too popular/ doing nothing new/ you liked them more before everyone else did/ oh shut the fuck up] despite the fact that said track is classic Strokes [if a thing can exist with a three album catalog] from an otherwise fine and sadly overlooked album.
Take one last look and you realize that many heavy hitters [and personal faves] in the pop music arena are bouncing back with hit [hopefully] singles and full length albums. Furtado, Timberlake, Knowles, Aguilera, and Simpson. Save up your pennies kids cause you may be in and out of the record store this summer.
Now I have heard all of the singles from our heavy hitters on the list and they are some superior tracks. Who knew a little trip to Miami would turn Nelly Furtado into a promiscuous, come hither sex fiend? And though we may have slept on Timberlake cause we can only play Justified so many times by now, the brother is back [teaming with Tim like Nelly] with another jam for the ladies. While both Beyonce and Christina class it up a little and kick it old school with lots and lots of success.
Now before you read any further, keep in mind that I am first and foremost a music fan, meaning I don't discriminate and point fingers or make wildly outrageous predictions or judgement calls, NO, that is not me. I, plain and simply enjoy music and when I annoint something as being the best or good or bad, I mean it and there is always non-questionable reasoning behind it. [or so I hope]
Okay now that that is out of the way, it is time for me to talk about a song from the Post's list that would not anger me if it somehow became the Summer Anthem of 2006. And that song is? Jessica Simpson's 'A Public Affiar.' Now I know plenty of you have something to say, or even gasped in your chair when you read those words, and well, you wouldn't be alone. Just take a look at this exceprt from an article in Sunday's Los Angeles Times titled 'Old, new, and um, borrowed?' :
"As the celebrity news website TMZ.com notes, 'From the synth-pop beat to the jangly guitars in the beginning to the eigthth- note motifs in the verses to the choruses that begin on A and the use of the same key (B-minor), the two songs [a Public Affair and Madonna's Holiday] are so similar that, in a highly unscientific poll, every person to whom TMZ played 'A Public Affair' identified it as 'Holiday'."
Damn. But who am I kidding? When I listen to it I hear the same similarities [even the calypso drumming effect near the end also present in 'Holiday'], I even hear bits of Lucky Star and Borderline. In fact I can't help but play one of those three tracks immediately following A Public Affair. But all denied similarities aside [apparently Jessica's publicist insists that she didn't technically borrow anything and that it is an honor to be compared to or mentioned in the same breath as good olde Madge] this is one fine piece of pop music. Like all good pop songs, it has a catchy chorus, a fine beat that's easy to ride, goes down easy [thanks to Jessica downplaying the pipes we all know she has and settling instead for some Janet Jackson/Britney Spears like cooing that never gets lost in the production], AND it's not too long, but not too short either. [Clocks in at nearly 3 and a half minutes]
And did I mention that it goes down easy. A summer song works morning, noon, or night. Waking up, driving alongside the coast, or dancing under the stars. Sure Jessica may be pandering to a wider audience [see previous mentioning of Brit and Janet] or copying Madonna's style, but it could also be a move away from non-stop balladry that actually may work and broaden her fan base and isn't imitation the biggest form of flattery? Not that that excuses plagarism and the like.
But I digress. Recently pictures have surfaced of Jessica on the set of the yet to be released Public Affair video complete with an entourage that consists of Eva Longorria, Christina Applegate, and Christina Milan. And when you hear this song that is what you see, this is what you want to experience, stepping out, having a good time with your people, and coasting to the groove while the getting is good. Perfect summertime activities to accompany a fine piece of pop heaven. And with all the divorce hoopla being tossed around it's nice to be reminded that Jessica Simpson is in fact a singer, not just a hot piece of tabloid fodder. Now if only someone would throw some hot producers and songwriters in Britney Spears direction...
Another week, another mixtape. It all started with ABBA's Dancing Queen and unlike some kids I can't download one good ass shaking classic, no instead I must let it sit for a week and then come up with songs that can go well around it until I have a full fledged playlist. Hey...don't judge, I take my work very very seriously. So serious that I jumped out of bed to gather the songs for this
No, No, No, YES, (!) U Got the look! [And I bet it'll look good on the dancefloor]
1/Chain of Fools/Aretha Franklin
2/Bottle Rocket/The Go Team!
3/Red Alert/Basement Jaxx
4/Never Too Much/Luther Vandross
5/Upside Down/Diana Ross
6/Tonight is Forever/Diana Ross
7/Bad Girls/Donna Summer
8/Private Eyes/Hall & Oates
9/Deliver Us From Free Will/The Ark
10/U Got The Look (Prince cover)/Dirty Sanchez
11/Girls & Boys/Blur
12/Boogie on Reggae Woman/Stevie Wonder
14/The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth/Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!
15/Faster Kill Pussycat/Paul Oakenfold feat. Brittany Murphy [one of my new favorite songs.]
BONUS TRACK SING ALONG:
17/Ain't No Fun(If the Homies Can't Have None)/Snoop Dogg feat Nate Dogg, Kurupt and Warren G
here it is, another mixtape inspired by my dear friend Margo who put the song Oh Sheila by Ready for the World in my head and from there I crafted this:
Oh My God That Is My Jam!
1. Flash Light-Parliament
3. Hollywood Swinging-Kool & The Gang
4. Genuis Of Love-Tom Tom Club
5. Rock With You-Michael Jackson
6. Candy Girl-New Edition
7. Oh Sheila-Ready For The World
8. Pyscho Killer-Talking Heads
9. Jungle Love-Morris Day and the Time
10. Take Your Time (Do It Right)-SOS Band
11. I'm Comin' Out-Diana Ross
12. Last Night a DJ Saved My Life-Indeep
13. All Night Long-Lionel Richie
14. Just Got Paid (Friday Night)-Johnny Kemp
15. Somebody's Watching Me-Rockwell feat. Michael Jackson
16. Lucky Star-Madonna
So there you have it, a CD full of 'oh my God, that is my jam' songs. In stores [or on my computer] now.
I know I know I need to get up and do something with my life.
So here it is, another weekend, another mixtape with only one thing on its mind: getting you to shake that ass.Hotter "than some head on a Sunday afternoon."* Bump it in your speakers.
[Okay so it's not Friday technically, but it's pretty damn close.]
MIXTAPE: 1...2...1,2,3 LET'S GO!
2-Rock City Wankers-The Ark
3-Dance to the Underground (DFA Version)-Radio 4
5-Two of Hearts-Stacey Q
8-Shake Your Coconuts (DFA Remix)-Junior Senior
9-Shake It-JC Chasez feat Basement Jaxx
10-Just Like We (Breakdown)[DFA Remix]-Hot Chip
13-Tell Me Something Good-Rufus feat. Chaka Khan
14-DARE (DFA Remix)-Gorillaz
[As you can see, someone has a big boy crush on James Murphy and the folks over at DFA. It's all good cause they know how to get DOWN!]
Well not exactly, but it is Friday afternoon and again I sit in front of my computer bumping tunes thinking wow, let's make another mixtape! It's been a long time, we shouldn't have left you without a dope beat to step to. What started out with 'Sorry' by Madonna, 'Daft Punk is Playing at My House' by LCD Soundsystem, and 'Got to Be Real' by Cheryl Lynn turned into this. In stores [or on my computer] now!
[Insert hip/witty/razor sharp title here]
Track 1: Get Together-Madonna
Track 2: Daft Punk Is Playing At My House-LCD Soundsystem
Track 3: Got To Be Real-Cheryl Lynn
Track 4: Keep Fallin-Hot Chip
Track 5: Under Pressure-Queen and David Bowie
Track 6: Rock the Casbah-The Clash
Track 7: Housequake-Prince
Track 8: Old School Joint-Missy Elliot
Track 9: Idioteque-Radiohead
Track 10: Crazy-Gnarls Barkley
Track 11: Another One Bites The Dust-Queen
Track 12: It Overtakes Me-The Flaming Lips
Track 13: Ooh La La-Goldfrapp
Track 14: Nasty Girl-Vanity 6
Track 15: 1,2 Step-Ciara feat. Missy Elliot
Track 16: Give it to Me Baby-Rick James
Track 17: I Like Music-Junior Senior
Ta-Ta-Turn the volume up!
So I finally got my hands on the Red Hot Chili Peppers' latest disc Stadium Arcadium. The album dropped May 9th, I grabbed it earlier this week.Within that short span of time I have been mesmerized by the poppy catchiness of the lst single Dani Califonia, and asked by many who know me [cause I am such a music fiend who keeps his ears glued to the street, never getting left behind] whether or not I have heard it yet or gotten my hands on it.
Yeah I got it.Yeah it's been spun. Okay, that last sentence may be half truth/half fallacy. Okay so I've played it, but mainly the first disc. And I may have had it on in the background not really paying attention ot it. [Except when Dani California came on cause that song is the shit. They knew what they were doing when they chose that as a first single] Okay look putting a double album out asks a lot of a listener. Has this album grabbed me yet? Not completely. Does that mean it's a horrible album? Hardly. I am sure I will get to the second album in no time...after I give the first disc a few more spins.
Unlike other noteworthy albums this year such as Jenny Lewis' Rabbit Furcoat, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs Show Your Bones, or The Flaming Lips' At War With the Mystics [all single discs], the sheer awesomeness and craftmanship if you will did not grab me the first time around. Don't get me wrong, songs such as 'Hump De Bump', 'Charlie', and 'Snow (Hey Oh)', along with 'Dani California' actually managed to stop me dead in my web surfing, AIM typing tracks, but that's only four of disc one's ten tracks. 'Stadium Arcadium'? 'Torture Me'? 'Especially in Michigan'? Couldn't give you an apt description of those right now even if I tried. Guess I better put the disc on repeat...again
But I guess that is the plight of all double albums. They're like mind puzzles; sprawling, ambitious challenges that asks the listener to put as much time into them as the artists did themselves when creating it. As is the case with many albums, that first single [along with your own curiousity or history with the artist] pulls you in and from then on it is up to you to be patient with it, take it for a walk, wine and dine with it, get cozy before bed, [all of which are possible thanks to the abundance of MP3 players out there] etc., etc.
I remember walking to my neighborhood record shop in the Spring of 1996, paying twenty bucks for my very on copy of 2Pac's All Eyez On Me on cassette. Yeah that's right. Fresh out of elementary school, slowly getting my feet wet with this whole buying and collecting music thing, I grabbed that shit up and took the chance.[notice my sudden usage of slang when mentioning 2Pac. What the fuck is that about?] Sure I knew all the singles word for word, but for the unknowns it was up to 2Pac to wow me and force me to come back in and revel in the musical and lyrical magic of such non-commercial gems such as 'Only God Can Judge Me' or 'Picture Me Rollin'.
The same can be said for The Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, an album I have yet to buy but copied on cassette and/or burned on disc I am sure at one point in my life. Reading the tracklist now without listening to the album I see an album that is nearly flawless from track one-six on disc one. The slow burning opener that is 'Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness'. The majestic burn of the single 'Tonight, Tonight'. And the rollicking 1,2,3 plus one punch of 'Jellybelly', 'Zero', 'Here is No Why', and of course 'Bullet with Butterfly Wings'. There's 14 more tracks [with the gem '1979' on disc two being one of them] left to scan and blast from your speakers, but as is the case with Stadium Arcadium at the moment, more work needs to be done by me to [re]take them all in and enjoy what I am sure is a batch of fine and well crafted tunes. That's all I need. One more spin. Another opportunity to be swept up in their magic, cause obviously I wasn't the first time.
Does that mean it's a horrible album? Hardly. It's just the plight of all double albums from Prince's Sign O'The Times [one of the best double albums of all time] right up to the Foo Fighter's In Your Honor or the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Stadium Arcadium. They're like mind puzzles; sprawling, ambitious challenges that asks the listener to put as much time into them as the artists did themselves when creating it. Rumor has it that the Peppers actually had three albums worth of material. Fortunately that idea was vetoed as I am nearing the end of disc one, ready and willing to be grabbed/enertained/moved/straight up rocked by disc two. Alright fellas, let's do this.
Has anyone read the new Spin magazine? The Next Big Things Issue with My Chemical Romance on the cover? Well I have it and guess what the next big scene is....SILVERLAKE. Yeah I know. A nearly six page article on the city and it's people and hangouts and Spaceland and the Cobrasnake and Dj Aoki and Beck and har mar and bands from the area you need to hear now. [they left out Tsar but that is cool I guess.] What does the tagline read for the article? It goes a little something like this:
"After a decade as the hippest neighborhood in Los Angeles, this bohemian enclave has finally spawned the most buzz worthy rock scene in the country."
Take that Brooklyn and Montreal. Damn I am surprised I don't see anyone I know in any of the photographs that accompany the article. In the words of Anna and and Ginny, 'I am so scene.!'
Please excuse any spelling and/or grammatical errors. Enjoy! And happy new year!
30. Be-Common Common this is Kanye West, Kanye this is Common. And with that these two Chicago natives teamed up to create one of the best hip-hop releases of the year. Producing 9 of the 11 tracks on the album, West’s soulful, string laden production provides a nice back drop for the spoken word/poetic flow that Common puts on wax. An evocative storyteller, Common revels in the production, documenting life on the corner, [‘The Corner’] and professing his love for his boo on the gorgeously soulful ‘Faithful.’ As stated in the intro, the present for Common is a gift, and he just wants to be, and thanks to his winning delivery, smart lyrics, and soulful production he is allowed to do so effortlessly.
Key Tracks: Go!, Faithful, Be (Intro)
29. Demon Days-Gorillaz A group of well to do musicians disguised as moderately attractive and hip cartoon characters team up with a man who allows himself to be photographed only in a mouse costume and what do you get, this wonderfully dark yet playful patch of songs from that manage to build utilize and build on the musical palette presented on their debut LP. With the now infamous and critically acclaimed Danger Mouse behind the boards, the Gorillaz manage to keep their feet in the game. From the bass heavy swagger of ‘Kids With Guns’ to the stop and go ebb and flow of the infectious hit single ‘Feel Good Inc.’ [one of the best singles of the year in my opinion], Danger, Damon, and co. prove that this act more than just a mere side project novelty.
Key Tracks: Feel Good Inc, Dirty Harry, DARE
28. Stars-Set Yourself on Fire Oh Montreal. Is their anything you can’t do right? For the past 2-3 years this little city that good has become quite the burgeoning musical scene making its presence known via acts such as the Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, and of course the Stars, a large ensemble fronted by vocalist Torquil Campbell and keyboardist Chris Seligman, featuring a few members of the Broken Social Scene. Like Broken Social Scene the Stars succeed in effortlessly sliding back and forth between male and female vocals reciting lyrics that are as lush and mature as the instrumentation that supports each track. With bands producing music like this, Montreal will soon be on its way to being placed alongside influential rock cities such as New York City and Seattle.
Key Tracks: What I’m Trying To Say, Celebration Guns, Calendar Girl
27. Extraordinary Machine-Fiona Apple Once upon a time [a year or two ago] in place far, far, away [New York City], some over zealous fans caused a ruckus when they gathered outside the main offices of a well known record company to show support for their damsel in distress Fiona Apple. You see it was believed that said record company was holding back on an album she had completed because it was well, how do you say ‘uncommercial.’ Well as we all know this wasn’t the complete truth, Fiona scrapped the album herself and was sitting on her ass watching stories in her mother’s house when word got out that a few fans had her back. This inspired her to get up, get out and do something, teaming with producer and engineer Mike Elizondo [Dr. Dre, Eminem] to rework this, her Extraordinary Machine. In her six year absence from ‘the game’ we as fans have had to deal with Fiona wannabes, and bad Sherly Crow singles. Thank God the lyrical and piano wonderkid is back poised and ready for action. From the opening swagger of the opener ‘Extraordinary Machine’ [one of two tracks produced by longtime partner in crime Jon Brion] to the hip-hop lite bounce of ‘Tymps[Sick in the Head]’, Fiona proves that six years away doesn’t mean she’s lost it, naw, this girl’s still got bite.
Key Tracks: Extraordinary Machine, O’Sailor, Tymps [The Sick in the Head Song]
26. Anniemal-Annie Last year Pitchforkmedia.com named Annie’s single ‘Heartbeat’ their single of the year, and why wouldn’t they? The song is all sex appeal complete with pulsating rhythms and a vocal track that seems hellbent on mirroring lust on the dance floor. The album had yet to be released in the United States and if anything the naming of Heartbeat at single of the year made the wait for the album by this Norwegian DJ/pop star [Evan Wheeler’s ‘personal Britney Spears’] all the more excruciating. Now here for your consumption, Anniemal is a non-stop excercise in kiss-offs, sex appeal, pulsating rhythms, and dance, dance, dance. ‘Always too late’ snap, crackles, and pops, while the nearly eight minute ‘Come Together’ takes a page from the LCD Soundsystem notebook slowly building second by second til the beat kicks in ferociously complementing Annie’s advances and coos. Sass never sounded so good.
Key Tracks: Heartbeat, Come Together, Me Plus One
25. The Cookbook-Missy Elliot For every critic/fan that has something nice to say about Missy Elliot, there are numerous naysayers who see her as a talentless, funnylooking hack who would be nothing without her boy Timbaland. Well get this, Timbaland produced two of the sixteen tracks on this album. And that Kraftwerkesque/80's jungle bounce single you find yourself shaking your ass to featuring Ciara and Fat Man Scoop [Lose Control] that was produced by Misdemeanor herself. With a little help from friends both old [such as Mary J Blige, who drops a sweet rhyme over a sample of her What’s the 411? On ‘My Struggles’] and new [like Mike Jones whose rhyme on ‘Joy’ had me clamoring for more of his tracks] Missy puts it down yet again in a game dominated by females MC’s with little interesting or nothing at all to say, and anybody who manages to put M.I.A. and Missy Elliot on the same track together gets major points in my book.
Key Tracks: Irresistible Delicious, Lose Control, Meltdown.
24.Guero-Beck Last time we heard from Beck he was a wandering troubadour drowning in his sorrows with his “hands on the wheel” watching the Golden Age begin. Well that was then and this is now and the white boy [what the Spanish epithet Guero translates] is back, teaming once again with the Dust Brothers to produce an album that is less ‘Guess I’m Doing Fine’and more ‘Where It’s At?’ Beck segues effortlessly through the tempo and mood changes on the album as if they were the bustling streets of East Los Angeles that he once called home, [Said streets also make a nice cameo appearance on the track ‘Que Onda Guero’] showing that he is comfortable in b-boy stances [‘Hell Yes’, ‘Que Onda Guero’] Latin tinged numbers [‘Missing’] and sunny guitar pop [‘Girl’]. Keep on walking Beck, we’ll follow you anywhere.
Key Tracks: Go It Alone, Girl, Black Tambourine
23. The Emancipation of Mimi-Mariah Carey Yeah I went there, but apparently so did the rest of the world cause in 2005 Mariah Carey suddenly became a force to be reckoned with again on the charts and on the airwaves. Now, we all know that popularity, exposure, and sales is not what makes the performer, it’s the music and the batch of songs on Mimi marked a return [?] to form for Ms. Carey. Combining the subdued and lush vocal performances and soundscapes of ‘Daydream’ with the r&b and hip-hop lite melodies found on ‘Butterfly’, Mimi found Mariah honing the lightly urban sound of records past without sounding as if she is trying too hard. And the voice? It’s still there. It’s powerful when it needs to be, [‘Circles’ and ‘Mine Again’] Seductive and coy [‘Say Somethin’, ‘One and Only’], and as always, yearning and commanding [‘We Belong Together’, another addition to the list for singles of the year, and ‘Your Girl.’] You’ve done good Mimi. Congratulations on that emancipation.
Key Tracks: We Belong Together, Say Somethin’, Mine Again
22. The First Lady-Faith Evans Faith Evans is quite an interesting performer in the R&B world. Her voice shimmers yet attacks and emotes while at the same time holding back, showcasing how Evans effortlessly hones her craft and the instrument that is her voice. When paired with her emotive, lovelorn lyrics, Evans’ voice helps to craft songs that are just wrought with emotion. In other words, the girl can sang and she keeps it real. Mariah may have had the hits and publicity, but Faith seemed grounded and completely immersed in 13 tracks on this disc. [including the hook she sings on the bonus track ‘Hope’ featuring Twista from the Coach Carter sdtrk.] Don’t believe me? Peep the autobiographical first single ‘Again’, a Motown Soul/Mary J. Blige-esque number that documents an embarrassing moment from her life, or ‘Mesmerized’ a powerfully sung mid-tempo number steeped in percussion, keyboards, and gospel like harmonies, showcasing Evans’ roots in the church, where such a song would not be out of place. Even the addition of a R&B male/female lovesong duet[‘Ever Wonder’ feat. Mario Winans] is thrown into the mix, without dumbing things down or deterring from the emotional core that makes The First Lady both a captivating listen throwback to soul singers of yesteryear from start to finish.
Key Tracks: Again, I Don’t Need It, Mesmerized
21. One Way Ticket To Hell And Back- The Darkness Everything about the Darkness just reeks of parody. From the leotards that lead singer Justin Hawkins favors so much right down to the title of their songs [examples: Knockers, English Country Garden, and Get Your Hands Off My Woman from their debut], but this band is no joke. This time around the sum of the album’s ten parts make for one rollicking and satisfying ride...to hell and back. Teaming up with former Queen producer Roy Thomas Barker, the Darkness toy with melancholy ballads [‘Blind Man’], wonderfully layered vocals placed in the right place at the right time [‘Dinner Lady Arms’], and heavy on the guitar love songs[‘Is It Just Me?’] that wouldn’t be out of place at your local pub next to old Bon Jovi, AC/DC, or Van Halen. These guys take what they do very seriously and so should you.
Key Tracks: Is It Just Me?, One Way Ticket, Dinner Lady Arms
20. 29-Ryan Adams It ain’t easy being a Ryan Adams fan. Catering to no one’s whims but his own, Mr. Adams is the true definition of an artist, constantly writing and producing, putting his thoughts on disc in various incarnations: the alt-country hipster or the lonely wandering star in search of love. This year, as was the case with 2004, found Adams releasing not one, not two, but three discs. The first was Cold Roses, and exploration in Grateful Dead like compositions backed by The Cardinals, and September’s Jacksonville City Nights also backed by The Cardinals. Both albums had their moments, but if anything they made the listener pine for a more focused, less ‘look what I can do’ Ryan Adams. And then it happened, December came and Ryan released this disc, credited only to him, featuring nine songs meant to chronicle that wonderful period we all know as our 20's. Starting things off with ‘29' in which Adams details his move towards stardom, a boy who was a “motherless son of a bitch loaded on ephedrine looking for downers and coke”, who should have “died a hundred thousand times.” It’s a rollicking six minute track that harkens back to the Ryan Adams of Heartbreaker fame. What follows is eight songs in which Adams does what he does best: emote and tell stories which rely heavily on his close attention to detail. It is nothing short of introspective, and at nine songs and nearly 50 minutes of heartfelt emotion, Adams manages to document his 20's like the grandparent who asks his youngins to come close as he reminisces on days long gone.
Key Tracks: The Sadness, Night Birds, Starlite Diner
19. Martha Wainwright-Martha Wainwright Here’s a little gem overlooked by many despite the fact that she shares the same last name as this famous gay piano man named Rufus. With the balls and confidence of an early Liz Phair, and a voice as tortured as her brother’s Martha’s just another “chick with a dick and gift for the gab.” Confidence and gutsy, Wainwright’s digs deep into her soul singing self penned lyrics about growing up in a nuclear household that was far from perfect, [“Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole”] submitting herself to another’s sexual wants and needs [“G.P.T.”], and the fear of growing too close to someone who may see her for what she really is: weak and incapable of loving herself let alone another person. [“TV Show” the lyrical highlight of the album. Sample verse:
“I'm not such a good lover/I'm a better talker/So when you touch me there/I'm scared that you'll see/Not the way that I don't love you/But the way that I don't love myself”...wow...wow.]With a delivery and collection that rivals that of her brother’s catalog, Martha Wainwright proves she is a commanding presence that needs to be heard.
Key Tracks: TV Show, Factory, Far Away
18. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah-Clap Your Hands Say Yeah AND
Apologies to the Queen Mary-Wolf Parade Did any bands have any more positive buzz this year than CYHSY and Wolf Parade? Taking a cue from the Talking Heads songbook, the Brooklyn five piece Clap Your Hands Say Yeah surrounded themselves in underproduced song structures and the scatterbrain vocal delivery of frontman Alec Ounsworth, creating idiosyncratic songs that still managed to leave a charming impression. Meanwhile, Montreal’s Wolf Parade enlisted Modest Mouse frontman Issac Brock to produce a large portion of their album that’s heavy on loud, goth like/androgynous vocal inflections and song structures that bounce and move with an almost chaotic groove. Grab onto the hype machine while supplies last [and possibly believe it?].
Key Tracks [WP]: You Are A Runner And I Am My Father’s Son, I’ll Believe In Anything, Dinner Bells
[Clap Your Hands Say Yeah]: Clap Your Hands!, Gimme Some Salt, Over and Over Again [Lost and Found]
17. Silent Alarm-Bloc Party The Cure. Gang of Four. Human League. Joy Division. You can hear them all here on this debut by the hip and polished lads who go by the name Bloc Party. Though the influences are highly evident, the presence and delivery is all theirs. As noted in various music publications this year, the album is near flawless for the first eight tracks as the band swaggers from the angular guitar/bass/drum attack of tracks such as the openers ‘Like Eating Glass’, ‘Helicopter’, and ‘Positive Tension’, to the more melodic and slow vibe of ‘Blue Light’ and ‘This Modern Love’ with ease. The one two punch of lead singer’s Kele Okereke’s vocal delivery [one part Morissey, one part Robert Smith] and the fine tuned and polished delivery of those who back him [particularly drummer Matt Tong who’s drumming is just out of fucking control] makes for one near perfect post-punk debut.
Key Tracks: Helicopter, Banquet, This Modern Love
16. Sing Along With The Acid House Kings-Acid House Kings What do you get when you mix the lush orchestral bounce of Burt Bacharach with the fun vocals, and delivery of ABBA? You get this, a mature and fun collection of songs steeped in the musical elements that made girl groups, doo wop, and acts like The Carpenters all the rage back in the day. Pure pop perfection is encapsulated throughout the disc wonderfully captured in tracks such as ‘This Heart As A Stone’ complete with sweet harmonies and hand snaps, sung by co-singer Julia Lannerheim, and the meditative groove of the love song ‘Do What You Wanna Do.’ The Swedish pop band also gets its ABBA on with the disco lite ‘Tonight Is Forever.’ The title of the album is a reference to the second half of the album, a track for track karoake disc that allows you to indeed sing along with the Acid House Kings, something you can’t help but do when playing disc one.
Key Tracks: Do What You Wanna Do, This Heart Is A Stone, I Write Summer Songs For No Reason
15. Lullabies To Paralyze-Queens of the Stone Age Track 7. Press Play. Immediately the cowbell gets going and the guitars kick in. Seconds later that masculine couldn’t give a fuck snarl of Josh Homme jumps in, and it is here with the first single ‘Little Sister’ that in 2005 no one was making balls to the wall rock n’ roll music like Queens of The Stone Age. Everything is turned up to the 9's, pulsating and dripping with sweat. Drumsticks click, feedback glistens, and vocals rise to the occasion or get lost in the shuffle [as in ‘Medication’]. This ain’t your indie hipster’s rock n’roll, but it could be your mom’s and pop’s.
Key Tracks: Tangled Up In Plaid, Little Sister, Everybody Knows That You’re Insane
14. Plans-Death Cab For Cutie The men of Death Cab for Cutie are currently enjoying their Modest Mouse like moment in the sun. [Minus the radio friendly/popular hit single.] After years of toiling away in the independent stratosphere, the boys signed to a major label [Atlantic] releasing this melancholy gem. The formula’s the same, achingly beautiful acoustic ballads [‘I Will Follow You Into The Dark’], commanding opening numbers [‘Marching Bands of Manhattan’, and of course the radio friendly, O.C. ready single [‘Soul Meets Body’]. Gibbard’s time spent with the Postal Service is evident on a few tracks such as the guitar-blip pop of ‘Different Names For The Same Thing’, merely complementing DCFC elements that ain’t broke. As was the case with R.E.M. when they signed with Warner Bros., Death Cab For Cutie have stepped into the limelight without losing sight of who they are.
Key Tracks: I Will Follow You Into The Dark, What Sarah Said, Soul Meets Body
13. You Could Have It So Much Better-Franz Ferdinand How many of us were ready to write off these Scottish hipsters as hype machine one hit wonders? Only year after releasing their fine tuned and well crafted debut, Alex Kapranos and Co. Return with a sophomore album that both expands and builds on the sound and energy of such hits as ‘Take Me Out’ and ‘This Fire.’ First single ‘Do You Want To?’ is a winning combination of smart and savvy lyrics and thumping drums, basslines, and harmonies. This formula is repeated over and over again in the punk like numbers ‘This Boy’ and ‘Evil and a Heathen.’ But what truly makes this album stand out is the band’s excursion into slow down tempo numbers, “slow jams” if you will. “Eleanor Put Your Boots On” moves with the subtlety and grace of a Lennon/McCartney mood piece, complete with gorgeous harmonies and all, while the breezy kiss off ‘Walk Away’ ebbs and flows, allowing the backing instrumentation to echo the menacing sentiments being uttered by Mr. Kapranos. Up now and get em boys!
Key Tracks: This Boy, Eleanor Put Your Boots On, You Could Have It So Much Better
12. Gimme Fiction-Spoon This Texas outfit has always been smarter than the average band. Known to have many a trick up their sleeves, Spoon manages to craft an LP that is just as ambitious and sprawling as the one that came before it. [In this case, 2002's Kill The Moonlight] Gimme Fiction divides itself into two halves like a mixtape where Side A is focused on sweeping you up in its slower, melodic numbers [the guitar bursting at the seams narrative that is ‘The Beast and Dragon Adored’, and the nearly bare and simple instrumentation and vocal effects of ‘I Summon You.’]. Side B on the other hand is hell bent on getting you to shake that ass. [The foot stomping tambourine romp of ‘Sister Jack’, the ‘Maneater’ bounce of ‘They Never Got You’, and the pinnacle of it all, ‘I Turn My Camera On,’ a booty shaking, falsetto rocking exercise in the 1, 2 step executed in a manner that would make Mick Jagger and Co. proud. (and another addition to the list of singles of the year)] When both sides of the tape are brought together to and formed to make up the tracklist that is ‘Gimme Fiction’, all one can do is get down to the rhythm and marvel at the musical narratives crafted by Britt Daniel and Co.
Key Tracks: The Beast and Dragon Adored, I Turn My Camera On, They Never Got You
11. Get Behind Me Satan-The White Stripes Another year another great White Stripes album. Hot of the heels of 2003's classic LP Elephant, the Stripes are back with more tales of loneliness, deception, and love both attainable and out of reach. Adding marimbas, piano, and fewer guitars to the mix, Jack and Meg strum and beat their way through what may well be their first full concept album. Starting with the opener ‘Blue Orchid’ in which Jack verbally assaults a woman who can’t understand what love is that she turns white orchids blue (get it?), Jack spends the majority of the album going back and forth with this woman, letting her know that he’ll never let her down [The xylophone and egg shaker number ‘The Nurse’], wondering when she’ll ring his doorbell [The Jackson Five bop of ‘My Doorbell’], and finally saying fuck it, let’s do it, let’s get on a plane and just do it. [The beautiful and repetitive ‘Forever for Her (Is Over For Me)’] At the end of it all we find Mr. White alone at his piano proclaiming that he’s lonely, but he ain’t that lonely yet. [‘I’m Lonely (But I Ain’t That Lonely Yet)’ a solemn blues classic in the making.] It’s a fitting end to he and Meg’s gripping emotional saga.
Key Tracks: The Nurse, My Doorbell, Forever For Her (Is Over For Me)
10. Elevator-Hot Hot Heat When we last heard from this Canadian quartet, they were an
off-kilter Talking Heads/The Cure influenced new wave quartet. That was 2002. In 2005 Hot Hot Heat are a fun loving power pop quartet heavy on the idiosyncracies [the stop and go bop of ‘Goodnight, Goodnight’, and the hand clap laden bounce of ‘Pickin’ It Up’] and clever wordplay [‘You Owe Me An IOU’ and the slow moving honesty of ‘Jingle Jangle’] Breathing life to the odd phrasing and clever wordplay of each song are the vocal stylings of lead singer/keyboardist Steve Bays, enunciating, rising, swelling, rushing, and dropping at just the right moment in order to give each song that off-kilter punch that makes them stand out and beg to be turned up and sung along to. Another secret weapon is the rhythm section provided by Paul Hawley on drums and Dustin Hawthorne on bass, applying flow and momentum to songs like ‘Pickin’ It Up’ and the ska like page from No Doubt’s songbook ‘Shame On You.’ Many may be quick to knock a band like Hot Hot Heat for reveling in the fluff so shamelessly, but when the music is this tight, focused, smart, and FUN, how could you not sing along, crack a smile, and bust a move?
Key Tracks: Goodnight, Goodnight, You Owe Me An IOU, Middle Of Nowhere
9. Cripple Crow-Devendra Banhart Being a music snob sucks. You find yourself discrediting music just because it is recommended 1000 time over by critics, magazines, and cooler than thou music sites. Or you knock something because it is overplayed on the radio or MTV. Or worst of all, you knock something based solely on image or because you just know you wouldn’t enjoy it. Now I hate to think of myself as a music snob, but each year I stumble onto a disc I would have normally discarded and end up falling in love with it. [You see where I am going with this right?] Devendra, Devendra, Devendra, oh where do I begin. You see I immediately labeled you as some odd folk hippie that made nothing but weird experimental music that somehow got pegged as being music. Yes I did this without ever listening to even one piece of your music, but after hearing and falling in love with this I am quick to admit my faults. Cripple Crow is hands down, without a doubt, one of the most gorgeous and beautiful albums of the year; a throwback to the stirring and epic folk period of the 70's, complete with anti-war diddies [‘I Feel Just Like A Child’ and the choir assisted stillness of ‘Heard Somebody Say’] and a little help from friends [among them Andy Cabic of Vetiver and the free-folk band Feathers]. At 22 tracks the disc may be a little long, but it is wonderfully eclectic for a folk album, with songs sung in Spanish, (Banhart’s native tongue) [the marimba assisted waltz of ‘Santa Maria De Feira’ and the slow moving ‘Inaniel.’]and English, covering topics as odd and eccentric as seeing little boys he wants to marry [the part tavern based blues, parts Fats Domino ‘Little Boys’], how much he loves and will always produce Chinese children [the quirky and offbeat vibe of ‘Chinese Children’], and of course, as mentioned previously, songs pleading for love, not war [‘Heard Somebody Say, and the gorgeous six minute title track.]. Devendra I’m sorry I ever doubted your talent. I won’t let it happen again.
Key Tracks: Heard Somebody Say, Cripple Crow, Hey Mama Wolf
8. Aha Shake Heartbreak-Kings Of Leon The brothers Followill and their cousin on lead guitar sure do know how to craft some good old fashioned southern fried rock. On this, there sophomore album, the Followill men spit out their best southern drawl and cover all the necessary topics of rock n’ roll: sex, partying, and boozin’. On ‘King Of The Rodeo’ two tracks in the boys sing a chorus which asks the listener to merely relax and “let the good times roll.” From there on out the horndog tales and foot stomping odes to debauchery don’t let up. ‘Pistol of Fire’ [a reference to you know what] tells you to “go hug your sister/banana stand”, while on the rhythmic southern bounce of ‘Soft’ lead singer Nathan warns his playmate of what he’ll do to her, but can’t because well you see, he’s soft. But it can’t be all fun and games. On the slower numbers like ‘Day Old Blues’ and ‘Milk’ the debauchery slows and the men get serious about the courting and the screwing. ‘Day Old Blues’ in particular plays like a four minute hangover in song form with one hand on the spinning head asking how did I get here? The painful thoughts throb continuously in the chorus as the boys harmonize, constantly repeating “day old blues” over and over again til a break is in sight. With songs like these the boys of Kings Of Leon prove that they are more than a southern version of the Strokes.
Key Tracks: Milk, Day Old Blues, Taper Jean Girl
7. Arular-M.I.A. On first listen M.I.A’s Arular is nothing more than an innovative trip-hop album dropping bombs from track to track. Spin it again and you realize it’s something more, a musical call to arms that reverberates in every track, lyric, and backing beat. ‘Pull Up The People’ can easily be labeled as a cocky announcement of M.I.A.’s arrival particularly with lines like “I got the bombs to make you blow/ I got the beats to make you bang”, but pay attention to the lines that came before it. “Pull up the people/pull up the poor”. Suddenly the party jam doubles as a call to arms, an anthem to get up, get out and do something. The trend is repeated throughout the album. 80's b-girl throwback ‘Bucky Done Gun’ borrows the lines of a kidnapper: ‘Done gun, quiet down, no need to make a sound’ as the breakbeat mimics the sound of an army marching and revving up for battle. ‘Fire Fire’ reads like an autobiographical page from M.I.A.’s life with a chorus that chants “Growing up, growing up, barely get trained now, lookout, lookout from over the rooftop/...competition on coming out now/look out!/plane/ Fire! Fire!, as the beat drops sounding like bombs over Baghdad. Obviously this Sri Lankan refugee/ art student by way of London wants to keep you entertained and moving on the dancefloor, but she also has something important to say and after a few spins your mind and your two-stepping feet get the point.
Key Tracks: Amazon, Sunshowers, Galang
6. Z-My Morning Jacket At the start of Radiohead’s 2003 album Hail To The Thief the first sounds you hear when you press play on track one are guitars plugging into amps and the men searching for the right note and/or chord to start the line in. Such sounds and actions are reminiscent of those made in concert when a band first takes to the stage and straps in their instruments. There are sounds and actions that seem to say it’s been a long time, we shouldn’t have left you without a dope beat to step to. Press play for track one on My Morning Jacket’s Z and the same things occurs, preparing the viewer for a 10 track fusion of southern and classic rock. Guitars swell [check out the classic leaning guitar solo in the sprawling six minute rocker ‘Lay Low’], songs bounce in a grandiose fashion [the carnivalesque/vaudevillian swagger of ‘Into the Woods’], and vocals pause allowing this Kentucky five piece to jam and rock out til the song fades into the distance as they so often do. Start to finish, track for track, this band is tight, focused, and adventurous, bound together by the powerful lead vocals of songwriter/guitarist Jim James. His vocal performance never lets up, channeling gospel like heights on the two minute ode to Jesus [‘What A Wonderful Man’] and mollifying lows on the lovesick slow jams ‘Knot Comes Loose’ and ‘It Beats For You.’ When James’ vocals combine with the musical work of his bandmates the results are awe-inspiring as is the case on two of the albums best tracks: the opener ‘Wordless Chorus’ and the ska-lite jam of ‘Off The Record.’ Made up of throbbing keyboard and percussive elements and a simple 1,2 bounce, the song truly takes flight in the fanciful chorus made up of nothing more than the band harmonizing the sound aah for 5-15 seconds. On the last go round Jim James jumps in hooting, hollering, and spewing high decibel southern fried notes as the aah’s back out and the song comes to a close. It’s a hazy four minute jam that moves and soothes, preparing the listener for nine more tracks of sprawling rockers and lush lullabies. Woo! Woo hoo indeed.
Key Tracks: Wordless Chorus, Off The Record, Lay Low
5. I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning-Bright Eyes It ain’t easy trying to make it out in the lonesome crowded West, especially if you are a young twentysomething from Nebraska. But sometimes you gotta grin and bear it, roll with the punches, and just do it. This period of transition from child to adult is wonderfully documented by the indie wunderkid Conor Oberst, also known as Bright Eyes on this stirring and highly detailed collection of alt-country tunes steeped in emotion and realism. I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning presents Oberst at his most focused and confident, maintaining his lyrical, musical, and vocal strengths throughout the duration of the album. ‘Old Soul Song (For The New World Order)’ is sung in a controlled manner until the very end when Oberst’s emotion rings through, rising with the drums and guitars til all is brought home sweetly. It’s an emotional device/dramatic effect that breathes life to Oberst’s highly detailed lyrics. In ‘Lua’ Oberst guides us through the trials and tribulations of roaming the streets of New York bouncing from parties to parties at “actor’s westside lofts” with a girl whose late night antics are hard to keep up with. Such trysts remind Oberst that “what’s so simple in the moonlight/by the morning never is.” 2 songs later on the bare acoustic number ‘First Day Of My Life’ Oberst is once again standing by his woman, reminding her of the joy she’s brought into his life, urging here to consider him for” maybe this time will be different” and she may really like him, a sentiment we feel and know is dear to him for he nearly strains his voice stretching out the word me with yearning sincerity. Tracks such as these [especially those featuring Emmylou Harris on backing vocals] find Oberst channeling his Heartbreaker era Ryan Adams with conviction and gusto. It’s a fitting comparisson and all the more proof that Bright Eyes is ready to move beyond the realm of being an acquired taste.
Key Tracks: Lua, We Are Nowhere (And It’s Now), First Day of My Life
4. LCD Soundsystem-LCD Soundsystem For the past 2-3 years, DFA has been churning out the hits, remixes, and compilations with one thing in mind: getting you to shake that ass. Said hits are a step away from the rave and ecstasy era tunes that were all the rage in the mid to late 90's. With DFA the music is tighter, relying more on live instrumentation and rhythms that get their inspiration from a wide variety of sources: disco, new wave, funk, and classic rock. One man behind all this cutting edge dance music is James Murphy, ‘a fat guy in a t-shirt doing all the singing’ with his band LCD Soundsytem. On their self-tilted debut Murphy and co. craft a first class mixtape where every jam is strategically placed so not to mess up the flow. Things start off with the witty wink at the underground scene, ‘Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’, a five minute cowbell rockin’ party jam about a party so fly that “jocks can’t get in the door and the neighbors can’t call the police.” The five minute disco jam parlays into the woozy lament that is ‘Too Much Love’, a slower number whose sound and vibe still allows for a little hip shaking action. Soon you’re being hit with the block rockin’ ‘Tribulations’ which segues into the punk rock rant ‘Movement’ before coming down into the slurry mood piece ‘Never As Tired As When I’m Waking Up’ a catch your breath pause for the dancefloor junkies. The remaining four tracks [and those on the accompanying EP like bonus disc] move you and soothe you like that mixtape your hip ass older sibling used to bump from time to time. James Murphy and the folks at DFA are on to something as evidenced by the sweat on your shirt and the pain in your feet.
Key Tracks: Daft Punk Is Playing At My House, On Repeat, Disco Infiltrator
3. Late Registration-Kanye West Last year Kanye came with it on his debut album The College Dropout. That disc, with its fresh beats, witty lyrics, and thought provoking subject matter was a breath of fresh air in the hip hop game. Well the son of a bitch has done it again. Merely a year after his debut album Kanye is back and the words sophomore slump probably mean nothing to him. With a little help from Fiona Apple’s right hand man Jon Brion, the beats remain on point providing an expansive canvas on which Kanye can spit his fly ass lyrics. If anything Brion shows Kanye how to remind folks that his beats are just as important as his lyrics by letting the music drag out way beyond the end of the last verse as opposed to the favored hip hop trend of repeating the chorus til the song fades. [See the Latin tinged ‘Addiction’ or the soulful guitar assisted ode to his mother ‘Hey Mama’] Everything about this album is just right; the samples [‘Goldigger’ is just one of the many fine examples] guest apperances [particularly Paul Wall on the thought provoking H-Town stomp of ‘Drive Slow’], and of course the lyrics and craftsmanship of the star of the show Mr Kanye West himself. The shining moment on this disc is the Stevie Wonder does hip-hop ‘We Major’ feat Nas and Really Doe. The track is all soul harmonies, dope rhymes, strings, and mesmerizing keys. For seven and a half minutes you are transfixed and reminded of what hip-hop is missing and how peeps like Kanye is providing it. It’s a thought that pops through your head repeatedly as you play the disc. Good job Mr. West. You’ve succeeded in taking these motherfuckers back to school.
Key Tracks: Drive Slow, Gone, We Major
2. Cloven Soft Shoe-My Barbarian Once upon a time in the ultimate Los Angeles an enchantress and four lovely lads came together to form a performance art musical act whose music would have a wide range of influences from Cole Porter to the B-52's to Kate Bush and Tin Pin Alley just to name a few. Calling themselves My Barbarian, this rag tag of actors, scholars, and UCLA grads would go on to release their debut album Cloven Soft-Shoe under the radar without anyone noticing. Said album is truly a stunning and mystical affair, an album in which the majority of the tracks revolve around trying to make it in your twenties/making it as a performer in your twenties. It’s all big kids with big dreams, buying tickets one way from NY to LA, dreaming of “being the first jew-yorican in the Bolshoi Ballet”, while sitting lonely in their apartments smoking a lot of pot. The themes and thoughts on making it in the city is backed by music that is both adventurous and haunting, channeling post punk dance rock with operatic vocal flourishes one minute [‘Dance You Withces (Dance)’] and psychedelic brit rock of yesteryear the next [the fanciful dance inducing psychedelia of ‘Morgan Le Fay’]. In ‘The Upstairs’ the band slows down as lead singer Alex Segade rhapsodizes on life in his spacious one room flat to the beat of a simple drum pattern and heavy keyboard melody. Rats line the walls, vietnam vets rant, masturbation has now become a bore, and the stairs go up, up, up. In other words a whole lot of something is going on around him. The same can be said for the album. While My Barbarian doesn’t necessarily take a kitchen sink approach to crafting their tunes, the incorporation of layered vocals, spoken word interludes, haunting song structures, and dips into various genres makes for one eclectic reflection of growing up actor/dancer/artist/confused trying to make it on your own.
Key Tracks: The Upstairs, Morgan Le Fay, Secret Ceremony
1. The Best Party Ever-The Boy Least Likely To After listening to this album from start to finish you almost have the urge to recite the album title with hunched shoulders, palms facing upward, looking slightly confused as if a question mark sits behind the word ever. Best party ever? That’s a damn good question when the songs that encompass this disc by the english duo Joj Owen and Pete Hobbs deal with child like grown up fears of growing old, growing up,[the toe tapping country breeze of ‘Fur Soft As Fur’] towns full of monsters,[the rhythmic and vocal urgency of ‘Monsters’] and seeing spiders when one closes his eyes. [‘I See Spiders When I Close My Eyes’ a guitar strummed diddy for those with OCD] Seeking comfort from the horrors the duo comes to us for solace, hitching their apple wagons to our stars, and asking us to be gentle with them, all while keeping an eye out for any unsuspecting terror, which may explain why they choose to sleep with guns up under their pillow. Yes it is all very child like indeed and both the lyrics and musical pallette they work with [synths, strings, harmonicas, guitars, tambourines, sweet follow the bouncing ball harmonies, and the like] give off a fluffy children’s book/cd vibe, but the duo is getting at something more. Comfort is the best medicine and with all that is bad out there lurking in the shadows, it’s nice to find that person, place, or thing that makes you feel safe. It’s a sentiment echoed by Jof near the middle of the album on the melancholy ‘Battle of the Boy Least Likely To’ when all he seeks is to get the one he loves alone and next to him. This girl quietly saves him again and again and that, for him, is truly the best thing ever.
Key Tracks: Be Gentle With Me, I’m Glad I Hitched My Apple Wagon To Your Star, Sleeping With A Gun Under My Pillow