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The Haiku Mixtape– Deconstructed (Part 1)

Deconstruct1I’m nearing the end of the Haiku Mixtape project, so I thought that it would be a good idea if I put down the notes on each  haiku. This idea came up partly as a way to see how an explanation would look like in writing, and as a way to show people how the sausage is made to those whose who are working on poetry of their own. I just wanna cover ten from the first eleven haiku ( I already deconstructed one in a previous post).

Ziggy Stardust  It took me a few weeks of figuring out what song would start the project. Any mixtape has to start strong, and I decided the late great David Bowie was the best choice.The inspiration primarily came from the image of Ziggy, of course, and part of the lyrics (“when the kids killed the man…”)

Austere  The Joy Formidable is a Welsh indie rock band. I heard about them years ago through an incredibly-ancient Idolator blog post, and I like that, despite their overall pop sound, they still had a kick to them. Hence why I ended it with the word roar.

Pearls Girl – I had some words to a longer free-verse poem inspired by this Underworld song – I never finished it, and I didn’t like it. I played around with it this time for the mixtape, and made this instead. I think I might go back to the original, who knows.

I Don’t Care (I Love It) – There’s a personal story to why I chose this song that I won’t get into unless we’re friends. The narrative in the haiku give a general idea of what happened, and added a bit of flair ( the smashing/crashed internal rhyme).

She’s Lost Control – Fun fact: Ian Curtis had epilepsy, which affected his dancing on-stage. This haiku goes straight to the point, to the lyrics, because, hey, I gotta deal with it too. And it would feel really cheap if I’d do it any other way.

Flight Of The Feathered Serpent – The imagery of Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec god of wind and learning, is very cool. That was the sole inspiration of the haiku sprinkled with the sonic sprawl of the song.

Beetlebum – I saw Blur live with friends at Madison Square Garden that week. This is my favorite song by the band, and the lyrics just hit me. Used the word Britannia to do a syllabic extension to Britpop, so to speak.

Bela Lugosi’s Dead – The Halloween haiku, obviously. There is no way I won’t say no to a good goth song as my choice for this, my favorite of holidays. Imagery of people wearing black and vampires stuck in my head when I started the writing process.

Teenage Crime – I found this Adrian Lux song on Spotify, and I quite liked it. Nice simple house beat, a coy voice with sparse lyrics that fit. Brought out memories to a lot of old clubbing days that lasted ’til morning.

Her Fantasy – This one is slightly inspired by the music video and combined it with inspiration born from the lyrics in Dear’s baritone delivery. I also used the album cover for the mixtape background. After I finished it I spent a night of watching Kenneth Anger movies.

Decomposition of the 5-7-5s: A Breakdown of Haiku Mixtape

I briefly mentioned my Haiku Mixtape project in September. It came from an old pastime I’d do when something I’d listen would spring concepts in my head. Haikus by traditon are pastoral, although modern poets are expanding the subject matter. One interesting example of this is the Times Haiku Tumblr blog that posts haikus taken from the New York Times.

Why I decided to go into the details of my mixtape, I have no idea – pobably for future reference. The blog’s background comes from a Detroit Times article, if I recall correctly. The fonts I use are all free, most from 1001 Free Fonts. As for the haikus, I have them saved in two locations: an Evernote note and a Word document file. The Evernote is for when I’m listening to something outside of home and need to jot it down somewhere with no internet access. The Word doc is the primary file where I play around with fonts before I paste them in the Photoshop files. I have a master Evernote page for mixtape images that serve as backgrounds.

Here’s the latest haiku:

I loosely used the first line in the song lyrics – the word “napalm” – and then based it from that. Then I based this image of a very angry punk. I went through about three edits before I decided on this one. I almost considered switching to another Iggy Pop song after I heard it at a bar on a memorable night. I may still consider writing a haiku from it so I won’t divulge the song title.

I also post the haikus in my deviantArt account just as an excuse to update to old thing – I haven’t in such a long time and since I’m making some semblance of new content I figured it made sense to. You’ll see a new one sometime tonight or tomorrow. Happy listening.

Post Millennial 2014 Songs of the Year

While I put up my regular top five album list earlier, this year was more of a song year overall. It made sense for the compiling of a playlist, of course, so here it is for your ear’s pleasure. It has songs from the top albums along with the honorable mentions, as well as others that came from different areas. Here’s the list, and small description of my favorites from the playlist.

1. Standouts

Sia – “Chandelier” – I am really enjoying this new transformation of Ms. Furler. This also includes her semi-inconspicuous aesthetic, but what makes this song great is in how she made it hers. A lot of her songwriting has gone to a lot of other artists (Rihanna, Beyonce, etc.) and it you can tell in this song it’s from that same vein. Delicious to finally hear it come from her amazing voice.

Action Bronson – “Easy Rider” – This has all the keys of a Bronsolini song on high levels, ripping out on a chopper from the church doors filled to the gills on acid. He’s spitting bars on riding with horses, landing planes on Roosevelt Ave, and eating eels. Yeah, it’s that ill.

D’Angelo – “1000 Deaths” – So I just found out as I write this that Questlove provided the glorious drumbeat on this. Yes, the first single heralded the greatness of Black Messiah, but good lordy, this is a Prince cut set to 13. Actually, forget Prince, this is D’Angelo, and only D’Angelo, getting heavy as fuck on the funk.

Shabazz Palaces – “They Come In Gold”– With a beat switching from something that is somewhere between weird slasher flick and acid trippiness, Ishmael Butler pushed his abstract rap into a mellow beat that was emblematic of the sound of the album.

Rustie – “Attak (Ft. Danny Brown)”– This I have to thank Jeph Jacques for, as I had never heard of Rustie, but after listening to his list, the entire album really opened up his entire work to me. There is an almost-axiom that EDM and rap don’t mix, like that one thing Biggie said in that one song. Rustie, in the pauses of the staccato electro-house, let every verse of the Detroit lunatic go and proved that rule very much wrong.

Hudson Mohawke – “Chimes”  – I heard this live the summer of 2013, so it was great finally hearing the single on my speakers as opposed to a massive sound-system discombobulating my stomach from the bass and trumpets. Still, if I upped the bass on my system, There was still a rumble in my esophagus.

 

2. Top Five Supplemental

EMA – “Satellites”– A clap and static, with an industrial beat leading to strings and dissonance, EMA’s voice breaking the connection, linking to the whatever-is-left. This is not about past lives of martyred saints, but demons trapped in orbit.

Run The Jewels – “Love Again (Akinyele Back) (Ft. Gangsta Boo)”– Did any of you listen to “Put It My Mouth” or “My Neck My Back?” back in the day? Well yeah, this is that circa 2010s. El-P and Killer Mike go in on fucking with the raunchiest of hooks, but Gangsta Boo saves the song from your average rap misogyny and makes the man in question on her bars into a  goddamn slave, flipping the song to her will like a hood dominatrix.

St. Vincent – “Prince Johnny”-  The change of pace on this song brings out the rest of the album, because the difference is so deep it holds onto you. and the “oh-oh-ohs” in her choruses really stick.

Azealia Banks – “Ice Princess”– This is Azealia at her realest, delivering a nice flow that goes into a house beat-backed chorus. Ladies and gents, what’s cooler than cool? This chill rap royal.

Caribou – “Silver” – Super-relax song meant for an ambient room in a house party, or a drive leaving the city heading out into the upstate forest. I don’t pay attention to the lyrics when I listen to it, I just hold onto the longing in the words.

 

3. From the Honorables

Sharon Van Etten- “Every Time the Sun Comes Up” – Van Etten’s entire album is my number 6 – so many great songs from Are We There that deserve mentioning but here is the best.There is a country sentiment reminiscent of Neko Case. Her voice lingers, weathered on the twangs of chords.

 Banks – “Drowning” – I’m going “Shot Fired” on this – I really don’t get the appeal of FKA Twigs and her abstract R&B/trip-hop, it comes off as it misses on both marks. Banks’  Weeknd-esque modernity with tinge of 90s R&B fits with the sultriness of her voice really well, and is a lot superior to Twigs because of it.

Sturgill Simpson – “It Ain’t All Flowers” – The Metamodern Sounds in Country Music album was the only country album that grabbed me this year. The psychedelic undertones inherent in some of the songs elevate it past the southern plane into something metaphysical. This song is emblemic of that in the breakdown halfway.

Christian Löffler – “Mt. Grace”– A techno-shamanic hymn prepping your journey up misty lands in yelps and a relentless cadence of synths and drums. True emblem to the title of the album, in my opinion.

RATKING – “Puerto Rican Judo (ft. Wavy Spice)” – Someone I met at Governors Ball suggested I check out the hip-hop group’s set and I got there right as thee song came on. Even on the grass of Randalls Island it felt like running through grimy Harlem streets in the summer.

Phantogram – “Fall In Love”– I saw Phantogram with my friend Rob a few months before Voices was released, so we were lucky and heard the song earlier. Granted, a lot of their songs show up on TV commercials and shows now, but this one is honestly on arena-level, compared to the ones from previous albums.

 

 

 

The Post Millennial 2014 Top Five Albums

The gleaming and digesting is complete, and the ears are awash with all the cuts dropped. Overall the year hasn’t be an album-heavy year for me. Granted, the ones that made the cut are my favorite, yet I wonder how many will infect me and stick in my aural DNA for years to come. It has been more of an exploratory year filled with mixtapes and solo YouTube clips heard in the middle of the night. I have a Spotify playlist that I have developed a blog post, sitting in draft form, describing them. I’m going to expand it tomorrow and post it as well. Now, on to the albums.

Azealia Banks – Broke With Expensive Taste

“212” was not the greatest of songs when it was dropped in 2011. In its proper place, however, it is the true banger people made it be a while back. Banks’ debut combines a variety of sounds – house beats, R&B, garage, Latin music – and melds it with her sing/rap combo, creating an extended party playlist best played on a sound system in the best clubs. Which is a far better home for her songs than anywhere else, and I don’t mean that in any denigrating manner. This is fun hip-hop the radio shouldn’t get in its filthy goddamn hands.

Favorite song: “Gimme A Chance” – Azealia goes hard over horns, turntables, then brings her Harlem on and belts out lyrics and rhymes in Spanish. Can’t say no to that.

Caribou – Our Love

What kind of emotion does Our Love achieve? It has a steady undercurrent of subtle happiness hidden beneath many of the songs in this album. Even when it picks up on songs like “Julia Brightly” it has this downtempo joy embedded under the faster BPM. The music drives you and cools you down at the same time, which is an interesting prospect to have for an electronic album to have.

Favorite Song: “Mars” – Snaith masterfully started that drum sample to start the song, serving as the backbone for the rest of a frenetic mix of repetition of other samples. What came out: a danceable, amazing semi-paranoid jam.

St. Vincent – “St. Vincent”

The breadth of Annie Clark’s work is quirky and enjoyable before the self-titled. They had pop sensibilities, but not enough to really grab a sizable amount of people. This album, however, changes that.   In a less-crappier world where the radio would allow at least decent music, a couple of the songs on this album would have been on the cycle. This really is the most accessible St. Vincent album as she comes at you, guitar riffs and all, and pulls you in.

Favorite Song: “Digital Witness” – Her normal singles are good guitar-infused jams, but this one has sonic maximalism  that comes from the brass and electronic sounds in the chorus.

EMA – The Future’s Void

What EMA does on this album is take the desolation found in cyberpunk and at make it into music. If you have heard her work in the past you have see her do similar things, but this time around it is refined, like a short film shot in 4K-quality, shot through a distorted fliter. Her zine/manifesto on the creation and basis of the album really goes into this, I highly suggest you read it. The next time you feel the internet is filling up your mind, your lungs, you bones, go and give this a listen for a purge.

Favorite Song – “Neuromancer” – An electronic tribe song taking down Instagram whores, reminding them Big Brother is not in your PC, your phone, and your tablet – he’s in you as well.

Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2

On their debut album, Mike and El bounced a rap grenade off one another, waiting to pull the pin. Well, it was finally time to toss the motherfucker into the general population. RTJ2 is threatening, political, dirty as hell, but retains the humor of the previous album.  So many parts of the songs can’t help make the listener let out a devilish smile as Mike paints the picture of a prison riot or El reps his NY so hard it messes with his gait, or the uber-lewd romantic masterpiece that is “Love Again”. The duo give no fucks about your sacred cows, and it’s apparent here –  people are robbed and waterboarded, all to the soundtrack of El-P’s signature dystopia beats.

Favorite Song: “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck) (Feat. Zack De La Rocha)” – There are a lot of amazing guests on the album, but bringing De La Rocha out to grace us with 18 bars of fury with Miles Davis and Blade Runner references? Done.

Honorable Mentions

Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

RATKING – So It Goes

Sharon Van Etten – Are We There

Banks – Goddess

Christian Löffler – Young Alaska

Phantogram– Voices

My Heart Goes Untz Untz Untz – My Love Letter to Electronic Music, Pt. 2

So there was the memory of the 1999 Chemical Brothers show burned into my memory that I described in the first part of my love letter to electronic music. That night is ingrained in my musical DNA like an aggressive gene therapy created by the beats and sights of glowsticks and dancing. That’s about as deep as the scar on my left knee from the two surgeries needed to reconstruct it. That’ll never go away.

My sister took me other shows afterwards of course and I was very lucky for some of those experiences. One in particular was seeing the sweat come off  Tiësto’s brow  in an incredibly small rave tent in 2002 as he waved his hand at these two blonde girls that had the even smaller waists. This was years before the dudebros and guidos in the Tri-State Area found him and Tiësto started filling up US arenas like he did the ones back home in the Netherlands.

High school shifted the taste dramatically. It was a change made from the  angst-ridden years where my mind and body wanted songs from men like Andre 3000, Christopher Wallace, Maynard James Keenan, Chino Moreno, and Jimmy Page. That big rock and hip-hop kick for most of high school, filled with all the introspection and manufactured anguish an introverted nerdy guy is generally known to have, washed out a lot of drum and bass and trance music  from my MP3 players and CD mixtapes.

It wasn’t that something switched in me overnight and I just hated EDM. What occurred was just that there was a mental disconnect, at least to me at the time, of being a fan of high tempo dance music while being a moody little shit, you know? And it was a bit hard to keep your headphones on playing Orbital while your friends blasted screamo and the pop-punk du jour. I stopped going to electronic shows, started going to rock concerts. I loved them as well, but looking back they’ve yet to burn into me like the raves tents and dance clubs.

What kept my body sing electronic, even though I sat in my room alone with my headphones on, came in the gust of one particular song – it keeps happening that way with me, as you’ll see in the next part of this series. That song  kept coming to me in small parts placed in scenes of episodes on TV or movies. The bass line crept up slowly until the snare drum came in, then the languid sample loops and fuzzy guitar riff in the background. Then the lyrics came on.

“You…are my angel…”

The song is menacing as all hell while maintaining a seductive cool from the juxtaposition of Horace Andy’s voice. And from there I delved into Massive Attack and by that path I found trip-hop, downtempo, ambient, and all the slower undercurrents of electronic music. Here’s  sampler of what I was listening to.

There’s a reason why I bring all this up. It comes because of my writing. As far as I can think of, most of my earliest writing came from the sounds of songs like the ones from the playlist above that came from Bristol or many other parts of the aural umbra. There are times when I hear the rhythmic drums in “Inertia Creeps” that take me to places to stories  that are far and away from the song’s lyrics about sex. DJ Shadow’s “Midnight In A Perfect World” served as the theme for a lot of my old poems, if that makes any sense.

Even if all of the stuff I made from that time was garbage – and it was, of course – the music helped start it all, and it was this particular type of music that was the hymn. That was my soundtrack when I was sixteen and an insomniac with too many things that needed to be poured out of my head and onto the screen.

I did eventually get to hear “Angel” live, in 2010 at the Warfield in San Francisco – luckily someone put up a YouTube vid of it.  The entire show helped me feel young since I remembered the album came out in 1998 and the crowd must have at least been 35-plus in age. I’m soon to be 27 and I’m listening to “(Exchange)” the final song from Massive Attack’s Mezzanine. Seems like a pretty good way to cap off the post.

 

 

 

Weekly Tumblr Dump – 5/3/2014

Via my friend Harmony, This is “Swoon”, a song from the Soul Visions album. It is a collaboration made by The Human Experience and Rising Appalachia. Buy the album here.

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And then there’s Kieron Gillen’s post on Sister of Mercy’s “Alice”, for his upcoming The Wicked & The Divine:

We’re all monsters, at least for a few seconds at a time. I don’t believe you if you’re saying otherwise. Everyone I’ve ever met have failed that particular test of being inhumanly humanistic. Especially you. Yes, you.

There’s music about how you wish you are. There’s music how you wish you aren’t. There’s music which looks the world in the eye and tells it exactly who you are, and asks if they want to make something of it.

I remember Warren Ellis reading the script for Aaron Sorkin’s pilot episode for Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and saying something to the effect of having the urge to quit writing. I’m still trying to get my shit off the ground and This motherfucker drops a post that questions my goddamn skills.

AND I DON’T EVEN LIKE SISTERS OF MERCY. Just…fucking…ahhh.

Anyway, onward.

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I’m still bummed I didn’t get to meet Molly Crabapple at her talk with Warren Ellis in early April. She’s a great artist and this is a prime example of it.

From her Talking Points Memo article “Istanbul: Before the Tear Gas”:

Used to battling cops at games, football fans formed Gezi’s frontlines. Now, the police are so afraid they plead with protestors to please disperse. “Children of whores,” the fans chant back. It’s a sweet change from the last few years of New York demonstrations, where cops often forced demonstrators into pens, beat them, and arrested them like cattle. Next to hundreds of football fans spoiling for a fight, I finally feel safe from the police.

I dive to the front. Amidst the A.C.A.B. (All Cops Are Bastards) scarves and E-ticket fuck no graffiti spray-painted on the sidewalks, a masked boy holds up a flare. It burns neon. From Galatasaray gates, fans have hung a banner emblazoned with the words “There is no description for our love.” Flyers fluttered like ten thousand birds.

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This is from a Harbor Magazine photo shoot with model Dino Busch holding fancy owls in impeccable suits.

Source: http://evenghostandhorse.tumblr.com/

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I saw Massive Attack at the Warfield in San Francisco in 2010, and I remember seeing this during their performance. United Visual Artists took care of the lighting design of the Massive Attack shows, and they put up a lot of digital protests playing the back while they performed. There were some that I can recall, like the rising digital number of money spent on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the phrase ” WHAT THE FUCK, ARIZONA?” in digital typeface in regards to the recently enacted SB 1070 law.

The Weekly Tumblr Dump – 3/28/14

 

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From the post:

Ophiocordyceps unilateralis is an entomopathogenic (it acts as a parasite and can kill or disable the host) fungus. It is known as the mind controlling fungi and in the 1st picture it can be seen growing out the head of a “zombie” ant in the Brazilian forest. It can control the behavioral patterns of the host it has attached onto. It takes control of an ant so it can move to an ideal location for the fungi to grow and spread its spores, after that it kills the ant.

I’ve always been a fan of this weird-ass organism. I know that it was used in The Last of Us, and I’d like to see it used in more fiction.

 

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This comes from a series of photos taken by Jonathan Hobin. He took children and recreated horrible tragedies (like the Jonestown massacre above). There’s a 9/11 and JonBenet Ramsey one, of course, but I was surprised he made one for the Lady Diana death.

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From an IndieWire interview with Robert Rodriguez about why he created the El Rey Network (via http://peaceloveandafropuffs.tumblr.com/):

When I was doing “Spy Kids,” the Weinsteins asked me — not that they were being jerks at all, they were just wondering — “Why are you making the characters Hispanic? It doesn’t make any sense, isn’t this supposed to be for everybody?” “Well, it’s based on my family.”

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(via http://fitoraemusic.tumblr.com/)

I love the original (probably listened to it hundreds of times when I was in junior high) and this spin on it is really goddamn good. I went on and listened to more of  Banks’ songs, and they are really good. I recommend “Before I Ever Met You”:

The Weekly Tumblr Dump – 3/14/2014

Here are this week’s Tumblr likes. I need to figure out a way to put up gif sets, but until then, enjoy these, you punks.

From the post:

“At the height of his cocaine addiction, David Bowie weighed only 95 pounds, hardly a healthy weight for 5’11”. He later said that he spent most of the mid-Seventies trying to perfect telekinesis and trying to keep Jimmy Page and witches from stealing his soul.”

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Source: http://jeffsmoon.tumblr.com

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Jeff Buckley. Nusrat was a Pakistani singer that had a six-octave voice, and Buckley was a huge fan.  I put up Jeff Buckley’s cover of “Yeh Jo Halka Halak Suroor Hai” a while back –  it  is really goddamn good.

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Source: Laughing Squid

Comparison of shots from The Fantastic Mr. Fox  with other Wes Anderson films.

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Source: mattfraction.com

Comic Writer Matt Fraction’s five-minute story of picking up writer and now-wife Kelly Sue DeConnick from the airport. I think I may use his “Hurrah for fucking adventure!” closer for shit in the future.

Music Overdose – Atari Teenage Riot to St. Vincent

Atari Teenage Riot – Is this Hyperreal?
Most reviewers criticized this album for having a dated political screed and a lack of change in their sound but honestly it doesn’t matter. A great comparison of this album is The Prodigy’s Invaders Must Die. The band always kept true to their sound, with a couple of stumbles with Always Outnumber Never Outgunned aside. They came back out guns blazing, which wont to do for groups like The Prodigy and ATR. “Activate” opens the album with an upgrade to their electropunk sound, but only slightly. Adding CX Kidtronik to the band brought anew kick into the system, and as far as his opening statement on racism and Barack Obama on “Re-Arrange Your Synapes”. Other songs of note are “Black Flags” and “Digital Decay”.

Das Racist – Relax
I don’t even…just get on this. Heems and Kool A.D. are insane on the wordplay ( and that’s not to say anything of El-P’s bars on Shut Up, Man) and their references make Childish Gambino sound like a punk (sorry Donald, stick to funny). Oh, and “Punjabji Song’ is reminiscent of Punjabi MC on Jay-Z’s “Beware the Boys” but this song puts a flag on that then drops 16 weed-filled deuces on it.

DJ Shadow – The Less You Know
OK, I have to finally admit one of my greatest sins: Up until recently, I’ve never had a good pair of headphones. I’ve always rocked the cheap Sony wrap-around blue sports one – it was the only one that’d survive my clumsiness – and now that I have these massive Skullcandy ones with the ultra bass, I’ve heard songs in completely new ways. I’m still not a snooty audiophile (I’m too lazy to convert to lossless formats) but…oh, the drums..the drums on a Shadow song on them.

Truth be told, The Outsider sucked. Only Phonte on “Backstage Girl” and “Artifact” saved that album for me. But from track one on The Less You Know… Shadow established that his scratching is back. The follow-up song”Border Crossing” sound like a poorly made 90s action movie version of “Artifact” (actually, check out “HYPERPOWER” from NIN’s Year Zero if you want a better version of this song). The “Stay the Course” team-up of Posdnuos and Talib Kweli is pretty solid; Kweli especially got to me seeing as he’s been off my audio radar for a minute. It’s amusing that  Shadow dropped an emphasis on the lull in the next three songs by putting up a song titled “Tedium”. The slowed down vocals and acoustic guitar on “Enemy Lines” gives the album an Entroducing pick-me-up before the break beats of “Going Nowhere” rolls in. that, along with “Run for Your Life” should get any Shadow fan at attention. Sadly, on “Scale It Back” Yukimi Nagano does her first lackluster performance on a song she’s featured on.

Now, let’s get to the singles. “Def Surrounds Us” renewed my faith in Shadow with his effective use of vocal samples, pounding drum beats, a sprinkle of hyphy and dubstep, and pianos and apocalyptic choir singing. “I’ve Been Trying” was in the first lull I mentioned, so I didn’t realize it was a single. Oh, back  the topic of new headphones: listen to the other single “I Gotta Rokk” on them. Trust me on this.

Jay-Z and Kanye West – Watch the Throne
It’ s a little late to review this album without looking like a punk against ones like the fake Ghostface’s review. Instead, I’m just concentrating on the singers. First off, Frank Ocean dominates on his two songs; even if “Made in America” was one of the lesser cuts on WtH, he still delivers on it (and don’t get me started on his hook on my new banger “No Church in the Wild”). Truth be told, the only other ones of note is Elly Jackson of La Roux on “That’s My Bitch” and The-Dream on “No Church…”; I didn’t know that the unintelligible bridge on the “That’s My Bitch” was Bon Iver, nor did I really care. As for Beyonce on “Lift Off’, the song was pretty bad on its own, and she didn’t really help to bring it back. Mr. Hudson’s voice on “Why I Love You” reminds me of how the last time he brought something good to an album is still 808s & Heartbreaks. Oh, and Swizz Beatz needs to stop putting his “talking while straining through a bowel movement” voice all over a track.

Kasabian – Velociraptor!
Halfway through, I stopped listening it and went back to West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum.

Ladytron – Gravity the Seducer
It’s interesting to see the career trajectory of these electro-Liverpudlians, not just in their sound but in their whole look. The aesthetic in their music videos and photos from each album mirrors the songs of the album attached to them. In this album’s case, there is this a baroque, upper-class sound far different from the utilitarian beats in 604 or the cold grinding pulses from Witching Hour. There are some glimpses of Velocifero in “Melting Ice”. Songs like “Altitude Blues” and “White Gold” reinforce an 80s sci-fi soundtrack vibe (even the album art is reminiscent of the opening scene from Blade Runner). One of the biggest issues with the album is that there are too many songs that sound alike; “Ace of Hz”, “Mirage”, and “Aces High (which is just a boring instrumental of “Ace of Hz”) are the culprits of this. Overall, this is not as good as album as the previous one.

St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
It took one song from her Actor  album to really make me into a stan for Ms. Annie Clark (go listen to “Laughing With a Mouth of Blood. The title is deceiving.). “Cruel” lets her gets it starting with her great vocals (it kind of reminded me of Feist) on the end of her verses. Then she reminds you “Oh yeah, I still got the grind” on “Cheerleader”. The eponymous track has an 80s synth thing going on until it hits you with her guitar/vocal one-two punch. The album fades out a bit until “Hysterical Strength” which reclaimed my attention with its driving drums and piano.

Keep

Watch the Throne is already in my library – hearing Kanye beat out Jay-Z on this (I think that’s intentional, but on the other hand, Jay’s skills are waning) is good enough to make it a keeper. DJ Shadow and St. Vincent stay as well. I can’t say no to Shadow’s masterful sampling/mixing and Annie Clark’s singing/rocking.

Second Listen

Ladytron might grow on me like Velocifero did. We’ll see.

Toss

ATR and Kasabian

Down By The Golden Gate Pt. 1

I went to the fourth edition of the Outside Lands Music and Art Festival held in Golden Gate Park from August 12 to 14 . Since its inaugural  opening in 2008, a good 60,000 people a day come into the the park .I went to all three days, and despite the insane hike and Muni rides reminiscent of the images you see of Indian trains ( I saw one teenager holding on the outside of a  joint between two cars. I’ve yet to find any reports on a death, so good job crazy Muse fan), they were all memorable.

Day one started with  the The Joy Formidable, a Welsh rock trio who released their first album, The Big Roar, in 2011 after releasing their EP four years ago.

Ritzy Bryan

Ritzy Bryan is the lead singer and guitarist on the group. The takeaway from the previous sentence is the word guitarist, as she is a beast on it. Her solos on songs like “Austere” was a surprise to me. I’ve been a fan of the band since their 2008 EP, and to see her tear on a guitar, pulling off Jimmy Hendrix styled riffs on the floor was amazing. The way she jumped around in her red dress, occasionally slamming her hand on the cymbal of drummer Matt Thomas – who performed admirably  throughout their set-  was a image that stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

For those that needed to kill time between sets,  there were a few options. The Barbary tent had soul acts, sideshow antics, and Gallagher smashing watermelons. The other was a small domed dance tent. Now for those that have gone to a domed IMAX theaters like the one in the Liberty Science Center in NJ, The idea for the lights show was similar.

Next on the agenda was MGMT  performing on the main stage. While pushing through massive crowds at festivals is a standard, dealing with a commune of middle-aged Phish fans laying on blankets they most likely put down the moment they got into the festival was something new to me. Once past the hippie minefield, I found a decent spot and enjoyed the performance, particularly Andrew VanWyngarden’s voice. The one issue was when VanWyngarden switched out of his electric and into his acoustic guitar to play songs from Congratulations, which was a lackluster album at best.

After a stretch of those songs, the need to see Sir Luscious Left Foot himself  superseded waiting through the rest of MGMT’s set. By now, the news his cancellation is spread over the internet. There were a few highlights however. Catching the tail end of Ellie Goulding’s performance piqued my interest in hearing more of her work. The only thing that’s come to my attention from her before seeing her live was this mash-up of her song “Lights” with an orchestral cover of Kanye’s “All Of The Lights”:

A good hour and a half into the crowd staring at the crack tech crew huddled around DJ Swiff’s malfunctioning MacBook Pro, San Francisco’s friendly neighborhood comic, Dave Chappelle, got on stage to ease the tension. This was the highlight of his appearance:

The last part of note from the Big Boi affair was a personal one. At the 45 minute mark I started feeling someone caressing my back and rubbing against me. I turn around and see a long-haired woman behind me with her eyes half-open, leaned back like if she was practicing for a limbo contest. Her hands were in grope mode; she started touching my cheek and chest and grinding on me. No one else was dancing, and her moves didn’t fit to the songs from the speakers (Blonde Redhead was playing from them at the time).

I tried ignoring her and turned around towards the stage, which I knew wouldn’t lead to anything since it’s hard for me to keep my cool when a woman rubs herself on me. So, as the people surrounding us laughed and cheered, I started grinding back, leaning to her angle.  This continued for a few minutes before she moved to my left and swayed away forwards into the crowd. I’ve done the dance maneuver to get by a cute girl or stubborn bro in the past, but she was a professional. as soon as she disappeared, I shouted to the people around me, “Fuck it, I got mine.”