Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Oh, snap! Nate Patrin does it again. I am feeling pretty smug about not being one of the chumps who went out and bought the new Beastie Boys.

I am, however, one of the chumps who went out and bought the new Cure. Please believe me: that record is butt. I've listened to it once, and I don't expect to listen to it again. It has just about none of what makes the Cure great. It's like they decided to bite Thursday, which is just perplexing. I like Thursday and all (really!), but what? Why? Ross Robinson is just a terrible producer; he blows it on this record even worse than he blew it on that Blood Brothers album. His production is so muddy and off-center that the records actually somehow sound worse than bootleg live recordings. It seems like he'll never do anything better than that first Korn album, and if your absolute artistic pinnacle is the first Korn album, you should probably quit. (That means you too, Korn!) (Wait, did Ross Robinson do that At the Drive-In album? My thesis may be shot.) Production quibbles aside, Robert Smith has made the regrettable decision to attempt to "rock", something the Cure has never done convincingly before ever. At their best, the Cure sound like a quiet storm, dense pillow. They don't bludgeon. They do whatever the opposite of bludgeoning is. Cuddle? They cuddle. I don't even know what I'm saying anymore, but they should immediately stop trying to do whatever they're doing on the new record. I'm still jazzed to go to the Curiosa thing, though. The Cure better stick to a greatest-hits set unless they want to get blown off stage every single night. The Rapture does not play.

Thankfully, the Erland Oye DJ Kicks album does everything that the new Cure should do. I know I'm showing myself to be a total dance music dilettante here, but I love the vocals. Oye coos warmly and blissfully over warm, blissful tracks, and even though he can't beatmatch to save his life, the whole thing blurs into a fresh, sunny haze. Every once in a while, a nasty bassline will emerge from the murk, slap you around for a minute, and then fade back away. It's a pretty little record.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Barbershop 2 is even more slight than the original, if that's possible. It's like it's barely even there. I loved the original, and the new one still has a lot of the easy, loping comic charm. It's more based on characters than scenarios, but it has so many characters that they all come across as being pretty one-note, which is fine since they all hit their one note beautifully. But the new movie has less of the comic interplay and more of the Ice-Cube-learning-a-valuable-life-lesson, which is sort of lame. And Queen Latifah seems to be in the movie for the sole purpose of plugging the inevitable Beauty Shop spinoff. I'm glad I waited to rent the movie, but I'm glad I rented it.

A couple of my friends went up to the Mermaid Parade at Coney Island this weekend, where they saw Moby and Sandra Bernhard making out on the beach while a crowd of people followed them around. Try to get that nasty-ass image out of your head.

One thing I learned from P-Fork's Top 100 of the 70s list: I own just about no music from the 70s. Seriously, I only have like six albums on that list. Time to do some shopping. The list is Pitchfork's usual combination of really good and incredibly lame, and I could really give a fuck about Exile on Main Street and Pink Floyd and Funkadelic, but I have no excuses for not owning Entertainment or Trans-Europe Express or the first Suicide album. And does anyone know how I can get ahold of that Giorgio Moroder joint?

Friday, June 25, 2004

Dodgeball is a hard movie to hate. It's got Vince Vaughan being likeable and Ben Stiller overacting ridiculously a la Zoolander. It's got the obligatory-but-still-funny stream of C-grade celebrity cameos that seem to pop up in every "zany" comedy. But I'm sort of mad at it because it takes an unfuckupable concept (dodgeball!) and then fucks it up with lots of really unfunny toilet humor and ugly-people jokes. I guess these jokes make bank, but I am just so not about them. It seems like virtually every big-studio non-romantic comedy from Old School to Shrek has to have at least fifteen fart jokes, and why? Farts are funny and all, but they aren't exactly something upon which to stake the future of American cinematic comedy. I mean, they aren't that funny, and the whole loose confederation of fucking brilliant American movie comedians (Stiller-Vaughan-Wilson-Wilson-Ferrell-[I'm forgetting someone]) usually don't have to rely on that stuff. Starsky & Hutch was a much, much better movie.

But can you imagine how great a straight sports movie about dodgeball would be? A couple of years ago, there was this big group of indie kids who would get together at this elementary school in Baltimore County and play team dodgeball on the tennis courts every Thursday night. Dodgeball is hardcore, dudes. The first time I played, I saw a kid get his arm dislocated. I got hit in the junk more than a few times. I never quite perfected the side-arm throw that did the most damage. I was a pretty second-rate player, but I had more fun playing that game than just about any sport in my life ever. So instead of going to see Dodgeball, dudes, go get some of your peoples together and play dodgeball. And then make a movie about it and please don't be an asshole. And break me off some money because I gave you the idea.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Boom! It's on! One thousand hits since like April, dudes, and only maybe 200 are me obsessively clicking on my own blog to check the hit count. I know a lot of the people reading this have blogs, and I know some of you probably get that in a couple of days, but for me this feel like big things. Now someone give me a job.

In other news, DJ Shadow comes off real stupid. Apparently DJ Screw did the screwed version of U Gotta Feel Me from beyond the graaaaaave. Hey Shadow, it's cool that you like Southern rap and all, but don't talk about it if you don't know shit about it. Lil Jon is a rapper? Lil Flip may someday reach the dizzying heights of Outkast and Cee-Lo? Cut Chemist is worth listening to? Backpackers, I swear to God...

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The NBA is getting out of control with all these prospective trades. I think it's great that the Lakers are finally breaking up, but I really hate the idea of Shaq going to Dallas for my boy Dirk. I can't imagine myself ever being a Lakers fan, even if they have Dirk, and no way am I ever rooting for a team with Shaq on it. And I'm also kinda mad at Houston for dropping Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley for Tracey McGrady. I really love the chemistry between Yao Ming and Franchise; they're one of my favorite pairings in the NBA, and they were just starting to gel. Somehow I doubt T-Mac is even going to notice Yao half the time.

The Lil Flip/T.I. beef is on! I'm pretty amped about this one. Trap Muzik is a much better album than U Gotta Feel Me, but if I had to pick a side here I'd pick Flip; he's just a better rapper. T.I. does this exaggerated drawl thing where he stretches his syllables all over the beat like he was a British dude making fun of American southern accents. Sometimes this works really well ("Rubberband Man"), and sometimes it's competely fucking annoying ("Look What I Got"). Flip's beats are wack maybe half the time, but he is a masterful MC; he sits right in the pocket of the beat and never loses his composure. He did kind of make himself an easy target by dressing like a leprechaun, though. And he's going to need to really come at T.I. hard instead of trying to ignore the whole situation the way he seems to be doing right now.

I'm kinda disappointed that the Lollapalooza tour is getting cancelled, even if it does mean that no way am I ever going to have to review a String Cheese Incident show. Now maybe we'll never know if TV on the Radio can rock huge arenas, although I'm pretty sure they can. And Le Tigre stands a much worse chance of launching a new pop-feminist revolution without that kind of exposure. And how are Wolf Eyes going to eat? The tour got cancelled because of poor advance ticket sales, but who the hell buys advance tickets? I think their big problem was the lack of a token mainstage hip-hop act. My suggestion: Lil Flip and T.I.! Onstage at the same time! Ticket sales would not be a problem anymore.

Or they could do the obvious thing and get Jay-Z, who seems desperate to pimp himself out to rock audiences lately. Showing up at alterna-radio festivals is pretty lame. Coming onstage with Phish is worse. I love Jay, but if he's going to tell everyone he's going into retirement, the least he could do is go on vacation. And take Kanye with him.

The new Def Jam Vendetta game is going to feature the following "hip-hop personalities": Henry Rollins, Carmen Electra, Danny Trejo, Jacob the Jewler, and Omar Epps. Huh? Less perpelexingly, it will also feature Freeway, Flava Flav, Elephant Man, David Banner, Bubba Sparxxx, and Lil Flip (but unfortunately no T.I.). I cannot wait to buy this game.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Louden Up Now is one of those records I expected to love on first listen but didn't. And then I kept listening to it for whatever reasons, mostly because I'd already bought it and I wanted to like it and it made decent background music for when I was doing whatever at work. And then all its clings and klongs and crashes and bumpitabumpitas and fucks worked their way into my head and now I really, really like it. So I was amped to see !!! on Saturday night, and they delivered, even though their set was a bit too short considering the $12 door price and Nic Offer wore sweatpants. The thing about !!! songs is that that build; layers just pile on top of each other until it sounds like it's about to explode into some glorious disco fantasia and then it just ... stops. That's it. The song's over. That takes some getting used to. I'm just now lately getting more and more into dance music, so this is pretty foreign territory for me; great hip-hop and rock tracks tend to have some sort of payoff. But I'm learning to love the build. And !!! builds like a motherfucker.

I'd like to throw a ridonkulous big shout-out to Mr. Matos, who, if you didn't know, makes these multiple-CD single-year mix joints where he goes through just about every variety of music known to man (but especially techno) and never repeats a single artist. He's made a few of these things, and he'll sell them to you for a pretty good price if you e-mail him. A few other blogger types do this as well, but my computer at work won't pick up ILM anymore so I have no idea how to find them. Hit me up ( if you make them; I might want to buy one. But so anyway, I finally got Matos's sets for 1989 and 1997 in the mail this weekend, and they are fiyah. It'll take me a couple of weeks to even digest these things. Why didn't anyone tell me late-80s dancehall was so awesome?

Friday, June 18, 2004

Before I saw them last night, I had this vague idea that Acid Mother's Temple was sort of a pastoral avant-folk band. So I was pretty surprised to learn that they are heavy as fuck, like Sabbath times Spacemen 3 to the power of a whole bunch of weird psychedelic bands I've never heard. I liked them the best when they weren't doing rhythmless, formless freakouts, which was roughly two thirds of the time. When they ride a riff into the ground hypnotically for ten minutes, building and building on it, they're unstoppable. At least half the band looks like Japanese versions of Jim Martin, the weird-looking guy in Faith No More who used to wear those giant red glasses. They were all, of course, very visibly baked, and I probably would've enjoyed the show a lot more if I'd followed their example. But if you have even the slightest interest in what I can only lamely describe as free-jazz metal, their show is a sight to behold.

Remember a while back when I said something about the McSweeneys comic issue and how weird it seemed that all the comic writers are convinced that no one takes their work seriously? Well, I figured it out! Comic writers are a bunch of sad, insecure dudes! I finished reading the book, and something like one of every three comics was some autobiographical thing about how sad the writer is and how no one will ever love or understand him and how his life is a complete pile of shit. Hey comic writers! I'm a busy man! I'm not trying to read that shit! If you don't like being a sad sack, stop being a sad sack; don't draw shitty comics about how sad you are and then expect me to read them. There is some amazing work in the McSweeneys comic issue (I especially like the art with clean, precise lines and storylines about people who are not the writer - Chris Ware, Adrien Tomine, and Daniel Clowes have some great stuff in here, even if the Tomine thing is just an excerpt from the Optic Nerve he just put out). But wow, you need to wade through some lame-ass shit to get to the good stuff.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Barbecue at my place this weekend! Get at me, kids!

Fools are hating on Saved for not bringing down the Xtian right hard enough, but it's not even about that. The movie's steez is much more Mean Girls than Citizen Ruth. It has moments of satire and all, but it's more about life within this existing religious structure. The world of evangelical Christians isn't some evil mythic beast. Kids live there. I like that it was about kids who live there more than shrill, vicious stereotypes who live there, though some of them show up, too. Notes: Macaulay Culkin's haircut is unbelievably wack up until the prom scene, and then it's good. And I'm sorry, but no way does that movie take place anywhere near B-More. The buses say "Baltimore County", but they don't even look like Baltimore buses. It's not like Baltimore is an expensive place to film; peep Head of State (One scene was filmed on my block! Too bad it sucked) and Meteor Man and every other movie filmed in Baltimore but set in DC. And if you're going to film a movie in Vancouver, why not set it there?

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Wow. Wow. Pistons. Wow.

I just finished reading Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and I can't remember the last time a book made me so happy. It's just a gorgeous piece of work. When I was in high school, I worked summers at a camp for kids with disabilities, and none of the kids got on my nerves more than the ones with autism. They just did not give a fuck about you. I wish I'd had this book then. If you don't know, it's a detective story of sorts, but the narrator is a kid with Asperger's Syndrome and a horribly chaotic home life. I love this character. I don't usually want to swoop in and save a fictional character from an awful life, but I do right now.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

So Ray Charles died. A couple of years ago, I took my sister to see him at Artscape, this big outdoor festival that the city of Baltimore puts on every summer. It was really, really hot and crowded that day. My sister was (and is) in a wheelchair, and the handicapped-access place was a long way from the stage. Brother Ray came out with a huge wack orchestra singing "It's Not Easy Being Green." It was sort of lame. We left after a couple of songs. That's my Ray Charles story.

I rag on indie rock for being stagnant and redundant and just not changing at all ever, but I sort of like the new Sonic Youth album for exactly those reasons. It's the same album I've heard a million times, but there's something comforting and reassuring about it. It won't be making my end-of-year list or anything, but right now it's pushing the right buttons. It's all warm and glowy. The new PJ Harvey is sort of the same way, but I always liked PJ Harvey a lot better than Sonic Youth, so it's sort of disappointing. I expect her to shatter my universe, but she made a pretty decent alt-rock album with two great songs ("Pocket Knife" and "The desperate Kingdom of Love") instead. She can do way better. This is probably unfair.

Monday, June 14, 2004

OK, so I just moved into a new apartment. It's roughly twenty-five feet away from my old apartment (two floors down), and it's about one million times larger. I now have room in the basement to play catch with my dog, room outside on the parking pad to grill scallops, and room in the kitchen to finally keep a toaster oven and eat some goddam Pop Tarts. One thing I no longer have, however, is cable - money is now tighter, see. And since I no longer have cable, I now have one less cultural window. No more MTV Jams Channel, no more regular season NBA, and no more Daily Show. So it might be that I'll have a little bit less to talk about here. But hopefully not. And if I'm not saying as much, y'all can rest assured that I'm spending the time playing catch with my dog in the basement instead.

With my last night of cable, I watched the MTV Movie Awards. I probably should've gone out drinking instead. One observation: Brittany Murphy is way cracked out.

Thank God the finals aren't on cable, though. Are the Pistons really going to do it? Is Rasheed Wallace my new favorite basketball player? Yes! Yes!

Oh, and Baltimore peeps should maybe think about going to the Talking Head tonight, where Diplo of Hollertronix will be dropping the bomb on the weekly dance party. I haven't been to that dance party in a million years, but I might make it out tonight.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

It's nothing for me to say that this interview with NORE is appalling and hilarious and you should read it right now. It's nothing. (Credit Cocaine Blunts and Catchdubs)

This blog makes me proud to rep B-More. Why don't these guys have jobs writing for Murder Dog?

I feel bad for just about every indie rock band in America right now, because they all have to compete with the Hold Steady, and they just don't have what it takes. The Hold Steady totally owned at the Supreme Imperial last night: bar-rock guitar solos + Craig Finn wriggling around like a tourettic high school bio teacher = pure entertainment. "Certain Songs" is the best power ballad an indie-rock band could possibly make. The sound could have been better, and the crowd was nowhere near big enough, but the Hold Steady rocked it like it was an arena. I left before the Thermals got done playing. A couple of years ago, I would've loved that band. There's plenty of stuff to like: punchy rhythm section, short, energetic songs, earnestly snotty vocals like the guy from Propaghandi. But somehow I just wasn't feeling it. It probably says more about me than it does about the band, but then again they should've known better than to play after the Hold Steady. Double Dagger was its usual entertaining self, but their live show hasn't really changed in the past two years - they could use a hypeman or something, just to switch it up. I'd be more psyched about it if I hadn't already seen them a whole lot. I'd never heard Cicaeda, and I was feeling them. Big, theatrical fuzzed-out guitar rock is OK with me, especially when it's made by women who look like kooky middle-school art teachers. I'm less and less into rock shows, though. And there's something sad and oppressive about a large, mostly empty space. It's nearly impossible to feel like you're part of something there.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

I'll be getting a nice little check from the City Paper this week, which almost makes up for the fact that some dude at Lexington Market totally just conned me out of twenty bones with that tired-ass "two tens for a twenty" routine, which I was dumb enough to fall for. Here's me on the Hold Steady, Ghostface, and the Magnetic Fields. The Ghostface and Magnetic Fields reviews turned out pretty well, but I'm not too happy with the Hold Steady thing, especially when Nate Patrin is out there wrecking shit.

The new Jay-Z remix mixtape is kind of pointless. Some of the remixes are good, but there's just not very much meat there. It's fun to hear Michael Jordan big up Jay and Just Blaze introduce Madlib, but there are hardly any new vocals and the whole thing is only like 50 minutes long. Beanie Sigel just kills his verse on the "Where I'm From" remix, though. Much higher recommendation for the Southern Smoke X mixtape, which is just an embarrassment of riches. "Here We Go" by Dirtbag, Pitbull, and Timbaland is just ridiculous, as is "Sippin' on Some Syrup Part 2" with Bun B and the Dipset.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Have I mentioned that I really hate the name of my blog? I came up with it on a total whim; I needed a name, and I just couldn't think of anything else. Now a couple of people read this thing, and I'm stuck with a name that makes me look like a slavering acolyte of late-period Beastie Boys, which I am not. This is not a good look (New Beasties single = garbage.)

Wow, so I haven't written here for a minute. The M.O.P. show at the Ottobar was fun. It was the first time I've seen cops working the door at the Ottobar and the first time I've seen a mostly nonwhite crowd there. Smiley the Ghetto Child told me that I need to be playing basketball, DJ Scratch did a beatbox version of "Doodoo Brown", and M.O.P.'s rock band managed not to suck, which was pretty amazing. M.O.P.'s live show isn't exactly tight, but it was pretty much just what I needed: lots of amped-up angry dudes yelling. Plus I won plenty of badass points from everyone who was too scurred to go or too poor to pay the $20 door.

Speaking of amped-up angry dudes yelling, I really liked Troy. I am pretty hyped on the new season of mega-blockbusters, and Troy was a good start. If a movie has lots of blood and dudes throwing spears and ridiculous dialogue and a soundtrack of vaguely Middle-Eastern-sounding women wailing wordlessly, I'll probably like it. And I like the idea of entire wars being decided by like five or six guys who are really good at fighting. This movie has a cast of thousands, but both armies just totally stop fighting to watch when Brad Pitt fights that Australian guy.

The McSweeney's comic issue is out now. It seems to be pretty heavy on people who do comics insisting that comics are a valid artform - is anyone arguing? Where does this inferiority complex come from? But the Chris Ware poster cover is ridiculous hot.

I was afraid the Ratatat album would sound like Moving Units covering Fatboy Slim tracks or some other godawful dance/rock combination, but it turns out to be really good, like a more emotive Daft Punk. You can't even tell the guitars are guitars, and that's a good thing. Everything sounds like it's coming through filters, and it's got this great pillowy, hazy, rococo disco sheen to it. It's the perfect soundtrack for driving from Baltimore City to the swimming hole at Oregon Ridge Park. If you're in Baltimore, you really need to be making that drive. This summer is all about swimming holes.

"Weakest Link" by Trillville is a terrifying, riotous, buzzing, cacophonous, hilarious, insane, riduculous masterpiece. It's like crunk to the millionth level, and it needs to be released as a single yesterday. If Dizzee Rascal ever does anything this good, call me. (I like Dizzee and all, but I'm saying.)