Saturday, May 31, 2008

that one guy's tracks of the week: 05/31/2008

Player - Baby Come Back
Friday night, I was arguing with a friend over the technical definition of Yacht Rock, particularly as it pertains to "Sara Smiles" by Hall & Oates.  I contended it fell more in to the Blue Eyed Soul realm and, further, that Hall & Oates' lack of nautically-themed album covers disallowed them, by definition, from the category.  She was throwing a much wider net with her definition and, basically, giving full Yacht Rock status to any soft rock from the 70s (including The Carpenters... sigh).  Feel free to offer your thoughts on this highly charged issue in the Comments.  Regardless of definition, I think we can all agree that "Baby Come Back" sits near the top of the 70s Yacht/soft/lite rock heap.  What does a mustache sightly damp with pool water and sprinkled with cocaine cruising in the driver's seat of a custom van down Sunset Boulevard in search of daytime friends and nighttime lovers sound like?  I think the search ends here.

Paul Weller - Echoes Round The Sun
Like that fitted cap you wear to cover your receding hairline, there are certain boxes that, when checked, show that your hipster card is getting worn around the edges.  I dare say the most obvious checks for a lot of you of my vintage sit next to the boxes labeled "Britpop" and "Post-Britpop."  We might stand next to the kids at the club while they spazz out to their noise rock and street wear rap, but during that moment of indecision while grabbing a CD for the car our hands invariably stray towards some Charlatans UK or Cast's debut album, not the new No Age.  If any of that sounds familiar, "Echoes Round The Sun" should fit you like a well-tailored Ben Sherman button-down.  Part of the double A-side single (along with "Have You Made Up Your Mind") previewing the Modfather's new album, 22 Dreams, this song is the first co-write for Weller and the other big dog of Dadrock, Oasis' Noel Gallagher.  I know, so far, so 1997, but instead of being the Traffic-by-way-of-The Beatles pastoral ballad one might expect (and, no doubt, kind of like), "Echoes Round The Sun" is a surprisingly heavy psychedelic number with a heaping helping of guitar nastiness that one might be so bold as to call "Stooges-esque."  If this is any indication of their respective forthcoming full-lengths, 2008 may turn out to be the inevitable hipster reevaluation year for Blokerock in general.  The 18 year olds will be soooo envious of your vintage Ocean Colour Scene t-shirt.

V.I.C. feat. Soulja Boy, Bun B, E-40, Pitbull, Pollow Da Don, Jermaine Dupri, Arab, DJ Unk, Big Kuntry King, and Tech - Get Silly (Official Remix)
Just in time for a new summer, a new Mr. Collipark protege is, like Soulja Boy in 2007, eating up the charts with a track that hip hop purists decry as the death of the art form while kids in their bedrooms dance to it for YouTube cameras.  You may have already heard V.I.C.'s track enough for this lifetime already, but, as is the way in 2008, a rap hit can't leave the scene without the inevitable seven minute remix featuring a bunch of rappers who seemed to have been drafted in based on their names being drawn from a hat.  As far as these things go, this one is pretty solid with quality showings from most of the featured artists and what has to be one of my favorite guest spots from Bun B so far this year.  In a few quick lines, the King of Trill chops the legs out from under the "ringtone rap" label and encourages anyone who disparages Southern rap to eat the proverbial dick.  All in all, a quality victory lap for a fun track that will probably hang around for another couple of months.  Just wait until your Mom is gettin' silly with it!

Stat Quo feat. B.O.B - My Ride Double Bubble
Making this new Stat Quo track the official Summer Jam '08 has been pretty high on my agenda for the past month and a half, but so far I feel like that's been pretty unsuccessful.  With that in mind, I'm using this forum as my last ditch effort to drive it in to the public consciousness and reap the reward of pulling up to a stop light and hearing B.O.B's guest verse flowing over this borderline bizarre doo-wop/Beach Boys-like backing track blasting out of a car next to me.  Download it.  Take it to your car.  I'll meet you at the corner.  You'll thank me.

This track has been floating around for a few months now, but given the title I thought it would be a perfect time to post it up.  We Shot JR and the NBA, that's what you call cross-marketing (or at least that's what my philosophy degree would have me believe you call cross-marketing).  With this one, Chicago's Willy Joy freaks Capcom's redux of a painfully recognizable (just plain painful?) 80s rock staple (I won't spoil the surprise) in to a hard and fast peak time monster aimed squarely at drunkenly amped up white people of all ages.  Throw this on at your next hipster meet and greet, Becky/Chad bro down, or late night at your cousin's wedding and watch the dance floor fill with the sloppy sing-along.  I can smell the beer sweat already.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New Ponytail Track

We just received a new track that will appear on Baltimore based, Wham City affiliated Ponytail's latest album, Ice Cream Spiritual. The track is called "Celebrate the Body Electric (It Came from an Angel)," and you can download it here.

Good stuff. I would expect this album to get a lot of press here in the coming weeks.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

that one guy's tracks of the week: 05/24/2008

Blood Raw feat. Mannie Fresh - Almost There
According to his MySpace page, the streets love Blood Raw, and as We Shot JR's (self-proclaimed) Official Ear To The Streets, I'll play along with that.  His major label debut, My Life: The True Testimony, is scheduled to be released by Def Jam on June 10, and, if the tracks that have leaked are any indication, Blood Raw may be the heir to the hungry and struggling version of Young Jeezy (another rapper who famously claimed love from the streets), who seemed to disappear after Thug Motivation stormed the rap world a few years ago.  With a signature beat from former Cash Money producer Mannie Fresh, this track is Blood Raw's salute to those who haven't quite put it together yet.  Office thug anthem '08!

When I see lists of "The Greatest Movie Themes Of All Time," I'm always a little taken aback by the glaring omissions.  All respect to Italians with orchestras, but what does someone whistling over a 100-piece string section really tell me about Clint Eastwood shooting people?  This track, on the other hand, tells me everything I need to know about the movie in question.  Specifically, The Goonies are good enough for you, and their good enough for me. Aiy-yi-yi-yi-yaiy.  Plus, the two part video for this song may be the greatest kid's adventure movie / golden-era WWF cross promotion ever with appearances by The Goonies, Andre The Giant, Captain Lou Albano, Rowdy Roddy Piper, The Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Steven Spielberg, and The Bangles.  In the end, it all makes me really regret taping over my copy of this soundtrack with Hatful Of Hollow in 10th grade.

GG Allin - Carmalita
I just realized this week that the Todd Phillips who directed the GG Allin documentary, Hated, is the same Todd Phillips who directed such Frat Pack classics as Old School and Starsky & Hutch.  How's that for a CV?  From the soundtrack to the best rock documentary with piss drinking in it I've ever seen, here's GG's acoustic interpretation of a Warren Zevon classic that, in the balls and pathos departments, beats Dwight Yoakam's stale cover into a cocked hat and perfectly evokes Echo Park for me.  Not the most indicative moment in his catalog, but if it whets your appetite for some old-fashioned punk rock mayhem, a GG-less Murder Junkies will be playing at The Prophet Bar on Memorial Day.

This track is one of those that just seems to get better every time I hear it and is quickly moving in to prominent position on a short list of my favorite rap singles of the year.  Coming back hard after a 2007 that looked like it might spell the end of his career with the release of the disastrously tepid T.I. vs. T.I.P. album and the felony weapons charges that have confined him to house arrest since last October, T.I. gives a sharp slap to all the haters and nay sayers (lookin' right at you, Shawty LO) and proves that he still holds the ATL trap rap crown.  Built on a monstrous beat from Timbaland protege Danja, this is another classic single from T.I. and hopefully points to an energized new direction for his art.  Regardless of how the court case turns out, he ain't dead.  He ain't done.  He ain't scared.  He ain't run.  Believe that.

When Donny & Marie sang "I'm A Little Bit Freak Folk, I'm A Little Bit Stoner Space Metal" (or something like that) on their hit variety show back in the late 70s, few realized that they were prophetically setting the template for a magic moment in 2008 when Vetiver would include a version of Hawkwind's first single on their new covers album, Thing Of The Past.  True, "Hurry On Sundown" isn't full-blown cosmic drug rock Hawkwind (no, "Masters Of The Universe" here), but it is pretty fun to hear the decidedly frail and sedate Vetiver take a crack at a song by the band that bizarrely collaborated with legendary sci-fi novelist Michael Moorcock and spawned metal kingpins Motorhead.  Sounding not unlike a cough syrup and speed frazzled hootenanny in the Haight circa-1967, Andy Cabic and co. take the tune down a road that should be pretty familiar to anyone who enjoys Spiritualized's more shambolic acoustic moments.  Who here likes drugs?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

that one guy's tracks of the week: 05/16/2008

Bun B - Get Cha Issue
The next time some crusty old "true school"er gives me the tired line about Southern rap being borderline minstrelsy bereft of any ideas beyond shuffle stepping and rims I'll play them this right after I punch them in the throat.  On the most politically charged track off of his new solo album, II Trill (released May 20), "Big Dick Cheney" comes across like a Texan Ice Cube circa AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted with a damning tirade against preachers, police, and politicians which manages to mention Sean Bell and Larry Craig over a paint peeler of a beat.  If, as a prominently displayed t-shirt in Bun's new "That's Gangsta" video states, "Smart is the new gangsta," this thing is gangsta as fuck.  A strong capper to a roller coaster twelve months that saw UGK's first number one album and Grammy nomination overshadowed by the tragic death of Pimp C, Bun shows the world how a true legend stays strong.  This is one to spend your money on.  

*Bonus: Here's some video of Jay-Z and Bun B performing "Big Pimpin'" in Houston last month. Watch for Houston holding it down for Pimp C.  Shit gives me chills.  And, oh yeah, it's still UGK 4 life!

The Jam - Beat Surrender
I have a simple personality test that I sometimes use when I meet new people and the subject turns to music.  If in response to the question "What is your favorite Jam single?" they say anything other than "Beat Surrender," I automatically place them in the "People Who Are Wrong" category.  So far, it's worked fairly well for me.  This may be the most perfect example of how a band goes out on a high note.

There's a line from a Hunter S. Thompson essay (cliche, I know) about the Roxanne Pulitzer trial that has always stuck in my head where he describes "cruising the beach at dawn in a red Chrysler convertible with... a head full of bogus cocaine and two beautiful lesbians in the front seat beside me, telling jokes to each other in French."  With his recent Music For My Friends EP and remix work for The Whitest Boy Alive, Ladyhawke, and Swedish hipster-fave-of-the-moment, Lykke Li, it seems to me that Fred Falke has spent the first half of 2008 attempting to create the perfect soundtrack to Thompson's scenario.  This is dance music that's more suited to top down, ocean view driving than a dark club, but Falke adds just enough French house touch to remind you your sundown destination is still the unisex bathroom stalls of a sleazy Euro disco.

The Move - Blackberry Way
Often forgotten in the roll call of 60s psych pop and eternally overshadowed by the band that arose from its ashes, The Move was the brainchild of Roy Wood and a rotating cast of musicians and lead singers that would finally include Wood's fellow Brummie, Jeff Lynne.  A bitterly sarcastic riposte to the cheeky chappy fun of The Beatles' "Penny Lane," "Blackbery Way" nevertheless wraps its farewell to a terrible day in an inescapably upbeat melody.  The song topped the British charts in 1969 and for the most part marked the end of The Move's pop era.  After this, things got a bit heavier, a bit proggier, and the stage was set for Wood, Lynne, and drummer Bev Bevan to create the 70s arena rock behemoth E.L.O.

Going on three months after its initial release, Usher's "Love In This Club" is still a reliable staple at any club where you have to wear a collared shirt and pay to sit down, and with new remixes featuring T.I., Lil Wayne, and Beyonce dropping within the last month, it doesn't look like it will be going anywhere any time soon.  I've been told this MSTRKRFT remix has been doing well with the fitted-hats-and-limited-edition-sneakers crowd, but I've yet to hear it out anywhere myself.  Beginning and ending with some very sub-par Daft Punk aping that doesn't sit with Usher's vocals at all, the remix seems like it is going to be an epic bit of failure until a Supertramp-style electric piano break shows up at the 1:30 mark and takes the whole proceedings somewhere rather sublime.  I'm not sure that even saves it, but it is definitely an interesting listen on a "Boy, this could have been something kind of great instead of kind of half-assed" tip.  Keep working on your mustaches, boys!    

Friday, May 9, 2008

that one guy's tracks of the week

Marvin Gaye - Got To Give It Up (Part 1)
(from Every Great Motown Hit Of Marvin Gaye)
I was watching the seriously perfunctory American Masters profile of Marvin Gaye on PBS the other night and was sort of shocked to find out that Marvin's minister father, Marvin Gay, Sr., was an open (and very unattractive and frumpy) cross dresser.  No offense to the straight-guys-who-wear-women's-clothing community, but I'm a little depressed to think that the guy who murdered Marvin Gaye may have been wearing a tacky flower-print muumuu when he did it.  I guess it is better to concentrate on the amazing life instead of the tawdry end, though.  This is the ultimate Marvin Gaye party-starting jump off, the full 12-minute version of which can be found on his Live At The London Palladium album.

Nappy Roots - Good Day
(from The Humdinger)
Nappy Roots have had The Humdinger on the release schedule since 2005, but it looks like it might actually see the light of day this June.  If the rest of it is anything like this teaser, it will have been well worth the wait.  Official smile on your face, weekend joint right here.  Roll your windows down, and bounce to this.

Sam Sparro - Black And Gold
(from Sam Sparro)
Do you ever say to yourself, "Man, the world just does not have enough electro-tinged R&B made by 80s obsessed, novelty sunglasses wearing white guys from LA?"  Me neither, but don't let your abhorrence of neon-hipsters dissuade you from giving Sam Sparro a bit of a chance.  His self-titled debut runs out of "What Would Prince Do?" steam pretty quickly, but this first single (which has been wandering around the internet in various forms for a while now) is a monster and manages to make vague post-apocalyptic, existential dread sound really sexy.  Expect to hear it in a commercial for something sleek and nighttime sometime in the near future.

Spiritualized - Soul On Fire
(from Songs In A&E)
The first time I saw Spiritualized live was at Deep Ellum Live in 2001 when they were touring the Let It Come Down album.  There were a ton of people on stage, including a full brass section, and they played for like three and a half hours.  During that three and a half hours, I think they played under 15 songs.  Needless to say, it was amazing in an "I just smoked opium and am melting in to the floor" sort of a way.  This first single off the new album dropped this week and highlights the band's return to a more organically medicated sound after the full-bore garage rock of Amazing Grace.  Wait, what's in this bowl?

(from Hurt Me)
I spent much of this week rereading Legs McNeil's warts and all history of the NYC punk scene, Please Kill Me, and out of all the drug casualties and train wrecks depicted in that book, I think Johnny Thunders comes through as the biggest waste.  As lead guitarist for two of the seminal proto-punk acts, New York Dolls and The Heartbreakers, his guitar playing and personal style left an indelible mark on a whole generation of rock guitarists in scenes ranging from punk to hair metal, but he loved the drugs and skin abscesses more.  This track is from a mostly acoustic 80s solo album and provided quite a fitting epitaph for a punk rock hero until it was massacred by Duff of Guns N' Roses on their craptacular punk covers album, The Spaghetti Incident.  Regardless, kids, please let this be a reminder that heroin is not "cool."