I just sawl Winter's Bone the other day. What can I say? The boyz (and gulz) in the woodz is always hard! Wisely, they actually filmed in the Ozarks rather than in Canada or some other pale stand-in. Not much in the way of distracting celebrities either. Perfect music by Tindersticks' Dickon Hinchliffe. Real recognize real, ya heard? Anywho, hurr's my pretty complete timeline of Mo Films.
MO MOVIES IN THE SILENT ERA
Silent Movies were ideal for the people who made "Show Me" thurr motto. With outlaws from Missouri including Tom Horn, and badass cowgirls Belle Star and Calamity Jane, it's kind of surprising how many Missouri-set Westerns overwhelmingly favor popular Missourian Jesse James. Apparently, the most Missouri silent movie would have Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer joining the James Gang. Just consider the following silent films set in the state:
MO MOVIES IN THE EARLY SOUND ERA
Current 93 began a new revitalized era with the release of last year’s quite exceptional Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain. The long running project helmed by the forever impish David Tibet introduced dark swirling pools of amped-to-11 guitars to its starry-eyed mix of esoteric tripping and psychedelic visions alongside Tibet’s more recent languid and typically pensive compositions. Mountain also marked a new C93 era in that it is the first full-length release to fully delve into Tibet’s most recent obsession: apocryphal Christian texts written in Coptic. Tibet used his inspiration from these ancient texts to write his fever dream poetry that is, as with most C93 albums, the focus of Mountain. This month welcomed the release of Aleph’s follow-up, Baalstorm, Sing Omega. Baalstorm sees the happy return of Mountain collaborators and Tibet’s post-Michael Cashmore wingmen James Blackshaw and Andrew Liles (as well as many other co-conspirators). The heavier elements on Aleph are replaced here by some light Eastern percussion, creepy-yet-playful outbursts of children’s voices (either real or made to sound childlike via a pitched-up Tibet), and Liles’ atmospheric electronics. Like its predecessor, Baalstorm is a journey best taken all at once, but unlike Mountain it is a journey much more easily traveled courtesy of its majestic and less oppressive atmosphere.
Duck Duck Goose! begins with the cooing, protracted "Stardust" --- a lush and dreamy original number that at once lives up to the descriptive "heartbreaking acoustic lullabies" label affixed to the record sleeve. In fact, it is a lullaby so heartbreaking that it seems meant to comfort a terminally ill child fearlessly into eternal sleep: "nothing to fear going into darkness/ we'll be nearer to each other." What follows is the first of two aural vignettes (the reprise closing out the recording, accordingly) wherein the echos of ghostly rounds of duck duck goose are played against the sound of nursery rhymes tapped hastily on a distant spectral piano, thus upping the spook-factor enshrouding the sessions captured for this EP, achieving an overall don't-even-think-of-exploring-that-abandoned-school-house vibe. Then "Rock of Gibraltar," a haunting cover of a Tim Cohen song that appeared as a bonus track to the excellent Two Sides of Tim Cohen album, segues into a impressionistic rendition of the bravest little Disney tear-jerker of all time, the Oscar nominated "Baby Mine" (check out the video below) . If you haven't settled down snugly into the darkness by now, or at least stopped the record to call your mom for love's sake, the Sandwitches' own "Song of Songs," another sweet 'n' simple ballad (yet less heavy than the preceding pieces), lights the night with its own slow burning wax and wick. It's enough to remind one of what it feels like to be a child, a young person guided though his or her terror by comforting voices and lilting melody. And when the ghosts appear again the heart is less anxious, the mind less afraid.
Considering hip-hop got its start during the 1970's in block parties and in various parks in the Bronx, it is more than fitting that the man credited with creating the genre, Jamaican transplant DJ Kool Herc, will be headlining this evening's free concert in Crotona Park in the Bronx. During the 70's and 80's many pioneering hip-hop figures performed at informal hip-hop jams and several scenes for the seminal hip-hop film Wild Style were filmed back at the park in the day. Tonight's show in the "Boogie Down" Bronx park is just one countless (mostly free) outdoor concerts in the wonderful SummerStage concert series produced by New York's City Parks Foundation. Each year in June, July, & August the foundation stages an impressive 100+ musically diverse concerts plus theater and dance performances in various parks in NYC's five boroughs: Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. Many days there are two or three events happening simultaneously in different parks & boroughs, so it is impossible to catch everything, but there are still oodles to choose from. This summer shows include acts such as The Specials, Public Enemy, EPMD, The Metropolitan Opera, Gil Scott Heron, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Jimmy Cliff, Pharoahe Monch, Doug E Fresh, and the two-day Charlie Parker Jazz Festival featuring such acts as James Moody, Jimmy Scott, and McCoy Tyner.
A few days ago I talked with DJ Kool Herc, who said that it is "a nice feeling" to be DJ'ing in Crotona Park in the Bronx again all these years later. And as for the music he will be spinning? "I'm playing music to reminisce [about] then and now, extremely then and extremely now." Herc emigrated to America from Jamaica and took the Jamaican sound system style of DJing with him to the Bronx, where essentially created hip-hop itself by being the first DJ to isolate the "breaks" parts of records and play two versions back to back to extend these "breaks." Of this pioneering act he says, "I'm like a shepherd. I'm watching my flock. I'm watching my audience, and I like to dance and I would notice that people who liked to dance would wait for particular parts of the record to come up and play before they would start to dance and I am always observing. So one day I thought I would put all these parts, these breaks, that I have together and I am going to call it the merry go round. All the good parts -- get right to the yolk and everybody just ran with it."
There were numerous hip hop albums released in the year 1996, countless rap concerts & related events, plus many news worthy incidents in the genre that occurred. Here are just ten hip hop dates/events that helped shape the genre in that twelve month period fourteen years ago, and from a Bay Area perspective.
Jan 1st: Mr. Cee of popular San Francisco rap group RBL Posse was brutally shot and killed on Harbor Road in the Bayview / Hunters Point district. He was only 22 years of age. The tragic incident marked the unfortunate beginning of a year where Rap = Violence became the all-too-convenient equation for the mainstream media's sensationalist portrayal of an entire genre. Unfortunately the one event that overshadowed everything else in 1996, the death of Tupac Shakur, merely reinforced this stereotype.
Feb. 27th: Death Row Records released the first of two 2Pac albums for the year, the rush-recorded double CD set All Eyez On Me, which debuted at number one on the Billboard pop charts, sold five million copies in its first three months alone, and cemented the ever controversial Shakur as the poster boy of 'gangsta rap.' Even before his tragic death, the rapper/actor's ever newsworthy life and times blurred that fine line in reality rap between life and art.
March 20th: Dr. Dre, the veteran LA producer with the Midas touch who both shaped NWA's sound and mainstreamed 'gangsta rap' with his 1992 multi-platinum album The Chronic, made headlines by exiting Death Row Records. Reportedly he was sick and tired of the Suge Knight dominated record company's all-gangsta format. "Then Tupac coming to the label was the straw that broke the camel's back," partner RBX told Vibe in the October issue that year. As if to prove the point, soon after his departure Dr. Dre declared "gangsta rap dead" and went about setting up his own label, Aftermath Records, releasing "East Coast West Coast Killas" as its first single, which called for an end to the then still very prominent East versus West coast rivalry.
At the point in his life where the above photo was taken (in front of the antique store that never opened once in my entire childhood), he was a traveling minstrel with a particular fondness for Romani, Klezmer and Spanish music.
This phase is Chad's life fit perfectly with his non-musical obsession: collecting and playing board games and putting together puzzles. It was as though he wanted to get his autumn years out of the way first, so he could enjoy his senior citizenship drinking and gambling and gallivanting with prostitutes.
1) Eminem Recovery (Aftermath, Interscope, Shady)
2) The Roots How I Got Over (Def Jam)
3) Drake Thank Me Later (Cash Money Records)
4) Nas + Damian Marley Distant Relatives (Republic)
5) Reflection Eternal Revolutions Per Minute (Blacksmith/Rawkus/Warner Brothers)
This week's number one with a bullet at Amoeba Hollywood is the new Eminem album Recovery which many, including the artist himself, say is way better than his previous full-length release, last year's Relapse. In fact, on the new album track "Cinderella Man" the rapper goes so far as to label Relapse "trash." He goes even further on the new album track "Talkin 2 Myself," rapping, "Them last two albums didn't count," in reference to Relapse and its predecessor, 2004's Encore. "Encore, I was on drugs, Relapse, I was flushin' em out. I've come to make it up to you now," he promises of Recovery. The album finds the artist in full confessional mode, admitting his past pill addiction and also the weight he gained. "I'm hatin' my reflection, I walk around the house tryin' to fight mirrors / I can't stand what I look like yeah / I look fat," he raps on the song "Going Through Changes." Production wise, noticeably absent this time out is his longtime studio partner Dr Dre, who only produces the one track, "So Bad," which is one of Recovery's most instantly accessible songs. The rest of the production credit is split between a crew of producers, including Just Blaze, Jim Jonsin, and Boi-1da.
Trash Humpers - 45
Trash Humpers - CD
Today, Amoeba Music Hollywood received a batch of Trash Humpers soundtracks. If you've seen the film, you'd agree that Harmony Korine nailed this release perfectly.
The CD release also appears to be custom. An appropriated major label CD jewel case (and booklet) with a hand-labeled CD-R. Edition size on the CDs is currently unknown.
Make it, make it, don't fake it, indeed.
BONUS! - Live Worm
Our full schedule is available online:
Friday, June 25
Vampire-Con Film Fest
For more information, please visit www.vampire-con.com
Drácula (Spanish Version)
1931, USA, 104 minutes
dir. George Melford, starring Carlos Villarías, Lupita Tovar, Barry Norton, Pablo Álvarez Rubio, Eduardo Arozamena
Today -- the one year anniversary of Michael Jackson's death -- there is no shortage of scheduled tributes to the King of Pop, especially on TV, with ABC, NBC, CNN, VH1, MTV, BET, E!, Fuse, and even the TV Guide Network all airing MJ related specials today, as well as over the weekend. There are also some new MJ themed books published today or this week. And today, diehard fans of MJ around the globe are planning a simultaneous vigil called World Cry 2010. For this ambitious global event, which is synchronized for between 2:30pm and 3pm (PST), organizers hope to have over a million MJ fans, with candles and the lyrics to MJ's song "Cry" in hand, "Lighting up the world in honor of Michael Jackson's visions and memory!" Each major city is planning certain meeting points for MJ fans to congregate, sing, and honor their hero. For more World Cry 2010 info click here.
Today the new MJ book Thriller: The Musical Life of Michael Jackson, published by De Capo and penned by Nelson George, arrives on bookshelves. Michael Jackson: The Magic, the Madness, the Whole Story by J. Randy Taraborrelli (Grand Central Publishing), which is for now only available in hardcover, is another example of a brand new book about MJ. You can also pick up the recently revised version of Taraborrelli’s 2004 Michael Jackson biography, now including details of Jackson’s final years and the aftermath of his death. Then there is the new satirical book about MJ, Simon Crump's Neverland: The Unreal Michael Jackson Story from Old Street Publishing. Yet another new MJ book published this week is Katherine Jackson's Never Can Say Goodbye which features photos and text by the woman named the guardian of the King of Pop’s three children after his death last summer.
I wish I could tell you exactly how many times I have seen the movie Showgirls. I would guess it has topped 100 times, making it the movie that I have watched more than any other! I am not sure this film really deserves this spot on my list of most watched movies. I saw it originally 15 years ago on opening weekend in downtown Santa Barbara -- around September 22nd 1995. I tried to find my original movie stub -- I know I have it somewhere! I assume it opened up in Los Angeles a week or so before Santa Barbara but I do know that I saw it before I had read any reviews. This was way before I had a cell phone, way before myspace and facebook, and I didn't even have my own computer with the internet at this point, so I hadn't even heard my friends' reactions to the movie before I went and saw it for myself. I went to see it with my friend Stephanie. We both had a healthy love of irony and loved to make fun of just about anything. I didn't really have high hopes for the movie, but I had loved Basic Instinct. This was the next movie with the powerhouse pairing of director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas. The screenplay cost $2 million, which is hard to believe after watching the movie even just once! It is possibly one of the worst scripts ever made into a big budget film! But after the huge success of Basic Instinct, I am sure the producers were expecting to have another huge hit on their hands. Eszterhas had also written Jade, released the same year as Showgirls and Sliver, which was released 2 years earlier. I would not consider any of these scripts amazing pieces of literature but they all worked to a certain extent as entertaining movies. For some reason everything just went perfectly wrong to make Showgirls one of the best worst movies of all time. Most of my favorite cult films were made in the 1970s and 1980s. Showgirls sort of goes into its own category. I think most of the cult movies that I like are actually well made movies. I would never say that a movie made by John Waters is actually bad -- I think they are all amazing films, although I am sure many people consider them to be bad. But I think almost everyone can agree that Showgirls is simply a very bad movie. Still, there is something about that that is endearing -- something that makes us all fall in love with Nomi and Cristal and the rest of the cast. I still can't get enough of this movie!
I saw Showgirls twice during its original theatrical run. I bought the movie when it was released on VHS and have probably watched it a minimum of 3 to 4 times a year for the last 15 years. It was the kind of movie that I would even watch when it showed up on cable TV even though I already owned a copy! I did try to avoid the edited version on regular TV or VH1, because although I could live without ever having to watch the rape scene again, I did like to watch the regular NC-17 version, the way the movie was meant to be seen. Showgirls does remain the highest grossing NC-17 movie, but it was not a success at the box office and was obviously hated by the critics. Through word of mouth though, it ended up being very successful as a rental and for puchase on VHS. The VH1 version edited out some of the more sexually graphic scenes and placed digitally enhanced black bras and panties over the scenes with nudity. They even dubbed many of Nomi's lines in the movies. Elizabeth Berkley refused to dub the edited version so another voice actress is heard in the edited version. There were a couple of years when I watched the movie about once a week. One of my roommates in 1998 and 1999 was just as obsessed with the movie as I was. We sort of used the movie as our therapy. Whenever we were a bit sad or depressed we turned to Showgirls for help. We often said to each other something like, "Tonight is a Showgirls kind of night." We would often cancel our plans to just stay home and watch Showgirls. Sometimes we would watch the movie while we were getting ready to go out. Basically, it was a rare occasion when the movie was not in one of our VCRs. I upgraded to the DVD when the VIP Edition was released in 2004. The deluxe box set came with shot glasses, playing cards and a play along with the movie drinking game. The deluxe DVD also came with some fancy bonus features -- a pop up video style trivia track and an audio commentary with David Schmader. The DVD was released without the box in 2007. I managed to catch the movie 3 more times in the theater over the years. I went to a couple of the Peaches Christ Midnight Mass performances over the years and I even went and saw it at the Metreon in San Francisco for a special re-release. I normally don't like to hear somebody talking who is sitting behind me in the theater, but for this movie I love it. During the re-release some guy behind me basically had a comment for every single scene in the movie. He was basically having a conversation with the cast and had every line memorized, and I loved it! I kind of wish MGM had tracked him down to do the audio commentary.
Paul McCartney, Justin Bieber, and Game each share the experience of having been the targets of fake death hoaxes. Early this Monday morning rumors began circulating on various websites that rap star Game (pictured left & formerly known as The Game) had been shot and killed. In actuality, he hadn't, but these false rumors spread so rapidly that within hours the rapper's management had to issue a statement to dispel the untrue report. So, too, did the very much alive and well rap artist, who was in Sacramento Monday, when he tweeted, "If u gone [sic] spread rumors, b more creative. Say, I had a fight wit the Toy Story cast or sumn & it turned fatal ha ha.." But the ever shrewd rapper took it a step further by utilizing the incident as a prime opportunity to promote his forthcoming album. "My funeral is 8-24-10 @ da nearest Best Buy," he tweeted @ihategame.
While Game had one rumor of his apparent death, pop star Justin Bieber has been plagued by them. The sixteen year old Canadian singing sensation has been falsely pronounced dead a total of five times in the past year (all internet generated hoaxes), most recently on June 10th.
The famous, urban legend scale "Paul is dead" celebrity death hoax about the supposed passing of Paul McCartney, began in 1969 with a claim that the Beatle had died a few years earlier in a car crash and had been replaced by a sound-alike/look-alike. Proof of his passing supposedly could be found by playing certain Beatles records backwards or analyzing various Beatles album art. "Paul is dead" was not only one of the most well constructed death hoaxes but also one of the most widely repeated (and believed) hoaxes in pop history.
Let’s Get Cool
CAN's HOLGER CZUKAY releases this 2 track 10" with tracks based on "COOL IN THE POOL," recorded in his home studio in 1979. Quirky with a touch of free jazz horn work. Pressed as a strictly limited 10" on transparent vinyl.
Black Stroke EP
The original is a hymnic Detroit-ish tune with a swingy groove and the right strings. KINK & NEVILLE WATSON work out an old school acid house mix in the Chicago vein, and "PRETTY FAR FROM HERE" closes out the record with old school deep funky sounds that are raw.
A Made Up Sound
A Made Up Sound
A MADE UP SOUND brings 2 tracks of bangin' beats! "ALARM" is a punchy tune with synth stabs, moody pads and a swaggering rhythm. "CRISIS" on the flip is all about restraint. Thick house-not-house beats and a thumping acid bassline. This is a killer 12".
Listen to "Crisis" here:
Exactly 17 years ago San Francisco’s Lakeview district rap crew I.M.P. (Ill Mannered Posse) released their long overdue official debut album Back in the Days on In-A-Minute Records. Three years later, on the same now-defunct Oakland independent label, they would release their only other full length album Ill Mannered Playas. Regionally popular, and to a lesser degree nationally, I.M.P. never really got the level of fame that they so deserved, which is too bad because they were such a talented, distinctive sounding hardcore rap group. That sound was defined by the raspy voiced rapper Cougnut, who tragically died in an auto accident in 2001.
I.M.P. began in San Francisco in 1989 when DJ/producer Rob V, along with fellow DJ/producer and longtime friend and musical collaborater Stingy, had the idea to form a rap group. Shortly afterward, Rob V’s cousin, rapper Cougnut, was enlisted, with rappers C-Fresh and Lou-E-Lou joining the fold next. Within months they had recorded and released their acclaimed debut, the EP No Prisoners. After that, in 1990, they released the six track EP IMP Dogs on Sucka Free Records. Soon word traveled about this talented new Frisco rap group and the requests for concert and radio appearances started pouring in.
A busy period for I.M.P. followed that included appearing in Digital Underground’s “Doowutchyalike” video. The 17 track Back in the Days showcased the combined talents of the group; C-Fresh's engaging gangsta rap flow, Cougnut's distinctive gravely voiced delivery and clever wordplay, plus the ever-entertaining Lou-E-Lou (“the Flavor Flav of the group”). In one song (“Nigga Rays”) Lou-E-Lou became a total of five different characters, including Willy The Wino, Salamander Fred, and Sick Tos. The album also featured production assistance from prolific 1990's San Francisco producer TC, plus some microphone cameos from local SF rap talents Dre Dog, Totally Insane, Cellski, RBL Posse, Chewy-C, and 2.2.
It's a Hallmark card not yet writ
The eyes of Joan Rivers.
I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that. -- Lloyd Dobler
There aren't too many comedians who were working Vegas back in the 60s who can make me laugh. Don Rickles is one and Joan Rivers the other. Rickles was featured in a decent documentary paying tribute to his talents a few years ago called Mr. Warmth (directed by John Landis); now it's Rivers' turn in Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg's A Piece of Work. The film makes much of her feminist importance in comedy, but how she doesn't get the recognition she deserves as a (non-gendered) writer or (according to Rivers herself) as an actress. As to the last claim, the film doesn't provide good evidence, namely some saccharine nonsense that became a TV movie about the effects of Rivers' husband's suicide on her and her coattail-riding daughter's relationship (Tears and Laughter: The Joan and Melissa Rivers Story). Mostly, though, she's good at playing herself, or "Joan" -- the difference being imperceptible to an outsider. The opposite to Say Anything's Lloyd, Rivers will sell anything, appear in anything, use anything and do anything to get her name out there, including, most notoriously, having her face restructured piece by piece. And, during an interview in which she's defending her extensive use of plastic surgery, it becomes doubtful that there is even a line between her public and private personas. "Who's the real me?" she asks the interviewer. As she puts it, the one mountain she can't cross is age, so as an industry unto herself, selling one product, Joan, she does whatever needs to be done to stay current, to remain commercially desirable. The one thing she fears is a blank page on her calendar.
On the joy of sodomy: it allows her to do other things.
Those with a leftist slant might find Rivers' embodiment of the Protestant work ethic in a laissez-faire, product-placement-ready form immoral (I vaguely remember Janeane Garofolo making some remarks to that effect), but what makes her such a great comedian is that no one is a better critic of her choices in life than she is. Unfortunately, it's the subject of her comedy that's tended to overshadow her talent as a critic and writer. In some ways, the doc only reinforces this misprision, spending more time on Rivers' lame shilling for fame (e.g., Celebrity Apprentice) than on any attempt to situate her within the comedy pantheon. Other than the aforementioned Rickles, the only comedian the filmmakers get on camera to talk about her is Kathy Griffin, a lame imitation who's adopted the lifestyle without discernment. I'm no expert on comedy's history, but I'd instead place Rivers in the tradition of Richard Pryor and Doug Stanhope, the likes of whom combine the confessional (particularly personal failings) with ideo-sociological insight. For example, in a filmed onstage bit, she discusses how her daughter, Melissa, had proudly turned down $400,000 to appear topless in Playboy. Rivers points out how, at 75, she's currently having to perform in a some dirty little New York comedy club that's provided her with a taped up stool to sit on. She praises Melissa's decency, but then admonishes her for not asking for more to show everything. That's a precise analysis of what seeking fame and a life of luxury requires. This isn't the Joan that we get on TV.
Best movie poster of the year by Kellerhouse, Inc..
Dusty Bushmen toddlers
I'm not a big spectator of sports (or player of them, for that matter) but it seems that events like The World Cup and The Olympics are often used to spotlight various aspects of the host country's culture. I did read one such article about South Africa in National Geographic but I haven't seen anything during the current cup about the indigenous population. OK, so maybe there aren't any bushmen on the pitch or in the stands but... well, I don't care... I started the blog entry a while ago and I'm just trying to make it relevant whilst South Africa's on our collective minds -- especially since Bafana Bafana appear to be on their way out of the cup (except as hosts) unless something miraculous happens.
A BIT ABOUT TERMINOLOGY
1) Chali 2na Fishmarket Part 2 (Decon Records)
2) Amp Live Murder at the Discotech (Child's Play Records/OM)
3) Drake Thank Me Later (Cash Money Records)
4) The Jacka & Lee Majors The Gobots 2 D-Boy Era (The Artist Records)
5) Messy Marv Millionaire Gangsta (Prominent House Records)
Thanks to Luis at the San Francisco Amoeba Music for this week's Hip-Hop Top Five Chart, which features lots of West Coast flava (including SoCal's Chali 2na) and a bit of the Dirty South from the Canadian born, former kids TV show (Degrassi) star turned Cash Money Records (and Lil Wayne protege) rap sensation Drake (who did a good job at the recent VH1 Hip-Hop Honors The Dirty South) with his highly anticipated full length rap/RnB debut Thank Me Later on Lil Wayne’s Young Money imprint through Cash Money/Universal. The Bay Area is well represented with the latest from the ever prolific Messy Marv (Millionaire Gangsta on Prominent House Records), the new joint from popular rapper The Jacka teaming up with Lee Majors (The Gobots 2 D-Boy Era on The Artist Records), plus the anticipated release from Amp Live, Murder at the Discotech on Child's Play Records/OM Hip-Hop.
If it can be said that the freshest of the fresh artistic creations bubble up from "underground," then it should come as no surprise that the vast network of tunnels that comprise the coiled entrails of Paris' infamous catacombs has long served as a place where creative Parisians bent on escaping the trappings of society, hemmed in by signs and signifiers girding the city's surface, retreat to the "freedom" of the damp and hard-cut, cramped lawlessness that thrives beneath the streets, expressing themselves with dim-lit abandon. Veteran graffiti artist Psyckoze has spent more than 25 years traversing, tagging, sculpting and mapping the catacombs beneath Paris, a perilous proclivity that makes the documentary Dead Space infinitely watchable.
The Parisian catacombs have always held a certain fascination, whether it be a fear of the dark-generated late night creepshow vibe (must be because of all those skulls 'n' things down in there) or a more sensationalist ghost-hunters of "reality" television programming feel, the mere mention of the mysterious, bone littered underworld beneath the French capitol always stirs the imagination. In following Psyckoze on several adventures throughout the underground maze, documentary film-makers Marielle Quesney and Jean Labourdette nearly destroy their camera (they claim it was held together by duct tape by the end of shooting) and find themselves lost on more than one occasion while Pyschoze, or Psy, encounters graffiti and scrawls of years (sometimes hundreds of years) gone by, often stopping to update his own tags with the fresh designs of his evolved artistic style, and discovers a myriad of threats and claims laid by various catacomb clans, gangs (like the Rats, who were prominent in the eighties) and wanderers who have at one time or another called the catacombs home. There is even a faction of preservationist catacombers who seek to stop taggers like Psy, arguing that the tunnels should be cleaned and restored to their natural sandstone tones (which is not unreasonable, really, when you consider the quarry origins of the catacombs, which were once used to mine and transport building materials as far back as 1000 years).
Shot on a shoestring budget over the course of two years, Dead Space follows Psy as he conducts a surprisingly cohesive tour of the catacombs below Paris (clad in his habitual rubber boots and mining helmet catacomb gear), stopping here and there to highlight several of the more famous subterranean hang-outs like "the Beach" (a large, sandy chamber with a huge painting of a wave --- styled after Hokusai's famous woodblock print --- where parties often rage underground for days) and revealing Psy's personal secret hideaways, including his "castle" --- a sprawling freehand relief sculpture of breasts, faces, battlements and turrets comprising what has to be Psy's ultimate psychedelic masterpiece, laden with personal significance (example: Psy carved a turret in the castle for every year his good friend and fellow catacomber spent locked up in a Thai jail, nine altogether). However, it is clear that most folks who venture down into the catacombs have something other than artistic creation and personal reflection in mind.
Every once in while an album comes along that just absolutely blows your mind. It seems to be happening more often than not this year! I am talking about the kind of album that you just can't stop listening to...the kind of album you want to live inside of...the kind of album you want to call in sick for so you can listen to it over and over again...the kind of album I have in my car, on my turntable and in my cd player all at the same time! I am seriously considering making a cassette tape of this album so I can carry it around with me everywhere I go...I did just say cassette, because the album I am talking about does not really make sense as a digital file. It would make more sense on a cassette or 8-track. I am talking about the new album by Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti! Ariel Pink has found a new home with 4AD records and has put out one of the best albums of the year. I just don't think any other album is gonna be able to compete with it this year. The new album is called Before Today. I will be the first to admit that I don't own any other Ariel Pink albums. I obviously know who he is and have been hearing things about him for years, but I just always figured he was a bit too weird for me. I sort of put him with the whole Devendra Banhart genre and thought it was best to stay away. I'd like to think that Ariel Pink got sick of me ignoring his albums and made this album just for me. He made the exact kind of album that I was going to fall in love with -- the kind that seems like it came directly out of the 70s, like it was 1975 all over again and you just happened to turn on the radio and hear this amazing album. Think about your favorite songs from Hall & Oates, Asia, Bread, Ambrosia, Todd Rundgren, Chicago, The Carpenters, Michael McDonald, Billy Joel, The Climax Blues Band, 10CC, Al Stewart, and Manfred Mann's Earth Band; and then imagine them all mixed up together and then the best things about them created into new amazing songs. This is sort of what you get with this new album!
Ariel Pink was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, which makes me love him even more. I know that there are a lot of us born in LA. but it seems that very few of the artists that I fall in love with end up coming from LA. He has been putting out music since 1996, it just took him this long to get into my life. I know I am not alone in my recent discovery of the genius of Ariel Pink. This album is for sure a bit more accessible and well-produced. He has a full real band playing with him now also! This is some seriously good stuff. You need to go pick up this album and discover it for yourself. But don't worry if you're already a fan -- there's still some weird stuff. The songs often get a bit crazy and end up going places you would never find a normal pop song exploring. This album is full of fantastic songs and as it plays out they just keep gettin better! One of my favorites is "Bright Light Blue Skies." "Fright Night" is amazing! "Can't Hear My Eyes" is probably my favorite of them all, though. Thank you, Ariel PInk! This album is full of the perfect summer jams -- what a great start to the summer! Perfect for those warm Los Angeles Summer nights. I will be exploring some old Ariel PInk albums for sure as well, but I have a felling that they will all be leading me back to this amazing new album. It just can't really get any better than this!
Our full schedule is available online:
Thursday June 17
Two by Chan-wook Park
2003, South Korea, 120 minutes
Garry "Diaperman" Shider, musician and band leader of George Clinton's P-Funk All Stars who earned his nickname for his habit of wearing diapers onstage, died yesterday following complications arising from brain and lung cancer. He was only 56. Also nicknamed "Starchild," Shider had been an official member of Clnton's funk ensemble since 1972.
A Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, the Plainfield, New Jersey native began performing music in church but it was his introduction in the late 1960's to George Clinton in the NJ barbershop that Clinton owned, and that acted as the funk master's office, that would shape the rest of Shider's musical career, but not immediately.
It was after the teenaged Shider left to go pursue his musical dreams in Canada, where he formed the funk-rock group United Soul (aka U.S.), that he heard from Clinton again. In 1971 Clinton produced tracks for a one-off single on Westbound (recently reissued on CD) by the band that Shider had formed with his NJ childhood friend Cordell "Boogie" Mosson. A year later Shider joined Clinton's musical ensemble.
Once a member, Shider became a key vocalist, guitarist, writer and arranger for Parliament Funkadeliic and P-Funk All Stars for near four full decades. As such he toured the world with Clinton's freeform funk ensemble numerous times. I was fortunate enough to catch many P-Funk shows over the years, which, like Grateful Dead shows, could morph into long extended jams, but the brilliance of these hypnotic funk jams, which were like organized chaos, was how bandleader Shider would always eventually rein them back in musically.
“[On Disintegration] they thought I was being 'willfully obscure', which was an actual quote from the letter [received from the band’s label at the time, Elektra]. Ever since then I’ve realized that record companies don't have a fucking clue what The Cure does and what The Cure means."
- Robert Smith, from the book Never Enough: The Story of the Cure by Jeff Apter
Twenty (and some change) years later we know that The Cure’s label bosses were indeed wrong; Disintegration is celebrating its 20th anniversary (a year late actually – the album was released in May 1989) with the release of a remastered 3-CD deluxe edition and remastered 2LP. Today, the album remains in the unique position of being both widely considered the group’s masterpiece among fans as well as their most commercially successful LP (containing their biggest US hit, “Love Song," which peaked at #2 on the Billboard chart).
There haven’t been a multitude of complaints over the years about the mastering of the album, so no surprise here that the main disc is just a bit louder than the original. The real appeal of the 3-CD set is the bonus material…and there is a lot of it! The second disc of rarities is compiled by Robert Smith himself (who was the only original member left in the band by the time Disintegration was released --Lol Tolhurst having been booted by group consensus before its completion) and is largely made up of his instrumental home demos and band rehearsals for the album. It seems like a superfan-only venture with these lo-fi takes sans vocals, but these tracks reveal themselves to be a cohesive and seamless vision even in their infancy; The vocal-free band demo for the title track reveals an even more urgent forward flow than the album cut, with drops of synth gently shimmering in an ocean of flanged-out bass. “Esten,” a previously unissued demo of a never-before-released song (of which there are 4 here), is a bit more lively and feral than its siblings that eventually found a home on the album, perhaps a bit more like their 'willfully poppy' tracks from the Head on the Door-era. The absolute stand-out from the Rarities disc, however, is a solo home demo by Smith covering Wendy Waldman’s “Pirate Ships.” It is a gorgeous lilting sea shanty-like lullaby with ocean sound effects, harmonium and a lovely understated vocal from Smith. With the refrain of “Far away/Far away child,” the track could be culled from one of the several rumored-but-never-surfaced children’s albums Smith has allegedly recorded.
Although I’ve never been to Kyrgyzstan I’ve long wanted to go there. I initially became interested in the Central Asian region due primarily to its sheer obscurity relative to the rest of the continent. When you take an Asian Civ class, you're unlikely to find Tajikistan on the course syllabus.
Ten years ago, when Napster made it possible to expose oneself to music otherwise outside one’s reach, in addition to searching for digitized wax cylinders, I used to often type the names of Central Asian countries and see what treasures I could find. The music of Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan proved very appealing to me but nothing from the region resonates with me more than Kyrgyz music. To my unschooled ears, there’s a musical echo of every people that passed along the silk trail and many of the nation's neighbors. I hear similarities with Turkmen, Kazakh, Mongolian, Russian and European Renaissance music… and even the shamanistic music of some Native Americans, whose ancestors inhabited Central and North Asia thousands of years ago.
At a minute past midnight last night/early this morning (June 16th) in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and other cities with large Chinese and other East Asian & Southeast Asian communities, people gathered to celebrate the beginning of the holiday known to most Stateside as Dragon Boat Festival. The 2,000 year old Duanwu Festival (端午節), as it is more officially known, is also called Duānwǔ Jié (Mandarin) and Tuen Ng Jit (Cantonese). It is an official holiday in China but is also recognized in such other countries as Malaysia and Singapore and (to a lesser degree) here in the US.
Numerically based, the Dragon Boat Festival takes place on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar on which the Chinese calendar is based. The festival commemorates the patriotic poet Qu Yuan (340-278 BC), who is pictured above, but today's holiday also serves as an opportunity for people to build their bodies and dispel diseases, as well as keep natural disasters away. Much of the Dragon Boat Festival Day celebrations involve food and beverages: specifically, sharing red-bean filled zongzi (rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo) with some wine. And as its name implies, there is also dragon boat racing as well as decorating houses with aromatic herbs. Today, in honor of the holiday, people carry small bags of dried fragrant herbs, and drink wine mixed with spice in an effort, as tradition has it, to keep poisonous insects at bay.
Wolfgang Voigt returns to stranj for his left-of-center Kompakt label offshoot, Profan. As GAS, Voigt composed ethereal, blue-hued, deep-forest metaphysical techno 'head music', but now under his own name he injects the dance floor with a dose of well tempered madness. If you like your techno birthed out of a slightly crooked disposition, thought provoking and borderline psychotic, please check this out.
Berlin's first lady of techno drops a solid release for 2010. Her trademark razor-sharp spooky production is complete with bleeps n bells, throbbing bass house, squidgy electro tech-pop, and even what could be taken as an homage to the Exorcist theme.
Ichisan and Nakova
Between them, duo Ichisan & Nakova have toured the cream of the new disco stables with releases on Nang, Eskimo and Airtight. They present their debut album together for Nang, collecting thirteen Balkan disco grooves spiked with sparkling spacewise synths, cosmic guitar licks and dubbed basslines for the connoisseurs. Fans of Lindstrom, Ilija Rudman or Todd Terje should have a peek.
Junk Science "Really, Man" video directed by John Ta (2010)
Everything about talented Brooklyn hip-hop duo Junk Science, who very recently released their third album A Miraculous Kind Of Machine, seems to relate back to New York City and also manages to create something new & innovative. Comprised of emcee Baje One and DJ/producer Snafu, Junk Science's last album, 2007's Gran'Dads Nerve Tonic on Embedded/Definitive Jux Records, involved them teaming up with their local Brooklyn brewery Sixpoint Craft Ales, who made a special limited edition promotional beer specifically for the rap duo. And for their latest album, released on Baje One's recently set up, Brooklyn based Modern Shark record label, they plan on releasing a series of limited edition toys to tie in with the label's output -- all made in the basement of Brooklyn emcee Tone Tank, whose next album will be released on Modern Shark in September. Meantime, the engrossing John Ta directed video (above) for the new Junk Science album track "Really, Man" reenacts the tragic interaction between one time famous NYC resident John Lennon and his deranged fan/killer Mark David Chapman. The clip was all filmed in New York City with an innovative and (happily) much less tragic spin on the outcome of that infamous meeting between artist and obsessed fan.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Crispian St. Peters, the 1960’s English pop star with a lilting, lyrical, tenor voice who passed away last week at the age of 71.
Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Orange County
OK, since the Los Angeles neighborhoods (click here to vote) and Los Angeles County communities (click here to vote) polls have gone down a right storm, I'm making a poll for Orange County communities and neighborhoods (conflated). After all, Orange County was just another part of Los Angeles County until March 11, 1889 when it became a separate entity.
Please vote here for as many as you'd like to see become the subject of a future blog entry. Thanks! Oh, and if I've forgotten any, kindly get at me. If'n yins 'r' rude yis'll get treated like a you-know-what.
The PBS documentary that aired earlier this year, Copyright Criminals, was all about sampling in hip-hop and other contemporary music forms. There was a wonderful segment in which they focused on James Brown's drummer Clyde Stubblefield, who got little or no credit for one of his most influential & sampled pieces. The Chattanooga, Tennessee- born funk drummer was a member of James Brown's band during some of the most exciting years and, as such, he was responsible for the drumming on such classic Brown recordings as "Cold Sweat," "Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud," "There Was A Time," "I Got The Feelin'," "Mother Popcorn," and "Ain't It Funky Now."
But it was Stubblefield's simple but funky and hypnotic drum pattern on the James Brown track "Funky Drummer" that would become the artist's greatest legacy, even though he didn't initially get the full credit for it. The song, which would go on to become the most sampled tracks in hip-hop music, was widely utilized by artists in the late 80's and early 90's (and beyond, too) who, generally speaking, did not give proper credit to the song's creators. In the documentary Stubblefield talks about the disappointment he felt for not getting credited for his work so many times. In fact even when the "Funky Drummer" was credited, it was typically James Brown who was given credit for the original, not Stubblefield. But as time goes on, more and more people know who the "funky drummer" is and give the man his props.
Artists that have sampled "Funky Drummer" include Public Enemy, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Ultramagnetic MCs, Beastie Boys, De La Soul, Gang Starr, Geto Boys, NWA, Eric B & Rakim, Ice Cube, The Pharcyde, Run DMC, Above The Law, and Biz Markie.
It’s an unfortunate reality that not everyone in the Universe can know Jaime Lefcovich. Those of us who do have the pleasure miss her awfully, as she has escaped the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave for the adventure of discovering Thailand, where she can master the art of ayurvedic medicine (which is not Thai in origin, but is what she’s practicing there) while eating all the เนื้อผัดพริก she can fit into her purdy mouth.
There has been much talk about 10 Ragas to a Disco Beat! People have been debating whether Charanjit Singh’s 1982 release predated Acid House or was influenced by it. There was also talk that perhaps it was a modern group posing as “obscure” Indian artist. (Aphex Twin was rumored to be behind this.) The worst thing I read was from a guy who couldn’t possibly understand how someone from India could possibly could get all those synthesizers and drum machines that he used to create this album. I can answer that: It was simple, he was a successful musician and he bought them…and yes, India has electricity, too!
These are the same arguments the imperialist mindset tends to have about indigenous people -- for instance, the argument that intelligent beings from another planet must have created the pyramids because indigenous people couldn’t possibly done it on their own. The truth is that Indian musicians have always been some of the best musicians and most complex composers. They deal with time signatures, scales and overall talent that the Western world cannot comprehend, so the fact that 10 Ragas To A Disco Beat predates some important firsts in the electronic music world does not surprise me one bit.
Much of what appears on this album are Indian Ragas set to Giorgio Moroder inspired arpeggiated synth lines with the same primitive drum programming that was the norm at the time. Again, one can argue that India’s pop world was behind the West, but perhaps because the Western world is so quick to abandon any musical movement for the next big thing. The disco sounds of Moroder might have exploded on a baseball field in Detroit back in 1979, but to the rest of the world his importance was still being felt. Even Brits such as Duran Duran and The Human League, who in 1981 were considered cutting edge, were still worshiping at the altar of Moroder.
Is not the ultimate American paranoiac fantasy that of an individual living in a small idyllic Californian city, a consumerist paradise, who suddenly starts to suspect that the world he lives in is a fake, a spectacle staged to convince him that he lives in a real world, while all people around him are effectively actors and extras in a gigantic show? [...] Th[e] final shot of The Truman Show may seem to enact the liberating experience of breaking out from the ideological suture of the enclosed universe into its outside, invisible from the ideological inside. However, what if it is precisely this "happy" denouement of the film [...], with the hero breaking out and, as we are led to believe, soon to join his true love (so that we have again the formula of the production of the couple!), that is ideology at its purest? What if ideology resides in the very belief that, outside the closure of the finite universe, there is some "true reality" to be entered?
The only interpretation I've come across so far of Lost's ending in that church with Christian opening the doors to white light (why never neon violet?) is that the whole sideways timeline (ST) is a purgatory where all the characters are reunited (having died at various times in the original timeline, OT). Passing through those doors, they'll go on to discover the meaning of it all, reality ground zero. Chief apologist Doc Jensen's reading goes something like that: "the castaways moved into the ''afterlife,'' which I have called 'heaven,' [... b]ut upon reflection, [... m]ost likely, the castaways returned to the Source, the hub of life, death, and rebirth, and their energy was recycled back into creation." Contrariwise, I suggest another possibility, that the island functions like Bugs Bunny sitting at the drawing board, constantly manipulating poor Daffy Duck's environment with a pencil and eraser (thus the white light is nothing more than blank paper). As it is with the cocksure rabbit, Jacob's ability to create arbitrary rules for reality ultimately rests on the unknowable fiat of some other creator, opening a potentially infinite regress of stinkers. What this entails is that Jack's sacrifice wasn't grounded -- wasn't guaranteed significance -- through transcendent means as the other interpretation would have it. Instead, if his martyrdom has meaning, it's because of the material effects on his reality, the OT, what's constituted by his relation to the other characters involved in the Gordian plot of the first five seasons.
This past week would have been Hazel Scott’s 90th birthday. She’s probably not as well known today as she was in her lifetime, which is a shame, because Hazel Scott was not only a brilliant and audacious pianist but a woman who spent most of her life bucking the system.
In the late 1930’s, she appeared on Broadway in the musical Singing Out the News, followed by Priorities of 1942. In 1943 Hollywood came knocking, and she appeared in the several films over the next few years including Something to Shout About, Tropicana, The Heat’s On, Broadway Rhythm and Rhapsody in Blue.
1) Lil Jon Crunk Rock (Lil Jon/Universal Republic)
2) Yukmouth Free At Last (Smoke-A-Lot)
3) Plies Goon Affiliated (Atlantic/Slip N' Slide)
4) Chali 2Nal Fish Market (One Records)
5) Tie between two titles:
Nas + Damian Marley Distant Relatives (Republic Univesal)
Reflection Eternal Revolutions Per Minute (Blacksmith/Rawkus/Warner Brothers)
After being absent from the spotlight for what seems like an eternity, Lil Jon is back with a bang! The rapper/producer and King of Crunk is known for his shouts of "OK" and "YEAH!" (something that comic Dave Chappelle had so much fun imitating back around the time period he released his last album, six years ago). He was omnipresent at the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors The Dirty South broadcast earlier this week and his new album, Crunk Rock, released through Universal Republic on Tuesday, shot to number one on the latest Amoeba Music HIp-Hop Top Five Chart, and no doubt on other charts too.
On Saturday, June 5th, grooves from every part of the world came to Amoeba Music and People's Park for the Berkeley World Music Festival! Amoeba was everywhere at the festival, sponsoring the main stage in Peoples Park, setting up a booth on Haste St. with product, prizes and freebies, and having San Francisco's Afrofunk Experience (featuring ) play an amazing set inside the Berkeley store itself. Check out some pictures from the day's festivities below!
He was named after Chester A. Arthur, the 21st President of the United States, and as a kid Chester Arthur Burnett was nicknamed Big Foot Chester or Bull Cow as he grew to stand 6 feet, 6 inches tall and weigh in close to 300 pounds. That was a big man. But we know him as Howlin' Wolf, legendary and incredibly influential blues singer, guitarist, harmonica player and composer, whose songs are as standard today as anything written by Gershwin, Porter, Rodgers and Hart, Carmichael, Leiber and Stoller or McCartney and Lennon. Howlin' Wolf’s compositions include “Killing Floor,” “Sitting on Top of the World,” “Who's Been Talking?,” “Moanin’ at Midnight,” and “Smokestack Lightnin'.”
In support of their just released debut album, The Upside (One League), this Bay Area group, comprised of Goodword, D-Wiz, and DJ Johnny Venetti, are performing both tonight (Thursday, June 10th) at Element Lounge in San Francisco and tomorrow for free at 6pm at Amoeba Music Berkeley.
Earlier today I caught up with emcee Goodword of the crew to ask him if he felt that BPos was a kind of reaction to aforementioned negativity so dominant in hip-hop these days? "It's more a reaction to all the negativity in the world," he replied. "It started as a way to keep us, as individuals, grounded and focused on a goal. You know, speaking for myself, every time I see the name it reminds me of what we set out to accomplish and that acts as a guideline for me in my life outside of hip-hop. It's like no matter how much negative shit is going on around me in my everyday life, BPos reminds me that there is always something positive to take from every situation."
Front 242 Tyranny >For You<
Ten years after the group’s genesis, Front 242 released their most commercially successful album with their 1991 major-label debut, Tyranny >For You<. Though not as solid as the band’s 1988 essential Front by Front , Tyranny is a relentless and charged slab full of EBM bangers including “Moldavia,” “Tyranny (for You),” and the club hit “Rhythm of Time, “ which some may recall from a memorable scene in the 1992 camp classic film Single White Female. The album has surprisingly aged very well and sounds pretty damn great nearly 20 years later -- the slow-burn “Sacrifice,” the minimal pulse and melodic sway of “Soul Manager,” or the chaotic blasts of hidden track “Untitled” (there are 3 unlisted ‘hidden’ tracks here –every bit as intense as the rest of the album). Listening to this album now, really makes me wish some youngins would mine these sounds again. Tyranny >For You< is currently out of print on CD but Amoeba Music Hollywood has it in stock used for just $4.99!*
Nearly one year employment
Miss Ess: What's the first music you remember hearing when you were a kid?
Cas: That's tough, mainly because my head is kind of flooded with musical memories, so much so that it's hard to tell where it all started. Both of my parents are music lovers so there was usually some kind of song being played or sung around the house. I've inherited my mom's habit of playing music in the morning to get myself going. She usually played some kind of contemporary R&B music and the occasional gospel album. My dad was in a singing group that performed around New Orleans in the late 70's and early 80's. When the guys in the group weren't having practices at our house, my dad was usually going around singing songs by artists they were influenced by: The Temptations, Luther Vandross, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes. I used to think my dad was Teddy Pendergrass.
The problem with having an all inclusive tag like the "Dirty South" prominently featured in the title of a big television tribute production such as the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors The Dirty South, that premiered on the music television network two nights ago & is viewable in full on VH1.com, is that by definition certain expectations accompany such a title. One would expect a "Dirty South" honors show to recognize and represent certain key Dirty South entities such as the successful, influential Cash Money Records and its high profile star Lil Wayne. However, neither the artist nor his label were included in the night's honors. Nor were such other prominent Dirty South acts as Three 6 Mafia or Young Jeezy, to name but two most important contributors to the regional rap sub-genre. Meanwhile, both OutKast and Goodie Mob were recognized (barely), but could have been celebrated a whole lot more.
Of course, I am being picky and, perhaps unrealistic, since there is no way that a mere two-hour TV show, even one the scale of the well choreographed annual VH1 live concert presentation, could possibly include every Dirty South entity. But that's too bad, because otherwise this year's VH1 Hip-Hop Honors The Dirty South, the seventh in the annual event, was truly a top notch production as awards shows go -- especially for rap music awards, which are historically prone to such negatives as awful sounding live performances and outbreaks of violence. Nothing like that marred this fun, extremely well-paced, excellently executed, nicely mixed & highly entertaining event. Yeah, sure, there were a couple of off moments, like the beginning of the 2 Live Crew's set, which was not quite on beat, or Keri Hilson's cameo, which instantly proved that her voice does not match her good looks. But those were just a couple of hiccups in otherwise stellar rap show.
Silver Lake is a hilly neighborhood in LA’s Mideast Side. To vote for more Los Angeles neighborhoods to be featured in a future post, click here. To vote for LA County communities, click here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.
INTRODUCTION TO SL
First things first… Silver Lake is two words! Don't believe me? Count 'em! There are fifteen Silver Lakes in the US, thirteen of which are two words (one of the offenders is in Texas, and therefore doesn't really count). It is supposedly the second gayest place in the Southland, after West Hollywood and in front of Broadway Corridor.
Scared comes from the dark, eerie place that is the mind of Johannes Auvinen, better known as Tin Man. Veering away from the pop sensibility of his last offering, Cool Wave, and diving into the murky depths of a dark abyss, Scared features Auvinen's unique soporific voice posing questions which are as deep as the music he makes.
At last week's opening of In Other People's Skins (IOPS), the unique, hands-on moving images art exhibit at the cathedral of St John Divine in uptown Manhattan, one attendee found himself sub-consciously reaching out to scoop up a spoonful of food from a virtual bowl of rice and veggies. Of course, there was no actual food as he sat at this lively but deceptively surreal dinner party with a dozen other chatty guests! They all appeared seated around the intimate candlelit wooden dinner table as an overhead film projector (with sounds too) flashed filmed images of hands reaching out for food with chopsticks or spoons & forks in hand, all apparently eating a tasty meal, or rather, one of five meals.
"I shot five different dinner parties from above and I projected those five different dinner parties down onto a table the same size as the original dinner parties' table," IOPS' creator Terry Flaxton told me afterward. "And the intention is that people come in and sit and they touch the art because in modern art you are not allowed to touch, so one of the most important things to me is that people get to touch the art. The irony of it is that it is a completely virtual installation, so you can't touch it but it plays with the virtual and the real."
It somehow seems so fitting that just a few weeks ago, Graham's daughter Nile Nash, along with founder and director of all things (((folkYEAH!))), Britt Govea, released Be Yourself: A Tribute to Graham Nash's Songs for Beginners on the always amazing Grass Roots Record Company. The record features covers by Alela Diane, Vetiver, Brendon Benson (Raconteurs), Sleepy Sun, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Mariee Sioux & Greg Weeks (Espers), Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes) and more! You can hear samplings of tracks from the beautiful album below:
Britt was kind enough to answer my questions about the release and how it all came together. Check out the interview below!
1) Nas + Damian Marley Distant Relatives (Republic)
2) Reflection Eternal Revolutions Per Minute (Blacksmith/Rawkus/Warner Brothers)
3) Madlib Madlib Medicine Show #5-History of the Loop Digga-1990-2000 (Stones Throw)
4) Andre Nickatina Khan! The Me Generation (I-Khan Dist)
5) Devin The Dude Suite 420 (Koch)
Thanks to Inti at the Berkeley Amoeba Music store for this week's Weekly Hip-Hop Top Five Chart. It picks up where last week's San Francisco Amoeba chart left off, with continued Amoeba love being shown for LA producer extraordinaire Madlib and his ongoing twelve-part Medicine Show series, the hip-hop super-duo Reflection Eternal (producer Hi-Tek and emcee Talib Kweli), who had a memorable instore performance at Amoeba San Francisco May 24th, and the ground-breaking new Distant Relatives project, which is number one for the second straight week on the Amoeba hip-hop charts. Packed with an uplifting message of empowerment and clearly a work of activism through music, the son of Bob Marley, Jamaica's Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, and the son of jazz musician Olu Dara Jones and hip-hop icon in his own right, Nas, join creative forces with pitch perfect results. Distant Relatives, which can be bought online from Amoeba at a reduced cost, is a reggae meets hip-hop album that never sounds forced. A project that undoubtedly will be raved about for a some time to come, Distant Relatives tackles pertinent issues about the continent of Africa. What is most impressive, though, is that the two artists manage to do so in a forcefully coherent but never overbearing way.
Our June schedule is available online:
Friday, June 4
Stallone Triple Feature! All Tickets $10
One ticket admits you to all three films.
1986, USA, 87 minutes
35mm print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive
dir. George P. Cosmatos, starring Sylvester Stallone, Brigitte Nielsen, Reni Santoni, Andrew Robinson, Brian Thompson
7:30, Watch The Trailer!
“Chillwave” in 2010 is as embarassing a genre tag as “Shoegaze” or “Grunge” was in 1991. It sounds more like a vile blue-colored slushy drink from a convenience store than a musical genre. I feel bad for the contemporary Dream Pop bands that have to endure being cast as such. Chillwave is the new Nu-Rave, i.e., nothing more than loosely similar bands being forced into corners by lazy bedroom bloggers. While many young bands, as of late, have been heavily borrowing sonic textures, recording aesthetics, and ideas from those bleary bands of the late ‘80’s and early 90’s, Virginia’s one-man band of Jack Tatum, aka Wild Nothing, has succeeded in making a record that pings the right amount of lilting and forlorn nostalgia via its familiar Dream Pop haze yet is complex enough not to fatigue attentive ears. Gemini, released this week, has all the shimmer of early Cocteau Twins, the bounce of mid-era Cure, and the rough charm of a C86-era mixtape. This is the sort of record I wish Beach House would make.
Gemini’s success as a great Dream Pop album is also highlighted by what it is lacking. Tatum avoids the cloying cutsey tweeness of last year’s retro-darlings The Pains of Being Pure At Heart and instead delivers a breezy melancholy. Sincerity is a breath of fresh air here as well -- while essentially postmodern because of its pastiche, Gemini obviously springs from Tatum’s heart, carefully avoiding the irony so many young bands rely on and hide behind. On the slow-crawl of “Pessimist,” Tatum wears it on his sleeve with the line “Boys Don’t Cry/They Just Die” without a hint of a grin. However, the album is never oppressive or dreary, even when Tatum is bummed out; it truly is a great feat to make a record that plays perfectly on a summer drive to the beach or home alone on a rainy day.
The name of Frank Nitt’s just released six-song EP on Delicious Vinyl, Jewels In My Backpack, is more than simply some catchy throwaway title. Rather, it accurately sums up the new recording's sound -- one that melds the smooth glossy production of Terrace Martin (Snoop Dogg, Warren G, Talib Kweli, etc.) with the raw & gritty yet instantly engaging Mid West flow of the longtime Detroit emcee, who is known to most rap fans for his membership in Frank-n-Dank and his longtime affiliation with the late great J-Dilla.
"I'm considered a backpack emcee, a grimy, underground emcee, while Terrace Martin, he does records with Snoop and people like DJ Quik, his is a much bigger, shinier sound," said the artist, who was born Frank Bush. "So Terrace kinda represents the jewels while I represent the backpack -- Jewels In My Backpack."
In fact, that theme of juxtaposing opposite components but somehow making them effectively co-exist in one recording is what Jewels is all about. Hence, the EP song titled "H.A.T.E." is balanced out by another titled "L.O.V.E." "This whole record is all about balance," stresses Frank. "Like, I got a song called "Go Girl" which is about strong empowered women, but I also have a song called "Psychedelic Freaky Girls," which is about, I guess, the opposite of that. So this record is very balanced." It also has a nice balance of guest contributors, including J. Black, Problem, Bad Lucc, Kurupt, and DJ Quik.
When Juan Lennon and I started Anda two years ago, it was all about fun. We were two guys with an ever-growing vintage Salsa & Cumbia LP collection but with nowhere to play the records! Juan knew a spot called Mal’s Bar. I thought it was in downtown, but it turned out to be in the industrial part of town closer to the campus of USC. I admit, I had reservations about the location, but soon I came around. Mal’s is the last of the true neighborhood spots in Los Angeles. It is a throwback to bars that existed in L.A’s past, full of locals and native Angelinos. It doesn’t have valet parking or V.I.P. lounges. It lacks hipster credibility and it’s not the place to be if you want to be “seen.” It’s a neighborhood bar without pretensions. You drink, you dance, you meet people, you hook up (or don’t) and at Anda you get to hear dope Latin music from our residents DJ’s (Gazoooo, Mando Fever, Juan Lennon and myself) and either a band or guest DJ. It’s that simple. We have been blessed to present some of the best talent L.A. has to offer: La Santa Cecilia, Cava, Quinto Sol, DJ 8bits, Buyepongo, Wil-Dog Y Su Banda Juvenil, Rani D (Soul In The Park), Chico Sonido, Ganas (Mas Exitos), La Santa Maria, Reyes (Eclectica), Agua Dulce (actually from San Diego), Sloe Poke (Sonido/Descarga), Ervin Arana (Root Down), Concepto Tambor and, of course, Very Be Careful, who will be performing at our 2nd Anniversary show on Saturday, June 5th.
Until recently, Very Be Careful was the only Vallenato/Cumbia game in town. Now you have the young upstarts Buyepongo (who played our first Anda ever!), Mr.Vallenato (re-located from Texas) and new up and comers La Chamba, who play Peruvian Chicha music via East Los Angeles. VBC continues to the beat of their own drum. They have half a dozen albums out; they have played to audiences in Japan, Europe and South America and their audience stretches from immigrants to punkers, bike-riding hipsters, tias y moms, Ethnomusicologists, dancers and Soul & Hip-Hop heads. If you have lived in Los Angeles over the last dozen years or so, chances are you have seen these hooligans perform. Sometimes they play drunk or just plain wasted on god knows what, but they are always a good time. Most accordion based Cumbia groups seem to worship at the house of Andres Landero (which is cool, I can’t knock that), but VBC’s love for Alejo Duran shows in their songs, full of romanticism and wit, especially on their most recent release, Escape Room, out on Barbes Records. Tales of regret and heartache are mixed with some real Vallenato burners, as if Nick Cave and Lisandro Meza made a record together. But it’s their live show you have to experience. The sweaty dance floor, the drunkenness and the rawness that is Mal’s, Anda and Very Be Careful…a match made some where between heaven and hell, South and East Los Angeles.
When I went to see Sex and the City 2 this weekend, as a fan of the series, I was expecting the film to be a fun romp, reuniting me with the Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda, their significant gays and others, and including somewhere in there Samantha grotesquely throwing herself on some guy -- and that's exactly what I got! Bad reviews, be damned -- I enjoyed the heck out of myself watching the ladies and their over the top travels in Abu Dhabi! Plus, the gay wedding just may have been the gayest thing I have ever seen, and I am a proud resident of the Castro!
This show, and thus its subsequent movies, was never gonna be Schindler's List, people! This is Sex and the City! There's not a lot of heavy hitting drama...more like heavy hitting shots of World Cup soccer players in tiny swimwear and heavy on the Manolos too, with maybe some fairly superficial questions about the nature of love and relationships tossed in between. I liken watching any SATC to reading a trashy magazine like Cosmo. It's a bit of a guilty pleasure, a tad racy, and majorly frothy -- plus majorly fun to do once in a while for fairly mindless entertainment and a laugh!
The plot in SATC 2 is just as vapid as the show's were when it was on the air, except with the fabulosity factor upped: the women are sent on a sumptuous, all expenses paid vacation to Abu Dhabi and we are along for the twists and turns of the journey -- most of which involve masses of opulence, scantily clad men, gloriously impractical fashions, and gaping at burkas, with an ex fiance thrown in for good measure. SATC is nothing if not eye candy, and in that regard, the film delivered.
"With hip-hop they think you can only rap about horrible criminality and misogyny, or else rap about how you don't rap about that, when the truth is you can rap about anything. I have always loved making songs about stuff that people haven't made songs about," offered unique hip-hop artist Homeboy Sandman. Today marks the release of his new 14 track album The Good Sun, and tonight there will be a record release party/concert at S.O.B.'s in the New York City emcee's hometown.
"I like talking about a lot of different stuff that isn't always discussed in hip-hop all the time," said Homeboy Sandman, whose new album finds the ever observant MC tackling a wide variety of topics, ranging from homelessness to an entertaining piece on people (especially rappers) who go around all day wearing a mean mug as a mask. Through clever wordplay in the song "Mean Mug" he ponders why mean muggers go around looking so mean. He wonders if they mean mug at their jobs too, and, if so, how that has affected their promotion possibilities. He suggests that mean mugging might be directly correlated to the music on their iPod or their unhealthy fast food diet. "Peace, son, seems you need hugs. Seems you need love. Why you wanna mean mug me?" raps Homeboy Sandman on the brilliant & refreshingly insightful song. Meanwhile, on the album track "The Essence," he raps, "I ain't hiring no public relations or wardrobe / I'm too busy rapping for the regular Joe's / Than for keepin' up with the Joneses or watching the Dow Jones."
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