Friday, April 29, 2011

Madlib-The Unseen (as Quasimoto)

I feel like I should smoke a blunt while I write this.

Initially, Madlib was best known as a beatsmith with a library of vinyl that he studied intimately, using it with great love and affection to throw together awesome jazz-inflected boombap or absurdist introductions, filled with dialogue taken from blaxploitation and classic comedic acts. Between mainstream releases, he perpetually puts out mixtapes, such as Blunted in the Bombshelter and his Medicine Show series, instrumental jazz, and collaborations with many of his close industry friends, like the classic Champion Sound, a team-up between Mablib and J. Dilla (RIP). Safe to say: dude is a fiend, prolific beyond belief. That said, one of his most loved records is The Unseen, an album dedicated to his blunt-smuggling Anteater alter-ego, Quasimato, the helium-voiced anti-hero first heard on the Lootpack track, Answers.

The first two tracks introduce us to a raw rap dystopia, welcoming us to violence before the Bad Character jumps in over chill as hell music and vocal samples darting in and out over rhymes about stabbing [fools] in the chest with pitchforks. The voice of Lord Quas turns some people off immediately, which I understand, but in a way it's a necessary tool used to express certain ideas and contradictions as Lord Quas continually attacks detractors for "phoniness" over the course of the album. Madlib appears as himself on many tracks with his conversational flow, sometimes acting as rational counterpoint, other times just showing up to school record clerks on the illest breakbeats.

But that voice. Like Joanna Newsom or Bjork, there's incredible skill in the composition and arrangement throughout, but when some people hear that voice they just cringe. It's a major problem, but it grows on you and soon you're accustomed to hearing him talk to Madlib about things like M.H.B.'s and their favorite Jazz Cats.

His jam Come On Feet arrives at track ten, as Quas tries to command his feet to help him escape an untimely fate after nine tracks of various misdeeds, segueing into some seriously crazy production. The great Melvin Van Peebles lends his voice (in sample form) with the classic line:

Come on feet, do your thing/
Cruise for me/
Trouble ain't no place to be

I'm not sure who did this claymation video for the song, but apparently it was official?

Thanks for the madness, Lord Quas.

The Kids in the Hall-Fag!

This is one of the funniest things ive ever seen. Ive been rewatching kids in the hall since it came up on netflix instant, and somewhere in season 2 (i believe), this short skit acts as the cold open. Its scott thompson being so comfortable dealing with homosexuality in pop culture, and in the early 90s as well, soon after the HIV scare, and during a crucial point in the evolution of including gay culture in our mainstream society.

The music is key for the skit; and also, the use of the music-stopping record scratch sound is shown in its most classic form. It begins with the most happy-go-lucky nonsense; changes styles as the character does, and then the realization comes that "hey, im not the fag, youre the fag", and it closes with that super happy intro song.

Yo La Tengo - I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One

This should not be a name unfamiliar to anyone. Yo La Tengo is certainly one of the most consistent Indie Rock groups of our time and has been together practically since indie rocks inception.  They are however their own group but with a sound that is nothing short of instantly accessible. With so many releases its hard to find a place to start.  I can safely say that any interested parties should pay attention to their 1997 album " I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One".  The slow burners here are crushing and the more distorted songs (featuring even a couple covers) mange to display some sort of impressive melancholic nature that are just as good. I have listened to many of their releases and I always come back to this one in particular.

I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mouth to Mouth to Mouth - MTMTM EP

Wanted to take a second and highlight an excellent release from a group that is from Ithaca NY.  Mouth to Mouth to Mouth is relatively new on the scene. They have a very exciting blend of math rock that we at the swords know is king around here. Chock full of complex drums and sprightly guitars.  The addition of vocals is a very excellent touch for these guys and really adds an extra layer of depth.

Please if your in the area check these gents playing at the always fun Big Day In on May 7th presented by Ithaca Underground at the Haunt. There are tons of other awesome bands on the bill, do yourself a favor.


PS Sincerely L o v e  the handclaps boys. A quick and speedy way to my heart. (not to mention the breakdown after)

Rapider Than Horsepower - Stage Fright Stage Fright/ This is My Big Night EP

A band without proper peers. I like where this is going already. Now in actuality Rapider than Horsepower spend their day jobs in the sludgy spazz core punk group Racebannon (  Worth a very long listen as well)  Somehow it turns out that they are also masquerading as a spazz indie pop group. Pretty inventive guitar licks if you ask me that split their time between trying to sound cute (and failing in an awesome way) or some sort of junior hardcore that also lacks proper bite. Vocally its very nasally but so all over the place its incredible. Lyrical content finds time to jump from dating caterpillars, having ice cream or ode's to boom boxes.  Somehow though it proves to be emotional as well which is impressive. This is just one of those things that you really cant pin down till you've spent some time with it, but i promise its not something that anyone should miss. These two EP's are some of the best the group has released.

Stage Fright Stage Fright EP

This is My Big Night EP

Talking Heads-Genius of Love/Girlfriend is Better

Ok, im going to go into a bit of a history lesson on Talking Heads (as i warned i might), because its great and quite amazing that they put together a concert and showcased these two songs, Genius of Love by the Tom Tom Club, and Girlfriend is Better by Talking Heads, back to back.

Talking Heads are one of the only 80s bands i know very well. They cruised into the scene at the end of disco and provided a strange kind of dance pop that fit the mainstream criteria, and garnered this strangely great success, and in doing so time and funding, to let them grow in really incredible ways. They were the most unique and adventurous band of the late 70s, and by 1984 they were selling out auditoriums with their, by that point, gigantic live electronic dance sound. Stop Making Sense was a retrospective concert they recorded with Jonathan Demme at the camera, and the actual show was a performance unto itself. They begin with an empty stage in shambles, and david byrne approaches with a boom box and an acoustic guitar, says "i got a tape i want to play you", and busts into THE best version of their very first single, Psycho Killer.

As the show progressed, the 3 other main band members are introduced in each of the next three songs, and it moves forward to include the rest of the then 9 piece band. They take a quick intermission after the first song with the entire band, and come back with Making Flippy Floppy. Love when those lights go on the band for the first time. So nice to see them all there.

Heres where the inner band history begins: at the time of the concert, bassist tina weymouth and drummer chris franz were in a relationship, and had formed The Tom Tom Club outside of talking heads; struck gold with their status and the awesomeness that is Genius of Love:

It is bubblegum awesomeness about being in love with your boyfriend. Nice song for a couple to write together; but before all of this Tom Tom Club action, david byrne and tina had also been involved romantically; im not sure to the extent of their relationship, but she went with chris franz over byrne. The fact that it was performed at this concert- as The Tom Tom Club WITHOUT david byrne- is a heartbreaking marvel to me. Having the strength to make music with these people after something like that happens within the group shows how deep the roots of their relationship as a band went. It still seems like a knife in the back to me; but oh snap, thats not all.

Immediately after Genius of Love ends in the concert, the full band comes out, and david byrne enters the stage in the iconic Big Suit:

It is a track off Speaking in Tongues, the album they were then touring to promote when Stop Making Sense was filmed, and it completely is david byrnes personal, incredibly musical, "fuck you" to the two of tina and chris.

"I've got a girlfriend thats better than that/
She has the smoke in her eyes/
Shes moving up, going right through my heart/
Shes gonna give me surprise"

Not to mention the choreography of all the big suit dancing. Just a great moment in an epic concert with the best quality audio recording of its time.

stop making sense

Stan Getz & João Gilberto - Getz/Gilberto

Its hard to rightfully say what this album has meant to me in my life. Or that sensation I received when I heard it for the first time. Like meeting someone for the first time know you've met somewhere before but you cant place them. Not only that but you have the overwhelming feeling that your already great friends. This is what it means to me.
I understand this was not the beginning of Bossa Nova as a genre. As by the this was released in 63 Bossa  Nova had already a glut of contenders. This was a synthesis of efforts by some of the greatest players of their respective genre's. It matters not what you enjoy this is the sound of calm night descending upon your heart. I urge each and everyone to not be enchanted by this important and astounding release.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

metaghostin' vol. 4 - Diabolica en Tensione

Diabolica en Tensione - 49'31"
I had some words that were supposed to preface this, but I can't remember them.

Just let yr hair down.

1. "Everything's Ruined" - Faith No More / Angel Dust (1992)

I was digging up my FNM albums, trying to remember what Mike Patton sounded like before he got obsessed with making annoying noises.

2. "Knots" - Gentle Giant / Octopus (1974)

One of those mid-70's Prog groups, somewhat unique in their emphasis on clever vocal arrangements and loosely Medieval song structures, like an old-fashioned Extra Life for the Beach Boy in all of us. Peep that stereo-field Xylophone solo.

3. "Another Way Out" - Far / Water & Solutions (1998)

Late-90's Emo carelessly pushed aside amidst a deluge of shitty rap-metal. Very clean (almost sterile) production makes it a bit less endearing compared to similar acts of that era, but Jonah Matranga (spelling?) has always been a solid heart-on-my-sleeves lyricist.

4. "Brotherhood of the Harvest" - Comets on Fire / Blue Cathedral (2004)

Stoned-out shredding. Love the reverse-reverb slathered all over that lead.

5. "Hunters of the Sky" - Mastodon / Blood Mountain (2006)

Son of Stoned-Out Shredding.

6. "Moments Escape" - Convocation of... / Convocation of... (200X)

I don't know why I haven't talked more about these guys, but after Acey and Ninko were frothing about the Refused, I was trying to give Ninko a brief education in DC Hardcore which lead to a discussion of one our mutual guitar heroes, Tonie Joy. Tonie's been around for years and years, presumably a little crazy. Here supported by future Entrance, Guy Blakeslee, and goddamn George France, who kinda plays like toe's Takashi Kashikura but with obviously stronger desire to rock the fuck out. Just gnarly stuff and Tonie regularly spits the best rock aphorisms like:

"Crossed the road to find / only the other side"

7. "Providence" - King Crimson / The Great Deceiver (????)

Some may know this piece of improv from its appearance on the Crimson's much lauded Red (1975), but this is the full take pulled from the recently remastered live anthology The Great Deceiver. Bill Bruford and John Wetton are one of rock's sickest rhythm sections. So tight.

8. "In the Absence of Strong Evidence..." - Don Caballero / What Burns Never Returns (1998)

Math-Rock superheroes. I remember the first time I heard this record, some time in high school, and feeling like it was pulling my brain apart. Took me a good year to adjust to that sensation of polymetric focus.

9. "Satori (pt. 5) - Flower Traveling Band / Satori (1979)

These dudes really liked Black Sabbath. But they're Japanese. So, you know, something got a little fucked in Translation.

10. "Integral" - Cynic / Re-Traced (2010)

For a while, I avoided picking this up because I had read such terrible reviews, a million fans despairing over its refusal to abide by their expectations. Then I came to my senses and remembered I don't like Cynic because of how "metal" they are, but because I think they make ridiculously great music. All of these re-imaginings are impeccable.

Tenacious D- Owen O'learys WEDNESDAY!

So this wednesday, my pal Shaun (baking the cake in that Organ Beats video) and i will be going down to our neighborhood Owen O'Learys in southboro to play a set of our badass Tenacious D covers. We've been playing them forever; its been a few months since we've preformed them as a set, but its going to be fun. Keith, Vince and Ananda have been kind enough to let us cut in on some of their acoustic gig, and sometime between 9 and 10 pm we should be getting our D on. Heres one of my favorites, from their HBO show:

owen o'learys

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tears for Fears-Head Over Heels

Ananda was right; she posted this as a response on my initial Tears for Fears post through the facebook group page. I had stopped at home after work, making a deal to leave early on Easter Sunday to arrive at 2 to my family party instead of 3:30 in exchange for shrimp, and when i was changing before preparing the shrimp for travel, i checked our facebook and blog and ananda had responded, saying "yeah everybody wants to rule the word is sweet, but Head over Heels is my song". I flipped to it in my iPod when i got to my car to leave for the shrimp delivery, and immediately recognized it was that-awesome-song-from-Donnie-Darko. Hell yeah this is the jam, and i was right; i knew i would be hearing songs again and saying "aw shit, so THIS is tears for fears!"


Austin's very own electronic duo Zorch are an exciting new prospect on the scene. Most live electronic music will find you wiping tears of boredom from your eyes in my opinion. How many times have you been to a show and watched someone click a mouse on their laptop? Well breath the air of honest to god live drums and keyboards.  Sure they also use a laptop as well but its minimal at best. Sound wise these guys clearly enjoy some mathy noise much more experimental fair. Sorry no club bangers here.