broken ground and opened doors

So I had a moment earlier this morning where I felt less irrelevant. My cousin, a decade my junior, mentioned a favorite rapper. Thankfully I needed no hater-stance since she wasn’t going on about Kanye or MC Derpenstein 2011.

It’s not even that I have any intense burning dislike of Kanye West except that he’s not and will never be a Chuck D, a KRS-ONE, a Mr. Lif or an Immortal Technique.

When she name-dropped Tech N9ne I actually knew who she was talking about. So there’s that sense of being somewhat less than stupid about current rap/hip-hop.

But I am also left with the sense that the reason everybody started hating on rap in the first place was that the barrier had been broken. It was once a fledgling art form nobody had any words for and it sounded more like disco than like autotuned bullshit.

So it took once-in-a-generation stuff like Run DMC and Public Enemy, 2 Live Crew as well as N.W.A. to make hip-hop into a wide enough genre that it went mainstream.

That also meant that the difficulty of making a name for yourself in that genre meant less skilled and less professional people thought they could get ahead.

So we had the gangster era give the scene a big black eye and then go through g-funk to straight up pop rap for white girls too young to go anywhere but the mall without a legal guardian.

The inevitable decline went from A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and Mos Def to complete teeny trash with 50 Cent and whoever he was beefing with a year or two ago. Nobody cares.

Just like rock-n-roll before her, rap/hip-hop broke down doors and gave the world many groundbreaking, memorable, culturally significant musicians. But it also gave us WHO LET DA DAWGS OUT?!?

I’m not saying anything. Just maybe making a subtle point that I once would’ve been unable to even recognize. Sigh.

FIGHT THE POWER!

we gotta do that

An old roommate put me onto a concept, an unrealized idea.

I think it was something in the general driftwardsness of The Parade Of Losers Tour.

And it would have been They Might Be Giants, Soul Coughing, Semisonic, King Missile, Dream Warriors, Pop Will Eat Itself, Bentley Rhythm Ace, Ben Folds Five, Pulp, Weezer and I think Billy Bragg and Counting Crows.

(I still remember Cody telling me about seeing them in the freaking entry back when we were both in high school, the guys carrying in their own gear, with a handful of audience members and Adam ‘freaking the crowd out’ with beatnik style poetry spontaneously in the middle of a “song.” Thank Goddess Cody had a fake ID and looked the part…and well, told me about it, huh?!?)

I somehow want to throw in Information Society, Faith No More, Better Than Ezra, Think Tank, the Honeydogs, Soul Asylum, the original Soundgarden, Alice in Chains with Layne, Uncle Tupelo with Brian Henneman out front trading off with Joe Ely, BrotherSunSisterMoon or Luminous or whatever it was called.

I used to imagine Kid Galahad joining up, and having little trouble convincing Bad Religion to come along once I showed the guys the choir from Reverend Billy’s Church of Stop Shopping that I intended to bring along to provide their oohs n aahs with extra oomph.

All this up in my head when Atmosphere were just more anonymous guys I might see at Bon Appetit once in a while, and Rhymesayers were still about to blow up. Thank you Dinkytown for giving us hiphop!

That’s just something you can chalk up to whatever’s the opposite of young age without being old either, and then when you’ve figured out what to call it, you can tell me what word you used, okay?

My slug, headline, subject, post title, whatever the hell that is up there, is from TMBG’s version of Yeh Yeh from Mink Car. Same album if I remember right Mike Doughty ended up guesting on. I almost said Yeh Yeh was Louis Prima, and I vaguely remember him doing his version of it, but on the page where I checked my ears and memory against the librarian types who populate the geekternet and provided the text without me having to type it in myself. Which is what we communally did with P Control from Prince before tGE came out, back inna day.

I keep adding bands to this list in my head and post or no post I will for the next few days at the very least. In closing I think it would be just about the awesomest thing ever to get Kevin from BtE and Mike Patton of FNM, Matthew Sweet, Rivers Cuomo, Adam Duritz sing with me.

“If you’ve got a blacklist I wanna be on it!
Start your own revolution and cut out the middleman!” – Billy Bragg

Goodnight to the last 10 Years…

Oh America, don’t get me started. Most days you still make me HOWL. But like that Brother Ali lyric, “almost feels like we got it right this time. I might just go and plant a flag in my yard.” Thank you Seal Team Six, thank you White House Cabinet and Staff, and everybody else.

A few years back I remarked how Camper Van Beethoven’s New Roman Times, Green Day’s American Idiot, and 10,000 Years from The Honeydogs were the Album Of The Year. All three of them at Number One. You’d best believe it, bitches. 🙂

Those times were so hard to endure, the rampant illogic, disrespect, courting of aggression worldwide, the abject height of American moral atrocity in my lifetime.

Adam Levy and the Honeydogs gave us what in the perspective of 2011 stands taller than either of the other 2.

Their record 10,000 Years was teased briefly ahead of release on The Current and online, if I remember correct.

The near-impotent fury of every right-and-just headed American at that time was nearly deadly on many occasions, and not just on the battlefield. The shock and awe induced every night on the evening news when George W. Bush pressed his asscheeks to your face and wiggled around like a manic gunslinging lapdancer as he did it…this intrepid writer could not be the only one who entertained, even and however briefly, suicide as a kind of Bush-free bliss, no matter how fucked up it absolutely is.

Early upon one cold weekday morning I readied to trek hours away from home to try and find out if my rapidly aging college credits were worth a nickle’s weight in free beer. (I never intended to halt my pursuit of a 4-year degree, might even have been considering grad school before I was told, in no uncertain terms, to leave my state college, directly by their administration and several staff members – however little they had any right to do so.)

That morning I dropped 10,000 Years into the car stereo mostly unheard. I’d been saving it up in the few days since I bought the disc, a goofy trick a friend in college once taught me to do – intentionally or sarcastically – with a Tori Amos album back then. I knew the powerful experience of the title track and the first couple, but the rest remained uncharted territory.

I don’t think I’ve ever had anything described as a “concept album” come off as effortlessly, avoid continuity issues for those who are only hearing one song at a time, or do so much to offer selflessly a catharsis America so righteously deserved.

By the time I made it to the 10,000 Years release party at First Avenue’s Mainroom, I had the record utterly memorized. I could sing along to every track, I know the words to this day. Even the hard parts. That will go down as one of my probably top 10 concert experiences in this life.

[From seeing Prince play in a dark, empty room, barely 10 feet in front of me; the only time I ever smelled ganja at Paisley Park that night George f’n Clinton played; helping the Squirrel Nut Zippers schlep their gear in for an in-store at uptown cheapo and then The Fine Line; Faith No More at the metrodome with a thunderstorm accompanying; happily taking off my Cat-in-the-hat hat to let my fellow sardines see Soul Coughing at Let It Be Records; or singing and clapping at the RNC riot squads under their helicopter spotlight with Nellie McKay and a cast of brilliant Minneapolis musicians in September 2008.]

I enjoyed the album release party that night. The Honeydogs ripped through 10,000 Years in order, even with Michael Penn doing the opening as he did on the album. By the time they’d wound their way through the chaos, insanity, brutality, tears, war, mayhem, death, destruction, madness, and triumph…I was literally shaking my ass in every which direction for the closing number, 23rd Chromosome. [So thank you gentleman from the bottom of my (insert organ name here.)]

(Hell I think even Bard Meier from American Paint opened that night and I recall being one of few people there early enough to actually get out on the floor when he did his incredible amazing song “Albe Maybe” among others.)

It took us 10 years but we made it. I just wish if I were king high muckymuck of some molehill someplace I could give the Honeydogs a Presidential Medal of Thankees for helping those of us who were chafing about the neck under the Bush Regime keep our eyes on the prize and stick around to see President Obama bring us back our Dignity with a side of Justice.

Much as it hurts me to use the phrase I hate, Make No Mistake! This is not revenge, this was not vengeance, this is not bloodlust. A surgical strike against a tumor, that’s what this was, hoping to contain the damage and let the patient live, the wound close, the healing begin and spread outwards from there. That’s what America stands for.

I just wish George Carlin had lived to see all this. Despite whatever vitriol he could concoct, I doubt he would tell us NOT to be happy. I’d like to think in my teary-eyed candy-coated patriotic unified American heart, even that Magnificent Bard Among Us Bastards(-who-call-ourselves-men) known as George Carlin would be happy, too!

Maybe now we can say goodnight to the last 10 years. At the very minimum…

Jay & Silent Bob getting better all the time

So I know, it’s not cool to be into something. You have to exude that f’d up “hipster” concept that does not actually exist, is a stereotype, a cliche. You have to want to be
“cool” bad enough that you force yourself to be jaded and disinterested when you’re supposed to be enthusiastic. (File Under: America’s schizophreniae)

The movie Clerks was incredible. As much for the resounding cultural significance of the Soul Asylum song “Can’t Even Tell” which Miramax rather excellently used to market the trailer and TV commercial for said flick. At least for a Minnesotan at the time. And I still love the movie, the soundtrack.

In an aside, I think Clerks was a groundbreaking example of combining sound samples and jokes from the movie in between the songs. As a teenaged male who had been deeply disappointed by the relatively spare and full-of-confusing-omissions Pump Up The Volume movie soundtrack…Clerks hit the jackpot!

But when I taught myself to write and touch-type back in junior high school, I did it accompanied by rap tapes. So I’m listening to Jay and Silent Bob Get Old podcast # 31 subtitled Mewes Decorated My Life as I compose the day’s wordbombs.

This relatively neglected page had been intended for my Review Specific Opinions, and since I have too many opinions for my own good and it’s been a noteworthy time to be an American, here then is a belated review specific opinion.

Kevin Smith found a way to keep Jason Mewes in touch with their combined audience and give him first-hand visceral experience with how many people want him to stay sober and functional. All the sour grapes on the internet aside, why is this not a reason for a resounding cheer of Patriotic Amen?

I know it ain’t everybody’s cuppa tea, and it’s vulgar and whatever. But c’mon…

Somebody among us great We The People got something very right for a change.

Denied a solution among the bleak landscape of 12-step groups (I won’t get into all the mind-and-creativity-dulling drugs shoveled at us to “fix” what we don’t yet understand) and expensive psychotherapy, Kevin and Jason forged a third option, a new way.

And their podcast/stage show is sending positive vibes outward from there, in addition to scraping together operating funds in the process.

I can’t be cynical about this, and I’m a cantankerous curmudgeon. So what’s your excuse?

2011 Q1 Music Review

The usual year-end review of what got listened to a lot in the previous months felt like it came too quick this time around. I threw up a brief list here/there to stay somewhat in sync with the rest of my music obsessed peoples.

Nellie McKay put out an album called Home Sweet Mobile Home hot on the heels of her Doris Day covers album. Hard to believe it came out back in September. But I’ve been enjoying the hell out of this, so many flavors, so much variety and syncopated grooves. Woman’s a workhorse for music lovers, its apparent how much she enjoys crafting her tunes.

I noticed when joining up with audioscrobber/last.fm recently that from iTunes history alone I played a lot of Knaan and Ash. It’s hard to listen to whatever you want to when your itunes library is limited to just-over-half the insultingly small hdd apple installed as the default option.

Mac Minis should’ve never been sold without at least 200gb drives inside. Doing anything worthwhile with just 80gb for your OS, apps and media is like trying to get a 38 inch waist into pants you wore in high school. It don’t work and every time I bump my head on that false ceiling I should be able to smack steve jobs upside the head. /rant

Now that Haley Bonar’s new album Golder surprised me entirely, I’m adding another album to the list of stuff I’m playing the hell out of this year. I imagine a more detailed review once I’ve played it a few more times. But wow. Good, powerful music here, and her golden voice wonderful as always.

I downed it from her bandcamp page, which is an increasingly common end-run around retail/iTunes/Amazon/eMusic/etc, where I get my Mr. Lif, they have the Honeydogs (!) and it’s where I picked up Chipocrite’s stellar Hit N Run album few weeks back.

Bandcamp’s doing everything right from where this fan’s sitting, staying mostly out of the way and letting the artist sell direct to their listeners. I hope they change as little as necessary, honestly.

Blueprint’s new one Adventures In Counter Culture didn’t take long to make itself to the must-buy pile. I’d heard the two preview singles and loved them, so the release date was on me radar early. Thankfully ‘print brings a whole pile of killer tracks that are full of staying potential, classic jams. This sounds like an album that took a long time to get THIS right!

People always wanna hear which tracks are best, but if you must, start on track 6 and listen to the rest of it without stopping. If you don’t want to play the new Blueprint over and over again after that, there may be no hope for you. This is gonna speak to your soul. Brother’s taking it next about three levels at once.

Atmosphere continues blowing up. I must admit I’d fallen just a little behind between You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having and When Life Gives You Lemons, Paint That Shit Gold. The track She’s Enough from their latest The Family Sign is just some incredible funk that will not get out of my head, which is good, because I like it in there. 😛

Brother Ali and Evidence showed up for the Record Store Day Rhymesayers limited edition 12 inch single. I didn’t find a copy myself and I would’ve been pissed but Ali went and posted his track on his facebook and a friend hooked me up. Amazing that they can sit on such funky shit, keep it off some already fly-ass records, and then just pop it across your dome like BLAM!

The release schedule heats up with the summertime around the corner. New Alpha Blondy! I just saw it out there and haven’t heard it all yet. He’s always worth my time and looks like he’s got a track called Vuvuzela. Makes me smile just thinking about it.

Also new stuff from Foo Fighters, altho it has yet to grab me and sounds like an arena rock smoothie so far. [edit: I take that back. Arlandria, despite being a lyric from 4-5 albums ago, stands above the rest of these new Foo songs.] New Steve Earle, the first track irresistable. New Paul Simon I hope to hear someday soon.

No Depression magazine was a godsend back in the day. I know some ppl can’t follow that leap from righteous rap/hip-hop booster right over to Americana and Roots music, but that’s just how we roll! I been lurking over in their forums.

The other day they posted Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg doing a song called Superman. Had to comment how it took somebody as utterly legendary as Willie to carve down past male bravado and find Snoop’s candy center. Awww!

The newest Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit album Here We Rest has been on sale at Amazon’s mp3 store for $3.99. Reviewing it while I composed this post reminds me how many excellent songs are on this. Another slam-dunk killer record from this band with no slow spots, no filler!

If this hadn’t been enough, Jason Isbell won himself a free pass to my attention FOR LIFE with the song “However Long” and if you haven’t heard it, drop everything. Go do it right now! I think there’s at least a preview here:
http://www.last.fm/music/Jason+Isbell+and+The+400+Unit/_/However+Long

In the same sort of ‘always something interesting on the new-album-release horizon’ that No Depression has always represented for me, they then dropped a link to a video of the Del McCoury Band and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band promoting an album they’ve just done together. I can’t believe the usually broad-minded No Dep audience had a few people saying “I’ll be back when Del does more ‘grass. This is too much for me.”

It may be too much for a few, but this cooperative effort from the legendary bluegrass band AND a legendary N’awlins juggernaut of jazz energy? For people who rearrange songs in their head, harmonize with the radio, and never take what’s given as all there is, this is a blessing meant to blur boundaries and mash up everything. Who can’t get behind that?

rethinking: Lost finale

I wrote a glowing piece about the ending of Lost and now that I’ve had some perspective, I’ve rethought a lot of that. I think I wish to revise my previous statement.

It would seem that time has been unkind to the finale of once-beloved television show (and trans-media interloper) Lost. Here it’s been hardly a year since they hustled the show off the short plank. Honestly, the whole “we all wake up in heaven” concept reeked of cop-out at first contact, but cranking up the emotion to 11 seemed to be all the reason for it.

With the time that’s passed since the “head toward the light” ending, it has grown yet more too-cute, if you’ll forgive the hacked phrase. All the complex story involving Desmond’s time travel and the intrigue between Ben and Chahhles deserved better than to be scattered glimpses, a handful of found polaroids forever out of order and confused.

Incredible things happened in the storylines of the characters in the Lost universe. But the incredible things were not in any capable way steered unto the horizon, put to sensible rest, or explained and given closure. Instead we are presented with the same awkward perpetuation of the plot cycle here as with the looped ending of the series Quantum Leap.

It may very well be some kind of zen koan that nothing ends or begins, but always is. But it does not tell us more about the Dharma Initiative, the reasons why Widmore couldn’t return to the Island until Season Six, and dozens of other decently deserving storylines. Of course much of the complex mythos were created intentionally to draw in the detail-oriented geek culture. But then why turn and kick them in the teeth with a romance-novel ending?!?

Fans of what made Lost special are left feeling exploited and used, that these concepts and ideas weren’t given any consideration or conclusion, but instead are shredded into streamers strung around the rather mundane and physical relations of several key characters. Many people who sat through the atrocious pairing of Sayid with Shannon, or the relentless physical tension between Jack, Kate, and Sawyer were expecting more.

Viewers were encouraged by the quality of the ancillary storytelling that ahead lay a reward as fulfilling as the complex path leading toward it.

Instead of slowing the hell down, biting the bullet and paying the entire ensemble cast their asking wages, and sucking up the bills for another season of the most costly show on television…we got this speed run jumble of parts with a cheap and hollow ending.

It’s possible I might appreciate it more on another run through, but I honestly doubt it. I am almost positive that another run through of the final 2 seasons of Lost would only provide me with another chance to list the things they never followed up on but absolutely should have.

my drift down podcast lane

I remain amused by Kevin Smith. I lol’d at the story some angry internetter cooked up a while back “kevin smith is not your friend.”

Thought to myself “well he isn’t yours, now is he? I just like most of his movies. But his refusal to roll over and die quietly sure crawled up your butt like a bedbug with a noisemaker, now didn’t it?”

I drifted into the realm of the podcast innocently enough, looking for a more talk-show experience than an audiobook for some long drives. Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier were just one flavor available. They still are.

I began to find myself more a regular SModcast listener as they added shows. I had already been a semi-interested non-regular of Nerdist and Bagged & Boarded. I liked the occasional ep of something else I caught with chiptune artists or whatever else sparked my interest.

I probably listen to 6 hours of podcasts a week, not counting video “podcasts” which are television shows like the Rachel Maddow show, which my wife and I watch more than once a week together.

An early favorite from the SMod family, Hollywood Babble-On, recently did an episode guest hosted by Jon Lovitz, whose comedy club they record the show in every week.

In a microcosm of the whole concept, the listener is left to wonder at one point if Jon is joking or not when he says he’s “staying, NOW” after hearing that there are listeners from both Australia and Alaska.

I find it amusing how Kevin Smith’s audience changes over time. How many people underestimate and misunderstand the consumers of any media/medium in this post-format digital-download futuretopia we’re all living here and now.


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