Monday, August 30, 2010

Young Man

This track comes from newcomer Young Man, his album boy drops relatively soon. It's a shame it didn't sooner because this song in particular has a very summery feel to it. Even though this guy pretty much seems to be extremely influenced by Panda Bear, I find "Five" quite enjoyable.

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Friday, August 27, 2010


I've been noticing a recent trend of upcoming hip-hop artists that have a huge respect for indie rock. Kid Cudi has MGMT on his album, and recently featured a song with Best Coast, B.o.B has voiced his desire to work with Animal Collective, even Jay-Z is a huge fan of Grizzly Bear. Recently, New Orleans rapper Curren$y released his first studio release Pilot Talk Pt. 1 to much critical praise. One song that is not on the album but has been floating around the Internet is "Newer Pollution" which is an updated version of a Beck song. Beck's "New Pollution" from Odelay provides the entire background while Curren$y flows on top of it. He even throws in a great quote from Dazed & Confused to boot.

Well, that has been our two week hip-hop expose, back to indie next week. We should do it again sometime.

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Newer Pollution

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Digable Planets - Blowout Comb

Blowout Comb by Digable Planets is a critically acclaimed rap album revered by many hardcore rap fans, and is without a doubt a quintessential underground hip-hop album. However if you asked the casual T-Pain 50 Cent fan if they had heard of Digable Planets they would probably respond with "Huh?" Quite simply Digable Planets have faded into the void of defunct 90s hip-hop acts. Their first album Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space) was a relatively successful hit. However Blowout Comb, their sophomore release Blowout Comb was a commercial failure due to it's radical pro-black message and all in all departure from their original sound. They along with The Roots and several other acts in the indie-rap movement of the '90s experimented with subtle jazz backing rather than the traditional style of beats that were associated with rap at the time. Digable Planets have since broken up reunited and broken up again.

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Black Ego

Monday, August 23, 2010

The International Players Anthem (feat. Outkast)

You know, a lot of critics and people who generally hate rap knock it for the kind of lifestyle it promotes. To a point I agree, the gangsta lifestyle is a subject that is often over-done, but it's a lifestyle nonetheless and though you may not understand it that doesn't give you ground to automatically discredit it. When an artist does the subject of pimping right then it can be extremely effective. Take Underground Kings' "International Players Anthem" with help from Outkast for example. I challenge anyone to put this song on their iPod and by the time the main beat kicks in not feel like a complete badass. This song charted very well when it came out, and there's no mystery as to why, it has a great beat and killer rhynes. It's a shame UGK's career was cut tragically short because in a sea of bland of rap, they were a shining beam of originality.

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International Players Anthem (feat. Outkast)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Notorious B.I.G. (Ratatat Remix)

Techno-rock group Ratatat have an affinity for remixing hip-hop songs. They have self-released two free remix albums online.  On their 2007 Volume II release, the centerpiece of the album would have to be Biggie Smalls's "Party & Bullshit." On it's own "Party & Bullshit" is a great song, but Ratatat have reworked it making the song into even more of a club-banger.

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Party & Bullshit

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Big K.R.I.T.

There's something to be said about Mississippi rap. It's very distinct, it has a sense of place, an almost swampy feel to it. Newcomer Big K.R.I.T. has achieved a lot in a short time. He was almost unheard of in 2009 and since then has released a successful free mixtape that has received much critical praise. What's interesting about K.R.I.T. though is he doesn't seem to be in a hurry to become mainstream. This may turn out to be very beneficial for him, several rappers who have released impressive free online mixtapes have not been as impressive on the main circuit. Take for instance Wale, who's free Seinfeld inspired Mixtape About Nothing was seen as groundbreaking and showed much promise, yet less than a year later his major label release Attention Deficit was a commercial flop and critically lambasted.  It almost seems like something happens that when a hip-hop artist is discovered. Someone or something gets a hold of them and sucks their creative edge away. For the meantime Big K.R.I.T seems comfortable in his new found popularity in the indie hip-hop scene, and is perfectly fine remaining in the underground for a little while at least.

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Country Shit

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pete Rock & CL Smooth

For the next week or so we're going to feature some of my favorite hip-hop songs on the blog. I realized that my format seems to have been nothing but indie rock and classic underground tunes, and that's just not fair to other genres. You may recognize many of the songs, and you may discover some new hip-hop artists, but this is my attempt to weed out some of the crap and showcase some truly talented artists.

In 1992 duo Pete Rock & CL Smooth released what could be my favorite hip-hop song of all time: "T.R.O.Y. (They Reminisce Over You)." This song was a moderate hit, it only reached #58 on the Billboard charts, but where it lacked in radio play was made up for with critical acclaim. "T.R.O.Y." is considered one of the best rap songs of the '90s by a wide variety of critics. It's not hard to see why it receives so much applause, for one the backing sample of saxophonist Tom Scott covering Jefferson Airplane is infectious. But what really makes this song a rare gem is its subject matter. Very rarely do you hear a hip-hop artist drop the tough guy attitude and be emotionally vulnerable. This song is about remorse over their lost friend Troy Dixon, a fellow artist in their scene. Pete Rock has stated that it was hard not to break down crying during the recording of "T.R.O.Y" and that at times he was unsure if they would be able to finish putting it to tape. Since then the two have gone their separate ways, Pete Rock is a mega-producer and has worked with The Roots and A Tribe Called Quest to name a few, he has been a strong proponent of fusing jazz and soul into hip-hop. CL Smooth hasn't had as much success as Rock but has guest on several other artist's albums.

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T.R.O.Y. (They Reminisce Over You)

Friday, August 13, 2010

The End of Humanity or My Morning Jacket at The Greek

This is going to be an odd post, but I have something I need to get off my chest. Some people believe that humanity will see its doom on 12/21/2012, but I disagree. I don't think we'll even make it that far. Picture this: My Morning Jacket at the beautiful Greek Theater in Griffith Park on a clear summer night during the peak of the Perseids meteor shower. Sounds like a dream come true doesn't it? It could have been. It really could have been.

Instead this concert experience was an absolute living hell for me, so let's start from the beginning. Griffith Park is tricky to get into. The only way to get to it is by cutting through a rich residential area, and when you have a couple thousand cars trying to get to the same place, it can become a traffic nightmare. I wait in a line of cars for a good half-hour. I get up to the girl in the yellow jacket who takes the money and I notice that parking is a bit more than I expected. There were no signs posted beforehand that said how much, I would have easily turned around and hit up an ATM if there were, but there weren't and now I'm stuck. Parking was $15, when I added up all of the cash I had in my wallet and spare change in my cup-holder I had $14.50. I explain my situation that I didn't see any price signs before hand, and if she would be kind enough to let me park I would get money from the venue's ATM and pay her back. This bitch without even blinking says she's sorry and that I would have to go all the way back down into Los Feliz and get money at a gas station. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Sure, shame on me for not having enough change, but when it's a discrepancy of fifty cents, have a heart, take a breath and understand the situation someone else may be in and have a fucking heart for your fellow man. It's amazing how people who are given the smallest amount of authority let it go straight to their head. After fighting with her for a good minute, I concede and head back down the mountain and manage to park somewhere in Los Feliz, a good mile or so away from the venue and begin to walk back up the hill. I stop in at a gas station and get more money along the way before I begin literally hiking to this concert. I have completely missed opening band Avi Buffalo by this point, and as I reach the venue I hear My Morning Jacket take the stage and open with my favorite song, "At Dawn" It sounds absolutely stunning, wish I was there to see it. I wanted to walk right up to the girl in the yellow jacket and just go ballistic on her. I wanted to walk right up to her and hurl fifty cents in her face and scream "Was it worth it? Was it worth it bitch!" But I took a breath and headed into the venue. I figured that it was over, that I would calm down and listen to the soothing voice of Jim James and all would be well.

Nope. I end up sitting next to two drunk fat chicks who kept screaming "Jim James!" like he was Robert Pattinson or some other teen heartthrob. I'm all for being excited at a concert, but if your shrieks drown out the music then we have a problem. One of these girls kept bumping into me throughout the night and giggled "I'm sorry" every single time. I told her, "Don't worry about it." What I really wanted to say was, "Well, maybe if your girth didn't take up two goddamn seats we wouldn't be having this issue" Needless to say they annoyed me to no end. After My Morning Jacket finished their first set, I couldn't take it anymore and sauntered back down to Los Feliz.

All of this is really is unfortunate, My Morning Jacket could have been a great concert, maybe one of the best of the year. The setting was immaculate and they were absolutely spot on. But I was too distraught over the fact that a measly fifty cents sent me into a tailspin.
In hindsight, I don't even care about the situation, it's the bigger picture that really gets me depressed. If we, as a society can't let our egos down for a second and have compassion for each other over something as trivial as say fifty cents, if we let something as minuscule as that get in the way. Then we're fucked.

Be better to each other.

My face last night. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Thee Oh Sees

I'm gearing up for the Fuck Yeah Festival that's going to take place here in LA on September 4th. It's a yearly festival that is like a much cheaper mini Coachella. I'm very excited for it because I get to see a handful of bands that I have really wanted to check out for only $20. One band in particular is Thee Oh Sees, an experimental garage band from San Francisco. They are another group in that fantastic scene with Ty Segall going up in San Fran right now. Thee Oh Sees just released a new album called Warm Slime. The title track leads off the album and clocks in at well over ten minutes. It is an absolute jam, it sounds like if Phish played loose-cannon garage rock. After the dramatic first song it immediately switches gears and the rest of the album is at a much more frenetic pace. It's an odd record but an interesting one to say the least.

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I Was Denied

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tobacco Road

In 1964, a little band from Surrey called The Nashville Teens released a single called "Tobacco Road." This song which was an underrated hit has an interesting story behind it. John D. Loudermilk, originally wrote this song and let The Nashville Teens first perform in. The song certainly was ahead of its time, and no other song in their repertoire sounds anything like it. The guitar stomp at the beginning was aided by a highly sought after session guitarist at the time named Jimmy Page (yes, the same). What I find most intriguing about this song is its ability to go from that dinosaur-like stomp into a barroom honky-tonk fueled by a blazing piano section that only The Killer himself could replicate. The Nashville Teens were never able to fully surpass "Tobacco Road" and it has since been covered by a plethora of different artists, the Twins still exist today in some fashion and tour regularly in little venues all around The British Isles.

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Tobacco Road

Friday, August 6, 2010

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

I always find it amazing when fans start to turn on a band because they get popular. People from every corner who were indifferent to a band before now suddenly despise them, they call them sell-outs who are undeserving of their popularity. Most recently, Kings of Leon sold out. Hard. They were a Tennessee loose-cannon rock and roll group with blazing memorable guitar riffs that deliberately changed their sound to appeal to a wider-audience. Sure, every band wants to sell records but that doesn't mean they have to trade in their integrity to do so.
Now people are trying to say Arcade Fire have done the same thing. That's where I have to put my foot down. Arcade Fire are one of the few bands around that has gained massive appeal without having to compromise themselves. Funeral, Neon Bible, and The Suburbs all compliment each other quite nicely. One argument the naysayers have is that The Suburbs is nowhere near as good as Funeral. Well no shit. Funeral is one of those one-in-a-lifetime kind of records, an album that years from now people will dig out of their record collections show to their kids and say "I was there." It's silly to hold a band to those kind of standards, because they can do nothing but fail.
The Suburbs is in no way a masterpiece, and there is a handful of songs that are worth forgetting, but for the majority of its duration it's a solid collection. Whereas Neon Bible was this outward bombastic album, The Suburbs finds the band in a suppressed introverted state waiting to burst. Frontman Win Butler is not content with the monotony of living in the suburbs and many of these songs "We Used to Wait" "The Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" give off the desire of breaking free. This alternate universe that Butler has created it is not a pretty site. "City With No Children" paints a very dire picture masked with hand-clapping and a Kieth Richards sounding guitar lick. Even when the band is able to escape The Suburbs the urban life offers no better solutions. "Rococo" is not only an infectious song that will bury itself in your brain, but it is an attack on the self-congratulatory entitled hipsters. "Let's go downtown and talk to the modern kids They will eat right out of your hand Using great big words that they don't understand." It takes a lot of guts to criticize a group of people that are most likely your fans, but is their attack justified? This writer believes so.
Would I say that The Suburbs is going to end up on my top ten list? Probably not. Top 20? You bet, but who knows it has only been a week and this record could grow on me immensely. Arcade Fire are one of the defining bands of the current indie era whether you like it or not. They are a shining example of how bands have departed from guitar-laden solo-swapping songs of the past and now focus on the album as a whole, both emotionally and texturally. The Suburbs, keeping in line with their previous two records is at its core a highly emotional album, which ultimately is what makes it a success.

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Link Removed

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I Want To Go To Marz

It was by sheer coincidence that I happened to stumble upon this album the other day. I do not know much about John Grant or his musical career other than he was the vocalist for The Czars. Queen of Denmark is his solo debut featuring the musical accompaniment of fellow folkies, Midlake. I can tell off the bat that this will be one of those forgotten albums that bloggers of the future will uncover and bestow upon it a cult status. This album has the feeling of Ziggy Stardust mixed with some of Elton John's darker moments, and topped off with a little splash of Flaming Lips' psychedelia. What's not to love?

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I Want To Go To Marz

Monday, August 2, 2010


Keeping in line with our Emmit Rhodes post, I present to you another lost Beatles emulator from the early 70's. This is Dutch band Smyle, they had a couple of moderate hits in Canada but never received attention from American or United Kingdom audiences and eventually broke up and went on to other projects. Yet they leave behind a few rare records of great Beatles-tinged pop.

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She Means A Lot To Me