Wednesday, October 27, 2004

I don't really get the Wrangler Brutes album. I think maybe it sucks.

So is "Mosh", as J-Shep says, the most important thing Eminem will ever do, or is it just the Beastie Boys conscious-move that everyone has been waiting for since he first started gay-bashing? We won't know for another six days. Is the song any good? I probably won't know that for a long, long time. In the meantime, it's a jarring, exhilarating spectacle. That anger in his voice is real; game recognize game. Welcome aboard, Marshall! (Go to to watch the video. Now.)

I said on Jess's site that I'd be stealing his DJ Paul and Juicy J = Lungfish thing, and here I am doing it! Except they switch it up just a little bit more than that. Their beats on the Lil Wyte album are a lot harsher and more brittle than usual, and that makes sense because Lil Wyte raps about 50% faster and is generally about 482% more amped than just about anyone else who works with Three-6. Paul and J lean a little bit lighter on their John Carpenter piano and hit the itchy hit-hats just that little bit faster. Lil Wyte sounds like a southern Eminem, which is the obvious thing to say, but it's true. He's all dork-amped and endearingly nerdy and adenoidal and he rhymes "ham sammiches" with "shenanigans". He's going to be the Willy Nelson of the next generation, a rising legacy shining across every nation. He doesn't stretch out his vowels into weird new formulations the way everyone else in Triple-6 does; he just hammers away at the consonants. He sounds really, really nervous. There's a DVD included with the CD, and he bounces his leg like crazy through the whole interview. But does he drop the N-bomb? I thought I might have heard him do that a couple of times. Can't do that, Lil Wyte. And this line: "I roll with murderers, robbers, drug dealers, killers, and rapists"? Murderers, robbers, drug dealers and killers are one thing, but since when do you get badass points from hanging out with rapists? Can we never hear that again, please?

GTA: San Andreas looks great. The gameplay is pretty much the same as it was in Vice City, but you can do a couple of new things like ride a bike and climb a wall and lock on to someone when you're fistfighting so you don't end up just running around like a chicken with your head cut off. All the missions are pretty similar, too, which means I do them over and over again while screaming at the TV in frustration every time I fuck them up because I'm terrible at video games. But everything looks really cool. The game doesn't have the same all-star voice lineup as Vice City; the only blockbuster-for-a-video game talents are Samuel L. Jackson as a cop and Axl Rose, Chuck D, and George Clinton as DJs on the radio stations. Instead, we get semi-obscure West Coast rappers in major vocal roles: MC Eiht, Yo-Yo, Kid Frost. That rules! And the radio stations are amazing. It would've been cool if they'd stuck a little bit harder to the time period, but then they wouldn't have been able to put on "Don't Be Cruel", so I guess it's all good. And man, some of these songs, "Nothin' But a G Thang" and "Dre Day" obviously, but also "It Was a Good Day" and "Voodoo Ray" and Primal Scream's "Movin' On Up" and Faith No More's "Midlife Crisis". Seriously.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Look, man. I was excited for Def Jam: Fight for NY and for NBA Live 2005. I copped both those games on the days they came out (a first and a second for me, respectively), and I've seriously been enjoying both of them. But they're opening acts. GTA San Andreas, the main event, drops today, and I can barely sit still at work. I wonder what'll be on the soundtrack this time....

I like Interpol's Antics, really. But I think I'd like an instrumental version a lot more. I am way feeling the epic glistening throb. I am so not feeling the idiot mewling nonsense in a fake arch British accent that he probably learned from watching Velvelt Goldmine. I think maybe Paul Banks was in a lot of plays in high school.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Wow, Gary Payton didn't take that loss in the finals too well. (credit: Catchdubs)

Le Tigre's "New Kicks" has been getting a lot of hate lately, and it's sort of puzzling. I only attended one of the giant anti-war protests, the one in DC in January 2003, the same day I bought my PlayStation 2 and a week before I met Bridget (busy week!), but I can vividly remember the feeling of being in a crowd of hundreds of thousands all charged up and all focused. It's a good feeling, to stand with a huge group of people to say something that you want said so loudly and forcefully and angrily. We didn't change anything, of course, but it felt good. There's a lot of that feeling in "New Kicks". I like it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Jon Stewart on Crossfire: spectacular (link courtesy Yancey). This New Yorker story about the way Bush managed to swing the entire country toward an extremist agenda: magnificent. Bush cannot win. That cannot happen. At this point, I'm so sick of talking about politics, and politics seems to be all I can talk about.

Here's Jessica Hopper on CMJ, making me very proud and happy that cocaine is not a part of my life and never has been. I really, really wish I could write like Jessica Hopper; she is amazing. Wanting to write like Jessica Hopper is the new wanting to write like David Foster Wallace.

Speaking of DF-Dub, I'm in the middle of Oblivion right now, and it's pissing me off. I absolutely love Wallace's nonfiction, especially the John McCain piece and the experiential postcards in A Supposedly Fun Thing. He is a spectacular writer and creates amazing scenes, but he cannot tell a story. Or, rather, he can't end one. I haven't read all his fiction, but I plowed all the way through Infinite Jest, and I felt like I'd been taken for a sucker when it was over. The stories in Oblivion all have great moments, but so far not one of them has had an ending that I could consider to be even remotely satisfying. It's frustrating; he comes so close to greatness so often, but he keeps letting it all slip away. I wish he'd just stop writing fiction.

Le Tigre and Lil Wyte both have albums coming out today. I haven't heard either yet, and I'll be buying both after work, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I'll be putting on Lil Wyte more often. What does that say about me? Does it make me a bad person?

I said some pretty blase things about the Diplo album yesterday, but I should say that I end up reaching for it pretty often, along with the new joints from Interpol and Macha. These are all good wallpaper albums, and the things that I like about them are the same things I don't like about them. They fade right into the background, so they're just about perfect for when I'm at work and I'm all busy and harried, which is most of the time these days. Every once in a while a great little snatch of melody or production trick will sneak up and grab my attention, but mostly they become pleasant sweeping mush, which is sort of nice, but I'm not sure I want to be the dude who's into pleasant sweeping mush, you know? I'm still young.

Actually, the Macha album is a pretty interesting case. My friend Jason saw them open for the Ex a little while ago and said that they sounded like something John Tesh would compose for the closing ceremony of the Olympics. I've never knowingly heard any of John Tesh's music, but I can sort of see it. The album starts out with a couple of proper songs with pings and beats and swooshes and mildly sad, contemplative vocals. A couple of these songs are really great, especially "Smash & Grab". Then the album becomes mostly instrumental and sort of seems to be aiming for Eno territory, somewhere between Before and After Science and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, except somehow more earthbound: quiet whistley melodies and occasional percussive flurries and glisteny plings. The first time I heard it was a sunny Sunday afternoon, and I fell asleep under a window on my living room couch while it was on. That was great. It hasn't sounded quite as good since.

Monday, October 18, 2004

I've seen the Faint and TV on the Radio before, one time each (the Faint at Northsix in New York, TVOTR at the Supreme Imperial in B-More), both headlining when they were just bubbling over, when both of them seemed like the coolest things in the world. Both of them played amazing, breathtaking shows, the sort of things I'm going to remember when I'm very old. Well, neither one of them seems quite like the coolest thing in the world anymore, and both have pretty much bubbled over, and neither one attacked the stage like they did the last time I saw them, but I still had a great time seeing both of them at the 9:30 Club last night. TV on the Radio only really connects in a larger venue when they play songs with hooks, and that's like a third of their material, but even their more diffuse stuff kicks up a big swirley haze, and, you know, I just like them. The new Faint stuff doesn't get the party started the way the stuff on Danse Macabre does, but they still play the older songs, and so they still get the party started. Right now they're touring with two big TV screens that play little video art clips that go along with each of the songs. They videos are fun, but the band shouldn't let itself be upstaged like that. I can watch TV at home. (Bonus points for using footage of monster trucks, points off for using it during "Erection" to depict them phallic metaphors instead of because monster trucks ar awesome.) But DC pulled through; the crowd upstaged both the band and their TVs. It's a real treat to be part of a huge, amped crowd that knows every part of every song and just wants to jump up and down a whole lot and wave its hands in the air. Good job, DC!

The new Diplo album sounded really great on the drive back, but I'm afraid that the album doesn't sound all that great in contexts other than long nightime drives home. "Diplo Rhythm" and "Summer's Gonna Hurt You" are both pretty great by themselves, but the rest of the album is too diffuse and DJ-Shadowy, and that's not where his strengths are. I am so looking forward to the Philly Hollertronix party, with special guest Bun B. Who else is going? Hit me up!

Mastodon totally rules, dudes. Leviathan just destroys.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Despite the enormous stadium plonked down in the middle of my city nine years ago like some impossibly gaudy concrete-and-purple UFO, I had somehow managed to live my entire life without once attending a professional football game (probably something to do with having only a very cursory understanding and appreciation of the game). But last night. M & T Bank Stadium. Monday Night Football. A hard-fought loss to the underdog Kansas City Chiefs. Thoughts: football fans are some loud-ass people, on some serious Gladiator shit. Baseball and basketball fans are some pansy-ass tea-sipping New Yorker readers in comparison. In the upper deck, dudes high-fived total strangers even on only-kinda-good plays. (I need to work on my high-fiving technique.) 90% of the people around me rocked the purple jerseys. I felt like a total douchebag in my argyle sweater. It's really hard to tell what's going on a lot of the time without the benefit of TV announcers and graphics and whatnot. Football players do a lot of work to convince their opponents that someone has the ball who really doesn't. This might work or might not work on said opponents, but it definitely works on mark-ass fair-weather fans up in the cheap seats. The best part: fireworks! I had fun!

David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas is a sad and gorgeous book. It brings the narrative pyrotechnics with a weirdly effective symmetrical structure, a whole lot of barely-intertwined short stories that doubled back on themselves. I'm not sure why these stories, how exactly all of them are supposed to interact with each other. But I really, really loved it.

Monday, October 04, 2004

When I was 16, I saw Avail and Citizen Fish at the Black Cat. It was the best show I've ever seen and probably will ever see. I'm 25 now, and an Avail show doesn't mean the same thing to me. But holy god I had a good time last night. I was feeling all miserable and out-of-place, standing around all mopey during the boring opening acts and wondering where all my peoples were at. But then Avail stepped onstage, said, "hi, we're Avail from Richmond, VA," and then launched into "Southbound 95" and that was it. It was over. I lost my shit. I have nothing but good feelings for Avail, especially since they're all like mid-30s with beer guts and fading tattoos and their crowds are shrinking and they aren't touring with Rancid anymore and it's been a while since every band they knew was blowing up but they still tour like nobody's business and play their hearts out and go off and just bring the heart-on-sleeve deep-dynamics unpretentious everyday-dude hardcore and then go back home to their day jobs. I will always rep Avail, man.

Speaking of crunk, I am totally going to the Ravens game tonight, dudes.

I did not write this. I swear to God.

One of my P-Fork colleagues gave the Travis Morrison record a 0.0. That is not how it goes down. Travistan isn't a great record. It's not as good as any Dismemberment Plan albums except maybe !. But it's still a good record. Travis set out to do a studio-pop singer-songwriter record, and he succeeded on his own questionable terms. He's still the same dude, still writing the same kind of songs. And many of Travistan's pleasures are entirely sensory: a multitracked vocal, a bubbling synth bit. It sometimes gets too cutesy for its own good, and Travis doesn't really have the voice for some of the notes he tries to hit, but he hasn't lost me yet.

Friday, October 01, 2004

I'm feeling good. It's Friday and there's a nice little chill in the air and the sun is out and carry won the debate hands-down and Avail is playing at the Ottobar on Sunday. And ! It's time for another one of these guys:
Quarterly Report

A couple of notes real quick. I did a much longer version of this, but then the computer ate it and pissed me off. I haven't heard the new joints from Devin, Diplo, or Macha, and I'm amped to hear all of them. Gretchen Wilson's Here for the Party and Petey Pablo's Still Writin' in my Diary: 2nd Entry are two of my favorite albums of the year, and I bought both of them in the last three months, but both of them are too old for me to list them here. Apologies to Q and Not U, Devendra Banhart, and Interpol, all of whom almost made it on to this thing.

Top 5 Albums

1. Dizzee Rascal - Showtime. I wasn't all that into Boy in Da Corner; it seemed too much like a critical novelty - different and unexpected, but also unformed and uncertain and oddly tentative. Showtime is none of those things; it's a sheer blast of total audacity. A lot of reviews say that Showtime is Dizzee's attempt to gain an American hip-hop audience, and that may be true, but I hear his jungle and 2step influences much more clearly; "Stand Up Tall", for one, certainly doesn't sound like anything on 92Q. On Boy, Dizzee sounded rangy and awkward, but here he's cold and focused and intent. He's got the swagger and the thousand-yard stare. He's become a rapper. The music is cold and alien and real, except when it's warm and inviting and real. I downloaded "Dream" from Fluxblog before I heard the album, and I hated it then, but it works beautifully in the context of the album, a ray of light in the darkness. And "Imagine" is the saddest, prettiest, most eloquent and thoughtful and heart-wrenching emo gangsta lament in forever.

2. Bjork - Medulla. Only Bjork could have done this, made an entire world out of the sound of the human voice. I like listening to Medulla on my discman when I'm walking around; it lends this absurdly epic air to, like, the homeless dude on the corner or the pigeons outside the bus station. It swirls and wooshes and opens up and spins and dives. It's sad and expansive and euphoric and heavy. It follows its own set of rules.

3. Young Buck - Straight Outta Ca$hville. I was absolutely unprepared for how hard and strong this record is. It's a smooth, dangerous machine. Even when the beats are made by Lil Jon or DJ Paul and Juicy J, they sound like Havoc and Red Spyda: cinematic, windswept, creeping clanks and humming guitars and easy glide. Buck's voice is a cool snarl. It's dark and scary and empty and totally devoid of feelings, grainy video from a place where you never want to go.

4. Old Man Gloom - Christmas. I know exactly nothing about Old Man Gloom. I don't know where they come from or what they look like or who their friends are. I bought the album because a couple of critics I like liked it and said it was ambient shoegazer death metal, which sounded pretty awesome. Well, it is awesome. There's all these long, almost silent stretches of beeps and hums and nothing and then this riff will ring out and all of a sudden you'll be caught up in this hurricane of steamroller riffs and screams and rumbles and crashes out of nowhere. It's a jolting, visceral, physical experience. I have no idea why it exists. Heavy.

5. Masta Killa - No Said Date. I'd read that this album had all the original Wu members on it, so I was expecting a standard Wu-Tang album of eerie gothic bangers. I would've been happy with that. But No Said Date is more like a gullier Madvillainy than anything Wu. It's all muted drum claps and said trumpets and muttered vocals buried in the mix, a creepy ride through the background. I'd never really noticed Masta Killa, and that's why: he fades into the background and plays the corners. He's got nothing to prove. And plus the old-school banger has great metallic synth washes and Ol' Dirty sings the Baltimore club classic "You Big Dummy", so I'm happy.

Top 5 Singles

1. Big & Rich - Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy). This song is a ridonkulous machine of joy, a neon spaceship Whack-A-Mole machine. The guitars stomp and the fiddles and banjos surge and the vocals soar and it thrills and it kills like the horns on my Silverado grill. My favorite bit is the spoken-word part where John and Kenny take a breath and shake their heads like they can't believe they've just made something this awesome, and then they pull it together to scream the "And we made love!" part. I'm just glad something like this exists.

2. Armand Van Helden feat. Spalding Rockwell - Hear My Name. Oh my god I love this song. It has a grin factor of one billion. What an absurd, delirious blast of euphoria. This song just seems to move from peak to peak, getting dizzier and crazier and more ferocious until it explodes. It makes me want to stick my head out the car window and laugh and laugh.

3. Snow Patrol - Run. I love huge, anthemic, wounded Britpop epics. "Clocks" is my jam! This one has sort of nothing verses, but when the chorus comes in it opens up and drops out and bells and violins come flying up out of the depths and just carry the song off into the clouds. This song is like looking through the window of a plane as it's about to take off and take you somewhere where you're not quite sure you want to go so you just sigh and look out at the sunset and hope you don't crash.

4. Crime Mob - Knuck if you Buck. I love dense, wired screaming-in-your-face crunk, but I'm even more into slow, creepy horror-movie crunk. This song is fucking terrifying. The evil, glistening piano stabs turn into a choir of ghost children and the beat is just screams and pulsing drums. The vocals are really low in the mix like they're just part of the beat. And! This track has girls on it! Two of them! And they sound amped and tough as hell! I love that! This song sounds pretty much exactly like late-90s Three-6 Mafia, which totally rules.

5. Juvenile, Wacko & Skip - Nolia Clap. My favorite single of the decade thus far is probably "What Happened to That Boy" by Baby feat. Clipse and produced by the Neptunes. There's a lot to love about that song, but my favorite thing other than maybe Malice's ice-cold punchlines is the slow, underwater synth pulse. "Nolia Clap" has something similar: the bass strings and whistles and claps and beeps come together into this hypnotic burble that sounds like it's popping inside your brain.