Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Twin Sister cover Daft Punk

I haven't been very interested in anything Daft Punk has done post-Discovery. But that album has a lot of nostalgia for me, and defined most of my college experience. Anyhow, one of my favorites from the album has always been "Something About Us." A while back I made a brief post about Twin Sister. And here, the two converge.

Twin Sister - "Something About Us (Daft Punk)" from Ian Perlman on Vimeo.

When do I get to go to rooftop gigs?

Happy 51st to Sheena Easton

Sheena Easton - Sugar Walls
Uploaded by jpdc11. - Explore more music videos.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Gonzo on the air, 4-25

Hedwig and the Angry Inch-Tear Me Down
Iggy Pop-Sixteen
Surfer Blood-Anchorage
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart-Young Adult Friction
MGMT-Brian Eno
Twin Sister-All Around and Away We Go
The XX-Crystallized
The Bird and the Bee-Heard it on the Radio
Lily Allen-Friday Night
She and Him-Don't Look Back
The Beatles-Paperback Writer
The Beatles-Rain
Steely Dan-Everything You Did
New Young Pony Club-We Want to
Client-Where has the Rock and Roll Gone
Crystal Castles-Celestica
Groove Armada-Paper Romance
Yoko Ono/Peaches-Kiss Kiss Kiss
No Doubt-Hella Good
Brazilian Girls-Jique
Royksopp-The Girl and the Robot
Felix da Housecat-Elvi$

Saturday, April 24, 2010

New Mix

This week we had our departmental banquet, which is mainly a chance to recognize students who've done exceptional work for our departmental organizations. I was asked to make a mix, which I dutifully did. It went unused, but I'll still share it with you. Tracks are mostly from the past year or so, with a couple stretching a bit farther back.

April 2010 mix

I also need to make a new running mix - it's on the docket, though my running has been spotty lately due to a minor, but nagging injury.

Tracklist in the comments.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Gonzo on the air, 4/18

Jucifer-Little Fever
Arctic Monkeys-Crying Lightning
The Killers-All these Things that I've Done
Cocktail Slippers-Love Me Back
Beck-Diamond Dogs (request)
MGMT-It's Working
Love is All-False Pretense
The Grates-Lies are Much More Fun
Lightspeed Champion-Marlene
Donnie Iris-That's The Way Love Ought To Be
The Cars-You're All I've Got Tonight
Talking Heads-What a Day that Was (live)
Dr. Dog-Shadow People
Weezer-In the Garage (request)
Ra Ra Riot-Run My Mouth
Grizzly Bear-Two Weeks
Kraftwerk-Trans Europe Express
Fever Ray-When I Grow Up
Four Tet-Plastic People
Flaming Lips-Convinced of the Hex

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Happy 20th to Fear of a Black Planet

Saturday April 10th marked the twentieth anniversary of the release of Public Enemy's Fear of a Black Planet. Recently, the University of Iowa held a series of events marking the occasion (shout out to Kembrew). I was sadly unable to attend the festivities at my most recent alma mater. But the buzz around these events through my still maintained Iowa channels prompted me to ruminate on the album.

1988's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back will no doubt be the Public Enemy album that goes down in history as the essential disc (honestly, it already has). But its follow up is not to be overlooked, for reasons I'll explain shortly. But first, I want to offer some personal reflections, because Fear is without a doubt the PE album that holds the most significance for me.

The year was 1990. Your old pal Gonzo was a mere 8 years old. These was the era of the hi-top fade, of Yo! MTV Raps. Of The Fresh Prince, 3rd Bass and Humpty Hump. Enter "911 is a Joke."

In the context of the comedy pop-rap that was so popular at the time, "911" was definitely on the radar of our white suburban ears. While the song is certainly comedic, the critique embedded within was of course lost on an eight-year old. But it was nonetheless an introduction.

To be quite honest, my exposure to Public Enemy was limited in the ensuing years. This is not doubt partially due to the fact that so few of their songs were suitable for airplay. We just didn't have access to it given our age and demographic. I do recall seeing the video for "Burn Hollywood Burn" on Yo! MTV Raps once though, and I clearly remember being taken aback by the all-around aesthetic assault.

Once again, the critique was entirely lost on me, but I just remember being struck by the video. Not necessarily liking it, but just finding it an awful lot to digest. The only other memory of Public Enemy from the era that I recall is watching the video for "Can't Truss It" off of 1991's Apocolypse '91: The Enemy Strikes Black. For a few years after that, Public Enemy May as well have not even existed in my world.

In fact, I had no interest in hip hop for quite a few years. Again, we're talking about predominantly white Pittsburgh suburbs here. Sure, white suburban youth were the dominant consumers of gangsta rap, but I was too mired in alternative and classic rock to care. In my early teenage years, I had become resistant to hip hop. Not for any social or political reason.

That gradually changed due to the guitarist in one of my high school bands, who turned me on to a number of artists that remain important to me (Bowie, the Police, the Pixies). He loved Public Enemy. Hearing various tracks in his car, I started to warm up to them. I then ordered Fear from one of those mail-order music clubs, figuring that was the album that at least had a few familiar songs. Long story short, it blew my mind.

The term "sonic assault" may be overused in discussions about Public Enemy, but it's such an accurate descriptor of their overall sound. It's aural chaos - particularly for a 15 year-old steeped in straightforward commercial rock. It sounded like a riot - sirens, layers and layers of samples, and a vocal delivery that was uncompromising to say the least. Public Enemy and Fear of a Black Planet was the point at which I changed my tune about sampling. Fear taught me that sampling could be more than lifting an old beat. This was the first moment at which I understood that sampling could be used in incredibly creative ways. To this day, I can't identify many of the samples the Bomb Squad utilized (sometimes embarrassingly so - like when it's a Prince track).

And those lyrics were eye-opening. I don't exaggerate in saying that the lyrics on Fear of a Black Planet were among the first media texts to stimulate my thinking about race. I'm not going to say that at 15 I understood every nuance of Chuck's lyrics or even that I had literacy in all of the cultural references. But songs like "Anti-Nigger Machine," "Burn Hollywood Burn," "Fear of a Black Planet" and of course "Fight the Power" (here in remixed form, but nonetheless my first exposure to the track) - raised issues about race, culture and society that were provocative, even to a white 15 year-old suburbanite.

Coming back to music more specifically, Fear was a gateway for me. It was the first hip hop album I ever purchased, and really opened up my mind and tastes to the genre. Shortly to follow were Tribe, De La Soul, Wu-Tang, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, etc. I don't consider myself to be a hip hop aficionado by any stretch of the imagination. Even so, Fear of a Black Planet opened my ears to an entirely new (to me) musical world.

And of course I went out and grabbed all of the other PE releases at the time. They made many great records, including the landmark It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. But I believe that Fear is where Public Enemy perfected their sound. Fear is a little more polished and focused (musically and lyrically) than what preceded and followed it. It's truly the high watermark in the band's catalog.

In closing, here's a video for "Brother's Gonna Work it Out," which I didn't even know existed until right now.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Gonzo on the air, 4/11

Siouxsie and the Banshees-Dazzle
Broken Bells-Sailing to Nowhere
Spoon-Who Makes Your Money
U2-I Will Follow
The Soft Pack-Answer to Yourself
The Hotrats-Damaged Goods
Thao with the Get Down Stay Down-Easy
Television-Marquee Moon
Local Natives-Cards and Quarters
The Raconteurs-Carolina Drama
Lou Reed-This Magic Moment
She and Him-I'm Gonna Make it Better
Chris Isaak-Goin' Nowhere
Band of Horses-Compliments
Vampire Weekend-Think UR a Contra
Frightened Rabbit-Yes, I Would
Eleni Mandell-Artificial Fire
Hot Chip-Brothers
The Bird and the Bee-Private Eyes
The Meters-Hey Pocky Way
James Brown-Cold Sweat (live)
Them-I Can Only Give You Everything
Len Price 3-Pictures
The Chesterfield Kings-She Told Me Lies
The Mighty Hannibal-Take a Chance on Me
JR Walker and the All-Stars-I'm a Road Runner
The Beach Boys-I Was Made to Love Her

Monday, April 5, 2010

Gonzo on the air, 4/4

The Who-I Don't Mind
The Chevelles-C'mon Everybody
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts-The French Song
The Contrast-Take Me Apart
Cocktail Slippers-Anything You Want
Boss Hog-Sick
The Stooges-Loose
New York Dolls-Human Being
Cold War Kids-Coffee Spoon
Twin Sister-Lady Daydream
Beach House-Zebra
Bat for Lashes-Daniel
Kate Bush-The Sensual World
M83-Skin of the Night
Autechre-Bass Cadet
Amanda Blank-Make it Take it
Santogold-You'll Find a Way (remix)
Jamie Lidell-When I Come Back Around
Public Enemy-Contact on the World Love Jam / Brothers Gonna Work it Out
Run DMC-Can You Rock it Like This

Thursday, April 1, 2010

New (and free!) Music

I stumbled upon Twin Sister via Gorilla vs. Bear just the other night. I was cruisin' for some new music while doing some writing, and voila - Twin Sister fell into my virtual lap. I don't know much about them beyond that their members hail from Brooklyn and Long Island, they are a quartet, and they've just digitally released their second EP, Color of Your Life (vinyl and cd versions forthcoming).

It's an exquisite EP. I know that making comparisons between bands is only moderately useful, but they have some elements in common with Beach House, whose latest album is in heavy rotation for me (and is my pick for 2010 so far). I make the comparison only to say that they are similar in tone and mood, focusing on beautifully delicate melodies.

I highly recommend that you check out their new EP. Hell, it's free, what's stopping you? Download Color of Your Life (320 kbps!).