3.19.2005

This is Hard to Do



A while back, I made the argument that Grime was like some bastard form of 77's punk rock -- saving a vapid corporate-buggered American scene from eating itself up; flying in, scooping up hip hop and returning it to safety like some damsel in distress. 'Course, that's all bullshit-romantic, but if we're willing to entertain such a silly premise, and we're equating London emcees with the Johnny Rotton's of the world, I'm tempted to put a Ramones stamp on Crunk. Sure, it's as consumer driven as anything (Lil' John's giving Red Bull a run for its money), but there's something far more gritty and seemingly honest about crunk music. Maybe it's the residue of my rockism, but I still like to buy into the emotion-based punk rock meta-narrative. And clearly there's far more dirty fingers and sweaty palms in a Lil' Wyte song than there is in a Nelly track. I'll take the hurried and somewhat unsure sound of youth over glossy bullshit anyday.



Crime Mobb - Stilettos (Pumps)

I heard these girls were only seventeen years old. If that's the case, they've got some wonderfully dirty mouthes for youngsters. Though that's not the point, and neither is the part where Princess NEARLY runs out of breath in the middle of her verse. The point is: these ladies are rockin' sil'etas, ho. The B-side to "Knuck if you Buck," Crime Mobb's latest single, it comes packaged in some minimal horror-flick crunk production -- rising minor key organs, weapy strings, and a two note casio figure. It's a fucking anthem. [buy it here]




Mike Jones, Paul Wall & Slim Thug (Swisha House) - Still Tippin'

Mike Jones has the deepest voice in hip hop, and he really, really likes to say his name. Here you got a tick-tocky turning signal beat, a chalky violin, and Jones telling you exactly who he is over and over. Plus there's Paul Wall, the (token?) white guy, who contributes a decent verse. But I really just can't get over the beat. This song is top five singles material. Love it. [buy it here]

Not Crunk:


Weezer - Beverly Hills

Really, guys, this is NOT that bad. Sure, it IS horrible, but it's a pop single in a way that isn't making me cringe right now. I'll listen to the wah solo a bit more and check back with you, but I'm pretty excited for the new Weezer, due on May 10th. This mystifying lead single leaked via some radio station in Boston and considering the fact that the band's website assures fans that "Beverly Hills" was made to "please the record company," the record might not be entirely shit. The production sounds far more Pinkerton-esque: the drumming is huge, and the playing is ALMOST sloppy. I hear "El Scorcho" after studying the hell out of "I Love Rock N Roll" and maybe some Bloodhound Gang (yeah, 'member them?). It's just that pesky Rivers rapping that makes this one a clunker. Keep the fingers crossed.



Munk - Kick Out The Chairs

With guest vocals from DFA spearhead James Murphy, and his characteristically bass-heavy and shuck-n-jive-friendly production, you'll probably be hearing this at every hipster dance party for the next five months. It's got a sort of Violent Femmes losing their heads aesthetic, and that's a good thing. I'd go so far as to say it's better than most of the LCD Soundsystem record. [buy it here]

3.12.2005

I Think I Completely Hate Undie Hip Hop Now



Riff Central is probaby the most consistently funny blog I read, but this post in particular is pure genius. For those of you who still haven't heard, The Game shot him up some Hot 97 the other day while his former boy 50 was answering questions on-air. I guess since he was recently excommunicated from G-Unit (for "threatening" to collaborate with Nas, and failing to inherit curt's beef with ja rule) he got a little hot headed. So, bulleting the fuck out of a bodyguard's leg -- which doesn't exactly sound like Compton marksmanship to me -- must have seemed his only recourse at that point. Needless to say, the interview was stopped immediately. And, oh man, mad shit was gettin' talked.

But the funny/interesting/peculiar thing is this: THE WEEK AFTER
50'S MEDIOCRE-AFTER-YOU-REALLY-LISTEN-TO-IT RECORD DESTROYED THE WORLD, he held a public press conference in Harlem with the Game and they apologized and shook hands and cried* all over the place and oh man oh boy it was such a show and jeez these rappers have hearts too. WHAT THE FUCK?

* looked tough as shit

So, in celebration of the truce, you get some brilliant radio cuts, and a song making fun of brilliant radio cuts:

IN PRAISE OF RICH HARRISON:
Amerie - One Thing
Usher - Ride


Harrison's production on Amerie's "One Thing" is immaculate. Heard somewhere that it's a Meters sample (don't hate me for being ignorant of great funk), but the percussion -- stoooooopid busy bongos and a big bottom'd swingy kit-beat -- is the perfect foundation for her doctored back ups, which are incredibly important here. The "whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa" fighting with the "ding-ding-ding-ding" during the end of each second verse phrase is just perfect. And the what-sounds-like "gobble, gobble, gobble" breaks are adorable. (buy it from UK here because for the love of christ I can't find it for US sale yet)

Harrison also worked a bit on Usher's Confessions. His beat, "Ride," ended up on the cutting room floor with a cameo from The Bad Seed. Course, later the track found its way into the hands of J. Lo. You'll recognize that horn riff from her latest bout with what a shitty singer she is, "Get Right." Lotsa folks have expressed a serious hatred for the sample, but I think it works a lot better with Usher's voice. Especially when it starts to get a bit more crowded during the choruses. Problem is, Lopez aped Usher's bridge, and now she's gonna have to pay! (buy it here)

IN PRAISE OF BEATING THE PUSSY UP:
Ying Yang Twins - By Myself
Ying Yang Twins - Shake It Like A Salt Shaker
Ying Yang Twins - Naggin'

I didn't know how much I loved the Ying Yang Twins until I found out they were responsible for a shitload of songs I'd enjoyed -- in passing -- on the radio. Unfortunately, I pegged 'em as a
one (maybe two, if you count "Get Low") trick pony/wonder. But "By Myself" and "Shake It Like a Salt Shaker" are just brilliant.


The first, from their 2002 album, Alley Return of the Ying Yang Twins, is purist-crunk -- halftime-marching-brass driven, way too harsh, and lyrical centered on getting fucked up. Oh, and this chorus is perfectly appalling in a way that makes me happy: "Smoke by myself/drink by myself/poke any ho by my goddamn self/fo' real." Plus, there's some serious bounce. (buy it here)

"Shake It..", from 2003's My Brother & Me, is like a nightmarishly grotesque "Coolie Dance." Simple two-note bass line and mad-man "huh??!?"'s running around in the background. "Naggin'" is the Twins latest single. Opens with this: "Women always talk about what Men do, but we never talk about what the women do...until now." And, sure, the beat leaves something to be desired -- a forgettable piano hook slapboxed by some hi-hats -- but the lyrics are just hilariously perfect. Honestly, though, I still can't decide if I like this in a savant/trainwreck/badbutgood sense or if the Ying Yang Twins are actually creating some of the most brilliant music ever made. (buy it here)

IN PRAISE OF THE UK'S FINEST 18-YEAR-OLD MIDGET:
Lady Sovereign - Sad Arse Strippa

The more I hear form Lady Sovereign the more I love her. Last month,
I plugged that Streets remix and "Ch Ching" -- which is now a bit more omni-present, considering its spot on that hyped-to-death Run the Road comp -- but I think this track is even better. God, just listen. She really hates mainstream US pop, and her tack is pretty damn endearing. (can't find it to buy it, but check her website maybe?)

IN UNPRAISE OF M.I.A.:
Wrap head around this: mp3 blogs being hyped means what's being hyped on blogs gets hyped in rags. So, of course, M.I.A. is everywhere nowadays. Pick up any music magazine and there she is -- small feature and a review. And don't get me wrong, that Diplo mix was fucking brilliant, and it had a bit more appeal what with the selection of mash-ups. But Arular isn't a record for most listeners. Not in some pretentious "we get it and you can't" sense, but it's just that with Spin and Rolling Stone all on Mia's jock, a lot of sheepy kids could purchase and feel pretty cheated when they find an album with this kind of obliqueness. There really aren't choruses, in a HIPHOP sense, and arguing otherwise is sort of silly. Maybe I'll flip-flop after a few more listens. But, I'm thinking this could get ugly.

3.09.2005

New Rules


Updates every Wednesday and Saturday (see picture). S'all I can manage these days, what with my busy busy
jetsetter schedule. Tears abound.

Back with the goods in the form of Pastiche Prog, Pit Er Pat, and some other great shit:

Pit Er Pat -
Bird

Organ bounce, tom riffs and cutesy male-female vocals. Sorta like a 12-year-old covering Blonde Redhead but really not. Think a femme-led Seldom. (buy it here)

By The End of Tonight -
Stop, Drop and Roll Doesn't Work In Hell
By The End of Tonight - Setting Sail in April

Two songs from their A Tribute to the Tigers EP. Vaguely progish in the adventurous guitar work and off-kilter time signatures. Echos of Hella on the skins. But the impressive part is how much they shove into each song -- "Setting Sail in April" combs the past twelve years of hipster bologna for all the best parts of emo, post-rock, metalcore, dancey capitol I indie music, and a bit of that two-man-noise-rock business. (buy it here)

Des Ark -
Yes Sir, Yes Way

You'd be painfulllllly misguided to argue something along these lines:

Des Ark is, for all intents and purposes, singer-guitarist Aimee Argote's vehicle.

Former Milemarker percusionist Tim (one tour counts, right?) Herzog's drumming is so fucking brilliantly tasteful here that failing to note it is akin to forgetting to thank God in a Christian Punk Band's liner notes. His huge, near slo-core beats scrape against Argote's bayou-math guitars and that Gibbons-meets-Harvey yowl in such a tangled and unsettling manner. Yeah, it's really Herzog's plodding rhythm -- not to mention the carnival organ break -- that creates the eerie palate of "Yes Sir, Yes Way." Course, now it sounds like I'm downplaying Argote, which would be ridiculous too. This is death-crust all gussied up, sexified and frightening, with fortified railing guitars and a voice to-die-for. Like dragging a dead body through a swamp to a Birthday Party soundtrack. (buy it here)


Music A.M. - Air Miami

"Air Miami" is bliss -- noisey, glitchy, syrupy bliss. Volker Bertelmann from lap-popsters Tontraeger, Luke Sutherland, who's a backgrounder in Mogwai, and Stefan "Mapstation" Schnieder make up Music A.M., whose 2004 record A Heart & Two Stars flew directly under my radar. Whatamistake! Sure, this is sound is pretty omnipresent -- IDM barking orders to folk -- but there's a sense of subtlety (and shoegazing) here that isn't present in the rest of the lot. (buy it here)

And, hey, sometimes I like to do masturbatory things like make lists. Like make them two months into the year. Like make them way before you're sposed to. So, here is this year so far, like, in no specific order:

Rekids:

Antony and the Johnsons – I Am A Bird Now
Des Ark – Loose Lips Sink Ships
The Hold Steady – Seperation Sunday
Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning
M83 – Before The Dawn Heals Us
The Mountain Goats – The Sunset Tree
Gustav - Rettet Die Wale
The Doves – Some Cities
By The End of Tonight – A Tribute To The Tigers
Pit Er Pat - Shakey
Enslaved – Isa
Vitalic – OK Cowboy
Dissasociatives – S/T
The Evens – S/T

Singles:

Amerie – “1 Thing”
Kelly Clarkson – “Since U Been Gone”
Frankie J & Baby Bash – “Obsession (No Es Amor)”
Lady Sovereign “Sad Arse Strippa”
Bloc Party – “Like Eating Glass”
Caesars – “Jerk It Out”
M83 – “Don’t Save Us From The Flames”
Lady Sovereign – “Random”
John Legend – “Ordinary People”
Munk – “Kick Out The Chairs”
Doves – “Black and White Town”
The Killers – “Mr. Brightside”
Ciara – “1, 2 Step”
Destiny’s Child – “Soldier”
J. Lo – “Get Right”
Nivea – “OK”
LCD Soundsystem – “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House”