Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I'll Be Movin' On....

It took 2 months but after:
-Getting fed up with Blogger's decision to delete posts
-Searching for a new job
-Moving from Detroit to Atlanta, GA
-Starting a new job
-Settling into apartment
...I finally made the switch to a Wordpress blog.

Please visit JayeL Audio (http://jayelaudio.com/) for the latest.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Oh Boy: Phonotropic Friday, 10/24

Yup, so this is going on. Hopefully, its the start of something big....

Check out Phonotropic, The Crofoot, Robin Parrent & the Revenents, Gigi Allyn and Jennica for other goodness. Thanks Phreddy.

Friday, October 10, 2008

New Music: Coming Soon

Soooo Blogger deleted my Nark & Norah's Infinite Playlist post and a few others over the past week by the request of a label or 2. I haven't had this happen to me before. I mean, I've had people delete the sendspace links, but maybe this is the RIAA's new tactic.

Just another example of how backwards the industry is these days and they have no clue how to use the internets. Does Atlantic actually think they are going to lose millions because of some love from the blogs? If so, why did they selling Paper Trail for $3.99 on Amazon last Tuesday? Some artists (Mickey Factz, Kid Cudi, XV, Crooked I to name a few) actually know how to use blogs and the free publicity to their advantage and actually embrace it. Kanye leaked "Love Lockdown" himself for God sakes! I was lucky enough to get this comment before the post got axed:

"wow! thanks for adding city on fire to this mix! theres some really dope stuff on here.
if you need any more songs feel free to hit me up."

How cool is that? I added "City on Fire" by Che Grand to my latest mixtape, he noticed and actually thanked me for it. The game needs more artists like that. Hopefully, you'll be hearing more Che Grand in this spot in the future.

If you need Nark & Norah's Infinite Playlist in your life, e-mail me. Keep checking back for my next move. I'm contemplating switching to Wordpress, but we'll see.

Che Grand - City On Fire

Friday, September 19, 2008

Matt & Kim: "Nightmare" Drum Kick

Brooklyn's own Matt and Kim caught my eye and ear last fall, when I saw a video of them performing an acoustic version of "Yeah Yeah" on You Tube. Their bare bones approach, with Matt on an outdated keyboard and Kim drumming on a cardboard box accompanied by a bell, and what looks like Tupperware, blew me away. They are known for Matt's bad, but good vocals, basic melodies and simplified hooks (see "Yeah Yeah" and "Its A Fact"), but you don't need to be complicated to make good indie pop. I immediately snatched up their self-titled debut and the remixes that followed. For some reason, their accessible approach to music makes it that much easier to remix.

Matt and Kim's next album, Grand, can't come soon enough. Their simplicity is backed by the usual bouncy synth on their newest single, "Good Ol' Fashion Nightmare", but Kim's big band drums steal the show. The track is their most jolly and well-rounded to date, and proves you don't always need Auto-Tune if you sing off-key. Besides, they look like their having a blast doing it.

Matt and Kim - Good Ol Fashion Nightmare

Matt and Kim - No More Long Years

Matt and Kim - Its A Fact (Million $ Mano ft Hollywood Holt)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Cover Me Badd: Alphabeat, The Kooks

Since I've gotten more and more into the indie/underground rock realm, I've noticed the impact of covers. Mark Ronson made a solid album full of them with Version. While I was hesitant at first, talented musicians can certainly make someone else's song, their own work.

Its not exactly new any more, but Alphabeat continued Daft Punk's recent resurgence earlier this year with a cover of "Digital Love". With all of the beeps, synth and electro on the original, I was pretty skeptical before I gave it a listen. Surprisingly, Alphabeat re-imagined the track as an acoustic, choral sing-along, rather than Daft Punk's Spring Break heater. Needless to say, I pretty much played this any time I could this summer.

Alphabeat - Digital Love (Daft Punk cover)

More recently, one of my favorite bands of last summer, The Kooks, covered one of my favorites of this summer, MGMT. Similar to Alphabeat, The Kooks opted to turn MGMT's electro-funk sound into a guitar laden foot tapper on "Kids". By exchanging futuristic keys and vocal distortion for the English accent of Luke Pritchard, The Kooks edition will line up to the original on my future playlists.

The Kooks - Kids (MGMT cover)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Passion Pit: Wake Up, "Sleepyhead"

If you haven't been exposed to Passion Pit yet, be prepared, they are about to erupt. After being discovered by now defunct blog, Good Weather For Airstrikes, Passion Pit has been mentioned in more places than I can count. The Good Weather For Airstrikes folks even made them their first signing on Neon Gold Records.

Passion Pit's style is almost schizophrenic. Somewhere between pop and electro. Think MGMT but more upbeat and less psychedelic. "Sleepyhead" had me immediately hooked with its hypnotic bounce, off the wall vocals and eerie sample. The Cambridge-based band opened for Death Cab for Cutie and Girl Talk in the past year, and will hopefully make a stop in your neighborhood soon. Their re-issued EP Chunk of Change drops on 9/16.

Passion Pit - Sleepyhead

Sidenote: Quitting a blog to either open a record label and/or music venue is tops on my list. So if anyone has any ideas on how to do that, let me know. Now....

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Narkworthy 8/21: Nark-N-Rolla

The name certainly doesn't work as well as the last one, but it will do. Plenty of heavy hitters made the cut (Nas, Kanye, The Game, T-Pain) this go round, but look out for the newcomers (especially LMFAO) and legends (Large Professor). Of course, "Jockin' Jay-Z" had to be included. Kid Cudi continues his run of appearances and Young Jeezy put together 2 bangers (with a little help from Nas). I've been the biggest Jeezy hater around, but his new work on The Recession might persuade me otherwise. He always had solid production, but his word play never matched the beats. Finally, I can't believe it took so long for someone to jump on Coldplay's "Lost". It is the most hip-hop/Timbo-esque beat on one of the biggest rock albums of the year.

1. Page - Still Fly ft Drake
2. Now On - Write Back ft Shawn Jackson
3. Young Jeezy - Crazy World
4. Jay-Z - Jockin' Jay-Z (prod by Kanye West)
5. MURS - Can It Be
6. The Game - Angel ft Common (prod by Kanye West)
7. The Clipse - Celebrate ft Joss Stone
8. Attitude - Man Right Here (prod by Danja)
9. Large Professor - Hardcore
10. LMFAO - Yes
11. Novel - Lost (Coldplay Remix)
12. Trey-C - Showboatin' ft Ya Boy, Glasses Malone & Matt Blaque
13. Slim Thug - Bitch I'm Back ft Devin the Dude (prod by Dr. Dre)
14. Nas - What It Is (Esco Let's Go)
15. Lil' Scrappy - Stand Up ft Lil' Wayne
16. The Game - My Life ft Lil' Wayne
17. Young Jeezy - My President Is Black ft Nas
18. DJ Khaled - Go Hard ft Kanye West & T-Pain
19. Asher Roth - I Love College
20. Kid CuDi - Man On The Moon (The Anthem)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Dan Deacon: Detroit "Wham City"

While I'm not a huge fan of Dan Deacon, he came out with some intriguing news this week. Deacon plans on taking his electronic show on tour with other Baltimore-based artists as a "round robin" fiesta. Basically, there are going to be multiple stages lined up along the perimeter of a venue, with audience in the middle. A band will perform one song, then the next band will perform a song, etc. There will be two shows ("Eyes Night" and "Feet Night") each in 7 cities. Sounds like a very interesting whirlwind of fun. If I was ever going to check him out in person, this might be a good time to do it.

My only experience with Dan Deacon has been a few Myspace hits, Pitchfork love and walking into the end of his set before Girl Talk at Metro. When I said I walked in, I actually meant stumble because he was performing in the center of the dance floor and I almost ran into the man himself (Green skull and all).

The only bands I recognized were Deacon, Beach House and the Death Set, but the rest are listed here.

The insanity takes place in Detroit on 10/8 and 10/9 at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Someone take some hallucinogenics and let me know how it goes.

Dan Deacon - The Crystal Cat

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Blueprint 3 Suckas On the Way

Last week, Kanye West polished off his 2nd night at Madison Square Garden with a short monologue to the sold-out crowd. Mr. West has been doing this at all of his Glow In The Dark stops lately, so this wasn't out of the ordinary. Apparently, he was talking about how he is trying quit being so selfish and keeping all the good beats for himself. Since pride is something he doesn't have any issue with, Kanye asked the New Yorkers if they would like a sample. What they didn't know, is who the beat was for.

BLUEPRINT 3 from kwest on Vimeo.

I like it. He even throws in a jab at the bloke from Oasis. It sounds more Blueprint 2 than Blueprint, but I'll take any Jay/Kanye collabos.

This means that Timbaland won't be producing Jay's next entire album. It would be nice, but I'm sure that will happen as soon as Tim and Dr. Dre work on "Chairmen of the Boards" and right after Nas and DJ Premier get back together. The Blueprint 3 is Shawn Carter's last album on Def Jam and is slated to feature No ID on the boards as well.

I don't expect this link to last longer than a day, so get it while its hot.
Jay-Z - Jockin' Jay-Z (produced by Kanye West)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lollapalooza 2008: Day 3

After a rowdy Day 2 of Lollapalooza, Day 3 seemed to come as soon as my head hit the pillow. I was more than ready for Sunday though and the ladies of Ann St (Laura, Erin & Becky) were pumped to join the Waters duo and I.

Laura, Becky and I departed early for Grant Park to catch Chicago's Office at 11:30 at the PS3 Stage. I'm pretty sure they were both surprised by the size of the park as we made our first of many jaunts across the north end. After 30 minutes of what seemed to be an excruciating sound check, we were informed that the Weakerthans couldn't make the fest, so Office's show was bumped to the afternoon.

We had some time to relax, so we leisurely made our way south to the AT&T stage where female rapper Kid Sister was to perform. It was still early in the day so we were able to stand close for a good view of the show. Rage Against the Machine was the last show of Day 2 on the stage and sunglasses, pieces of shoes and dead grass were the only remnants left. Kid Sister appreciatively came out with a hype-man, back-up dancers and DJ AutoBot (Flosstradamous) on the ones and twos. Koko B. Ware hasn't come out yet, but had the crowd engaged with fun, new, dance rap ("Switchboard", "Control") and performed her biggest hit, "Pro Nails".

We met up with the rest of our crew at the sparsely filled Citi Stage for What Made Milwaukee Famous. They were serviceable, but didn't exactly wow the crowd until "Sultan" and a few closing songs. I did find out that they aren't from Milwaukee and didn't live up to all the Spoon comparisons I had heard though.

With our full group in tact we took a lunch break in the shade and headed for the Myspace stage. I had finally succumbed to the incessant promotion of Chromeo and was looking forward to them after copping Fancy Footwork a few weeks earlier. Dave 1 and P-Thugg were on their electrofunk A-game from the start keeping the crowd nodding ("Call Me Up") and dancing ("Tenderoni") in the sweltering humidity. I'm sure its nerve-wracking performing in front of thousands of people, but the Montreal based duo were one of the few acts that interacted with Lolla-goers all weekend. Aside from making the crowd bounce with "Call Me Up" and "Bonafied Lovin'", Dave and P were like a comedy duo with jokes incorporating P's talk box.

Florida's Black Kids set on the Citi stage overlapped with Chromeo, but I was able to hear a few of the hits from Partie Traumatic while the ladies took a break from the heat. Lead singer Reggie Youngblood's faux British accent got the best response on "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You". They sounded great live and probably could have played on one of the bigger stages.

We opted for shade and beer rather than G. Love and sweat from 4:30 to 5. After cooling off, we traveled north again to the PS3 stage (hearing Iron & Wine in the distance) to see Irish/punk band Flogging Molly. They had one of the largest crowds I saw at that stage all weekend and did their best to turn it into a rowdy pub. Irish flags were in the air and Dave King snarled and shouted his way through a fun set filled with banjos, accordion, and fiddles. We left after "Float", but "Requiem for a Dying Song" and other jams made me interested for more.

The toughest decision was at hand: Gnarls Barkley or Girl Talk. That resolution was much easier when we saw the crowd lined up at the Citi stage. The schedulers probably didn't anticipate it, but Girl Talk could have easily filled Myspace or PS3 stages. As the bass line for "Charity Case" played at the AT&T stage, it looked like fans were stretched back to Food Town, cutting off walkways. Gillis finally took the stage at 6:30 and made his presence known with VIPs swarming his lap top and fake cops with toilet paper guns as the intro began. The dance party was non-stop as he ran through mash-ups and samples old (Biggie/Elton, "Play Your Part") and new (Yael Naim/Khia, Daft Punk/Tag Team). It was so hectic that Gillis had to clear the stage because it was starting to bend. Nothin' like a daytime dance party. The grand finale was nothing short of epic. Birdman & Lil' Wayne's "Poppin' Bottles" played into Journey's "Faithfully" and looped as Girl Talk crowd surfed from the stage to the sound tent in a friggin' inflatable row boat. 'Nuff said.

Everyone pretty much used all of their energy at Girl Talk, so after that we retreated to tailgate-like lines for the port-o-potties. Mark Ronson and company sounded great on the Myspace stage. His throwback sound with covers (Coldplay, Radiohead, Justice) and special guests Candie Payne, Rhymefest and Kenna amassed a large crowd as well. Unfortunately, Ronson mentioned this is the last stop on their long tour (which obviously skipped Michigan).

Our group refilled on beverages and food while staking out a spot on the hill for Kanye West. I was pretty disappointed in not lining up close to the stage for the final headliner of the weekend, but I got over it after a few songs. Kanye was backed by an elaborate stage complete with bright lights, a DJ, and energetic band. After teasing the crowd with a slice of "Stronger", West greeted his hometown with "Good Morning". He ran through all the hits from "Through the Wire" to "Diamonds" to "Can't Tell Me Nothin'". After a 15 minute long, Chi-Town flavored edition of his guest spot on Jeezy's "Put On", West stated "Now we can start the show". For all of the names Kanye has earned over the years (arrogant, cocky, obnoxious), you have to give him credit for put passion into what he does. He shined throughout the his time on the main stage and was easily one of the best rap/hip-hop artists I've ever seen. Kanye showed his recent love for vocal distortion T-Pain style as he finished the last hour with rousing editions of "Homecoming", "Good Life", "Gold Digger" and more. Things got a little uncomfortable when West gave a short ode to his mother before "Hey Mama", but closed in grand fashion. He let his band get some due recognition by surprisingly covering Journey's "Don't Stop Believin" and played "Stronger", asking "is this what you've been waiting for?". Indeed.

And just like that Lollapalooza 2008 was done. An ocean of festival-goers poured out of Grant Park and cheered in the downtown Chicago streets. It was amazing seeing my iPod come to life and experiencing that many live acts in one weekend. Its hard to single out who was my favorite artist all weekend, but Kanye, Girl Talk, Mates of State, CSS, Lupe Fiasco, Chromeo and Rage Against the Machine certainly were most memorable. The bad news is that Lollapalooza was pretty much a "gateway" event that is going to make me want to go to see most of these artists at smaller venues and make Lolla (or some festival) an annual necessity.

Photos from Lollapalooza Day 3
Videos from Lollapalooza Day 3

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Lollapalooza 2008: Day 2

After an amazing, but exhausting Day 1 at Lollapalooza 2008, I was looking forward to Day 2's less cluttered lineup. Jenny, Andrea, and I were able to make it to Lolla-land midway through Margot and the Nuclear So & Sos' set around 12:30. We heard the only song we knew ("Skeleton Key") and many others ("Quiet as a Mouse" and "Bar Fight Revolution") that made us realize they were worth looking into further. As the early sun and heat began to filter into our pores, Jenny concluded that I must not have an "off button" since I went out and about Lincoln Park Friday night and was still standing.

Next on the AT&T stage was indie-pop duo, The Ting Tings. Their music sounds like it would be hard to reproduce outside the studio, so I was very interested how it would translate live. Lead singer Katie White was commanding on guitar and Jules De Martino kept the speakers pounding on the drums. It was easily one of the most memorable performances of the weekend with "Great DJ", "Fruit Machine" and extended versions of "Thats Not My Name" and "Shut Up and Let Me Go". With an additional drum by White, it might have also been one of the louder performances of the day. The next two hours were pretty chill catching lunch, stages in the shade and the temperature a tad less humid. We saw a relaxed set by folkie Mason Jennings, a dizzying performance by Steel Train, and a lackadaisical hour from MGMT (but a huge crowd). Instrumental outfit, Explosions in the Sky floored the Bud Light stage with a numbing, guitar-heavy performance. I looked into their music before the festival, but you really need to see them live to view the passion and emotion they put into their work.

After breezing by Okkervil River, we opted to get a good spot for Lupe Fiasco's main stage offering. I had to pretend Jamie Lidell wasn't playing across the field, but the wait for Lupe was worth it. He back flipped on stage to the "Rocky" theme, doing one-armed push-ups, and was backed by a full band and DJ (not to mention the deaf interpreter who kept up with Lupe, wow). Dapper dressed in all-white, he almost looked like a preacher and echoed this getting the crowd into "Kick Push" and a gospel intro to "Daydream". Lupe ran through hits from The Cool and saved an extended version of "Superstar" for last. Lupe has clearly picked up some showmanship from Kanye the past few years and had the crowd amped and ready for Rage.

Lupe filled the south end of Grant Park, but by 8:30 it was clear who Lolla-goers were there to see, Rage Against the Machine. Unless they had been to a few festivals last year, there is good chance fans hadn't seen the band since 2000. Flanked by an blazing red star, Zach de la Rocha and company erupted with "Testify". Fans eager to get closer to the stage immediately pushed forward and mosh pits sprouted left and right. After a chorus of cheers, "Bulls On Parade" fueled the fury and the atmosphere was electric as fans bounced in unison to Tom Morello's guitar genius. Unfortunately, this is the moment fun energy almost turned to riot mentality. After "People of the Sun", Zach paused to urge the crowd to "take care of one another" and move "5 to 10 steps" back so hurt fans near the front barricades could exit the area. Rage played an amazing, energetic set, and sounded as tight as their records, but had to stop two more times to make fans realized the seriousness of their actions. We would later find out that Rage fans without tickets had been jumping fences and plowing through security to join the mayhem. Our bubble below the left Show vision screen wasn't nearly as crazy as others, but after a fan was sucker punched by a meat head, for no reason during "Guerrilla Radio", we decided to catch the last few songs by Wilco.

We peeked in Perry's tent to see DJ Momjeans aka Danny Masterson (Hyde from "That '70's Show" on our way to the Bud Light stage. Highlights included a "Fedora" convention on stage and Masterson giving the crowd the finger to a chorus of cheers. Wilco proved to be the polar opposite of Rage. The north lawn was scattered with people much older than Rage's demo relaxing on blankets to Jeff Tweddy's scratchy, alt/folk rock. We stood nearly the same distance as we did for Rage and didn't bump into a single person while the band closed with "Walken" and "Outtasite".

Day 2 was just as solid as Day 1. While we didn't see as many bands, we were closer for most, didn't get cooked by the sun and saw some of great performances. Lupe and Rage Against the Machine had the most influential performances of the day, in my mind, but the Ting Tings and Explosions in the Sky were stunning as well. We took a longer "el" ride and quickly passed out ready for the 3rd and final day of Lollapalooza with the rest of the the Ann St. ladies.

Photos from Lollapalooza 2008: Day 2
Videos from Lollapalooza 2008: Day 2

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lollapalooza 2008: Day 1

Disclaimer: What I'm about to post is as accurate (and long-winded) as I can be about my experience at Lollapalooza 2008. For each day I'll post photo albums here and you can check out videos here. It doesn't really do justice to what a great event and how sweet the whole atmosphere actually was. Hopefully you will understand why I was grinning from ear to ear all weekend.

After a successful (and on-time) Amtrak train ride from Birmingham, MI to Union Station Thursday night, I could barely sleep in anticipation of Day 1 at Lollapalooza. When I woke up Friday, it was easy to let my sleepiness subside. I was on my own that morning, so after perfect directions from Ms. Waters, I made my journey from the Fullerton stop to Grant Park. After exiting the downtown "el" stop, I followed an obvious group of festival-goers who were trying to decide between early sets by Butch Walker and Rogue Wave.

I happily entered the heavenly gates to the right of a giant, inflated Lollapalooza sign just after 11:30. I didn't need to be at the Myspace Stage for Rogue Wave until 1:15, so I grabbed a free program and wandered the park. I was immediately taken aback by the size of Grant Park (later wouldn't be so roomy). I made it a point to survey all of the stages I had drooled over the past few weeks, take in the unique ideas (Green Street, shaded Hammocks, branded tents, Food Town), Buckingham Fountain and looked for a decent Lolla shirt (no luck).

When I reached the North end of the festival, I stumbled upon the early energy of reggae/hip hop artist, K'Naan at the Playstation 3 stage. He reminded me of K-OS and I quickly took note to check him out more when I got home. Immediately after he finished, Black Lips took over at the Bud Light main stage with their garage punk sound. They didn't exactly keep my attention, so I headed 15 minutes south to get a good spot to view Rogue Wave. Zach & company moved higher on my list of favorite bands with catchy indie songs past ("Publish My Love"), present ("Like I Needed") and Chicago-themed ("Lake Michigan"). I headed back to the Bud Light stage wondering why they were scheduled so early, when they much more worthy of a late afternoon slot. The Go! Team brought a lot of enthusiasm with their indie anthems, but were plagued by early sound troubles and lead singer, Ninja, was mostly drown out by the rest of the band.

The back and forth was only beginning as I hoofed south again, this time for Yeasayer's show at the AT&T main stage. The experimental and Middle-Eastern sounds were felt most on "2080" and the appropriate "Wait For The Summer". Next up was Duffy, back at PS3. I took in most of her set from a distance, but her Motown-influenced sound seemed a bit out of place. I met up with the rest of my party just before Akron, OH duo the Black Keys took the mainstage at nearly the hottest part of the day. So hot, that the crowd cheered for a large cloud that slowly moved in the Chicag sky. Their Southern blues rock was just what the 2nd largest crowd I saw Friday was looking for. Guitarist & singer Dan Auerbach repeatedly praised co-hort Patrick Carney for looking possessed while booming on the drum kit, especially on "Strange Times", "10 AM" and "Your Touch". The Black Keys closing their 3rd straight Lolla appearnce with a thunderous rendition of "I Got Mine" to great fanfare.

We opted to skip Cat Power and made our way back to the south end of the park, stopping at Perry's Tent to see DJ Million $ Mano. The organizers did their best to turn the shady, cool spot into a club-like atmosphere with couches and DJ's aplenty. I only saw a special appearance by Drea of He Say She Say for "Crash Dummie" and heard Mano spin "Lady", but it was enough to check out Mano out next time I'm in town. We caught married duo, Mates of State, (with 2 extra members on strings and horns) halfway through their set. My sweat level was reaching maximum levels but MOS's set was more than enjoyable as they performed "The Re-Arranger" and "Goods" and clearly had fun doing it.

The next two hours were a whirlwind that started with hearing a familiar Grizzly Bear song while inhaling a $5 cheeseburger from Food Town. Bloc Party played a solid set, but Kele and company belted out all of my favorites ("Hunting For Witches", "Banquet") early so we opted for a water break. The crowds had thickened to the point that the "75,000 people" number I heard earlier, became more realistic as we bounced back across to see the Raconteurs. We only stayed for a few songs, but got the point: the band is great a playing nostalgic, garage rock. I pretended that the Cool Kids weren't playing, in favor of catching the 2nd half of CSS's set. I'm sure the Cool Kids were great, but CSS was a great choice. Not only did they play all the songs I needed to hear ("Off the Hook", "Music Is My..") they actually got the Citi stage rowdy. Lead singer Lovefoxxx started in a red body suit with a ring of flowers wrapped around it, only to disrobe to another ridiculous outfit. She jumped roped with the mic cord, was flanked by a hilarious dancer in florescent spandex and made everyone, including a mohawked rocker scream "Alala". Mission accomplished. One of the best performances of the weekend.

Radiohead closed out Day 1 as the only headliner and filled the entire south end of the park. I stuck around for a half hour or so, but just didn't get into them. Everyone raved about their performance, so I'm sure it was great. I was glad I was able to see that ocean of people that clearly loved them. After exiting the park, I took a quick train ride back to the apt., showered and went out with the rest of the Ann St. ladies before I had a chance to think about sleeping.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pre-Lollapalooza 2008: Part III

Day 3 Tentative Schedule:
Day 3 has all the ingredients to make for the best day of Lollapalooza: Girl Talk, Kanye West, and an Ann St. Reunion. I may not make it to Office's 11:30 slot, but I hope so. A little later, I'll take a requisite visit to see Chi-town's own Kid Sister, and succumb to the "Pro Nails" chorus in the process( you all will be saying it by the end of the day, ask Laura.) At first glance, it looks like Day 3 should be easy....until 3:15 hits. Luckily, many of the artists I want to see are at both Citi Stage and Myspace Stage (right next to each other). Chromeo's bouncy electrofunk kicks off at Citi, just before Black Kids at 3:30 at Myspace. Iron & Wine and G. Love & the Special Sauce have dueling sets across the park from each other (my interest in both should make that decision easy, with a coin flip). 5:15 brings the Irish-Punk of Flogging Molly just before the toughest conflict of the weekend: Gnarls Barkley, 15 minutes before Girl Talk. Do I catch a glimpse of Cee Lo & Danger Mouse's crazy costumes or get in line for the biggest party I'll ever attend. Probably a game-time decision. I'm looking forward to Mark Ronson's (special guest filled?) set to ease the tension at 7:15. Finally, what better way to close out the weekend with Chicago's son, Kanye West. I don't care what happened at Bonnaroo, I'm expecting the best show I've ever seen (no pressure).

My Schedule

Day 3
Day 3
1. Office - Oh My
2. The Blakes - Magic
3. Kid Sister - Pro Nails ft Kanye West
4. What Made Milwaukee Famous - Sultan
5. The Whigs - Right Hand On My Heart
6. Chromeo - Bonafied Lovin'
7. Black Kids - Listen To You Body Tonight
8. Black Kids - I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend To Dance
9. Iron & Wine - Boy With A Coin
10. Saul Williams - List of Demands (Reparations)
11. Flogging Molly - Requiem For A Dying Song
12. Flogging Molly - Float
13. Gnarls Barkley - Going On
14. Gnarls Barkley - Smiley Faces
15. Flosstradamus - Yeah Yeah (Matt & Kim Remix)
16. Girl Talk - Pure Magic
17. Girl Talk - Set It Off
18. Mark Ronson - Amy ft Kenna
19. The National - Apartment Story
20. Child Rebel Soldiers (Lupe, Kanye, Pharell) - US Placers
21. Kanye West - Touch the Sky ft Lupe Fiasco
22. Kanye West - Homecoming ft Chris Martin

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pre-Lollapalooza 2008: Part II

Day 2 Tentative Schedule:
Hopefully, I'll have my bearings figured out and know the layout of the Lollapalooza grounds by Saturday morning. Day 2 doesn't pose as many conflicts as Day 1 and Day 3, but it will be nice to know if its actually possible to bounce from stage to stage. I hope to start the day by taking in sets by bands that I only know a few tracks by, like De Novo Dahl, Margot and the Nuclear So & Sos, and Does It Offend You, Yeah?. The Ting Tings will probably have a decent crowd before Mason Jennings captures my attention with his twangy, folk offerings. 3:30 at the Myspace Stage, MGMT is one of the most anticipated acts of the weekend (for me), and I'll be interested to see how their electro-funk music translates live. I'll check out Jamie Lidell's retro crooning, before going to the AT&T stage to see Chi-Town's finest, Lupe Fiasco. I'm probably 3 years overdue, from when I first wanted to see Lupe, but his strong catalog will have made it worth the wait. Day 2's headliners are much more interesting for me. I'll check out Wilco for Jeff Tweedy & company's legendary stage presence, but this will probably be my only opportunity to see Rage live and in-person. All of this will only further my anticipation for Day 3.

My Schedule

Lolla 2008: Day 2
1. De Novo Dahl - Shout
2. The Postelles - 123 Stop
3. Margot and the Nuclear So & Sos - Skeleton Key
4. Does It Offend You? Yeah - Epic Last Song
5. The Ting Tings - Shut Up and Let Me Go
6. Dr. Dog - Worst Trip
7. Foals - Balloons
8. Mason Jennings - Drinking As Religion
9. Mason Jennings - Memphis, TN
10. MGMT - Time to Pretend
11. MGMT - Electric Feel
12. Jamie Lidell - Wait For Me
13. Lupe Fiasco - Daydream
14. Lupe Fiasco - Superstar (acoustic) ft Matthew Santos
15. Serena Ryder - Brand New Love
16. Okkervil River - A Hand to Take Hold of the Scene
17. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings - 100 Days, 100 Nights
18. Wilco - Walken
19. Wilco - What Light
20. Rage Against the Machine - Killing In the Name
21. Rage Against the Machine - Bulls on Parade

Monday, July 28, 2008

Pre-Lollapalooza: Part I

In celebration of the event I've been waiting 2 years to attend, Lollapalooza, I've decided to be really original, and make a mixtape for each day. Though I can't claim to know all of the artist descending on Grant Park next weekend, I think have done enough research to keep up.

Day 1 Tentative Schedule:
After arriving by way of Amtrack the night before, I plan to begin Lolla with Rogue Wave's set on the Myspace Stage. If their performance in Ann Arbor last fall is any indication, they should feel right at home with tracks like "Lake Michigan" and "Chicago X 12". Day 1 gets complicated at 2:15 when I have to decide between the cheer-leading anthems of the Go! Team and tribal sounds of Yeasayer. From there, I'll head for the PS3 stage, to see if the hype Duffy has received from across the pond is worthy. After that I'm inclined to see the Black Keys, before hopscotching from stage to stage to catch Million $ Mano spinning and Mates of State crooning at the same time. 6:15-8:00 is a free-for-all with The Raconteurs, Bloc Party, The Cool Kids & CSS battling. Though I still haven't been persuaded to the ways of Radiohead, I would probably check out a few songs before enjoying the Chi-Town nightlife.

My Schedule

Day 1
1. Rogue Wave - Endless Shovel
2. Rogue Wave - Lake Michigan
3. Butch Walker - Race Cars & Goth Rock
4. The Go! Team - Doing It Right
5. The Go! Team - Grips Like A Vice
6. Yeasayer - Wait for the Summer
7. Yeasayer - Sunrise
8. Duffy - Mercy
9. The Black Keys - Strange Times
10. The Black Keys - Your Touch
11. Million $ Mano - Lady
12. Mates of State - Punchlines
13. Mates of State - The Re-Arranger
14. Bloc Party - Banquet
15. Bloc Party - Hunting For Witches
16. The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldier
17. The Raconteurs - Old Enough
18. CSS - Music Is My Hot Sex
19. CSS - Rat is Dead (Rage)
20. The Cool Kids - I (Mikey) Rock
21. Radiohead - Karma Police

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Narkworthy 7/22: The Nark Knight

It didn't take long for this edition to shape up with Nas' Untitled dropping and T.I.'s Paper Trail leaking like a college house keg tap. There are still a few Midwest artists represented (Buff 1, Kanye, Black Milk, and Kid Sister), but not as biased as Nark Inc. Similar to TQ's appearance last round, the comeback trend continues with Murphy Lee's best bet at a catchy summer jam and Game's foray into rap/rock (its much better than it sounds). Look out for Dr. Dre's latest protege' Bishop Lamont, Young Chris' solo efforts (formerly of Young Gunz), and Kid Cudi's otherworldly musical offering.

Discuss. Hate. Let me know what you think.

The Nark Knight
1. Jay-Z - A Billi
2. John Legend - Green Light ft Andre 3000
3. Styles P - Ghost ft Pharrell
4. Bishop Lamont - Grow Up
5. Young Chris - Party
6. KiD CuDi - Embrace the Martian
7. Nas - Hero ft Keri Hilson
8. T.I. - Whatever You Like
9. Buff1 - Classic Rap
10. Little Brother - Life of the Party ft Skillz
11. The Game - Dope Boys ft Travis Barker
12. Murphy Lee ft T-Pain - My Shoes
13. Wale - Whole Time ft Young Chris
14. Young Jeezy - Put On ft Kanye West
15. T.I. - Swing Your Rag ft Swizz Beatz
16. Buff1 - Never Fall ft Black Milk
17. Nas - Make the World Go Round ft Chris Brown & Game
18. Lil' Wayne - Got Money ft T-Pain
19. Kid Sister - Pro Nails ft Kanye West
20. KiD CuDi - Down and Out
21. Big Boi - Somethings Got To Give ft Mary J. Blige

Monday, July 14, 2008

Josh Fix: "Whiskey" and Queen

I had this Josh Fix post all ready to be published and then NPR's All Songs Considered beat me to it (I'm way behind on Google Reader). They sum up this multi-talented musician as a Freddie Mercury/Elton John "hybrid". I didn't get the Elton comparison at first, but now I can see that. Much like those two legends, Fix plays guitar, percussion, keyboard and synthesizer, to name a few. His debut album, Free At Last, has a very accessible, layered power pop sound. My favorite, "Whiskey & Speed", was named Best Unsigned Demo by a San Francisco branch of the Grammy's. The song's mocking approach to addiction some how comes off as light-hearted.

Josh Fix will probably be named as a Mika knock-off, but I just never got into him. Fix is much more talented and less annoying than Mika, and is closer aligned to the Queen frontman than Mika is. I even appreciate his ELO influence ("Strange Magic" is sweet).

Josh Fix - Whiskey & Speed

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Rapture ft Timbaland: "No", You Read My Mind

Timbaland has certainly been one of the most in-demand producers for any genre over the past two years. He collaborated with many artists that I never imagined (Madonna, Duran Duran) and some that I wished he didn't (Danity Kane, M.Pokora). Either way, I am usually satisfied.

So imagine my surprise when I found that Timbo collaborated with The Rapture for the Grand Theft Auto 4 Soundtrack. I admittedly beat The Rapture's Pieces of the People We Love album to death, with infectious tracks like "Get Myself Into It" and "Whoo! Alright. Yeah..Uh-Huh" last summer. Timbaland's innovative, beat box-filled, dance ready production is a perfect match for The Rapture's catchy, dance-punk tunes. Justin Timberlake even gushed that he wanted Future Sex/Love Sound to feel like the band's hit, "House of Jealous Lovers".

Timbo's beat-boxing ("1-2-3/Here we GO") gets things rolling and is quickly joined by an assortment of sounds. Everything from Timbaland's trusty synthesizer to traditional guitar and drums to an assortment of cow bells (clearly The Rapture's favorite backup instrument). I can't say the song makes much sense, with Luke Jenner apparently moaning about some bloke's new abstinence for "trashing people". It doesn't matter much when you are hypnotically listening to the infectious track on loop.

The Rapture - No Sex For Ben ft Timbaland

Also featured in Timbland's Verizon V-Cast Commercial.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Girl Talk: "Feed the Animals" Indeed

Previously mentioned, in more places than I can count, mash-up maestro Girl Talk released Feed the Animals last Thursday. 2 years after his breakout success, The Night Ripper, Greg Gillis is pretty much the face (but not the creator) of this evolving genre. So far, the Hood Internet, Car Stereo (Wars) and Immuzikation are the only ones close to Girl Talk. Since the classic The Night Ripper, Mr. Gillis has quit his day-job, won a Taco Bell eating contest, and went from doing shows for small gatherings to selling out venues and joining the festival circuit (this year at DEMF, Lollapalooza and All Points West to name a few).

This time around, Girl Talk went with the Radiohead approach by releasing Feed the Animals with the "pay what you want" option. Very interesting, and being the stats nerd that I have turned into, I would love to know how many units sold on the first day/week. I don't think Soundscan will be seeing those records. I bought my copy for $10, which included 14 DRM-free mp3's, plus $3 shipping to get the physical copy this fall (for reasons previously mentioned).

After having the weekend to digest it, I've decided that its okay that its not The Night Ripper. 2 years changes a lot and they are in fact, 2 totally different "Animals". Feed the Animals is much more accessible to the masses sprinkled with more "classics" than you can count. What it lacks in obscure/cult samples, it makes up for in smooth transitions. There are very few spots where an '80s legend couldn't line up with a rap star. While I can't say it has a true "Juicy"/"Tiny Dancer" moment, Animals has some head-turning spots:

-"What Its All About" (Jackson 5 "ABC" + Rihanna "Umbrella") Girl Talk manages to make a young MJ sound electric over the catchiest song from last summer.

-"Set It Off" (Mary J. Blige "Real Love" + the Guess Who "These Eyes") Mary J. Blige's soulful vocals are even better over this stripped down classic.

-"No Pause" (Yael Naim "New Soul" + Eminem "Shake That" + Swizz Beatz "Money In the Bank") The catchiest of all Apple songs, paired with Eminem's filthiest party jam, and a little help from Swizz Beatz makes for a prime mash-up.

-"Play Your Part (Pt.2)" (Huey "Pop, Lock & Drop It" + Journey "Faithfully") While I'm more partial to the Soulja Boy and Journey version I heard in sweat soaked Chicago, I can't think of a better way to conclude the album.

My favorites change each time I listen to it. Cop it while you can. The more popular Mr. Gillis gets, the more I worry that some artist will get grumpy and try to get in Girl Talk's pockets. Look for Girl Talk to continue his non-stop touring through the Fall.

Girl Talk - No Pause

Buy Girl Talk's Feed the Animals here. Preview it here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cut Copy: Summertime "Colours"

I've been slacking again, but its only because of:

a) moving out of my apartment
b) trips to Caseville
c) mourning the end of my beloved Pistons' playoff run
d) the slew new music keeping me occupied

Those good reasons and the fact that my current file-sharing site, File Den, decided to ban me from use (if anyone has any better ones, let me know), should explain my absence. At least I didn't "leave you without a dope beat to step to" (see Nark Inc.).

By now, Lil' Wayne sold a "Millie", Lollapalooza released its 2008 schedule, and Girl Talk took the Radiohead route with Feed the Animals(more on that later). You also might have noticed Cut Copy's rise to fame. From February to May, their tracks (and remixed tracks) have ruled the Hype Machine's top 50 and have quickly risen to my iPod's top 100.

There isn't much more I can say about these Australia natives, other than that they know how to make catchy, yet thoughtful ("So Haunted") dance hits. In what could be confused for a number of styles, Cut Copy manages to create an electropop sound with guitar, drums and keys. At times In Ghost Colours sounds like an 80's throwback ("Lights and Music") without the cheesy haircuts and outfits, and at others its simply, good indie rock ("Midnight Runner" & "Unforgettable Season"). In Ghost Colours could possibly be the album of the summer with breezy songs like "Feel the Love" and "Hearts on Fire".

Cut Copy is currently touring the U.S. and making stops at Pitchfork and Monolith. Everything I have heard about their live show sounds amazing and makes me jealous I missed their Magic Stick show.

Cut Copy - Feel the Love

Cut Copy - So Haunted

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Narkworthy 6/3: Nark Inc.

This mixtape was actually sitting on the burner for a week or so. After the onslaught of summer hip-hop, it took a little while to decide what would make the cut. After seeing the track list, 2 things jump out at me:

1. Neptunes, Neptunes Neptunes. Pharrell and Chad are all over this edition. N.E.R.D. is making me consider avoiding the inevitable leak and buy Seeing Sounds. Star Trak cohorts Kenna, Chester French and Mickey Factz make necessary appearances. Lastly, 2007 may have been the year of Timbaland, but 2008 might be all Neptunes. Between the Common track, N.E.R.D., and Pharell's work on Madonna's album, they certainly have a head start on Timbo.

2. Midwest Revival. Nark Inc. is filled with artists representing Chicago, Detroit and even Cleveland. It was hard to dissect a few cuts from Kidz In The Hall's The In Crowd, with so many to choose from. Common purists are going to be mad, but you can't argue with the Pharrell beat on "Universal Mind Control". Ann Arbor transplant Buff 1 makes the 1st of many future Nark features, Royce 5'9" makes two appearances, as does Cleveland newcomer and self proclaimed "stoner", Kid Cudi.

..and yes, Curtis and his silly vocoder made the list....whoops.

Nark Inc.
1. TQ - Paradise ft Krayzie Bone
2. X.O. - Grind Baby ft Cee Cee
3. Brisco - On The Run ft Akon & Flo Rida
4. Kid Cudi - Day n Nite
5. Common - Universal Mind Control ft Pharrell
6. Mickey Factz - The Water ft Lauryn Hill
7. N.E.R.D. - Spaz
8. Buff 1 - Beat The Speakers Up
9. Idle Warship - Fall Back ft Chester French
10. Elzhi - Motown 25 ft Royce 5'9"
11. Kenna - Say Goodbye to Love ft Lupe Fiasco
12. B.O.B. - Lonely People
13. Saigon - Believe It
14. NYGz - Ya Dayz R #'D remix ft Lady of Rage, Freddie Foxx & Royce 5'9"
15. Bun B - Swang On 'Em ft Lupe Fiasco
16. Wale - The Crazy
17. Kidz In the Hall - Middle of the Map Pt. 1 ft Fooch
18. Kidz In the Hall - Middle of the Map Pt. 2 ft Black Milk & Guilty Simpson
19. N.E.R.D. - Everybody Nose remix ft Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco & Pusha T
20. Kid Cudi - Dat New "New"
21. G-Unit - Rider Pt. 2
22. Rick Ross - Get Down ft Pharrell

Download Nark Inc.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Black Keys: Southern Blues "Attack"

I haven't had time to mention The Black Keys' latest effort, Attack & Release, in the past month. Thats because its been a non-stop fixture in my cd player.

**Warning-Short Rant Below**
Yes, I actually went to buy this album because sometimes, I just miss the physical process of purchasing new music. In fact, I would probably switch to vinyl if it were possible to transfer the music to my computer, eventually. But there is something to be said for:
A)driving to a record store (unfortunately, I don't know any in my area)
B)paying cash
C)tearing off the plastic
D)checking for a scratch-free disc
E)perusing through liner notes
F)listening to a new album from start to finish
iTunes just can't give me that experience (and my wallet can't handle buying 10 albums a week).

Anyways, on Attack and Release, the Black Keys added a third party to their close knit duo, producer Danger Mouse. While many were nervous that Danger would disrupt the chemistry and success Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney had on past releases (I know Magic Potion, but need to check out the rest), fans shouldn't worry. If anything, he helped refine their garage-blues sound and only added when necessary. On the lead single, "Strange Times", Carney's drums sound as hard as ever and Auerbach's vocals have a commanding presence. Danger subtly sprinkles some psychedelic keyboarding and an eerie backing to complete the apocalyptic track. "Psychotic Girl" continues the dark tone with a creepy organ amid his haunting voice. Listeners are easily entranced by slight strumming of a banjo, as Auerbach tries to ward off the advances of a female who isn't who she seems.

If a little Danger Mouse, is too much for you, not to worry. "I Got Mine" showcases the duo at their best with thunderous chords with a Led Zeppelin feel. Other highlights include "Oceans and Streams" (a metaphorical bout with insomnia) and the mid-tempo cut "So He Won't Break" (maddening heartbreak).

Look for The Black Keys to continue to gain momentum with stops at Lollapalooza, Rothbury and their own tour this summer.

The Black Keys - I Got Mine

The Black Keys - Psychotic Girl

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Narkworthy 5/20: B.O.B., N.E.R.D., Bun B ft Lupe

There was drought for a week or so, but when new, good hip-hop comes out, it is usually in bunches. Last week was no different with a plethora of summer-ready goodness from a variety of sources.

B.O.B. - Lonely People
This track from the next great thing from A-Town isn't exactly new, but I finally found a copy of it. B.O.B. drops some social commentary over a Beatles sample of "Eleanor Rigby" that would never get cleared, thank god for mixtapes. Some people are partial to Talib's take on this Beatles' gem, but this beat hits harder.

B.O.B. - Lonely People

Talib Kweli - Lonely People

N.E.R.D. - Spaz
Pharell & company sound amazing over another schizophrenic beat. The song is currently getting plugged by Microsoft and feels much more like a track from In Search Of... rather than Fly or Die.

N.E.R.D. - Spaz

Bun B - Swang On'Em ft Lupe Fiasco
After getting props on "Hip-Hop Saved My Life", Houston's best grabbed Lupe for this cut from "II Trill". Lupe's chameleon-like flow sounds more than at home over the thumping track, while Bun B does what he does best.

Bun B - Swang On-Em ft Lupe Fiasco

Friday, May 16, 2008

$35 to see Shawy Lo....I don't think so

In the past year, I have made it part of my daily routine to check Detroit venue websites for updated concert information. Live Nation and Ticketmaster, usually, only list concerts at "their" venues, and TourFilter only lists concerts a month in advance. So I have been relegated to checking each venue seperately, but it is a good way to waste time.

This week, I stumbled upon a listing for a Shawty Lo concert at The Fillmore on May 30th. I then proceeded to vomit in my mouth and tried to hang myself with "Laffy Taffy" when I saw ticket prices were $35 for General Admission, what!?!!?! That is, of course, if you don't feel inclined to buying $55 Mezzanine seats...GOOD GOD. Oh, and don't forget the convenience and building fees Ticketmaster slaps you with. Your grand total is now $46 or $67. Not very "convenient" is it?

It just made me think, who does Mr. L-O really think he is? I guess he could get away with that kind of highway robbery in Bankhead, but Detroit? I don't think so. Its just another example of how backwards the music industry is, specifically, the rap genre. Album sales are horrific (unless your last name is Mathers, Jackson, Carter or West) due to people sick of buying cd's for only 1 single, and this is the type of thing that will ruin the concert business too.

I mean, that is a lot of money see some "one hit wonder", scream into a microphone with 50 dudes on stage. Mind you, I wouldn't pay to see Shawty Lo for $5, but I've been to enough rap concerts, some good (DMX and Eminem) and some bad (a riot with No Limit Soliders), to know mainstream rap acts worth seeing in person. Jay-Z, Kanye & The Roots would be more expensive than Shawty Lo, but much more worth it. A)They don't use "hype men", B)have good openers (Mary J. Blige, N.E.R.D., Lupe Fiasco), and C)incorporate back-up bands.

It just shows the difference between rap/hip-hop genre and indie/rock music. This is exactly why you hear about small acts selling out venues and rap acts canceling dates. Considering tickets for Cut Copy and the Black Kids at The Magic Stick last week were around $15, for $46 Shawty Lo better play the guitar, do magic tricks and buy out the bar to make it worth it.

Shawty Lo - Dey Know (Million $ Mano Remix)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Jamie Lidell: So Soulful Man

Sure to be making waves this summer is singer/songwriter, Jamie Lidell. After realizing I hadn't heard of many of the artists that will be appearing at Lollapalooza, I checked out Mr. Lidell via Lolla's handy "Discover Artists" page. I was immediately impressed with Lidell's soulful ways and jealous of his genius skills on the piano. Seriously, when your mother tells you that you'll regret quiting playing the piano in 5th grade, she was totally right.

Lidell's latest album, Jim, was released last week and its upbeat rhythms are perfect for the upcoming, long awaited summer season. He seems to be channeling his inner-Sam Cooke on cuts like "Another Day" and "A Little Bit of Feel Good". Most of the songs deal with the usual subject of love lost and heartbreak, but have a retro-soul feel that leaves you uplifted, rather than depressed. Even when he slows things down on "All I Wanna Do", his crooner sound genuine and not cheesy.

Most of the info I have read about Jamie Lidell mentions that Jim and recent album Multiply are a departure from his Electronica days. If his past passion for electro is half as good as his soulful crooning, it would be worth checking out.

Jamie Lidell - Another Day

Jamie Lidell - A Little Bit Of Feel Good

See Jamie Lidell at Lollapalooza 2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Sadies: Hope For A New "Season"

If you didn't spend November through March in Michigan, you didn't miss much. Unless of course, you consider a ridiculous amount of cold, white snow something worth being around for. This winter brought brought 85 inches of snow to the "Mitten", the most since the '04-'05 season. I'm not really a "winter sports" person, so when I wasn't traveling, I mostly listened to music that reminded me that summer is ahead.

For some reason, alt country was what got me through the tundra-like winter. Not the beer guzzling, American flag waving, pick-up truck love filled country music that I love at tailgates and boat rides in Pinckney. I'm talking about the story-filled, folk flavored country rock, where banjos and fiddles are required and their usually aren't happy endings. And this is where I lose most of you....but its honestly worth a listen.

I blame Neko Case for her turning me onto the genre with the masterpiece, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. Her haunting voice, amid the twang and blues inspired narratives, is hard to ignore. When I looked for more of her music, I ran across her frequent collaborators, The Sadies. The Sadies are also natives of Canada (Toronto, ON) recorded with Case on a few tracks ("Make Your Bed", "My '63) and co-wrote some of Case's aforementioned album.

Their newest album, New Seasons, was released in fall 2007 and is the perfect soundtrack for a backwoods summer. According to their website, the band wanted to focus more on lyrics on this 13 song compilation. Considering that many of the songs deal with leaving or moving on from something, its fitting that many of the tracks ("Anna Leigh", "The Land Between") sound tailored for a long drive, with the windows down.

Most of the songs have elements of country, bluegrass, and '60s folk rock resulting in the feel of a backyard bonfire ("Never Again", "Sunset to Dawn"). Standout "Whats Left Behind" profiles a relationship that can't get away from the past. The song's pace seems to echo the subject matter in that things are moving too fast, but going nowhere at the same time. The Sadies even manage to sound epic on the instrumental track, "The Last Inquisition Pt 4". The eerie strings at the start lead to a finish full of sweeping guitars and drums that sound like an old western standoff.

The Sadies' New Seasons could be the most overlooked alt country album of 2007, but shouldn't be missed. The dark and thoughtful narratives embedded in the layered, instrumentation throughout the album make for easy, but engaged listening.

The Sadies - Never Again

The Sadies - Anna Leigh

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Narkworthy 4/22: Paranoid Nark

Well it took me 2 months to compile a worthwhile mixtape, but here it is. There are some club/radio tracks (Stat Quo, Ying Yang Twins), storytelling (Atmosphere, Wale), throwbacks (The Cool Kids, Pacific Division) and comebacks (AZ, The Game). Hopefully, there is something for everyone. Comments and criticism are greatly appreciated.

Paranoid Nark
1. Jay-Z - I Know (Irn Mnky remix)
2. The Game - Big Dreams (produced by Cool & Dre)
3. The Cool Kids - Oscar
4. Wale - Back In the Go Go ft Bun B & Pusha T
5. Wyclef Jean - Fast Car remix ft Lupe Fiasco
6. Stat Quo - Double Bubble
7. AZ - Dead End
8. Pacific Division - F.A.T. Boys '08
9. Big Boi - Royal Flush ft Raekwon & Andre 3000
10. DJ Green Lantern - I'm So Fly ft Akon, Fabolous & Fat Joe
11. FloRida - My Money Right ft Rick Ross & Brisco
12. The Procussions - Little People
13. The Roots - Rising Down ft Wale & Chrisette Michelle
14. PRGz - 'Bama Gettin' Money (Diplo Remix)
15. Jay-Z - Ain't I (produced by Timbaland)
16. Atmosphere - Yesterday
17. Danny Swain - Guess Who's Back ft Naledge
18. Ying Yang Twins - Drop
19. JNan - Rapperman
20. Snoop Dogg - My Medicine ft Everlast
21. Wale - Conclusion
22. Rich Boy - Haters Wish

Paranoid Nark

If you need WinRar, download it here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Narkworthy: April 15th - The Game, Jay-Z

The Game "Big Dreams"
Fresh off an 8 day bid from a weapons charge, Jayceon Taylor aka The Game dropped this menacing street single off of his last album (yeah right), L.A.X. in mid-March. Hoping to rekindle the fire that Cool & Dre laced on "Hate It Or Love It", "Big Dreams" features another classic soul sample, amid big bass and epic horns. The Game mostly spits bravado-filled lyrics peppered with subliminal disses and name-dropping galore, but he at least sounds hungry. I was a big fan of The Documentary and The Doctor's Advocate, but his sophomore set sounded a little deflated at times (see "Scream On'Em" and "Da Sh**"). Glad to hear one of the best in the West is back at it.

The Game - Big Dreams

Jay-Z "I Know" Irn Mnky remix
When Shawn Carter released the accapella version of American Gangster, it didn't generate the fanfare that came with the The Black Album (see The Brown Album and The Grey Album). However, some creative individuals were able to rework Jay-Z's lyrical wizardry into their own concept albums. Newcomer Irn Mnky was crafted A Very British American Gangster filled with the Jay's tracks built from British rock samples. Not all of it works, but "Hello Brooklyn" (Oasis), "Pray" (The Verve) and "I Know" are definite standouts. Somehow, Irn Mnky makes Jay-Z's lyrics sound even more poignant than on Pharell's addictive beat.

Jay-Z - I Know (Irn Mnky remix)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Chris Walla: "Manual" for Indie Rock

The past few Spring seasons, there has been an onslaught of new releases to keep music fans happy and this year has been no different. My iTunes queue and Best Buy visits have increased greatly since the Ides of March. This also results in fits of panic in trying to keep up with the latest hits.

Field Manual, was one album I had been anticipating since a post last November on NPR's superb site, All Songs Considered. The single, "Everybody On", immediately caught my ear with its sway-worthy hook, breezy instrumentation and a unique voice. Until I read the post, I had no idea the familiar voice I heard was Death Cab For Cutie member, Chris Walla. Other than some recent promotion from a co-worker, I really hadn't given Death Cab many listens. I mostly wrote them off as "emo" and didn't give them many spins.

After a few delays and an unexplained incident with customs, Field Manual was released in January. While I wasn't able to give it a thorough listening until March, it was well worth the wait. Walla played all instruments (except drums) on the album and crafted catchy indie pop similar to his production work on Tegan and Sara's The Con. Songs like "The Score" (a political discussion disguised as a pop song) and "Everyone Needs A Home" (an ode to the hardships of Katrina) showcase Walla's ability to make bouncy and listen-able gems with an underlying message.

Field Manual
outlays how to make an smart, indie rock album that performs well after multiple listens and allows Chris Walla to shine on his own. Though it probably won't reach the masses like Death Cab For Cutie's next album, hopefully it will get the props it deserves on year end album lists.

Chris Walla - Sing Again

Chris Walla - Geometry & C

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Million $ Mano: Who? Mano!

"Who? Mano!". When you hear that announcement at the beginning of a song, you know something good is coming. Not to be confused with this guy, Mano aka Million $ Mano straight out of Chi-town has been burning out my i pod with catchy remixes left and right. After noticing he DJ'd at a recent Cool Kids show and insistent promotion from my favorite Chicago blog, Fake Shore Drive, I decided to check him out. The results were more than priceless.

Not to be pigeon-holed in one genre, Million $ Mano's seamlessly brings together sounds of hip-hop with elements of house, and drum & bass. His penchant for speeding up the tempo on popular hits and sparkling some drum flair and house flavors makes his works more than catchy. Mano's interpretation for Mr. West's "Flashing Lights" easily made me forget the melodrama of Kanye's much hyped video. With the help of rapper, Hollywood Holt, he managed to make indie darlings, Matt & Kim, danceable.

Aside from remixes, Mano also has produced for G.O.O.D. Music artist GLC and has a side project, He Say, She Say, with singer Drea. After recently catching the ear of Kanye West, let's hope Million $ Mano soon gets the respect across the globe, he's already getting from Chicago artists.

Look for Million $ Mano on tour with M.I.A. at the Fillmore on May 8th with special guest Holy F***.

Kanye West - Flashing Lights (Million $ Mano Remix)

Million $ Mano - Lady

Shawty Lo - Dey Know (Million $ Mano Remix)

Matt and Kim - Its A Fact ft Hollywood Holt (Million $ Mano Remix)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Narkworthy: April 8th edition

I have mostly complained about the rap/hip-hop game (or the lack there of) for the past year. Some of my peers have even claimed I have given up on what I used to be known for: Pushing new bass-thumping rap onto anyone who will listen in the form of "Nark" mixtapes.

To give a brief history, the "Nark" mixtape was originated by my friend Gutter and he aptly titled it, "The Nark Out Remix: Vol. 1". This blockbuster disc featured the latest and greatest in the Spring of 2006 (Drama, Big Tymers to name a few). As for the name "Nark" (not to be confused with the DEA-affiliated "Narc"), I'm pretty sure it simply sounded funny at the time and made no sense, so why not? I inherited the franchise with the next installment on my newly purchased Roxio, external CD drive and tried to drop hits every 4-6 weeks. I pretty much scoured any file sharing avenue possible (Napster, Limewire, mIRC, etc.), in search of the newest and most exclusive songs rap had to offer.

As of April 2008, there have been over 40 "Narks", many "classics" ("Narked Out Reloaded", at least in my eyes), and plenty of ridiculous titles ("Raiders of the Lost Nark", "Jurassic Nark"). Since I don't make those mixtapes that often, I'm going to try to post a few songs per week that I would deem "Narkworthy". Eventually, when I have enough tracks, I'll then turn these into traditional "Narks", but this should satisfy those that need a rap "fix" instantly. I'll also post "Narked Up", my most recent collection.

1. Paper Route Gangstaz "'Bama Gettin' Money" (Diplo Remix)
Their name is pretty laughable, but I'm not sure I have heard anything like them in awhile. Hailing from Hunstville, Alabama, this crew has a hungry sound that is reminiscent of Three Six Mafia's early days. With the help of producer Diplo, they manage to make a George Michael sample drenched in swampy bass and southern drawl, sound very eerie.

Paper Route Gangstaz - 'Bama Gettin' Money (Diplo Remix)

2. Jay-Z "Ain't I"
After Young Hov got his artistic angst out of his system (last year's amazing, American Gangster), he decided to show youngn's how to flow on any beat. DJ Clue released it and originally claimed it was from S. Carter's next opus. Later, Jay-Z said "Ain't I" was supposed to be on Timbaland's Shock Value, but just missed deadline.

Jay-Z - Ain't I

3. Wyclef Jean ft Lupe Fiasco "Fast Car" remix
Though I haven't checked out Clef's new album, Carnival II: Memoirs of an Immigrant, I probably should if his 1st two singles ("Sweetest Girl", "Slow Down") are any indication. The former leader of The Fugees seems to paint pictures with troubled characters over catchy beats with ease consistently and the remix to "Fast Car" is no exception. Substituting Paul Simon for Lupe Fiasco brings another great storyteller to the table on a solid remix.

Wyclef Jean ft Lupe Fiasco - Fast Car remix

Narked Up - featuring Jay Rock, Lil' Wayne, Lupe Fiasco, 9th Wonder, Kanye West, and more.