Posts Tagged ‘Friday Writers’ Bloc

The Friday Writers’ Bloc: May 16th, 2008

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Michael-Bradley’s Picks

1. Television – Elevation

Television is band that I’ve heard of for a long time, and never found the time to get into. Bu after hearing Henry Rollins’ feature Television’s debut album Marquee Moon(1977) in its entirety, on his weekly radio show on Indie 103- Harmony in My Head, I realized it was time. I can’t believe I hadn’t even heard these songs before. This album is terrific from top to bottom. A ,mix of a lot of sounds, this album proved to be super influential in all punk, no wave and post punk. I feel like Carman could talk a lot better about these guys than I can (cause I’m just learning), so lets hope he sheds some light on these guys eventually. When I hear this album, I just think oh, that’s what Clap Your Hands Say Yeah were thinking.

2. Joy Division – Disorder

Much like Television did with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, my introduction to Joy Division through their first full length album -Unknown Pleasures (1979) dissolved any interest I had in Interpol. I thought Interpol’s sound was actually unique, thin reverb on the guitar, lead singer’s low pitch humming, i dont know- just about everything they do, had been done TWENTY YEARS AGO. This is probably not a surprise to anybody more than a few years older than me, but shit. Totally disappointing. If anything Interpol is a bit quicker at times, and a bit bassier. But what I thought was their best release, Turn on The Bright Lights is really just Unknown Pleasures [btw,amazing album cover] through the eyes of 2002. And they fooled an entire generation to think they’re doing something special. HA. Well give Unknown Pleasures a spin and see if you can listen to Interpol. I’m trying right now, and it’s not working. Of course, like too many great acts, Joy Divion’s story ended too soon- only a year after this release lead singer Ian Curtis hanged himself.

3. Metallica – Fade to Black

KROQ has been playing a lot of old Metallica to get ready for a show they’re doing for them. Last week, I made a friend sit in the car with me for 5 minutes while all the solo’s of Master of Puppets played out, so i could sing along note for note. Metallica was probably the first time I really went off the deep end in my music taste,that also involved getting into it beyond radio plays. Sure I was listening to NIN and Nirvana, but this seemed a lot darker. Their older albums were never even near the radio in NY. I collected their entire discography of cd’s, going backwards starting from their most recent release at the time (Load?). I became totally obsessed with them. The musicianship, the heavy riffs, and at times the speed. It felt so right! And the deeper I went into their older stuff, the more I fell in love. This is probably the 2nd complete discography I made, after Nirvana. But I was even more proud of this one for it’s lack of commonality with my schoolmates. This song, Fade to Black, was off Ride the Lightning (1984)-their 2nd full length release. This song is one of their greatest early songs. Like so many of my early favs, it starts with the acoustic guitar, and builds speed throughout the song, while just getting heavier and heavier. Truly epic song. Life it seems will fade away.
BTW, Lars Ulrich (drummer) is a fucking douchebag who got me kicked off of napster for downloading all the fucking metallica songs I ALREADY OWNED JACKASS. THANK YOU LARS, for setting up a sue fans first mentality in the record industry, instead of examining why this problem is happening. You’re a rich bitch, and I will never buy anything of yours again. I probably wont even try to listen to your new material either, even though KROQ will jam it down my throats after you pay them off. In fact, I will probably burn your entire discography in mass bulk at my place, and leave them for free at venues. Trace that on the internetz.

Jonathan’s Picks

1. Hypnotic Brass Ensemble Feat. Freeway, Jay-Z, and Beanie Sigel – War (Nick Catchdubs Remix)

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble is NOT your average brass band. First of all, they draw almost as much influence from hip hop and Latin music as they do jazz. But secondly, of the band’s nine members, eight are related. And not only are they related, but all eight (all on horns) are actually blood brothers — the sons of 1950s jazz trumpet player Phil Cohran, who played predominantly with the Sun Ra Arkestra. Only Hypnotic’s drummer, “360,” has a different father. And though the band has been recording for just a few years — they started as street performers in Chicago — the chemistry and energy are clearly there since they grew up with jazz in the blood, and a sense of performance in heart. This track is one of my favorites: Brooklyn-based DJ and remixer, Nick Catchdubs, combines one of Hypnotic Brass Ensemble’s best songs, “War,” a trumpet-heavy record with a sneaky-good bass line, with one of my favorite hip hop songs of the last ten years, hood anthem “What We do,” by Roc-A-Fella Records member Freeway, and featuring Jay-Z and Beanie Sigel. The horns seem to weep while trying their best to hold their heads up high, as if they’re listening to the Free, Jay, and Beans rhyme about drugs, guns, prison, squalor, and growin’ up in the hood. It’s a gritty yet beautiful conversion. (Watch an excellent short NY Times video profile of Hypnotic Brass Ensemble here).

2. Usher Feat. Beyonce & Lil Wayne – Love In This Club (Part 2 Remix)

So no doubt the original version of “Love In This Club” was a huge hit. And while I thought it was an above average R&B track, on the whole it was hardly special. But I admit I definitely dug the shimmering synthy beat from Polow da Don aka King of the White Girls (sorry, but I just have to write that nickname every chance I get), and the catchy chorus certainly didn’t hurt for Usher’s upcoming album’s first single. Small problem though: the Internets are ablaze with rumors that Polow da Don made the beat using basic, pre-loaded samples and loops from Apple’s DIY music program, GarageBand — not a good look for a supposedly top-flight music producer. In any case, the remix, or “Part 2” as it’s being called, has a whole new downtempo beat from producer Soundz, and all new lyrics from Usher to go with it. Usher engages in a spirited and earnest back-and-forth vocal debate with a surprisingly excellent sounding Beyonce, about whether or not they should indeed make love in the club. Kind of awkward since they both recently married other people, but still, it actually makes for quite a good song. Lil Wayne delivers, as always, with a hoarse-voiced, syrup-slurred rap, in which he once again (note the developing trend here) took to using Auto-Tune for the second half of his verse. “Love In This Club (Part 2 Remix)” is really like listening to a whole new track, and maybe even a better one, so give it a shot.

3. Colin Munroe – (I Want Those) Flashing Lights

Colin Munroe is a new artist out of Toronto who recently signed with Grammy-winning record producer, Dallas Austin, and is in the process of releasing his first album. Boom. (Got that out of the way). Frankly, I can’t and won’t even try to vouch for any of his other music, because there simply isn’t much out there yet, and what I’ve heard isn’t moving me much. But that really has nothing to do with why chose this track. One could say this is just a remix of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights,” and to some extent that’s true. But this is a new breed, and different brand of remix than hip hop or pop music are used to. Much like the “Love In This Club” remix above, “(I Want Those) Flashing Lights” is really a complete reinvention of the song it’s supposedly just remixing, and giving it brand new lyrics (save for a bit of each chorus) and a reworked, if not entirely reinvented, beat. One major difference of course is that Usher’s remix was done by a professional producer, Colin Munroe is more like, well, just a Canadian guy. Nonetheless, I love Munroe’s honest lyrics and obviously rough rehashing of West’s beat. And while his voice isn’t nearly the same quality, Munroe already reminds me a little bit of a more raw, less developed Sam Sparro. One other thing: Munroe even upstages Usher’s remix in one sense — he actually made an accompanying video, which, while admittedly a little on the “Fisher-Price My First Music Video” side, is actually great looking a fun to watch.

JustJake’s Picks

1. Merle Travis & Joe Maphis – White House Blues

This song is an old tune that has survived in many incarnations over the last hundred years or so. Around the turn of the century many people, especially those in the rural areas where bluegrass and country music were born, had no way of receiving news other than by word of mouth and song. This particular tune about the 1901 assassination of President William McKinley is probably an instance of this early form of newscasting. Other than the words, which today seem almost comical, take note of Merle Travis’ signature strolling guitar style

2. John Hartford – In Tall Buildings

John Hartford penned some of bluegrass and country music’s greatest songs, but none is sadder or more troubling than this waltzing eulogy for the workingman. If you live in a city or have ever found yourself working in a office be warned, this song will hit home and might even cause you to re-evaluate your priorities.

3. Lyle Lovett – I’ve Been to Memphis

If you’re like me, you’ve spent a fair amount of time wondering how in the hell Lyle Lovett ever got near Julia Roberts, let alone near enough to marry her. Well after listening to this song it’s not so hard to understand. Lovett, is a great songwriter and this pick, from the NPR’s Live at the World Café, is one of his more soulful tunes. Just straight-up fun.

Carman’s Picks

1. ESG – Moody

Every time I listen to LCD Soundsystem I think to myself, “Man, James Murphy really, really wants his band to be the modern day ESG.” And I don’t mean that in a negative way; I’m a huge LCD Soundsystem fan. But hell, I don’t blame him for that anyways. In my eyes, ESG were the perfect band: catchy, danceable, grooves from a trio of sisters (and a friend on bass) from the South Bronx that was honest in its simplicity and no-holds-barred approach. Unsurprisingly, they would catch the attention of early pioneering hip-hop DJs for use in beats (a reunion in 1992 saw the release of the Sample Credits Don’t Pay Our Bills EP) before the post-punk revival of the new century instilled a generation of middle-class kids to appreciate not only an endearing D.I.Y. ethic, but a rhythm that made you move. Enjoy this classic cut off their first release.

2. Cecil Taylor – Tales (8 Whisps)

Cecil Taylor was unique among free jazz pioneers in that not only did he play the piano (an unusual instrument in the early days of free jazz), but he also embraced the theatrical aspect of the medium. Along with The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Cecil Taylor made jazz not only an art form to be listened to, but also to be watched. While the AEOC did it with a large ensemble of junk used for rhythm instruments and masks and makeup, Cecil Taylor was able to do it not only in a solo act, but while sitting behind a piano. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Ron Mann’s superb 1981 documentary Imagine The Sound. Taylor is one of the subjects featured in the film, and you will be blown away by his performances (and his eccentric personality). The man is an acrobat behind the keys, and you can tell by just listening to his work.

Download this week’s Friday Writers’ Bloc Playlist HERE


The Friday Writers’ Bloc: April 18th, 2008

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Download this week’s Friday Writers’ Bloc Playlist HERE

Michael-Bradley’s Picks

1. X – Nausea

I just ate a few tacos, so I figured I would pull out my anthem that I sing when I’m nauseous-Nausea. Along with bands like the Germs, X was part of the first wave of punk that found LA. Both those bands, as well as previously featured FEAR all were a big part of “The Decline of Western Civilization.” X had a real edge, but a lot of their stuff had plenty leftovers of New Wave dropped in. This is off their first album, Los Angeles, produced by the Door’s Ray Manzarek.

2. Bad Religion – White Trash (2nd Generation)

I was just having a discussion with a friend about the LA punkers- Bad Religion. Among kids our age, they’re most known for their poppy punk anthems that they’ve been putting out the past ten years on KROQ. It’s hard for many to believe that these guys were part of the first Hardcore movement in the states. But after examining their name and their iconic logo it’s no surprise. Their first album “How Could Hell Be Any Worse” was classic hardcore. Too bad they followed the album with “Into the Unknown”, a crappy prog-rock record that absolutely destroyed their punk cred. They came back afterwards, with “Back to the Known” in a form that is more recognizable now, but the hardcore was all gone. If you want to talk to the band, check out a UCLA Life Science lecture where you’ll find the lead singer teaching!

3. The Mae Shi – Run To Your Grave

Full of changing and unique DIY lighting, as well as frequent costume changes, these guys are great to see live. But their great on tape too. These guys’ run as a small time LA Smell band is on it’s last legs. I’m pretty certain they’re about to blow up at any moment. After featuring albums with 30 or so spastic 30 sec to 1 min explosions, they’ve settled down to more chewable 2-3 min songs. Their newest album “Hlllyh”, should be hitting the radio at any time. Going between 80’s 8 bit keyboards, chanting sing alongs, a little punk, and great chorus’s, it should be no wonder why they’ll do great everywhere. This song is catchy as hell, and already has a great video. My only question is, how are people going to receive their lyrics? After seeing them a bunch live, I’m pretty certain they’re being satirical, but we’ll see how everybody else receives it

Jonathan’s Picks

1. The Game – Big Dreams

I gotta come clean. I’m an East Coast guy. New York born and bred. Biggie, Jay-Z, Nas — those were my guys growing up. Sure I liked ‘Pac, Dre, and Snoop, and I even respected ’em. But they just never held the same water with me. After ‘Pac passed, Dre stopped making albums, and Snoop signed with Master P’s No Limit Records, West Coast Hip Hop was dead. (My apologies to Xzibit, but you don’t count in this category). But in 2004, my (forced) move to Los Angeles coincided almost perfectly with the arrival of a young, brash, fast-rising West Coast rapper called The Game. Ever since I heard The Documentary in 2005, I have anxiously anticipated his every release, and Doctor’s Advocate did not disappoint. In fact it merely succeeded in raising the bar to an unthinkable level for a sophomore album. The Game and Lil Wayne are by far the two most exciting and interesting young rappers in today’s hip hop community, each with a legitimate chance to become a legend in his own right, and eventually achieve O.G. status. “Big Dreams” is the first single from The Game’s upcoming album, L.A.X., which is due out this June. I can’t even pretend I’m not excited.

2. Rick Ross – The Boss

Since I’m being honest this week, I admit that after Rick Ross’ (undeniably hot, but semi-ridiculous) debut single, “Hustlin”” was released in 2006, I thought that would surely be the last we heard of the always meticulously unshaven drug dealer-turned rapper. Yet another “One Hit Wonder” going by the wayside, drifting quietly out into the waters of the Port of Miami. But clearly, I was very wrong. Ross struck Gold with his first album, and is aiming even higher on his second, the recently released and succinctly titled, Trilla, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, beating out both Snoop Dogg’s Ego Trippin’ and Fat Joe’s (aptly titled) Elephant in the Room. That’s serious business, as Ross took out two hip hop vets in one week. Though I wasn’t grabbed by Trilla’s first single, “Speedin'” featuring R. Kelly, I simply cannot get enough of Ross’ second single off the new album, “The Boss,” featuring T-Pain, and produced by Los Angeles-based hitmaker, Jonathan “J.R.” Rotem. I like bumpin’ this one as loud as possible, and I suggest you do the same.

3. Day26 – Got Me Going

Who the hell is Day26, you ask? Well that’s an excellent and fair question, since chances are they will never be very important or well known. Day26 is the newly formed R&B group from Diddy and his Bad Boy Records imprint, which came together on the fourth try, uh…I mean fourth season, of MTV’s Making the Band. It seems like it took a lot longer than that. (Note: Sorry to interrupt, but is that not the worst name for an R&B group you’ve ever heard? I really can’t think of anything worse. Day26?? It’s inane). Anyway, despite the awful name, and the overwrought production of the band itself, Day26 and its self-titled debut album hit the top of the Billboard 200 chart in its first week of sales. Wow. Okay then. “Got Me Going” is their first single off the album, and come to think of it, it’s their first single off anything at all. Are they any good? Well, you be the judge of that.

JustJake’s Picks

1. Jimmy Martin – Sophronie

Jimmy Martin was the king. He said so, and not too many people disagreed (well, maybe Bill Monroe). Martin was one of those larger than life types and this song showcases his rhinestone-suited swagger even as he sings about heartbreak and loneliness. That’s one of the beauties of bluegrass music: when it’s sad it’s still so fast that you’d never know it. Off of the Monroe tree, Martin played bluegrass right and is a great introduction for anyone not familiar with the genre.

2. Solomon Burke – That’s How I Got To Memphis

Solomon Burke is not related to Jimmy Martin but he is also a king. He performs in a crown, has a scepter, and sits in a throne on stage. The much underappreciated King of Soul released a mindblowingly soulful album (Nashville) in 2006 and this is the first track. Oh, and he’s been doing this for over sixty years, starting as a teenage preacher in Philadelphia, and somehow amassing like thirty kids along the way. When I saw him last year he couldn’t get out of his throne due to his tremendous size and age but still managed to hand out a red rose to every woman in the audience who wanted one, and probably could have bedded any one of them. Truly an amazing man and an amazing song.

3. The Million Dollar Quartet – Just a Little Talk With Jesus

Speaking of kings, Elvis and a few friends recorded this song in an impromptu jam session at Sun Records in 1956. You may have heard of his friends: Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash. Most of the songs are filled with amazing banter and priceless stories like the one about being on the road with some guy named Chuck Berry. This is one of the few songs where the quartet plays uninterrupted. The quality isn’t anything to write home about but, come on, it’s Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash.

Carman’s Picks

Bob Dylan hat trick (been watching hockey highlights on SportsCenter) today from yours truly. Why? Well I’ve been inspired lately after watching Todd Haynes’ excellent I’m Not There for the second time and his recent Pulitzer Prize award. Oh yeah, and coincidentally you can tune in to my radio show this evening from 6-8 PST for a special Bob Dylan marathon at for our pledge drive. Give us your money!

1. Bob Dylan – Queen Jane Approximately

Quite possibly my favorite Dylan tune, nothing tops this tune for the sheer amount of vitriol that his drawl exudes in this song. Not even “Positively 4th Street.” It serves as a nice companion piece to “Like A Rolling Stone” on his magnum opus of Highway 61 Revisited. After the indignation and jeering of “Like A Rolling Stone,” he returns to the subject of the song with “Queen Jane Approximately” almost pointing and laughing while saying, “I knew you’d come crawling back.” Whether that “you” was Edie Sedgwick, Joan Baez, or his fans that abandoned him after proclaiming him as Judas, it doesn’t change the song one bit.

2. Bob Dylan – 4th Time Around

I think John Lennon took himself a little too seriously with “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown).” So seriously that he got a little upset when Dylan knocked off this little parody of it on his double-album monster of Blonde On Blonde. John, you should’ve been at least honored that he even acknowledged the damn song.

3. Bob Dylan with The Rolling Thunder Revue – A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall (Live)

While I’m not entirely sold on the Rolling Thunder Revue performances of Dylan’s classic songs, this one was a standout to me on the Live 1975 set released in 2002 by Columbia. From a simple protest song came a reinvention of a Dylan classic that the carnival atmosphere of the tour turned into a riot of a performance that perfectly captured the leftover feelings of the conflict in Vietnam that had ended only months before the tour took off. The monstrosity of the conflict still loomed large in the minds of the West, and the anger and shame certainly did not die off.

Download this week’s Friday Writers’ Bloc Playlist HERE