Monday, January 29, 2007

Kwelib For The Masses

Giving away a free album is pretty much unheard of in the music industry but Kweli and Madlib, after ironing out some legal kinks, dropped a collabo album 9 songs deep early this year. It was available for free download here the first week of 2007 but you're probably going to have to wait for an official release if you slept.

I haven't really liked much of Kweli's output since Reflection Eternal's Train Of Thought apart from some scattered goodies throughout the years. Madlib, on the other hand, has continued his boundless creative onslaught by releasing new material regularly via his various alter egos. I'm not joking when I say he probably never sleeps.

Liberation isn't meant to be a masterpiece but it's surpisingly sharp for a freebee album. There are a couple of passerby fillers like "Soul Music" and "Happy Home" but the rest of the tracks I would have paid for.

Here, you can have these.

"Jihad Jane"

Who cares that she's the ex-wife of a rich media-mogul propagandist? I'm not mad at this.

Jane's Addiction: "Jane Says"
Trashcan Sinatras: "Jane's Estranged"

Friday, January 26, 2007

Monday, January 22, 2007

Feeling Dull

Some (very) un-American ideas on the subject of work and leisure in industrial societies by one of my heroes, Bertrand Russell.

"I want to say, in all seriousness, that a great deal of harm is being done in the modern world by belief in the virtuousness of work, and that the road to happiness and prosperity lies in an organized diminution of work."

All work and no play.

Oasis: "The Importance Of Being Idle"

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Trashcan Sinatras

The Trashcan Sinatras have always been one of my favorite groups. Their fantastic debut Cake was released 17 years ago and I can say, truthfully, that I never get tired of it. There's nothing revolutionary or spectacular about the group. Their discography of 4 official album releases is pretty thin compared to industry standards of pumping out at least an album a year (Their 3rd album Happy Pocket was not even released here in the states). Despite the long hiatus' between albums TCS has been able to hold on to a pretty strong fanbase and have released "unofficial" albums over the years through their website. These albums contain live performances and demos with some unreleased and new material sprinkled in the mix just for the fans. They've also been a band that tours regularly, mostly around their native Scotland with some rare performances here in the states.

I've included two mellow TCS tracks here where they're at their best.

"Leave Me Alone (Acoustic Demo)" is from a compilation CD I found on their website. The revamped studio version that later surfaced on the Weighlifting LP is nice but I prefer this stripped down recording.

"Trouble Sleeping" is my favorite track on 2004's Weightlifing. You don't typically hear a TCS tune driven by such heavy drums. And like most of their other songs, I'm still trying to figure out what they're talking about.

Nyte Tyme

I'm back and forth on which version is better - this Premo remix or Showbiz's original. Luckily, both versions appear on the duo's undervalued Goodfellas LP (1995). I tend to lean a little more towards Premo's more sparser sound on the remix but Show's heavier original with its use of the rhythmic guitar loop definitely puts the track in its own lane. Premo's remix really pushes A.G's delivery front and center and plays as the perfect backdrop to the gritty Bronx-bomber's formidable flow.

It's a win/win either way.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

Beirut Revisited

Drum, congas, violins, organs, pianos, clarinets, accordians, horns, cellos, ukuleles, mandolins, a 12 team ensemble and 20 year old Zack Condon of Albuquerque, New Mexico masterminding the whole experience. I want to call it Eastern-European-contemporary-gypsy-folk music with a little Spanish influence but accurate descriptions escape me at the moment. There's something warm and familiar about Beirut's overall sound that keeps me anchored to last year's Gulag Orkestar and their latest incarnation, the 5 song EP (*) Lon Gisland (which contains two of my favorite songs this year "Elephant Gun" and the equally stellar "Carousel").

*(The EP was actually released for download only late December of 2006 and will see an official release late this month.)

I'm looking forward to another full length album this year and (hopefully) a live show in these parts.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Think Warm Thoughts

The Revolution Will Be Televised On The Radio

"Right next to beer and taco stands and ice cream - the Marines! They had a contest: 'C'mon! Let's see how many pull-ups you can do!'...".

Can I Live?

Zentronix hits us with the one of the more comprehensive pieces on J-Hova I've read in a while.

Alas, S. Dot continues to diversify his brand. You heard him the first time - "Can't knock the hustle".

This track (with a little lyrical reworking) would've fit perfect for the Kingdom Come intro. It seems more fitting for his re-introduction because cascading horns will make anything sound monumental (see "Go Crazy Remix").

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Mos Definitely Not Necessary

Do we really need an "official release"? I'd rather watch The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy for the first time.

"Like Short Sleeves I Bear Arms"

Idle gun chatter in Hip-Hop really began to take shape in the early nineties, after all the partying and afrocenticity began to fade (or was phased out, take your pick). I didn't really hear much gun talk until NWA's Straight Outta Compton hit the streets when the word "gat" was introduced to my vocabulary. I don't promote the use of fire arms by any means although I do respect the constitutional right to bear arms. (I mean, if rogue cops can pack heat and use them indiscriminately against innocent and unarmed people, I don't see why the public shouldn't be able to protect life and property if need be. Like KRS once said, "Who protects us from you?" Exactly.)

My point is that Hip-Hop is the only musical genre that openly describes the use of guns with such fervor - metaphorically, figuratively and literally. I'm fascinated at how much gun talk is used by rappers as means of lyrical intimidation and egotistical manhood considering how much gun violence has devastated their communities. The phenomenon can most likely be attributed to the beginnings of the crack epidemic. You can probably check the statistics on the correlation between drug-related crimes and gun violence and find that gun related deaths began to show a sharp increase when crack started to make it's way into the more vulnerable inner cities. During this period, Hip-Hop's music began to take on a more grave and violent tone where gang violence (see NWA) and crack dealer tales and imagery (see Wu-Tang) really started transforming the content of the music and the message.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Monday, January 08, 2007


I discovered them while scrolling through Pitchfork reviews a while back. "Postcards From Italy" became one of my favorite songs of 2006. Then, more recently, I discovered their new song "Elephant Gun" while browsing his "best of 2007" posts. It now dominates my playlist as I haven't been listening much to any other song. I haven't heard horns used with such prominance by any contemporary band in recent memory. And it's used with such addictive effectiveness.

Listen here.
See it here.
Find out more (or less) here.

This band is on some other shit.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Good Revolutions 2006

1. Phoenix: "Long Distance Call"
2. Vast Aire feat. MF Doom: "Super Friendz (Edan Remix)"
3. John Legend: "Again"
4. The Strokes: "Razorblade"
5. Termanology: "Watch How It Go Down"
6. The Roots: "Long Time"
7. Ghostface: "The Champ"
8. The Clipse: "Mr. Me Too"
9. TV On The Radio: "Province"
10. Darondo: "Didn't I"
11. Beirut: "Postcards From Italy"
12. Nas feat. Papoose: "Across The Tracks"
13. Phoenix: "Lost And Found"
14. Band Of Horses: "The First Song"
15. Jack Johnson: "Upside Down"
16. Jay-Z: "Lost One"
17. DJ Shadow feat. Chris James: "You Made It"
18. Cat Power: "The Greatest"
19. The Killers: "When You Were Young"
20. Swan Lake: "All Fires"
21. Lupe Fiasco: "I Gotcha"
22. Masta Killa: "Ringing Bells"
23. Keane: "Nothing In My Way"
24. Band Of Horses: "The Funeral"
25. Pharrell: "Raspy Shit"

Thursday, January 04, 2007

White, Middle Aged and...

"Today ... the fastest-growing population of drug abusers is white, middle-aged Americans. This is a powerful mainstream constituency, and unlike with teenagers or urban minorities, it is hard for the government or the news media to present these drug users as a grave threat to the nation.

Among Americans in their 40s and 50s, deaths from illicit-drug overdoses have risen by 800 percent since 1980, including 300 percent in the last decade. In 2004, American hospital emergency rooms treated 400,000 patients between the ages 35 and 64 for abusing heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, hallucinogens and “club drugs” like ecstasy.

Equally surprising, graying baby boomers have become America’s fastest-growing crime scourge. The F.B.I. reports that last year the number of Americans over the age of 40 arrested for violent and property felonies rose to 420,000, up from 170,000 in 1980. Arrests for drug offenses among those over 40 rose to 360,000 last year, up from 22,000 in 1980. The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that 440,000 Americans ages 40 and older were incarcerated in 2005, triple the number in 1990."


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Soul Sensation

The top songs of 2006 is a little more tedious than ranking the top albums of last year so I'm laying this list out first. It was much easier considering it hasn't been a banner year for music in general but less sometimes means more. These albums were godsent in a year when the market was watered down and redundant with filler material from some of your more favorite artists.

  1. The Clipse: Hell Hath No Fury
  2. John Legend: Once Again
  3. Ghostface: Fishscale
  4. Phoenix: Never Been Like That
  5. Band Of Horses: Everything All The Time
  6. TV On The Radio: Return To Cookie Mountain
  7. The Roots: Game Theory
  8. J-Dilla: The Shining
  9. John Mayer: Continuum

2006 Grapes Of Wrath

Although I'm lagging on my "Best of 2006" lists, I've managed to compile my least favorite events in music this past year. Here are my top ten disappointments of 06'.

1. J-Dilla, R.I.P.
2. James Brown, R.I.P.
3. This
4. Jay-Z: Kingdom Come
5. No Nas/DJ Premier Collabo
6. Nas: Hip-Hop Is Dead
7. CL Smooth: American Me
8. Pharrell: In My Mind
9. Ghostface: More Fish
10. Mos Def: True Magic

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Double 0 Seven

2007 is here. Going into the seventh year of two thousand and I already feel like it's moving too fast. Michelle and I spent New Year's Eve with good company and great music. With the mix of traditional live mariachi's and a DJ who laid down some sounds of satisfaction from The Mary Jane Girls' "Candyman" to Expose's "Point Of No Return", the nights soundscape was so rich in diversity that it made the evening's festivities that much more of an occasion to remember.

Most memorable moment of 06'? Michelle and I were married. It was an intimate ceremony with family and close friends. Just as it was meant to be.

What to look forward to in 07'? An addition to the Sung Family Tree... And of course, more great music.

Stay tuned.