Archive for the ‘thoughts’ Category

Election Season is Almost Over – Part II

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

My brother posted the best argument about this election (and our government) that I’ve heard so far this season:

Both candidates are guaranteed to expand the powers of the executive branch, as most presidents have done since Washington. With every power grab, they decrease the power of the house and senate, and consequently reduce your voice in how you are governed.

So now we are forced to choose between the candidate that has a track record for sprinting toward expanding executive power (Obama), and the one that ham-handedly compromises his way there (Romney). I’m not saying that the USA will be a dictatorship in the next five, ten, or twenty years, but you can rest assured that both of these candidates and their successors will work to decrease your political, social, or economic freedoms in some way or another. They will do this in the name of “protecting and serving” you, the underprivileged, the elderly, the children, small business, big business, the economy, etc. Throughout history, all forms of government eventually break down into some form of tyranny, using every crisis as an excuse to increase the number of their citizens’ rights they can breach with impunity.

The best analogy I can come up with is that we (the citizens of the USA) are married to an addict (our power-craving, two-party system). It should be stupid for us to react with any amount of shock or disbelief when our government wants to limit our freedoms, take more of our money, or force us to act against our own best interests. Like an addict, they will promise us change, but continue on their own course, until that course ultimately destroys them and everyone tied to them.

I’ll probably chicken out and vote for Romney, hoping against hope that the USA won’t arrive at its inevitable destination of overwhelmingly oppressive executive powers in my lifetime. But the disciplined, courageous, and moral choice given our current political situation seems to be to vote for Obama and other politicians like him and give in to all their wishes, giving the addict what he craves most so that he is forced to destroy himself under the weight of his own addiction so that this evil can be dealt with sooner in my lifetime rather than later in my children’s.

Though it reads like the words of an alarmist, it’s far better than any of the other junk that has been, and will be, plastered all over our social media and news sites for the next two weeks.

My thoughts aren’t congruent with those above, but it is refreshing to hear a voice that sounds human, concerned, and without any blatant disdain or snarky insults hurled towards one side or the other. Even more refreshing, is that without any cute photoshopped memes packed with the stomach-turning snark and vision-narrowing disdain, I’m compelled to think and thoughtfully weigh these ideas instead of irritatingly dismiss them.

Thanks Jon.

 

Also, earlier today I stumbled onto the P.E. Hewitt Jazz Ensemble and haven’t stopped listening to them. My initial thoughts were how the rhythm section sounds much more like rock than jazz.

 httpv://youtu.be/eJGKZgF_DHI

A strong review found here, had this to say:

The overall effect — helped along by buoyant, dreamy vocals from soprano Sonia Valldeparas and alto Nina Scheller, in addition to drummer Rick Hearns’s energetic, sometimes rock-like propulsion — feels like the flowering of a new style of cosmic/ ethno/ jazz /pop, one not heard before or since.

 All in all, new tunes, a worthwhile thought about politics, and an evening without having to watch the Cardinals lose to the Giants.

Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot…

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Those are about the only words I know from the New Year’s anthem, Auld Lang Syne. Here are some other songs that emphasize the importance of a new year.

Medley from Akron/Family that I’ve celebrated the new year with for consecutive years now:

Listen to first part here- Sun Will Shine (Warmth of the Sunship Version). 2nd part below.

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/11-Last-Year.mp3|titles=11 Last Year]

Their website is great. Check it out: akron/family. More to come on those guys later.

A New Year’s track from The Walkmen that I enjoy:

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/04-In-The-New-Year.mp3|titles=04 In The New Year]

And the closing track from the latest Tom Waits album Bad As Me-

httpvh://youtu.be/ZyCTpzQRK0E

Closing things out with the classic anthem is Jimi-

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/01-Auld-Lang-Syne.mp3|titles=01 Auld Lang Syne]

Thanks for reading, have a great New Year.

 

Developmental Days

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

In Greg Kot’s Wilco: Learning How to Die, he articulates what so many people can’t seem to do in regards to “alt-country.”

To a new generation of listeners, Uncle Tupelo (Jeff Tweedy’s first major band) may as well have been pioneers; their blend of folk, country, mountain soul, punk, and Crazy Horse-style classic rock had little to do with the arena-ready alternative rock of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Stone Temple Pilots… Rather than dimming their appeal, however, the sense that Tupelo had emerged from a deep American tradition only enhanced their status as “serious” artists within a core group of committed fans, writers, and record labels.

Farrar and Tweedy were among the latest wave of rock ‘n’ roll kids inspired by hard-core country’s enduring virtues: a stripped-down instrumental attack, devastatingly direct lyricism, whiskey-and-cigarette-fueled emotion… Compared with the music coming out of 1990s Nashville in the guise of suburban cowboys and cowgirls such as Garth Brooks and Shania Twain who mimicked the mainstream rock and pop of the 1970s, the bands and record labels lumped into the alt-country bin sounded like the second coming of Hank Sr. and White Lightning-era George Jones.

Tupelo was far from radio-format country or rock.

These “hardcore country virtues” of “devastatingly direct lyricism” and “whiskey-and-cigarette-fueled emotion” resonate in the music I listen to today. Most notably Clay Nightingale, The Tumbleweeds, Micah P Hinson, as well as Okkervil River’s debut album Don’t Fall In Love With Everyone You See.

Though much of what I listen to shares elements with the above description, my introduction to this sound was in a reverse chronology because I started with Wilco’s “progressive/modern” albums Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost is Born in the fall of 2004. Following the gradual takeover those albums did to me, I backtracked through their discography and eventually landed on Uncle Tupelo’s work.

If you have been keeping Tupelo at bay (like I know some have), I’ve picked out some stand out tracks that might pull you into their work.

No Depression (1990)
One of the many songs about loss, isolation, and reliance on a bottle- Flatness

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Uncle-Tupelo_No-Depression_10_Flatness.mp3|titles=Uncle Tupelo_No Depression_10_Flatness]

Whiskey Bottle lyrics.
[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/04-Whiskey-Bottle.mp3|titles=04 Whiskey Bottle]

This trouble Farrar describes as “seeing one too many dollar sign smiles” and “people chasing money and money getting away” makes you understand why he’d prefer a bottle and his guitar.

Still Feel Gone (1991)
Again, the reiteration of how cheap other people can make life feel- Nothing

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Uncle-Tupelo_Still-Feel-Gone_04_Nothing.mp3|titles=Uncle Tupelo_Still Feel Gone_04_Nothing]

Still Be Around lyrics.

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/09-Still-Be-Around.mp3|titles=09 Still Be Around]

After hearing tracks like Still Be Around and Whiskey Bottle, it’s easy to see how the critics from the early 1990s believed that Farrar was the richer, deeper songwriter. But the first murmurings of Tweedy’s talent even coming close to Farrar surfaced after much praise from the single Gun.

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/08-Gun.mp3|titles=08 Gun]

March 16-20, 1992 (1992)
March provided covers of old traditionals like the Tweedy’s take on I Wish My Baby Was Born-

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Uncle-Tupelo_March-16-20_-1992_09_I-Wish-My-Baby-Was-Born.mp3|titles=Uncle Tupelo_March 16-20_ 1992_09_I Wish My Baby Was Born]

and Farrar’s rendition of Moonshiner (below) as well as originals.

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/14-Moonshiner.mp3|titles=14 Moonshiner]

When the rock labels were hoping that Uncle Tupelo would keep following the evolution of tracks like Gun and hopefully produce something that could contend on the alternative radio markets alongside Nirvana and Pearl Jam, Uncle Tupelo decided to, as manager Tony Margherita was quoted as saying in Kot’s book, say a “big ‘fuck you’ to the rock scene, and we knew it would cost us.” And Farrar went on to say “This should insulate us from that industry bullshit, people looking for the next Nirvana.”

I particularly like these quotes (and the decision to make March) because how many times have you discussed whether or not an artist owns their music and controls their artistic direction and such? To a small degree, Tweedy has made some minor concessions to labels/industry, but Farrar on the other hand has NEVER wavered. This album is a great example of talented, yet broke, artists disregarding industry trends and maintaining a steadfast commitment to making honest, truthful work.

A few originals from March: Tweedy’s Black Eye

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/13-Black-Eye.mp3|titles=13 Black Eye]

and Farrar’s political Criminalslyrics.

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Uncle-Tupelo_March-16-20_-1992_04_Criminals.mp3|titles=Uncle Tupelo_March 16-20_ 1992_04_Criminals]

March was followed up by Tweedy and Farrar’s final collaboration and is considered to be their most complete album, Anodyne (1993). The album features the differing perspectives and foreshadows what is to come.
Farrar’s Slatelyrics.

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Uncle-Tupelo_Anodyne_01_Slate.mp3|titles=Uncle Tupelo_Anodyne_01_Slate]

and Tweedy’s call for togetherness in The Long Cut.

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/18-The-Long-Cut.mp3|titles=18 The Long Cut]

Farrar’s attitude continues with the title track as well as Fifteen Keys lyrics.
Anodyne lyrics.
[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Uncle-Tupelo_Anodyne_09_Fifteen-Keys.mp3|titles=Uncle Tupelo_Anodyne_09_Fifteen Keys]

While Tweedy attempts to poke humor at the once serious tones of condemnation in We’ve Been Had.
[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Uncle-Tupelo_Anodyne_08_Weve-Been-Had.mp3|titles=Uncle Tupelo_Anodyne_08_We’ve Been Had]

After a childhood together and over 8 years playing music in tandem, Farrar stated he could no longer work with Tweedy. When Margherita tried to talk Farrar down about breaking up citing artistic potential and commercial success, Kot writes:

For Farrar none of that mattered. “Commercial success wasn’t the reason that we started the band,” he says, “so that wasn’t any reason to keep it going forward. That’s the wrong reason to start a band, and the wrong reason to continue a band. It had run its course.”

So they broke up with Farrar creating Son Volt and Tweedy rounding the remainding Tupelo members and forging ahead with Wilco.

Also Wilco: Learning How to Die includes over 50 pages hating on the entertainment industry featuring text such as “Corporate consolidation had narrowed the pipeline to radio to the point where any hint of individuality had all but been expunged from the airwaves” as well as-

A band’s worth was determined no longer by its artistic reach, its potential to create music of lasting significance, but how rapidly it could find a huge audience. It didn’t matter whether that audience was seduced by a designer fashion line, an acting role in a Hollywood movie, a tie-in with a video game, or, perchance, a compact disc as long as the corporate shareholders got their quarterly dose of good news.

I’ll finish this post with Tupelo covering The Soft Boys’ I Wanna Destroy You.

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Uncle-Tupelo_Still-Feel-Gone_15_I-Wanna-Destroy-You.mp3|titles=Uncle Tupelo_Still Feel Gone_15_I Wanna Destroy You]

It was interesting to have Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost Is Born be my first experiences of Tweedy’s songwriting only to become more familiar with earlier Wilco albums like Being There and eventually coming to know Tweedy’s foundation with Uncle Tupelo. It’s not an uncommon feeling to wish you could have seen the beginnings of a great band/artist, which is why it is important to stay connected and support the artists you enjoy, especially when they are still “small-time.”

Next we’ll look at the evolution of Tweedy as well as others who may have followed in similar steps.

Three Quick Tracks

Monday, November 7th, 2011

To follow the DFW excerpts, I thought I’d post three quick tracks I’d been meaning to put out for awhile now.

This first track is from the “hardcore Latin funk” band Brownout.

httpvh://youtu.be/YtO2DWTMGNE

Based out of Austin, I wish I’d been able to hear them live before I skipped town.

Though the video is nothing special (not a Scarface fan), the song serves as one of Dylan Jones’s favorite pre-gaming traditions and you should try throwing it on while working up the energy to get your weekend started. I’m pretty sure it’ll succeed.

Next is a Madlib produced, M.E.D. mic’d song about African-American and Latino people working toward unity.

httpvh://youtu.be/X0RvPfxRPig

Easily one of my favorite hip-hop videos I’ve seen in years.

And closing out the trio is a hard-to-find track from native-Texan turned Anglophile (lives, records, and performs mostly in England)  Micah P Hinson.

httpvh://youtu.be/y4tjUTFSp34

Though I was unable to find a worthwhile video (sorry), the song should be interesting enough. The creative use and layering of strings, distortion, multiple percussionists, etc. is where I’d like more musicians focusing their attention.

Micah P Hinson’s music had previously been much more naked than this track. His newer, larger sound in this case is a success. I can’t wait to hear more from him.

More DFW coming soon.

Two-year Das Racist Recap

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

It can be difficult to talk hip-hop because so much of it tip-toes the half-step freefall into garbage.

Das Racist utilizes their strengths of cultural references and humorous slackerdom. Paired with unique music and refreshing, non-sterile rhymes, Das Racist has proven to be a contemporary leader.

Most internet literate folks have heard Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. But 2010 provided the releases Shut Up, Dude (March) and Sit Down, Man (Sept).  And “Ek Shaneesh” (from Shut Up, Dude) illustrates perfectly who these guys are.

httpvh://youtu.be/1lLm0HYVrlg

“I am a pick-up truck. I am America. I am America. I am a pick-up truck.”

Honest, observant and bluntly hilarious, these guys are what contemporary hip-hop should be. After generations of recycled braggadocio, Das Racist brings a fresh, observant, careless air to a music that was formerly self-centered and boring.

One of my favorites from Sit Down, Man.

httpvh://youtu.be/iYjdiOn5-AQ

And if you’d like to put their pop-culture knowledge to the test, enjoy “Shorty Said”

httpvh://youtu.be/9n52wxSiZ2M

With all this rollover hype from 2010, I was skeptical of their September 13, 2011 release, Relax.

And though the album is not “break doors down” great, it’s pretty damn good. Here are my two favorite tracks:

Power 

“You probably think this song is about you, you vain.” Who raps about Carly Simon? These guys do.

Though “Power” has a guest rapper who throws out the obligatory language about genitalia and such, the other 90% of the song hits perfectly.

And “The Trick” settles things down with an anthem of satisfaction-

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Das-Racist_Relax_13_The-Trick.mp3|titles=Das Racist_Relax_13_The Trick]

these things happen…

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

A year ago, I was living in a shoddy East Austin apartment stilted above a garage with two exceptional people. From October 2010 till I shipped out earlier this year in May, we had a good stretch. Shit jobs, late nights, frozen pipes, putting bets on the house and drinks on the arm… pretty much doing everything we possibly could to distract ourselves from what loomed ahead.

During this time my roommates, Jon and Dylan, found time to record the album Trout. To open this magnificent record, Jon asked me to read some lines from Charles Bukowski’s “The Laughing Heart” (three lines were kept).

Since the album is a collection of folks purposely focused on goofing around, Jon thought it’d be humorous to give the opening some tongue-in-cheek weight. Poetry was decided the best way to go about it.

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/01-Brown-Trout-1.mp3|titles=01 Brown Trout (1)]
Here’s Tom Waits providing us with his complete (and much better) reading:

httpvh://youtu.be/DhM-Dm2PHHo

“That’s a beauty you know?”

Sometimes an album/artist will have a similar tone or feel as a novel/author. For instance, years ago while reading Hubert Selby Jr. (Last Exit to BrooklynRequiem for a Dream) and listening to as much Lou Reed as I could, the two became partnered. Velvet Underground will always be my soundtrack to Selby’s literature.

And there are times when Waits’s sound feels like the musical brother of Bukowski’s print.

So you can imagine what kind of topsy-turvy world I awoke to the morning this ad began running on Hulu.

httpvh://youtu.be/KT16DcHcjRA

These things are foreseeable but disappointing nonetheless. Bukowski probably didn’t wear denim a single day of his adult life.

Also, oddly featured in the ad was a table boat.

Believable Women

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

When dealing with matters of love, family, intimacy and the like, I can’t take many male singer-songwriters seriously. Most of the time, I simply don’t believe them. In regards to some muzak that I’ve been unfortunately unable to escape, do I really believe that all they, the male singer-songwriters, want in life is to share banana pancakes with their wife in the morning?

And lines like “Times Square can’t shine as bright as you” make me believe the author should focus on writing Hallmark cards instead of music. Also, what kind of person lovingly compares their partner to Times Square? There’s a fraudulence about these songs that end up cheapening real intimate moments.

The weight of the responsibility for such cheap moments doesn’t lie solely on the muzak, but it isn’t improving anything either. No matter.

What does matter is honesty. Honest work includes imperfections in the artists themselves, their relationships and the world at large. Ignoring this unignorable part of life shouldn’t be tolerated.

Yet, I hear many people give these males with guitars passes for being “more intelligent” than your other (read: female) pop-stars because they might be more hands on with their music or… god knows what else.

Getting away from the prevalent and negative, here are some women whose words are forthright and emotions aren’t suspect.

Alynda lee Sygarra

of Hurray for the Riff Raff

Too Much of a Good Thing

HftRR are based out of New Orleans and I was fortunate enough to see them three times in the short time I lived in Austin. Though she’s small in stature and her voice soft, when Alynda is on stage, the audience silences themselves paying her their undivided attention. Her demeanor doesn’t demand that at all, the audience is just that responsive. That intrigued by her. The rooms are anxious to listen.

The next track appropriates a few of my favorite Daniel Johnston lines.
Is That You?

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Hurray-for-the-Riff-Raff_Young-Blood-Blues_01_Is-That-You_.mp3|titles=Is That You?]

A song that I haven’t stopped singing for over a year now-
Slow Walk

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Hurray-for-the-Riff-Raff_Young-Blood-Blues_02_Slow-Walk.mp3|titles=Hurray for the Riff Raff_Young Blood Blues_02_Slow Walk]

A favorite among my friends-
Daniella

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Hurray-for-the-Riff-Raff_It-Dont-Mean-I-Dont-Love-You_02_Daniella.mp3|titles=Hurray for the Riff Raff_It Don’t Mean I Don’t Love You_02_Daniella]

Nina Nastasia

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_VNaThCRJc

In mid 2004, I was given an mp3 CD with albums I had missed from Animal Collective, Wilco, TV on the Radio and Nina Nastasia. Being the most scaled down and bare-boned music on that disc, she interested me immediately.

Her voice gives an indication that she’s too familiar with Life. How it can be drudging, frustrating, doleful and all around sad. Yet she provides hope for those searching, finding that place and/or person that can temporarily cure you of the enormous, incurable world issues that continually lurk overhead and homogeneous people that prod you day-to-day.

Though she was mic’d the time I saw her, she didn’t need it. Casually backing away she projected a volume that gripped ribs and suspended breath. With the drummer not present, she simply strummed two chords and told this moving story icing me with “It’s your life to make a wreck.”
Late Night

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/08-Late-Night.mp3|titles=08 Late Night]

It’s hard not to say “playful” about this next song.
It’s a Dog’s Life

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/05-A-dogs-life.mp3|titles=05 A dog’s life]

I know this isn’t the Muzak that you’d hear walking into retail store or while reluctantly sitting in a Chili’s pounding ridiculous amounts of chips and salsa to take your mind off of being in a Chili’s, but how do you respond to someone whose favorite music is muzak? On a lighter note.
Judy’s in the Sandbox

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/03-Judys-in-the-sandbox.mp3|titles=03 Judy’s in the sandbox]

“A dance we weave beneath our skin
I keep you in me where the breath had been”
Counting Up Your Bones

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/04-Counting-Up-Your-Bones.mp3|titles=04 Counting Up Your Bones]

Jolie Holland

Jolie Holland is lovely. She’s only the second person I’ve ever described as such. For instance:
The Littlest Birds Sing the Prettiest Songs

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/09-The-Littlest-Birds.mp3|titles=09 The Littlest Birds]

She’ll say a little…
Do You? and Damn Shame

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/08-do-you_.mp3|titles=08 do you_] [audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/10-damn-shame.mp3|titles=10 damn shame]

And she’ll say a lot,

Mexican Blue

But you’ll believe her either way.

Emiliana Torrini

Holding this unique fatalistic, yet cute, personality Emiliana Torrini provides a different tone. She’s sharp, dark, and attractive.
Thinking Out Loud

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/01-thinking-out-loud-track-11.mp3|titles=01 thinking out loud (track 11)]

If there was a different approach used in the production, this song could’ve crept its way into the top 40. I’m not at all unhappy about how it turned out though.
Heartstopper

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/21-heart-stopper.mp3|titles=21 heart stopper]

                                         ———————————————————–

The women of Broken Social Scene were so important that I have to include at least one of their solo tracks. Here’s my favorite from Emily Haines.
Our Hell

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/01-Our-Hell.mp3|titles=01 Our Hell]

And because I’ve ALWAYS dug Keely Smith’s voice.
The Lip

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/06-The-Lip.mp3|titles=06 The Lip]

And because I love funk, here is my favorite female funk track-
Carrie Riley & The Fascinations
Super Cool

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/04-Super-Cool.mp3|titles=04 Super Cool]

Women can tell stories that men cannot. Their perspective on relationships, life… anything is rarely presented in a manner that doesn’t come off like a cover-girl-pop harlot. And when a woman like Nora Jones, Feist, Regina Spektor, Alicia Keys, or anyone who isn’t garbage-pop does surface, her work is contorted to fit the tastes of 12-year-olds in an attempt to compete commercially. (See Liz Phair or compare all of the above’s pre-breakthrough to post-breakthrough albums to verify.)

The industry does make it slightly harder to find adult women who make music for other adults. But we’ve got to keep looking, hope this helps.

 

philadelphia

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

In the past few years, the philly music-scene has been producing innovative music by really cool people. Dr. Dog, Man Man, and The Extraordinaires all have a sound that counters the disco-pop-rock sound that is “in” these days, and we all should benefit from their work.

In the summer of ’06, my St. Louisan circle of friends introduced me to Dr. Dog. I wasn’t sold at first because of the cute band name and because I was skeptical of anything that sounded too throwback and not forward-sounding enough. Example, “Oh No”

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/03-Oh-No.mp3|titles=03 Oh No]

Now, this is a song that I like now, but in 2006, it sounded like the above description. But any criticism of Dr. Dog sounding as though they were reaching back to an older period ended once I heard “The Girl” in 2007-

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/04-The-Girl.mp3|titles=04 The Girl]

It’s important to note that Dr. Dog shares vocal responsibilities with the guitarist Scott McMicken (the two previous songs were McMicken’s) and bassist Toby Leaman.

Here are three Leaman tracks:

“Die, Die, Die”

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/10-Die-Die-Die.mp3|titles=10 Die Die Die]

The Pretender

“The Ark”

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/06-The-Ark.mp3|titles=06 The Ark]

Earlier this year they released Shame, Shame. Next up…

Man Man was thrown into our consciousness by some girl JoMunto (one of my St. Louis pals) had a class with. Apparently, she approached Munto and told him that he looks like Honus Honus (which he does), the frontman of Man Man. As these things go, Munto did a little research and found he liked these crazy-ass men-children.

To date, they’ve provided the best Take-Away Showhttp://www.blogotheque.net/Man-Man,4324

“Gold Teeth” utilizes a technique that hits a nerve with me. It’s when the melody is slowed down, but the percussion/rhythm is amped up. This begins to take place at 4:05 minutes into the song and finishes it out.

Gold Teeth

Another example of this device is used on Wilco’s “Via Chicago.”

“Spider Cider” shows off their rambunctiousness that is contagiousness when watching them live.

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/09-Spider-Cider.mp3|titles=09 Spider Cider]

“Van Helsing Boombox” is one of those radio-friendly tracks that you’re happy never made it to the radio.

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/10-Van-Helsing-Boom-Box.mp3|titles=10 Van Helsing Boom Box]

“Ice Dogs” incorporates some tempo and melody changes that do not happen enough in today’s popular music where the danceability of a song determines the quality of a song.

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/13-Ice-Dogs.mp3|titles=13 Ice Dogs]

And on to the band that you may not have heard of, THE EXTRAORDINAIRES.

Any praise that I can muster up for any one band will be lauded onto these guys. If I could be any band’s next door neighbor (and it actually be a possibility), it’d be these guys. Young, involved in all things philycoool, they hand-make books that are partnered with their albums… simply put, they’re cooler than anyone I know. Led by the Purdy brothers, these guys are smart, entertaining, goofy as hell, and they have this careless aire that is also shared by Man Man. Both bands legitimately seem like they don’t give a shit about the music industry. All the bands that come out of LA (and most from Brooklyn) always seem to be trying to “out fashion” one another, but these Philly bands don’t care about any of that. They’re not trying to piggy-back any emerging style that is making its way to ipod or hybrid car commercials and they continue making music that really doesn’t pigeon-hole them.

This track became my drinking buddies’ anthem, “The Warehouse Song”

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/12-The-Warehouse-Song.mp3|titles=12 The Warehouse Song]

These songs are straightforward, but good nonetheless. “Neighborhood Watch”

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/01-Neighborhood-Watch.mp3|titles=01 Neighborhood Watch]

A dark-humored children’s story. “Hi-Five the Cactus”

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/16-Hi-Five-the-Cactus.mp3|titles=16 Hi-Five the Cactus]

And a song about a relationship from an insecure male’s perspective, “Seeds of Jealousy”

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/06-Seeds-of-Jealousy.mp3|titles=06 Seeds of Jealousy]

The Extraordinaires have a new album out, and unfortunately, I’ve yet to purchase it. In the next week or so, I will have it.

Those three bands provide huge reasons why I’d like to live in Philadelphia, PA. Maybe it’ll happen, maybe it won’t, but if any of these bands come through your city, you should go see them. Enjoy the philly roof-tops-

Tupac’s Conflicted

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

As a mid-90s kid consumed by entertainment and media, Tupac Shakur was inescapable. I saw his movies, ceased my channel surfing when crossing his music videos, and owned a few of his albums. All Eyez On Me went 9x Platinum and most of my 7th grade peers knew a line or two from it. Plus, I’d bet “California Love” is still played at high-school dances or any gathering that includes a lame DJ.

tupac

You know the headlines– the ridiculous east/west conflict, the charade with Notorious BIG, Suge Knight, etc. My favorite part of his legacy is the attacks levied by politicians who wanted to appear as though they were doing something while actually doing nothing. Tupac, Ice-T and a few others were key figures in the crusade against violence infused lyrics, especially imagery that included violence against cops within pop-music (mainly metal and rap). But, as Spike Lee points out, James Cameron can make a film where Mr. Universe rolls through a police station killing over a dozen police officers and no politician will have an issue with it. However, if a rapper happens to talk about killing a uniformed man, there’ll be hell to pay (i.e.the creation of silly parental advisory labels).

After digesting much of the respectable hip-hop and some of the commercial rap that has been in the air since Tupac’s murder, his views about women still stand out to me. I’ve never heard a more specific and telling portrait of someone’s mother than Tupac’s “Dear Mama.”

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/10-dear-mama.mp3|titles=10-dear-mama]

And a terribly dated “Brenda’s Got a Baby” took melodrama and social awareness to heights that have yet to be surpassed. This track makes you believe that Tupac could have held as much compassion as a Women’s Studies professor.

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/02-brendas-got-a-baby.mp3|titles=02-brendas-got-a-baby]

Hopefully that frustratingly long outro will never be surpassed either.

Later in his career, he tosses aside the sympathy and compassion to provide us with a justification for his industry’s objectification of an entire gender “Wonda Why They Call U Bitch.”

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/2-04-wonda-why-they-call-u-bitch.mp3|titles=2-04-wonda-why-they-call-u-bitch]

The person who Tupac references at the end of the song, C. Delores Tucker, led a remarkable life. She was a committed humanitarian which made her a huge opponent of gangsta rap for obvious reasons (promotion of violence and reckless sex, etc). Unfortunately, she tried to go after rap music the same way Tipper Gore did metal and Dan Quayle did rap. They all should’ve realized, no matter how much you hate it, you can’t defeat commercial success.

So, there it is. When Public Enemy is topping the charts with Fight the Power, Tupac throws on his “social injustice” hat. Later when “Thug Life” was the yellow-brick road, he was the Wiz. Tupac’s conflicted.

Watching un-live, LIVE shows.

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

After three years of missing these guys perform, I finally saw Octopus Project play. Octo Proj is probably the closest to dance-pop that I listen to. There are dramatic, yet energetic tones that make you focus on the topic at hand, be it an important project or simply completing the dregs of a bottle opened just a few hours earlier (The Adjuster, Porno Disaster).

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/02-the-adjustor.mp3|titles=02-the-adjustor] [audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/08-porno-disaster.mp3|titles=08-porno-disaster]

Adrenaline cranking jams that make you want to run through a linebacker on your way to biking through traffic-congested streets, every pass of disgruntled motorist providing more satisfaction than the last (Music is Happiness),

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/06-music-is-happiness.mp3|titles=06-music-is-happiness]

…and tracks that deliver the same emotions that overcome a server after completing a double-shift and the realization that dawns on them when they are clocked out at 9:35pm (instead of midnight) and that there is $180 dollars in their pocket (instead of only $100)- Truck.

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/02-truck.mp3|titles=02-truck]

So, I was finally able to see these guys LIVE after slurping their tunes for years… and it wasn’t great. Some of the responsibility falls squarely on the venue’s shoulders (18+) and some of it falls on contemporary pop/indie-pop/dance-pop (whatevs) music. The biggest drawback however was the amount of loops used and how that put constraints on a live show.

I remember this happening when I saw RJD2. Basically, live shows aren’t the same when they aren’t played live (no duh).

The RJD2 and now the Octo Proj’s shows weren’t worth the effort. Both artists make good tracks that should be played at any dance party, but ultimately, that’s where their tracks should remain. To be enjoyed with friends and acquaintances while mixed in between some hip-hop and the like. If you go to their show expecting to catch lightning in a bottle, or some variation of your favorite song that you will always identify as “the best time I heard this song,” you will be disappointed.

Kaki King, Andrew Bird, and a few other acts also use loops, but in a different way. Though it’s just as repetitive, they record a progression live, loop it, build on top of it, and when the song reaches “maximum density,” they conclude or resolve whatever sonic canvas they’ve just built. It’s different in that they are playing their licks live and the build-up is always unique and usually better than what is produced on the album:

Andrew BirdWhy?

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/03-why_.mp3|titles=03-why_]

httpvh://youtu.be/rZBoZ0sUT3k

The evolution of Bird and King’s songs makes their shows that much more worthwhile.

Kaki KingGay Sons of Lesbian Mothers

[audio:http://www.rickstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/13-gay-sons-of-lesbian-mothers.mp3|titles=13-gay-sons-of-lesbian-mothers]

httpvh://youtu.be/oxxkSc7HG5E

Contrast that with what occurs when Octo Proj/RJD2 perform, and little, if anything, is enhanced from the album. Pair that with the fact that these bands do not have a wide range and after thirty-five minutes or so, you’ll find their music is pretty redundant. They don’t cross genres or really mix anything up. Imagine listening to an hour-straight of Ratatat, I couldn’t. But that’s the music they choose to make, and I’m thankful for it (I’m still very much a fan), I’ll just pass when given the opportunity to see them live.