Saturday, May 30, 2009


I got a copy of Sonic Youth's Sister the other day at Ameoba. I originally got it on cassette about twenty years ago, a few years after my brother got me into Sonic Youth. He had their first EP, the cassette version of which played the entire EP backwards on side two. We thought that was super cool, and dug the new-wavey, minimalist dub of the EP. Their subsequent albums went more the art/noise route, although they gradually began incorporating real songwriting into their repertoire of noise rock. Their 1988 double album Daydream Nation is widely regarded as a classic, but I have a special place in my heart for Sister, which came out in 1987.

The album opens up with the gorgeous, creepy "Schizophrenia." It starts off with a pretty guitar riff before devolving into noise, only to reconstruct itself around a different, equally pretty guitar riff. It was as noisy and raucous as punk, but much more complex and interesting. The same is true with most of the tracks on the album.

At it's heart, Sister (and Daydream Nation) is a psychedelic album. "Pipeline/Kill Time" with its swirling guitars, "Tuff Gnarl" with it's seventies rock grandeur, or the chaotic "White Cross." At their best, Sonic Youth combine the swirling guitars of psychelica, the chunky riffs of seventies rock, the attitude of punk, and the experimentation of their noise roots, and Sister is Sonic Youth at their best.

I think Sister remains my favorite Sonic Youth album, right up there with Daydream Nation and Sonic Nurse. I like the idea of Goo, but I never really listened to it that much, and they lost me around Dirty (although "100%" is still an amazingly kick ass song; I particularly like when they break out the baseball bats at the end).

They have a new album out, which I'm excited about. I took a pass on Rather Ripped, but their new one sounds like a return to form.
Although the first track I heard was a Kim Gordon number, and I have to say that I'm less and less enchanted with her off-key singing. I really dug it twenty years ago, but now I feel like it's been done, it's kind of annoying, and I'm over it.

As a side note, I saw them open for REM on REM's Monster tour around 1995, and they crowd was not feeling them. During one of their noisy feedback solos I looked around, and the entire crowd had their hands over their ears. It as awesome.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

John Robinson Review

John Robinson Review

I haven't updated in a while, for several reasons. I was in L.A. last weekend, away from my computer. Also, I've been busy, and my hand has been messed up - the dark side to having a desk job/playing too many video games.

I reviewed John Robinson's Who Is This Man? for RapReviews last week. The whole album was produced by MF DOOM. I liked it. Here's a video:

I've been listening to a ton of new stuff, including the Vaselines, Sonic Youth's Sister, and a Creation anthology. One of these days I should get around to writing about them. In the meantime, here's a video of the Creation playing "Making Time" live. It has to be one of the most perfect songs ever recorded, and ranks up there with "Can't Explain" as one of my favorite 60s songs. Also, Jimmy Page totally stole the whole playing guitar with a bow thing from them. As did Nigel Tufnel.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

J-Stalin Review

I reviewed J-Stalin's Gas Nation this week for RapReviews.

He's an Oakland rapper with a melodic flow that does street rap right.
Here's a video for "Lyrical Exercise." You can read the Economist article about Oakland here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Head On

My fiance and I got into the Castro for free a few weeks ago to see the finale of the SF International Film Festival. We were looking at the marquee to see what was coming up when the doorman asked us if we "wanted to have fun tonight." The movie was Unmade Beds by Alexis Dos Santos, and it was basically about these sexually confused 20 somethings in London who lived in a squat and had random sexual encounters. I liked it, but it made me so happy to not be 20 and not be so confused and tormented by the opposite sex.

I proposed to my girlfriend last weekend, and she said yes, and in so many ways that makes me amazingly happy. One thing that makes me a little sad is that my fiance hates a lot of the music I love, specifically 90s punk and alt-rock. Superchunk is one of her favorite whipping boys, and she's always mocking that band. I'll have to find a way to indulge in my love of music without driving her crazy. I guess that's one of the trade-offs in a relationship.

On the upside, it means that songs like Superchunk's "Throwing Things" won't pack the same emotional punch as they did when I was single and confused.

On that subject, I'd love to get the Pixies version of "Head On" to be our wedding song.

It's one of those songs that perfectly captures the shock and exhilaration of falling in love. Where you just feel like running through the streets screaming with joy.That intensity of living. I especially love the line, "And the way I feel tonight/I could die and I wouldn't mind." Given Black Francis' screaming, though, I don't think my fiance will go for it. Here are the lyrics

As soon as I get my head round you
I come around catching sparks off you
I get an electric charge from you
That second hand living it just won't do

And the way I feel tonight
I could die and I wouldn't mind
And there's something going on inside
Makes you want to feel makes you want to try
Makes you want to blow the stars from the sky
I can't stand up I can't cool down
I can't get my head off the ground

As soon as I get my head round you
I come around catching sparks off you
And all I ever got from you
Was all I ever took from you

And the world could die in pain
And I wouldn't feel no shame
And there's nothing holding me to blame
Makes you want to feel makes you want to try
Makes you want to blow the stars from the sky
I'm taking myself to the dirty part of town
Where all my troubles can't be found

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Motorhead are awesome. Formed in late 80s, they took the speed and ferocity of hardcore punk (even covering "God Save the Queen") and mixed it with the chunky riffs of metal. As a result, everyone loves Motorhead. Metalheads love 'em, punks love 'em, and bikers love 'em. Frontman Lemmy Klimster is a hero to pock-faced youth the world over, because he's proof that you don't have to be handsome to get chicks. Although an old roommate of mine (who was friends with Soleil Moon-Frye) had some story about Lemmy hitting women with nylons filled with feces. I'm pretty sure I'm getting it wrong, and it was probably bullshit to begin with, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Mr. Klimster wasn't the most romantic guy on earth. He also collects Nazi paraphenelia, which is extremeley creepy. I love interviews with him, though. He always comes off as intelligent and self-depricating.

Like many great metal bands, Motorhead basically keep recording different versions of the same song. As AC/DC, that song is thankfully awesome. Like "Ace of Spades," here live on the Young Ones:

My personal favorite song is the more melodic "Love Me Like A Reptile."

Motorhead aren't known for their deep, sophisticated lyrics. They go more for "Orgasmatron."All they really exist to do is rock. And provide Lemmy with the income to buy more confederate/nazi gear, and keep on poisoning his body with drugs and alcohol.

Their wikipedia entry says that they were listed as 26 on VH1's list of 100 greatest hard rock bands of all time. They are ranked below Cheap Trick, the Clash and Pink Floyd, who aren't hard rock, and Kiss. Kiss!! It's a goddamn travesty. They got robbed.By VH1. I'm sure Lemmy cried softly in his Jaegermeister.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

New Wilco Album

Wilco has a new album coming out June 30, titled Wilco, The Album.

It's streaming here. From what I've heard so far, it's pretty good. And rocking. Plus, camel.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


The Vaselines played at Bimbo's last night. I half wanted to see them, but not enough to actually go out to a show on a Monday night. The Vaselines are a Scottish band/duo best known for Nirvana's love of them. They covered "Jesus Doesn't Want Me for A Sunbeam" on Unplugged, and "Molly's Lips" and "Son of A Gun" on Incesticide.

Which reminds me: Incesticide is a pretty awesome album. My favorite track is "Sliver," which is both sweet and disturbing.

Looking up info on the Vaselines, I came across a fan video for Ice Cube's "No Vaseline," one of the most offensive dis tracks ever. The idea is that Cube's former NWA members were "getting fucked out their cash by a white boy, with no vaseline." From there it devolves into a racist, homophobic, sexist tirade, all over a sample of Brick's "Dazz" and George Clinton's "Atomic Dog." Damn Cube was angry.

Solo for Dolo and Rob A Reviews

I have two new reviews up on First of all is Solo for Dolo, a New Jersey MC who just released his first album, The Truth For the Youth. My review is here. And here's a video for "You Can't Say This On A Demo Tape":

You Can't Say This on Demo Tapes from Solo For Dolo on Vimeo.

The other album I reviewed is Rob A's The New Mortal Sin.
It's a throwback in someways, with Rob A rocking old school beats on his SP 1200, and offering battle rhymes ala Guru or Rakim. I liked it, especially tracks like "City of God" and "She's Still Got Dimples," which features an MF DOOM beat and DOOM and Rob A trading lines about the domestic violence.

Friday, May 08, 2009

New Mos Def

Download it here.

And the video, courtesy of Nah Right.

Mos Def - "Casa Bey" - The Ecstatic - 6.9.09

I finally got around to listening to this, and it kinda blows. I hope the rest of the album is better. Def is always interesting, and always inconsistent.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Playing for Change

My review of the Playing for Change comp is up at RapReviews now. Playing for Change is an organization that aims to unite people through music. They've just released a comp of musicians around the world collaborating on songs, like Bob Marley's "One Love."

The musicians are all recorded outside, and the result is a band comprised of members across multiple continents, cultures, and languages. It's a nice idea, although the folky, mellow world music they make isn't necessarily my bag. The version of "A Change is Gonna Come" on the CD is pretty amazing. Check out to learn more.

Bun B On the Sound of Young America

Rapper Bun B of UGK was on the Sound of Young America recently. UGK just put out their final album, using verses and beats that Pimp C had recorded before he passed. It's getting good reviews, including an 8.5 from RapReviews, although that's down from a 10 for their last album. Unsurprisingly, he comes off as a thoughtful, intelligent, insightful dude. Unsurprisingly because you don't have a twenty year career as a rapper if you are stupid. Still, its encouraging to hear an elder statesman of hip hop who sounds down to earth and humble. You can listen to the interview here, but you may as well download the podcast.
The Sound of Young America

In similar news, Notes From A Different Kitchen just posted a video of the original track that Timbaland sampled for UGK's breakthrough verse on Jay-Z's "Big Pimping." It's called "Khosarah' and is by Abdel Halim Hafez. Here's the video:

And that's via It's The Real, which mean I just posted a link to a blog posting a link to a blog. Awesome. Now THAT'S journalism!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Ooh Baby I Like It Raw

I finally picked up a cop of Old Dirty Bastard's 1995 album, Return to the 36 Chambers (The Dirty Version). I worked at a Musicland in Stonestown Galleria, and my roommate worked at the Tower at the end of the mall. We had a promo poster of this album, and thought it was the most ridiculous thing ever. His name, for one thing. Old Dirty Bastard? And the album cover was a photo of his welfare card. I'm embarrassed now to think of how clueless we were about who ODB was and what an impact he had on hip hop, in his own crazy way.

I still haven't had the chance to digest the album, but the standout track so far is the single,"Shimmy Shimmy Ya."
I also got the El Michael Affair's latest album, Enter the 37th Chamber. They are an instrumental funk band who have performed with Raekwon, and this album is all Wu-Tang and Wu-Tang solo stuff, including an awesome version of "Shimmy Shimmy Ya." It's nice hearing the RZA's creations reconstructed with a live band. The piano notes on "C.R.E.A.M." kill me. Highly recommended.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Blitzen Trapper

One of my favorite songs of the past six months is "Furr" by Portland band Blitzen Trapper.

It sounds like early Bob Dylan, only forty years later, like if young Bob Dylan had been obsessed with old Bob Dylan instead of Woody Guthrie. I bought the album the other day, and I have to say I'm kinda disappointed with it. There are other Dylan-esque tracks, like "Lady In the Water" and "Black River Killer," but most of it is Southern rock, which I'm not as huge a fan of. It's still pretty good, but not as brilliant as "Furr."
Also, the album didn't have any real liner notes or anything, which made me feel stupid for spending 4 bucks more on the physical disc rather than just downloading MP3s. Note to bands: make the CD's worth the purchase price.


I don't get Twitter. I guess it makes sense if you are a celebrity, or have a really interesting life, but I don't think any normal joes/janes should have Twitter accounts. What would I twitter about? "Gng 2 wrk!" "gng hme!" "past 4 din!" Boring, Sidney, boring boring boring. No one gives a shit about my/your/our trifling ass life. Spend less time multi-tasking, and more time in the present. Watching "Let Me Twitter That." although only through the first chorus, because it gets dumb after that. Just tryna save you guys a minute of your lives.

Thanks to I Wish You Would for the video.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Adventures in Press Releases

I get a lot of press releases from various hip-hop-related PR companies. Some, like Audible Treats, are great because they include links to free MP3s by indie rappers I actually like. That's how I found out about Del Tha Funky Homosapien's new free album, The Funky Man, the Stimulus Package, which I've downloaded but not listened to.

Then I get random hip-hop-related gossip, like the following, about former drug dealer Ricky Ross (not to be confused with cocaine rapper/former corrections officer Rick Ross [who swears in the most recent XXL that he was only working as a prison guard for illegitimate, illegal purposes][and who also has yet another album out]). What confuses me about this is that Ricky Ross has a social networking site. Why? Why do former drug dealers who have spent the last twenty years in prison need their own social networking site?


Texarkana, TX...On Monday, May 4th, Freeway Ricky Ross will finally be released from prison after serving 20 years for being a "drug kingpin." The real Ricky Ross oversaw a Los Angeles based multi-state drug operation in the early 1980's, which earned upwards of $2 million dollars per day at its height. After L.A.P.D. set up a sting operation to bring him down (The Freeway Taskforce), Ricky finally turned himself in, weeks after a rogue police officer attempted to set him up and murder him in an alley. Ricky was sentenced to prison and released in 1996. After 6 months, his former cocaine distributor, who was working for the CIA (unbeknownst to Ricky), asked Ricky for a favor - it turned out to be a set up, and in 1996, Ricky Ross was sentenced to life in prison for orchestrating the purchase of over 100 kilos of cocaine from an undercover federal agent.

Ross' sentence was later reduced through appeals and after a series of explosive articles by the late Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Gary Webb. Webb wrote a series titled "Dark Alliance" for the San Jose Mercury News, which exposed the C.I.A.'s role in importing cocaine into black communities to fund Sandinistas in El Salvador, as part of the Iran-Contra scandal. That series turned into the best-selling book, "Dark Alliance," that blew the lid off of the alleged CIA complicity in the importation of cocaine into the US, creating the exceptionally profitable, and damaging, crack cocaine epidemic spread through many inner city neighborhoods. Congressional Hearings, in the late-90s, found the book's facts to be true.

As Ricky Ross' story reads like a page-turning novel or a blockbuster film, it has inspired rappers to name themselves after him, and even retell his stories as their own exploits, gaining international success. Although a pawn in a bigger scheme, Ricky realized that the damage done to inner city neighborhoods was unacceptable. He has devoted himself to making a difference in his community by teaching financial literacy to urban youth and teaching legal ways to financially empower themselves. When Ricky first went to prison, he was illiterate - the educational system in South Central L.A. had failed him, even though he went on to become a multi-millionaire savvy at numerous legitimate businesses, and a tennis pro. Reading a book a week during his lengthy incarceration has since made Ricky wise beyond his years.

Ricky oversaw an empire that reached numerous states and that is rumored to have brought in millions of dollars a day at its height. His plan is to return to society and accomplish that again, but this time through legal means. Upon Ricky Ross' release, he is focusing on:

* a book and a film (currently seeking deals for both)
* a new record label in conjunction with industry legend Wendy Day
* a Foundation to help innercity youth at risk
* a reality TV show
* his social networking site which he built while incarcerated

A film crew is following Ricky's release from prison and his trek across the country to a halfway house in California where he will interact with, and impact youth in juvenile detention centers along the way. Already the topic of one of the most successful episodes of BET's American Gangster series (1st Season), the real Ricky Ross is a cultural icon and hero in communities across the US. Now he is able to make positive moves with that status.

Ricky can be reached at or through his social networking site. He will be available for interviews beginning the week of May 11, 2009. For more info: 404.474.1999 Wendy Day.

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