Tuesday, August 26, 2008

JT, better than Michael Jackson

I've recently realized that I may need to re-assess my entire philosophical/aesthetic life because of Justin Timberlake. Based on my 'Snob Principles', I want to dislike him, because he's a pop star and his music isn't what I deem artistically intellectual or stimulating (god, I sound awful). BUT, I can't help it, the guy is super charismatic and funny...think I'm gonna go live in a log cabin in an isolated Polish forest now. Bye.

Funniest Shit I've seen in a Loooong time

This was sent to me by some bros in NY...I'm still laughing

Moving Movies

Just watched Definitely, Maybe with Ryan Reynolds and Abigail Breslin and I must confess my delight at how touched I was by this film. I expected, at best, a romantic comedy with these unrealistic single father tie-ins, but got more. A love story, rather a story about searching for love and what the fuck is it in the first place, that has its cheesiness and resolution that cures all our heartache, but was surprisingly well written and crafty. Could be I'm extra susceptible to emotional gush right now, because I got all choked up over the Teddy Kennedy tribute at tonight's DNC. God damn that shit was hot!! I really was fightin' back the tears and throat closure while watching the Teddy montage, particularly the pics of him and his brothers...Fuck, all the more good that family could have done had more brothers survived. But the hopefulness reflected in the past is renewed with my man Barack Obama!!! Go kick some McCain ass dude!!!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Grouper - Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill

Every week or so, my best friend and I will make data discs of our latest music finds to share with each other. We both have pretty broad tastes and often agree on what is kick ass, what blows chunks and what is run-of-the-mill. However, once in awhile we vehemently disagree on an album; one of us showering it with accolades, the other looking on with a bewildered look that says, “Really? Are you off your meds or something?” Last week’s musical title bout between us was Grouper’s Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill. Obviously, by looking at the score I have anointed this LP with, I present the defense and he is the voracious prosecution.
Basically, my boy doesn’t like music that floats in a codeine/opiate haze and professes its hopeless romantic, poetic core. I, on the other hand, imbibe it to rejuvenate and replenish my own hopeless poet. This is exactly the feel and flow of Grouper’s newest effort.
To me, Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill is like a soothing nightmare: some inexplicably comforting paradox. Because it has become my new falling-to-sleep record, I have searched to find a metaphor or simile that helps to describe the audio-chemical affect it has on me and my brain (actually efficient at putting me to sleep). The best I can do is to say that listening to this record is like the combined calming energy of Bob Ross (“Happy little accidents”) and Mr. Fred Rogers (“Would you like to be my friend?”). You see, I used to fall asleep to Bob Ross for my after-high school naps…he was magic, I was usually zonked out within 10 minutes. On to it, shall we?
The songs on Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill float down a river in the afternoon sun, yet pensive in their reserved nature. This is primarily due to the heavy use of effects on the guitar and her vocals. However, while they may be heavy, they’re not egregious in their use or their presence. Instead, they become part of the landscape of Liz Harris’s (Grouper) songwriting style and, I’d declare, the strength of her defining sound.
On “Heavy Water/I’d Rather Be Sleeping” I can’t help but hear brushes of Elliott Smith’s gentle touch, especially in the vocals. Harris’s voice is absolutely gorgeous, without being overly airy or subdued. It has strength, but also has the wisdom to know how, and when, to hold back just enough to communicate aching or longing. I can only be confident in claiming an emotional tone for Grouper’s music because of what I hear and what is said on Type Records’ site, “These are the future soundtracks to love, despair and ultimately hope.” If not for that, I might be lost. Most of the time, the vocals are less to be listened to for their poetic content and more for their instrumental value and emotional direction. In fact, I feel like Harris’s vocals are the soft side counterpart to many a metal band singer’s, as I can’t tell what the hell they are saying, yet don’t really care either.
Her use and insight into overdubs is impressive throughout the entire record, but specifically when it comes to the vocal overdubs on “Stuck”. They swim about each other in little glissandos of harmony and choir, as if charting the trajectory and path of salmon tailing upstream to spawn. Visualize a packed river of fish and how they usually are able to glide and slide past each other without bashing into one another. The natural imagery fails to cease there. “Fishing Bird” reminds me of my childhood in Alaska, watching Kingfishers (literally fishing birds as they dive into the water to catch herring) and also how the lighter sense of wonder the song carries with it, which is associated with childhood. Again, her vocals are such a focal strength of the song, as an ascending melody fights to negate the overcast blues of most of the album. “Wind And Snow” also works to this effect. It is despondent in its dominant tone, but still sounds like a warm bowl of soup on a blustery Winter’s day. A few other similarities I can name from a focused week of listening to this LP: Bitcrush, Broadcast (the slower, softer side) and Colleen.
I am very much okay with the fact that my boy isn’t in to this record, as I almost feel now that it is one of my little treasured secrets. That it could possibly be one of those albums to share, exclusively, with a lover and not friends. Now, where is that lover? (Now you know the feel of the album!)

note: this review may end up on thesilentballet.com, but as for now I'm posting it, because it's my work, which is always awesome.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I'm havin an Ol Skewl Hip-Hop Day

Sittin here at the Pub "working" and listening to some early '90's Hip-Hop. God it makes me feel good, like I'm just getting out of high school and still get a kick out of smokin blunts in a tree overhanging the lake in the park. Even if it is political Hip-Hop, which a lot of it was back then, I get a carefree feeling anyways, because it harks back to a time when I didn't worry about as much bullshit in the day-to-day. Threw on Smif N Wessun's (pictured) Da Shinin' to get started and just eased right into that mellow stunts, blunts & hip-hop feel. That makes me think of Diamond D & the Psychotic Neurotics. If anybody out there in the inter-ether has that first record of theirs, please make a copy for me. I miss that record; last time I listened to it was on cassette. Geez, that musta been like 8 fuckin years ago! Then I threw on Souls of Mishcief '93 Till Infinity to please some heads down here in the bar. Reminded me of the time the Heiro crew did an in-store at Cellophane Square back in the day. I was sittin out getting some coffee before work that day and they all pulled up in their tour van; I instantly recognized them. Del told me to get my ass in the van, which had no windows on the side (think cargo-style Econoline van), and we proceeded to smoke a big-ass blunt. Then I went to work like a drooling mental patient, smiling my head off all day. Maybe I should throw on the Pharcyde's BizarreRideIIThePharcyde next...........

Friday, August 8, 2008

From Me to You: More of what is Beautiful

Acting as a discerning, professional, deep listener I sometimes try to figure out exact criteria for what makes great music. I have come to the conclusion, however, that a set of concrete criteria is impossible and, actually, downright silly, because, much like music itself, the criteria should be fluid and specifically applicable. Musical taste is subjective and thusly mobile, so should the general ideas behind judging a piece as great or transcendent. In the new millennium, Amon Tobin provided us (me and anybody else that thinks this album is godhead) with a truly masterful work of music in his third album, Supermodified. The answer to the criteria dilemma is approaching... With Supermodified, Tobin stepped out of the formulated, mathematical world of trip-hop and moved into a sound truly unique. Seriously, no one has replicated his sound and style; busy yet in-the-pocket grooves and a monstrous, ominous sound that is simultaneously dreamy, comforting and danceable. His sense of rhythm and drum programming are unparalleled, yet refrain from becoming too heady to nod your head to. He took the original hip-hop aesthetic and pushed it into the new millennium and outer/inner space. Tobin's work exists in an anime-esque world of mechanical organisms and species that evolved in the dark of our scientific vision (think Pan's Labyrinth for starters).
For Supermodified I can think of a few criteria for greatness:
1. Do you still listen to this piece regularly after years of its existence?
2. Even after at least 50 listens, do you feel you can still garner something new from it?
3. Does it continue to excite and pique the interest between you and a peer?
I can unilaterally say yes to all the above and more in my mind...but I can't harvest them out right now...
If I were scoring this album on a scale of 1-10, it would undoubtedly receive a 10 (probably an 8.5 or 9 when I first got it in 2000, but after years of crafting a relationship with this record, it is perfect. And I say that unabashedly).

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Manny Says, "Kiss My Ass!"

Just a little reminder how awesome my main man Manny Ramirez is. In July, before the Dodgers acquired him from the Sox, their team batting average was .250. That's good enough to rank 13th in the National League (yikes). Since the dreadlocked-one has appeared in Dodger Blue, a team batting average of .314, which is second in the NL for the month of August (granted, that's a short while, but you get my point...don't you? you'd better). Plus, they're on-base percentage is a robust .358 this month (3rd in the NL) as opposed to .320 (or 13th in the NL). Do we see a trend here? I sure as hell do. Oh, they've increased their slugging percentage from .385 to .464 as well. He is a BAD MAN!
This note brought to you by the Foundation for Piss Off to All Those Who Bashed Manny on His Way Out of Town!!!
Oh, and let's not forget. Manny's hitting .600/.667/1.063/1.730 with 3 HRs and 8 RBIs in 6 games with the Dodgers. Hot Damn! That's awesome! Go ahead John Baker, whaddya gotta say to that shit?!?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Something About Jan Jelinek

Sounds like Sunshine...pure, unadulterated sunshine. With the murder of monotony on the sun-drenched horizon. If you haven't heard or heard of Jan Jelinek, do it now.

Kill the Bat Man!

And kill it did. This movie was simply fuckin awesome and amazing. It has actually shattered my perception that American films, particularly action/comic book genre types, are void of the kind of emotional and psychological depth that seems to come with ease in foreign and independent films. I had heard that the film deals in very adult and mature themes (not those kind! quit thinking with yer dicks for five seconds), but didn't really believe it until 2 and a half hours of mind-blowing cinema last night. I think I can say, with a tempered enthusiasm and somewhat objective clarity, that Heath Ledger really does turn in an Oscar-worthy performance. Seriously, can we just call it now for Best Supporting Actor? And not just because he died so early and unfortunately, but because this is truly an amazing acting performance. It has long been that I can watch dudes play psycho roles without actually feeling creeped out by them, but Ledger is downright scary. When I used to read Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller over and over, I always imagined that Batman movies should be that dark. Well, the last two have not disappointed, with The Dark Knight actually exceeding expectations/desires. I'll leave it at this much for now, as I know not everyone has seen the movie, but hopefully there can be some discussion soon, because this film merits discussion.