Wednesday, August 31, 2005

metalface wednesdays!

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so, i'm about to do a new segment, as you can already tell. every wednesday, i'm going to post the witty idiosyncracies of my favorite rapper. and i'm quoting him verbatim. so, for the first installment of metalface wednesdays, the song i've had on repeat for at least 20 minutes, now:

It's the beat
He hear it in his sleep sometime
Blare it in your jeep so your peoples can stare at them rhymes
Real rhymes not your everyday hologram
Even when ribs were touchin never swallowed the ham
He'd rather eat a sand sandwich salad
It might need salt like your mans bland ballad
A lot of stuff happens that the news won't tell yous
Loose all L juice
Snooze all hell loose
Rake it
Take it like the good, the bad, the ugly
Break it rollin through ya hood in the cadi buggy
Butter softy, leather flossy, fatty juggy
Always threw me off when she told me daddy funk me
I'm like anywho's
Seeds walkin all out in street with out any shoes
I guess it's better than some funky socks
You need to get her some skips before she catch the monkey pocks
Instead she wants to hear the beatbox
Take pills and make fake krills as sheetrock
Sing it
Bring it back to your laboratory
While he's in his oratory
Glorious like a horror story
The mask is like Jason
They told the place not to let the basket type case in
He could be some kind of wacko
Waiting for the chance to heat the pipes like a crack hoe
He busted in
Blessed be the lord
Who believe any mess then read up on the message board
If so I got bridges for the low low
Same bitch a go dry snitchin to the popo
Yeah orange peal stoges for the hotel
Feel like I have been gone over a year came home to old gear
It was the shit when I first scooped it
At least I get to sit out in New York and curse stupid
Plead the fifth
Sip wine stiffly
Patiently come up and be spiffy in a jiffy
Gift for the grind
Criminal mind shifty
Swift with the nine through a fifty nine fifty
Well edjumacated he heard it when he meditated
In deep data had her hate the create plata
Dedicated cheap skata who keeps data
Sage stayed self medicated and sleep later
Side effects is similar to sugar pill
Who eva go next on the mic he put a bugger ewwww
And made his exit on some calm shit
Begged him on the regular for kegs of more Vomitspit

Monday, August 29, 2005

"i'm the closest thing hip-hop has to god."

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with the release of late registration tomorrow (and guess who reviewed it two weeks ago?), everyone has something to say about hip-hop's biggest star (let's face it: eminem fell off, and thank god for that). pitchfork gave his new album a 9.5, the highest score all year. calm down, sufjan-lovers: i'm sure there will be some reviews to offset the critcal acclaim, and make illinois the highest-rated album of the year on metacritic. bol ( has something to say about kanye every 2-3 days, often with hilliarious results. it's safe to say that you can't read a kanye west interview or blog post without seeing the word "ego" with any given suffix on the end (with exception of the word "deficient"). in other words, everyone has something to say about kanye. AND ALL OF US ARE PLAYING INTO IT!

there is an age-old cliche in music that says, "any press is good press", so no matter how you feel about kanye, saying something about him is better than not saying something about him. i believe that kanye makes these intensely-exaggerated statements for two reasons: a) because he grew up with low self-esteem (when people picked on him and called him gay), and he's trying to over-compensate now that he's america's favorite rapper, and b) because if people keep on talking about him, he can stay in the headlines, thus selling more records, and feeding his ego (he said it himself: "the people highest up got the lowest self-esteem"). i love how certain people are outraged by kanye's massive ego. i judge him solely on his musical ability (on the pitchfork scale, his rapping skills are at 6.4 and his production skills are an even 8). i never take anything kanye west says seriously.

late registration should be an 8.3.

vma highlights?

mc hammer.
r. kelly's schitzophrenic performance of "trapped in the closet chapter six."
fat joe's priceless appreciation of police officers: "i have to say that i feel real safe right now, thanks to the police protection provided by g-unit.."
the black dude grooving out to "speed of sound" when chris martin ran into the stands.
diddy giving some random dude his watch, and then giving it to him AGAIN after security took it away.
tony yayo and 50 cent getting bleeped approximately 70 times during their 2 1/2 minute performance.
bow wow being shorter than EVERY girl he stood beside. even his own girlfriend.
missy wearing an outfit that made her look like she was being baptized.
the fact that the outfits that the killers wore are more exciting than their actual performance.
for the first time since either of their names were first mentioned, i can finally say that hilary duff is better-looking than lindsey lohan.
oh, and i almost forgot: gerard from my chemical romance was looking pretty damn gangsta in his bulletproof vest.

Friday, August 26, 2005

why you should listen to fresh cherries from yakima on a much more regular basis, reason number five:

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when you listen to bright eyes, KITTENS DIE! (whoever made this is brilliant; not too good with photoshop, but they're still a genius..)

do what the title says, i wrote a song about suicide girls two days ago. (

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

the world series of i-pod war: round three!

so, ryan ( and i have been duking it out in i-pod war, and needless to say, it really has been a war. it was close in round one, and i'll just say i won for the sake of creative license. round two, i thought i had the best list ever, and then his i-pod pulled out some classics (how do i fuck with "lust for life"?). so, here it is: the battle to end all battles. the third and final round of our i-pod war.

#1: sufjan stevens- "chicago (solo banjo)"
#2: nas- "don't body yourself (mc burial aka the 50 cent diss)"
#3: tv on the radio- "young liars"
#4: pixies- "hey"
#5: rilo kiley- "spectacular views"
#6: dangerdoom- "space hos"
#7: math and physics club- "graduation day"
#8: the thermals- "out of the old and thin"
#9: the decemberists- "i was meant for the stage"
#10: bloc party- "storm and stress (acoustic)"

tiebreaker: mf doom- "vomitspit"

ooh. it was a strong start, and then it ran out of gas. i think #10 was a nice little way to end it. ouch. i think i can only hope to tie, this time. anticlimactic. your serve, ryan.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

the world series of i-pod war!

ryan over at muzzle of bees ( and i got into a little challenge over i-pod war. see my post below (war on war, i'm too lazy to provide a link) to see who you think won the first round. at ryan's request, this is going to be a best of three series. here is my submission for round two:

#1: rilo kiley- "the good that won't come out"
#2: neutral milk hotel- "where you can find me now"
#3: jaymay- "letter"
#4: velvet underground- "european son"
#5: neutral milk hotel- "naomi"
#6: broken social scene- "superconnected"
#7: belle & sebastian- "the stars of track and field"
#8: pj harvey- "no child of mine"
#9: flake music- "the shins"
#10: beulah- "my side of the city (demo tour ep version)"

tiebreaker: the decemberists- "california one, youth and beauty"

wow. i couldn't make up a better list even if i tried. i do have to say that i would have rather my number #3 be "color confused" instead of "letter", because the former is one of the most beautiful songs i've ever heard. my playlist's favorite velvet underground song is "femme fatale", it kinda let me down this time. but two neutral milk hotel songs, a brand new broken social scene song (even though i'm not really into them), an acoustic demo of a beulah song, the opening track from rilo kiley AND belle & sebastian's best albums, AND the song that spawned one of everyone's favorite bands? wow. this playlist is the best one i've seen in the heavily circulated blog rounds of i-pod war, if i could be modest for a second..

oh, and my tiebreaker? i was hoping for colin meloy's solo performance of "shankhill butchers", a brand new song, that he debuted at the woodlin park zoo. that would have been the nail in the coffin. however, any decemberists song makes for a great tie breaker. good luck, ryan.

Monday, August 22, 2005

your favorite sufjan stevens songs...?

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in honor of sufjan stevens' five-night residency at the bowery ballroom, in my home-away-from-home, new york city (my grandmama lives in the bx.. holla), i've decided to ask the blogging community a question that requires a shitload of thought. i want you to dig deep into your cerebrum (or cerebellum; when i dropped out of college, i wanted to be an english major, sue me) and muster up your three favorite sufjan stevens songs. please don't give me any of that "i don't have favorites" crap. just guess. so, because i'm too inept to post mp3's, i'll just list my three favorite sufjan stevens songs. you all know how to find them. you're smart boys and girls.

my three favorite sufjan songs are:
"flint (for the unemployed and underpaid)"
"the seer's tower"

honorable mention: "abraham", "god'll ne'er let you down", and the solo banjo demos of "he woke me up again" and "chicago".. what can i say? i'm a sucker for minimalism!

okay, kids; i'm curious. what are your favorite sufjan jams?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

war on war: the great american ipod challenge..

so, i was checking out matt's blog (, and he posted an i-pod war between his friends (the other) matt and annie. i think (the other) matt won (in my opinion, the first two songs on [the other] matt's list are better than annie's whole list combined, but that's that's just my opinion). then, muzzle of bees ( got involved. therefore, i am posting my contribution to the great american i-pod war. i'm one of the four people on earth that still doesn't have an i-pod, so i used my winamp playlist. if you have a random playlist, and you would like to complete, post your ten random songs in my comments. in my opinion, this is a really strong list. good luck.

oh, one more thing: there's no possible way that you can have a better number seven than mine, unless you throw in an obvious classic.

#1: the walkmen- “wake up”
#2: kanye west- “touch the sky”
#3: math and physics club- “white and grey”
#4: yeah yeah yeahs- “mystery girl”
#5: rilo kiley- “frug”
#6: art brut- “emily kane”
#7: tv on the radio- “ambulance”
#8: common- “my way home”
#9: madvillain- “rainbows”
#10: idiot pilot- “to buy a gun”

tiebreaker: sufjan stevens- "he woke me up again (solo banjo)"

album review! wolf parade: apologies to the queen mary

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ladies and gentlemen, have you ever wondered what would happen if modest mouse and the arcade fire made love and had a mentally-challenged baby? well, wonder no more! wolf parade, from montreal (which people say is the "new seattle", but being from seattle, i'd have to provide a correction: seattle is the new seattle. take my word for it), who is currently touring with the arcade fire, makes an album that was produced by issac brock of modest mouse. the results? a decent debut record.

#1: "you are a runner, and i am my father's son"--
the first thing you hear on this record are the thunderous drums, and all you can do is bob your head. if you're as much as an audiophile as me, you'd probably wonder how they got the drum sound. then, the ominous organ chord progression comes in. simple, but effective. the lead singer's vocals come in, and if i can do some lazy music journalism for a moment, his voice is right between issac brock's grumpy-uncle mumble, and win butler's slightly drunk, yet extremely passionate warble. bobbing my head through the entire song, i have to say that wolf parade heard the gun sound and they took off sprinting.

#2: "modern world"--
another ominous-sounding piece, this one is acoustic guitar coupled with piano and drums. the bridge in between the first and second verses sounds like they cut something from an arcade fire song, and pasted it on their song with pro tools. i really like the chorus. the acoustic guitar line grabs me for some reason, and thank goodness they keep it for the remainder of the song. i also like the howling/chanting [?] in the background.

#3: "grounds for divorce"--
the rollicking drums right before the chorus are a nice touch. nothing particularly special about this song. it's just there. lazy music journalism moment number 2: the rock-out at the end sounds like something modest mouse would do if they were jamming with the arcade fire. shit. i sound really idle right now.

#4: "we built another world"--
honestly, this song does nothing for me. it's just there. i do have to admit that this song is kinda spooky. lazy music journalism moment number 3: this sounds like a modest mouse b-side from the lonesome crowded west. and not a very good b-side, at that. sorry, guys.

#5: "fancy claps"--
they start out with some synth noodling, and then go into a guitar line that sounds like it was cribbed from an unknown 70's metal band. lazy music journalism moment number 4: see lazy music journalism moment number three and replace lonesome crowded west with interstate 8.

#6: "same ghost every night"--
a downtempo beat, and a somber-ish guitar line. the vocalist starts out the song with what almost sounds like a yodel. if i were a hater, i would call it boring, but i actually like this song. even at almost six minutes, it doesn't feel like it drags at all.

#7: "shine a light"--
the guitar line starts out with the exact same note as "get back" by the beatles, so i got confused for a second. then, all the instruments come in, and it sounds exactly like the arcade fire. exactly. i swear i'm not being lazy, this time.

#8: "dear sons and daughters of hungry ghosts"--
my favorite thing about wolf parade are their song titles. this is a poppy number, and a really good song. possibly the catchiest song on the entire album. it's also in the upper echelon as far as quality is concerned. definitely one of the better songs on this disc.

#9: "i'll believe in anything"--
starts with some more synth noodling, and then, the drums start with one simple hit of the snare for every beat. another really catchy number. not profound by any means, but very catchy, and sometimes in rock and roll, that's all you need.

#10: "it's a curse"--
another spooky, arcade fire-ish song. i stopped counting my lazy music journalism moments, because i'm sure it's hit twenty already. this song's not terrible, but on the same token, it doesn't do anything for me. sometime, it's better to be awful than boring.

#11: "dinner bells"--
..and here is the prerequisite song-that-clocks-in-at-longer-than-seven-minutes. and, unfortuneately, it sounds almost exactly like modest mouse. i mean, i like it and everything, it's good. plus, i'm sure the guys in wolf parade would rather be compared to modest mouse than good charlotte.

#12: "this heart's on fire"--
another song that sounds exactly like the arcade fire. more specifically, it resembles "rebellion (lies)", but only a little. kind of an anticlimatic ending.

summary: since it's their first album, i'll go easy on them. when you're tagged with the label "art-rock", it's easy for a new band to follow the influence of the genre's two most successful acts. however, the reason these acts were successful is because they created something that sounded completely different from nearly everything else in music. i suppose i could blame the influence of issac brock, producer of this record, but i'm pretty sure that he didn't come in to produce a carbon copy of his own band. it's easy for a new band to become derivative, but it's a shame, because they're very talented young men. the best songs on the album were already released on the wolf parade ep, so if you have that, then i wouldn't recommend getting this album unless you're already a fan. hopefully, next time out, they'll shed their influences, and use them to create something fresh.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

the douglas martin mixtape..

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this is a list that i lifted from largehearted boy ( he did this a long time ago), and posted my own answers for. go ahead, make your new favorite mixtape!

1. Your favorite song with the name of a city in the title or text.
"los angeles, i'm yours"- the decemberists
2. A song you've listened to repeatedly when you were depressed at some point in your life.
"lucky"- radiohead
3. Ever bought an entire album just for one song and winded up disliking everything but that song? Gimme that song.
"end of the world"- the cure (self-titled album)
4. A song whose lyrics you thought you knew in the past, but about which you later learned you were incorrect.
"float on"- modest mouse
5. Your least favorite song on one of your favorite albums of all time.
"octopus' garden"- the beatles
6. A song you like by someone you find physically unattractive or otherwise repellent.
"portland, oregon"- loretta lynn (who's only unattractive because she's old as dirt..)
7. Your favorite song that has expletives in it that's not by Liz Phair or any rapper.
"a better son/daughter"- rilo kiley
8. A song that sounds as if it's by someone British but isn't.
"jenny was a friend of mine"- the killers
9. A song you like (possibly from your past) that took you forever to finally locate a copy of.
"storm and stress"- bloc party
10. A song that reminds you of spring but doesn't mention spring at all.
"caring is creepy"- the shins
11. A song that sounds to you like being happy feels.
"you're so good to me"- math and physics club
12. Your favorite song from a non-soundtrack compilation album.
"jamie"- weezer
13. A song from your past that would be considered politically incorrect now (and possibly was then).
"fuck tha police"- nwa (haha; obviously)
14. A song sung by an overweight person.
"the mule"- the magic numbers
15. A song you actually like by an artist you otherwise hate.
"nice guys finish last"- green day
16. A song by a band that features three or more female members.
"off with your head"- sleater-kinney
17. One of the earliest songs that you can remember listening to.
"round the way girl"- ll cool j
18. A song you've been mocked by friends for liking.
"that's the way it's supposed to be"- carly simon
19. A really good cover version you think no one else has heard.
"let down"- pedro the lion (radiohead cover)
20. A song that has helped cheer you up (or empowered you somehow) after a breakup or otherwise difficult situation.
"lean back"- fat joe
Extra tracks, if you have more room:
21. A song you've listened to while fucking/masturbating.
"foolish"- ashanti
22. A song not in English.
"in niel"- devendra banhart

Friday, August 19, 2005

album review! kanye west: late registration

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i should have written the review last night. someone beat me to the punch. i'm not going to give him any shine on my site, but i read a review this morning. cut me some slack; it was like 2:30am when i downloaded it. on with the review!

so, you've heard all of the precursory hype. i read today that this album costs two million dollars to make. weeks ago, there was kanye exclaiming that late registration was "killing everything out there". i honestly didn't get hyped up until i heard jon brion was going to be the co-producer. that's what showed me that kanye might be really dedicated to creating a classic album, to the point where he'll swallow his pride (which is the equivalent of inhaling a basketball) and construct something amazing without taking every shred of the credit. i hear kanye wants to open for U2, and has been talking to coldplay, as well. so, with all the hype (from himself, naturally) and criticism (from others), the question was reaching a fever pitch-- could kanye knock another one out of the park?

i'm reviewing the songs. i can't stand skits on albums, unless they're creative sampled instrumental/skits (ala mf doom), or if they're classic (see masta ace's 2002 opus, aka "the most underrated rap album ever"-- disposable arts). just the songs on kanye's album. although the skit before "hey mama" is the best skit on the album, if you're into that sort of thing.

two. "heard 'em say (featuring adam from maroon 5)--
starts out with a polyrhythmic drum pattern, and in comes the twinkling piano. kanye gets all political, talking about how the government administered aids, and how his cousin's boss thinks he's "too niggerish". you know, just like mostly everything in rap, nothing you haven't heard before, but it beats the shit out of talking about guns and bitches and bling incessantly. one verse from kanye, the chorus from adam, and a long instrumental outro. you'll see this a lot on this album.

three. "touch the sky (featuring lupe fiasco)"--
musically, kanye has three styles of beats. he has the "chipmunk soul sample", he has "the overtly dramatic, string-based beat", or the "bombastic horn, uptempo track". this one is the latter. basically, it's "encore", minus jay-z with a different horn sample. same tempo, almost the same drum programming. lyrically, this is kanye talking about the beginning of his career. lupe fiasco doesn't really say anything memorable. which is what i don't understand. why does every rapper who runs a record label only sign acts that can't rap as good as them? vanity? insecurity?

four. "gold digger (featuring jaimee foxx)"--
everytime this video comes on mtv, i turn my television's volume up to 30, and dance around my living room. this is, undoubtedly, the best rap single since "drop it like it's hot". the only thing that comes close is "mic check" by juelz santana. i love the saxophone-ish instrument at the end of the track, and some of kanye's best lyrics are on this track (ex. the first-half second verse, ending with "should've got that insured, geico for your monay, monay..."). i can definitely see white people awkwardly singing the chorus. "there's dishes in the back, you gotta roll up your sleeves."

six. "drive slow (featuring paul wall and glc)"--
this is going to be the mixtape freestyle beat of the year. the sound of the drum fill at the beginning is superb. kanye talks about his upbringing in chicago. surprisingly, paul wall steals the show, giving the best lyrical performance i've ever heard from him. glc's verse is forgettable. the most memorable production moment on the entire album is at the end of this song when the track gets "screwed".

seven. "my way home (featuring [more like "starring"] common)"--
common does a good job flowing over the melancholy soul sample. no drum programming; just common rapping over the sample. at first listen, it seems like this is just an outtake from be. however, when you think about it, it's kinda like when ghostface took an entire track on raekwon's debut album (and my favorite wu-tang release, as well as my favorite hip-hop album of all-time) only built 4 cuban linx. it's a nice little interlude.

eight. "crack music (featuring [but not really] the game)"--
kanye waxes poetic about reganomics, and how the black panthers were killed off by genocide (i.e. drugs being pushed into the hood). falls short of being revolutionary, due to kanye's liberal use of the word "nigga" in the chorus. that's just my opinion, though. the use of the "a" is uplifting to some blacks. i'll save the soapboxing. lengthy instrumental outro, and then a poem by someone whom i've never heard delivers the best vocal performance of the album.. "now we ooze it through their nooks and crannies, so our mamas ain't got to be their cooks and nannies," is the best line that saul williams never said.

nine. "roses"--
dramatic intro. kanye raps over somber keyboard line with no beat, and talks about how "magic johnson has the cure for aids" because he's rich. it's either heart-wrenching, or entirely forgettable, depending on who you ask. i think it's both, partially due to kanye's lackluster lines, or attempts at trying to be clever at what is supposed to be a dramatic moment. first, he tries to rhyme "strong" with "from". no way. then, he talks about having so many aunts at the hospital visiting his grandmother that "you could start an auntie team." either kanye should have been a little more serious about this song, or he should have left it on the cutting room floor. another lengthy outro.

ten. "bring me down (featuring brandy)"--
kanye attempts, once again, to try and spit humor over a dramatic track. one verse. brandy sings the chorus, another lengthy instrumental outro.

eleven. "addiction"--
fast-paced beat backing a dark electric guitar sample. it's a good beat, but kanye doesn't do anything with it, and the song just drags.

thirteen. "diamonds (from sierra leone) remix (featuring jay-z)"--
kanye gets political again, talking about conflict diamonds. i first learned about conflict diamonds reading a tv on the radio interview, but that's for a different blog. don't worry, kanye; conflict diamonds can only be bought on the black market. i doubt jacob gets down and dirty like that. then, hov comes in-- and gives his most lackluster guest performance in years, but he gives insight into his favortism to the frustratingly mediocre memphis bleek ("bleek might be one hit away his whole career. as long as i'm alive, he'll be a millionaire. but even if i die, he's in my will somewhere..").

fourteen. "we major (featuring nas and really doe)"--
really doe, kanye's newest (and yet another mediocre) artist comes in with the catchiest chorus on the album. kanye just breezes his way through the verse. nas kinda does the same thing, really. "first time i heard the beat, i ain't know what to write", and it shows. comparing himself to jesse jackson on the balcony when martin luther king jr. got shot, he's only slightly exaggerating. he was friends with biggie, and was going to truce with tupac. there's good reason for this being a mixtape staple, and it's all in the beat. then, kanye comes in and talks shit after the no-name guy (it's not john legend) sings a little outro. "can i talk my shit again?" he talks shit, but never as good as dame dash.

sixteen. "hey mama"--
take it at face value. it is what it is. play it for your mom on mother's day. best line? "could give me anything in the world, micheal jackson leather and the gloves, but didn't give me the curl.." i heard this song a year and half ago, and jon brion put a little touches on it, but didn't change the track much.

seventeen. "celebration"--
the synth stabs are cheesy, and it's another sped-up soul sample. this song drags, too.

nineteen. "gone (featuring cam'ron and consequence)"--
this is the most sparsely produced song on the album, with a little piano sample, some strings and the beat. "even your superficial raps is super official." then, cam comes in and steals the show, showing why he's the most underrated mainstream gangsta rapper in the game. blender said it best when they called him "a gangsta ned flanders". oh, and consequence doesn't say anything memorable. that's predictable. dramatic outro, though. nice touch.

hidden tracks:

twenty. "diamonds from sierra leone"--

the original is nowhere as good as the remix, and i don't really like the remix too much, anyway. you've heard enough about this song.

twenty-one. "late"--
..and what do you know? the best song on the entire album is the very last one. this is, in my opinion, the best beat, and kanye's best vocal performance of the entire album. he talks about his late registration, predictably, and getting stuck in woodshop and basketweaving with the dumb kids. i've heard the "old folks pissing" line before, though. kanye rides the beat better than almost every other beat he's ridden in his entire life.

summary: it's hard to compare this to college dropout, but if i had to, i'd have to say that late registration is slightly better. it drags after the first eight tracks, and picks up steam at the end. if this album were only fourteen tracks, it would be rap album of the year. it's the second best, but this year has been so lackluster for rap music, that if jay-z came back and recorded himself taking a bath, he'd have the second-best rap album of the year. we know this is going on a year-end list or two. maybe kanye can trim the fat and capitalize on his absurd level of potential when graduation day comes along.

"new york city cops, they ain't too smart.." or "old news"..

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being black in new york city is a crime, too.
welcome, friend. i'm always glad to have some company.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

album review! devendra banhart: cripple crow

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out of the copious amounts of genres within the scope of independent music, the two that are the most popular in the early 00's are post-punk/neo new-wave/dance-punk and neo-folk/freak-folk/weirdos-with-guitars-and-too-much-time-on-their-hands. that's not a 10% dis; fresh cherries from yakima has been classified as "hipster-folk". anyways, dance-punk is like the popular friend who gets all the well-dressed, good-looking girls in school, at the mall, at the doctor's office, etc. neo-folk is the cute friend that gets the girl sometimes, but for the most part: "he's cute, but he's not my type. i only like him as a friend."

devendra banhart is at the forefront of the "freak-folk" scene, thanks to his talent for left-of-center subject matter and his outrageously unique (or weird, depending on who you ask) voice. he released two albums last year, nino rojo and rejoicing in the hands, both of which were sitting along franz ferdinand on many "best of 2004" lists (sidebar: "a ribbon" was one of my favorite songs of the calendar year). both of these albums hinted at the extreme potential he's had. certain people say he hit his stride with both albums, where others say that he reached his peak. enter cripple crow, with its sgt. pepper's-esque cover and joanna newsom featured among the people (and ghosts! scary!). who knew that he would take the influence of sgt. pepper's lonely hearts band this far?

by the way, sgt. pepper's isn't the best album ever made, as it were argued by rolling stone magazine. it's not even the best beatles album. my vote goes to abbey road. the melody of songs on side-b? fucking genius. "her majesty," at 17 seconds, is better than almost any song on sgt. pepper. that's just one man's opinion.

what was the point of that tangent? nothing. now, onto devendra banhart:

track one: "now that i know"--
the album starts off how almost every folk album starts: fingerpicking. i'm not complaining, because i love fingerpicking. the track has a faint echo, as if it's being played in a church at 3am. devendra sings a hushed tone, like he's trying not to wake up the church mice. is that a cello? whatever the instrument is that kicks in while devendra hums a melody (i guess you can call it a chorus), it fits perfectly with this track.

track two: "pensando enti"--
the title, and the lyrics are all in spanish. this song also prominently features shakers. it starts out as a folk song, then, by the chorus, breaks into an acoustic salsa jam. being a bilingual singer is a pretty impressive feat. i took spanish for three years (head of the class all three, as well), but obviously i wasn't good enough, because the only line i understand is, "it's really hot, but you're cold," or something to that effect. i think i'm wrong, but it's okay; it's my review.

track three: "heard somebody say"--
the song starts off with a simple, carly simon-esque piano line (yes, carly simon. i have her greatest hits cd in my bedroom). "i heard somebody say that the war ended today, but everybody knows it's going still.." this record has a classic feel to it.

track four: "long haired child"--
funky! if you don't tap your feet within the first five seconds of this song, then you obviously have some insecurities with yourself. couple that with devendra's trademark shaky voice, and you have a new song to request for indie night at your local club. the breakdown (or second movement) has a rollicking, almost motown-ish guitar line. is there at least ONE song on this album that's not fucking excellent?

track five: "lazy butterfly"--
remember what i said about the sgt. pepper's comparisons? this song is the reason for it. with a sitar and a retro-sounding bassline (retro as in sgt. pepper's, not retro as in the cure), devendra (with the occasional help of a couple female backing vocalists) sings one of the catchiest melodies i've heard all year. this is something you'll be humming at work, for sure. another excellent song. goddammit.

track six: "quetate luna"--
this one starts out with a little acoustic fiddling. devendra sings another melody in spanish, and after a minute and fifteen seconds of just his voice and guitar, the drums and handclaps kick in, for a little more latin flavor. listening to devendra banhart sing in spanish is kinda like listening to dizzee rascal in english, most americans don't know what the fuck he's saying, but it sounds brilliant.

track seven: "i do dig a certain girl"--
over a nice, fingerpicked acoustic guitar line, this song is what jack johnson would sound like if he weren't gut-wrenchingly boring.

track eight: "i feel like a child"--
starting off with studio chit-chat and whatnot, the shakers come in, and another funky, classic-sounding joint is made. it kinda reminds me of the jackson 5 with an acoustic guitar. trust me: i know what i'm talking about. simplistic, yet very poignant lyrics about being a child are included. "i need you to help me reach the door, and i need you to walk me to the store, and i need you to please explain the war, and i need you to heal me when i'm sore.." eight tracks in, and i haven't found a lackluster song. this is a good thing; i'm not looking for one.

track nine: "some people ride the wave"--
what sounds like a false start starts off this song. a child-like piano based number. a fun song with a voice mimicking a trumpet (or is it..?). reminds me of "maxwell's silver hammer", but only a little. yes, another beatles reference.

track ten: "the beatles"--
you should have known that was coming. "paul mccartney and ringo starr are the only beatles in the world." and then, devendra sings in spanish again. it's a minute and fourty-five seconds long, and my lamenting the absence of a lackluster song continues.

track eleven: "dragonflys"--
this is a hushed, short (fifty-nine seconds) acoustic track featuring devendra and a female backing singer. shit, it's good, too.

track twelve: "when they come"--
a chilled-out acoustic guitar riff, and lightly beaten drums, this song appears to be what iron & wine would sound like if sam beam had a slightly higher, and excessively weirder, voice. too weird for starbucks, but i could see some indie-yuppies sipping their chai teas to this song.

track thirteen: "in niel"--
there's the cello again. this time, it's being played over a darker guitar riff. this reminds me of "a ribbon" off of nino rojo, only better, and minus banjo. i shouldn't have to tell you that devendra sings in spanish on this song, too, because the novelty is gone. you should be used to it. i also shouldn't have to tell you that i still haven't found a song that's even average, let alone bad, because the novelty in that has also disappeared.

track fourteen: "mama wolf"--
another chilled-out folky song. i could see iron & wine definitely covering this song. i would suggest it, those iron & wine royalties will come in handy one day. there's an actual wolf howling at the end of the song. predictable, but i'm delighted to hear it, nonetheless.

track fifteen: "how's about telling a story"--
remember what i said about track fourteen? the same goes for track fifteen. maybe even moreso. this amazing acoustic song is only 1:21. i wonder if sam beam would keep the "goddamn" in the song, or if he would change the lyric. oh well.

track sixteen: "chinese children"--
without a doubt the most brilliant title on this album. "if i lived in russia, i'd still have chinese children." another funky song, with a country-ish feel. quirky lyrics, great melody. geez! another great song!

track seventeen: "sawkill river"--
the beginning of this song reminds me heavily of "the greatest song in the world" (or whatever it's called) by tenacious d. [editor's note: it's called "tribute," idiot.] i suppose i should tell you that there are no vocals in this song. it's okay, it's still a very good listen. i'm not bullshitting you.

track eighteen: "i love that man"--
a sparse acoustic track, once again highlighting devendra's favorable use of the word "goddamn". i can't tell if the lyrics were written from the perspective of a woman, or a homosexual man, but it's a very well-written song.

track nineteen: "luna de margarita"--
a dark, melancholy song using what sounds like a viola, devendra once again sings in spanish, and makes an amazing song out of it.

track twenty: "korean dogwood"--
this sounds like something that would play in a movie as the protagonist is waking up and the sun shines into his bedroom. this song prominently features slide guitar. another indie-yuppie, chai tea-sipping soundtrack. doesn't mean that it's not a good song, though.

track twenty-one: "little boys"--
what starts off as a doo-wop tune, sung from the perspective of a pedophile (please, no micheal jackson jokes), turns into faster-paced soul song with the lyrics "i see so many little boys i want to marry.." i'm serious, no micheal jackson jokes. some people might see this as off-putting, but i think a song this disturbing further contributes to the genius that is devendra banhart.

track twenty-two: "woman"--
a soulful piano-based track, with devendra softly singing an ode to someone. this is, in my opinion, the best way he could have ended this album. impressive, yet short (1:57) song.

summary: in my opinion, devendra banhart created his best body of work on cripple crow. there are twenty-two tracks, and the run time is one hour, fourteen minutes and sixteen seconds. for such a lengthy album, devendra does an amazing job keeping the listener captivated for the entire duration of the album. so, to those that think that banhart peaked with rejoicing in the hands, you probably need to listen to cripple crow before you make a decision. in my opinion, the first six songs alone are better than 70% of the music i've heard all year. with this album, devendra banhart has proven that he's without a doubt the greatest songwriter in the neo-folk genre, and one of the best songwriters in music, period. i thought silent alarm was going to be this year's best album. for the first time all year, i have some thinking to do.

Friday, August 12, 2005

the gangsta rap drinking game!

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ladies and gentlemen, are you just as bored with mainstream rap music as i am? has your copy of madvillainy been scratched beyond recognition for the past eight months? well, i have a perfect way to pass the time! it's simple, and if you have a friend who listens to so much "gangsta rap" that it's annoying, you can play this game for free! it's the "gangsta rap drinking game!"

the rules are very simple:

*everytime you hear the word "nigga" or "bitch", take one sip of beer.
*everytime you hear a slang term for a gun (burner, toast, etc.) or a gun being referenced by number (.44, .380, etc.), take one shot of vodka.
*everytime you hear the words "bitch" and "dick" used in the same sentence, chug one can of beer.
*everytime you hear the word "hustler", or any reference or slang pertaining to the drug trade, chug one can of beer.
*if you hear the producer's name shouted out anywhere in a song, you must take one shot of vodka.
*for every obligatory love song, chug one can of beer. if the rapper in question uses the words "shorty" or "ma" anywhere in the song, also take one shot of vodka for every time he says it.
*for every "uplifiting black youth" song on the album, take two shots of vodka the next time you hear a gun being referenced.

those are the rules! now, after the most lackluster year in terms of quality that mainstream rap has ever seen [with the exception of any member of the diplomats], you'll be too drunk to tell that the music you're listening to is terrible!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

how to run a four-minute mile: being a black singer/songwriter in an indie band.

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here's an article i found a few moments ago. from a publication in san fransisco, i believe. insightful article about being black and indie. and although they don't like tv on the radio (peter gabriel comaparisons again? fuck off!), it was an interesting read. before the article, here is a run-down of the bands mentioned in the article. i'll save myself some space and not mention fresh cherries from yakima this time.

tv on the radio-sounds like: kid a-era radiohead fronted by the male version of nina simone. brief summary: indie-rock media collectively has an orgasm over the band's 2003 debut release, young liars ep. do YOU have the balls to record an acapella cover of "mr. grieves" by pixies? didn't think so. the ep was regarded as an instant classic. by the time the full-length came out, the same outlets of media were disappointed at the outcome of the album. that's what you get for building them up. besides, their album was still my third-favorite release of 2004.

bloc party-sounds like: gang of four in a blender with radiohead, early blur, sonic youth, and johnny marr's left hand. brief summary: after having like 23958235 drummers, matt tong was hired, and the band started recording songs. good choice, as tong is the most technically-proficient drummer in modern rock music. kele, the lead singer, sent their demo tape to franz ferdinand. got invited to play with them, and magazines couldn't stop writing about it. released some singles and ep's that touched on their potential, and then, released the best album of 2005, mark my words (sorry, sufjan, you came close).

the dears- sounds like: what would happen if morrissey fronted broken social scene. brief summary: taken as a joke by most of his canadian peers, murray lightburn recorded the best album of his lengthy career, 2003's no cities left. since then, he's been dubbed "the black morrissey", and has even opened for the real morrissey.

now, without further adieu, here's the article:

Which segues sweetly to my latest preoccupation, about the latest influx of indie rock bands represented by black frontmen, like Bloc Party, the Dears, and TV on the Radio. Why is that so extraordinary? Because we're so used to seeing almost completely white crowds at rock shows here – and in almost every other city in the country? Why did Asian kids come out for the recent New Order concert at Henry J. Kaiser and not for, say, the Lovemakers? Why are the black women shaking their asses and balancing their feet on the armrests of the Oakland Arena to R. Kelley and not to, oh, Train? The days of segregation are officially over, yet all too many folks stay in their places and never notice the monoculture all around them. Too busy staring at the pretty lights, methinks.

They're also in denial about the reality all around them. I'm one of the many who admire Bloc Party's punchy and ambitious Silent Alarm (Vice), but damned if you can get vocalist-songwriter Kele Okereke to talk about the subject. The band are quite happy to discuss "singing about a sense of unease, a sense of powerlessness, being aware of things being wrong, but not quite knowing what to do about it," according to bassist Gordon Moakes. But don't you dare shake that race stick at Okereke, or any of them for that matter, as I did with card-carrying Party member Matt Tong. "That's the one question that Kele never likes to answer!" the Chinese Brit drummer groaned. "He gets that quite a lot. But where he grew up, it was natural for him to do this, really. People are always surprised when they see him fronting a [rock] band, to be honest with you, but it says something really about other people more than the band."

Tell that to music writer Kandia Crazy Horse, who wrote the 2004 tome Rip It Up: The Black Experience in Rock 'n' Roll and describes herself as "a youngish black female who loves redneck rock (from the Allman Brothers to Nashville Pussy), fey charmers (Rufus Wainwright), and exceedingly loud guitars wherever they may be found." E-mailing from the east, she pinpointed some of the hurdles that Bloc Party, the Bellrays, and other bands that include "black artists that step out of the 'urban/R&B/pop/dancehall' mode" face: "In the musical realm, this gets translated into white label execs and radio determining that X artist's sound is 'not black enough,' which famously happened to Living Colour, solely because they've got lingering, erroneous ideas of what blackness is and are never introspective or aware enough to see the irony and lie in their arrogant assumption that it's these execs' divine right to frame the black aesthetic. The other chief hurdle for bands such as TV on the Radio who might be interested in garnering a black audience for their iconoclastic work is that the mythical black mass ... has largely bought into notions that rock 'n' roll is 'a white thing,' that certain sounds have irrevocably been co-opted by the Man, and that engaging in certain cultural practices diminishes one's Nubian stock.

"My generation is indeed one that's learned to stop worrying and embrace our inner metalhead, who can swing with the exalted cultural ambassador of our dreams Jimi and AC/DC...," she explained. "That's not to say there's not a good deal of unacknowledged racism in Indie-land, that those rarefied spaces ain't inhospitable to folk of color (even if the hardcore metal scene is worse) – having resided in Manhattan for 15 years, I am well aware of the extent to which I have been the sole intimate black friend of myriad young, hip, liberal, well-meaning white people who would never think to scan the crowd at a club like Mercury Lounge and remark on the lack of diversity." And Crazy Horse admits she doesn't even like TV on the Radio!

I'm right there with her – sheesh, how Peter Gabriel can you get? But one band I can get behind are the Dears. And true to form and talking on a cellie before his band's recent performance on the Jimmy Kimmel show, singer-songwriter Murray Lightburn was just as dramatically frank, with that certain salty Quebecois quirkiness, as any African Canadian inspired by U2 and Isaac Hayes and capable of producing last year's great-leap-forward debut, No Cities Left (Spinart), that cache of truly soulful indie rock catnip. "Just got here and it's surreal, dude," Lightburn rambled. "I'm on Hollywood Boulevard in front of the Kodak Theater, and there's so many freaks. It's like the Twilight Zone, and there's Rod Serling's fucking star in front of me."
He chose rock rather than funk or soul as his poison because "there was something about the rawness of rock music that I liked," he offered, adding that No Cities Left was inspired by Motown, '60s and '70s orchestral pop and soul music, and heavier rock like Led Zeppelin. "I like to rock out. I sometimes like really heavy metal, but I can still go out and make a fucking R&B or soul record. I just don't feel like I need to be culturally brainwashed, play basketball, drink malt liquor, and listen to hip-hop. I can be whatever I want to be. There's a lot of black kids out there that at this point might be pressured to be that kind of black kid, and hopefully I'm here to say, be whatever you want to be. Give a shit."

Life in indie rock, though, can be trying, he confessed. "It's all about the honkies. It's all about honkies getting or having college degrees, and it's pretty much dominated by that and run by that, and that's the people that are mostly writing about it in hardcore indie rock publications, and that's not where we live generally," he said wearily. "Do you know how many rich kids we've been on tour with? I don't have a problem with rich kids at all. They just think they're owed something, and they don't know what it's like to work for something, and the Dears have scraped and scraped for everything we've had. It just makes us stronger in a way, though sometimes I can't deal with it."

There was that time when another band bellied up to the chow line at the venue and snottily said, "I can't possibly eat that." "It wasn't the greatest food," Lightburn recalled, "but there were days I went three days without eating a fucking meal. I didn't even have bottles to return to the store – I'd literally sit in my apartment and starve, and hearing this guy say that because he's some rich West Side New York punk, it's like, you need a severe beating right now. There are people who don't even have shitty cream sauce to deal with. Fuck you."
He looked up at a giant TV screen. "Boy, Paris Hilton is hideous."

now, for my thoughts:

my sentiments exactly. i really can't stand it when someone tries to be the barometer of someone else's blackness. worry about yourself, because i'm going to worry about me. i never played basketball, i loathe baggy clothes, and i prefer listening to paul banks (lead singer of interpol) versus listening to lloyd banks (50 cent's "weed carrier", as a certain very entertaining blogger would say). take away my ghetto pass. i haven't used it in years. just don't ask me, "what does it feel like to be black in an indie band?" it feels like i need a sandwich, just like every other guy with a guitar that has to ask for a place to sleep after shows. i wonder what that would feel like. i'll find out one of these days.

rap is boring. don't get me wrong, i love rap. however, in the past two years, the only rap album worth picking up that didn't have either ghostface killah or mf doom's name on it was the grey album. mainstream rap is an endless cliche. the suits at those corporate record labels would rather us talk about killing and selling drugs and calling our women bitches than say something that's actually relavant to the uprising of intellegent black youth. kanye west, as much as i loathe his pretentiousness, gets bleeped for saying "and a white man get paid off of all of that" on "all falls down". i ain't trying to act holier than thou, fuck it. i went to jacob with twenty-five thou. sorry. i had to add that line. in another instance of the corporate dollar being mightier than the african-american mouth, styles (jadakiss' right-hand man in seminal 90's rap group, the lox) writes what i believe is undoubtedly the best song of his entire career, "i'm black" (best line? "i'm black, and even though my skin's kinda light, it means my ancestors were raped by somebody white." please don't get mad, caucasians. i love you all, but it's probably true) gets shelved, but his 2002 weed-anthem "good times" was the biggest hit of that calendar year. with the current rise of "crunk" "chopped and screwed", and various other forms of southern-rap bollocks (although t.i. is the second coming of jay-z, and outkast is the second-best hip-hop group of all time), corporate rap is inexhaustibly and frustratingly uninteresting. hip-hop music has pretty much become black people performing in blackface. tupac would be turning over in his grave. since december 2003, i've only bought three rap albums that did not bear mf doom's likeness. the only one i'm not dissapointed with is death is certain by royce the 5'9". (best line? "my wife don't like my album. it's way too dark for women, she says it sounds like i hold grudges. she'd rather listen to joe budden." ouch).

on the other hand, 2004 was my favorite year as far as indie music was concerned. not because there were a surplus of good albums being released, but because i spent most of the entire year catching up from my years of not listening to alternative music (in seventh grade, i lived in billy corgan's world), and what i've been missing is some of the best music i've ever heard.

you know how i was saying murray lightburn of the dears was being dubbed "the black morrissey"? a few people that i've let listen to the demo versions of my songs have been alluding to me as "the black conor oberst". now, anyone who knows me personally can pretty much tell that i don't particularly take this as a compliment, because i refer to conor oberst as "the white kanye west". although oberst is a decidedly better songwriter than west, and at one time, i really liked kanye west (see the release date of the college dropout, "kanye west is my favorite rapper", circa march 2004-- yeah, i liked him a lot, which is a little more than i can say for oberst, who really never was my favorite anything, although he's a talented lyricist), if there was a "pretentious bullshit meter" in popular music, they would be the equivalent of a terror alert: level red. come on, friends, why can't i be like "the black ben gibbard" or something? sure, he's a little whiny, but he's really eloquent and melodious. i mean, the postal service is, by far, my least favorite side-project in the history of music (not as bad as the transplants, but bullshit on that high a level doesn't even count as music. it's the audio-equivalent of garbage), but still.
i mean, i like to make my aspirations clear, but "the black conor oberst"? there's no way i can be that pretentious.

pretentious is defined as: "claiming or demanding a position of distinction or merit, especially when unjustified." i've never said anything that i couldn't back up. i've always stated what i wanted to be. for goodness sakes, there is a scripted skit in fevers and mirrors where the "dj" acclaims him as "brilliant". i've never once said i was brilliant, let alone prompted anyone else to say that about me. to be honest with you, i think i'm a talented lyricist, but that's only because i've been writing ever since i was seven years old. i never said anything about being a genius, or even a great songwriter. promising, perhaps, but not great by any means. therefore, the "black conor oberst" thing is slightly flattering (because dude is a good songwriter), but not wholly accurate.

the quickest way to get me into bed is to call me the "black jeff mangum". i'll immediately call you out for being completely full of shit, but i'll be amused by your flattery, and proceed to take off my shirt. he's uncomparable, by the way. he's quite possibly the most singular artist in the history of music. not singular in the respect that his style has never been copied, but singular in the thought that noone could ever be weird or brilliant enough to warrant comparison. i think that's a level every artist would like to aspire to: uncomparably brilliant. aspirations don't make you pretentious.

it would be so much better to be "douglas martin". to have some indie kid listen to a fresh cherries from yakima record, and aspire to be "the next douglas martin" or even "the white douglas martin". it's early, excuse me for dreaming.

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"i was walking with a ghost..." hi, haters.
(written portion of this blog originally posted here:

album review! death cab for cutie: plans

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ahhh, the major-label debut. if your favorite indie band is good enough, they either probably will or already have gone through this rite of passage for worldwide success. modest mouse, the most-recent seattle band to hit it really big in the majors, made what was probably the moodiest major-label debut of all time with the moon and antarctica in 2000. indie purists everywhere were either mildly disappointed or visibly upset when ben gibbard and crew left their home at barsuk records (the seattle-based indie label where they released four albums and four ep's, if you count the we laugh indoors ep as one, instead of a single) to join atlantic records, home of fat joe, and supposedly a whole lot of acts that aren't worth mentioning, because i can't even name another act on that label. sean paul? okay, there's two. anyhow, there was skepticism among death cab fans about how the record would sound with its major label budget. when i first obtained a copy, i listened to it non-stop for thirty-six hours, only stopping for sleep and reruns of america's next top model. the copious amounts of time were spent digesting the record. without giving too much away, there's one word to describe this record: melancholy.

number one: "marching bands of manhattan"--
starting the album off with a churchy organ is always a risky move. sounds like a love song to me. it has the trademark death cab for cutie sound, which has always been regarded as "built to spill for bookish teenagers". sad-sack moment #1: towards the end of the song, ben gibbard repeats the line, "your love is gonna drown"."

number two: "soul meets body"--
the very first time i heard this song, which was on the radio (i live in death cab's hometown of seattle. go figure), i immediately thought one thing: this song sounds like smiths-lite with really compressed drums. the chorus, with the semi-annoying "ba da ba da, ba ba", has a signature death cab two-stringed riffs (if you would call it a "riff"). it's got a new-wave feel to it. picture that: death cab opting for flavor-of-the-week trends. not to spoil the ending, but it's the most lackluster track on the album.

number three: "summer skin"--
starts out with a chord progression on piano, then the bassline and the drumbeat (probably the best on the album on both accounts) kicks in. ben gibbard paints a pictures of a summerside landscape. goes into introspective ben gibbard-ish lyrics. for the chorus, the bassline goes out for a while and it's just piano and drums. then, everything trickles back in. the second verse starts out strong, "on the night you left, i came over; and we peeled the freckles from our shoulders." i'm not sure why this line holds any meaning at all to me, but it grabbed me. the second chorus is the guitar playing the same chords the piano did in the first chorus, and the song ends.

number four: "different names for the same thing"--
sounds like the first part of this song was created in a church, or a large hall or something. the intro to this song (if you can call it an intro, it's nearly two minutes long) is my favorite moment on the album so far. it's just ben gibbard in an elton john moment with the piano, which i'm starting to believe is going to be the mvp of this album. after the "intro", for lack of a better term, blips and beats quietly jump into the mix. followed by a drumbeat and a bassline. after a nice little crescendo, they actually make a decent little rock-out (if you can call it that, this IS death cab for cutie, after all) of it.

number five: "i will follow you into the dark"--
i'm a sucker for acoustic ballads. ben and guitar. sad sack moment number #2: "love of mine, someday, you will die." i'm sure it's true, and this is a beautiful love song. it just catches you off-guard. in the second verse, ben talks about a time at catholic school where he gets smacked in the hands with a ruler, as his teacher schools him on love, dr. phil style. it's a beautiful song. a little glimmer of light during the rain storm that is this album. don't get me wrong; i love rain.

number six: "your heart is an empty room"--
sad sack moment #3: the title of this song. there's not much to say about this song. it's a good track, and the accordian at the beginning of verse two is a nice little touch.

number seven: "someday, you'll be loved"--
when you heard the first chord of this song, you already know it's going to be a dark song. ben talks about getting dumped in the form of a "dear john" letter. yes, ben. time heals all wounds. after the second time the chorus rolls around, they rock out again. a nice little exclamation point.

number eight: "crooked teeth"--
the only song on the album that prominently features electric guitar. in the poppiest number on the album, ben doesn't let the listener down when he points out the "kids strung out on homemade speed." while we're on the subject of lyrics: "you're so cute when you're slurring your speech" could very well be the best pickup line of 2005. the rockout in the bridge of this song sounds like bends-era radiohead. most cliche lyric of the album: "no, you can't find nothing at all; when there was nothing there all along."

number nine: "what sarah said"--
the apreggio on piano (!) indicates this one is probably going to be another weeper. sound very reminiscent of, almost identical to, straylight run (piano-based emo band). ben paints the image of a hospital room that "wreaked of piss and 409." now, i know ben gibbard is a habitual swearer (i've read interviews and i've heard solo acoustic performances), but it throws you off guard, because he only throws it in certain songs. the only other instance of a strong word in his songs is when he called his dead father a bastard in "styrofoam plates". sad sack moment #4: "so who's going to watch you die," the refrain at the end of the song, where there is a crescendo reminiscent of "transatlanticsm". just when you thought that was depressing enough...

number ten: "brothers on a hotel bed"--
this track starts out with, yet another sorrowful piano intro. buried in the background, there is the same key on the piano being tapped throughout the song. describing a relationship gone awry, this is one of the more regretful tunes on the album. sad sack moment #5: where ben is describing how the narrator and his lover sleeps on seperate sides, like, you guessed it, "brothers in a hotel bed". when i had to share the bed with my cousin in north carolina, one of us slept on top of the covers, and one slept underneath.

number eleven: "stable song"--
"time for the final bow." very poignant way to start off the last track on the album. very downtempo song. reminds me of "sleep spent" off of something about airplanes, or "send packing" off of the all-time quarterback project. very good song. the only problem i have with it, is that they could have taken this track and made a long crescendo out of it, and brought some sort of climax to this song. the track ends abruptly at 3:43. on earlier albums, this track could have been like at least seven minutes.

summary: now, i'm a sucker for superlatives, so let me speak now: this is the most depressing album i've heard since love is hell by ryan adams. it is also, without a doubt, the most melancholy major-label debut i've ever heard. it's also one of the better albums i've heard this year. plans is the perfect soundtrack for an attempted suicide; singing along as your hang yourself. that's how i'd want to die.

cliff's notes for "trapped in the closet"..

this shit is genius. by far, the funniest thing i've read on the internet all year.

album review! dangerdoom: the mouse and the mask.

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when i heard that mf doom, my favorite rapper (sorry, hov), would be collaborating with last year's most talked about producer, danger mouse, it's safe to say that my anticipation-level for the project gave me a boner. i mean, the grey album was a great project in concept, but only average in execution (danger did "my first song" in the wrong time signature, and "dirt off your shoulder" was a wholeheartedly shitty beat). i had the feeling that he would redeem himself when given the proper oppurtunity. my only reservation with the album was that it was going to be completely co-opted by cartoon network's adult swim. i suppose i am an indie-snob, but admittedly, adult swim has the best animated programing since beavis and butthead (which is so idiotic, it borders on genius). the result? the only hip-hop album i've loved this year (common's joint was okay, but it lacked replay value). unless mf doom and ghostface comes out with their collaboration by the end of the year, this will be really the only hip-hop album worth having. here's a track-by-track assessment:

numero uno: "el chupa nibre"--
the album starts off with a funny little satire: brak, being prompted by zorak, saying, "why did you buy this album? i don't know why you did, you're stupid." joke's on you, brak; i downloaded it. everyone hates a smart-ass. then, when the beat, an eerie cartoon (predictable, ain't it?) sample, mf doom immediately kicks into high gear, calling himself "a mix between superfly snuka and a super ho". a decidedly faster beat than doom usually raps over, but he rides the beat like butter over hot popcorn.

numero dos: "sofa king"--
why mf doom is my favorite rapper: reason 23575: "back when the mask was brand spanking new; before it got rusted from drankin' all the brew." this track also features the best skit on the album, the part where the people are saying, "i am sofa king wee tah dead." i fell for that trick in seventh grade, but it's a joke that never gets old.

numero tres: "the mask (featuring ghostface killah)"--
i really hate to say this song is average, because it features my two favorite rappers. however, i have an obligation to do what they call "keeping it real". the wordplay, the beat? average. although mr. starks did his best to fit the whole superhero theme of the song (ghostface does have that whole superhero theme, doesn't he? ironman was the title of his first album, and his nickname is tony starks, ironman's alter-ego, for you non-rap heads), this track is the only average song on the album. the best part of this song is brak's freestyle at the end. "then, we eat a big lunch, and we all take naps." genius.

numero quatro: "perfect hair"--
a good, yet entirely too short track. doom says nothing really memorable here, and his verse is barely a minute long. danger mouse's beat is pretty sick, though. another call from master shake. doom, please change your number.

numero cinco: "benzi box (featuring cee-lo)"--
when you hear the buzzing synths, casio-sounding piano, and west coast beat, you can't help but think this is circled in the "this doesn't belong here" category. "rap these days is like a pain up in the neck... take two of these and don't phone me on the late-night." my sentiments exactly.

numero seis: "old school (featuring talib kweli)"--
"rhymes stronger than popeye with the spinach out; gangsta like a frog or courageous cat and minute mouse." talib sprints from the gate. when he says, "cartoons seem realer than reality to me," he hits the nail on the head. doom comes in and makes a no-bullshit assessment of the rap game, but is basically repeating what kweli just said. not saying that it's bad or anything. "what kind of chittlins is that?"

numero siete: "a.t.h.f."--
starts out with meatwad "rhyming for money", and carl hillariously noting the absence of all of the instruments that white people like. mf doom flips a very fucking awesome character analysis of every main character on aqua teen hunger force. sadly, m.c. pee pants was omitted. master shake calls again. did he not hear the shout out? goddamn, some people are never satisfied.

numero ocho: "basket case"--
"ladies and gentlemen, we all lived through the seventies," the track starts out. *raises hand* i wasn't even concieved until late 1982. great beat, good lyrics. nothing worth quoting.

numero nueve: "no names (black debbie)"--
"not in a bad way; it's just to tell her apart, because she's... black." omg. one of the standout tracks on the album. the bassline is the most memorable on the album, and it rides a sinister sample to make one of the upper-echelon beats i've heard all year. reason number 23576 why mf doom is my favorite rapper: "they raps ain't got no gift like a lonely christmas." genius. "get chased by the sandman on some apollo shit." fucking brilliant. showtime at the apollo, white people. i grew up on that show. the dialogue at the end of the song is top-tier, as well. "eastsiiide..."

numero diez: "crosshairs"--
a mellow, bluesy guitar highlighted by a string section anchors this beat. no standout one-liners by doom; danger definitely saves this track.

numero once: "mince meat"--
the drums are too.. something. not sure what i think about them. the best part about this song is when the cartoon villian plays hype-man everytime doom says, "i'll make mince meat out of that beat mouse"..

numero doce: "vats of urine"--
"drink up, bitches! taste our liquid gold!" indeed, doom, gats are boring. the jazzy sample is definitely the highlight of this track.

numero trece: "space hos"--
the very first beef record about a cartoon character. i suppose doom's a zorak fan. nice shoutout to madlib, too. the best part of this track is the end, where space ghost sarcastically dismantles doom in one sentence: "america's craving some doom, here you go."

numero catorce: "bada bing"--
this track ends the album on a high note. amazing sample, beat and lyrics. doom is on par with his lyrics: "and tell him take a gold shower for fakin' funk, soul power." "and go 'bada bing bing bing' like ricochet rabbit." "real recognize real; on the microphone with wheels of mechanized steel; please, at least respect your ideals." meatwad busts another freestyle [editor's note: not a freestyle; it's doom's verse from "beef rapp". i found this out yesterday, and then recieved a comment. sorry.], this time, acapella, and also caps carl in the process, thus instantaneously making him the most gangsta rapper to ever live.

summary: mf doom is my favorite rapper, and for good reason. although the lyrics are below the unbelieveably brilliant standards he set with madvillain and mm, food, mf doom always remains a step ahead of most lyricists with his superior knack for wit. danger mouse has created some of the best beats of his career for this album. while doom's lyrics were hit or miss, danger mouse delivered every single time. my bet is this will be the hip-hop record of the year. if not, it's without a doubt the best-produced. "why's everybody always pickin' on danger?"

jenny, you're barely alive..

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until i make a real post, please enjoy this pic of the lovely jenny lewis.