Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cussin' Obama-style

Barack Obama read his own Dreams from my Father for the audio edition of the book. One chapter talks about his high-school friend Ray, who liked to use some colorful language. April Winchell uploaded some snippets in which the President quotes his old school chum saying things like, "You ain't my bitch, nigga, buy your own damn fries!" Somehow Barack still sounds wholesome even when the words "sorry-ass motherfucker" come out of his mouth.
Listen here.

NYU kids play revolution

I'm all for affordable education, Palestinian rights, and totally against police brutality. But watching these schmucks barricade themselves in the NYU cafeteria and say that their adversaries "probably drink corporate water" (meant literally), I wanted to see the fascist pigs break out some tasers and wreck shop on these smug idiots.

I'm now ashamed to be a liberal with a MacBook.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Korean rock band covers J Dilla

No Trivia has an incredibly in-depth, track by track series on J Dilla's classic instrumental album Donuts up right now, and the post for "Time: Donut of the Heart" features this video of a heavy, arty Korean band called Bulssazo playing a beautiful, mellow cover of the track, which itself is based on a Jackson 5 song.

These guys are clearly big admirers of Dilla; their MySpace also features a cover (labeled "Shoegaze Remix") of the Jay Dee-produced Common hit "The Light." It starts out quite nicely with the band's vocalist singing the chorus, but it gets weird when they drop in an alternate version of Common's verse from the original song. In my opinion they would have been better off just leaving out the rap, but it's still interesting. This and "Time" remind me somehow of the Lost in Translation soundtrack. Shoegaze plus Asia, I guess.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I watched the Grammys and I liked it

I've really come around to contemporary pop music in the last year or so. Obviously it's not all good, and I still like a lot of weirdo stuff, but I've gotten to the point that I like a lot of radio hits, which would have been unthinkable in my punk days or even a couple years ago when I knew that REAL hip hop like Talib Kweli and Blackalicious was so much better than that commercial garbage. Take this as evidence: I'm watching the Grammys right now and enjoying most of it. The actual winners and nominees are mostly bullshit, so let's focus on the performances.

U2: Booo-ring! I was cooking in the other room.

Al Green: Let's Stay Together is really one of the greatest songs ever, and it sounds like the Rev's still got it. Justin Timberlake doesn't really add anything, but his singing is pretty good. With Keith Urban on guitar? And Boyz 2 Men on background vocals??? They're still together? I hadn't even noticed their vocals until JT pointed them out.

Coldplay: Chris Martin opens it solo on piano, then joined by Jay-Z who provides a decent verse, then the whole band appears and segues into Viva la Vida. The song has had diminishing returns for me, but this was a good performance. I dug the unusual drum kit and full-band harmonies at the end. Why in the name of all that is holy have Coldplay started dressing like that though? I described it to a friend as "Sgt. Pepper attacked by wild dogs" and then while accepting an award, Chris Martin himself refers to their look as a blatant rip-off of Sgt. Peppers.

Jonas Brothers: I had never actually heard these guys' music before. I hold an obvious bias because of promise rings and Disney, but this was really enjoyable. Oh it could be because they had STEVIE WONDER playing keys and singing with a TALKBOX. That was just for their own song, before they started playing SUPERSTITION! Screw it, these guys are awesome. Not to mention dreamy.

Mylee Cyrus and Taylor Swift: Another teen superstar I had never actually heard sing. I wasn't as impressed with her, is the country accent an affectation or does she really talk like that? Taylor Swift (only 19 herself) wrote the song, apparently. It's pretty good for what it is - I just can't get into country music. I hate the idea of holding genre-wide prejudices, but even "good" country just bugs me. Maybe I'm just racist against white people. Hence leaving out all the other country performances of this review. Ditto for American Idol-type crap like Jennifer Hudson.

Kid Rock: His hit song is pretty enjoyable, but I think it comes solely from the ripped off parts from Sweet Home Alabama and Werewolves of London. The other stuff is pretty bland. I don't really feel strongly about it one way or the other.

Blink-182 announces they've decided to get back together! I'm not too embarrassed to admit they were my favorite band when I was 15, but I'll probably never hear any new stuff they put out.

Katy Perry: This song is so obnoxious (especially with Craig Ferguson introducing it by reminding us how AWESOME lesbians are, brah) Having said that, I would smaaash!

There's a McDonald's commercial with little kids playing soccer that uses an Os Mutantes song. Weeeird.

Kanye West and Estelle: I got so hyped. I fucking love this jam, even though it was a truncated version. I expected them to go into one of Yeezy's solo joints. What's with his quasi-mullet? And her dress is bizarre, still think she's kinda hot though.

Kanye West, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, T.I.: I like Swagger Like Us more than most and this was an awesome live performance, with a good live band (prominent lead guitar especially stood out) and a hugely pregnant M.I.A. singing the chorus of Paper Planes that was sampled for this song. It's pretty awesome and unbelievable that she was nominated for Record of the Year (She didn't win, of course), but I would have liked to have seen her sing more than just "swagger like us/swagger swagger like us."

Sir Paul McCartney: How can you go wrong with Beatles classics like I Saw Her Standing There? Wait, that's it? I assumed this would be a medley. It was great, but kind of a random choice of one song to play. At least he didn't go for something maudlin like "Yesterday"...

Adele: My first time hearing this Chasing Pavement song. The girl can sing, but this kind of stuff really doesn't do anything for me.

Radiohead! With the USC marching band! Just like Fleetwood Mac's Tusk! 15 Step was a good choice for this setup, but there was something anticlimactic about it. They need to give these bands more time; all the songs are cut down to like 2 minutes. And was it just Thom and Johnny there? Surely the other guys could have done something. Still, it's nice to see the actual best album of last year -that'd be In Rainbows- nominated for Album of the Year.

T.I. and Justin Timberlake: These guys both get to perform twice, huh? I like this song, not much to say about it. It's no My Love.

The legendary Smokey Robinson introduces the Four Tops, who are down to only 1 or 2 Tops with the passing of lead vocalist Levi Stubbs, then joins them onstage along with Jamie Foxx and Ne-Yo. Even Paul McCartney is impressed.

Lil Wayne: going the serious route (sans his Serious Glasses) and doing his subdued N'awlans tribute Tie My Hands with Robin Thicke. Thank God he dodn't do one of his new "rock" songs. At the end of the song an old guy busted out a piano solo and a horn section came marching out. Then Tha Carter III won best album and Weezy's family including his "daddy" Baby piled on stage. Oh, Weezy.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: I think this is the song Plant said he wrote with Jimmy Page post-Zeppelin. I like the arrangement: just stripped down drums, upright bass, an acoustic-electric and an electric. Song of the Year might be pushing it. Wow, they won Album too.

And Stevie comes back to play us out. Welp, see ya later.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lindstrøm live in San Francisco

I saw people taping at the amazing Lindstrom party (show) I went to at Paradise Lounge last Saturday, so I'm glad they made it onto YouTube. Sound quality is good, but they're chopped rather inconveniently into 11 parts; here's the first:

On part 3, the sound goes out at 2:00, I'd recommend skipping to part 4 from there.
The light show was incredible but there was a smoke machine suspended from the ceiling that was leaking hot oil on people. Some wasted guy wanted to fight my friend because he thought he had burned him with a cigarette. My friend's response to calm the guy down: "I'm not smoking! I have a joint, though, if you want we could smoke it."

El Guincho live: "Club de Rusia"

This new track recorded live in NYC is on the more uptempo side of El Guincho's trance-inducing tropical formula, with metallic keyboard flourishes and an almost reggaeton groove. He's joined here on percussion and backing vox by Aleix Clavera of Extraperlo who looks like a character from an 80s John Hughes movie. Ahhh, Spain. Excuse me, Catalunya.
(via Pitchfork)

Here's "Verbena de los Delfines," a 'cover' of Guincho's other band, Coconut.

I'm listening to the Extraperlo tracks on their Myspace and I really dig them, but the vocals are like weirdly flat and restrained. I could see myself really liking them with a little time.