Archive for June, 2008

My old buddy Ryan, whose blog appears to have gotten huge lately (I remember when it was so little . . . they’re never cute again!), was gracious enough to share this hard-to-find album with me: Jesse Malin’s all-covers release, “On Your Sleeve.” I’m not going to say that his versions are better than every other version of these songs, and there are definitely a few misses here, but he’s got some really interesting takes on quite a few. His cover of Gates Of The West (The Clash), for example, is fantastic. It moves the revolution anthem into a boppy ditty, perfect for a summer car ride in a convertible. His version of Me And Julio Down By The School Yard (Paul Simon) is pretty good, too, but one of the greatest cuts here is “You Can Make Them Like You.” I never thought I’d enjoy anyone other than Craig Finn doing one of Hold Steady’s tunes, but Malin truly makes it his own. And I love hearing any version of “Everybody’s Talkin’ (Harry Nillson)”, the best song from a soundtrack to an X-Rated movie ever. (And from the only X-Rated movie ever to win an Oscar, to boot!) I could do without the shmaltz of Wonderful World (Sam Cooke) and Operator (That’s Not The Way It Feels) (Jim Croce), but all in all, I really enjoyed listening to this release.

Those in the U.K. can get it from One Little Indian records. The rest of us have to pay import prices. So, tell me, what asshole record companies decided to pass on distribution of this album within the U.S.?

As a treat, here’s a Jesse cover, and then a few other covers of songs Jesse does on “On Your Sleeve.”

Gates of the West-Jesse Malin

Gates of the West-Adam Masterson

Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard (Paul Simon)-Peter Bjorn and John

Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard (Paul Simon)-Julie Doiron

Everybody’s Talkin-Willie Nelson

THE WEEKS and THE YOUNG COYOTES

Posted: June 18, 2008 by dillion in Uncategorized

Today, two indie rock bands that share one thing in common: There’s been almost nothing written about them on the internets. Well, actually they share two things in common: They’re also both really good. Scratch that: Three things. The third is that both bands succeed where many fail.

THE YOUNG COYOTES-“Self Titled EP”

The first is the debut E.P. by Young Coyotes. It’s true indie rock to the core. A slightly hoarse, slightly strained male lead vocal, “ooh ooh” background singers, an emphasis on hook, and a steady rhythm. On the whole platter, only one song didn’t work for me (“A Thousand Masks,” which was a little precious). My sole criticism is that there’s not a lot of range here, but this is a band to watch nevertheless, based on the really interesting, chant-like cadence of each tune.

If I get ten submissions of this same kind of sound in four weeks, it’s a light month. It seems like every college kid in America thinks that they can make interesting, minimalist rock in their basements. Word to the wise: Most of you can’t. But it seems The Young Coyotes just might be able to . . .

When I was In the Fire

THE WEEKS-“Comeback Cadillac”

The first (and title) cut off of the new The Weeks record is a hard-hitting, borderline punk rant with a great lead guitar line. It instantly recalls so many bands like this: The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, etc. In fact, the only genre I get more submissions of than minimalist indie chant rock (see above) is postpunk. Most are either overproduced or just plain boring. But The Weeks are different.

Perhaps it’s because they’re also capable of sweetacoustic duets (“The Sailor Song”), and rattier
Americana (“Altar Girl”). Or maybe it’s the slowbuild and clever arrangement in “Teary-Eyed Woman.” Whatever it is, these guys are officially on my watchlist. A very strong debut album.

COMPUTER VS. BANJO

Posted: June 17, 2008 by dillion in Uncategorized

It’s not until “Give Up On Ghosts,” the third track from their self-titled debut, that the band Computer vs. Banjo begins to live up to its experimental name. The first few songs on the album are mellow, almost bluesy rock tunes, but “Ghosts” has subtle overdubs, machine-driven music, vocal effects . . . Yes, it’s a little like Beck. Scratch that, a lot like Beck. But Mr. Hansen ain’t what he used to be, and anyway CvB have their own message to offer. They move the folktronica genre forward, with something often missing from such music: Tight songwriting.

“Outer Space” is a loving song that manages eighties’ angst (think Rick Astley) and true, beautiful sadness at the same time. No small feat! And the lyrically cliche “Magazine Queen” sounds fresh in the able musical hands of this experimental duo.

Check ‘em out!

Give Up On Ghosts

10 REASONS NOT TO DISS EMINEM

Posted: June 17, 2008 by dillion in Uncategorized

Em has had lots of famous beefs–too many write about here–but one of his earliest was against Canibus. The two had a misunderstanding, because Em was suspected to have been the writer for LL Cool J of “The Ripper Strikes Back,” which dissed Canibus. Em has never admitted writing it, and Cool J claims he wrote it himself, but relations between Bus and Em started getting worse. So, on Sway & Tech’s “This Or That” album, Em slipped in a line against Bus. It wasn’t even a great line–he just suggested that someone switch their demo with Canibus’ if they want to get ahead, suggesting that Bus was making his fame on his name and not on his skill. Bus attacked Em a few times, but none of them are even worth hearing. But Em’s responses are brilliant.

1. Children’s Story (Canibus diss)-Em

2. Can I Bitch? (Canibus diss)-Eminem

Marshall has also fueded with far more famous folks than ‘Bus, who never really broke big. There was this toss-off, for example, against a guy who was huge for about a year:

3. Are You Afraid (Mystikal diss)-Eminem. “I’m strong enough to beat your ass with a feather pillow!” he says, before threating to rip Mystikal’s voicebox out. This seemed kinda gratuitous, but a young Marshall was hungry for fame so he took the attack everyone route. Seems to have worked.

And remember his classic battle with Whitey Ford? I’m actually a fan of Everlast (not a huge fan, but I appreciate the dude). But I gotta say, Em killed him.

Here’s some of what Ev said: Whitey’s Revenge (dissing Eminem)-Everlast And here’s the fourth reason not to attack Eminem:

4. Girlz (Everlast diss)-Em

5. Everyone knows about the famous line about Christina Aguilera from “The Real Slim Shady.” (I’m not gonna throw it up here–y’all must have heard it.) He did it live at MTV, with XTina in the audience (best reaction shot from a live show ever!). But not a lot of folks know that she tried to respond by creating her own diss records. And they’re actually pretty funny. Wonder who wrote them for her?

Image Removed!

The Real Slim Shady-Christina Aguilera “You sound like Peter Brady/You get real irritating.”

Bend On Over Shady-Xtina

Slim’s greatest battles are against other rappers, though, not blues singers like Whitey or pop stars like Christina. In 2003, Eminem’s battle with Benzino marked his greatest diss lyrics ever. Zino is the editor of The Source (or was), which gave his genius album “The Marshall Mathers LP” only 2 mics. So Em came back on his The Eminem Show album with “Say What You Say.” But it was the mixtape verses that really killed any street cred Benzino might ever have had.

Pull Ya Skirt Up-Benzino. What’s so funny about this is that Ben spends the whole time talking about Eminem was never a gangbanger or drug dealer, but Em never claimed to be! So Em didn’t even want street cred.

Most of Em’s retaliations are well known (Nail in the Coffin is the best), but here’s one he just tossed off in a Freestyle, proving that Em can free associated better than Zino can ever write.

6. Nail in the Coffin (vs. Benzino)-Em

7. Freestyle (vs. Benzino)-Eminem.

During the ‘Zino battle, Marshall dragged Jah Rule into it, the shoutingest gravel rapper since Mystikal. Here’s a couple tracks, along with Jah’s sexiest picture ever. He almost looks like a girl!

8. Got It Twisted (vs. Benzino and Jah Rule)-Eminem

9. Monkey See Monkey Do (Jah Rule)-Eminem

And I’d like to leave you with the tape released by Benzino of Eminem being “racist.” I don’t think he’s particularly racially offensive here, he’s just not funny. Number 10, then, may be Em’s worst diss ever.

10. The tape.

PICTURE OF THE DAY

Posted: June 17, 2008 by dillion in Uncategorized

The band Ghostkeeper bills itself as bluesrock, but they’re far more experimental than that. Song by song, the band’s new album defies classification. At first, “Lady of the Sky” seems like a simple song, but as it moves along, you realize there’s no hook. And no real chorus, either. A song that’s catchy but doesn’t have a hook or a chorus? Impossible! “Afternoon Girl” is one of the tunes fronted by drummer Sarah Houle, and it is more accessible but no less intangible. Pop rhythms, bubbly tempo, yet there’s nothing to hold on to here. There’s also some aggressive, growling fuzz underneath parts of the song, which feels vaguely dissonant.

This is a strange and interesting new record. Check it out.

Lady of the Sky

From the Muskeg

A FEW MORE QUICK HITS . . .

Posted: June 15, 2008 by dillion in Uncategorized

Wherein I prove once again that I like more music than I can possibly write intelligently about.

ED HARCOURT-THE BEAUTIFUL LIE

More moody soulrock from Ed. And catch him on tour with The Gutter Twins. What an amazing show that will be. Too bad he’s not coming to D.C.

July 24 – Baltimore MD – Ottobar
July 25 – Asbury Park NJ – The Stone Pony
July 26 – Philadelphia PA – The Fillmore @ TLA
July 29 – Brooklyn, NY – Warsaw
July 30 – Pittsburgh, PA – Mr. Smalls Theatre
July 31 – Columbus, OH – Newport Music Hall
Aug 1 – Detroit, MI – St. Andrews Hall
Aug 2 – Chicago, IL – Lollapalooza @ Grant Park **
** Ed is playing guitar during the Gutter Twins set for Lolla, he is NOT playing his own set.

Revolution in the Heart

LOOKER-Singles.

Grrrlpoppers Looker are releasing a series of singles that kick ass, produced by Erik Paparazzi of Cat Power’s Dirty Delta Blues. Can’t wait to hear what their album is all about.

After My Divorce

Gates of the Old City

Spit for Your Shine

JOSEPH ARTHUR-“Vagabond Skies”

June 10th will bring the next in his 12-part series of EPs. And each one is better than the next. I don’t know how he’s gonna have a full album of material left in him after he shoots loads like this. You can stream them at his site.

Pretty Good Company (mp3)