Wednesday, August 31, 2005

One Block Radius

Had I been able to catch Hieroglyphics in Tempe earlier this month, I also would have had the opportunity to see One Block Radius as a support act. The California-based trio is just another reason to think that hip-hop is cycling back to the good-time vibes of the early ’90s while pushing the genre in new creative directions.

Producer/singer Marty James, turntablist MDA (both formerly of Scapegoat Wax) and Hiero-affiliated rapper Z-Man make up One Block Radius, which recently dropped the LPLong Story Short.

James says on the group’s bio: “I hope the album sparks people’s creative sides. I want us to keep progressing in the fashion of an OutKast where you have the first record and it just grows and when it’s fully developed, it’s a beautiful thing. We are dudes that want to push the boundaries creatively.”

Creativity isn’t in doubt here. These guys are chameleon-like, going from the totally danceable Loud and Clear to the beatbox basics of Champion.

The links come via the group’s Web site. Check ‘em at MySpace, too.

One Block Radius | Look Out Below
One Block Radius | Loud and Clear
One Block Radius | Black Mercedes
One Block Radius | Champion

Check out the video for Loud and Clear here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

White lines … not the ones on the field

This was too good to not share: Todd Shell, head coach of the Rattlers, our local Arena Football League team, and a two-time Super Bowl winner with the 49ers in the 1980s, was found with cocaine, according to this story. Shell was “shirtless and sweating profusely when an officer found him pacing around his Land Cruiser about 1 a.m.” on early Tuesday.
Wait, it gets better. He then told an officer he kept looking north. When officers asked why, Shell told them he was alone but said a “guy wearing camouflage is in the tree.” Cocaine? I’m thinking LSD, maybe.
After first denying the cocaine belonged to him, Shell fessed up to having an “eight ball.” Then he said he’d used cocaine ONLY three times. What can he say? The AFL is a pressure cooker.

In other news, you will be seeing posts very soon from my friend Royce; we’ll call him a contributing editor. His tastes are eclectic and he also was at the recent Sufjan Stevens show in Tempe, so I know about 99.6 percent of you will approve. (On that note, he was teased ruthlessly by a co-worker for wearing his Illinoise shirt to work the day after the show.) I do reckon Royce is cooking up something mighty special for his debut.

And I officially prostituted myself out to MySpace. Go here and make me your friend. Please. There’s even a little picture there, in case you wondered what the underside of my chin looks like.

And Guppies Eat Their Young

It’s high time I posted on an Arizona band. If you missed the last one on Reubens Accomplice, go do some research here. (As an update, Reubens is touring Europe in October. So, if you’re in the area, go check ‘em out.)
Today’s Ariz. pick is … And Guppies Eat Their Young. Veterans of the local scene, the Guppies have 11 releases to their name, most of which can be purchased at Stinkweeds, including 2004’s Once.

The band — Jason DiGiacomo (guitar), Ron Marschall (drums), Roland Daum (guitar, synthesizer), Sonny Coccera (bass) and Brock Ruggles (vocals, guitar) — is decidedly lo-fi through a compelling mixture of indie, alt-country and a sometimes Low-ish depressive vibe.

Ruggles’ vocals are wistful and moody, and for some reason, tend to make me nostalgic for something I’m not even sure exists. “Will the pain give up the sky to sun beams / to warm the hearts of those who grieve,” on Carolina, an indie-twangy number off Once.

Visit them at My Space here. I’m including selections off Once, but I encourage you to visit their Web site for mp3s from the rest of their catalog.

And Guppies Eat Their Young | Parking Garage
And Guppies Eat Their Young | The Warbly Parade (personal fave)
And Guppies Eat Their Young | Carolina

Sunday, August 28, 2005


I was snooping around the Solesides Web site (and I suggest you do the same) when I came across a snippett about the group Stateless, from Leeds, England. Turns out, DJ Shadow is a huge fan and has enlisted singer Chris James to provide some vocals for Shadow’s 2006 album.

Now, I don’t know about you, but whenever one of my favorite artists recommends another group, I tend to listen. No less an authority than Shadow had this to say about the group’sBloodstream EP: “Their EP is stunning … As close to perfection as I’ve heard in a long time.” Ahhh, got your attention now, eh?

In addition to James (vocals, keyboards, guitars), Stateless is Kidkanevil (turntables, sampling, programming), Jon Taylor (bass, keyboards, guitar), Jimmy Sturdy (drums, piano, string arrangement) and Rod Buchanan Dunlop (FX, programming, keyboards).

The combination of piano, sampling and James’ voice offers a big, enthralling sound — not unlike what you’d hear from UNKLE. Don’t take my word for it — although you might want to take DJ Shadow’s. Check the three tracks below or visit them on My Space.

Stateless | Down Here (really, highly recommended. really)
Stateless | Horizon
Stateless | Running Out

Friday, August 26, 2005

New Blackalicious track

If you didn’t know, Blackalicious of the Quannum crew has a new album coming out Sept. 27: The Craft. The buzz is getting big, and the record label Anti has a new track available. Peep it.

Blackalicious (feat. Lifesavas) | Your Move

Elbow: Get the new album a week early

I’ve said it here before and I’ll say it again: I’m a big Elbow fan. In fact, I was just listening to Asleep in the Back yesterday at work. The group’s new album, Leaders of the Free World, is coming out Sept. 12.

Elbow’s label, V2, is offering the album exclusively a week before the release date through TellJack. Visit TellJack here and you can pre-order the album in digital or CD format and receive the content a week before Sept. 12. Packages include free bonus material, including videos for Station Approach and Forget Myself.

Check out the video for Forget Myself here (via Filter).

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Caption winner

After much deliberation, the winner of the Rex Grossman caption contest is … (drum roll, please) … Goose! For his efforts, Goose has won a sourceVictoria EP and T-shirt. But please know, you’re all winners in my book.
I quite enjoyed Goose’s reference to Jim McMahon, who might be the last somewhat decent QB the Bears have had. And if I remember correctly, Goose is a Packers fan, so there was just the right touch of spite and venom in his entry. Goose, e-mail me your mailing address and T-shirt size. Well done.
More contests to come!

Maybe if I lay here long enough they’ll bring Jim McMahon back.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Seven Storey Mountain

Seven Storey Mountain is, by far, one of my favorite bands from Arizona. The best compliment I can pay is that they don’t sound like a local band, if that makes sense.
The band has undergone plenty of turnover, but the one constant is singer/songwriter/guitarist Lance Lammers, the brains of the operation. Seven Storey Mountain (which, for a short time, truncated its name to Seven Storey) has made several appearances on Deep Elm’s Emo Diaries collections. But I’m hesitant to label it “emo.” If emo is about baring your soul and getting in touch with feelings, Lammers is more about relieving the burdens of emotions in sonic thrusts. It’s relationships and reality gone awry, then examining the wreckage. Catharsis defined.
The band’s first LP, Leper Ethics, released on Art Monk Construction, is engaging and introspective. Deep Elm released the follow-ups, “Based on a True Story” (an EP) and “Dividing By Zero.” (All available through Stinkweeds.)
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A new LP is due for release this year, and Lammers has posted four demos at the band’sspot on My Space. There are MP3s at the band’s Web site, and I have a few of my favorites to add (all recommended, including the scathing “Politician.”)
Seven Storey Mountain: Last Time (from Leper Ethics)
Seven Storey Mountain: Politician (from Based on a True Story)
Seven Storey Mountain: Halfway (from Dividing By Zero)

Yet even more Brendan Benson

At this rate, I may surpass Chris as Brendan Benson’s No. 1 fan … no, that’s just not possible. I do have to give a shout-out to Chris for introducing me to him, though.
Anyway, I’ve had a few requests (OK, like two … shut up) for this Metarie EP by Brendan Benson and the Wellfed Boys I found in Los Angeles. There’s five tracks, but I’ll post three: the two versions of Metarie and a sorta tweaked version of Alternative to Love (probably my fave BB track so far). The UK version of Metarie, which seems more melancholy than the original, includes the female vocals of Emma J (per liner notes), which gives it a nice change of pace.

This version of Alternative to Love is a little more sparse than the original. It matters not: The song is aces, my friends.

Brendan Benson | Metarie (Wellfed version)
Brendan Benson | Metarie (UK version)
Brendan Benson | Alternative to Love

Eight days to kickoff

Chris at Gorilla vs. Bear made his obligatory Michigan football post, so I feel it only necessary to hype up my Sun Devils of Arizona State. The Devils are ranked No. 20 in the preseason AP poll after finishing last season 9-3, including an, ahem, uplifting win in the Vitalis Sun Bowl.
The Devils lose Pac-10 record-breaking quarterback Andrew Walter (now with the Raiders), but I have high hopes for Sam Keller, the Sun Bowl MVP in his first collegiate start. WR Derek Hagan (below) is set to become the school’s all-time leading receiver and he’s a preseason Playboy All-American (hey, I read it for the articles!). The ‘D’ is stellar; yes, there is SOME defense in the Pac-10.

The schedule has its hurdles: AT Louisiana State on Sept. 10; home vs. USC on Oct. 1 (Trojans embarrassed us last year 45-7). The good news is we miss Cal on the schedule, and we open with the laughably easy Temple on Sept. 1. But I swear, if U. of Arizona beats us again this year …

The Pharcyde | Devil Music
INXS | Devil Inside

Joan as Police Woman

A guy I met in Los Angeles this past weekend introduced me to Joan as Police Woman(born Joan Wasser). She’s a trained violin player, and incorporates that instrument into an indie setting. More intriguing is her voice: not strained or forced and never setting out to steal the spotlight. It’s somehow complementary to the music but still stands out.
Her bio is impressive, and her work includes an opening slot for Rufus Wainright in Europe this past spring. She also was a violinist/vocalist for the Dambuilders.

Find three songs here off her solo EP, available at CD Baby.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Life and Times

I’ve been skipping around new music so much of late I can’t keep track. And I’ve stumbled on another band that deserves my (and your) attention: The Life and Times, whose newSuburban Hymns is out on DeSoto Records. I know little of the band other than what you can easily find at its bio, like the fact that singer Allen Epley once fronted Shiner. But what drew me was a production credit to J. Robbins, he of Jawbox and Burning Airlines fame.
Epley’s slightly distorted vocals certainly suggest a Burning Airlines influence, but the guitar play colors outside the lines a little more. I really like how active the drums sound, especially under some of the more soaring vocals and guitar lines.
The Life and Times My Last Hostage
The Life and Times Charlotte Street
The Life and Times Coat of Arms (via DeSoto)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Ben Gibbard is right … sort of

So, I’m back from LA. Just drove six hours right into work — even saw a big rig on fire on the side of the highway.
I have no music right now, but I will later because I scored at Amoeba. A few highlights:
  • The Jurassic 5 EP on vinyl for 3.99; the original pressing, NOT the reissue.
  • The Black Keys’ The Big Come Up on vinyl — WHITE vinyl — for 6.99.
  • Brendan Benson’s One Mississippi (finally) and a Metarie EP with a couple of different versions of that song. I thought I had the drop on Chris, president of the Brendan Benson fan club, only to find out he already had it (of course!). But I will post if anyone would like. It also includes sorta different versions of Alternative to Love and You’re Quiet.
  • Shout Out Louds CD Howl Howl Gaff Gaff, which I’m liking.
  • One 12″ vinyl single that will make for a very special Flashback Friday.
Last note, on the drive outta town, I got to listen to Nic Harcourt and Morning Becomes Eclectic for about an hour. He said that when White Stripes and Greenhornes were in town last week, they recorded a couple sessions in the studio. White Stripes will broadcast on Sept. 6, Greenhornes sometime in October.
As for LA, well, traffic is absolutely awful, even on the weekends. Which made me think of Death Cab’s Why You’d Want to Live Here. I can think of two reasons: the weather and Amoeba.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Flashback Friday: Goin’ Back to Cali.

Well, I’m headed off to LA today for the weekend and figured this would be a perfect time to bust out this vinyl 45 flashback: LL Cool J’s Goin’ Back to Cali.

When you’re talking about greatest rappers of all time, LL’s name has to come up, and I’m speaking strictly pre-Mr. Smith era (though I’d guess LL could take out any young whipper snapper … hello, Canibus). For raw beats and brash lyrics, LL’s Radio and Bigger and Deffer are hard to top. Radio stands atop my hip-hop collection with the likes of Run-DMC’s Tougher than Leather and A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory.
As for Goin’ Back to Cali. (on Walking With a Panther and the Less Than Zero soundtrack), it’s interesting to note the cultural influence the title alone has. If you google the title, you’ll find a lot of links to newspapers that used the headline “Goin’ back to Cali.” for some story relating to the state. I’ll never forget the video, all black and white with LL rollin’ in his ride when he drops the line: “Bikini small / heels tall / she said she likes the ocean.”
The B-side to the 45 single is Jack the Ripper, which I don’t believe appeared on any studio albums (but does show up on multiple Best of Def Jam compilations). It’s classic LL: in your face with a funky James Brown guitar sample and production by Rick Rubin.
LL Cool J | Goin’ Back to Cali.
LL Cool J | Jack the Ripper
(Note: Vinyl to digital conversion completed using Audio Hijack Pro.)
See y’all Tuesday, and get your captions in for the Rex Grossman photo below!

The Stop the Violence Movement: Self-Destruction

Once I discovered the blog/photo journal of old-school rapper D-Nice, I couldn’t help but click through his archives. He was (is) one of my favorite rap artists. I came across one of his posts about the single Self-Destruction, a track recorded under the Stop the Violence Movement that featured some serious hip-hop heavyweights from the East Coast and was produced by D-Nice at the tender age of 18. (Read his post for more on that.)
Anyway, it got me digging into my vinyl because I own the 12″ single and I thought I’d revive it here. Recorded in 1989, it seems pretty incredible (perhaps in a sad way) that the track still carries a worthwhile message. I didn’t find a whole lot about it on the Internet, other than this one line at Wikipedia that tells how the Stop the Violence Movement originated. You might also remember the West Coast All-Stars’ similar project We’re All in the Same Gang. (If anyone has this, I’d love to hear it again.)
Besides the strong message it carries, Self-Destruction is just a great song with a singable chorus. And all proceeds of the record were donated to National Urban League “to support and develop programming dealing with Black on Black crime and youth education” (taken from record cover).

Here’s a rundown of the emcees (in order they appear):
KRS-One, M.C. Delight, Kool Moe Dee, M.C. Lyte, Daddy-O and Wise, D-Nice, Ms. Melodie, Doug E. Fresh, Just-Ice, Heavy D., Fruit-Kwan, Chuck D and Flavor Flav.
I’ve included three of the four mixes from the single (excluded the “single edit”). Still trying to decipher the difference between the “extended mix” and the “special remix.”
Stop the Violence Movement | Self-Destruction (extended mix)
Stop the Violence Movement | Self-Destruction (special remix)
Stop the Violence Movement | Self-Destruction (instrumental)

Pete Miser video

Thanks to Mallie at South of Mainstream, I’m already a huge fan of underground hip-hopper Pete Miser now. I posted on him just about a week ago and I’ve been listening to his latest LP Camouflage is Relative non-stop.
Yesterday, I stumbled across a video for his song Scent of a Robot, courtesy of 15 Minutes to Live (another cool blog with clean design). A previous post there shows that Miser is Prince Paul-approved, which is all I needed to know.
Anyway, peep the video. The whole concept of the song is kind of intriguing: He finds out he’s a robot by accident through an e-mail at work. It almost has a Blade Runner influence to it: Pete Miser, a hip-hop replicant.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The future of MP3 bloggers

A friend of mine at work brought this story to my attention, which is ironic because I was over at Can You See the Sunset and Eric wrote about music and his soon-to-be-born daughter seemingly responding to his singing to her.
The story states that four newborns in a Slovak hospital are listening to classical music as part of an experiment to see if it helps reduce stress and stay healthy. It says most of the babies lie quietly or fall asleep when tuned in. Well, duh. Clearly, they’d be better off listening to Sufjan.
Regardless, I can’t decide if I’m disturbed or amazed by this. As my friend pointed out: “You know they’re really programming killing machines that don’t feel pain.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The New Pornographers

It’s funny, these blogs. Although I’m fairly new to this, I’ve noticed one pattern: a leaked track causes such a buzz a few months before an album’s release date that by the time the album is actually released, it seems like old news. I suppose that’s the nature of the cycle. Regardless, lest we forget, Twin Cinema, the new long player from The New Pornographers comes out next week.
The store at Matador Records is offering a pretty sweet deal: $10 for a preorder, which includes a limited edition (aren’t they all?) 7″ with an unreleased song. (While you’re there, preorder the “special edition” of Interpol’s Antics, which includes a bonus disc with five tracks. Only $10.) Or you can buy Twin Cinema at Amazon here and get instant access to an audio stream of the entire album. Really, you can’t go wrong either way.
Anyway, I’m a sucker for anything with Neko Case. So here’s to rekindling the buzz:
The New Pornographers | Use It (courtesy Matador)
The New Pornographers | Twin Cinema (courtesy Matador)
The New Pornographers | The Bones of an Idol (courtesy … um, me)

All-Time Quarterback / caption contest

All our chatter on the Blogger Fantasy Football League got me thinking about the gridiron. Naturally, I turned first to All-Time Quarterback, also known as Ben Gibbard, who recorded these lo-fi tracks in 1999 as an aside to his duties in Death Cab For Cutie.
I’ve owned this album for quite some time but never really warmed up to it. Maybe I’m expecting something too similar to Death Cab. The tracks have a campy quality about them: sparse acoustic guitars strummed over inexpensive Casio keyboards. Rules Broken, which I do like quite a bit, uses one of those canned keyboard beats (”samba” or “waltz”) for the primary rhythm, which is clever and yet oh-so indie.
I have trouble telling whether this was all genuine or just some sort of vanity project, something the hip kids knew about long ago but will dismiss once the O.C. gang finds out about it. If you missed it last week, Fluxblog had a thoughtful take on Gibbard and his songwriting talents (or lack thereof?).

All-Time Quarterback | Rules Broken
All-Time Quarterback | Plans Get Complex
All-Time Quarterback | Sock Hop

This picture (below) pretty much sums up the Bears’ luck for the past two seasons. Rex Grossman, incumbent starter, is out for three to four months because of a broken left ankle he suffered in a preseason game; last year, he at least made it until the third week of the season. Regardless, the Jeff Blake Era has begun.
For now, I’m challenging your creative wit for a clever caption of this most terrible photo. Leave it in the comment section. The winner, as judged by me, will receive a copy ofsourceVictoria’s self-titled EP (and maybe even a T-shirt). You’ve heard about sourceVictoria recently on this site here and at Gorilla vs. Bear. Just thought I’d have some fun at the expense of the Bears’ fragile quarterbacking situation. Contest will run through the weekend.

Bloc Party remixes — going, going … GONE

OK, I’ve left these Bloc Party remix tracks active because they were quite popular. However, they are now for sale on the iTunes music store as the Dimmakified! EP: four remixes for four bucks. Soooo, I’ll be taking down these tracks later tonight. That said, I’d highly recommend taking four bucks out of your weekly allowance and simply buying them. That’s chump change for some really cool remixes — even if Ryan says Bloc Party has sold out.

LA record shopping

… OK, I’m going to be in LA (west Hollywood, more specifically) this weekend. Anyone have record store recommendations — other than Amoeba, where I’ll be spending a good hour or four.
… For anyone going to Austin for the ACL festival: If you’re there on Thursday (Sept. 22),Thievery Corporation and DJ Z-Trip are playing Stubb’s. That would be the same Stubb’s where we’ll be seeing the Arcade Fire and Black Keys on Friday night.
… There’s a lot of blogger fantasy football trash talking going on out there. So let me just be the first to call it: The fantasy football champ resides right here on this little Web site.
… I know you already hit my favorite sites over there at the right. And there are two new ones to the list: Veritas Lux Mea (the truth is my light) keeps a tight mix on sports, news and music: What else do you need?
And be sure (especially if you’re an old-school hip-hop fan) to visit D-Nice’s blog. Yes, that D-Nice — formerly the deejay of Boogie Down Productions whose solo LP Call Me D-Nice is a downright classic. I can’t believe I never knew about his blog, but it’s the shite: loaded with words and pictures and a few downloads. Really, it’s crazy to see an artist I like so much doing the blog thing. Coolness.

This was — and always will be — THE joint:
D-Nice | Call Me D-Nice

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Greenhornes

The Greenhornes will be in Phoenix this week, opening for the White Stripes. I’ve only recently heard of the Greenhornes, but I’m really enjoying their new EP East Grand Blues(produced and recorded by Brendan Benson). For background: The Greenhornes, from Cincinnati, were the backing band on Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose album, and bassist Jack Lawrence and drummer Patrick Keeler will serve as the rhythm section for the Raconteurs, the on-the-side collaboration of Jack White and Benson.
The music — with its brooding low-end melodies — is eerily reminiscent of ’60s bands like the Animals and the Byrds; that’s not to say the Greenhornes are copycats. The influence is obvious, but there’s a bit of a modern garage rock update to it. For comparison’s sake, I’ve digitzed the Byrds’ Turn! Turn! Turn! and the Animals’ Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood from vinyl 45s. (I think if you listen to I’m Going Away and Turn! Turn! Turn! back to back, you’ll hear the influence.)

The Greenhornes | I’m Going Away
The Greenhornes | Shelter of Your Arms
The Byrds | Turn! Turn! Turn!
The Animals | Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Mark Grace and the F-bomb

The Cubs and Cardinals are on ESPN right now, so I’m in a baseball mood. For those of you that didn’t hear the news last week, Mark Grace, a Diamondbacks color analyst and one of my favorite former Cubs players, let the F-bomb slip on-air about four times during what he thought was a private conversation with a producer during a D-Backs/Marlins game. A faulty “talk-back” button was blamed for the, uh, malfunction.
Gracie basically takes a few shots at D-Backs catcher Chris Snyder, unknowingly airing it to regional Fox viewers. Can’t Stop the Bleeding, a fine sports blog, has an MP3, including play-by-play man Thom Brennaman’s apology. Hilarious. (So far, I’ve seen no comments from Snyder.)
Also, baseball fans should make Yard Work a daily read. I won’t do it justice trying to explain its contents. Just read it.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Indie ringers on your cellphone

… Have you checked out Bliptones? For $1.99 apiece, you can download a whole slew of indie songs for your cell phone: The Decemberists, Death Cab (”ba, baaaaa, this is the sound of settling”), Sleater-Kinney, My Morning Jacket and a bunch more. I went with a DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist ringer.
… Does anyone have thoughts/opinions on the Andy Milonakis Show on MTV? I’m ashamed to say I laughed when I sat down and watched it last week.
… Upcoming local shows:
And, oh yeah, 41 days until Austin.
Just a little weekend treat:

Friday, August 12, 2005

Brendan Benson on Sirius Left of Sessions

OK, so I flaked on Flashback Friday. But South of Mainstream has you covered there.
Instead, I spent the morning recording and meticulously trimming (via Audio Hijack Proand AudacityBrendan Benson’s set on the Sirius satellite radio show Left of Sessions: Seven tracks, including a Gram Parsons cover of Strong Boy.
With Audio Hijack, I think the sound turned out decent; the Internet stream tends to sound a little tinny from Sirius. Any feedback on the sound is appreciated. (Songs are listed alphabetically, not in the order he played them.)
Brendan Benson | Alternative to Love
Brendan Benson | Between Us
Brendan Benson | Cold Hands (Warm Heart)
Brendan Benson | Get It Together
Brendan Benson | Spit It Out
Brendan Benson | Strong Boy (Gram Parsons cover)
Brendan Benson | What I’m Looking For

Radar Bros.

So, I’m wholly convinced now that I will like just about anything put out on Merge Records. If one of my favorite artists, Richard Buckner, moving to that label wasn’t enough, I’ve fallen for the new album by the Radar Bros., The Fallen Leaf Pages.
I picked it up on whim — having not listened to any of their previous albums — and can’t stop playing it. It’s moody, open-ended, unassuming and always seems to creep close to these sonic crescendos before fading into this lilting guitar-piano-drum amazement. I like how the songs take their time — as if there’s no rush to find the end.
Buy it here.

Radar Bros. | Is That Blood (personal favorite)
Radar Bros. | The River Shade
Radar Bros. | Papillon

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Da Ali G Show — Booyakasha!

Thought I’d take a break from music and change it up a little. Da Ali G Show could be one of the funniest shows on TV, in my opinion. Sasha Baron Cohen plays three roles in the show: Ali G, a wannabe British gangsta born “in da heart off da Staines ghetto”; Borat, a confused TV reporter from Kazakhstan; and Bruno, an Austrian fashion reporter.
This Slate article talks about how Cohen is able to dupe some pretty prominent Americans (Newt Gingrich, Buzz Aldrin, Sam Donaldson) into appearing on the show for “interviews” with Ali G. My favorite, though, is Borat, who attempts to explore American culture while practically offending everyone in his path.
Here’s a couple of clips from the first season. (Sound clips were transferred to MP3 usingAudio Hijack Pro.)

Boom Bap Project

OK, I just purchased Boom Bap Project’s full-length debut Reprogram last night and had to share. A member of the absurdly cool Rhymesayers roster (hello, Atmosphereanybody?), this Seattle-based trio is on tour with Hieroglyphics right now, which is validation enough in my mind. And Reprogram is exactly the kind of hip-hop I love: fresh beats and energetic emcees on the positive tip. Guest spots include Gift of Gab (Blackalicious) and Rakaa Iriscience (Dilated Peoples).

Boom Bap Project: Welcome to Seattle
Boom Bap Project: Rock the Spot (recommended … highly)
Boom Bap live on KEXP (performance + interview)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Pete Miser

“Emo” isn’t the sole property of indie rock. B-boys have feelings, too. Check Pete Miserfor proof. The New York emcee, via Portland, Ore., wears his feelings on his mic on his newest release Camouflage is Relative.
Narrative prose — a la Slick Rick — is Miser’s strength. He embodies the hip-hop culture but eschews the machismo posturing that is so transparent in commercial rap. He’s an emo emcee, but he can flip a phrase with the best. On I See You, Miser raps to the object of his affection: “I’m so grimy in comparison it’s embarrassin’ / You got me weak in the knees like Nancy Kerrigan.” Final is like a diary entry about his ex in which Miser tries to excuse his emotions: “I bet this is going to seem a surprise / but I still catch them feelings when I look in her eyes.”
But no track jumps like the opener, So Sensitive, even if — or maybe because — the stuttering guitar loops recall N.W.A.’s If It Ain’t Ruff. This is where Miser flaunts his verbal prowess but bares his soul, too: “Weigh a buck fifty with a backpack / still dumb enough to slap Shaq and tell him he raps wack.” But on the chorus, he opines: “It ain’t easy being me / with all these insecurities / I’m such a sensitive emcee.”
Topped by tight production, Miser is an underground hip-hop gem.
So Sensitive (mp3)
Scent of a Robot (mp3)
Table Scraps (mp3)
Final (mp3)

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

45: Come Together/Soundgarden cover

Another trip to the record store this weekend, another vinyl 45 score: The Beatles Come Together for 99 cents (B-side is Something). It even had (what I think is) the original Apple Records sleeve. The collection for the jukebox gets sweeter by the day.
So I thought I’d share, along with a Soundgarden cover from Loudest Love, a seven-song Japanese import from 1990. I’ve always had an affinity for Soundgarden, and I won’t apologize for that.

The Beatles: Come Together
Soundgarden: Come Together