Monday, June 27, 2005

Funny things happen when you talk to famous people on the phone. Like here's Ian MacKaye on his plans for this week: "Fugaz... um, I mean, the Evens are playing at Fort Reno on Wednesday." Or here's David Banner on his favorite book: "The Art of War. Or no! The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I love that shit."

The only really interesting thing about this Transplants/Paul Wall situation isn't that it'll be the first time a rock album is legally screwed and chopped (whatever). It's this: when was the last time a rapper who collaborated with a rock group was way, way dorkier than that rock group? Look at those pictures on HoustonSoReal and tell me Paul doesn't look like he's about to get his head stuffed in a toilet. The first Transplants album was the sort of thing that succeeds almost on concept alone - it had this weird ambitious blustery awkwardness, like "Hey, what if we tried this?" The new one is good and all, but it doesn't have that sense of people trying out ideas that just occurred to them last night when they were drunk. It's not lazy, exactly; there's still Latin pianos and swing-revival horns and greasy soul organs coming in out of nowhere. But you can tell that they've been getting paid off L'Oreal commercials for the past three years, and they know there's a market for crusty California mallpunk with dumb rapping on it. They've gotten away with it, and now they can just do it again. The other thing is that Skinhead Rob is just such a garbage rapper, and it's harder and harder to find his whole thing endearing - and now he's talking about pimping? When did this happen? When Son Doobie showed up on the last album, just eating the mic and cackling at the end, it was like: wow, I wish they'd get more real rappers on this. And now they have more real rappers on this, but all the real rappers are total garbage as well. (I still love it whenever Tim Armstrong's voice is in the mix.)

Land of the Dead is a great, fun summer movie. It has a few great jump moments more an action movie set in Romero's zombie universe than an actual horror movie. The political allegory stuff is surprisingly not bullshit, and the sympathetic zombies are less hokey than you could ever imagine. But it doesn't have the scuzzy no-budget grainy immediacy that all the other Romero zombie movies have. It has a normal hackneyed orchestral score instead of terrifying synth noise, and the actors aren't lantern-jawed no-names with sideburns that you never hear from again. It just looks like a normal mid-budget Hollywood movie. I guess I should've been ready for that, but I still felt a little bit let down. (It's still the best movie I've seen this year other than Batman Begins.)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Baltimore club music has been a part of my life on some level for years and years; "Doo Doo Brown" used to make dance floors go nuts like Kris Kross at my sixth-grade dances. Al Shipley wrote something recently about people in Baltimore not realizing that this wasn't something that happened everywhere, that there was nothing weird about rap radio playing an hour of intense, low-tech, jacked-up breakbeat house every Friday night, and it's true. When I was younger, I always thought it was just like a more raw version of C & C Music Factory or something. As I got older, I started to appreciate that we had a really distinctive local thing happening, something urgent and rough and powerful and completely our own (or not mine, maybe, but anyway), way better than the wack muddy live go-go tracks they keep playing on DC radio. I've been to hood record stores and corner clothing stands looking for mix CDs, but I'd never experienced club music in anything like its natural setting, mostly because I don't particularly want to be the one goofy-ass tall white guy at the club by myself. So last night was something special. Jason Urich, who runs the local indie record store Once.Twice Sound, threw a warehouse party; his noise band played, as well as a couple of local indie rappers I wrote a story on a while back and some electronic group that just got signed to Ghostly International. But the big draw was K-Swift, the queen of club music. Her set was one of the most magical things I've experienced all year. It would be so easy for something like that to turn into some weird tense racial freakshow, like "wow look at these crazy black people!", and it would be so easy for her to just treat us like whatever asshole rich kids were paying her that night. But no. She never stopped smiling, never stopped yelling at Jason to bring her back every weekend. It reminded me of Carl Craig being flown in to DJ a rave in England in like 1988, looking out and seeing a hundred thousand white kids loving his shit, just bemused. And the music was amazing; even the tracks that sound boring or redundant on the radio had this whole new urgency when you're packed into a boiling-hot warehouse loft with sweat dripping from the ceiling, four hundred drunk kids dancing and screaming and losing it. K-Swift played tracks I'd never heard before, tracks that chewed up and spat out the most ridiculous songs, songs that never would have occurred to me: The Darth Vader theme! Orbital! The fucking Royal Crown Revue! It's entirely possible that I haven't connected with music that viscerally since I stopped going to VFW Hall punk shows in twelfth grade. It was ridiculous and insane and masterful, and I am never going to forget it. I needed that.

Oh, and before I forget, here's me on Three 6 Mafia and Crime Mob.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

This is an open invitation. If you play for the Detroit Pistons, and you're reading this, I will buy you a beer. You could be Darko, I don't give a fuck. Want a beer, Darko? Want a beer, Elden Campbell? Cool! Beers all around! If you're a starter or Antonio McDyess, I'll get you drunk. If you're Rasheed Wallace, I'll buy you weed or shrooms or whatever you want. This offer remains good even if you lose on Thursday. But don't lose on Thursday.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Assateague Island is a thin strip of sand near the bottom of the DelMarVa peninsula, right between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. It's sort of famous for the wild ponies that run around there and will walk right up to you (also: weird little deer), and there's a national park there. You can camp there for just a few dollars, and if there are any rules against building bigass beach fires and drinking around them until four in the morning, these rules go unenforced. If you have some vacation time coming up, you need do like I did and go camping there immediately. Hurry up; in a couple of weeks, the mosquitos are going to hatch, and you don't want to be there when that happens. Bring wiffle-ball stuff!

Batman Begins is all I've ever wanted from a comic-book movie. It has this general air of gravity to go along with the inherent cartoonishness of the material. It treats the audience with respect, allowing for the possiblity that some of the viewing public may not be drooling idiots but may also want fun, fast-paced, summery entertainment. It has lots of good actors doing good acting. It absolutely nails the creepy-crazy-entitled-rich-guy subtext to the whole Batman thing. It has whoop-ass actions scenes, which would be more whoop-ass if someone had taken away the editor's crystal meth. It sucked me in absolutely and completely for two hours and ten minutes. I want more right now. Can anyone argue that Batman is the most awesomest superhero in the history of superheros? Even more awesomer than Ghost Rider? No. Nobody can argue this.

I don't want to see Rize because I hate clowns.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Let's talk about Kanye for a minute. I've been getting sick of this man for a minute, and I haven't made any secret of it. He's been acting like a complete ass since roughly the three "Jesus Walks" videos, and it seemed like everything he'd done since then had gradually edged into uberentitled celebrity megalomania. Plus I'm one of the two people in internet-land who isn't in love with Be (Will Dukes is the other one). It's OK and all, but I'm getting good and sick of flutey Rhodesy beats with pish-pish drums, and Common's spoken-word-guy delivery isn't helping anything. (And how is he deep? I seriously do not hear it.) Kanye also has the most irritating track by far on the new Young Gunz album, and that's not really something that you want to have people saying about you. And I would not be sad if John Legend got sucked into an interdemensional vortex so he could fight dinosaurs instead of bothering all of us with that lounge-singer shit. But. Now Kanye is calling Franz Ferdinand "white crunk" and getting M.I.A. to guest on his album. And he engineered the single most thrilling moment in a song this year on the "Diamonds" remix when he says that people are asking if him and Jay are still cool and the beat drops out and you hear Jay's voice - "Yep" - and then Jay just murders the rest of the song ("Bleek could stay one hit away his whole career / As long as I'm alive, he's a millionaire"). So fuck it, I like this guy again. He's back on my good list.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I don't really get the Pixies. I mean, they have songs I like, but the whole thing about them being the greatest-indie rock band ever and making Nirvana possible and all that - I don't really see it. I was going to go see them last night, and maybe that would've clued me in, but then it looked like it was going to rain all night (it didn't), so an outdoor show wasn't really the look. So I still don't get the Pixies. And I cut off all my hair instead. This was maybe not such a good idea. I look like a cancer patient.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Matos just passed me a meme (I learn new words everyday!), so you know I'm going to answer.

Total volume of music files on my computer: Zero. I do all my blogging at work, and I can't download music here. I have a computer at home, but it's my college computer, bought at the Syracuse University bookstore in 1998, covered in weird sticky dust, no internet connection, busted speakers. I had Napster for about five minutes in 2000, so I may still have "Tha Block is Hot" and "Is That Yo Bitch" and the UK garage remix of "Smooth Criminal" somewhere on there, but that's it. I'm hoping to buy another computer when I move to New York if my bank account permits, but right now my bank account isn't looking like it'll permit. I buy all my music.

Last CD I bought was: Rod Lee's Baltimore club mix CD Vol. 5: The Official. It's too long and monotonous and doesn't have enough hooks, but it still makes a pretty good case for B-more club being the hardest, most urgent dance music in the world. I'm reviewing it for Pitchfork, but I don't know how I'll manage to do that without repeating everything Al wrote about it on Government Names.

Song playing right now: Slug/Murs: "I Shot a Warhol." First time listening to the Felt promo. Pretty good!

Five songs I listen to a lot these days: Sufjan Stevens' "Chicago", T.O.K.'s "Fire Fire", the Mountain Goats' "Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod?", Paul Wall & Chamillionaire's "Play Dirty", Nigga Say What's "Horn Theme".

And I'll keep this thing going and invite:
Amy Phillips
Sean Fennessey
Al Shipley
Chris Nelson
Jim Breihan

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Fuck it, I like this new White Stripes album. I like this new Coldplay album too. Fuck it.

So Game has restarted his beef with G-Unit. Hey Game! I stopped caring months ago! Dis Yukmouth again! That was funny!

The new Four Tet album opens with this total cheez-techno bassline that could've come from the Crystal Method, and then it dissolves into cymbal splashes and jazzy drum curls and bleeding noise. The whole album is sort of like that. It's like Lightning Bolt if Lightning Bolt was eating Pixie Stix instead of, like, broken glass. It's not my favorite album of the summer so far, but it is the album that sounds the most like summer.

I'm really hoping the Pistons do what the Nuggets should've done to the Spurs in the first round: slap them all around, scream in their faces, scare them out of the building. I want to see Manu Ginobli bleeding from the neck, getting his face slammed into the floor like he was Joe Johnson. (This is the only way the Pistons will win back-to-back championships.) (Also, Tony Parker would painfully remind me of Michel from Gilmore Girls even if he wasn't French.)

If none of the above even makes any sense, it's because I'm moving to New York, and I'm having trouble thinking about any one thing long enough to formulate any sort of coherent opinion about it. You may be hearing from me less frequently over the next month or so, but I still love you.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Here's what I hope is about to happen: I hope Lil Flip is recording a freestyle over "Wait" where on the hook he goes: "Wait till you see Lil Flip." That would be adorable.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Every once in a while, a song comes along and just completely destroys me, rips me to pieces, has me staggering around, lost in thoughts, tripping over cracks in the sidewalk, and I can't even explain why. Right now, Sufjan Stevens' "Chicago" is that song. I got the promo in the mail a few days ago, and I've tried to listen to the entire album a bunch of times, but I always stop on "Chicago" and keep playing it over and over again. When Rollie posted this song a few weeks ago, it became the first song of his I'd ever heard. I don't know too much about him, don't even know how to pronounce his name (Suff-jan? Soof-yon?), can't describe what it is about this song that just turns me into a walking human puddle (even though that's my job, right? To describe what this song does and how it works?). The part in the middle where the song gets all quiet and then the chorus comes in - it sounds like a children's chorus singing it - it takes my breath away every time. The last time a song did that, it was the Mountain Goats' "Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod?", and that was for very personal and recognizable reasons. I knew what this song was doing to me, and why it was doing it, but with "Chicago" I have no idea.

This would be an easy and opportune time to talk about how "Chicago" is a better song about Chicago than anything on a recently-released album by a rapper from Chicago that has been a major discussion point lately. But I don't feel like writing about that album right now, and I think Rollie already made that point when he posted "Chicago" weeks ago. Maybe later.