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Jan 262010
Zombie Dirty

Zombie Dirty

Ol’ Dirty Bastard pulls a Tupac to join Ludacris and The Black Keys for “Coochie.” If there’s one thing to bring a dude back from the dead, that’s probably it. “Coochie” is from Blakroc, the collaboration of The Black Keys and about a dozen of the best rapper’s in the business (Q-Tip, RZA, Mos Def, etc.) along with producer Damon Dash. The actual origin of the raps by Ludacris and ODB seem to be from Luda’s Pre-Release Therapy mixtape and just set to blues rock riffs of The Keys.
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Jan 222010

yachtI heard their other song “In Love with a Ripper” ad nauseam on Sirius XMU and it kind of irritated me, but their sound was interesting enough for me to check them out at last year’s Anti*Pop Festival. They are a guy and girl vocal duo from Portland with avant guard, Talking Heads-like dance routines that accompany their lap-top, indie pop. “Psychic City” is a really crazy and fun song, perfect for the weekend.

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Jan 212010

blakrocNot since the Judgment Night soundtrack has rock and rap got along so famously. Ha ha, no really, the Blakroc album is solid. This project is the brainchild of bluesy garage rockers, The Black Keys and producer Damon Dash. Together they enlist some hip hop heavyweights to bring a snazzy array of rap tunes with a unique delivery: Raekwon, RZA, Pharoahe Monch, Ludacris, Q-Tip, Mos Def, and even Ol’ Dirty Bastard rises from the dead for a posthumous recording.

Along with the rest of the world, Dash became huge fans of The Black Keys and sought to work with them. Their collaboration along with the all-star hip hop cast creates a dark, edgy, and rough feeling recording. Pharoahe Monch and RZA get together on “Dollaz & Sense” where the organic rock instruments blend with hip hop elements and the musical changes add depth and texture to what would otherwise be just another rap.

‘Why can’t I forget him” features the neo-soul sounds of Nicole Wray in a song reminiscent of Morcheeba’s electro-soul grooves. The album leads off with a favorite rap (and male) topic, “Coochie.” Wu Tang’s ODB pulls a Tupac to rap with Ludacris on this hardcore track. ODB’s rap on this song is a carry over from Ludacris’ Pre-release Therapy Mixtape and applied to the Key’s backing music. Mos Def brings a lazy mush-mouth style to the chill “On the Vista.” and RZA’s dark “Tellin’ me Things” is one of the stronger tracks.

Being a fan of rock, it’s nice to hear raw guitar elements layered throughout to take the place of loops and other electronic gear. A big, fat bass drum sound melding with a 4-string bass creates solid rhythm and that danceable impact regular hip hop possesses. The assembly of true hip hop talent and The Black Keys raw, bluesy, garage sound come together in a well-rounded package.

Originally appeared on REAX Online, January 21, 2010

Jan 202010

up-1Smashing_Pumpkins_Play_Sydney_zpX_k1q_wP8lLGThe second release from Billy Corgan’s epic endeavor Teargarden by Kaleidyscope is a fun, catchy little rock song. It is reminiscent of ZWAN in it’s looser, more upbeat direction. Mike Byrne gets to flex a little more drum muscle in his journey to fill the biggest shoes ever. “Widow Wake my Mind” is song number two of the 44 to be released over the next three years.

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See also REAX

Jan 192010

article_image, Broken Bells, The High RoadThe ubiquitous Danger Mouse has moved on from producer extraordinaire to auteur musician / songwriter by carving himself a cozy niche in a series of baffling yet brilliant collaborations (Cee-Lo, MF Doom, Sparklehorse to name a few). His latest pairing is just as unexpected and equally as glorious. James Mercer took time from being the new Crowded House long enough to join forces with Danger Mouse to create Broken Bells. After announcing their plans in September of 2009, their first official email blast on December 14th 2009 listed a cryptic string of numbers, binary for “The High Road is Hard to Find.” This linked to the Broken Bells site for downloads of their first song, “The High Road is Hard to Find.” Simultaneously, ads ran on various music blogs displaying the URL, or an anagram for Broken Bells. This link led to another site, similarly themed with three instrumental demos from the album. Clever indeed. The official release date for the album is March 2010. It leaked in December and so here I am.

One hurdle this duo faces is overcoming James Mercer’s unmistakable voice and making Broken Bells sound like something other than a continuation of The Shins. It definitely sounds like Mercer, but it definitely doesn’t sound like The Shins. BB comes together to create unique tracks of lush indie electro pop. Some of the yearning and veiled sadness of The Shins lingers among Danger’s production and instrumentation, but it comes across a bit darker and edgier. It’s like The Dandy Warhols meet Beck’s Sea Change minus the overwhelming melancholy. Songs like “Vaporize” and “Citizen” feel like a more musical Flaming Lips while “The Ghost Inside” mixes James’ extra high falsetto and DM’s four-on-the-floor beat with a driving bass line, waves of synth, and some piano to create delicious dance pop. The layered guitar and organ of “Trap Door” and symphonic intro to the catchy and masterful “The Mall and the Misery” round out a smart collaboration. The word is that Broken Bells is not another one-off Danger Mouse endeavor, but something that both artists are dedicated to, and why not with a first effort this solid?

Article originally appeared in REAX Online, January 18th, 2010

Jan 192010

article_imageThe word “super group” gets thrown around a lot – so I won’t use it. Them Crooked Vultures is a near perfect union of 3 monster talents: Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), and John Paul Jones (from this little band called Led Zeppelin). Josh’s buzz saw guitar attack and smooth, cocky vocals marry up with Jones’ crushing bass lines and Dave’s pounding drums perfectly. It actually sounds much like a QOTSA album with a little more wiggle room for playing outside the stoner riff-rock that they mastered. Dave Grohl is at his best behind the drum kit and even better when drumming with Queens or the Vultures. Foo Fighters are OK, but bland and mediocre when compared to QOTSA and Nirvana’s best stuff. The Foos are just mainstream, meathead arena rock. QOTSA’s albums are all great, but the most powerful delivery was Songs for the Deaf with Dave playing drums.

Them Crooked Vultures self-titled album is an unrelenting, visceral attack of coolness. “No One Loves Me and Neither Do I” is the first track on the album and a good introduction. It’s raw, grinding and has a nasty little riff change towards the end accompanied by a giant bass drum stomp in a simple and effective 2/4 drum signature. This aggressive change is tailored to make you gnash your teeth and bob your head. “New Fang” continues the Queens-ish sound with a bouncing rock riff and punctuating stops, but with a more “classic” rock feel – almost sounding like early KISS in places. “Elephants” pushes the album harder with an insanely escalating intro giving way to more juicy riffage, then back down to a gentle, soaring bridge. It brings the escalation back at the end in a swirl of face-punching glory. By the time the record gets to “Bandoliers,” they begin to break new ground. This song in particular sounds like the summation of all the parts. “Reptiles” has an undeniably Zeppelin feel. There is some acoustic and southern-sounding slide accompanying the “Immigrant Song-like” groove that played through these vessels takes on an identity of its own. “Gunman” is heavy and funky in that Josh Homme sort of way, meaning that tunes with funk and groove still come across relentlessly heavy. Them Crooked Vultures delivers some serious swagger and the rock balls to back it up.

Originally appeared in REAX Online, January 15th, 2010

Jan 182010

Sepultura_-_Arise_1991Before stem cells were saving lives they were the subject of awesome metal songs. “Dead Embryonic Cells” is from Sepultura’s 1991 album, Arise. It’s¬† a bad ass skull crusher of a song and embodies what I like in metal; Satanic and /or death references, scary voices, vicious guitar, aggressive double-bass drumming and and a teeth-grinding guitar breakdown in the middle. There’s a riff change at exactly 3:15 in the song and if you don’t turn around and punch the nearest person directly in the face, well, then there is something really wrong with you.

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Jan 122010

Dig that crazy moniker!

I’m not sure what it is about Vietnamese girls from the San Francisco Bay area that also perform a bittersweet brand of folk-y garage pop – but they do it for me. I don’t even know what that means, but I do know fun little songs like¬† “Bag of Hammers” and “Cool Yourself” from Thao with The Get Down Stay Down’s latest album, Know Better Learn Faster, caught my ear. It’s “When We Swam” that gets my vote for the Coolest Song Ever! Well, today or now even.

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Jan 122010

Del tha Funkee Homosapien will be bringing his wordy rhyme styles to The Social this Friday the 15th. It is an RSVP only show, with no tickets being sold. If you are not on The Social’s email list then I would suggest hasseling staff until you can get a ticket. Rap can typically blow balls live, but Del is one of the few that “comes correct,” as they say, in the live setting. The last ime I saw him at The Social, he downed 3/4 of a bottle of Patron through the set. Eyes drooping and body slumped he never missed a beat. For those unfamiliar with DtFH, he is the guy rapping on that one Gorillaz song.