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The Friday Writers’ Bloc: April 11th, 2008

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Download this week’s Friday Writers’ Bloc Playlist HERE

Michael-Bradley’s Picks

1. Hella – The D. Ekan/Biblical Violence

Welcome to Hella (You’re Gonna Live!). This is one of my favorite bands of all time. They’re just the best. It took me about a year of listening to them though to begin liking or comprehending them though. At first it will sound like total chaos to you-guaranteed. It takes a bunch of listens to understand what exactly you’re hearing. I would characterize it as a brutal version of math rock. This is the first song off their first full length (Hold Your Horse Is). Just a guitarist and a drummer. The drummer, Zach HIll, is probably the sickest drummer alive. He just kills it. I love it. For those who don’t think they could actually play like that in real life, think again: Hella on YouTube.

2. The Plugz – El Claro y La Cruz

I wrote about these guys in my first blog ever, and noticed it was catching some views of late. Again one of my favorite early LA Punk Bands. This song is probably where they mixed their punk and latino styled best. I first heard this off the Repo Man soundtrack.

3. Butthole Surfers – Cherub

I just bought an original pressing of this vinyl (Psychic….Powerless…Another Man’s Sac) last week at Amoeba. I want to write about these guys soon so I won’t get into too much detail. Probably best known for their hit single Pepper from the 90’s, they started off as a completely drugged out punk band in the early 80’s out of San Antonio. Psychedelia and punk rarely join forces so the results are pretty interesting. This one in particular is a real psych rocker.

Jonathan’s Picks

1. Heavy D. & The Boyz – Now That We Found Love

Earlier this week I pretty much savaged longtime Hip Hop/R&B producer Teddy Riley in my review of Snoop Dogg’s new album. While I stand by my negative opinions of Riley’s recent work, the same cannot be said about his past productions. Bobby Brown, Guy, New Kids on the Block, Michael Jackson, and of course, Blackstreet all benefited from Riley’s R&B expertise. But that was 20 years ago. And while many people may remember Teddy Riley for “My Prerogative” and “No Diggity,” few know of his hand in Heavy D. & the Boyz’ 1991 classic single, “Now That We Found Love.” Now you do.

2. Tupac Shakur – Heartz of Men

In my review I wasn’t exactly easy on DJ Quik either, the third member of the newly formed production team QDT (Quik, Dogg, & Teddy). But like Teddy Riley, Quik still deserves props for much of his early production work. And though he found his niche in gangsta rap rather than pop music, Quik turned out serious beats for both ‘Pac and Snoop Dogg a few long minutes ago, as well as one of the funkiest hip hop songs (and videos) ever, “Break Bread,” by Flexxarally & AMG. To me, “Heartz of Men” is a perpetually underrated Tupac track, not often mentioned among his best work. And a big part of what makes it great is DJ Quik’s sick beat. Just try not to move your head once ‘Pac hits his stride on this one…..It’s impossible. This is just hip hop.

3. Beyoncé – Beautiful Nightmare (Advance)

I mentioned this song a couple of weeks ago while talking about the increased used of prominent synth sounds in American hip hop and R&B, which I think is a great thing. Now technically this new Beyoncé track hasn’t been released yet — only leaked to a few places — but word is that “Beautiful Nightmare” will serve as the first single from B’s upcoming album. While it has been reported that Timbaland has agreed to do much of the production for the new album, Freemasons, top-shelf dance producers from the UK, have also signed on to the project. (More synths). All that aside, there is still some controversy surrounding the production of this particular track, with some sources crediting Polow da Don and others crediting Jim Jonsin. Given the synthy baseline and the fact that the track was mysteriously leaked, it sounds like Polow to me. But either way, the track’s still hot and a good indication of what’s to come from Beyoncé.

roswellmueller’s Picks

1. The Microphones – The Glow, Pt. 2

Its album’s title track, it seems fitting that The Glow, Pt. 2 somehow manages to touch on so many of the places explored throughout the album, unfolding like a preview for sounds to come. As usual, Phil Elvrum’s use of lo-fi recording ads elements of both intimacy and fierce intensity. If you haven’t heard of the Microphones, I can’t recommend this album highly enough – a true favorite.

2. Philip Glass, Performed by the Kronos Quartet – String Quartet no. 5, V

Whenever I try and convince people that classical composition has more to offer than ridged baroque structure I play them this track from a collection of Philip Glass’ string quartet’s. I don’t expect to change too many minds, but this is an amazing piece of musicianship and composition.

Carman’s Picks

1. Noah Howard Quartet – Apotheosis

ESP-Disk was a label founded in 1966 with the intention of releasing Esperanto-based music. However, by their second release, The Albert Ayler Trio’s superb Spiritual Unity, they had already branched out into improvisational jazz and there was no turning back. One of the 45 gems from their first 18 months in existence was by a then-unknown saxophonist named Noah Howard who at the age of 23 recorded his first album as a bandleader with 1966’s Noah Howard Quartet. According to the liner notes of one of his earliest records, Howard was among the “first generation of post-Ornette Coleman saxophonists,” having been inspired by the reinvention of the genre that Coleman brought. Like most American free jazz musicians, Howard would defect to Europe where they were welcomed with open arms and continue recording (still to this day!), but my favorite record of his remains his debut. The collective gusto and intensity that both Howard and trumpeter Ric Colbeck play with on this record is unparalleled by any other woodwind/brass tandem I’ve ever heard.

2. Jackie McLean & The Cosmic Brotherhood – New York Calling

Like Howard above, McLean was welcomed in Europe by the Danish label SteepleChase when he was released by Blue Note, for whom he released almost a decades worth of material. Through SteepleChase he released more albums through the 70s with his new group The Cosmic Brotherhood. The year 1974 saw the release of New York Calling, an ode to his bustling hometown. McLean’s saxophone is obviously the main thrust of this song that captures the energy of the city, but I always found the performance of pianist Billy Gault to be the highlight of the song as it recalls the meticulous arrangements of George Gershwin, a man who also perfectly captured the spirit of The Big Apple.

3. John Cale – Child’s Christmas in Whales

It’s so unfair to me that Lou Reed was always hailed as the genius behind the Velvets when plenty of credit should also go to Cale. Cale’s post-VU resume is certainly stronger than Lou Reed’s, with production credits including The Stooges, Patti Smith’s Horses, and most of The Modern Lovers along a string of solid and experimental solo albums that Lou Reed can’t even hold a candle to (sorry, but Transformer is waaaaay overrated). This gem opens Cale’s excellent Paris 1919, and right away it showcases the pomp and flowery string arrangements by Cale and his erudite brand of songwriting that make Paris such a wonder.

Download this week’s Friday Writers’ Bloc Playlist HERE

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