Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mark Sandman Memorial Concert Updates

(Ed. Note: Sorry about the lack of posts this past week. I've been at a work conference this past week, and I'm now officially on vacation for the next week. So I'll probably be posting very little myself until I get home, though I'm sure Ms. Megan will keep you entertained herself. Or use the next seven days to take up a hobby. I understand glass blowing is very fulfilling. I also have it on good authority that nude bungee jumping is a hoot. Either/Or.)

Well, children, the time is almost upon us for the
Mark Sandman Memorial Concert, and I've got a couple of updates.

Update One (The Time Sensitive One)

Due to the terrible weather forecast and according to an email I received from Dana Colley, the entire shebang has been moved to the Middle East Club Downstairs. Show starts at 11:30 and runs through 5:30 pm. I have no idea how this affects the dedication ceremony and other planned activities, but I suppose I'll find out for myself in a few, scant hours.

Of course, let's not forget the most important part of this process. While we celebrate the legacy of Mark Sandman, let's also remember
give to the cause.

If you happen to see a lumpy bald guy in glasses and a bushy red beard there, ask him to buy you a drink and I'm pretty sure he will. Ladies, my wife will be there with me, so try to keep the panty-throwing-at-yours-truly to a minimum.

Update Two (The Not Time Sensitive, But Still Pretty Fucking Cool One)

There's a new two disc Morphine anthology on the way! Called At Your Service, the drop date is 10/6/09. Looks like we've got a bunch of live stuff, new stuff and alternate version stuff on the way. So we've got that going for us.

Still time to whet the appetites of the masses, though. So here are a bunch of tracks that, to be perfectly honest, come from I don't know where.

mp3: Whisper (Morphine, live somewhere)

Sharks Patrol These Waters (Morphine, live somewhere, possibly elsewhere)

Sax and Bass Jam (Morphine, studio, but don't ask me from what; or do, but don't expect an answer)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mark Your Calendars: Lebowski Fest DC

Very few flicks are as deserving of exalted cult status as is The Big Lebowski. I can say that to me, it's one of the best-written, best-directed, best-acted movies I've ever seen. And while it may be the case that I am far from a movie connisseur, I know a damn good movie when I see it. I've watched it more times than I can count, and often find myself quoting the movie, or thinking of Jeff Bridges whenever I hear the word "Dude." But my obsession with the movie doesn't even come close to that of Scott and Will, founders of Lebowski Fest.

Since its' inception in 2002, Lebowski Fest has grown leaps and bounds. Now the festival takes its act on the road, hitting several cities every year in celebration of one of the all-time biggest cult movies. I've heard tales of epic costumes and warm comraderie among revelers, and The Dude himself even ventured forth to take in Lebowski Fest one year.

And now, my fellow Achievers, we can get in on the action.

I do hope to see you at the 9:30 Club Monday night, for a screening of the movie and live performance by Black Diamond Heavies, and at Strike! Bethesda Tuesday night for an evening of rolling. I don't know about you, but for once, I'm looking forward to Monday.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Old Skool Review: The Gas Face

For today's lesson, kids, we're going to deal not just with one band, but with a track and a couple of follow-up tracks it spawned. Today, we learn about the Gas Face.

Time upon a once, there was a white rap duo out there that attempted to bring legitimacy to a honky grabbing the mic. Note, this was well before Eminem took the stage. At this point, we essentially had Vanilla Ice and the Beastie Boys back when they were considered nothing more than crazy frat rap. The band in question was 3rd Bass, known pretty much for this hit.

MC Serch and Prime Minister Pete Nice, along with the turntabilist stylings of DJ Richie Rich, first hit the scene in 1987 with The Cactus Album. With produce Sam Sever, the Bomb Squad and Prince Paul in the booth, this was a pretty tight debut. While more albums followed, no other singles hit as hard as Gas Face. (Well, maybe Pop Goes the Weasel, too, but this is my Old Skool Review, so there.) The track essentially is a diss on a variety of folks 3rd Bass did not respect. They particularly did not like the MC Hammer/Vanilla Ice direction the genre was taking, as is evidenced by the numerous insults thrown in their direction.

Towards the end of the track, you might notice the boys introduce a guest, Zev Love X. X was in a little band called KMD. Following the death of X's brother, Subroc, X disappeared for a while before coming back to the scene donning a mask and going by the name of MF Doom.

And thus, it all comes back to footwear here at LET. And if you can follow that obscure reference, let me know and you'll get a special LET prize consisting of my undying admiration.

We've got three versions of Gas Face for your listening pleasure today. First up is the original, followed by a response given by KMD. And then, just to keep things interesting, a lyrical remix by none other than 3rd Bass and Prince Paul themselves.

mp3: Gas Face (3rd Bass)

mp3: Gas Face Remix (3rd Bass remixed by Prince Paul)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It's Covered: Whatever Lola Wants

I'm not positive what originally drew me to "Whatever Lola Wants," but I'm guessing I probably heard it in a cartoon back when I was knee high to a grasshopper. Let's be honest, that's where all our original musical tastes come from, right? Particularly if you were fortunate enough to have a steady diet of Warner Bros. classics growing up, but now I'm starting to digress.

"Whatever Lola Wants" was written by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross for the Broadway musical, "Damn Yankees," in 1958 (the movie version followed shortly thereafter). Though Gwen Verdon did the original, it's since been covered by some of the biggest names in jazz. And a transvestite. But more on that in a bit.

The song's titular character refers to Eliza Rosanna Gilbert. Born in Ireland in 1821, she would later take the stage name Lola Montez, the Spanish Dancer (owing to her darker complexion; speaking as one of Irish descent myself, this probably means she could absorb a five minute tan before burning, unlike the rest of us). She would later have affairs with Franz Liszt and King Ludwig I of Bavaria, that latter of which resulted in her being made Countess of Landsfeld. Scandal and intrigue followed her around the world, clearly making her cool before cool was even invented. Plus, she was known as a courtesan, and, honestly, do you know any courtesans? I'm guessing no, but you sure as hell wish you did.

In addition to the song, she was a main character in Royal Flash from the kick ass Flashman Papers book series. If you like your history fast, loose and largely fictionalized from the point of view of a cowardly, philandering rapscallion, this is the series for you. Flash somehow finds himself in the line of all the important events of the mid-1800s through the early 1902. Think Forrest Gump without the retardation and a lot more sex and alcohol.

Ella Fitzgerald's version is exactly what you'd expect. Classy, with just a touch of something naughty behind those glorious pipes. For the most part, the backing band realizes just who has the mic and let's her do her thing, though there are some pretty powerful frills at the end of verses to punctuate things with that little something extra.

Sara Vaughn's take is a tad more sultry, with an even more subdued backing band. However, we do get the added effect of a barely heard male chorus in the background.

The jazz great Carmen McRae does a version, too. While her pipes aren't quite in the range of the two previous, that doesn't make her any less impressive. And where Sara had the faint male backers, McRae opts for some dudes grunting "Ungh!" between verses, so it can't be said her music here wasn't without a couple of fresh ideas.

Next up is a far more Latin-y take by Abbe Lane from her Be Mine Tonight with Tito Puente & his orchestra. Tito salsa-ed up this puppy. Not only is there his unmistakable percussion, but there's even a touch of electric guitar.

In a similar vein, Della Reese puts her own stamp on things on her Swing, Slow & Cha Cha Cha. And shame on all of us for allowing "cha cha cha" for falling out of the popular lexicon. While she's indelibly imprinted in mind alongside Redd Foxx, some of us need to remember she had one hell of a set of pipes.

I'm adding this take by Joe Spinachi & the Brookolino Orchestra featuring Miriam Aida simply because I want to add something by a band based in Sweden (even though I don't think any of them are Swedes). Don't ask me why, but I I've got a thing for Scandinavians.

And finally, I'm adding this last version by Molly Johnson, mainly because she changes up things quite a bit, utilizing piano in place of horns and a damn hypnotizing percussive beat. Plus, she's Canuck, and Lord knows I love my brothers and sisters from the Great White North.

Oh yeah, you're probably wondering about that whole tranny thing I mentioned earlier. For the actual last version, enjoy the dulcet pipes of Chiwetel Ejiofor. From the soundtrack for "Kinky Boots," the lead character also happens to be a transvestite that goes by the name of Lola. While I haven't seen the movie, since I learned its about a family shoe business that's failing so badly that it opts to try out the always valuable she-male market for sales, I'm pretty sure it will be in my NetFlix queue before too long.

mp3: Whatever Lola Wants (Ella Fitzgerald)

mp3: Whatever Lola Wants (Sarah Vaughn)

mp3: Whatever Lola Wants (Carmen McRae)

mp3: Whatever Lola Wants (Abbe Lane with Tito Puente & His Orchestra)

mp3: Whatever Lola Wants (Della Reese)

mp3: Whatever Lola Wants (Joe Spinachi & the Brookolino Orchestra featuring Miriam Aida)

mp3: Whatever Lola Wants (Molly Johnson)

mp3: Whatever Lola Wants (Chiwetel Ejiofor)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

For the Record (Label): Stones Throw Records

Well, after giving props to Arts & Crafts recently, it dawned on me that maybe there were a few other labels out there that deserved similar affection. Hence, today's love fest for Stones Throw Records.

As I've mentioned lately, probably too much, I have re-fallen in love with hip hop. This is due in large part to the emergence of a new wave of MCs spitting lyrics on fresh and new topics, but possibly more importantly, some DJs that have crate digging capabilities I previously thought impossible. DOOM, Madlib, J. Dilla and cats in that vein, I'm looking in your direction. Imagine my surprise when I discovered damn near all of my favorites of today all happen to have output on the same, glorious Stones Throw Records label.

I first heard of the label when they put out Chrome Children Vol. 1, an Adult Swim mixtape that came out just after the DangerDoom collaboration. Well, that taste led me to dig deeper still, and I've been pretty addicted ever since.

Headed up by quite possibly the best named hip hopper of all-time, Peanut Butter Wolf (aka Chris Manak), the label excels at bringing tree blazing, freakalicious hip hop to the masses. Named after an inside joke, the label is based on the principle that they release music they like, the public-at-large's tastes be damned. The result typically is cosmic slop goodness, plain and simple.

I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that they're not just hip hop, either, as signed artists Mayer Hawthorne and Omar Rodriguez Lopez, among others, clearly attest.

What's more, Stones Throw has to be one of the most fan friendly labels out there today. I cannot recommend enough that you sign up for the mailing list, Twitter feed and anything else they're pushing. I can't think of another label that gives away so many free goodies, from a regular podcast (sometimes samplers from upcoming albums, sometimes DJ sets that will blow your freaking mind) to mp3s to instructions on how to make your own Quasimoto Cubeecraft paper toy with brick & cigarette. Seriously, they're the label that just keeps giving (though I am devastated I didn't win these kicks).

Here's just a sampling of some of those aforementioned innumerable free mp3s I know you like so bad.

mp3: Beep 03 (Koushik from Beep Tape)

mp3: Chinatown Wars (Ghostface Killah & DOOM, produced by Oh No)
mp3: Concentrate/The Funk (Oh No from Dr. No's Ehtiopium)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Whither Festivus: All Tomorrow's Parties 2009

This past weekend, a select group of awesome bands and lucky patrons gathered in the Catskills for a weekend of music, drinking, music, and quite possibly slightly more drinking. You may recall, I was fortunate enough to attend the festivities last September, and my heavens was it sensational. I swore to myself I would attend in 2009, and sure enough the good folks of ATP put together one hell of a lineup. But sadly, this is not a review. The times, they are just too tight to find the cash needed to cough up for ATP09. O, how I wish I could have gone. If you didn't go either, you'll probably wish you had been up there in New York State, too.

Did you see the lineup???

To begin with, the Flaming Lips were curators. Imagine it. The Flaming Lips, in a small, wacky concert hall (with super fabulous shiny houndstooth wallpaper), probably one of the most appropriate locations to ever see them in live. For some, the Lips would have been enough. But wait, there was more. Animal Collective. Iron and Wine. Panda Bear. Crystal Castles. Suicide. Black Dice. Deerhunter. Sufjan Stevens. Dead Meadow. And many more. Two of the bands present are definitely LET favorites: Hopewell and the one and only Super Furry Animals. Having seen both bands several times, I can safely say they both fit the ATP aesthetic to a tee, lovably oddball and endearingly madcap. Hopewell takes more of the dreamy, thoughtfully out-there route, while the Furries constantly go where no man has gone before, pushing sonic limits and having a damn good time doing it. And who doesn't love it when they sing in Welsh?

I'm going to go back to moping about not having gone and working out a budget for next year's festival. I recommend you do the same. But in the meantime, here's some tunage. For those of us who didn't get to partake in the awesome...

mp3: Hopewell - Stranger

mp3: Super Furry Animals - Frisbee

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Say It Ain't So!: The Charlatans AND Maximo Park Cancel US Tours

One of these would be bad enough, but the news is doubly terribly regarding two of my favorite bands from the UK. Both Maximo Park and all-time faves The Charlatans were both scheduled to be in the DC area in late September and early October, respectively.

Neither of those tours will now be happening.

According to the Maximo Park sites, the tour cancellation stems from "personal reasons". A handwritten note offers heartfelt apologies and the promise to (to try) reschedule. Whatever is going on, we at LET wish the boys of Maximo Park the best during whatever circumstances they might be dealing with.

As for The Charlatans, it's much less secretive why they're calling off the tour. The Myspace offers the following explanation:

The Charlatans are sorry to announce the cancellation of their forthcoming North American tour. This is due to drummer Jon Brookes' longstanding shoulder complaint. He has been strongly advised by doctors against undertaking 23 concerts in 28 days as this could cause severe damage to ligaments in the affected area. He will start a course of treatment starting in September and in the coming months to rectify the condition.
Once again the band wish to apologise to people who have purchased tickets and those that had made travel arrangements We are as disappointed as you are, due to this unavoidable situation.
Many thanks. "

It's probably best not to mess with one's shoulders, so while I'll definitely be wearing this frown for a little while, I certainly hope the band will be able to reschedule in the near future. It's been nine long years since I last saw them, and that is entirely too long.

No more bad news, please, bands!

Friday, September 11, 2009

It's Covered: You Can Leave Your Hat On

In case I haven't mentioned it before, I was raised in a Joe Cocker-friendly household. The Old Man remains a huge fan, and I've seen him a few times myself. Highlights include seeing him at Tower Theatre and watching a 6' 5" black female security guard trying to get an obviously pregnant woman to put out a joint, catching him at Woodstock '94, and opening for Stevie Ray Vaughn (at the time, I thought that was criminal. That changed about five minutes into SRV's set, but I digress). Since Joe arguably is the world's greatest song coverer (I say it's a word), it's probably going to come as no shock to any that I chose to use him again for this episode of "It's Covered."

Today we're going to take a listen to the classic "You Can Leave Your Hat On." Originally penned by Randy Newman in 1972 on his landmark Sail Away, the track has since taken on somewhat of a life of its own. I recall seeing an interview with Randy a few years back where he essentially said he wrote it as a bit of a small ditty. It wasn't until Joe gave it his own spin, though, that the song skyrocketed.

Newman's take is a slow builder. It rides on a basic piano line and Randy's engaging lyrics, which deal with the speaker essentially telling an assumed woman how to strip for him. It never rises above much of a mumble, with a tad of percussion here and a touch of electric guitar there.

Not one to simply do a faithful rendition, Joe blows the track up, adding a lot of brass, female backing singers and his own powerful vocals to take the track to the next level. Though it was originally released on his Cocker CD, it was its inclusion in 9 1/2 Weeks that placed it firmly in the public consciousness. Let's face facts, Joe made this track sexy in ways that Newman admittedly never played up. The results speak for themselves.

Next up, we have the incomparable Etta James' take on things. She seems to fall somewhere in-between the two previous versions, funking things up a bit. The guitar has a bit of wah wah to it, and the bass line is much thicker. Essentially, it's got that EJ stamp on it.

Then we've got Marc Broussard's version. Fittingly enough, it comes from Sail Away: The Songs of Randy Newman. Though you might not think it possible, Broussard funks things up even further. He combines Etta's slinky guitar, Joe's horns and some earthy keys to create his own unique slant.

Finally, we've got an acoustic take from Paul Curreri and Devon Sproule. The tempo is altered slightly and the couple trade lines back and forth. I stumbled upon Paul's site a few years back and he's got plenty of covers up for free. Every Valentine's Day, he does a duet album with Devon, initially his girlfriend, now his bride. (Ed. note--it appears they didn't do one in 2009.) I strongly suggest checking them out, as them's good eatin'.

And since the Interwebs offer no shortage of wonderful goodies, here's a lesson plan on how to discuss the song with intermediate, upper-intermediate and advanced students regarding phrasal verbs.
To further your educational needs more still, how 'bout a pole dancing lesson?
God, I love the interwebs.

And with that out of the way, I believe I have a few suggestions I need to go make to my bride.
mp3: You Can Leave Your Hat On (Randy Newman)
mp3: You Can Leave Your Hat On (Marc Broussard)
mp3: You Can Leave Your Hat On (Paul Curreri and Devon Sproule)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Singles Club: Arts & Crafts Edition

It's not often that a record label gets love from me on its own, but there are a few. Arts & Crafts, however, has made the list. They have some of my favorite artists and, far more importantly, they're Canadian. Which clearly makes them better than most other folks out there before we even get started on anything else.

Home to such artists as Broken Social Scene, Feist, Apostle of Hustle and seemingly every other Canadian indie pop rock star, the fine folks over there have been nice enough to pump us full of free mp3 love recently. And what good is free love if you can't share it? If only start-up prostitution rings would realize this bit of marketing common sense, think where we'd all be today. STDs aside, it's something to consider.

First up, Los Campesinos! offers up “The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future," a slow, somber burner that heats up as it goes along. The seven-piece from Cardiff, Wales continues to push their music in newer, dare I say deeper, directions. The band just finished a US tour, so unless you're going to find yourself in the UK during the end of October, I'm afraid you're going to have to wait for a live taste.

After that, we've got The Most Serene Republic's latest B-side, "Aveern," from ...And The Ever Expanding Universe. This one has an almost laid back disco thump to it, with a bubbling bass line and airy synths. The crunchy guitars take it somewhere else completely, but it's good listening regardless. These cats are getting ready to embark on a major North American tour. Sadly for those of us in and around DC, the closest they come to us is a stop in Philly on 10/7 at Johnny Brenda's.

Finally, here's a copy of that Death Cab for Cutie cover, "I Will Follow You Into the Dark," by Amy Millan, of BSS and Stars fame. Ms. Millan puts her own country spin on this track she's been covering live for some time now. Fortunately for the DC crowd, Amy is playing DC9 on 11/9/09. So we've got that going for us.

mp3: Aveern (The Most Serene Republic)

mp3: I Will Follow You Into the Dark (Death Cab for Cutie cover by Amy Millan)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Live Review: Autolux at the Black Cat, 9-8-09

Seriously, how is Autolux not one of the top bands out there today? When they dropped their debut, Future Perfect, in 2004, it clearly was one of the top CDs of the then young decade (and I'd argue it still deserves to be on at least the Top 50 to this day). The follow-up, Transit Transit, apparently has been in some kind of label hell for a few years now, and with the exception of the single "Audience No. 2," not much has been heard of the intrepid trio out here on the East Coast. They've apparently been doing a fair amount of shows in and around L.A., but what good does that do me?

Fortunately, last night was a strong step in the right direction of spreading their noisy brand of love once again in D.C.

I tend to think of Autolux as the best band out there today that most people have never heard of. Comprised of a currently mop-topped bassist Eugene Goreshter, guitarist Greg Edwards (formerly of Failure) and the incomparable Carla Azar on drums (resplendent in a sleeveless red dress, sporting a white "A" on her chest and a black armband thingy on her right arm), the band plays a unique form of what I'm now terming shoe thrash (think shoe gaze, but with a shitload more backbone to it). Goreshter tends to take most of the vocal duties, though the two others join in here and there. Edwards tends to focus on sonic screechers that play perfectly off of Goreshter's droning, thick bass lines. No offense to those two fine gentlemen and their considerable talents, but it's Azar that really blows me away. Admittedly, I have a thing for chick drummers, but beyond that, the woman is a percussive genius, playing a classical style of drumming that's a thing of beauty to watch. Equally impressive, she beats the skins like they stole her kid brother's lunch money. She's quite possibly the most technically proficient drummer on the scene today. Forget the fact that she could give Janet Weiss or Patrick Carney runs for their money; hell, she'd probably give Buddy Rich a go, too.

Last night's show focused mainly on Future Perfect tracks, but there were about five or six tracks I didn't recognize, so I have to assume they hailed from Transit Transit. For roughly the first 45 minutes or so, the band went from one track to the next, barely acknowledging the crowd. One could easily have thought they were playing a sound check as opposed to a concert, for all the attention shown the audience. And then, something I'm not sure I've ever seen happened. In one of the smallest crowds I've ever encountered at the Black Cat, a solitary drunk guy actually started cracking funny jokes that had both the audience and the band smiling. As said drunk guy pointed out, he had to get drunk early because he had to get up early for work, and this lead to the best (and only) band/crowd exchanges of the night. Following the first outburst, the band launched into "Blanket," easily the most rocking number of the night. Shortly thereafter, when Buzzy Buzzed implored the band to smile, Azar tersely responded that their hotel had lost her car, which led Buzz to ask if they had lost the entire car or just a door? Was it a big car? This elicited a genuine smile from Azar, and the band just seemed looser for the remainder of the show.

I can't put my finger exactly on what it is, but Autolux has a way of making my head bob that no other band, from funk to hip-hop to whatever in-between, can manage. Maybe it's my honky roots. Maybe they're just that fucking good.

On a far more personal note, I ran into a few buddies at the show, a couple of which I hadn't seen in years. For longtime readers of Megan and me, you might recognize the third as our former editor from Big Yawn. If you haven't checked out that blog in a while, Eric has a pretty nifty program in place where he's trying to see 333 bands during 2009. Last night's show put him in the mid-200s. You can check out his take on the show (and opening acts, which I missed because I'm getting too damn old to stand for that long), as well as the other 240-whatever other shows, here.

mp3: Audience No. 2 (from the forthcoming Transit Transit)

mp3: Blanket (from Future Tense)

mp3: Persons and Machinery (with U.N.K.L.E. from War Stories)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

LP Lust: College Football Kickoff Edition

If, like me, you're a college football junkie, this weekend is the start of the most wonderful time of the year. It's the first weekend of the college football season, and so far it's been a good one. I couldn't be happier, as my beloved Crimson Tide defeated the gobblers of Virginia Tech, and should thusly move at least one spot up in the polls. Give 'em Hell, Alabama...

College football aside, though, this is a wonderful time of year anyway. It's the last gasp of summer, shorter days and slightly cooler temps. Fall is almost upon us. It's been many a week since I last did a post on my record collection. And I've been really, really busy. I've been able to bring home a fantastic array of vinyl over the past few weeks, and despite the fact that I am definitely running out of room for records, looking at all the fabulous covers and listening to the great music, I don't regret a single one.

*Cat Stevens: Izitso
*Midnight Cowboy OST
*Stevie Wonder: Songs In The Key of Life
*Stan Getz/Luiz Bonfa: Jazz Samba Encore (Japanese Verve Pressing)
*Mozart: Symphony No. 35/Symphony No. 38 (Gurzenich Symphony Orchestra)
*The Rolling Stones: Got Live if You Want It!
*Some Call It Oompah!: German Beer Drinking Songs
*Bob Brookmeyer: Trombone Jazz Samba
*Charlie Parker: The Verve Years
*Gordon Lightfoot: The Gordon Lightfoot Story (German Import)
*Peter, Paul and Mary: Album
*Banda de Aviacion Espanola: Himnos Nacionales
*John Schneider: Too Good To Stop Now (I love Dukes of Hazzard!)
*Connie Francis: The Very Best of Connie Francis
*Bagpipe Music and Marches of Scotland
*Joan Baez: 5
*Songs of Phi Kappa Psi
*The Norman Luboff Choir: Songs of The South
*Tchaikovsky: Concerto No. 1 (Van Cliburn)
*The Edinburgh Military Tattoo: Military Bands, Pipes and Drums
*The Left Bank Bearcats: The Left Bank Bearcats
*Scotch Party (German Import)
*Maxime Le Forestier: Maxime Le Forestier
*Gene Autry: Gene Autry's Country Music Hall of Fame Album
*Lena Horne: Feelin' Good
*The Great Gatsby OST
*From the River Thames to the Sea of Tranquility...She's Called Virginia
*The Beach Boys: Little Deuce Coupe
*Dolly Parton: Just The Way I Am
*Genesis: The Soul Children
*Isaac Hayes: The Isaac Hayes Movement
*Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night's Dream (London Symphony Orchestra)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Mark Sandman Memorial Concert Update

The fine folks with the Mark Sandman Music Project have sent out the first "official" word about the impending Memorial Concert for the late great frontman. And of course, things have changed, so make sure to pay attention. It would have been nice if the date could have been locked down before the initial "heads up" emails (and more importantly to me, before I booked flights and hotel rooms), but what can you do? Obviously, the man and his legacy are worth just about any effort.

Straight from the horse's mouth:

Date: September 27, 2009

Place: Pacific Park, Sidney St., Cambridge, MA. About three blocks from Mark Sandman Square, and public transportation.

Time: 1-7 pm. Bring blankets, picnic lunches, and the whole family.

There will be merchandise, CDs, an auction, celebrities, and fantastic music, all to benefit the Sandman Project.

There also will be a lumpy bald guy with a red beard and his adorable Missus in attendance, so if you happen to see those two, either approach them for a beer or run in the other direction. I won't fault you for either.

In case you haven't checked out their site in a while, they're continuing to post FREE mp3s every week. And guess what? This week features none other than Les Claypool of Primus fame (not to mention the seemingly hundreds of other side projects he does) himself!

So get your ass over there, DL some money tracks, and why don't you give a few ducats to this very worthy cause.

Since I know a lot of you cats are in it for the free mp3 love, I certainly am not going to disappoint. Here's the aforementioned Les track plus a little something from my own archives.

mp3: Honey White (Les Claypool with Dana Colley, Billy Conway and Jerome Deupree of Morphine)

mp3: Radar (Morphine, Live Acoustic performance from some radio show)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Old Skool Review Update: Say It Ain't So, Shante!

In a recent Old Skool Review, I relayed the feel good story about Roxanne Shante using a contract clause to fund her education all the way through to a recent Ph.D.

Well, it seems that story might not have been so true after all.

According to Slate Magazine, the entire thing lies somewhere between not exactly true and an outright lie. Sadly, their story looks legit. They appear to have done a rather thorough job of dotting their j's and crossing their f's. Damn it.

Here's hoping they're not quite right, either.
Seriously, though, what would the Educated Rapper and Doctor Ice say?

Because I'm sure you're all as interested as I am, more to follow as I hear it.

mp3: Def Fresh Crew (Roxanne Shante & Biz Markie)

mp3: Let's Rock Y'All (Roxanne Shante)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

CD Review: The Present by Luckyiam

I'm not entirely sure when I became a fan of hip hop for the second time. Hell, it seems like just as recently as a few months ago, I was agreeing with Nas that hip hop was dead. Personally, I thought it breathed its last meaningful breaths sometime around the early to mid-90s. Say what you will about Biggie or Tupac or Jay-Z or who have you, but after the highlights of the 80s/early 90s, those guys were all peddling the same stuff, and I simply wasn't buying it. After the record labels decided that the easiest thing to package to suburban white kids was gangsta rap, and violence, misogyny and hatred seemed to be all that mattered, I was out. Quite frankly, it stopped being "fun," and worse still, it grew increasingly stagnant. Sure, there will still a few artists out there going against the grain, like DOOM, Q-Tip or Madlib, but their ilk was few and far between.

Whether I was simply grossly misinformed or that things have genuinely changed, sometime this year a crop of very promising artists started crossing my radar. I'm going to give mad props, as I believe the kids say, to ye olde blogosphere and the advent of mixtapes. Mixtapes started as a way for artists to tide over fans between "official" releases, often re-producing older material, leaking early demos of upcoming work and the like. They've since morphed into a lot more, from concept affairs like DJ Drama Presents: Gangsta Raps or Damn, It Feels Good to be a Gangsta to full fledged studio affairs. Now, LET is never going to be a "hip hop" blog as such (though you may be inclined to think differently of late), and quite frankly, there are others out there far more informed than me. Passion of the Weiss is not only the best hip hop blog out there I know, it's one of the best music blogs I know, period. Those cats have a writing style that is consistently entertaining, and it surprises me how much dope shit they post for relative noobs like me. Blogs like Rollo & Grady and Berkeley Place, another two faves of mine, are not a hip hop blogs, either, but they uncover some great stuff, too. As a matter of fact, R&G first turned me onto Luckyiam, the raison d'etre of today's post.

Luckyiam is a member of the Living Legends collective, an eight man crew out of Cali. They're part of the indie-rap movement, which tends to eschew the somewhat tired West Coast gangsta style, instead utilizing new and fresh beats to put a whole new spin on the genre. Luckyiam has a thick, nearly rapid-fire flow that perfectly augments his music. More so than with most rappers, his vocals truly come across as another instrument in the ensemble as opposed to something that starkly contrasts the beats. And wouldn't you know it, he's got a new mixtape out and, best of all, IT'S FREE. And this thing is a monster. It's called The Present and was released on Lucky's birthday. I've got to be honest, I'm amazed this thing isn't blowing up the blogosphere. Hell, it's got Imani from Pharcyde guesting on a track, for chrissakes! I've got a couple of tracks here for your listening pleasure, but you need to go get the rest of this thing NOW. Seriously. Immediately, if not sooner. Go!
mp3: In My Room (Luckyiam from The Present)
mp3: Sumpthin 2 Say ft. Imani & Pep Love (Luckyiam from The Present)
mp3: Fuck Your Motherfucking Trucker Hat (Luckyiam from The Collector's Item)