Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Comments on Odd Future

If you've been all up on the internet and such you've probably seen something about Odd Future in the past few months. If you haven't, take a peek at some of the videos below: they're pretty good. It seems, however, that most people are focused on the appeal/repulsion of their lyrical content. And yes, talking about rape is not something to be brushed off easily, but I think if we've come to grips with people like the Dipset practically glorifying misogyny, then it shouldn't be a problem when the horrifying lyrical content is clearly meant to be horrifying, rather than worthy of jealousy. If we're going to see the content portrayed in hip-hop as similar to a fictional conceit, it is easy to see that this is a situation where this concept is very applicable.

More importantly, focusing on this aspect as their most notable really only focuses on certain songs with a particularly scary sound. While other songs have similar lyrical content, their sound does not necessarily betray an attempt to frighten. Seeing this group as a reinvigorization of gangsta rap, as many have written, is pretty near-sighted. Part of what makes OFWGKTA so appealing is their versatility, being capable of making new twists on gangsta rap with songs like "French" and "Splatter", remixs with songs like "Drop" and "Orange Juice", and story raps with songs like "Super Market" and "Luper", all with a certain amount of energy that makes them all believable in their own way. Their best tracks, like "Assmilk", are basically everything, a mix of humor, absurdity, terror, and just plain weirdness. Even when they are clearly falling into a particular genre, its in a particularly ridiculous way. No other rapper, for example, has gotten a hand-job from Jesus at a Justin Bieber concert. And despite their versatility, all of their music has a particularly unsettling, chaotic quality that is their signature, which is part of the reason they get pegged as gangsta rap or horrorcore so often, even when the song, overall, betrays other aims.

So what really makes Odd Future a good group of musicians is that they are truly and intriguingly unique, as are the other rising artists of this year, like Waka Flocka Flame and Yelawolf. They have an ability to be experimental while still making songs that knock. The collective is, however, very much a product of the times, being more self-aware than basically anyone but Kanye, acknowledging the downfalls of their own sound and audience in their songs and understanding their own fictional roles in a very transparent way, often pitting themselves purposely against each other. And if they are ever being derivative, its clear that they are aware of it. Domo Genesis knows he's at least part stoner rap clone, and Tyler realizes that he has to make post-Kanye acknowledgements. When they have a childish "say sorry" fight in the middle of a song or Tyler stops the song to say "i'm not gay, faggot," its pretty clear that they know we're not going to take these things at face value. Everything they do is under their own scrutiny as well as ours, which is part of the reason why their choice to rap about rape is so stark, but also a good reason for us to take it with a grain of salt.

Most importantly, however, they have DRIVE. They clearly define themselves against an adult culture that they find unsavory. In recent months, I've become a little wary of rappers attacking phantom enemies in song, most notable recently in Jay-Z's verse on "So Appalled". While it can sometimes work, a lack of real enemies shows a lack of real innovation and spark in verse. When the members of Odd Future say "Fuck Steve Harvey", however, we can believe they mean it. And they have real enemies. Notable blogs like Nah Right and 2Dopeboyz have chosen specifically not to post about bedroom rapper-producers like Lil B, Young L, and Odd Future. Thus they choose to define themselves against an older black culture, one they see as not having treated them properly. They're not inspired by the drug trade, but the psychoactive drugs their very parents have given them. This inspiration is particularly nuanced, showing itself in multiple and unexpected places, in Earl's calm yet powerful verses and Domo's spaced-out fantasies as well as Tyler's terrifying growl. Overall the group's thirst for success has made their music into a sort of crucible, where all members compete against one another, making everyone stronger and more aware of his own particular talents. These guys are, frankly, the perfect combination for making good music in these times. They have talent, awareness, and a reason to use both.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Making Eminem influences as absurd as they sound.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"Hands fulla coke, mouth fulla crack musak"

If you're not up on OFWGKTA you should be, even if you eventually find them highly offensive. More on this in the future. In the meantime, all their music is free.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Comments on "6'7'"

Is Lil Wayne getting philosophical? With hits a like "A Milli" and "Lollipop" Wayne has proven in the past that you don't have to really say anything or even make sense to make Hip-Hop that everyone can enjoy. With "6'7'" I think he's really turning his own eyes on that ability and what he thinks it means.

"Word to my mama, I’m out of my lima bean/don’t wanna see what that drama mean, get some Dramamine/llama scream, hotter than summer sun on a Ghana queen"

Cory Gunz really takes the idea of contentlessness to the extreme here with a ridiculously long string of amas, anas, and eens. Other than that, this line is pure nonsense. And its beautiful, Hip-Hop as nothing but music.

"Life is the bitch, and death is her sister/sleep is the cousin, what a fuckin’ family picture"

But Wayne really takes the cake when it comes to making a statement. This line is an almost aggressive attack on the power of metaphor. By taking these lines from Illmatic to their logical conclusion, he shows us how much nonsense they can be. Here "sleep is the cousin of death" is a joke, rather than a lucid statement about life.

"Bitch, real G’s move in silence like lasagna"
"I got through that sentence like a subject and a predicate"

So instead of language reflecting life, life reflects language: Wayne becomes the language he uses. More than just virtuoso statements showing his knack for wordplay, these lines only show cohesion on the level of commenting about language, rather than commenting about life. His point, in other words, is not to say that real G's move like lasagna moves. His point, is rather to say that language is both meaningless and powerful, not in a way that's revealing, but in a way that's manipulative. If you are language, you can become anything.

"I speak the truth, but I guess that’s a foreign language to y’all"
"So misunderstood, but what’s a World without enigma?"

So it doesn't seem like Wayne is actually calling rap out for being nonsense. He's not saying that language can't represent truth, but just that it doesn't do it in the way we expect, not mirroring life but instead embodying truth by embodying nonsense as an essential part of the world. Nonsense is the power to exist.

Even so, all the above shit is just speculation. For the most part, this song is great because it shows that Lil Wayne is eager again. What distinguishes it from being another "A Milli" is that he refuses to relax, and for good reason: he's been in jail for the past year. Because of which, he finally has something to prove again, which is good, because that usually means good tidings in the music world.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Trite and Incomplete Best of 2010

Seeing that publications are beginning to name their best of lists for the year, I thought I might weigh in as well. I don't listen to nearly enough new music to really have a valid opinion about this, but these are some songs that I really enjoyed this year.

Note: "Runaway", "Power", and "Shutterbugg" are purposefully absent from the list. They've really gotten enough attention already, even though they are all deserving of high praise.

9. "Sprawl II"

It's pretty surprising when a band that has only recently made forays into the now dwindling post-punk revival (e.g.:James Murphy's retirement) is capable of capturing so roundly the essence of said sound. So many bands have represented a particularly whiny side of privileged ennui that such an unapologetically and deeply spirited call back is damn refreshing, even if it is, in the end, also about privilege.

8. "Infinity Guitars"

Alright, so Alexis Krauss's vocals are probably the worst trait of this entire album, and if there was one thing I would change about Sleigh Bells, it would be that. "Infinity Guitars", however, is one of the tracks where they work best. Much of the initial appeal of the song is its intense build and release, but I know as well as anybody that the noisy shock of a song can wear off pretty quickly. What saves this track is, believe it or not, nuance and songwriting. The ending is more than just a punch in the face, but a crossroads where all the song's elements finally meet, most notably, Krauss's rising chant at its least obnoxious. The same goes for the sound. What could be, and has been, seen as gratuitous noise, is actually quite crafted and unique. The noise, surprisingly, reminds me alot of The Microphones, its fuzz revealing huge vacuums of negative space behind it, most notably in the drums, less resonating than sucking in the noise around them.

7. "You Ain't No DJ"

Yelawolf has been all over the web recently, and for good reason: he's a great new voice in hip-hop. As Jesse Thorn has said, his highest talent is in giving us the willies, just really creeping us out, and this track looks remarkably like his coronation as the next king of a long line of creepy southern rap in the vein of the Geto Boyz and Goodie Mob. Andre 3000 lays down a terrifically ominous beat and Big Boi knows to just get out of the way, allowing Yelawolf's slight, Alabama, Deliverance-style persona to really seep through.

6. "Makin Love to the Money"

I've often heard people dismiss Gucci Mane as "ridiculous" not realizing that his cartoonish character is a large part of his appeal. This song shows Gucci at his most overblown, literally talking about having sex with money. And yet, this isn't a Weird Al style parody. Despite its humor, the song actually comes off as remarkably heartfelt and sad. Why? I don't think we will ever know, but this is just one example of a complexity that can often go overlooked in piles of seemingly cookiecutter Lex Lugerish mixtapes, and of an art-form that is intriguingly moving more and more into something that we might call transparency.

5. "Throat I"

Noise music always seems to run into the same paradox. Attempts to grab the listener's attention with volume or surprise tend to become tiresome in large doses. Even bands like Sunn O))), some of the most arresting music available, can become white noise with rapidly repeated listens. Bands have a number of strategies for combating this problem. Bands like Lightning Bolt, for example, present dynamism in periodic and drastic changes in pattern. Little Women, however, have somehow moved themselves outside of this dialectic. Movement is so fundamental to every note of this music that its hard to imagine ever getting used to it. Even the solitary notes of a sax on softer tracks are ridiculously and eerily dynamic. Instrument and musician really seem to melt together here, and that could be part of the secret: the song's intensity really seems to come directly from the artists, most applicably, from the throat, where the body is translated into noise in its most raw form.

4. "The Joy"

With all the talk this year from big names like DJ Premeir about Kanye's supposed return to basics, MBDTF really was a surprising turn, even with the majority of its tracks already out and about. This particular track is most notable to me because it sounds like what Premo was talking about (soulful, classic, and 100% Kanye) and would have been incredibly out of place on the album. As much an elegy as it is a celebration of this type of music in the mainstream, this track is a small but deftly chosen all-star game of mid-90's New York Hip-hop, with Jay-Z on one side and Pete Rock on the other, finally working together even if it is fifteen years too late.

3. "All I Want"

While much of James Murphy's music seems to always leave me a little cold no matter how well made it is, there is always one or two songs on his releases that blow me away. "All I Want" is that track this year. A large part of my attraction to this song is its element of tribute to Bowie's "Heroes", a song very close to my heart. But also, what makes this track really appealing is a surprising inclusion of a little bit of chaos and uncertainty. For someone so well known for attention to detail, this track is at least made to sound sloppy, and this sloppiness allows the song to come to a deliriously uncontrolled yet cohesive climax, where a bleepy cloud of synths seems to break the track apart just as Murphy's voice reaches its most appropriate volume and intensity, producing an effect I would almost be tempted to compare to the whirling tornadoes of Sly and the Family Stone's "Luv n' Haight", even if the Murphy's song is infinitely more crisp, for better or for worse.

2. "Devil in a New Dress"

That this is the track on the album where sampling is most obvious really shows how much Kanye has changed since The Blueprint. The sample is so thin it borders on pure atmosphere, practically dissolving in the album around it, only held down by a high-hat and a bass-line, and the line between live and sample is equally hazy. As far as lyrics go, say what you will about Kanye's rapping, but he knows when to hold himself back. Regardless, the track really comes to a point with Rick Ross (probably the most appropriate collaboration you could have on this album) giving us a verse with the perfect amount of balls to finally bring the track out of the haze.

1. "Colouring of Pigeons"

I've had this track pegged as my favorite of the year ever since it came out in January, and I have to say it has held up incredibly well. Its reputation on the blogosphere has really been sullied by the bafflingly bad studio recording that later consumed it, but if there is anything that could potentially salvage what seems to be The Knife drowning in a sea of pretension, it would be this song. Regardless, this song is so complete, Tomorrow in a Year doesn't even have to be addressed. It almost reminds me of a of a round or canon piece from my cello playing days, with The Knife really exploring every corner of a chord progression that is pretty much perfect, both self-contained and self-perpetuating, so much so that the duo has to end the song with a nearly three minute, brain-wiping drone from a single cello string: nothing else would be capable of truly resolving such a strongly repetitive piece of music. At the same time, the final note really stands to reinforce the song's incredible cohesiveness, tying up almost every theme introduced throughout the song, be it the bending drone or the operatic vibrato, in a single ecstatic knot. This is, seriously, one of the few pieces of music that I would sincerely call inevitable. There is really no way it could be better.
Lil Wayne is back: Track sounds like a mix of "A Milli" and "Jesus Walks", which is a good thing. Not outside his comfort zone, but really, who cares.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

They need to do an album together

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thematic Considerations in MBDTF

At this point, the fact that My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is at least an amazing album is a consensus: commenting on its quality and necessity would be pointless. So I thought I might comment on some interesting thematic questions that I have found over that past few days of obsessive listening. Hopefully my comments will only contribute to an understanding of what makes this album terrific.


While the album as a whole is remarkably complete, more so than any of West's previous albums and most hip-hop albums in general, on a song by song, moment to moment basis, the music persistantly feels unfinished. The use of codas in "Power", "Monster" and the magnificent double ending of "Lost in the World" and "Who Will Survive in America" leave all of these open ended, adding new elements to the song much too late for them to be completely explored. "Dark Fantasy" and "Lost in the World", among others, are composed of disperate elements that beg to be reconciled but never are, running orchestrated fanfare against off-kilter sampling. The introductory chorus on "Fantasy" repeats far more times than one would expect, never leading into anything that would logically follow other than the next song. In terms of guest appearances, West seems to always be skirting around a fitting number, always either having to few or too many. The binary created by him and a guest on "Gorgeous" and "Runaway" begs for a third, while overstuffed tracks like "Monster" and "So Appalled" leave verses by Rick Ross and RZA so short, you can hardly understand why they're there. Overall, this is one of the many things that contributes to a pervasive feeling of doubt even in the albums most triumphent moments, always pointing the listeners ears forward, insisting that their should, but may not be something next, a well fitting charecteristic for a such a fantasy or dream, where our wants never culminate, things always end in questions, we only see parts of images, and vision is never fully three-dimensional.


An inordinate number of watches get mentions all over this album. One could see this as just a another expression of hip-hop excess, and with guests like Rick Ross and Pusha T, that might be true; the watch, however, is an extremely interesting symbol in this context. In one way, an ornate watch is a symbol of the power of wealth to actually make life better, in that money allows one to cover time in aesthetic enjoyment. On the other hand, the juxtaposition implies weakness, testifying the fact that even if you cover it with diamonds, time is something that everyone eventually must deal with. In "Power", West laments that he must one day leave his childishness behind: "Reality is catchin' up with me/Takin' my inner child, I'm fighting for it, custody/With these responsibilities that they entrusted me/As I look down at my di-a-mond-encrusted piece/Sayin' no one man should have all that power." It begs the question, why shouldn't he have "all that power"? It seems that its not for responsibility's sake. The watch stands as a symbol for what he has just described, that his power is the power only to gild, but not to change. When, at the end of "Blame Game", Chris Rock raves over the fact that his girl got him the same watch "that Twista had on in The Source", the watch becomes a comic symbol for the distorting mirror of sexual and self obsession. It seems then that the watch stands for inability and weakness, rather than its normal representation of wealth or power.

In general it is rather interesting that on an album highly lauded for its rerouting of hip-hop out of context, a major topic discussed is the dangers and pitfalls of that removal of context. As wonderful as fantasy is, reality will always be on the edges, whether because of fantasy's temporality or its inadequacy. While West is clearly the subject of this album, there is something to be said for it as a statement to the general public. When Gil-Scott Heron says at the album's end, "All I want is a good home and a wife and kids, and some food to feed them every night," the album that preceded it has made us realize that considering the invasion of sex, money, emotion, and most importantly self obsession and absorbtion, how truly hard that tranquility and simplicity is to accomplish.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Os Mutantes

Isn't it strange how much amazing shit is in other languages that we know nothing about? Yes, it is.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


I don't know if I'd recommend the movie but the music was pretty damn good.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

No Bugs on Me: Episode 6

We're back from a long break and possibly better than ever. Topics include movie magic, my quest for a gun, soccer coach restuarants and possibly more.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I'm Living in Shame

I've found the many of the best Motown records are like Mack trucks, with so much momentum they can barrel through anyone's dumpy sensibilities, with dense basslines, orchestras, and vocalists that fill in every possible hole. Sometimes more is actually better.

It's Your Thing

Is there something wrong with trying to sound like James Brown? Not at all.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Oh, Sister

I've always had a little bias against any Bob Dylan after the turn of the 70's. I think I'll have to get over it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Party and Bullshit

People seem to have trouble with the lyrics of this song, as if it exemplifies, as its name suggests, the most morally and intellectually vacuous kinds of music. But as with everything, you really have to appreciate it for what it is: a perfectly unending stream of wobbly gravitas. Always a man of contradictions, Biggie smothers quite a large pill of uncertainty in a thick and potent honey of violence, drugs, and lechery. Yet one can only marvel at his insistence: the perfectly unbroken line that lays across the first verse, or the perfectly placed spondee in the second ("ain't no stopping Big Poppa, I'm a BAD BOY"), one of my favorite moments in hip-hop. Its the production that most completely reveals the complexity of his lyrics, backing his nervous confidence with a beat that wavers like a swing set in a thunderstorm. Party may be in the title, but I've never been to one where it was played, and I don't think I'd have enjoyed it if I had.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Where is Justin Timberlake these days?

I don't care who you are, there's no denying the quality, or the incredible weirdness, of this song. The first, and probably best, appearance of the signature JT/TL beatboxing.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Kimono My House

Power pop from the 70's wins once again. I think I've finally found some glam I can really get into.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Two Sevens Clash

I really haven't heard enough Reggae to judge this song's relative quality, but I think its great enough it general to warrant my recommendation.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sexual Healing

This song is as good as, if not better than, "Ignition (Remix)". Am I the only one that find its a little tragic?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

No Bugs on Me: Episode 5

Here we are once again. This is a much more contemplative, infj style, There's a Riot Goin' On, episode. Topics discussed include, Gabe's butt, Hispanic Mom's, degenerates, how to write a clear and concise essay and much more.

Friday, October 1, 2010

No Bugs on Me: Episode 4 ft. Nora

We're back and better than ever. And with a high profile guest. Topics addressed include but are not limited to compliments, bird teeth, crying, and tome etymology. There's about twenty minutes of nothing at the end of the mp3. Just ignore it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Oh my I'm so glad he's coming back. Every line of this song makes it better. Those of you who don't like the Birdman Jr. just need to get over it becausehesagenius.

No Bugs on Me: Episode 3

We have kept on truckin'. Topics discussed include merduck dreams, the talmudic sandwich rabbi, bitterness, DJ lists, and most importantly, ourselves. Next week's guest, god willing, will be housemate Nora.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Makeshift Swahili

Writing about This Heat seems to always revolve around their place in rock history, which is a real shame because no band needs context less than this one. The doors of this song are blown down so early and so intensely that the an requisite adjustments away from melody, tradition, and one's pop assumptions are rendered pointless by pure force. Most post-rock and ambient artists rely on their ability to build and create complexity over long periods of time. All This Heat needs is two minutes and a single chord to translate shuddering body horror into sound and inject it directly into our lower backs. I will never hear to word "swahili" the same way again (1:13).

Restraint Again

It's so strange to think that only eight years ago Scarface was relevant, Jay-Z and Kanye could exercise restraint, and Beanie Sigel and Jay-Z were friends. But whatever, everyone involved was in top form and for a super-group style posse track, that's a lot to ask.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Move on Up

Curtis Mayfield - Move On Up

Found at

Many people will know this song in its sample form, used by Kanye West on the great "Touch the Sky". It's important to note, however, that Kanye's production does not catch on to much of what makes this song terrific in its own right (nor does it have to). What he has cut out is mainly the rhythm section: while "Touch" perfectly utilizes the celebratory blast of the horns, it ignores the uncontrollable urgency of the kit, African drums, and bass in addition to the nearly tragic chords of the keyboard and strings. What is sampled as euphoria is really a song in emotional tension, where the horns party but the rest of the band has something much more important to do then dance.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

No Bugs on Me: Episode 2

Episode 2

New and improved, complete with editing, a theme song, and snort segues. Topics as various the flea market, sickle cells, and the eagle rock are addressed. Go here for a fancier mp3 player.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Slow Burn

I'm really enjoying revisiting the White Stripes after quite a few years away from them. I realize now that for all the talk about Jack White's blistering blues explosion, the band are really masters of the slow burn, where restraint gives way to more noticable nuance, and where, despite their lack of a bass player, the tracks rumble with dynamic tension. The releases in both songs, the periodic doubletime licks in "Do" and the buzzed chord change at the end of "Sister" (2:19) explode your head despite their simplicity, not because of it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Episode 2....

...Is on its way. Of the podcast I mean. Don't get too excited.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bitches Brew

Bitches Brew reissued! 19 dollars! Special Edition! Buy it, Buy it, Buy it! Now! Now! Now!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Banshee Beat

All artists fight against making shitty music, but none fight against making it in the same way. Animal Collective, for example, has never floundered for lack of inspiration. In my opinion, they haven't floundered very often, but when they have, its not because the music becomes trite or boring, but because the music does not offer them a place in which they can get comfortable. Despite its ever presence, chaos does not necessarily have a hand in indicating the quality of an AnCo song. At this point, I consider "Banshee Beat" to be their best song, not because its atypical of their sound, but because its the opposite. Its extremely typical of them in spite of itself. There is a point where the experimental must eventually become the conventional and this song is it for the band. They have restrained themselves to a point where they only need a single indicator of their sonic character to appear at a time, lending further purpose to all indicators. They are not unfamiliar with atonal and arhythmic ambiance, but here it finally seems to have a proper setting and goes on for as long as is necessary, not that the chord and beat that eventually arise are any less perfect. All this time, both band and listener sink deeper and deeper into the cushions, until, with one of the most subtle and heart dropping chord changes I think I have ever heard (2:25), the song jolts to a start. I could go on but I think you get it. This understanding of the song is not just important for the purposes of claiming the song's quality. It also shows that a quantity or alienness of sound is not necessary to create a chaotic, unique, and unconventional song. All that is needed is a level of comfort and an understanding of form. And a little spirit.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


So here it is. My pal Gabe and I have decided that we're good enough to start an as of yet untitled chatty podcast. You might want to turn it up a bit, its a little soft. Also, it skips about three times, that's just a mistake, not your computer breaking. Just click on the link above and then click on the big blue download button. Or click on the Quicktime player below.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Pitchfork's aforementioned 90's list has reignited a 10 year old passion I didn't know I had. Timbaland = greatest artist of the past two decades? Fuck Radiohead. JK.

Only Shallow

I don't know how I feel about this cover, but it sure offers an interesting analysis of a very enigmatic sound. You might want to turn your volume down:

Nadja - Only Shallow (My Bloody Valentine)

Found at

Here's the original:

My Bloody Valentine - Only Shallow

Found at

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Well school is starting again. I most likely won't be able to post daily like I do now. I will, however, continue to blog. Do not despair.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Jamie Fox

Here's a weird little song. It's by a blind, black pianist making game changing forays into the country world on an album called Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. But its really R&B at heart, going from soul to swing and back again. Oh yeah, and its a cover of "You are my Sunshine".

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I Got Five On It

Just rediscovered this via Pitchfork's ongoing best of the 90's list. Its a fun way to revisit/discover good tunes, even if you disagree with the numbers.

Monday, August 30, 2010


In my opinion, all post-punk/new wave revivalists should sound like this. Why James Murphy can't make a song this fun, groovin', and ominous I have no idea. New Order was somehow capable of incorporating a high amount of organic depth and spirit into a pretty robotic genre without being morose or whiney. I feel like that's what many of today's late-70s inspired artists are missing. This is close though.

1000 Umbrellas

This just takes me back to my days playing cello for the Freedom High School Theater Company. Can't you just picture a charismatic male lead throwing himself all over the stage while the cast, complete with prop-umbrellas, does some cool choreographed shit? I usually don't enjoy musical theater or things that resemble it, but somehow this song's complete lack of subtlety doesn't bother me. I have yet to figure out why. Maybe its because there's a hint of sincerity behind the theatricality of it all.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Revolutionary Generation

This track's bass line is somehow as manic as it is repetitive. It's also terrifying.

Man, I wish a had a reason to wear a blazer.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Inspiring Enthusiasm

I read on the back cover of a book today that it exhibited "inspiring enthusiasm". This is what our generation needs more of. It's certainly worked on me before. Get to it guys.

Being an Enthusiast

About a year ago I had a conversation with my friend Chris, who I always talk to about my opinions. I had a problem: I liked too much stuff. I had entered the aesthetic world really through progressive rock, a genre of music that exists almost exclusively to be high brow, to be complicated, to be an effort to listen to. This was my base. Any music, and any art in general, that did not fit these criteria, was bad. As simple as that. I later entered other musical worlds by translating these opinions to fit the common elements of those genres: I liked Bob Dylan because his lyrics were confusing and his songs were long, I liked Nas because his lyrics were nuanced and his rapping was intricate, I liked the Incredible String Band because its songs were purposefully grating and out of tune etc. This policy, however, had only gotten me so far. I reached to limits of my rationalization. I was liking more music than I could find I reason for. I can really like anything, I complained. I worried that I had lost my critical faculties all together. I could find something I liked in almost any song.

I've realized now that I was making a very elemental mistake. I had assumed that being a enthusiast means to hate things, to declare things as low, boring, and worthless, when it really means the opposite. Enthusiasts are enthusiastic about things. I love music. There's no question about it. It's hard to realize in this culture of Top 100 lists and critical pannings, but most music is good music. I don't have to hate music to be a music critic. You probably have to love it.

For example, some weeks ago I posted a link to a song called "Any Girl" by Lloyd Banks. This song is not a song of the year, you could easily hear it on the radio and not even think twice. That said, I LOVE this song. I love the bass, I love the synth line, I love the twang, I love Lloyd's singing, I love the loud-quiet-loud aesthetic, and I especially love Lloyd Banks' first verse. Now, liking songs from the "halls of banality" is not a new thing and I realize that. Every person with opinions has their guilty pleasures. But this is where I have a problem. Fuck guilty pleasures. Calling something a guilty pleasure is basically another way of refusing to accept it on its own terms. Its an insult to everyone involved in creating the music. Pleasure is pleasure. If you have to hang up your critical faculties in order to rationalize something you like, maybe you should consider changing the way you evaluate art.

That said, I have vaguely the same music tastes as any music nerd. Any strong opinions I have are minute and specific enough that most people would not notice the differences. But I heavily support giving everything the benefit of the doubt, and not just for novelty's sake. More importantly, I'm not going to assume something has no quality just because I don't like it. It may not have as much to love as things I respect more highly, but that doesn't mean its worthless. Being a lover of something is much more about exploration then it is about possession. If the key were to make a list of the best of 100 of everything and stop there because everything else is below us, we probably wouldn't listen to music anymore. It would be pretty boring.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Never wear a vest with a t-shirt, even if you are a werewolf and back-flipping off of a Corvette, but especially if you're balding and have a ponytail.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Bun B's verse (2:17) is magical.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Crystals

Shit, can you imagine this blowing out of your AM radio in 1963? We live in a pop future so effected by Crystals producer Phil Spector that it takes quite a while to realize, but instruments just don't sound like this. Those looking for the unique and weird in popular music may feel that 60's girl groups are the last place to look, but these songs are deeply strange. Where else do cavernous studios reverberate rapid fire clavas and timpanis? Where else do drum kits built like tanks back up the most bubblegum piano lines and haunted staccato choruses about delinquent boyfriends? Where else can maracas (or whatever those are) carry the solemn weight of human emotion on their tiny shoulders with near apocalyptic urgency? Nowhere, that's where. Too bad Phil Spector murdered someone recently.

And check out this even more terrifying re-recording of "Then He Kissed Me". Ahhh:

Maggot Brain

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

50 Great Voices

There's about as much bullshit as there is content here, but its good to see this type of thing on NPR.


For most late career artists, an album with a concept like this would be a bad sign. Making a record almost solely with the human voice somehow reeks of both fan service and overextension almost as much as a triple album loosely based on the Armenian genocide. But not so with Bjork. First of all, this album shows actual development, rather than blind exploration. Clear yet subtle influences from friend Aphex Twin pop up all over, as well as more beatboxing than a Timberlake/Timbaland collaboration. Most importantly, however, these are still Bjork songs, and all show her ability to create songs that are somehow both classic and undeniably foreign, even with these slightly-out-of-her-wheelhouse additions. And in the end this is why she doesn't fall victim to the common pitfalls of artistic excess: she never lets fancy experimentation cover her own voice, vocal or otherwise.

Björk - Oceania
Found at

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


It's funny that people criticize hip-hop for excess and posturing when its so full of self-loathing as well.


Although Donuts has quickly risen into my top ten over this past year, I've always been a little reluctant to write about it. For one thing, J Dilla is probably the most talked about and overpraised hip-hop artist on the internet. There's nothing worse than rushing out the get a heavily lauded record only to be confronted with a wall of unfamiliar, difficult, and underwhelming sound, and I will admit that my first listen to Dilla's masterwork was less than a religious experience. More importantly, however, I haven't yet felt that I have discovered all the gifts that the album has to offer, nor have I understood the ones I have. These are things, however, that I think at this point will not happen for a long while. So I'd better just put in my two cents.

We've heard quite a few definitions of the producer's genius. An off kilter style, out-of-this-world drum patterns, left-field timescale manipulation, deceptively simplistic repetition etc. All of these things are amazing qualities that definitely make J Dilla unique and I am absolutely not against attempting to pin down even the most idolized artist's style. All of these things already make Donuts an amazing album. But I'm not comfortable with the idea of attempting to find Dilla's essence in a specific sound, when he was known for changing his sound so often. If you're looking for an overarching quality that makes a Dilla track a Dilla track, "time stretching" would be an oversimplification. Heck, any stylistic description would be an oversimplification.

I think, rather, that what makes Donuts Dilla's magnum opus is that it best showcases his unheard of ability to express personality through his beats. At this point, he is the only non-vocal pop artist I know of that can really do that. And Donuts is his self-portrait, a deliriously complex and subtle one at that. The Dilla of Donuts is a romantic ("Time: The Donuts of the Heart", "Light My Fire"), a neurotic ("Airworks", "The Twister", "Thunder"), a manic-depressive ("Walkinonit") and most of all a prankster (every song). Many times he's all of these at once ("Don't Cry", "One Eleven", "Anti-American Graffiti"). All of these qualities are expressed through his unique and surprising stylistic methods, but by no means are they tied to them. A stifled vocal in "Time: The Donuts of the Heart" can mean utter desperation while a similar effect adds a self-conscious smirk to a voice on "One Eleven". Regardless, it is pressingly true in this case that any attempt to describe his expressions of personality would pale in comparison to the way that the album shows them itself.

Because of which I'm reluctant to post tracks from the album. It would be hard, and rather incomplete, to not to post them all. But I'm going to do it anyway. Here are as many of my favorites as I can find and rationalize fitting into one post:

Monday, August 16, 2010


Joy Division - Ceremony

Found at

New Order - Ceremony

Found at

Galaxie 500 - Ceremony

Found at

Radiohead - Ceremony (Joy Division cover)

Found at