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Down By the Golden Gate, Pt. II

The second day of Outside Lands started with a quick listen of Grooveshark playlists filled with the bands playing that day. What stuck out from the wave of dubstep and indie rock was Ana Tijoux whispering the hook, “mil noveciento setenta -“. That missing word is the number siete, completing the first single from her album 1977.A French-Chilean MC,  Tijoux mixes her down tempo voice with golden age of hip-hop beats. However, her performance was more a testament to her rapid-fire delivery in castellano. The aforementioned song sounds like a sped up South American take on Digable Planets’ “Rebirth of Slick” (trumpet player and everything). The crowd (a mix of locals and affluent Latino graduate students) shouted in all sorts of accents.

Another new surprise was electronic/indie pop band Starfucker (which use the name STRFKR on tour). As you can see by the dress and leggings frontman Josh Hodges is rocking the band is one to see live, not just for the semi-transvestite band members, but for a good performance.

The trek through the camp surrounding center stage on day 2 ( The aging hippies now replaced by Black Keys and teenage Muse fans) was not worth it to see Arctic Monkeys. Their stage presence only went as far as the lead’s leather jacket.Luckily, Australian singer/songwriter Sia was delivering a better show on another stage during the Arctic Monkeys set. In between her songs, she would make casual jokes for the crowd. For example, she pointed out one girl sitting on top of someone’s shoulder, and told the crowd the girl wasn’t wear”It’s pretty cold out, huh? she’s got nipples like bullets out.”

The Roots put on a monster set, which is not surprising if anyone has seen the  Illadelph crew live.  ?uestlove was the first to get onstage,   sporting cornrows instead of his signature afro .At their  live shows the star is always “Captain” Kirk Douglas. Between his use of the vocoder on the extended solo he does when performing “You Got Me” and the medley of riffs he plays ( Immigrant Song, Sweet Child of Mine, Bad to the Bone), his part of the set always keeps your eyes fixated on him. Two of the VIP members got on stage, serving as impromptu hypemen surrounding Black Thought as he spit his verses.

As night fell, the glowing spectacle and light show of  Muse concert filled up the San Francisco sky. Besides the usual songs and image combinations, like the robot on-screen accompanying “Supermassive Black Hole”  (I know this because I’ve seen them two times before. It’s about time I call myself a Muse stan), the new images for song from The Resistance are also very interesting. A wall of head shot photos in a style reminiscent of a concentration camp/suspect mug shots filled the screen, zooming out and forming a mosaic of letters that were too hard to make our from the distance but were interesting all the same.

They performed a cover of The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun”, which I had only heard on a bootleg. Bellamy’s guitar turned the bluesy intro into a space rock grindfest. The set ended with the extended “Stockholm Syndrome” but the penultimate song, “Citizen Erased” was better if only for the Dominic Howard’s booming drums shaking the ground.

Music Overdose: Atmosphere to UNKLE

It’s another edition of Music OD, and this time instead of waiting a few months, I’m dropping this in just one. Let’s  see what I’ve blasting from my headphones this month:

Atmosphere – The Family Sign: I must say, the opening two tracks are suicide-level depressing. The piano and guitar work (the work of Erick Anderson and Nate Collins, respectively) is on point throughout though, especially on “Became” which connects to Slug’s wintry narrative. His flow on that song is on par with “Lovelife” from God Loves Ugly.  By the time acoustic guitar on “Who I’ll Never Be” comes up, it becomes apparent that the solo guitar on “Guarantees” from the previous album has stepped up quite a bit. Just keep to those types of songs on this one; the others sound like failed Ant beats or feckless indie rock. Read the rest of this entry

Top Five Halloween Party Songs

Seeing as my favorite holiday is now upon us,  I’ve compiled a list of Halloween-themed songs for any party. Without further ado, here’s my Top Five Halloween Party Songs:

Nosferatu (Ft. Mr. Lif) -DJ Krush – Now while most hip-hop Halloween songs are somewhere between the darkness of Biggie’s “Suicidal Thoughts” and the silliness of the Fat Boys’  “Are You Ready for Freddy?”, this song by the turntablist samurai DJ Krush is actually a good mix of sick beats with a nice flow from ex-Jukie Mr. Lif. It’s cool to hear Lif spit about something other than politics, and still be able to hit you with lines like “numbers crunch your bone well”.

Bela Lugosi’s Dead – Bauhaus – If you want to see just how cool Peter Murphy is, look no further than the above performance of the song at Coachella 2005. The song itself  is a goth rock masterpiece, and would definitely fit any party that has The Hunger playing in the background.  Another cool version occurred when he played the song along with Trent Reznor and TV on the Radio backing him up.

Red Right Hand – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Cave is no stranger to making spooky music when he’s with the Bad Seeds, and this song is a pretty good example of how dark it can get when he’s really getting into it. Like the Bauhaus song it’s been used in movie work, showing up in all the Scream movies and the first Hellboy.

Dracula – Gorillaz – If you’re like me who’s seen the “Clint Eastwood” video 5 million times, you know that the first Gorillaz album had a serious horror movie vibe to it. With a song that has lines like  “Everybody party time/
Some of us will never sleep again”, you know it’s about being a laid back, cool vamp. That or it’s about drugs.

Thriller – Michael Jackson – This one is pretty much a no brainer. I could go on about the amount of work John Landis did to make the video into what is consistently considered one of the best of all time. I could say it’s a bit more poignant now that Jackson’s gone, but honestly, I’m gonna let Dave Chappelle say everything I want to say:

Honorable Mentions:

Werewolf Bar Mitzvah – Tracey Morgan via 30 Rock

Dead Man’s Party – Oingo Boingo

Pet Sematary – The Ramones

Halloween – The Misfits

Wolf Like Me – TV on the Radio

Dawn of the Dead – Does It Offend You, Yeah?

Monster (Ft. Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, and Bon Iver) – Kanye West

Superstition – Stevie Wonder

So Haunted – Cut Copy

Comic Mashups to Logo Destruction

I love me some mashups, especially visual ones like the ones Kenny Keil did with comic book characters and hip-hop albums. My favorite is definite this Big Daddy Kane/ Avengers mix:

While on the comics tip, Adam Warrock is one of the co-host of War Rocket Ajax, a comics/pop culture podcast and a  rapper whose songs are actually getting past my normally disdainful opinion on nerdcore rap. It’s probably because I love comic books, and the hip-hop/comic connection isn’t a new one.

For all you webcomic fans, you should check out Chileno Juan Santapau’s The Secret Knots.

Dani Jones put up a pretty straightforward set of rules for creating comics: Make Stuff, and Show It to People.

Let’s get into a cyborg corner real quick: First off, while I think the title “Kanye West, Media Cyborg” is a bit of a stretch, it’s a great hook for an article that also has some great points. If you want to see the real deal though, check out the wikipedia entry on Neil Harbisson, a man who decided to install an eyeborg so that he could hear the colors that he was born without.

While on the topic of wiki-anything, Desmond Warzel’s hilarious short story “Wikihistory” plays one of the most known tropes in sci-fi, that of time travelers always trying to kill Hitler.

To finish this off, check out this Academy Award-winning short film by the French animation team F5 , Logorama:

From 3030 to Lazerfaces: Sci-Fi’s Influence on Hip Hop

To continue on my unofficial “things that people don’t associate with science fiction” series of articles, I have decided that it’s about time I wrote on the effect science fiction has had on hip-hop. Now, there are a lot of differences between the music of  The Notorious BIG with the writings of Isaac Asimov, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have some sort of overlap. Both genres have a thing for pointing out sociopolitical undertones via a narrative, be it through the lens of a robot on a generational ship or a crack dealer through his Pyrex. Both have larger than life characters that have to deal with “the struggle,” whether it’s an intergalactic war or the five-o. For my examples, I’ll present two different artists who have used SF elements: producer Dan “The Automator” Nakamura and rapper/producer Jaime Meline, also known as El-P.

The idea of a connection between a part of black culture and sci-fi in music is not a new one. Read the rest of this entry