Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Toro!

One of my favorite films of the year is Guillermo Del Toro's Hellboy II: The Golden Army. I absolutely loved the first installment and the sequel is mind-blowing visually. The plot isn't very dynamic but I wasn't expecting too much in that respect. It is, after all, a sci-fi action extravaganza anyway. I'll take Hellboy II over The Dark Knight in a battle over this year's blockbusters any day. The Batman sequel was actually pretty disappointing.

I am a huge fan of Del Toro's other films as well, especially 2006's Pan's Labyrinth which I just watched again for the third time last night. I usually don't watch movies more than once, especially ones with exceptional stories and plots because the thrill is gone when you already know how the story and plots unravel, but Pan's Labyrinth is such a mulit-layered picture I discover something new with each viewing. It's a fascinating movie with stunning visuals and thought-provoking themes. It's become a more enjoyable experience revisiting the movie after diving into some of Del Toro's older interviews where he discusses the film, it's early beginnings, how he developed the story and it's various themes, how he chose the score, and so forth. Here's some interesting stuff I picked up around the way. He gives engaging and insightful interviews, good stuff.



These excerpts are on the Deluxe DVD release of Pan's Labyrinth as added bonus features:





Here he makes an appearance on Charlie Rose with fellow Mexican directors Alfonso Cuaron (Director of The Children of Men) and Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu (Director of Babel) who are also his compadres as well as peers. This also appears on the Pan's Labyrinth Deluxe DVD release.



Guillermo Del Toro's next project is the prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit (and it's sequel). I'm pretty sure it's going to be a monumental piece of work. Look at what he did with the Hellboy II budget.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Random Shots

I discovered Vampire Weekend's self titled release a little late but it's ridiculously good and is well worth mentioning as the year in music winds to a close. I usually browse "The Best Of..." lists at the year's conclusion to acquaint myself with music that may have flown under my radar during the year and Vampire Weekend was one of them. It was released January of 2008 but I didn't give it a thorough listen until the other night. Like The Walkmen's You & Me, it boasts an album's worth of strong cuts, all catchy, all well-produced.

The pleasure in listening to this album is that it's hard to nail down a favorite, but here's a couple to goodies worth throwing out there.

"Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"
"Mansard Roof"

...and Beach House's "Gila" is such a mesmerizer...

Fleet Foxes' self-titled debut is another album I just discovered. "Blue Ridge Mountains" is amazing. Very sublime, as is the rest of their solid debut.

And I can't begin to tell you how indispensible Soul Sides has been in introducing me to such an amazing catalog of the most soulful of soul classics. You know, the soul music variety that simply absorbs you...like these...

The Impressions: "I'm Loving Nothing"
Candi Staton: "Too Hurt To Cry"

The video is terrible and this song came out last year but I haven't been able to get enough of it. From it's quiet and unassuming introductory 2.5 minutes to the unravelling of it's 1.5 minute conclusion that you want to sing from the rafters-The Shins' "Sleeping Lessons" from 2007's Wincing The Night Away is a sonic nova.

Junichi and Oliver over at Poplicks have rounded out their usual year-end lists.

Junichi's "Best Quotes of 2008" is a must read.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Albums

1. The Walkmen: You & Me
2. Various: Fallin' Off The Reel Volume 2
3. Menahan Street Band: Make The Road By Walking
4. Q-Tip: The Renaissance
5. Jean Grae: Jeanius
6. Estelle: Shine
7. Coldplay: Viva La Vida
8. Final Solution: Brotherman OST
9. Erykah Badu: New Amerykah Part 1 (4th World War)
10. Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend

Honorable Mention:

Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes
J-Live: Then What Happened?
Beach House: Devotion

This Year In Music - The Songs


Some of these tunes didn't come out in 2008 but were heard for the first time this year. Here's my month to month breakdown of this year's most memorable songs...

January:

  1. Candi Staton: "Too Hurt To Cry"
  2. Kev Brown: "Batida"
  3. Nas: "On The Real"

February:

  1. Pete Rock: "We Roll (Instrumental)"

March:

  1. Lee Fields & The Expressions: "My World"
  2. Lee Fields & The Expressions: "Love Comes & Goes"
  3. Pete Rock feat. Slum Village: "Gangsta Boogie"
  4. Erykah Badu: "Soldier"
  5. Gnarls Barkley: "Who's Gonna Save My Soul"

April:

  1. Rock Marciano: "MC's"
  2. Nut-Rageous: "They Wanna Know"
  3. Estelle: "Back In Love"

May:

  1. J-Live feat. Posdnous & Oddisee: "The Upgrade"
  2. BIG: "Another Rough One"
  3. J-Live: "It Don't Stop"
  4. NYGz feat. Lady of Rage & Royce 5'9: "Ya Dayz R #d (Remix)"

June:

  1. Solange: "I Decided (Pt. 1)"
  2. Coldplay: "Strawberry Swing"
  3. Quantic & Nickodemus: "Mi Swing Es Tropical"
  4. Little Brother feat. Oddisee: "Delusional"
  5. Jean Grae: "#8"
  6. Elkin & Nelson: "Vamanos"
  7. Ray Barretto: "Pastime Paradise"
  8. Infakt feat. Moonrokk: "California"

July:

  1. Bishop Lamont: "Grow Up"
  2. Rock Marciano: "4 All The Real Raw Deal"
  3. M.I.A. feat Freeway: "Paper Planes (Remix)"
  4. Alicia Keys: "Teenage Love Affair (Instrumental)"

August:

  1. Mos Def: "The Glow"
  2. The GZA: "IntroMental"
  3. Q-Tip: "Gettin' Up"
  4. Solange: "Would've Been The One"
  5. Joe Bataan: "Gypsy Woman (Demo Version)"
  6. Menahan Street Band: "Make The Road By Walking"
  7. Portishead: "Threads"

September:

  1. The Walkmen: "The Blue Route"
  2. The Jacksons: "Show You The Way To Go"
  3. Final Solution: "Brotherman"
  4. Joe Bataan: "Under The Street Lamp"

October:

  1. EPMD: "Listen Up"
  2. Roberto Roena y Su Apollo Sound: "Que Se Sepa"
  3. Menahan Street Band: "Go The Distance"

November:

  1. Raphael Saadiq: "Kelly Ray"
  2. Cesaria Evora: "Sodade"
  3. Bill Withers: "I Want To Spend The Night"
  4. Q-Tip: "Move"
  5. Oddisee feat. Buckshot: "Where I Be At"
  6. Stevie Wonder: "Send Me Some Lovin'"

December:

  1. Jay-Z feat. B.I.G.: "Brooklyn Go Hard (Mick Boogie Remix)"
  2. Paul Mitchell Trio: "Now That I Know What Loneliness Is"
  3. Jay-Z: "Sweet (Feli Kuti Remix)"
  4. Marsha Ambrosius feat. Little Brother: "Sunshine"
  5. The Temprees: "(Girl) I Love You"
  6. Joe Bataan: "Ordinary Guy (45 Version)"
  7. Nina Simone: "Gimme Some (Mike Mangini Mix)"
  8. Fleet Foxes: "Blue Ridge Mountains"
  9. Vampire Weekend: "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dante For President


I'm all for Jam Master Jay Day...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

?uesto on Dilla

Blackstar's "Little Brother" just so happens to be one of the most gorgeous J-Dilla tracks I've ever heard. And that's saying a lot when you consider his body of work prior to his passing two years ago.

And it just so happens that ?uestlove has recounted the events leading up the creation of this Dilla jewel here. When I first heard this track my first response was "where did he sample this from?" So when I read ?uesto's story about how the beat came to life - let's just say that my wig is completely flipped backwards.

J-Dilla was on some other shit. But you already knew that...

Blackstar: "Little Brother"

(Story brought to you by way of Nah Right Lite)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pass The Mic


SEMTEX TV: DELA SOUL, MOS DEF, NAS, WILL I AM, KANYE WEST, DAMON ALBARN ROC THE MIC @ THE G.O.O.D. MUSIC AFTER PARTY, LONDON, UK from DJ SEMTEX on Vimeo.

Nas, Mos Def, and De La Soul passing the mic here at the G.O.O.D. Music after party in London just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Taking it back.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Keep Walking With Me



"The Blue Route", my favorite cut from my favorite album so far this year.

Hamilton Leithauser's vocals weave flawlessly through this song.

But Matt Barrack on drums is the star, not only on "The Blue Route", but the on the entire album.

You remember the "The Rat" right?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Peep The Instrumental"

Alicia Keys' "Teenage Love Affair" was one of my favorite songs last year. The lyrics are pretty run-of-the-mill but the backing track really carried this tune to soulful sublimeness. Now, if only someone can track down Ghostface to get vintage on this... The LL Cool J remix was meh.

Alicia Keys: "Teenage Love Affair (Instrumental)"

Bonus:

Her David Letterman performance some time back.

The Other Knowles

Beyonce's not the only Knowles with talent. Her little sister Solange Knowles has a little something out right now and it's a breezy number - a soulful throwback.

Solange Knowles: "I Decided"

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Voltron's Head

Dropping August 19.


I'm guessing that in preparation for his above forthcoming album, the GZA decided to stir things up a bit and drop this track going at 50 Cent. I'm not sure how I feel about this track. On one hand, it's good to hear something new from the GZA. But if he was going to throw jabs he could of brought something with a little more bite. "Paper Plate" doesn't leave much of an impression. I think it's pretty boring altogether. It's a no-brainer that the GZA is superior with his wordplay and commands a better grasp of the english language than 50 Cent ever will. And 50 Cent would probably agree wholeheartedly.

I wouldn't be of the opinion that this was a complete waste of time had the GZA dropped something more witty and unpredictable. You know, the "8 bar murder verse/ freestyle or rehearsed/ I wreck MC's whether I'm last or first" kind of witty unpredictableness...

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Seoul Controllers





How did Top 9 get to the finals anyway? The Gamblerz Crew vs. Brazil All-Star Crew was a more even battle.

The Blast

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Radiohead Covers...

...New Order's "Ceremony".

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

Viva the Viva La Vida

The new Coldplay is solid.

And this is my favorite from that album. It's not the best video but it's the only live performance of this song I could find.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Jewels Circa 1969



Beatles: "Don't Let Me Down"

I first heard this on 2003's uneven Let It Be...Naked album. It's since become one of my all time Beatle favorites.



Neil Young: "Down By The River"

"Down By The River" is one of those indispensible Neil Young classics. He's accompanied here by his Crosby, Stills, and Nash co-horts. Amazing song and performance.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Justice


J-Live's Then What Happened? is out. I was expecting a little more considering it's been a while since his last album. It's got some boring material but the good ones almost make up for the parts that lag behind. Content and lyric-wise, he's definitely top 5 if I were to rank my personal favorite MC's out right now.

Furthermore, I've adopted "It Don't Stop" as my personal anthem.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Great Sadat X

Sadat X: "Stages and Lights"



Indispensible Sadat X:

Sadat X & Diamond D: "Feel It"
Sadat X & Notorious B.I.G.: "Come On"
Brand Nubian, Diamond D, & Kid Capri: "Hot This Year"

Saturday, April 19, 2008

You Know The Deal...


Did you support your local record shop today?

And to think, I turned 37 today.

Happy Record Store Day folks!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cosmic Slop






Big fan of Badu propaganda.

Her New Amerykah album is pretty snoozy save "Soldier", produced by Kareem Riggins.

But I'm digging this Jay-Z laced snippet. I don't think it's an official remix but the beat is so hot, Lil' Wayne could drop a verse on this track and I'd still love it.

"Soldier" : Erykah Badu feat. Jay-Z

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

And I...

Heard 'Em Say.

It's the first time I've seen this version of the video for my favorite tune from 2005's Late Registration. It helps that Bill Plympton does the fantastic animation and I've got to hand it to Kanye West for bringing in the guy responsible for the 1987 Oscar winning short Your Face (which is incredible), to do his video.

I was never really impressed with this other version.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Midnight Marauder


It's only right.

Speaking of the classic that is Midnight Marauders, as part of Smirnoff's Signature Mix Series, Q-Tip teamed with Cool & Dre to update "Midnight" and give it a 2008 reworking.

I think it's clock radio speakers.

Q-Tip: "Midnight '08"

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Pete's Treats

Pete Rock's NY's Finest in your area on Tuesday. Meanwhile, I've been listening to some PR treats of the past and it's ridiculous the amount of incredible tracks he's put together in his distinguished career. Although the new album isn't as quite as good as I'd expected, it's still a solid effort and I'm glad to hear new material from him. Even the lukewarm joints.

Here's a couple of the more impressionable Pete Rock tracks from way back. Thorough indeed...

The U.N.: "Long Time Coming"
Deda The Original Baby Pa: "Press Rewind"
Pete Rock & CL Smooth: "Lots Of Lovin' (Remix)"

Bonus:

Pete Rock and "Dilla Day", courtesy of Cocaine Blunts

Monday, February 18, 2008

Belated...

It's been way too long between posts but fatherhood affords no rest for the weary...

I meant to post some Valentines goodies last week but just didn't get a chance to.

...I see you me lady...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Look Mom...No Hands!

Okay, shameless excuse to throw a picture of my daughter up. It's not enough that I've already posted it here. Anyway...

I've been meaning give shine to a couple of Madlib tracks that I throw on whenever I need a little inspiration or a slight knudge in the ribs to wake me from whatever stupor I'm in. Since I've been deprived of comfortable, quality shut-eye these few weeks, I've needed an extra jolt to accompany my morning coffee.

Wildchild's (of the Lootpack) "Hands Up" and Vast Aire's (of the mighty, now defunct, Cannibal Ox) "Look Mom...No Hands", both produced by Madlib (the other guy who never sleeps, peep his catalog), exhibit the sonic punch I so desperately need in these babyraising times. "Hands Up" is a leaner, more stripped down track compared to "Look Mom's..." more chaotic and frenetic boombastics. They both serve their purpose in their own distinct ways. It's sonic crack-rock-motivation when you need it.

Wildchild: "Hands Up"
Vast Aire: "Look Mom...No Hands"

Bonus Madlib:

Go figure, there was actually a video for Madvillain's "Accordian"...

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The PR


Pete Rock is, without a doubt, my favorite producer of all time. There was a time I teetered between PR and DJ Premier but PR's sound, anchored by such soulful undercurrents, puts him at the top. Besides, Premier's work has been more uneven as of late and he's not nearly close to matching the quality of his output of the mid-late 90's. Termanology's "Watch How It Goes Down" is the last Primo track that I was feeling and I still think he could of brought the drums a little harder.

If you haven't already heard, Pete Rock's got an album dropping February 26. There are a few projects worth the anticipation this year but New York's Finest is most worthy. I've heard five cuts from the new album and they're not really mind blowing. "The PJ's" featuring Raekwon and Masta Killa and "914" featuring Styles P and Sheek Louch were already in rotation last year. I'm still looking forward to hearing how the rest of the album comes together. After all, a subpar Pete Rock track beats most of the garbage floating around these days.

Check it. Courtesy of Nahright.