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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Full Albums:

  • DJ Jazzy Jeff & Mick Boogie, Summertime 31
  • Ice Cube, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted and Death Certificate2
  • Eric B. & Rakim, Follow the Leader3
  • Norah Jones, Little Broken Hearts4
  • Azealia Banks, 1991 EP5
  • Queens of the Stone Age, Queens of the Stone Age and Era Vulgaris6
  • James Brown & The Famous Flames, Cold Sweat7
  • T. Rex, Electric Warrior8
  • The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses9
  • Pulp, Different Class10
  • Tedeschi Trucks Band, Revelator11
  • Foster the People, Torches
  • Two Door Cinema Club, Tourist History12
  • Childish Gambino, EP
  • The Hold Steady, Stay Positive
  • Tom Vek, Leisure Seizure and We Have Sound
Random Excellence:
  • B.B. King & Eric Clapton, “I Wanna Be”13
  • Money Making Jam Boys, “Tear it Down”
  • Brand New, “Magazines”
  • Kelly Clarkson, “Impossible”
  • Soundgarden, “Black Rain”
  • Mayer Hawthorne, “No Strings (Clasixx Original)”
  • Method Man, “Sub Crazy”
  • Nine Inch Nails, “Survivalism”
  • Saves the Day, “Can’t Stay the Same”
  • Raekwon, “We Will Rob You”
  • Rage Against the Machine, “I’m Housin'”

Songs of the Weeks:

  • The Stone Roses, “Fools Gold”
  • Ice Cube, “Who’s the Mack?”14
  • T. Rex, “20th Century Boy”
  • Queens of the Stone Age, “Mexicola”
  • The Hold Steady, “Constructive Summer”15
  • Lupe Fiasco, “Hip Hop Saved My Life”

Reviews:

1. Dope beats from dope dudes. Made me wanna get outside and dance.

2. STOP THE CD PRESSES (is something that has mostly already happened). Where have these albums been all my life and why is Ice Cube allowed to be a children’s movie star? This dude hates everyone. Let my try to start a list: white people, cops, N.W.A., white people, racists, women, ign’ant mufuggas, white people–holy shit, all the things. Seriously, though: these are true pieces of art that I’m only going to understand more as time goes on. Things the youth are missing out on these days: Bomb Squad production, rappers questioning the status quo (and everyone who looks at them sideways). For the love of jeebus, Bomb Squad produces a song called “Jackin’ for Beats,” then proceeds to jack all the dopest beats out at the time; lyrical descriptions parallel musical theft, just as in their seminal work, “Caught, Can We Get a Witness?” I would say, “GODDAMN, STOP LETTING THEM ALL BE SO GOOD,” but that obviously already happened.

3. Yikes. Not as good as I was hoping for. Gots ta git paid, son. IN FULL.

4. Lay out the pillows because I almost fell asleep. I know she’s great, experimenting, and a beautiful songwriter, but this was just frustrating filler between QotSA albums.

5. I weep for the children.

6. Holy god, the self-titled is every bit as good as rumored and more. I remember looking up a copy once and discovering this was both out of print and selling for $40. At the time, I thought, “What? This had better sound like Zeus mating with Mnemosyne. Otherwise, I don’t have the scrilla for this.” So I never heard the whole thing until last week. Of course, I heard live stuff because Dave Grohl’s drumming on this version of “Avon” is incredible. So, theoretically, it could be worth $40 now that it’s streaming on Spotify and back in print, but I still think more than $15 for a single album is kind of ridiculous. Which is why the back-in-print thing is a relief.

7. I was shocked by how little this sounded like “Sex Machine.” Don’t get me wrong, all the beginnings are clearly there. He’s still a vocal maestro, but I don’t find it nearly as interesting as his later recordings, when everything started falling into funky place.

8. I really only felt like this had a couple great songs on it. They seem like the kind of band that specialized in songs, not perfecting an entire album. Because if you wrap all of their best songs together, boom–perfect. Get it on.

9. The variety! It’s rock with hints of folk, British invasion pop, prog rock, and so many more things. A delightful album.

10. I don’t think this one’s meant for me. I can see why it’s good, or at least considered one of the better albums by a British band in the nineties, but there’s a kind of darkness in the lyrics that isn’t either buoyed or reflected by the music. I listened trying to pair everything up, but felt genuinely confused: “Where’s the guitar this time?” “Is that an accordion?” “Did someone just slip me some ecstasy, then force me to ride in a van with gypsies for a week?” “Who’s making love to your old lady?”

11. It’s like butter for your ears. Smooth, bluesy, and neatly riffed: the emphasis is just as much on the singer as on the guitarist. I suspect there’d be marital disagreements, otherwise. But, hey! That’s the blues.

12. I had no idea so many songs from working at Victoria’s Secret were on here! Which isn’t to say it’s bad; consider my love of Ladyhawke’s first album. They packed all the best songs in the middle, but it’s a vivid, hip-shaking indie album.

13. For the first time, I spent a couple listens just tracking the licks swapping between their guitars. B.B.’s is the cleaner one and Clapton’s is (obviously) the distorted one, but they’re sort of watching each other work, filling the space one leaves for the other. Short fill is met with short fill like the world’s friendliest sparring match–the smiles brought on by their mutual satisfaction are nearly tangible. Their happiness at watching genuine craftsmen at work seeps right through the speakers (earbuds).

14. This is exactly what I’m talking about when I say his stuff’s art: At first listen, it’s a funky song with a chorus that, as per usual rap parlance, would try to imply that Ice Cube is the mack. Yet, each verse is a different caricature of dudes calling themselves macks who suck. The more you listen, the more it becomes clear that the idea of a mack is still idolized during the nineties, though it’s old, tired, and terrible. As the sound gets funkier, the stench coming off these terrible humans gets just as funky.

15. I know no one else likes these dudes, but these lyrics are perfect for every summer solstice, no matter who you are. Sure, maybe you don’t give a shit about Joe Strummer, but I do; yet, this isn’t really about that so much as finding your religion in your friends. This is an old punk’s manifesto, a holy vow for people who still like drinking on rooftops and accidentally charring hot dogs a little too much.

Comment:

I had pink eye for the first time in my life on Sunday. I thought I was going to lose an eye. Then it all went away. I’m reaching for some kind of metaphor here (but I’m missing it! Get it? Hand-eye coordination, y’all). My eyball is like my inability to sleep this week. My eyeball is like all the work I have to catch up on. My eyeball is a wandering orb, searching for the right socket and the right subject to lose itself on.

Realistically, though, those are all just exaggerations or simplifications. Summer Fridays are amazing, though a clear reason I’m behind on some of my work. If I could pull my head out of Ice Cube albums, maybe I’d be further ahead. So I’ll keep chipping away, both at listening to what I need to and at my to-do list. As the cube gets smaller at the end of the to-do pickaxe, I will be more satisfied.

Feed the children dope beats.

Full Albums:

  • Beastie Boys, Hot Sauce Committee, Part Two
  • Ladyhawke, Anxiety1
  • Driver Friendly, Chase the White Whale and Bury a Dream
  • Left Lane Cruiser, Bring Yo’ Ass to the Table and Junkyard Speed Ball
  • Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, The Main Ingredient
  • Tom Vek, We Have Sound
  • The Supremes, Live at the Copa2
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd, Favorites3
  • Bear Hands, Burning Bush Supper Club4
  • Rye Rye, Go! Pop! Bang!5
  • John Mayer, Born and Raised6
  • Ab-Soul, Control System and Longterm Mentality7
  • Rage against the Machine, Evil Empire
  • The Alchemist, Covert Coup Instrumentals8
  • Santigold, Master of My Make-Believe9
  • Homeboy Sandman, Chimera10
Random Excellence:
  • Styles P, “Shadows”
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Y Control”
  • Warren Zevon, “Boom Boom Mancini”
  • Wu-Tang Clan, “Clan in da Front”
  • Raekwon, “Incarcerated Scarfaces”
  • The-Dream, “Priceless”
  • Tenacious D, “Master Exploder”
  • Television, “Friction”
  • Say Anything, “Belt”
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers, “The Power of Equality”
  • Queens of the Stone Age, “Turning on the Screw”
  • Pearl Jam, “The Fixer”
  • Hot Chip, “Shake a Fist”

Songs of the Week:

  • Childish Gambino, “Freaks and Geeks”11
  • The-Dream, “Put It Down”
  • Stevie Wonder, “Black Man”
  • Stanley Clarke, “School Days”
  • Sly & The Family Stone, “Everyday People”
  • The Roots, “In the Music”12
  • Rage Against the Machine, “Bulls on Parade”
  • Neon Indian, “Ephemeral Artery”
  • M83, “Kim & Jessie”
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Saturday Night Special”
  • The Afghan Whigs, “Faded”13
Reviews:
1. This felt like an aptly named album more than anything else. It was dense and compact, with added tension from more distorted guitars than the last album. Her first one was some sort of indie-pop land of fairy tales, love, and hooks (except “Professional Suicide,” a diss track that makes me uncomfortable). Where “Manipulating Woman” was the sneering, but ultimately satisfied escape from someone genuinely terrible, this album seems to wallow in the terrible–not lyrics or the music, just the subjects. “Vaccine” felt so down in the dumps (and cacophonous), I couldn’t even finish it.
2. Absolutely sublime. The medley’s amazing, Ms. Ross is on fire, and everything about this is great.
3. My Dad and I were talking about Southern rock because Kings of Leon was on the radio. He couldn’t quite place them for a moment until I said “Oh, they’re kind of Southern rock guys.” Which got us talking about what Southern rock is and if it’s really big enough to demand a subset within rock and roll, or if it’s really any good. I reminded him about all the Allman Brothers Band albums he’s had since college and pointed out that Lynyrd Skynryd might be the easy, “Oh someone’s got a guitar out? Yell ‘Freebird!’ at them!” joke–to the point of cliche–, but they’re really an excellent band. He couldn’t remember some of their other titles, but I pointed out that they successfully covered J.J. Cale songs, whom we both love, and we both groaned at the excellence of “Saturday Night Special” when I remembered it. You guys, just go listen to “Saturday Night Special.”
4. At the First Annual Great Googa Mooga, these guys were apparently playing. I didn’t get to see them because our party split up, but was also slowly migrating in the right direction–but slowly for fear of missing The Roots’ performance. I decided to give them a listen at work and was very impressed. “What a Drag,” “High Society,” and “Can’t Stick ‘Em” are excellent.
5. I couldn’t believe I’d seen the music video for “Sunshine” almost two years ago. Or that she got Robyn on “Never Will Be Mine.” Or that she sampled an Irving Berlin song and turned into something I kind of want to dance to. All around, she might sound young, but there’s nothing immature about her content or her ability to get everyone on the dance floor.
6. From pop to blues to an amalgamation of country and folk, John just keeps digging deeper into music’s roots. Maybe his next album will be a Paul Simon-like affair where he pops up in Africa just because he can. Blues and country are sort of kissing cousins where the latter’s the big macho affair that talks too much about trucks, horses, and America. So I was genuinely terrified when the country flares started peeking up in the background. But luckily John still doesn’t make full-on country music, and I remembered marrying your cousin’s also legal in some parts of America.
7. Mentality came out first and is better, but “Illuminate” is probably the best song he does on either album (and it’s on Control System). It’s a great explanation for his entire existence as a rapper: he was born to shine as a guest on songs, adding layers of complexity to the someone else’s product, an effect that he can only ever seem to reproduce during his own efforts once in a while. And he’s not a consistent hitter, either: the beats are good, the guests are great, but sometimes he’s just annoying. He’s sort of like the Eazy-E of Black Hippy, except way better than Eazy-E because I don’t think Kendrick Lamar  (the Ice Cube of the whole shebang) is ghostwriting all of his rhymes.
8. I listened to this because he apparently did a ton of Mobb Deep tracks and a Schoolboy Q one. It’s pretty menacing, old school, great.
9. It’s nice to have her back. “This Isn’t Our Parade,” “The Keepers,” and “Fame” are my favorites.
10. It’s starting to feel like all of a sudden he’s talking more about God. And the hooks that made The Good Sun so great aren’t as prevalent anymore. This EP feels like a slight lull compared to the previous EP and, obviously, the aforementioned LP.
11. I think I might’ve listened to this song about 20 times on repeat on my walk home. The beats are impeccable and the rhymes are just as good. Sure, I’m still not a big fan of punchline rap, but it somehow makes sense coming from a comedian.
12. What a month for this song. I first saw The Roots play it at Googa Mooga with my sister; she was sort of out of her element, visually uncomfortable about the amount of people and her lack of context for this band. It’s a rap band made up of more musicians than rappers? She also doesn’t like rap and was worried about the rush to get back to the City. So we left shortly after this song finished, but it seemed like this was one of the ones she might’ve been okay with. Then the next weekend when my dad was in town, it came up on shuffle and he surprisingly didn’t think it was terrible. I used it as an example to illustrate what made my sister ready to finish the night, as well as an example of their musical prowess. Perhaps it’s because they’re based in a jazzier, blues, funk, and soul background that sometimes makes them more accessible, but it could also be that this song’s a little more tame than your average rap song. It’s still about arrests and parties though, which is why it helped me the next week at the gym.
13. It’s like a game of “Catch The Rolling Stones References”–but also incredibly awesome in its own right.
Comment:
I had a month. Friend visits, entire weeks celebrating the magic of the Internet, attending incredible speeches, talking to celebrities like John Hodgman and Justin Long, store openings, visits from family members, trips to Boston and Brooklyn, not nearly enough sleep. My mother even comes to town this weekend and a friend who visited last month is back in town this month. Summer Fridays also started, so I’m sure I’ll be using the time to catch up on some of the things that this month helped me fall so far behind on. I finished twim already, on to the next thing on my to-do list…