Tuesday, October 31, 2006

MSTRKRFT and Chrome Children

Chop Suey, Seattle
Friday, October 20

Chrome Children Tour
Neumoe’s, Seattle
Sunday, October 22

On a recent trip to Seattle, I was treated to a taste of their nightlife. First up was electro-DJs/ Dirty Mustache-wearing MSTRKRFT. I can say the following things, based on that show:

1. While I love my people, I have to admit, White folks can’t dance.
2. There are a lot of really skinny chicks in the Seattle hipster scenes.
3. People in Seattle drink a lot.

They spun two hours of Daft Punk-esque house, putting the funk back in the punk. I would have enjoyed it a lot more had I not been half-asleep, but still it was a good show, except for the stinky couple dancing near me. BO=bad.

The Chrome Children tour centered around Madlib, who didn’t show at Neuman’s, due to a family emergency. Instead MED, Percee P, DJ J-Rocc and Wild child did their best to keep the crowd entertained and make us forget that the guy we came to see wasn’t coming. J-Rocc is an awesome DJ, and the rappers did a great job of keeping the crowd hyped. In between sets Peanut Butter Wolf would spin video mixes – he had old hip-hop videos connected to digital turntables, and so would mix the songs and the videos at the same time. It was cool to see old EPMD, Ice Cube, Tribe Called Quest, etc. videos. Also, the shit was LOUD. I was wearing a knit cap and ear plugs, and it STILL hurt my ears. I didn’t mind though….it felt good to actually feel the beats, and since my eardrums weren’t ringing, I don’t think I did any lasting hearing damage.

For those of you who missed the tour, pick up the chrome children comp. It has a decent if inconsistent mix of artists on on disc, and a dvd of a stone’s throw SXSW show, with witty commentary courtesy of the adult swim crew.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

And Shadow says “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!”

DJ Shadow
The Outsider
Motown, 2006

Creating a genre-defining masterpiece is great, but it can play hell on your career, especially if it is your first album and the genre is past its sell-by date. Just ask Josh Davis, aka DJ Shadow. His 1996 debut “…Endtroducing” essentially set the template for trip-hop, along with some stuff by a little band called Massive Attack. Shadow combined crate digging, turntablism, hip-hop, and added a little melancholy and depth. His booming, analog drum sound became signature, and he managed to mix samples from James Brown and Bjork without it seeming off.

A few years later he dropped the fairly well-received “Printing Press”, and has done a host of other production and DJ work, mostly shit I’m not cool enough to know about.
Evidently he’s spent too much of the last ten years trying to live down his reputation from Entroducing, and has gotten pretty sick of being pigeonholed or told he is old hat. Here’s some advice, Josh: Don’t pay too much attention to shit you read on the internet. While you’re busting your ass creating albums and producing, all us slobs are busy criticizing people for having the audacity to actually do something rather than just consume and bitch.

Something else happened in the interim as well: Shadow got Hyphy. Hyphy is the Yay Area’s answer to crunk, and our own failed attempt to get our MC’s noticed by the rest of the world. Hyphy is marked with burping, high energy beats and lots of obscure slang.
Shadow getting hyphy is just about the greatest thing to happen to hip-hop all year, and certainly the best thing that could have happened to hyphy. In fact, all you really need to know about hyphy is on this disc.

The disc starts out strong, with a spooky intro, and then the gorgeous soul tune “I’m gonna do it my way” And indeed Shadow does, because he jumps directly into “3 Freaks”, one of sevaral hyphy tracks on the disc (others include Turf Talk’s “Turf Dancing”, E-40’s “Dress My Part”, and a remix of “3 Freaks”). The track is, how you say, banging. Shadow manages to get stupid without losing his smarts, and creates an upbeat ode to getting laid. And yes, this is an ode to getting laid. There is nothing underground, progressive, or backpacky about this track: it’s a street anthem with street lyrics, as are the other hyphy tracks. For those of us who have both T.I. and Xiu Xiu in our collection, this is a fine thing. For the rest of the world, the it may be a bit problematic, cuz the rest of the disc ISN’T street anthems. There are a couple more rap collabos, and then it’s off to experimental zone so Shadow can get his Radiohead on. When he’s not doing blues instrumentals, or punk instrumentals, or blues jams about groupies.

As a DJ, Shadow should know the importance of creating a cohesive set. Would you spin an Iron and Wine song after a Lil’ Jon song? No, right? And not because your audience is too unsophisticated to digest both, but because they don’t go well together. I love ice cream and I love wild boar, but I’d never have ice cream on top of wild boar. I really wish this had been a double album, with one disc all rap collabos and one disc all mellower, experimental stuff. As it is, the disc can be a little jarring in its rapid changes between genres.

Despite my complaints, I don’t want to pan this record because it is too diverse and schizophrenic. The fact is, there are only one or two ungood tracks on the album. Most of the stuff is pretty damn good. Consider how many albums out there only have a handful of good songs. The Outsider, on the other hand, is packed with good songs, a handful from various not-so-compatible genres. There are far worse things in the world, like, say, E-40’s latest disc, which is basically really long single.

And there are some moments of absolute brilliance. David Banner’s contributes his gruff vocals and angry yet insightful lyrics to “Seein’ Thangs”:

Martial law, tell Bush naw we ain't ready to flip
The hood is like a modern slave ship
We packed like sardines and shackled to the streets
And crack is cotton that grows up from the concrete
Shit, but I guess I'm seein thangs
We'd rather not learn, we'd rather fuckin gang bang”

I know DJ Shadow is going to get a lot of shit for The Outsider, and I hope it inspires him to do even more crazy shit in the future. There are too many musicians playing it safe.
-Patrick Sean Taylor

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Not so consistent....

So i haven't been posting a lot lately, but it's not because i'm flaking out. I've been busy, had technical problems, and been a bit in the doldrums/not felt like doing a hell of alot. I'm going to a few shows this weekend, and i'm working on a review of DJ Shadow's new one, so hopefully i'll be able to stay true to my goal of posting once a week. I know - MAJOR relief, right?

Currently listening to Blackalicious's Blazing Arrow, a brilliant record that i rarely feel like listening to. I've also been listening to a lot of Teagan and Sara, Trail of Dead, and David Banner. He's like the new Ice Cube - angry and alternatly brilliant and offensive.


Poguetry in Motion

I have been a Pogues fan since I first heard "If I Should Fall From Grace With God" in 1987. Their combination of traditional Irish music and punk pretty much ruled. I think it’s the fact that they played Irish music as if it were punk, rather than playing punk as if it were Irish. Also that they were actually Irish, and not a bunch of dudes from Boston or SoCal all proud of their alcoholic heritage (ala Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys, et al).

I saw the Pogues play in 1991, only Joe Strummer was sitting in for Shane MacGowan who by that point was no longer in the band for being too much of a drunk fuckup. When an Irish drinking band kicks you out because you are a drunk, you have serious, serious problems. Seriously. It’s better that Mr. Strummer toured with them, because it ended up being the only time I got to see him, and he played Straight to Hell and London Calling. Still, it was a bummer not having seen Shane, so I was very happy to see that they were playing in the city.

To give you an idea of the kind of following the Pogues have, they hadn’t toured or come out with an album in almost ten years, most of their old stuff has been out of print for a while, yet still they sold out four nights at the Fillmore. And I would say 90% of those attending were serious Pogues fans. These were not jaded bastards who just came to act bored. And it was expensive, even if your sister was paying for you, and even MORE so if you had to pay for yourself and your brother.

When shane hobbled up to the stage looking like the bloated old drunk he is, the crowd went nuts. He mumbled something like "mblmlfdooemd,buckaroos" and away they went. Oddly enough, even though he could barely stand, hardly talk, and kept leaving the stage to get even more fucked up, he still sang every word and sounded pretty damn good. Even the ballad "Rainy Night In Soho" sounded ok. Admittedly, he was probably totally fucked up when he made the original recordings, but still. He may be a severe alcoholic, but he is a functioning severe alcoholic.

The show was great, even if it was a bit sad to see the old man. The band sounded amazing, and did an excellent job keeping up and down with Shane. He’d stagger off, they’d do a couple numbers, he’d stagger on and shout out songs, they’d go into em, and a good time was had by all. They even did "Fairytale of New York", with Jem Finer’s daughter sitting in.

In other exciting news, Rhino has reissued the Pogues’ first five albums, most of which have been out of print or import only for a long, long time. They are remastered, have extra tracks, and are I think twelve bucks – ish. If you don’t have any of them, go get "If I should fall from grace with god and "Rum Sodomy and the Lash" right NOW. Then you should get hells ditch an d red roses for me, and maybe peace and love. Or whatever.
Then blast your stereo and get all nostalgic about a country you’ve never lived in and that your ancestors left because they were so desperately poor. And remember – Ireland is WAY better than England, and the Irish are WAY hotter than the English.

Love and whiskey,
Patrick "Poor Paddy" Sean Taylor

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Doctor’s Advocate

Here are some facts about 26-year-old The Game.:

1. His debut album, 2005’s The Documentary, was pretty fucking good, and a welcome return to form for the West Coast, which hasn’t been getting much air play this decade.

2. The Documentary was good not so much because the Game is a great rapper, but because he had great beats behind him. He’s a decent rapper, but a large chunk of hi s rhymes is just him referencing other, better artists.

3. Since The Documentary dropped in early 05, the Game has spent most of his time beefing with former mentor 50 Cent, or writing rhymes about how wack 50 is, to the point of it almost being an obsession. Game’s ultimate dis of fiddy? Calling his crew G-Unot (get it, instead of G-Unit?) and for this, shots are fired.

4. The game is one of the prettiest rappers out there. Really. The boy is hot. Sorry if that sounds gay.

5. His real name is Jayceon Taylor (no relation). At first I was like, huh, that’s an interesting name, and then I realized it was just a ghettoization of “Jason”.

6. On “The Documentary” he is on the cover sitting on gold rimmed tires. On “Doctor’s Advocate”, he is sitting on platinum tires.

7. Despite the title of the album, dre didn’t have much to do with it, causing some to speculate that they are beefing (which the game denies) and wondering whether the album is gonna suck. Jayceon swears that it’s going to be, like, the best album ever, but I’m not convinced. I may not even fuck with it: I’ve been feeling awful broke lately, and need to limit my music intake.

8. His album is coming out in November, so we shall soon know if it sucks.

also, you should check out his interview in XXL this month; I know high-school girls who are less catty than he and fiddy. Jeez, hug and get over it guys.

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