Archive for March, 2008

I mentioned in my review of Chuck Prophet’s Waylon tribute album that I thought most country rock albums don’t work (i.e., suck). But I also said that they sometimes work. Here’s a few examples of the good ones. For the tunes covered, I avoided “pop” country tunes, like Amie, and rock/country bands, like Creedence and The Eagles. Also, you’ll notice an undue number of Cash covers. That’s because he’s cool. (You can tell he was cool ’cause he smoked and wore black.) I haven’t put up covers that are well known (like Social Distortion’s, “Ring of Fire”), either, because this blog is about expanding musical tastes, not confirming them.

Here’s 10 reasons to dig country covers, in order of how much you should dig them . . .

Your Cheatin’ Heart-Beck (Hank Williams Cover). I like this cover, but it’s very odd. And I can understand how some might find it boring. So it’s only the tenth best here.

Rhinestone Cowboy-Radiohead (G. Campbell) This one doesn’t rank higher because the band doesn’t really do a lot with it. but it’s still cool for the curiousity factor, if nothing else.

Get Rhythm-The White Stripes (J. Cash). Turning rockabilly into grinding blues. I wish this one were longer!

Crystal Chandeliers And Burgundy-Josh Ritter (Johnny Cash). A bit too much crowd noise, but I do loves me some Ritter. Such a great voice.

I Gotta Get Drunk-Redbird (Willie Nelson). If you aren’t familiar with Redbird’s brilliant album, you should be. Check out my old review of it, then go buy it.

King of the Road-The Clash (Roger Miller).

You Win Again-Alejandro Escovedo (Hank Williams).

It Makes No Difference-Eddie Vedder and My Morning Jacket (The Band). I recognize that the Band aren’t traditionally a country band, but they’re pretty damn close. And this is a great song, with great Eddie vocals.

Cocaine Blues-Uncle Tupelo (J. Cash). It may be unfair to call Uncle Tupelo rockers, but they definitely skew more rock than country. Besides, they kick ass.

I Still Miss Someone-Elton John and Ryan Adams (J. Cash). Ryan fancies himself a country boy, but he’s never gotten past indie Americana. These two guys together put on a great show, and this is a high point from it.

A rep from Beat Garden Entertainment has introduced me to the Yadibox.com mixtape. Yadibox is a collective designed solely at helping unsigned artists get ears to listen. They recently sent me their 2007 mixtape, The Beat Garden Presents, and it’s fantastic.

Unlike most label gangbangs, on this one every artist has skills, and all of the beats (all original music) are hot. There’s not a single toss off, and each cut is fully formed–no sudden drops, no obnoxious DJ shouts over the music. This is more of a sampler than a mixtape.

It’s hard to pick which songs to write up, because all are good, but here’s some notes on a few choice cuts: The Grind, by Fairmount Park Commission, featuring 2ew Gunnz Ciz, an ode to street life and the rap game (“We forced to eat, with no rationale to teach”), is an intelligent head bobber as good as anything from Rhymefest. Sling Blade Flow, by DAME and Nico the Beast featuring Tourguide Chuck is a witty rant against suburban rap fans–not a topic I’d generally encourage, as it does nothing but accentuate the sort of anti-white/pro-my-hood-at-the-expense-of-yours thinking that is destroying hip hop, but I have to admit this one is well done. Born to Roll freestyle, by DAME, is another example of fantastic beats and flawless flow. And every track with Clean Guns is hot.

I’m loving this.

Put It On The Ritz (Triple Nickels & Zilla Rocca)

THE RETURN OF THE PICTURE OF THE DAY

Posted: March 26, 2008 by dillion in Uncategorized

So.  Who do you think the market is for this?

TANYA MORGAN IS A RAP GROUP

Posted: March 25, 2008 by dillion in Uncategorized

If you don’t have this yet, you need to. Best mixtape of 2008 so far.

Tanya Morgan is a Rap Group

LIVING LEGENDS-“The Gathering” (EP)

Posted: March 25, 2008 by dillion in Uncategorized

“Too many rappers overrated” begins the title track of “The Gathering,” the long-awaited new release from the Living Legends collective, and truer words were rarely spoken. It’s rare that a group of this size contains so much talent. The best known (and smoothest) of the group, is Murs, but the rest of them are underground legends in their own right: The Grouch, Luckyiam, Eligh, Scarub, Sunspot Jonz, Aesop (not Aesop Rock), and Bicasso. You also may have heard of their earlier groups, which included Mystik Journeymen and 3 Melancholy Gypsies.

Each member of the crew spits bars on every single one of the seven tracks, making every tune a pass-the-mic exercise in various styles, so it’s never tedious, never repetitive, never boring. You might think that this would make for overstuffed tunes, but there’s not a weak link in the bunch. All of the verses are funny, tough, and even occasionally moving. The production is top notch. The hooks are fire. I’m told this EP is just a prelude to a proper ’08 full-length. I can’t wait.

BLOOD ON THE WALL-“Liferz”

Posted: March 24, 2008 by dillion in Uncategorized

Right from the beginning, “Liferz” feels more linear, more upbeat, and more polished than Blood On The Walls earlier work. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, either, because although Awesomer than had some transcendently psychedelic moments, it also had some too-weird-for-words moments that sounded like the members were fighting each other instead of playing together. Like the Flaming Lips and other experimental rock bands, sometimes strange music is simply inaccessible. In other words, in the past the band sounded like a young band. Here, they seem to have grown into their roles.

On this, their third record, every song feels like a song; the band avoids descending into noisy jams, and instead focuses on hooks and more traditional song structure. Which is not to say they’ve sold out—far from it. The band generally uses the same raw, rough, punky approach that saw them through their first two very-good records, emphasizing heavy drums, chug-a-lug bass, and urgent vocals, but at the same time they provide surprises like “Lightning Song,” a quiet, bass-driven song with vocals by Courtney Shanks (the band’s bass player, natch!). Courtney’s voice is much better than before, she seems to have a range I haven’t heard before. And her brother, Brad, has honed his craft to play cleaner and crisper riffs. The only one who hasn’t changed is drummer Miggy Littleton, who doesn’t need to change. Miggy may be one of the best drummers in indie rock right now. “Liferz” is better produced, better crafted, and the songs are just plain better, too.

On the Brooklyn based label The Social Registry, originally from Kansas, now from the BK, I’m going to make a bold statement: Blood on the Wall, with their new release, have become . . . Even awesomer.

DEAR WEB SHERIFF: Open Letter to a Watchdog

Posted: March 24, 2008 by dillion in Uncategorized

Dear Web Sheriff:

In the past week, I’ve heard from you twice.  Both of your notices were posted in the comments section of my blog, which I assume you did as a warning to all bloggers and readers that you are out there and that you are watching.  Fair enough.  But please consider the following.

The first notice I received was on a review of The Kills’ “Midnight Boom.”  Along with the review, I posted two live bootleg songs.  You requested that I remove them.  I did, because it is easier to do that than to argue about it, but I also sent you an e-mail asking you whether your view would change if you knew that I had not posted content from the album.  Naturally, you did not respond.

As a result, I have deleted the album review and have deleted the album from my ongoing “Best of 2008” list.  I will not consider the band for a best-of-the-year album, and I will not mention them favorably on this blog ever again.  In fact, I got rid of the CD.  I average 3,000 unique readers per day, and now none of them will hear about The Kills from me.  It’s not a big deal, I know, just one little blogger.  But I know at least one other blogger who won’t review the album based on your behavior.  So congratulations, you won.  The Kills will have less of a positive internet presence thanks to your involvement, and nothing you did helped stop material from the album getting illegally downloaded, because I did not offer material from the album to my readers.

The second notice I got from you was as follows:

WEB SHERIFF
Protecting Your Rights on the Internet
Tel 44-(0)208-323 8013
Fax 44-(0)208-323 8080

Hi BP,

On behalf of XL Recordings and Warner Bros Records, many thanks for plugging “Consolers Of The Lonely” and The Ranconteurs’ pioneering, ‘fans-first’ release concept … .. album officially comes-out-to-play tomorrow, so not long to wait !!

Regards & Happy Easter,

WEB SHERIFF

I was ignorant of the fact that the band had signed with a major label, so shame on me, but your message is baffling.  What is the purpose of this comment?  You didn’t ask me (because WB doesn’t own the copyright) to take down the live songs I’d put up, so it wasn’t a threat, but you can’t honestly expect the blog community to appreciate a comment like this, can you?

I’m probably going to delete the Raconteurs post I did, just because it doesn’t sit right to have a post on my blog about a band that Big Brother is so aggressively protecting.

But can you answer me this: What is your goal?  Do you want bloggers like me to never write about bands on major labels?  Because if that is your goal, fine!  I can happily do that.  I rarely write about such bands (at least not knowingly), and I fully understand the RIAA and related organizations desires to keep their music as a commodity, not allowing any free sharing of content, even single songs.  I understand and respect it, even if I think it is a short-sighted business plan.

I just want to know, really, honestly, what is your goal with the comment you made on the Raconteurs post?  Are you warning me to shut down my blog?

I don’t expect a response from you, but I’d appreciate one.

And I know you are watching.