Monday, July 09, 2012

Day 1: It is Monday and I have nowhere to be

I think it's important I document this strange gift I have received.  Today is my first day of uncertainty.  I am indeed unemployed for the first time in my adult life and it has peaked my interest beyond belief.

It's 2012 and the world economy is shit.  I have worked, and plan on continuing to work, in the music industry which has corroded more and more, year after year in the 10+ years I have spent in it.  I would also like to say i'm a shadow of my former self physically but shadows are usually skinnier than the real person so that doesn't work.  I'll just say I'm the heaviest I've ever been in my life and if I were to fight in the UFC I would be taking on Jon "Bones" Jones who has 8 inches on my and probably 15 inches wingspan-wise.  Not nice.  The newfound 'freedom (?)' has also propelled my mind into deep thought.  Do I want to jump back into the workforce that over the last year felt like a spin-cycle?  Do I actually have a career based on the 10+ years I've invested in the music industry?  All in all if If i had the patience I would start reading and quoting Neitzsche like a real prick to describe this feeling.  But enough of that for a while.  This is a project of some sorts and I have to outline my goals., so here goes it.

* Drop down in weight-classes.  I'd like to drop from Jon Jones, past Anderson Silva, to a a catchweight around Georges St. Pierre.  To translate, I gotta lose at least 25 pounds.  I'm going to be going to the gym every day Monday thru Friday and hopefully sprinkle in some outdoor activities in a week or so when my endurance is up.  I'd love to surf if I can but I'm thinking running on the beach is a positive first step.

* Cook, and cook more.  I have the time now to make meals and I want to grow my arsenal in the culinary department.  I'm not half-bad I think, I mean I sure as shit can eat.  I can make fatty mexican food like nobodies business but that isn't ideal.  This week I will make Cacio E Pepe and then hopefully the week after I can share it with my madame Jennifer.  If I can handle this accordingly the good news is I'll be saving money and making healthier food...not bad.

* Spruce up my home.  I live in a HOME, I actually OWN something, so why haven't I taken ownership and organized what needs to be organized, hang up framed pictures, and make this place sparkle and shine?  I know why, but now I have the time and need to make it happen.

*  Be Creative.  I have a few projects I've spent hours and hours on...the problem is those hours have always been long thoughts and day dreams.  I need to buckle down and at least make a few baby steps at first.  From there I'm hoping I'll see some sort of finish line in the distance and at least get something out there.

*  Focus.  This is easily one of my greatest weaknesses.  I can't focus for the life of me and with this much time on my hands I could easily lose my mind.  I can't allow that to happen.

Those are my goals for now.  My last goal is to use time wisely so i'm not going to dwell on this.  30 minutes a post max.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Beautiful Cinema and DRIVE


I finally had the chance to see DRIVE over the weekend. Originally I wanted to see it in the theater but I'm not much of a movie-goer anymore. I have faith in Ryan Gosling in a 'serious role' and feel as a homegrown Angelino I have to check out a movie all about my home. Trying to coordinate a movie screening in my household is nearly impossible so I put the movie on alone around 12:30am Friday eve (Sat really) while it was all quiet all over the city. The result is easily one of the best films I've seen in years.

At points in my life, out of nowhere, a movie has struck a chord that resonates and sends me deep into thought. Like an amazing album or a great book, it can change perspective on how I view things. Looking back, I also find it interesting that I usually see these movies in the wee hours of the evening in solitude. My favorite part of many days is when it's late, dark and quiet and it's just me and my thoughts. Don't get me wrong though, I talk too much and love the company of others, but 'my time' has always been when the rest of the world sleeps. I remember being a rambunctious teen and seeing 'Fight Club' and being mesmerized. Arguably my favorite movie of all time (certainly horror movie), the original Dawn Of The Dead, I saw on IFC at around 2am while in middle school. It was polarizing, it was frightening, and it scared the shit out of me for years to come. Another key piece to this puzzle is all these movies have great music. Closing 'Fight Club' with The Pixes "Where Is My Mind?" was beautiful and perfect. 'Dawn of the Dead's simple oddball 70's electronic sounds defined eerie. Music can compliment anything exquisitely and a good movie will always do that.

Enter DRIVE. I absolutely loved the cinematography, the music, the acting, and the storyline. Driver doesn't waste words and Carey Mulligan perfectly portrays a wounded sorta-single mom. Your mob villains are believable as are the sorry petty criminals. The execution of each scene makes the story very believable and the only plot hole I can dwell on are "what are detectives doing with all these killings?" So you have a great story that would be fine on it's own so how do you compliment it? Cinematography and music of course. The shots in the movie are very well executed and the driving scenes are great. It's hard to make driving in Los Angeles romantic but luckily homeboy doesn't hit any traffic. The lack of dialogue in scenes between Driver and Irene make the actors act through their locked eyes which always tells a story. Blossoming love is all about a feeling which may come from dialogue but at times can be beautifully unspoken. Long shots and slow motion are used perfectly, especially when complimented by a stellar soundtrack. Cliff Martinez's (ex-RHCP) subtle score lends to the picture but the true beauty comes from great retro laced nu-disco tracks from Desire, Kavinsky, and College. The songs play in their entirety for the most part which shows the respect for the songs but also helps stylize the movie. I love when I'm introduced to great music in a movie but in this case I wasn't. I'm quite familiar with these artists and never could I envision such a great use of their songs. It is simply beautiful and resonates well past the end credits.

Any movie that blends a solid story and acting with great cinematography and exquisite music is sure to send me into days of thought and hopes for more. DRIVE is that movie for me. Stay up late, relax yourself, put in the movie and enjoy.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Albums Of The Year; 2011

Every December I take some time out of my (not so) busy day to look back at albums that I would consider my own 'Albums Of The Year'. I use a few factors in making my list so it's not just some jerkoff "i hope people will think this is cool" addition to the blogosphere. My #1 album is always the album that I truly listened to the most throughout the year and 'craved' listening to at times. I find it therapeutic doing a list and don't really expect to sway folks but some people read this. With Spotify taking over this year the least you can do is listen to a few of em.

Due to my lack of time and patience i'm not going the full length of writing a full out blurb for everything and i really can't definitively do a 1 - 20.

#1 Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo
This is just an amazing album from start to finish. Kurt teamed up with a solid producer (John Agnell0) and finally made an album that ties together his great ideas with solid songs. I played the shit out of this album and will continue to do so for years to come. This album is so solid that upon catching Kurt live on his first run of shows after it's release I had to leave after 5 songs. It just wasn't going to be the album, it was late, i've seen him before, and i rather just keep it as lovely as I want to. Smoke Ring is a hit from the 'constant hitmaker'

#2 EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints
Out of nowhere comes an album that sounds great and is so lyrically honest you have to give credit where credit is due. I couldn't put this album down, had the chance to talk about this album with Erika and realized she poured her insides into making this album and wasn't going to give further details. It's harshly beautiful.

#3 Javelin - Canyon Candy
This album came out of nowhere for me. I bought it in 'button' form (WTF, lookey here) because i was interested in the technology and had heard of the group. What a buy. It's a genius album. It's a concept album around the West (and Westerns) and includes redone/remixed versions of Slim Whitman and some other old timey country folk. I can't say much else about this album, but I love it and love the vibe I get from it.

THE REST IS ORDERLESS TO SOME EXTENT

#Cults - Cults
Great debut from a group I enjoy very much for many reasons. A great pop record.

#Anna Calvi - Anna Calvi
Beautiful eerie album with exquisite guitar playing and singing from Anna.

#Cold Cave - Cherish The Light Years
#Austra - Feel It Break
#Prurient - Bermuda Drain
These 3 acts toured extensively together and in 2011 released defining albums. Great stuff for what they do and infectious.

#Frank Ocean - Nostalgia, ULTRA
Great sample based hip-hop mixtape. Sampling "Hotel California" is a quick way to my heart.

#Nicolas Jaar - Space Is Only Noise
Out of obscurity comes a nice mix of Massive Attack and DJ Shadow. Great Electronic music.

#Metronomy - The English Riviera
An easy listen and Metronomy's finest album that finally puts all the pieces together.

#Mastodon - The Hunter
Great Metal album, the best album from Mastodon and the first I love.

#The Descendants - OST
Hawaiian compilation that I love as I spent most of November having the time of my life in Hawaii.

#High Places - Original Colors
I cannot stop loving High Places and want them to continue to put out music.

#Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost
A deep album of great songs and one persons struggle to find normalcy. Emerging from drug addiction and a Jonestown like upbringing this is why artists are unique and make wonderful art.

#Elite Gymnastics - Ruin
Throw me back to The Hacienda, great stuff.

#Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie XX - We're New Here
It's like a mellow mix-tape from GSH's XL album. I put this on when I'm on a plane or I want to relax. Mellow mix and Jamie XX is a true talent.

#Africa Hitech - 93 Million Miles
"Out In The Streets" is the track but this dubstep album is a great part of the fizzling genre.

#Crystal Antlers - Two-Way Mirror
Self released gem from my friends, 'the hipster Mars Volta' Artwork by Raymond Pettibon only makes me love it more.

#Glasvegas - Euphoric Heartbreak
This band is great when they put out music, the rest of their lives are catastrophes.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Octagon steps into your living room. UFC on FX 1: January 20, 2011

2012; Is this the year UFC becomes widely accepted? Will Mixed Martials Arts be deemed a sport fit for everyone? I don't know, but UFC on FX1 was a giant fist knocking on America's door. The message is clear; the UFC has landed and fighters are coming from far and wide to compete in the highest level of mixed martial arts. From here on out your shots are limited and to impress you must entertain. The Nashville card featured countless UFC debuts from hungry fighters clawing at a spot on the roster along with a handful of UFC mainstays.

Fuel TV took the honors of showcasing the undercard and struck TV gold. Knockouts, Submissions and even a human drama. During the pre-show commentary veteran UFC bruiser Stephan Bonner told the fans what they might not already know, they are lucky. 6 hours of fighting on cable TV, all 10 bouts of the evening. No other sport goes to the lengths to feed the fanatical fans and on Friday night everybody was happy.

In the first bout it only took 22 seconds for bantamweight Canadian Nick Denis to use a rare tool, clinch elbows, to knock out Joseph Sandoval. Sandoval got stormed early and Denis showed killer instinct not allowing Sandoval to recover from the first hard shot he took. This bout is the closest to a re-enactment of playing the UFC Undisputed video game on easy. It doesn't get much better than that and Denis, in his UFC debut, took home the 'knockout of the night' bonus which gave him an extra $45,000. In one evening he surpassed the median income for an American household according to the US Census* And yes I know he's Canadian and he passed their median too.

All this comes in the shadow of a flawed yet scathing report from ESPN's Outside The Lines. In a story that broke right after UFC Rio 2, the UFC were accused of taking advantage of 'show openers' with low pay and unfavorable contracts. Yet after Friday's program, what up-and-coming fighter wouldn't PAY to be part of the organization. The UFC is still developing and Friday's show proved their is a wealth of talent out there lining up to compete and more importantly fight.

The next two bouts showcased why age and experience still have a spot in MMA. 2 veterans (Daniel Pineda and Fabricio Camoes) submit two previously undefeated fighters (Pat Schilling and Tommy Hayden) within the first round. The two fights were quick but they were high level and entertaining.

Next up featured the return of Charlie Brenneman, who last year became a fan favorite when on two days notice he stepped up in his hometown as a heavy underdog and beat rising star Rick Story. Sadly the could-be Cinderella story was cut short in his next fight when Anthony "Cookie Crumble" Johnson head kicked him out of consciousness in his next bout. The fans still love him and Friday night in Nashville he took on the tough Daniel Roberts. Their is not a lot of flash in Brenneman's game but his hard work and constant energy makes him a fun guy to root for. In a 3 round decision Brenneman took home the win and he'll return to the gym to keep on developing his skills.

It's said "never leave it in the hands of the judges" and there is more to that statement than you may think. The UFC's new deal with FOX provides mixed martial arts with an avenue into America's living room. It's an opportunity that cannot be squandered. On May 31, 2008 CBS took a chance on mixed martial arts and presented "EliteXC Primetime." The card was headlined by YouTube brawler Kimbo Slice. The result was a total letdown and it must have been embarrassing for everybody at CBS and probably the whole sport. The card was excruciatingly long, their was 'poke in the eye' no-contest, and the main event was a total bust. Slice won against a real jobber in James Thompson by way of questionable knockout and in the post-fight interview he was so exhausted he could barely stand let alone answer questions. Slice was humbled and never recovered. His looks and attitude make him a scary guy, but all those muscles require a lot of oxygen, and any fighter will tell you that is not a good thing. Perhaps Kimbo should take the reverse route of Brock Lesnar and call up Vince McMahon. In the UFC's presentation of mixed martial arts to the masses they are being very smart. UFC on FOX in November was a clearly calculated simple formula. One hour for one fight between two heavyweights for the UFC Heavyweight Championship. You just knew there was no chance the judges would have to render a decision. Two towering titans throwing leather. When you have an attentive audience you must deliver and the UFC is going to require not only winning but putting on a show. Winning 3 straight is a huge feat in top level MMA, but if you do in a boring fashion then you aren't helping yourself. A prime example came later on the UFC on FX main card when Mike Easton defeated Jared Papazian in a forgettable match. The 3 judges cageside gave the match to Easton but i'm sure the judgmental fans could care less. Luckily this was the only dud of the night and in retrospect that is amazing for a 10 bout bill.

The 5th preliminary bout of the night was a tongue twister for the announcers. Kamal Shalorus of Iran vs Khabib Nurmagomedov or Russia. Shalarous is a late blooming veteran who was dominated by the young unknown Sambo technician Nurmagomedov. The pace was fast and Shalarous was lucky to survive the first round after being knocked on his back by a counter left hook. Yet the veteran recovered, but never fully and was finally submit via rear-naked choke in the third round.

At this point there was only one fight left to go and this preliminary card was turning out to be far more entertaining than most other promotions main cards. Making the headline bout even more exciting was the fact that Jorge Rivera had announced a day earlier that this would be his last fight in the Octagon and in the sport. 15 times he had entered UFC's Octagon and in his career he has fought the likes of Anderson Silva, Rich Franklin, Chris Leben, Michael Bisping, and the list goes on. His opponent was Eric Shaffer who had fought 9 times in the UFC dating back to 2006 but had never put together enough wins against the right opponents. It was clear the fans wanted Rivera's swan song to be special. In a Hollywood like ending Rivera first found himself defending off his back against Shaffer's onslaught. But after being reset on their feet in round 2 Rivera bloodied and slowed Shaffer before landing consecutive hard shots to force the 'best in the business' Herb Dean to stop the fight. Jorge Rivera was overcome with emotion and walked to the center of the octagon, kissed the mat, and waved goodbye. In a statement at the press conference Rivera explained his decision to retire was mainly due to his age but also the caliber of young guys coming up the ranks in the UFC. He called them "no joke."

In the opening bout on FX, two heavyweights in do-or-die situations battled it out in a grueling bout. Christian Morecraft had never made and octagon statement and Pat Barry had been knocked down (and usually choked out) in any attempt at toppling a name. The bout opened stuffy and cagey for 2 minutes until the men slowed to put on a show. Barry and Morecraft exchanged blows until Pat Barry slipped a punch and threw a bomb left hook to knockdown and out Christian Morecraft. The big man tumbled and Barry laid on powerful shots until Morecraft was out. Almost as entertaining was the post-fight interview in which Barry apologized for being a common choke victim in the Octagon. Props to Barry for realizing not many pundits had much faith. Yet the showing lands Barry back in 'big fight contention' as it's lovely to say.

After the Easton-Papazian snoozer came solid action. Duane 'Bang' Ludwig fresh off finally getting credit for UFC's 'fastest knockout' stepped in with 44 fight veteran and 'honorary Diaz brother' Josh Neer. Neer had signed with the UFC an unheard of four times...four times! Ludwig seemed to have the upper hand in the first few exchanges showcasing his Muay Thai skills with powerful knees to the body. Neer was swollen and bloodied until he found gold in Ludwig's exposed neck. Neer sunk in an elbow high choke that didn't even give Ludwig enough time to finish tapping out before he was passed out. Neer, a true mixed martial, artist calmly notified Josh Rosenthal his opponent was out the bout was stopped 3 minutes into the first round. Neer is going to be fun to watch, again.

Finally, the headliners made their way to the cage to end a great night for the sport, FOX, and the UFC. Jim Miller and Melvin Guillard are two high ranking lightweights hoping to 'get back into the title picture.' In his last bout the humble Jim Miller was humbled by Ben Henderson who is now in training to face the champ Frankie Edgar. Likewise Guillard's last fight was over in under a minute after he was caught charging into a Joe Lauzon punch and then quickly submit. Both men needed a win. At the opening it was Guillard piling on pressure and throwing a lot of flying knees. He certainly hurt Miller but not enough. Miller is a fighter who keeps on fighting and is still dangerous when hurt. Guillard's mistake was giving up his back and even standing Miller was able to lock in a rear-naked choke. Guillard's weakness is his submission defense and it's something he needs to really work on. In 2012, a successful UFC fighter needs to recognize that their weakness will be exploited by any headlining fighter. You can no longer get by with only your strength, you can no longer be one-dimensional.

You could not have asked for more in the first real event put together by FOX and the UFC. The 2012 schedule is slowly coming together and the stakes have been raised. In the next two weeks their is another dose of free fights on FOX proper with Evans Vs. Davis and then Super Saturday in Las Vegas with Nick Diaz vs. Carlos Condit on PPV. Let's hope the big names watched Friday's fights in Nashville and got the message that mediocrity won't be a step forward. Evans has to impress or the masses will call for Dan Henderson vs. Bones Jones. Georges St. Pierre may stay injured if Nick Diaz does to Carlos Condit what he did to BJ Penn. It's a new year and a new era for mixed martial arts and an even better time to be a fight fan.




*http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/income_wealth/cb11-157.html

Thursday, January 19, 2012

2 years of silence

I haven't posted a blog post in 2 years and instead of creating a new blog for bullshit i'm just going to kick this one back up again. Hopefully more to come.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

This blog is changing.

Just letting you know. I don't have any fans so......this is now like my live journal or some shit. You're warned.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

ALBUMS OF THE YEAR 2009


#1 Crocodiles – Summer Of Hate

I am obviously biased. Crocodiles are my friends. But this is my #1 album of the year. I love the songs and I’m really excited for the future. 2009 started with Crocodiles having self-released a 7” single and one tiny tour under their belt from end of 2008. They did “Summer Of Hate” themselves and went on to sign a great label deal and end up on the front page of the NY Times by March. I have yet to stop listening to this album. Crocodiles are great songwriters and this year they killed it and really brought me a lot of happiness. What more could I ask from an album of the year.

#2 Ian Brown – My Way

I picked up this album when I was in the UK because there are no US plans for release and it’s IB; a legend who gets a lot of love in my household. I read he wanted to make an album like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” He succeeded. This album is amazing. Vintage IB swagger with some great songs. IB even surpassed the UK’s expectations and this record is a gem.

#3 HEALTH – Get Color

Something about spastic noise mixed with a reason to dance really works for me. HEALTH killed it this year by coming out the gate with “Die Slow” and dropping Get Color. Once again, bias because they are friends, but I don’t mind because I will watch HEALTH live any day of the week.

#4 Au Revoir Simone – Still Night, Still Light

My friend Scott said it best; he called this album a ‘Volkswagen commercial.’ Mellow synth pop from 3 ladies. This is a great relaxing album that flows from start to finish. I am impressed and this is easily their best work to date.

#5 Cold Cave – Love Comes Close

My friend Sean tipped me to Cold Cave early on and I was intrigued. Everything I heard was dark, synth-y, and in a Factory Records vein. When I got the advance I was blow away with the songs. This is a great album from a guy (Wes Eisold) who has been pushing the envelope for years. This is his first true endeavor into a more accessible style and it’s extremely impressive.

#6 Crystal Antlers – Tentacles

I call them the ‘hipster Mars Volta’ which they hate. Fact is Crystal Antlers are a great band and Tentacles was their debut full-length. I saw these guys live a handful of times throughout the year and was blow away everytime. Never a bad show. Bias again, but 2010 is going to be huge for Crystal Antlers. They are my friends and I have faith in them.

#7 Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

“Stillness in the Move” was the first Dirty Projectors song I loved. This album is unique, very different, and not for everybody. That said, I really like it, and I think it’s an important album.

#8 Mark Olson + Gary Louris – Ready For The Flood

There is just something special about two lifelong friends shedding any title or presentation and just writing great songs together and quickly recording them. Mark and Gary are/were The Jayhawks and this little sleeper of an album amazed me on first listen.

#9 Odawas – The Blue Depths

Years ago I was introduced to Odawas because I loved a tune on their debut. I stuck with them but didn’t like the 2nd album. Now the 3rd, make or break in my opinion… The Blue Depths is a haunting 80’s inspired Canadian trip that just works. It’s a unique offering and I know it won’t get tons of love but this album is for me and I’m a fan.

#10 Dinosaur Jr – Farm

I don’t think anybody expected Dinosaur Jr. to deliver an album like Farm. It rocks, it’s classic Dino Jr, it’s loud, and it’s got songs.

#11 Julian Casablancas – Phrazes For The Young

I’m not a big Strokes fan. I thought Julian was just the mouthpiece. I was wrong. Great album, great songs, great vibe…just too short. This is a spectacular album that will certainly gain more and more recognition in years to come.

#12 Young Widows – Old Wounds

Kurt Ballou of Converge fame produced this album and hit it on the head again as he has done times before. Young Widows are a good band but Kurt’s production made this album great. This is a unique rock album and will be something I’ll listen to for a while.

#13 Kylesa – Static Tensions

Southern metal. Good songs, great drive to the album and a great metal record.

#14 These Are Powers – All Aboard Futures

I’m intrigued with These Are Powers. They are certainly a unique hip entity and they proved it with ‘All Aboard Futures.’ Choppy. Artistic. Honest.

#15 Pictureplane – Dark Rift

Pictureplane is bringing back the beat. Rhythm, dancing, songs, and fun. A good step in the right direction for a young artist.

#16 Wavves – Wavvves

I’m thoroughly impressed with Wavves. “The next Beck” my friend Scott says; I agree. I love his live show and love the songs, but in all honesty the recording quality is piss poor and makes my head hurt when I listen through good speakers. I expect some great things from Nate in the future but this album will be around for a while.

#17 Blank Dogs – Under and Under

NYC’s DIY hero drops a proper full-length on In The Red. Everything that Blank Dogs represents displayed on this record; somewhat of a debut. The songs are there and I expect a lot from Blank Dogs in the future on many levels.

#18 Magik Markers – Balf Quarry

This is not your typical album; filed in ‘Experimental’ which does not do it justice. Magik Markers have been around for a while and this is a great album. It’s unique of course but they have found their sound and I commend them.

#19 Real Estate – Real Estate

This was a sleeper for me. At first listen it didn’t grab me but then all the sudden it hit and I get it. I’m looking forward to the future of Real Estate, they have a ton of potential.

#20 Beatles - Reissues

The difference can be explained like this. A myspace stream vs. a 320kps tune through a Bose. Sheds a new dimension to the catalog of the greatest band ever.

SINGLES/SONGS

Ancient Crux – Interracial Coupling EP

“Something Roy Orbison would shit out” early press quote. Kids from Murrieta, CA making awesome music.

El Perro Del Mar – “Love Is Not Pop” (SONG)

Story: Heard EPDM years back, kinda dug it. Years later, not digging new stuff. Saw her at Iceland Airwaves ’08 and was impressed. In 09 she drops this and I’m sold. The album is not nearly as good as this song, but still a good album.

SALEM “Frost” (Single)

Neil at Origami Vinyl turned me on to these guys and I was blown away. Dark and unique. This is a great tune.

Abe Vigoda – “Wild Heart” Reviver EP

Hitting their stride. “Wild Heart” is sorta a cover of Stevie Nicks and it’s beautiful. Abe V is going to release a great album in 2010 as long as the have proper time in the studio (which they have never had before).

The Big Pink – “Velvet”+“Dominos”

England’s The Big Pink came out of the gate with two solid singles. And then that was all she wrote. Shit live, the rest of the album is a dud, and a horrible US approach.

Animal Collective – Fall Be Kind EP

Never liked AC until I heard them sing “What Would I Want? Sky” and it’s pure Richard Ashcroft and it reminds me of why I love the Verve (thanks Jen) and so I like this EP.

Conclusion: Final Thoughts

I always have a nice little rant for my best of lists and this year is no different. What is going on in the music industry? Furthermore, what is going on in the entertainment industry? That is how I see it now; it’s not just music, the whole business around ‘the arts’ is just shot. Movies are huge gambles for studios and it certainly doesn’t help when you can steal on the internet them prior to release and not have to drive to the theater, pay $11, or deal with crowds. Obviously, downloading has crippled music. But I’m more concerned about how boring and stagnant entertainment is becoming. In fact, how unentertaining, entertainment is. American Idol and TMZ scare me. Attention spans are now measured in milliseconds. I remember losing my shit when I got a Gameboy. Now kids play extremely realistic war games with headsets thru the internet with other kids around the world. Why even leave the house? The internet has everything; news, communication, entertainment, games, porn…you name it. I feel like a renaissance man and that is what I think we need. We need a cultural renaissance to stimulate creativity of tomorrow. American Idol will not do this. TMZ will only hinder this. What have we become? Someone please inspire me. Go against the grain and go for the throat of mass-media. Lo-fi was great in 2009, but is not the answer. Hipsters don’t fund artists; they suck their blood and then discard them. Rolling Stone is unreadable and full of shit. The Grammy’s nominations this year are a complete joke and embarrassing. It’s said that during a recession, creative minds flourish….well, I’m here and I’m waiting.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

ALBUMS OF THE YEAR 2008

#1 Sebastien Tellier - Sexuality
Vintage Serge Gainsbourg meets Justin Timberlake. Easily my favorite album of this year and in my top 10 of all-time. A full 360 of an album that is diverse and superb at every moment. The closing track “L’Amour et La Violence” (The Love and The Violence) is haunting and pure genius. I could easily listen to this album on repeat for ages and did so in 2008. The album is immaculately produced by Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo of Daft Punk and blends all the talents of Sebastien Tellier from his previous work. A great driving album, a wonderful time-piece, and something I won’t stop praising for years to come.

#2 Young Jeezy – The Recession
True Story; I had 30 minutes to kill so I stopped by Second Spin. It was Tuesday (aka new release day) and they were playing a hip-hop record in the store. After walking around for 20 minutes I was like, man, this record sounds good…so I bought it. It was Young Jeezy – The Recession and it’s a great record. Who’d of thunk a southern rapper could have predicted the economic downturn? “Black President” (feat. NaS) should be one of the tracks of the year.

#3 Torche - Meanderthal
This album is a ripper. Heavy enough to scare off the masses, yet melodic enough to warrant some rock radio play. The album is great from start to finish and addictive. I heard this in a listening station and was taken aback by it. I look forward to anything and everything Torche.

#4 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazarus!!! Dig!!! / The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford OST
Nick Cave at the Hollywood Bowl was everything I could have wanted from a Bowl show. Whereas Dig!!!... is a wonderfully blunt record which has hints of Grinderman (my last year’s #1 album) , his soundtrack work with Warren Ellis is equally as powerful. Nick Cave is superior to most and in the last couple of years he has hit a creative stride that I’m in love with.

#5 Lykke Li – Youth Novels
This is a superb album. Great pop songs, great production, great everything. I give Lykke Li props as this album was released over 2 years ago in her home Sweden yet she continually tours and performs for US audiences despite her obvious tire of repetition. I was extremely impressed with this and look forward to her next output.

#6 Sigur Ros - Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust
I picked up this album because I knew when it came out that I would be going to Iceland later on in the year for Airwaves. Although not a typical Sigur Ros album I definitely loved it. At first it didn’t sound like a typical Sigur Ros album but after a few listens the songs stood out enough to make me forget.

#7 Lindstrøm – Where You Go I Go Too
A few years back I got my hands on a live mix of Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas and was floored by the coming of nu-disco. Since then I have been salivating for everything Lindstrøm. At SXSW I saw him “spin” (totally laptop) in a cowboy bar and he was great, but it was not the place for him to be. This album is 3 tracks of perfect desert driving music. Electronic overtures.

#8 Fuck Buttons – Street Horrrsing
Live at the Reykjavik Art Museum sealed it for me. I was saddened to have to venture into the “experimental” section at Amoeba when this is really just an Electronic record. Sure there are some huge Noise aspects but the album itself is an atmospheric tidal wave of drone fused melodies. Fuck Buttons is up my alley and I’m cool with that.

#9 The Kills – Midnight Boom
I remember when the Kills first started gaining hype and I saw them a few times in NY and bought the introductory EP and then album. I liked it, but wouldn’t consider myself a fan. Then the next album dropped and I happened to see them on that tour by chance, still like it, but eh. Finally it came at this year’s SXSW when I happened to be at a party and they took the stage. I gave the typical, “I’ll give it a song or two” thought and I was very surprised when they blew me away. The new songs they played were superior to the old and the live set-up was great. A very good album from a now matured “shtick-y” band.

#10 Genghis Tron – Board Up The House
Hipster metal. 3 bearded scholar types playing some heavy metal without a drummer. This album has a few things I love mixed with some annoyances, yet it all comes together nicely. Ambient layers along with songs about zombies, but with a fair amount of screaming. Immaculate production (Kurt Ballou, did Torche too).

#11 Abe Vigoda – Skeleton
These guys are my buddies and I’d been eagerly awaiting the release of this bad-boy for ages. Tropical-Punk from Pomona kids is unique and interesting. I expect these guys to move onward and upward for some time into a Talking Head’s like group. Go LA.

#12 Human Highway – Moody Motorcycle
I really like Nick Diamonds, even though I’ve heard from numerous sources he’s a complete a-hole. I loved the first Islands record, the second one was kinda boring, but I was definitely impressed with Human Highway. “The Sound” is a great hit, and the title track is just as good.

#13 Duffy - Rockferry
I buy lots of records; common fact. I didn’t know what to expect from Duffy except I heard she sucked live and was not as pretty as creative camerawork has made her out to be. She can sing though, the songs are good, and this is a good album. Lots of haters out there with so many solo songstresses this year, but Rockferry is a very good album.

#14 Retro Stefson - Montana
The best band nobody has ever heard of….from Iceland. Manu Chao’s Radio Bemba Sound System meets Vampire Weekend. The best live show I’ve seen in ages, especially from a band whose ages range from 16-20.

#15 The Last Shadow Puppets – The Age Of The Understatement
Another “shot in the dark” when I picked up this album yet I was taken aback by it. A lot more mature than the Arctic Monkey’s and a great theme along with the perfect use of strings.

#16 Yeasayer – All Hour Cymbals
Soggy Brooklyn-ites who ooze hipness, yet I can’t get over the style, sound, and songs on this album. A great mood record that trails off a bit at the end but is still strong and memorable.

#17 Bun B – II Trill
RIP Pimp C. This year I decided that hip-hop should be incorporated more into my lifestyle and Bun B was big on that. A good banger of a record, perfect for the treadmill and my new-used Honda Accord.

#18 Booka Shade – The Sun And The Neon Light
I am a fan of electronic music and was happy to be impressed with the new Booka Shade. They killed it live at Coachella and was the first electro group to land the whole “adding my own vocals” to tracks. A good rhythmic piece with some great house aspects.

#19 Tricky – Knowles West Boy
I am on a few mailing lists in which I get advances of some weird records. Upon getting the Tricky album I didn’t know what to expect but it’s my duty to listen to everything. This is a phenomenal record that isn’t all over the place like some of his recent outings. Lots of mellow gems on this bad boy.

#20 Glasvegas - Glasvegas
“Geraldine” is a hit, a true single. The rest of the album takes a while to grow but is still solid. Lyrically there are some problems and I don’t like some of the borrowed classical music, but it’s nice to see a new Scottish band coming up with a solid debut. I smell sophomore slump like a mofo though.


Flops/Total Bummers

Why did the Killers have to go with Jacques Lu Cont (aka Stuart Pierce) for their new album? Do 2 good remixes and a Madonna album warrant such a move? Result: Another bad record by the Killers. Whoopee. Lyrically a tadpole compared to 90% of what is out there and just misguided. Great photos too, you all look dumb.

Wal-Mart Exclusives: Seriously, not cool. First the Eagles, then Bryan Adams…why force me into the retail version of Lucifer? I can’t handle going to Wal-Mart, I just feel as if I’m killing puppies by giving them my hard earned dollar. Is music retail so bad that Wal-Mart takes over? Why let that happen?

More Hate ’08 coming soon…

Best Live

The Warehouse Project (October - Manchester, UK): Under a train station, a maze of post-industrial northern England brick walls. The line-up was Tricky, The Whip, Late Of The Pier, Rev and the Makers, and a ton more, but the vibe was pure party and the atmosphere is what any good show should be.

Yelle (Coachella): I give Yelle props because she was headlining a small ten t at Coachella up against some huge headliners and she delivered an amazing show that was filled with kids. Her album had barely surfaced in the US but there were all these kids going nuts for her. Kids are the future right? The best live act I saw at Coachella that year, seriously…that must say something.

Bryan Adams (Acoustic at The Roxy): Okay, most people know my love of Bryan Adams is superior to few. I had the chance to go with Los to see him play almost 3 hours acoustic 5 feet in front of me at the Roxy and it was pure class. He did it because he wanted too, he was having fun and playing as long as he wanted, and I love him. Icon.

Ricky Hatton TKO-ing Paulie Malignaggi (MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV): Okay, not music but watching Ricky Hatton pummel Paulie Malignaggi live in Vegas in November was one of the best experiences of my wee life. Liam and Noel of Oasis walked his belts into the ring and Ricky delivered by beating Paulie into submission. Forever “…walking in a Hatton wonderland.”

Conclusion: Final Thoughts

This year was a great year for new music, far better than others. Lots of “Best of Lists” were filled with debut albums and I think that is a great sign. Sure, industry changes, blah blah blah, but this is art, so we must all embrace creativity. I like nothing more than hearing a debut album that is amazing and gets me giddy. This year, I have to give props to one thing that made my life so much easier. Zune, the Zune Marketplace, and the Zune Pass. I don’t work for Microsoft, but my friend Megan does and she gave me a Zune player and I decided to drop the $14.99 a month (the cost of a CD) to “lease” all the music from the Zune Marketplace. Um, amazing. I highly recommend it to everybody I know. Sure, you don’t own MP3’s but you have the ability to “download” anything you want and put it on your Zune player. Every Tuesday I get newsletters that let me know what records are coming out and to the Marketplace I go downloading anything that sounds interesting. If I don’t like it, then I delete it. ‘Brick and Mortar’ record stores are few and far between and I can think of 10 that closed in 2008 that I was familiar with. Entertainment is all around us and I don’t expect people to buy lots of CD’s when they are hard to find and money is far from plentiful these days. Yet the Zune Pass gave me the chance to embrace all types of music, not just the new stuff. Having the ability to download a catalog is pretty sweet and lots of records you can’t even find in stores (like Rod Stewart’s “Tonight I’m Yours” (1981)). Enough of my Zune sales pitch that a few of you may have become accustomed too. Embrace the future already, listen to new music and do whatever it takes to find it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

People I Hate




Manus Boonjumnong (Boxer, Thailand)...he's the shithead in blue.

He's a boxer out of Thailand that is the 2004 Athens Olympic Gold Medalist and the 2008 Beijing Silver Medalist in the light welterweight class. He fights in the "Olympic style" which basically means that he is good at scoring points but if you took off the helmet and put him in with anybody else for a full 12 rounds then he would crumble like the little bitch he is.

Olympic style boxing has evolved into one of the most frustrating and boring displays in recent Olympic history. They are so concerned with "safety" that you barely touch the guy and viola...a point. What was terribly present in the Beijing Olympics was that those of Asian countries (or Asian descents) scored a lot more points for doing the exact same thing as everybody else...it was a sham and may have ruined Olympic boxing for generations to come.

Now back to dipshit Manus. After his Athens 2004 Gold Medal he was awarded over $600k from the Thai boxing association for winning Gold...call it extra incentive. What'd he do...he partied, he squandered it in clubs and it was so bad that he was given a bag of clothing and put on a plane to Cuba to train there and "get in shape" for Beijing 2008. Okay, he partied...whatever...my problem lies with his cocky attitude. He dances around the ring and showboats which pisses me off royally. Where-as other boxers in Beijing were cautioned and warned (+2 points to your opponent) for showboating, Manus got away with it, and continued to score with is pussy punches. The judging favored him due to his history, what a bummer. His attitude was so annoying that going into his Gold Medal match with a feisty Dominican I was praying for a knock-out.

Luckily, there was no way to NOT judge the fight against Manus in a true display of his true colors. The Dominican came out firing and coming forward and took Manus way off guard. He burrowed in like a rodent and was landing great shots on the inside and poor Manus was starstruck. Manus has long arms...most fighters with long arms can only fight on the outside, meaning scoring points based on stepping back and tagging your opponent on his way in...longer arms, less danger of getting tagged by your opponent. My favorite though was when Manus was down a few points going into round 3 (of 4) and he couldn't adapt. A true champion boxer would change there style to get points, but Manus is a one-trick pony who could only do what he always does, but this time he had no chance. At one point in the fight Manus was even given a standing 8 count due to the powerful punches landing on his chin...he was still cocky and played it off like it was no big deal, but guess what...standing 8 counts = points for your opponent and lots of momentum. Adios Manus, you suck, I hate you, and I hope I never hear from you again.

Olympic boxing motto; get ahead early and then pot-shot when your opponent is forced to come after you. There is nothing pretty about Olympic boxing right now, it's boring to watch, the judging is horrendous, there are clear favorites, and it's not a true display of the sport.

I love boxing, but Beijing was a disgrace....such a disgrace that they are talking of eliminating boxing from the Olympic program. That sucks.

Boo Beijing Olympic Boxing.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

For some reason, i'm all about blogging again. I like writing, i find it exciting, even if nobody reads it. It's been a while for my opinionated nonsense.

Here are a few things I want to talk about:
-Albums of 2008 that rip so far (we have had some winners)
-and other stuff.













Sebastien Tellier - Sexuality (Record Makers)

This album came out at the end of February in France and England and is just classic. It's produced by Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo (1/2 of Daft Punk) and it's absolutely stellar. Imagine Justin Timberlake's latest album mixed with vintage "erotique" Serge Gainsbourg. The album is beautiful, melodic, and perfect. Easily one of my favorite albums EVER, and a mainstay in the music i listen to on a weekly basis. "L'Amour Et La Violence" is simply one of the best 'coked-out 80's songs' in history...which sounds awkward...so i'll just say it's an epic atmospheric gallant. I love this album so much that I would put it out in the US if i had the funds...finally Record Markers is going to do so (along with American Apparel) and i'm sure many people will be impressed. The production and songwriter are both impeccable and the album is a true wonder. I champion Sebastien Tellier no doubt and I could not speak higher of this album.













Genghis Tron - Board Up The House

"Hipster Metal" sans drummer. 3 nerds from Upstate NY whom kill it with a powerhouse of a metal album on Relapse. This album is a shredder and the title track is about Zombies which I can definitely relate to. When in the mood for something heavy, look past the goof-ball name and pop this bad-boy in. I have sung the praises of this band, and i'm going to toot my own horn. When the Faint were looking for opening acts for their tour, I said "GENGHIS TRON" and they listed...voila, 4 dates on the tour. I'm stoked on that, yeah...my own horn. The lead singer's name is Mookie too, which i like...reminds me of the goof-ball NY Met.













Torche - Meanderthal

Sticking on the 'heavy' vibe is Torche, on Hydrahead. I didn't really expect to like any 'heavy' albums this year, i've mostly been listening to shit, but wowsa...amazing stuff from these guys. Carlos said it best "it kinda sounds like Foo Fighters" but with more balls. This is a great album, melodic, forceful, and a great listen. This is what rock should be sounding like, this is what Queens of the Stone Age USED to sound like and should have progressed into. They suck shit now and Torche should take their place. Hell, I would sign them to a major label in a second. Develop these cats and you got a hit. I also hear they are amazing live.

okay, no more JPEGS of Album covers...here are some other hits with little or no info, do the research.

In Alphabetical Order:

Abe Vigoda - Skeleton
LA Tropical Punk boys on No Age's PPM label. I'm stoked for these young'ns they got a great album and are going to do some nice little things. Plus I signed them.

Armand Van Helden - Ghettoblaster (2007 yeah, but it rips)
"I Want Your Soul" is a deep house track that is just amazing. Armand is consistently a trailblazer. And he is now in the old-school NY hip-hop fashion vibe which should reinvigorate him.

Booka Shade - The Sun & Neon Light
Germany's greatest export right now, a great electro house act that ruled Coachella. A great album start to finish that flows and beats.

The Courteeners - St. Jude
Manchester's newest. It's cutesy, and the lead singer is named Liam and acts like a douche. I'm sold on it.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig
Furious new album that shows Nick Cave is on a hot-streak for great albums. No nonsense, just great tunes. Really stoked to see him in Sept at the Hollywood Bowl for the first time.

No Age - Nouns
I give it to them, they are doing a good job and I like them. Go LA.

Titus Andronicus - The Airing Of Grievances
Camus referencing post-hardcore...of course i'll love it. This album is a bleeder and only works when you listen from the beginning to the end.

Yelle - Pop-Up
A) French B) Electro C) The best thing I saw at Coachella...very kitschy and a winner. It's just "cute" okay, it works.

Yeasayer - All Hour Cymbals
Great atmospheric record. Toured with MGMT and did a good job. A fun listen.

OKAY, now old shit that I 'discovered' recently

Bryan Ferry - Boys and Girls (1985)
Post "Avalon" solo record that is amazing. Very 80's, great synth layers and some really good songs.

Kate Bush - Hounds Of Love (1985)
Great, great, great album. "Running Up That Hill" is an amazing pop song. David Gilmour found her...even better. Title track still relevant today as it has been covered by Mystery Jets and others. Great 'period-piece' album.

Jacques Brel
French singer. Chansons cest magnifique. Reminds me of the best trip of my life, Paris with Jen over Christmas '07. Very nice.

"Baker Street" song - Gerry Rafferty (1978)
Easily still one of the best riffs ever, as played by a saxophone. Just so good. This song is going to play at my wedding. Probably right after "Heaven" by Bryan Adams. I didn't discover this recently, but I try and listen to it as often as possible and I love talking about it.

I am going to post more, I swear. Oh my 1 valued reader. I got into a Yelp War...it was sweet. I am playing soccer again, yay. Manchester City is back in the news with a new coach and some summer signing extravaganzas. Important shit going down. Let's talk. "Be Kind Rewind" best movie of 2008.

Love,
Josh