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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Full Albums:

  • Driver Friendly, Bury a Dream1
  • Mr. Dream, Trash Hit2
  • Big L, L Corleone3
  • Kraftwerk, Computer World4
  • Sleigh Bells, Reign of Terror5
Random Excellence:
  • Marvin Gaye, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)”
  • Otis, “Tramp”
  • Nine Inch Nails, “The Good Soldier”
  • Common, “Payback Is a Grandmother”
  • The Clash, “This Is England”
Songs of the Week:
  • Driver Friendly: “Messidona,” “Younce Creek,” “Shark Cave,” “Do Whatever You Want” and “I Have Better Things to Do Tonight than Die”
Reviews:

1. All my mom and I talked about while we listened to this album on repeat during my visit was about how surprising it is that music this good comes from my high school. We even looked up the band members in my senior year book in order as if we were trying to prove they were really there. My mantra was, since they were in the high school band, “It’s just a bunch of musical dudes making good music” and my mom’s was usually, “The drumming’s just so good.” And yet, I could sense the struggle: Last time I talked to one of them, I think he said they had a minor distribution deal, but they weren’t really signed to a label. The music’s amazing and the lyrics are sometimes really just as good–but they still live in a haunted world where they get to speak in metaphors and use word play unseen outside of places like hip hop. Instead of using their voices as the defining factor for every song, they treat voices like instruments, layering them and pairing them up with horn lines. I get the impression that’s hard to take for some people who rarely venture beyond the Top 40, though I can’t be sure. They have all the hallmarks of other phenomenal albums–reprises, bridges, and codas–but I sometimes wonder if they’re too dark for your average listener. Which is to say, I’m not your average listener because I’ve been listening to it habitually since it came in the mail about a week ago.

2. It felt like a rough draft, like I was waiting for clouds to part or something. They seem to have gotten a lot of hype for sounding like a grunge album out of the nineties, but I cringe to think back, knowing full well that not every grunge album then was good.

3. It really would have been amazing to watch him grow and either get stifled by Jay-Z or develop as some kind of sparring partner. This smacks of a really solid mixtape, like he’s building his street credit before releasing an album–even though it does hold its own weight against a lot of albums out even right now.

4. It’s good, though not enough for me to spend my day waiting for a ticket to the Museum of Modern Art to see them perform. Maybe that’s not really it, though: They clearly laid the groundwork for a lot of music I really enjoy (LCD Soundsystem, Calvin Harris, uh, pretty much anything with a synthesizer), but I’ve come to them so late in the game that the effort it will take to catch up isn’t worth it. I’ll listen casually and attempt to broaden my roots, but I don’t want to force it and ruin the whole process for myself.

5. There seems to have been a huge swing against Sleigh Bells since their first album. It used to be all the indie kids loved them, now most people seem to murmur that “Rill Rill” was the only song they rilly ever loved off the album. Sure, the beats were somewhat stale, but that’s what you get when you’re playing all your beats at shows off an iPod. I don’t know if their mystique wore off or something, but there’s still that very boom-bap hip hop feeling to the beats laced with metal riffs and lyrics. “Road to Hell,” “End of the Line,” and “Comeback Kid” are really quite good. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be embarrassed by this, but I still like them. Perhaps even worse, I don’t know if I’ll still like them down the road–I think I’d like to be nothing, if not consistent.

Comment:

Some things about staying at my parents’ house never get any less strange. I thought the strangeness stemmed from the length of visits, but I’m realizing it’s just who we are: we all developed into these puzzle pieces where we fill the gaps that have been open so long, or irritate the open wounds and make the situation worse.

For example, I love doing handiwork and my mother made sure to point that out and that she appreciated my help. But sometimes she disapproves the ways in which my high school friends and I choose to cavort. Both of these sides of me appear in her presence no more than three times a year, but she’s come to define my life post-living with her in that manner.

To her, since she can only base my existence on those three days or so, I’m some kind of party monster who breaks as many things other people own as he fixes in his household. But that’s just a random sampling: I feel like I spend most of my time at work, catching up on work, writing, watching videos about which there’s a very real chance I might write (read: freelance work), and spending time with friends. I don’t own enough things to break and keep up that fixing-everything-in-sight pace.

Hopefully, I don’t strain this system, but I do feel like all of these relationships (family and friends) would be healthier if the distance between us shortened. However, I’m not prepared to leave New York, I’m just noticing that the distance really seems to be the crux of many of the problems that arise each time I go back and have to adjust my lifestyle to what it used to be.

But more importantly, I attended a beautiful wedding and had a wonderful time.
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I’ve probably only ever heard two people say this, but it’s been said by two dudes who were both born and raised in New York City and still live here. Whenever someone’s done something worthy of commendation or concocted an excellent plan, they will know it when you tell them “That’s the move.” Whether they’ve solved a problem or provided sound advice, this is the way to tell them they’re doing it right.

Here are a couple of examples:

You: “I’ve been thinking about Saint Patty’s Day.”
Me: “Oh crap, I can’t believe that’s right around the corner.”
You: “Right? I’m not looking forward to the violence and the drunken danger.”
Me: “I hear you. I think I was almost stabbed last year when someone tried to replace their broken kidney with one of mine.”
You: “We should probably just try to convince [our mutual friend] to have a party on his rooftop and we’ll bring Jameson and steal the office kegerator so our Guinness keg doesn’t go cold.”
Me: “Yo, that’s the move right there.”

Him: “Good day, friend.”
Her: “Hello! How be thee on this fine noontide?”
Him: “Fine, fine, good madam! Care to join me for lunch? I harbor a mighty hunger.”
Her: “That’s the move, my good man!”

If I had to place it on a scale of connotation, it’s probably above “Good idea!” and below “That’s fucking brilliant! I’m going to give up trying to think of things because that solved everything so completely that I know I’ll never have a thought as pure! Congratulations and thank you!” So, you know, keep up the good work and keep on makin’ good moves.

Full Albums:

  • Statik Selektah, Well-Done1
  • Ludacris, Word of Mouf2
  • The Roots, Tipping Point
  • Air, Le Voyage Danse la Lune3
  • J Dilla, Jay Stay Paid4
  • Van Halen, A Different Kind of Truth5
  • Escort, Escort6
  • We Were Promised Jetpacks, In the Pit of the Stomach7
  • Homeboy Sandman, The Good Sun8
  • Lana Del Rey, Born to Die9
  • Schoolboy Q, Habits & Contradictions
  • Pretenders, Learning to Crawl10
  • Big K.R.I.T., K.R.I.T. Wuz Here
  • The Black Keys, El Camino
  • Ghostface Killah, Apollo Kids
  • LCD Soundsystem, This Is Happening!
  • Left Lane Cruiser, All You Can Eat!! and Bring Yo’ Ass to the Table
Random Excellence:
  • The Tragically Hip, “Silver Jet”
  • Wu-Tang Clan, “Meteor Hammer”
  • N.E.R.D., “Am I High”
  • Saves the Day, “This Is not an Exit”
  • Prince, “Bambi”

Songs of the Week:

  • The Replacements, “Can’t Hardly Wait”11
  • The Weeknd, “D.D.”
  • Mayer Hawthorne, “Finally Falling”
  • Gorillaz, “Dare”
  • Eddie Money, “Baby Hold On”

Reviews:

1. Yo, this album is delicious. You can tell Bronsollini hungry for success. Bronson got Statik whipping up ill beats. Puns and excellence aside, I had kind of a hard time with the credits for this album: No one seemed to be able to agree if it was Action Bronson’s album with Statik producing or a Statik album with Bronson featured on every song. In the end, AllMusic said Statik’s album so I went with that.

2. I was honestly surprised by how there were a lot of songs, but almost all of the good ones were the singles. I usually can’t get enough Luda, but I definitely got my fill of this album from the radio.

3. The only thing that might make this better would probably be viewing the film. And if the film’s as gorgeous, I might have no choice but to have a braingasm, keel over, and die.

4. Though it has some great beats and was mixed by Pete Rock, it still has the feel of the jumbled collection of unfinished work that it really is–and not because it was released posthumously. The songs are good, but they’re good individually and lack a sense of unity. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I like the vast majority of it because it’s all classic early-nineties jazz-rap beats.

5. I wanted to hate this so bad. Van Hagar was dumb and I couldn’t care so much as to even look up the name of their third vocalist. Part of me loves all their early work and views them as classic so much that I just didn’t want them to fuck that up for me. And yet, there are some genuinely great songs on here that might stand up with the original Van Halen records. That is, it’s not 1984, but it’s still pretty good.

6. It has the feel of an LCD Soundsystem album with a female vocalist; a welcome relief for the current LCD dry spell.

7. I almost didn’t get to the end I the album. It felt too close to some kind of bro rock and nearly cacophonous. Something about it just sounded like someone had recorded nails on a chalkboard and mixed it down so you couldn’t hear it, but the cringe still bled through.

8. This felt like a talent show with only one performer because he scared everyone else off. He’s also got a new album out I want to wear out because homie got skills.

9. I think I’ve already made my feelings about this album abundantly clear, but you don’t get to shit on something without at least knowing what it is and understanding it. That said, my feelings haven’t changed and she’s probably not going anywhere. She has vaulted herself to (temporary?) pop star, and now all that’s left is she either spreads her wings under a barrage of hatred and rises above or succumbs and vanishes into obscurity. Honestly, I kind of hope she succeeds because the production’s really quite good though her ability to sing, generate original content or perform really is not. I don’t want her around so I can keep shitting on her, I just want to see if she can keep the hype machine going after what she’s done to the become such a huge part of the general public’s consciousness.

10. My Dad used to play their debut record for me all the time as a kid, but the amount of country here really caught me off guard. I think I expected every song to be like “My City Was Gone,” but it was a slight relief when it wasn’t. It spreads them across more than just a microcosm of the punk genre and shows how talented they really are–even though I abhor country music.

11. Everyone who’s analyzed these lyrics always tells me it’s about suicide, but another, seemingly far less popular, opinion is that it’s about the tedium of touring, about missing someone so much and your excitement to finally see them again. So when I listened to that song on repeat for about two hours, that’s the interpretation I chose to continue to believe: I just have to get through what’s on my plate and I’ll be okay.

Comment:

It’s come to my attention that I might really need to cut back on writing here. Though just one twim a week might seem like not too much at all, I spend quite a bit of time on this that I might need to devote to other things like finding a new apartment or freelancing.

Then again, I might really just need to find a better way of prioritizing because this is one of the things that keeps me from losing it. I have incredible amounts of stress that seem to only be satiated by taking days off to sit in front of my computer. President’s Day was incredibly helpful, but Good God the things I have to do to catch up. It’s like I’m on a Stair Master and everyone keeps handing me five pound weights.

However, speaking from my experience in the past few weeks of climbing up and down stairs with a 30-pound vest on, it gets easier with time. My heart rate will continue to beat too fast and I’ll breathe like a beached whale, but I’m going to be okay. That’s all I have right now: an ability to slowly get better at this, to figure out how to make it work until I’m okay.

In the words of a very wise man, “Shake it off and keep dancin’.”

I’ve made a simply huge mistake. Unlike last year when I couldn’t be bothered to plan ahead for on-time delivery, this year, I’ve barely pulled this together the night before. In fact, most of the work was really done back when I prepared Chris is Full of Lists, so some of this will come as absolutely no surprise at all.

That said, Hooray! It’s Valentine’s Day and this is Dia Del Valentin ’12. Feel free to contact me with your shipping information and I will gladly front the 44 cents it will require to mail you hot beats pressed on a real CD-type device. However, if you are one of the aforementioned group of women who get one every year regardless…I will be contacting you.

One million and a half apologies for slapdash preparation and tardiness. All my love.

  1. The Weeknd, “D.D.”
  2. Eddie Money, “Baby Hold On”
  3. Thin Lizzy, “Dancing In The Moonlight”
  4. The Strokes, “Two Kinds Of Happiness”
  5. The Black Keys, “Stop Stop”
  6. TV On The Radio, “Will Do”
  7. Adele, “One And Only”
  8. Mayer Hawthorne, “Finally Falling”
  9. Tom Vek, “Nothing But Green Lights”
  10. Stevie Wonder, “All Day Sucker”
  11. Bar-Kays, “Holy Ghost”
  12. Beyoncé, “Countdown”
  13. Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, “I Got A Love”
  14. The Weeknd, “The Morning”
  15. Desire, “Under Your Spell”
  16. Friendly Fires, “True Love”

I see you like dancing. 1-3: You really are an enchanting being, let us commence the mating ritual by circling each other and flapping our limbs as if we can’t feel them.

We both have reservations. 4-6: I get it, we’re all a little damaged. But…couldn’t this be okay? Let’s give it a shot.

I’m in. 7-9: Holy shit, are you my lucky penny at the bottom of a flight of stairs? Because I just fell for you.

Funky love. 10-11: People are always like, “You guys really dance well together,” or “Hey, stop asking me to compliment you on how well you dance together.”

Rapping love. 12-14: It’s like funky love, but there’s more cursing. Friends are always like, “Yo, your significant other is fucking cute!” and you’re like, “Yeah and they kiss all sexy.” Or maybe they’re like, “Whoa, I didn’t know you knew all the lyrics to Notorious B.I.G.’s “#! *@ Me (Interlude)” and you’re like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about! Now hand over your chains or your cat gets more cuts from this butter knife than your butter did during Thanksgiving!” Or something.

Indie love. 15-16: Everybody settles down and finds a kind of groove and a whole less cats are in the pet cemetery. Everyone starts talking about “chill vibes” and weird crap like that–but it works.

Full Albums:

  • E.S.G. and Slum Thug, Boss Hogg Outlaws (Chopped and Screwed)1
  • Pete Rock, Lost and Found2
  • Schoolboy Q, Habits and Contradictions3
  • Action Bronson, The Program EP
  • Asher Roth, Pabst & Jazz
  • Calvin Harris, I Created Disco
  • Faces, A Nod Is as Good as a Wink…to a Blind Horse
  • Friendly Fires, Pala
Random Excellence:
  • Talking Heads, “Girlfriend Is Better”
  • Senses Fail, “Handguns & Second Chances”
  • The Rolling Stones, “Stray Cat Blues”
  • Earth Wind & Fire, “September”
  • Brand New, “Failure by Design”

Songs of the Week:

  • Buzzcocks, “Why Can’t I Touch It?”4
  • Sadat X, “Turn it Up”
  • Outkast, “Decatur Psalm”
  • The Hold Steady, “Joke about Jamaica”
  • Fall Out Boy, “Pavlove”

Reviews:

1. Bless my lucky stars, I was so enamored with “Street Millionaire” that I looked up the original; it was my first and only mistake with this album. Accenting that song’s ridiculously awesome horn track with an Isaac Hayes sample? Where do you get off, Mr. Producer Man I Can’t Be Bothered to Look Up? And you, Mr. Michael “5000” Watts? I’m sure it’s somewhere in Houston, but I digress. Before 5k departed, he left us all an amazing gift here. These two dudes’ voices were designed to be slowed down and to melt into the instrumental section like hot butter. Phenomenal.

2. It’s like an obese mother: It’s big and funky, but it gives the best hugs you’ve ever had.

3. First and foremost: who the fuck is this guy and how the fuck is he rapping circles around pretty much everyone? The losses that I’m currently stationed at are seemingly uncountable. One of my friends recommended it and, since I respect his musical taste, I was like, “The fuck is this? This playlist album cover has a rape on it.” But unlike rape, every song was just more and more waterfalls of aural awesome. For everyone keeping track at home, that’s two rape jokes in two days I’m not entirely comfortable with, but the album’s still pretty amazing.

4. Two different bars in a week played this song, and I Shazammed the shit out of it both times. That bass line is nothing short of hypnotizing.

Comment:

My doctor told me I have plantar fasciitis this afternoon. I guess it’s good I have a way to treat this pain I’ve had in my left foot for two weeks, but it’s still some bullshit. My girlfriend’s been making fun of me for going from ailment to ailment in the past couple of months: “You’re one of those people who’s always sick, aren’t you?”

I’ve never really thought about it because I always thought I was healthy. And I’m still inclined to believe it’s just chance, but I really am concerned that once I mount the most pressing issues of this diagnosis, I’ll walk my way into something even more crippling.

“Congrats on beating your fasciitis symptoms! The bad news is, you’re the first person to actually develop cerebral palsy! Everyone else’s born with it…and you seem to have developed it like it was airborne flu–which it most certainly is not. You’re going to be in the Guinness Book of World Records! Uh…congrats! again…”

But I still know that’s ridiculous. I’ll be fine for a while and then maybe something’ll come up. My natural inclination to just wait it out will overcome and I’ll unintentionally make my impending pneumonia or white blood cell deficiency last too long before I go to a doctor, and I’ll then I’ll try to learn from my mistakes again.

And wash my hands religiously everywhere.

A former coworker of mine is the kind of guy that radiates a sheer joy that acts as a magnet on the people around him. Perhaps understandably, that led to him crafting himself a niche in stand up circles.

I can’t go to every show, but when I do get to show up, I’m always impressed. But he’s also still in that weird place in comedy where he’s working himself to the top. So at any point, the people around him could be more talented or holding a microphone for the first time.

Tuesday night wasn’t my first night seeing him run through a set, but it was my first time seeing him surrounded by comedians who weren’t of the same caliber. One comedian in particular made the majority of the audience very uncomfortable: He was the same age as me (as addressed in his set), but his comedy was overwhelmingly depressing. Honestly, the hardest part for me was that he was staring at me as if it was my fault, even though my time in Crown Heights let me experience some of his complaints firsthand.

Unlike what he expressed in his set, I’ve already graduated from college and I don’t have a baby mother, but I kept trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. But if I’ve learned anything from years of watching and listening to comedians, one of the very essential tasks of a comedian is to take that sinking depression and craft it into something new, something that hints at a universal struggle we can all relate to and come up with something we can all acknowledge as truth and truly hilarious.

More often than not, comedy lies in the misdirect: “How about those Republican debates, huh? I’m not going to lie, I just can’t stop agreeing with the lot of them! I want Roe v. Wade repealed! I’ll never get to be a father to all the babies I made by raping my way across the eastern seaboard if they don’t fix that shit right now!” Take something we all know, present it with a different spin–whether it’s insightful or as terrible as that joke I just made up and am kind of uncomfortable about.

No one goes to a comedy show to wallow in terrible–we can all do that on our own. Our release at these shows is some sort of anti-catharsis: we’re all getting over it, laughing in the face of our tormentors, and (hopefully) moving on to the next issue.

It’s the very reason I rarely enjoy stereotypical stereotype jokes. Yes, I know black people are supposed to like fried chicken and talk during movies. White people are supposed to talk about dumb things and be uncomfortable everywhere except baseball games. Chinese people are supposed to be great at math and collect cans.

Fuck you! Those jokes have already been done! We’ve already come to terms with it and moved on; there are more pressing issues. For me to delve into the kind of laughs that leave sore muscles and spilled drinks, I need something a little more insightful and cutting than a complaint or eighteen about how hard it is to be a stand up comedian.

No. You chose to pursue this. Make like the rest of us and either figure out what you’re doing wrong, fix it, and improve or get the fuck out. It’s the art of storytelling, captivating, and understanding your audience. Stand up is the art of knowing what is going on, striking that chord, and responding in a novel way that captures the imagination.

To calm the fawning, I present a harsh critique because I have worshipped, for years, people who have perfected that art. And because I know it’s more than just standing in front of a group of people and listing things. It’s a kind of aural magic: guide the audience, present the object, perform the sleight of hand(iwork), and–BOOM!–a bouquet of punchlines from thin air! But leading everyone down the path to Sleepy Hollow then chopping their heads off while distracting them with a pair of pressed daffodils impresses no one. You can point out the creepiest path, but you have to bring everyone back to the laughter bouquet.