Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
If you haven't finished your shopping by now, GOOD LUCK.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
First up is the 'original' video, which was part of The John Lennon Video Collection, never released on DVD. Like a few others on that collection, this appears to have been assembled posthumously and features a photo montage. I hadn't seen this in years - I used to have a copy that a friend of mine taped from a Laserdisc. A LASERDISC!
The second version comes from the Lennon Legend DVD, released in 2003. In this version, Yoko Ono assembled a series of images that, though difficult to watch, are extremely powerful in the aim of provoking both thought and action in relation to the song's refrain.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
(This was one of the more amusing immediate images resulting from entering '2008' into Google Image.)
I told you that these podcasts would be sporadic at best!
If this one seems a little thrown together, it is. But I wanted to put a podcast together to showcase music from 2008. Maybe you've already seen the track list/notes for my 2008 best-of cd. Note that this podcast differs significantly from that compilation. There is minimal overlap (4 artists, 1 track). This was an opportunity to give love to some tracks/albums/artists that didn't fit onto the cd.
Download Podcast #3: 2008 Year-End Edition
This Episode's Featured Artists
If you like what you hear, check out more from these artists:
Ra Ra Riot
The Bird And The Bee
Fujiya & Miyagi
Ranbow ArabiaRainbow Arabia
Lee "Scratch" Perry
I'm told that Crosby had no idea who Bowie was, but told his producers to "get somebody the kids listen to." Even better that this was filmed in 1977, probably the height of Bowie's coked-out phase. I've also read that Bing was kind of an ass to Bowie. And as Michael reports on IckMusic, Bowie actually requested NOT to sing "Little Drummer Boy," and the meshing of "Peace On Earth" was a compromise. Hm.
One of the odder pairings in Xmas pop music history, for sure. Yet somehow it works, and it isn't Christmas Eve until I see this come up on VH1 Classic (in the old days, just plain old VH1. Before that, what we used to call Music TeleVision).
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I've mentioned here before that The Raveonettes are one of my very favorite bands out there at the moment. I actually just found out that they're playing DC next month, which I may have to go to, although that weekend is looking pretty booked at the moment.
Anyhow, a few years ago they released an incredible Christmas song called..."The Christmas Song." Take a listen:
The Christmas Song - The Raveonettes
Gorgeous, yeah? Well, they Raves have just issued a digital only Christmas Ep, Wishing You a Rave Christmas. I finally remembered to get it last night, and it is well worth your $4 for this holiday cheer. It includes three originals and a cover of Darlene Love's classic "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)." You can find the EP on iTunes or Download from Amazon.
I do have fond memories of this xmas special. Of course, the Raisins were the draw, but really the other skits were more entertaining/memorable. Looks like YouTube has the whole thing, so I'll have to relive 1988 some evening soon.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
So as promised, I will be posting one classic (in my mind, for various reasons) xmas vid for each of the next 12 days.
First up is this nugget from 1984, recently covered by Miley Cirus or one of those other teeny boppers.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
It's been a pretty solid year, I have to say. As I mentioned to a few other folks, this year's edition is perhaps less varied than previous years, but that also makes it a bit more consistent as a mix. As always, there were some very difficult cuts - be sure to check out the honorable mentions as well. And it goes without saying that I'm very interested in what's topping your year-end lists, dear readers.
Ok, on with the show -
1. The Raconteurs - "Consoler of the Lonely" Consolers of the Lonely (Warner Bros.)
The Raconteurs album, along with the Gnarls Barkley disc were the first purchases I made in 2008, and I was very much looking forward to both of them. While the GB disc was an utter disappointment (see below), Consolers of the Lonely is a great sophomore effort from "Jack White's other band." As with their 2006 debut Broken Boy Soldiers, Consolers is a great, straightforward rock record. Unlike its predecessor however, this album shows a bit more breadth. The arrangements and compositions are a little more interesting, and a wider array of instruments round out the band's sound more fully (brass, organ, fiddles!). Two years ago, I took the Raconteurs to be a one-off side project, but Consolers shows that Benson, White, et. al. can regroup and evolve as a unit. I wish that I could say the same for Gnarls Barkley, but alas. I will say that the album could stand some edits. Some songs, particularly "You Don't Understand Me," "Many Shades of Black" and "Rich Kid Blues" seem to drag on and are actually disruptive to the album's flow. I really wanted to include "Carolina Drama," my absolute favorite track on the album, but it didn't jibe with the rest of the mix. But that's okay - this is an excellent opener, and I love the tempo changes.
2. Derek White and the Monophobics - "The Wunderful Lulliloo" Derek White and the Monophobics (self-released)
Sometimes you need to rely on the Internet to show you things in your own backyard. In 2007 (maybe even 2006?)I received a MySpace request from Derek White. Always curious about new artists, I checked it out and immediately loved "Mean Tambourine." When I realized he was from Pittsburgh, my respect jumped significantly. Over the course of a year or so, I listened to the various tunes posted on his MySpace page, which soon became "Derek White and the Monophobics," rather than simply "Derek White." Track after track I dug what I heard, so when the album was ready for release, I jumped on it. First, I applaud the band for their distribution strategy: though the hard copies of the album weren't ready, interested parties could pay $10 for a digital copy (with bonus tracks) and receive a hard copy in the mail when ready. I'm a big fan of hybridizing digital and hard copy distribution rather than having them be oppositional forces. Anyhow, the album came, and it's great. In reviewing the disc for this mix, I was actually a little taken aback at how consistently pleasing the album is. These guys wear their influences on their sleeve, most clearly Brian Wilson. And that's okay. This isn't simply an homage to the Beach Boys. It's a well produced, well constructed album of pop rock. I struggled a bit with which track to include. I wanted to pluck "Surfing the Allegheny" or "You've Got a Friend in Pennsylvania" for my Pittsburgh peeps, but decided to set my regional favoritism aside. My favorite track is probably still the glam-infused "Mean Tambourine," but again, I had to consider the flow of the mix. I'm happy to include "The Wunderful Lullilo" at any rate, for it shows the band's playfulness as well as musical and production skills. I give this album three out of three rivers.
3. She & Him - "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?" Volume One (Merge)
Who knew Zooey Deschanel had such a lovely voice? Interestingly, this received less hype than the Scarlett Johannsen record, which was a rather uninteresting venture. Although it's difficult for me to not think of her as the sister in Almost Famous (or Trillian, for that matter), Volume One pairs Ms. Deschanel with M. Ward for a surprisingly enjoyable alt-country-tinged album. The disc includes two great covers of The Miracles' "You Really Got a Hold on Me" and The Beatles' "I Should Have Known Better," but I have a "no covers" rule for year-end mixes. Though I suppose one could make the argument that this track is a bit of a "Dear Prudence" pastiche.
4. Lightspeed Champion - "Midnight Surprise" Falling Off the Lavender Bridge (Domino)
I believe that this was the first album that I heard in 2008. Lightspeed Champion is the new moniker former member of the Test-Icicles. I've never heard the Test-Icicles and know nothing about them. What I do know is that Falling Off the Lavender Bridge is a great, low key folk-pop album. The whole disc is great, but this is definitely the standout track. I debated its inclusion given the length, but I was able to make it work and I'm pleased that it made the cut.
5. Brazilian Girls - "Good Time" New York City (Verve)
I don't think I'd heard of the Brazilian Girls (who are not Brazilian and only one third female) until this year. Coincidentally it was their 2006 album Talk to La Bomb that I stumbled across, and loved. New York City isn't quite as good of an album, but is still an interesting blend of rock, dance, and occasional hints of jazz and bossa nova. "Good Time" is a basic ode to fun and the simple pleasures of life. I do in fact, just want to have a good time.
6. Love is All - "Wishing Well" A Hundred Things Keep Me Up at Night (What's Your Rupture?)
Here's one that I found randomly, I believe via Pitchfork, and I believe it was actually the video for this song. They hail from Sweden, if you're trying to place the accent. I guess this is best described simply as "indie dance rock," but it also has sort of a punk edge. But at the same time it's really catchy and poppy. I don't know. Perhaps I'm just pointing to the futility of generic categorization here.
7. Santogold - "You'll Find a Way" Santogold (Downtown)
I think I have to say that Santogold is my pick for album of the year. I "previewed" the album the week of its release, then promptly ran out and bought a legit copy the next day. I was taken aback with the variety of styles on the album. While the overriding genres represented here are pop/rock/dance oriented, there is an ever looming new wave influence throughout the disc, with occasional flourishes of hip hop and reggae. Immediately upon release, Santogold was being labeled as an MIA clone, which Santogold brushed off admirably. Really, it's a pretty unfair comparison. Though both meld a variety of styles, MIA is much more of a rapper (of sorts) while Santogold is much more focused on melody. Really, there is little on the Santogold record that sounds like MIA, though they have collaborated on a track or two. As I discussed with a friend recently, the comparison seems to exist purely because both are females of color. At any rate, this was probably the album I listened to most in 2008. It's a great album for running ("Unstoppable" became a theme song during my marathon training), for highway driving and I imagine (though I haven't had the pleasure) for dancing. The only track I'm not that fond of is "Anne," and even that might just be because of the opening line ("My name is Anne, I've got a plan"). Sure, "You'll find a Way" and "Lights Out" have already been used in commercials (Nokia and Bud Light Lime, respectively), but I can overlook that. Seriously, Santogold wins my top spot of 2008.
8. The Ting Tings - "Shut Up and Let Me Go" We Started Nothing (Columbia/Red Ink)
I believe I first heard the Ting Tings On Demand while at my parents' house over the summer. If I recall, it was the video for "That's Not My Name." I enjoyed the song's poppiness and snark, but sort of forgot about the band until I saw the video for "Shut Up and Let Me Go." The song hooked me with it's unmistakable new wave/Blondie influence (is 2008 the return of new wave as 2007 was the return of electro?). The entire album is a fun, danceable listen, and probably gets my 2008 award for sensible brevity, being under 40 minutes.
9. Mr. Oizo - "Cut Dick" Lambs Anger (Ed Banger)
Well here's something interesting. Way back in 2000, I was pretty into Mr. Oizo's Analog Worms Attack. I still give it a spin on occasion, but would hardly say I was a "follower" of his music (clearly - he apparently released an album 2005 that never crossed my radar). When I stumbled across word that Oizo was putting out a new disc this year, I was curious. For the most part, Lambs Anger is very different from Analog Worms Attack in that the music is more straightforward and accessible. I'd even go so far as to say it's significantly funkier, whereas Worms was slightly more abstract, into manipulating tempos, etc. Lambs Anger on the other hand, is a consistently danceable electro extravaganza that also has a sense of humor about itself.
10. Alan Wilkis - "It's Been Great" Babies Dream Big (Wilcassettes)
This is the third consecutive year that I've compiled a year-end mix, and for the third straight year, I have to give props to IckMusic for turning me on to an artist. Michael made a quick post about Alan Wilkis' debut. This was the track he shared, and I'm happy to share it with you in turn. The album itself is overall enjoyable, but at times feels a bit strained, as though Wilkis is trying too hard, as in "In My Dreams." But when he's on, he's on.
11. Pop Levi - "Never Never Love" Never Never Love (Counter)
Late winter, some blog or another directed me toward Pop Levi, whom they claimed was a cross between Bowie and Prince. "Yeah yeah," thought I - I've heard this comparison made more frequently than I care to. And it's never been accurate. But lo and behold, it kind of is accurate here, though Pop Levi is exhibits both influences simultaneously. On Never Never Love, Pop Levi works in essentially two categories - Camille-style Prince pop (perhaps most overtly on "Mai's Space" and "Dita Dimone") and Hunky Dory-era folk pop (i.e. "Semi-Babe," "You Don't Gotta Run"). The Bowie/Prince comparison isn't 100% accurate, but both of those influences are audible. Likewise, "Wannamama" is a meld of T-Rex and Gary Glitter-style glam rave up. The title track was my first exposure to the album, via the equally quirky video, and remains one of my favorites.
12. Ratatat - "Mirando" LP3 (XL Recordings)
Ratatat is billed as an electronic outfit, but I'm not sure that label sticks. Sure, they use a lot of "electronics," but much of this album is not what that label typically refers to. It's not exactly dance music. If I hadn't looked it up, I never would have assumed it was a two-piece (synth and guitar). It comes off as somewhat experimental, but also accessible. There are elements of dance, rock and funk instrumentation, as well as electronic and hip hop production. The bottom line is that it's an interesting album, and one that provides a perfect backdrop for grading/writing/editing, etc.
13. Snoop Dogg - "Sensual Seduction" [single; album version available on Ego Trippin'] (Geffen)
Here's a selection where I took a bit of liberty. The single and video were issued very late in 2007. But the album came out in 2008, and really gained its popularity in the early portion of this year. So I think it's still legal to include this on my year-end mix. I was still at home for the semester break last winter when a friend sent me link to the video, which he demanded that I watch immediately. I did, and was blown away on a number of levels. Obviously, the visual homages to Prince's "When Doves Cry" video and Parliament's Mothership Connection album cover warmed my heart. But also, it's a great song. Also, this is probably the first time that I choose a censored radio edit over the album version. One of the things that I love about this version is its slyness. On the other hand, the album version - "Sexual Eruption" - leaves little to the imagination. I find Snoop Dogg such a fascinating pop cultural figure. Really, in 1992 would you have placed your bets on him to maintain - even exponentially increase - his popularity over the following decade+? His music isn't exactly consistently pleasing, but I generally like about half of his albums, and every few years he drops a song that kind of blows me away. This song made me wish that Snoop did an album of straight up r&b material, but alas, that was not quite the theme on Ego Trippin'. However, it is a decent album, and includes a well executed cover of The Time's "Cool."
14. Erykah Badu - "Honey" New Amerykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War (Motown)
Erykah Badu is perhaps the greatest female r&b artist of the last decade. With all due respect to Beyonce, Alicia Keys, et. al., Erykah Badu has yet to disappoint me. More importantly, her music and lyrics hit you in that inexplicable way that the best soul music does. New Amerykah definitely incorporates more of a hip hop element than its predecessors, but in a manner that complements rather than overpowers Badu's penchant for crafting soul gems. The album comes with a flyer announcing New Amerykah Part Two in summer 2008, which didn't happen. Who knows if this album's title actually alludes to a series of related releases. (I'm reminded of David Bowie's 1. Outside, for which we never saw parts 2. or 3.) Regardless, "Honey" was the album's lead single, an interesting choice given that it's technically a hidden track. And the excellent video is the kind of thing that music geeks should enjoy.
15. Jamie Lidell - "A Little Bit of Feel Good" Jim (Warp)
An early contender for album of the year. Whereas Lidell's previous album Multiply combined electronic production with songs reminiscent of 1960s soul, on Jim, Jamie Lidell brings an all out, unabashed soul revival. One the one hand, this makes it a less diverse album than Multiply, but on the other hand, it makes Jim a more consistent venture. Song for song, the disc is a solid one. I was initially not very into the ballads "All I Wanna Do" and "Rope of Sand," but they've grown on me a bit and I think are necessary to round out the album. Deciding between this song and "Another Day" was rather difficult, but I had to go with "A Little Bit of Feel Good." It's a bit more interesting in its arrangement and composition, and certainly funkier. I had the fortune of seeing Jamie Lidell in Chicago this summer, and he put on one hell of a show. Check him out if you get the chance. Also check the wonderfully absurd video.
16. CSS (Cansei de Ser Sexi) - "Left Behind" Donkey (Sub Pop)
This was another contender for my album of the year. I first came across this in the last leg of training leading up to the marathon, and it accompanied me on many of those final runs. Unlike the Brazilian Girls, CSS are legitimately Brazilian. The album is a solid dance/pop record, perhaps my favorite of the year and next to Santogold, likely what I listened to most frequently. the video for this song is at once awesome and kind of creepy. The other potential inclusion from this record was "Move," which also has a pretty awesome video (I love how dude is wearing a Michael Jackson Dangerous t-shirt). I'll be catching CSS in DC on 12/20, with the expectation that they will rock my socks off.
17. Crystal Castles (vs. HEALTH) - "Crimewave" Crystal Castles (Last Gang)
"Crimewave" is truly one of my favorite singles of the year. The song was originally released as a 7" in 2007, though I have yet to hear that mix (I did however, find this pretty nifty UK tv performance). I know nothing of HEALTH aside from the fact that they produced this mix of "Crimewave," to which I raise my glass. "Crimewave" is pretty indicative of the album as a whole, although it does contain some harder tracks as well ("Alice Practice," "XXZXCUZX Me," "Love and Caring"). I got really into this album after listening to it on a run in New Orleans in October. It seems much of my music this year revolves around running (or vice versa). I'm pretty okay with that.
18. Portishead - "Machine Gun" Third (Mercury)
In the fall of 2002 (my senior year of college), I took a class called 'Media and Music.' It was incredible on a number of levels that I won't get into here. Part of the course requirements was participation in an online discussion board. At some point over the semester, somebody made a passing comment on the board that "I hear Portishead is working on a new album..." Even then, I think a number of us took the "yeah, right" stance. By 2002, it seemed Portishead was a done deal. They hadn't released any new material since 1997, and that whole "trip-hop" thing seemed to have faded. Fast forward to 2008, when I started getting MySpace messages about Portishead playing random shows and working in the studio. I'd kind of given up on them ever doing anything by that point, but lo and behold, here it is - the third Portishead studio album, 11 years after it's predecessor. I approached the album with excitement and hesitation. Excitement because Portishead's previous two studio albums were both incredible. Hesitant, because well, it had been 11 years. Upon first listen, I was relieved that, as a friend of mine also noted, Portishead didn't try to make an album in 2008 that sounded 1998 (hello, Axl Rose). Now, I'm not about to say that Third is on the same level as their self titled album and Dummy, though it is pretty good. It has a couple of amazing tracks, the toppermost of which are "We Carry On" and this, the lead single. I wanted to include "We Carry On," but it's 6:30 runtime threw off the rest of the mix. Ergo, we settle for "Machine Gun," which is still kind of incredible.
19. Ladytron - "Ghosts" Velocifero (Nettwerk)
I was a huge fan of Ladytron's 604 when it came out in 2001, and the album will forever conjure memories of WPTS. 2002's Light & Magic was so-so, and I didn't care much at all for 2005's Witching Hour. To be honest, I was initially pretty lukewarm to Velocifero. Then one morning whilst getting ready to head to the archives, I somehow or another ended up on Ladytron's MySpace page and heard this song as I brushed my teeth. It hit me in a way that it failed to previously, and made me go back to the whole album, which has since become one of my favorites of 2008. I think my initial displeasure was that what I loved so much about 604 was the Gary Numan/Kraftwerk electro element. This album departs from that (as did Witching Hour, which makes me think I need to spin that one again too), though certainly aspects of it persist. It just isn't straightforward dance music, and is a bit more introspective lyrically. This song typifies that. I have a thing for songs that convey emotional complexity. Also a simple, yet fitting video.
20. Cut Copy - "Lights and Music" In Ghost Colours (Modular Interscope)
Well, you know I had to send you off dancing. The Cut Copy record has a strange knack for being simultaneously retro yet sounding current. I don't know quite how that formula shakes out, but I enjoy the end product immensely. I'd heard the name Cut Copy tossed around for most of the year, but it wasn't until I saw a performance of this very song on late night tv (I think Jimmy Kimmel? Maybe Conan...) that I took notice, and promptly gave the entire album a listen. They're playing DC in March, and I hope to attend.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Man Man - kind of Tom Waits meets Frank Zappa.
Ra Ra Riot
Girl Talk Pittsburgh, holla! Just couldn't see the sense in selecting a track from Feed the Animals, which should really be considered a whole piece (and an instant dance party, for that matter).
The Bird and the Bee - of 2006 mix fame. They put out yet another EP this year which is great, but there simply wasn't room on the mix. They're also due to put out a full length in 2009, so stay tuned.
Al Green - + ?uestove = a solid album from this legend, even better than 2003's I Can't Stop.
The Atlas Sound - I actually liked this better than the Deerhunter record.
Rainbow Arabia - they were slated for inclusion up to the final edit. Alas. But check them out. Very cool / unique / crazy stuff.
The Roots - The album is good, but there aren't really any standout tracks. Still a solid disc.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We Are Scientists - Brain Thrust Mastery
I loved With Love and Squalor, and was really looking forward to the follow up. It just didn't do anything for me. Alas.
Gnarls Barkley - The Odd Couple
Likewise, I loved St. Elsewhere (note that both of these were 2006 releases...) but this follow up pales. I got the feeling that GB was conceived of as a one-off project, but met with perhaps unexpected success, and decided to continue. There are some decent songs on the album, but overall, it's a bore to get through. Hopefully they move on to other projects before they decide to do another misguided album.
Guns N' Roses - Chinese Democracy
Eh, I've already said my piece, so I'll just leave it at that.
Dresden Dolls - No, Virginia
It sounds like what it is - a compilation of tracks that didn't make the cut to Yes, Virginia. And it's pretty easy to see why.
Friday, December 5, 2008
But I do have some things up my sleeve for faithful readers of the Music-O-Rama, including:
*My third annual year-end mix liner notes (see previous two years here)
*12 music videos marking the 12 days of Christmas
*maybe a year-end podcast. This is tricky because of time, but it would give me an opportunity to pay 'spect to albums that didn't make the cut for the 2008 mix. No promises on this one, but I'll try my best.
In the meantime, I noticed that the Xmas mix I posted last year is still available, so feel free to indulge.
Cheers for now,
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Happy Thanksgiving, all!
Friday, November 21, 2008
I guess it's not as bad as I thought it would be.
But one might say the same thing after eating deep fried shit on a stick.
Let me just reiterate that it is *not* Guns n' Roses. But there's no need in belaboring that point.
I don't even know where to start with this. When the title track was released a few weeks ago, it was about what I expected. Likewise with the single "Better." They sound like fairly standard rock tracks, featuring Axl Rose.
In effect, that's what the whole album sounds like. Musically competent, but could be any number of acts, were it not for Axl Rose's vocals.
More than anything though, my complaint is that it sounds horribly dated. Axl started working on this roughly fourteen years ago. And the final product sounds very 1994. As The Washington Post put it:
In both sound and sentiment it feels hermetically sealed, like it was made by someone who doesn't get out much [...] on "Democracy" [Rose is] a magpie rooting around in the Museum Of Nineties Rock Sounds, picking at shiny bits from Soundgarden, Korn and (especially) Nine Inch Nails.
Which leads me to believe that maybe this would have been a decent album were it released in 1994 or 1995. There's actually a way in which the album sounds like a reinterpretation of the greatest moments of the Use Your Illusion albums ("Estranged," "Yesterdays," "November Rain," even the Cool Hand Luke sample from "Civil War" is here). But ultimately, it sounds as if the songs on Chinese Democracy were written in 1994, but never updated to match the world that continued to change around Axl Rose. That said, people that stopped listening to new music after 1995 will probably enjoy this album thoroughly.
And that is perhaps why it's such a disappointment. Although the album is OK, in theory one would expect a project belabored over for a decade and a half would be a pretty amazing piece of work. But we all know better, and figured that wouldn't be the case.
Chinese Democracy. Like a train wreck that's been pending for 14 years, you feel obliged to listen out of a sort of morbid curiosity. There's no doubt that the album isn't a masterpiece, but I feel fairly certain that in the grand scheme of popular music, Chinese Democracy will be as remembered as the Izzy Stradlin solo album. Despite the hype from Axl's camp to the contrary, this is not Smile, this is not The Black Album. Hell, it isn't even The Spaghetti Incident?.
History will remember Guns N' Roses. The hard rock band that sliced through the hair metal bullshit of the late 1980s, having the audacity to simultaneously release two albums (a year before The Boss), who on record and on stage had a totally uncompromising attitude, and the rock band that for a brief moment, seemingly ruled the world.
The world will forget the music on Chinese Democracy however, because it is ultimately forgettable.
At least I know the Dr. Pepper will be good.
A friend of mine just hipped me to Kano. I've taken a listen to some of their other tracks, and they're generally pretty hot. I'm also told that their stuff is pretty hard to come by, so now I have some new holy grail discs to dig for.
Enjoy, and have a good weekend. Stay healthy!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Guns N’ Roses Bring A Free Dr Pepper To All Americans: Here’s How To Get Yours! Published by Chris Harris on Wednesday, October 22, 2008 at 6:00 pm.
Now that the November 23 release date for Guns N’ Roses’ oft-delayed, more-than-a-decade-in-the-making album, Chinese Democracy, seems to be a reality, Dr Pepper owes every American a can of soda.
Back in March, the beverage company said that it would give every man, woman, and a child in the U.S. a free can of Dr. Pepper should Guns N’ Roses release Chinese Democracy before the close of 2008. And now, the event no one — certainly not the folks at Dr Pepper — thought would happen is rapidly approaching.
“We never thought this day would come,” Tony Jacobs, vice president of marketing for Dr Pepper, said in a statement issued Wednesday. “But now that it’s here, all we can say is: The Dr Pepper’s on us.”
So, how does Dr Pepper plan on dispensing the free sodas? Well, on November 23 — and only on November 23 — thirsty Americans can log on to the official Dr Pepper Web site and register all of their vitals, so that the company can mail them a coupon for a free 20-ounce can of the drink. Once that coupon arrives in the mail, redeem it wherever Dr Pepper is sold. The last step in the process, according to the press release: “Drink your Dr Pepper slowly to experience all 23 flavors. Dr’s orders.”
As we said, registration for the free Dr Pepper coupons is available only for 24 hours, beginning at 12:01 a.m. ET on November 23, and the coupons will have an expiration date of February 28, 2009. Obviously, there is a coupon limit — one per person.
So get out your straws and chill those glasses, kids — the Dr will be in your fridge soon, all thanks to Mr. Axl Rose.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
A week overdue, but alas.
Last saturday we went to see Jucifer. I was hipped to this band around 2000. At that point, they had only one album to their credit, Calling All Cars on the Vegas Strip. I took to them immediately, mostly because of the contrast of very dense, heavy music and alternately abrasive/delicate vocals.
I also have a troubled history with the band.
In the summer of 2002, I drove to Cleveland to see them at the Grog Shop. I'd wanted to see them live for some time, and felt it worth the trip from Pittsburgh. I don't remember much about the opening bands then, but I do remember being blown away by Jucifer. Records are one thing, but the sheer density and power of their music impressed me, especially for having only two members. I should also mention that Jucifer is among the loudest bands I've ever seen. So loud in fact, that a mere 12 minutes into their set, they blew the power out in the building. After waiting a bit, we were told that the problem was not a simple fuse replacement, but something "in the walls" and the show was over.
Later that year, they were to play a Pittsburgh venue (the 31st Pub, I believe). Weeks earlier, I'd been in contact with one of their promotion people to set up an in studio interview at the station. They were way down with the idea - I was amped. The band and I kept in touch all that day, and then their van broke down. The chances of the interview narrowed and then disappeared. But at least I'd get to see them live. That didn't happen either, though. They never made it to Pittsburgh.
A few months later, they did end up playing at Laga. However, they were opening for Local H, a curious match given the latter's pop-punk sensibilities. Jucifer played well, but it felt as though they were very much out of their element, and I'm pretty sure only myself and a friend actually had interest in them.
A few years ago I debated about driving from Iowa City to Cedar Falls to catch them, but decided against it given my track record with Jucifer.
So I had to see them upon learning they were to play Baltimore. There were three openers.
First up were locals Isthmus. Not bad. Sort of a mathy approach to metal. Their drummer was pretty impressive, seemlessly flowing between awkward time signatures. Also, Kate and I agreed that Jucifer aside, their bassist won the award for "most rocking out." Good local band, was pleased.
Isthmus on Myspace
Up next were Salome. They were doing soundchecks and I heard this intense scream over the PA, just a quick "yeah!" but very intense in its timbre. I assumed this was on the PA music, because I didn't see anybody on the mic. Then I realized that the screams were coming from a rather petite female, Salome's lead singer. These guys were fucking great. They played maybe a 40 minute set of three epic EPIC songs. Had I an extra five spot, I would have bought their LP. Alas, I spent my cash on the new Jucifer cd.
Salome on Myspace
Lastly, there was Internet. There wasn't much to them musically. In that aspect I was not very impressed. However, they had a great sense of humor, which made their set a worthwhile spectacle. Also, they covered Beck's "Fume," which was unexpected but welcome.
(can't find their myspace page)
And finally, it was time for Jucifer. I don't know if it was the band's choice, or the soundman's, but I was pleased that Wu-Tang's "Bring da Ruckus" played over the PA before the band took the stage.
As expected, they were incredibly intense. It could perhaps be described as an assault on the senses. Although I've (sort of) seen them live before, I was taken aback at how dense and loud they are, given that there are only two members. Guitarist/vocalist Amber Valentine rocked the fuck out, showcasing both her gritty growl/scream and her softer, delicate melodic vocals (both were basically impossible to hear, however). Drummer Edgar Livengood remains one of my favorite drummers currently playing. He not only has speed, but power. I also love that he uses a bass drum turned on its side as a floor tom. He's fascinating to watch - particularly in strobe lights. The lights! In addition to strobes, they also had fucking high calibre blinding lights atop their wall of amps. This combined with the music just felt like being repeatedly sucker punched in the best way possible.
They played mostly newer material. Admittedly, I'm not as into their more recent records as Calling All Cars on the Vegas Strip and The Lambs EP (the latter being my top pick from their catalog). Not that their recent material isn't good. It fucking rocks. Especially live. I just have an affinity for the music that hipped to them in the first place.
All in all, a great show. They played for under an hour, with no encore. However, they never stopped playing, and they probably can't go longer than that given the physical exertion each of them puts into playing. And I'm being completely serious.
I recommend checking them out if they come through your town. Brace yourself.
Check them out on myspace.
And though it isn't indicative of most of their material, here's an old favorite from their debut LP:
Friday, November 7, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I don't think anybody's holding their breath on this one (a lesson learned over the last decade and a half), but it appears that Guns N' Roses Chinese Democracy album may finally be released this year.
Most of us thought it wouldn't ever happen. Some of us kind of hoped it would never happen. Count me in the latter camp.
Ever since this project began, and especially when the band started playing shows in 2000 (and again last year), I've just sort of rolled my eyes.
I cannot tell a lie. I have a deep-rooted appreciation for Guns n' Roses. They were the first band that I really got into, perhaps even obsessed with back in the day. Guns n' Roses was my graduation from a steady diet of pop music into rock and roll. Their music was contraband in our house (God forbid that obscenities should send me on a path of destruction!). I had to smuggle them in on tapes friends made for me or hide the cds that I bought when my parents dropped us off at the mall. I taped all of their videos off of MTV, and watched them obsessively (including the Rockumentary - remember those?).
So it's not as if I write off Guns n' Roses from the history of rock music. But that's just my problem - this isn't Guns n' Roses. It's Axl Rose using the band name that he had the foresight to retain when they broke up. Now, I'm not going to downplay Axl's creative contribution to G n' R's music. But he was merely one element. While there were some switchouts from the original lineup (Matt Sorum for Stephen Adler, Gilby Clarke for Izzy Straddlin'), the core of the band was always Axl, Slash and Duff. THAT was Guns n' Roses.
So I take issue with operating under the Guns n' Roses moniker. It's almost like David Lee Roth recording solo records under the Van Halen name.
And of course, 1999's "Oh My God" (from the End of Days soundtrack) and the regrouped band's performance at the 2002 VMAs did little to restore any confidence.
A good friend of mine (who, despite much overlap in our tastes, I spar with frequently on music matters) saw Guns n' Roses last year. He said it was incredible, the band was great, Axl was in good form, the set was solid, etc. I'm suspect. Said friend also said that the songs he's heard off Chinese Democracy are better than anything on the Use Your Illusion albums, which I dismiss immediately. I actually view those albums as their best.
All of this said, I've been critical of Chinese Democracy as a concept. Is Axl Rose still relevant at all? Even if the album was to see the light of day, could it really be any good minus Slash and Duff?
All of that remains to be seen I suppose. I have very low expectations, and I won't be rushing out to buy the thing. However, I will say that the buzz as the album allegedly nears release got me a little excited last week, and I listened to all of the G n' R albums in succession, which I still love.
The title track is now streaming on the band's website and through imeem. Take a listen:
It's so-so. It isn't horrible (certainly better than "Oh My God"), but it's not great either. It sounds like a lot of other contemporary radio rock.
We'll just have to wait and see (hear) how the album plays out (if it isn't pulled), but I'm not so excited/interested in it. I'll give it a fair listen, but my expectations or horribly (and understandably) low.
For now, I'll just rock out to this:
Friday, October 24, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Get Yr. Move On: Gonzo's Marathon Mix
1. Iggy Pop - Lust for Life
This was the perfect opener! I initially had Jamie Lidell's "Another Day," because I've found that to be a great start to a morning run, but nixed it. Glad I did.
2. Santogold - You'll Find a Way
3. We Are Scientists - The Great Escape
4. Battles - Atlas
Another running favorite. In a discussion of running music lately, a friend stated something along the lines that "Battles will get you going and make you want to kill anyone in your path." I restrained the violence, but this is a great running song. It always reminds me of seeing them in Iowa City in 2007 when, launching into this song, the entire packed audience began jumping in unison, making me question solidity The Picador's building structure.
5. Gary Glitter - Rock and Roll, part 1
Maybe a sports cliche, but eff it. Also, this is the less-attended to vocal part of the track, which I've always loved. Perfect beat.
6. Hot Hot Heat - No, Not Now
7. The Ting Tings - That's Not My Name
8. The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army
9. The Clash - The Magnificent Seven
Non running-related comment - this is potentially my favorite Clash song. Maybe.
10. Busta Rhymes - Dangerous
In making this playlist, I wanted to include a few songs I haven't listened to in a while. Hearing this today, I was struck by how great this song is. Generally I gravitate towards The Coming when I want some Busta, but this is certainly a standout from the follow-up. I don't care much for anything after that. Too bad - he has such a great voice and sense of vocalic rhythm.
11. LL Cool J - I'm Bad
12. Public Enemy - Public Enemy No. 1
13. Outkast -Gasoline Dreams
14. Gnarls Barkley - Go Go Gadget Gospel
Sure, they have a song called "Run," but that's a) obvious and b) from their newer album, which I am not fond of at all. I've always liked this for running though, and I actually think that the first time I listened to the album was at the track in Iowa City. Money quote: "If you're wonderin' what it look like, look at me."
15. David Bowie - Little Wonder
16. Prodigy - Smack My Bitch Up
Heh - again one I hadn't listened to in a while and why not? It was between this and "Breathe," but this is much more in your face.
17. Bonde Do Role - Marina do Bairro
18. MIA - Bucky Done Gun
19. Yoko Ono - Yang Yang (down & dirty mix)
I definitely wanted a Yoko remix included, as the Yes, I'm a Witch and Open Your Box collections were common running soundtracks in 2007. I'm pleased with this choice for the beat and I really paid attention to the vocal manipulation. Very cool.
20. No Doubt feat. Prince - Waiting Room
Non running-related comment - interesting that this sounds much more like a Prince song and that the collaboration on Prince's album ("So Far, So Pleased") sounds much more like a No Doubt song. Hmmm.
21. CSS - Move
I've been loving this album, and this song especially. "Better get your move on." Of course, it's about dancing and not running, but as I say - very blurry line in my world.
22. Pop Levi - Wannamama
23. L7 - Fuel My Fire
24. Misfits - Children in Heat
25. Motorhead - Killed by Death
26. Megadeth - Take No Prisoners
27. Body Count - There Goes the Neighborhood
A much needed venture into the rock world. The L7 track is an old favorite. The Motorhead song was PERFECT and made me feel like I could destroy the world. The Megadeth is another classic that hails from my metal roots, and Body Count - Ice-T does rock - doesn't get much harder than that.
28. Danger Mouse - 99 Problems
29. Run DMC - King of Rock
Run DMC is one of my very favorite running accompaniments.
30. Public Enemy - Shut 'Em Down
31. Public Enemy - Fight the Power (Fear of a Black Planet mix)
32. Public Enemy - Night of the Living Baseheads
As is Public Enemy. This was around mile 13. I saw Kate from the sidelines and all I could do was wave a peace sign and shout "FLAVA FLAAAAAAAAAAV!" I don't think she (or anyone) knew what to make of that.
33. Ice Cube & George Clinton - Bop Gun (One Nation)
34. Prince - Black Sweat (Hot Thing FC mix)
35. Prince - Let's Work
36. Prince - Housequake
37. Prince - Sexy Dancer
Yes! First Prince set. I had to settle down here, lest people hear me saying "Sexy Dancer, want your body, want your body" and take it the wrong way.
38. Gwen Stefani - What You Waiting For?
39. Daft Punk - Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
Infinitely better than the Kanye version, for sure.
40. Justice - D.A.N.C.E.
41. Michael Jackson - Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'
42. The Jacksons feat. Mick Jagger - State of Shock
43. Michael Jackson - Bad
I was talking a walk break for a bit, but then the breakdown to "Wanna be Startin' Somethin'" came on and I had to get moving. Mama se, mama sa, mama cu sa.
44. Nikka Costa - Can'tneverdidnothin'
One of my most motivational songs in many respects.
45. The White Stripes - Blue Orchid
46. Ram Jam - Black Betty
47. Nazareth - Hair of the Dog
48. Van Halen - Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love
49. Van Halen - Hang 'Em High
50. Van Halen - Everybody Wants Some!!
51. Van Halen - Unchained
So begins the second rock set. I recently realized that the Ram Jam song has kind of a White Stripes vibe to it. And I learned from the 20k this May that a little Van Halen goes a long way. I definitely picked up the pace when "Everybody Wants Some!!" came on.
52. Guns n' Roses - You Could Be Mine
Ass kicking. And I was definitely feeling some T-2 action as well.
53. New York Dolls - Human Being
54. Iggy & the Stooges - Raw Power
55. Iggy & the Stooges - Search and Destroy
The Stooges are another of my favorite running pick-me-ups. Search and Destroy, bitches.
56. The Noisettes - Don't Give Up
57. The Beastie Boys - Sabotage
58. Snap! - The Power
I HAD to put Snap! on here of course. And this was well placed in the trajectory of the day, for sure.
59. Santogold - Unstoppable
Love it, but skipped it.
60. LL Cool J - Mama Said Knock You Out
No brainer here. Another point where I found myself muttering the words along the way.
61. The Roots - Here I Come
62. MIA - Fire Fire
Skipped these two.
63. Cee-Lo - Bad Mutha
64. Old Dirty Bastard - You Don't Want to Fuck With Me
65. Run DMC - Can You Rock it Like This
The ODB track has a strangely Rocky-esque bombastic backing. And I already mentioned my running relationship with Run DMC. I can rock it like that.
66. Chromeo - You're So Gangsta
I think this somehow disappeared?
67. James Brown - Living in America
This was it! This was the song that took me home! I've never really liked "Eye of the Tiger" (too schlocky '80s rock) and the Rocky theme is so overplayed. But this from Rocky...III? IV? I always forget - is my favorite song from any Rocky ever. Including Warrant's horrid cover of "We Will Rock You" from Rocky V. What was particularly awesome was that (unplanned, for sure) I crossed the finish line right after JB shouts "PITTSBURGH, PA" in the break. Glory!
68. Prince - Endorphinmachine
69. Prince - Let's Pretend We're Married
70. Madonna - Burning Up (12" version)
71. Prince and the Revolution - Baby, I'm a Star
Didn't get to these, but ah well.
All in all, it was a great day. The weather was perfect, I felt (and still feel) surprisingly good. I had no shame in taking a few walk breaks. And it's true what they say - you end up breaking the distance down. "I've only got a 20k to go. I've done that before." "I've only got a 10k to go, I've done that before." I've only got a 5k to go? HA!" And when I hit mile marker 25, I definitely said to myself "Fuck it, let's go all in from here on out." And it was great.
During the training process, so many people said to me "Wow, that's great. I'd love to do that but...." or "I could never do that!" Everybody has their reasons, but the fact that I did this today seriously makes me feel like anybody can do it. If you would have asked me to do a marathon a year ago, I might have said the same thing. But here we are.
Now I'm setting my sights on the Pittsburgh marathon in May. I predict more hills, but better scenery.
I'd like to include a photo, but I won't get those for a few days, and my camera conked out on Kate. But here's a victory shot anyhow.
And now, I shall proceed to indulge in cocktails for the rest of the evening.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Slammin' song, which a friend recently pointed out is perfect for amping up on a run. To that end, tomorrow I attempt my first marathon. Earlier this week I compiled a 71-track playlist (which I'll share later) to help me along. I hope to not take that long to complete, but just in case! Of course, the verdict is still out on how the headphone ban will be treated at this race. One books, the Baltimore marathon states the USATF mandate, but not sure whether or not it will be enforced. I'm taking it just in case. If not, I think I'll be ok. My battery died about an hour into a 20 mile run a few weeks ago and I was fine. Would have been better with music, but fine nonetheless. And in the event that the ban is enforced, there promises to be a bunch of novelty along the course - "theme" miles (The Babe Ruth Mile, the Preakness Mile, The Italian Mile, The Star Spangled Banner Mile ... ???), a gummy bear station, and I imagine some live music. Regarding the last point, I hope their choices are better than those of the Dam to Dam 20k. I love Johnny Cash, but he really isn't what I want to hear when running. Unless I'm running from THE LAW.
Have a funky weekend, everyone!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
I promised a report, and I hereby make good on that promise, though it may be brief.
As I mentioned earlier, I've been wanting to see these guys basically since I heard Fancy Footwork last year. So in August when I got a myspace message announcing a brief fall tour including DC, I had to jump on it. Especially since they vowed to play all of the Fancy Footwork LP.
I do wish shows would be advertised more accurately. For instance, no mention of an opener on the ticket or the web, but there was an opening DJ. Wasn't really my thing.
The venue was the famous 9:30 club. Cool place, nice layout, expensive drinks (thought that might be more DC than the club). I was told the place had incredible sound. The only thing that keeps me from 100% agreement is that as with so many shows, the vocals were too low in the mix. But other than that, it was pretty great sound wise.
But that's all boring setup. Chromeo finally hit the stage, mannequin legs in tow. They were exactly what I anticipated - well executed, entertaining, silly. I appreciate that Pee only talks/sings through a talkbox. There was also a great deal of crowd participation, which surprised me a bit. Not that Chromeo is a totally unknown band (the show was after all sold out and sponsored by MySpace), I just didn't expect it. Of course, it shouldn't surprise me given that they are such a catchy, funky little combo.
True to their word, they played the entire FF album, although not in sequence. Peppered within the set were selections from their first LP, which I'd never heard previously. [I did give it a listen this week, and it's kind of OK.] Highlights for me were "Bonafide Lovin'" (which included an intro lifted from "Money for Nothing), "Fancy Footwork," "Mama's Boy" and "100%." And "Call Me Up." Ok, maybe there wasn't a particular high point. I love the album to death and they played the whole thing. There was also a brief medley led by Pee (of course on the talkbox) through some Journey songs. Most of you know my distaste for Journey, so this was probably a low point for me. But still...it was Chromeo.
In short, it was $20 well spent. If there was a bit more space and I had a few more drinks, I probably would have danced my ass off. Alas, it was a sold out, packed house and I had to drive back to Baltimore. But Chromeo live definitely gets the Gonzo seal of approval. As our new friend Peter shouted at the band, "THAT'S SOME GOOD GODDAMNED MUSIC, BOYS!"
Friday, October 3, 2008
I've raved about Chromeo's Fancy Footwork here before, and if I know you personally, I've likely praised the album in person as well. It is absolutely one of my favorite records from 2007, and one of the best getting-ready-to-go-out / party albums I've heard in a while. I'm also totally stoked, because I'll be seeing these chaps at the 9:30 club on Saturday, finally! (I'm sad to be missing The Bird and the Bee in Baltimore, but alas.)
First up is the song that drew me in initially. Here's the highly amusing video for "Bonafide Lovin'" :
And here we have the boys performing "Fancy Footwork" on Jimmy Kimmel Live from this past summer:
I'll post a report on the show in a couple of days. In the meantime, have a great weekend and stay funky!
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
In this episode, your host features music though disparate in genre (rock, electro, hip hop) is united in its embrace by hipsters. For just under 2 hours, we cover music spanning from 1997 and featuring many releases from the current year.
Take a listen!
Podcast #2: Hipster Dance Party!
I value feedback - please leave your raves, critiques, suggestions etc. in the comment section of this post. Else, it appears that I'm making these for myself.
This Episode's Featured Artists
If you like what you hear, check out more from these artists!
The Ting Tings
Hot Hot Heat
New Young Pony Club
Bondo Do Role
Simian Mobile Disco