Thursday, July 30, 2009

You're the next contestants on Catch A Beat Down

125. Mos Def, Pharaohe Monch, and Nate Dogg - "Oh No" (Rawkus, 2000)

Mos Def is Mos Def here. No biggie. And Nate is Nate here, which is amazing as always. Can we please get him on more hooks in 2009 please?

But Pharaohe here, at least for a few bars, perfects that whole super-lyrical thing that he had been working on for the better part of a decade. The "halleluiah" bit is maybe the most exciting part of a rap song to sing along to ever and the consonance he follows it up with is bonkers as well. This didn't get a a huge reaction during Monch's (on the whole very well received) set at Pitchfork but I was obviously yelling the whole verse right in the homie Edgar's ear.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I seen her walk by me, damn near passed out

126. Ying Yang Twins - "Badd (ft. Mike Jones & Mr Collipark)" (TVT Records, 2005)

At the time this was overshadowed by the (clearly amazing) "Wait (the Whisper Song)" but while that (clearly amazing) song does still sound good, this stands up just as well. Collipark just makes a real, honest party beat here and that pan flute is legit one of my favorite hooks in a rap song this decade. And, while Mike and the Twins' criteria for what a badd bitch ain't exactly empowering, I dunno, there's something about this that I can't particularly envision anyone getting upset about it (especially relative to the rest of the YYTs ouvre) (also note that I'm not using my notoriously fun-and-rap loving friends' reactions to form an argument, I's just sayin, people love this shit). Plus, Mike Jones sounds unusually excited here and uses the word "vagina" better than any other rapper ever. Plus D-Roc's (I think that's D-Roc, I'm really bad at telling with them) "I love the way she dance, she look like she fuckin' herself" is just so full of, I dunno, admiration? I mean, he obviously thinks it's hot, but he also sounds genuinely impressed.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

No matter what I say

(Accidentally deleted the old logo, didn't have it on my hd, and had to do this one from (terrible despite seeing it like every day) memory. Sowwy.)

127. the White Stripes - "Offend in Every Way" (from the White Blood Cells album, Sympathy From the Record Industry, 2001)

If I remember correctly (and you know I like to have a good memory for strawmanning), critical consensus on this band is that they get better after this album, which if you ask me (which you implicitly are by clicking on this site) is insane. White Blood Cells has about twice as many great songs as any other White Stripes album, and this might not be the best of them, but it certainly has the title that most appealed to me in high school, and if that's not the best judge of quality I don't know what is.

On a side note, while the White Stripes' back to the 60s equipment gimmick might sound like something that would push my buttons, how could I be mad at these cartoon characters who just wanna rock in their own bassless, hard drumming way? Retro-playfulness way good here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I'm gonna dance the way I feel

128. The Tammys - "Egyptian Shumba" (United Artists, 1963)

For me (and plenty of other folks, obviously), this is easily one of the most exciting vocal performances on a pop song ever. There are the famous screams themselves, which are great, but currently I'm most interested in the exact moment it all goes crazy, from somewhat precocious to completely unhinged. It's the "our mummies took our haaaa-ee-aand" line at the end of the first verse. It's like you see the crazy train coming out of the corner of your eye at the vary last second and before you know it, bam, it's on you.

Also, the line "I'm gonna dance the way I feel" is wonderful, both for the immediate meaning of "I'm gonna dance the way [that] I feel [like dancing)" and my, perhaps willfully stretchy, way of reading it, in which the key word is "dance" (as opposed to "say" or "show"). As in, not only are they dancing the way they want, they're performing their feelings through dance. And what could make me happier than that?

Come on, Rick

Now, out of my, I dunno, 20 favorite LPs of the year so far, there are probably 3 or 4 that could in any meaningful way be called rock. So there's really no reason you should trust me when I make a statement like this. But here goes anyways:

I saw Future of the Left live last night and they are, like McLusky before them, the best rock band in the world.

Their album from this year, Travels with Myself and Another is a huge step from the already awesome Curses, and the songs sounded even better live, aided by Falco and Kelson's inimitable banter. But you don't go see the show for the banter, obviously, you go see it for the noise and the ferocity and the tunes and god damn, man, god damn. This Kelson Mathias feller is one fuck of a bass player, what you might call muscular basslines this guy has. And you know Falco and Jack from the mighty Mclusky and they still kick just as much ass they did in that band (and look very much on their way to becoming better).

It takes a mean rock band to be funny as hell and not be a joke.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Duck, you sucker

(photo from Yelp)

Well, I finally did it. On my third trip to Hot Doug's and my second in a matter of days, I had the fabled Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse, and Sel Gris and it was just as wonderful as I imagined. I first took a little bite of the foie gras and it was as rich and smooth as I dreamed. Then I took a little lick of the Truffle Aioli and it was slightly tangy and it tasted like a rainbow in the summer in my mouth. And then I took a big bite of the whole ducky thing and I just sat there and grinned a goofy grin at my lunch mates and it was good.

Also, the truffle aioli, besides being delicious, is such a wonderful punchline. The duck sausage plus duck liver pate mousse not extravagant for ya? Here's some truffles for ya! God bless ya, Doug Sohn.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

RT dis

Blogging dis weekend might be a bit slow, but will def be updating stupid details from Pfork Fest on the twitter. @YesMoreMaciej holler front holler back (PS shitty old cell phone so I won't be reading any replies til I get home nuffin personal y'kno).

Dancing w/o gravity

129. Lindstrøm - "I Feel Space" (Feedelity, 2005)

What's your favorite song by any of the acts performing today at the Pitchfork Music Festival, you ask? Well that's easy, kids, it's Hans=Peter Lindstrøm's now classic space disco anthem "I Feel Space". It's all obvious sci-fi signifiers + obvious balearic signifiers (the hand percussion bit, I mean, mostly) and it's just so beautiful at putting those together that it's still probably the easiest thing to play for people to demonstrate what I like about this kind of music. So let me play it for you, dear reader.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Celebrate the body electric

A Rough, Soon to Be Destroyed Schedule for Pitchfork Music Festival 09


1-2pm: Arrive at the park and explore the grounds while maybe hearing a little of the first few bands of the day, which I honestly don't care too much about this year.

2:30pm: Grab a beer and watch Fucked Up shred and generally kick my ass to start off the weekend proper.

3:35pm: Prolly chill in the forest (assuming the layout is the same as last year) and be soothed by the somewhat foresty sounds of Bowerbirds, who I think I saw open for the Mountain Goats once and were pretty good. Mostly though, I'll be waiting for...

4:30pm: Ponytail! There are gonna be unicorns, I can feel it. I've never seen them live, but I'd imagine it's gonna be quite joyous. The sugar rush Boredoms gallop of "Celebrate the Body Electric" was one of my favorite things about last year and I will jump around to it, yes I will.

5:30pm: I will sit somewhere and eat dinner. And I will probably be drinking beer.

6:30pm: With all apologies to Doom, who I still do enjoy, this is all about Lindstrøm. It's gonna be weird seeing him in the daylight prolly, but this is one of the sets I'm most looking forward to easily.

7:30pm: Chill out somewhere, prolly not too close to Matt & Kim honestly. I'll be way too tired for that shit at this point.

8:30pm: If I haven't gone home or to someone else's house to prepare for the night yet, I'll happily catch some of the Black Lips. I'm not sure if any of the big indie bands nowadays bore me as much as the National do, and that's saying a lot.


1:00pm: A bright an early start for the Mae Shi, who have been known to make music that I very much enjoy.

1:45pm: I like Frightened Rabbit ok, I think. Certainly okay enough to see them at a festival if I'm already there. Although the songs on their Myspace don't sound that great right now. We'll see.

2:30pm: Find my friends and sit down for a while. I hope there's Goose Island Beer at this thing again.

3:20pm: Simon Says get the fuck up. Pharaohe Monch, I will definitely see you as I would imagine you throw a pretty hype show.

4:15pm: The Thermals are one of my favorite rock bands and they kill live. So, despite the fact that I can't get into the new record, I'll be at this. Though I'll prolly cut out a little early to see some of DJ/Rupture's global, mashed-up, sub-woofer-rattlin'.

5:30pm: Dinner and beer again.

6:15pm: M83 was real dope the last time I saw him at a festival. This was like four years ago. Will def see this though, because I live in Brooklyn, and it would seem silly to fly to Chicago and then skip something I like to see the Vivian Girls (who I do very much enjoy and are very fun live).

7:25pm: Man have I failed to get into that new Grizzly Bear record, but why not, I'll be around for them.

8:30: With respect to the Very Best, there is no chance I am going to see them. The Flaming Lips are built to close a festival like this.

Did I mention there will also be partying done in Chicago?

When we're out there dancing

130. Sylvester - "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" (Fantasy, 1978)

What a wonderfully phrased sentiment. You don't just make me feel special or loved or nice. You verify my very existence (though I suppose "verify" implies that the singer felt real in the first place, which isn't explicitly stated here at all). Song itself is obviously an unstoppable monster as well.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

When we first met, girl

131. Michael Jackson - "Remember the Time" (Epic, 1991)

Many writers better than I have written reactions to MJ's death. I've stuck to writing mostly about the songs because, up to this point, this is one of the many moments in my writing life at which I've wanted to make sure to write something really, really good and just ended up writing nothing at all.

But I dunno, kids, even a few weeks after MJ's death and having done a power hour of MJ songs and having written about nothing but his songs here and playing a bunch of songs of his at our party I'm still not particularly over his death in any meaningful way. I guess that's a stupid concept anyway, being "over his death."

But mostly what I want to say is that this is the end of our non-stop MJing. Which doesn't mean that there's no more MJ on the countdown at all, there might be. We're just gonna stop being so exclusive. Holler.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Way You Make Me Salad

132. Michael Jackson - "The Way You Make Me Feel" (Epic, 1987)

A bright salad for summer.

- some greens
- red wine (or whatever tasty) vinegar
- extra virgin olive oil
- prepared horseradish
- mustard
- a few radishes
- a ripe (but not overripe) peach

First, make a nice lil' vinaigrette. Combine 1 part prepared horseradish, 1 part mustard (I used a spicy brown today, but I'm the last person in the world that's gonna tell you to not use French's Yellow for anything), and 3 parts red wine vinegar (as with everything, play with other kinds of vinegar if you like. Champagne vinegar is sweet too, cuz, well, don't it just make ya feel fancy) and whisk them together in a small bowl. Then take some olive oil, about as much as you have of the vinegar mixture, and slowly pour it into the bowl while whisking rapidly until the whole thing emulsifies and gets creamy. You could also put the vinaigrette into a jar and shake rapidly, it'll prolly break sooner this way, but whatevs, just shake it again.

Once you have the vinaigrette made. Slice up a radish or two and toss it into a bowl of your favorite greens. Dress the salad lightly with the vinaigrette (it's easy to overdress, I do it all the time, definitely more with salad than with clothes), and top it with some slices of peach and some crumbled Feta cheese.

I am here with you

133. Michael Jackson - "You Are Not Alone (Franctified Club Mix)" (Epic, 1995)

The trivia-minded among us know that "You Are Not Alone" was a) written by R. Kelly and b) MJ's last #1 hit in the US. But I had no clue until after MJ's death that it had an absolute stormer of a remix by Frankie Knuckles. He starts it off like a rather typical, fun Frankie house production, and then some familiar strings come on and he fucks with the rhythm a little, and then, bam! it's "You Are Not Alone" and you can't stop singing along and smiling. In my brief experience with it, it's almost impossible to even think about mixing out of it until there's like 30 seconds to go.

(Also, with my genre preferences/biases fully in view, this is like the exact opposite of the million bootleg mixes that clutter Hype Machine these days)

Friday, July 10, 2009

So go and bring a beat machine but don't forget your shovel

Bound to be the best album of the year that includes the lyric "pop that twat" in a chorus, DJ Quik and Kurupt's BlaQKout is so perfectly suited to being played loud in the summer that it's making previous summers feel retrospectively incomplete.

Forreal tho, Quik is really magnificent here. Pretty much every beat here sounds really inspired. Wonderful surprises lie around every corner (the guitar runs on "Fuck Yall", the future-funk insanity of "Jupiter's Critic and the Mind of Mars") and, though Kurupt's rhymes are a lil' eh sometimes, this is my favorite rap record of the year so far.

Cop that shit.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

In Memoriam: Sarah Palin's Presidential Aspirations 2008-2009

Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Done and done. While she may have moved on to one exclusive club, Sarah Palin has taken her name out of consideration for another. I will publicly bet my balls right here and right now (albeit on a blog no one reads) that Sarah Palin will never be President of the United States of America, not 2012, not ever.

Of course, since her national debut a myriad of reasons slowly appeared why she shouldn't be president but her resignation on Friday is definitively why she won't - no way, no how.

When you look back at Palin's political career (namely her election as Governor of Alaska until she quit) and her love of sports metaphors, it's hard not to see her as a a promising minor league baseball player gone bust. As many Republicans have insisted and Democrats have accepted - she connects with people, albeit a small and apparently shrinking segment of the population, but people nonetheless. For all the Republican attacks on Obama for being more style than substance, for being more of a celebrity than a politician, this is exactly Palin's appeal. That's not a knock on Palin, just like it shouldn't have been a knock on Obama; it's what gave her endless potential. People were excited about her.

Like a young minor leaguer batting .400 (or in Palin's case in June 2007, .930) some fans wanted to bring her up. Unfortunately, the GM of the Republican party decided to bring her up to meet an immediate need, despite having several suitable candidates. It wasn't terrible at first. In fact, she hit a homerun in her first at bat. But then she saw her first curveball (although that was really more of a softball); then she started to look over matched; and then she looked out of her league against a crafty but less than stellar veteran. Then, on November 5, 2008 Palin was sent back down to the minors.

One would have hoped that she would have used the time to hone her skills, maybe change her approach (all joking aside, a few courses in national or international politics or even a subscription to The Economist could have gone a long way to making her seem more competent - not presidential competent, but getting warmer). Instead she kept swinging for the fences, looking more and more inept. Then decided to quit Single A and go to the independent league never to return to the majors again. End lame (but apropos?) sports metaphor.

There are several reasons this decision is her political death knell. The few reasons I have noted and will discuss below can basically be grouped together as "brand damaging" or "narrative destroying". Generally speaking, branding in politics is aimed at independents because partisans will either hate you despite you curing cancer or love you despite you slaughtering a nun.

1. She is a Quitter - that's probably not an altogether fair label, but that is how it's generally being reported (you know it's bad when you're a leading Republican and Fox News is reporting you as a quitter). As some on the right have noted, lots of politicians step down to seek higher office. But for reasons that should be clear with my subsequent points, this is slightly different. While this hasn't seemed to effect her support among her base, I can't imagine independents being able to overlook this debacle.

2. Being Governor = Her Experience - that is to say, during the campaign Palin's big plus (aside from her innate ability to connect with the Republican base) was that she had executive experience. This was of course true [although somewhat laughable because a) McCain didn't have executive experience either; b) I couldn't stop imagining how Rudy Giuliani would have chortled at her had she been around for the primaries - NYC has 10x the population of Alaska; and in a similar vein c) the Town of Hempstead on Long Island is bigger in population]. Now, I'm not sure she could use the experience label without having the "quitter" label immediately thrown right back at her. In short, she'll have a hard time touting her executive experience and will probably have to avoid it; avoiding it gives her almost no leg to stand on.

It's also, perhaps paradoxically, suggesting that her experience, as Democrats had suggested (like I did above) wasn't all that impressive to begin with. For me, this was highlighted in the always disingenuous Ann Coulter's explanation of Palin's exit. In her explanation she suggests that the job is now beneath Palin. Which is probably true. But it also contains this little gem "she’s too big to be a lame-duck governor stuck dealing with fishing licenses in Anchorage right now." I don't know if even the worst liberal pundits went that far in degrading the Alaskan governorship - just cold dealing with fishing licenses.

3. It looks terrible on her resume - A lot was made of comparing McCain and Obama's resumes, particularly among Republicans. This was, of course, a good strategy for Republicans because McCain's resume was, on its face, much better than Obama's. Giuliani effectively highlighted this at the RNC. Of course, there's a lot more to getting a job than your resume, namely an interview which can often make or break you. This was one of Obama's major strengths. He handled the interview with poise and steadiness and was able to answer the tough questions.

Fast forward to Palin's future interview. What are the first questions you get asked about your job history? 1) Why did you leave this job?; and 2) what did you between this job and that job? Now, the latter question is unwritten (there's still time to cure cancer!) but the former is set in stone. Her resignation speech, that rambling, incoherent, sports metaphor laden clusterfuck was essentially her answer to that question. She basically told her potential boss she needed time to clear her mind and find herself - at age 45.

I think the really damaging thing about the speech is what she appears to be running with - that she didn't want to be a lame duck. Behold:

"And so as I thought about this announcement that I wouldn't run for re-election and what it means for Alaska, I thought about how much fun some governors have as lame ducks... travel around the state, to the Lower 48 (maybe), overseas on international trade - as so many politicians do. And then I thought - that's what's wrong - many just accept that lame duck status, hit the road, draw the paycheck, and "milk it". I'm not putting Alaska through that - I promised efficiencies and effectiveness! ? That's not how I am wired. I am not wired to operate under the same old "politics as usual." I promised that four years ago - and I meant it."

If I'm her potential boss I ask her point blank - why the fuck didn't you just finish your job? It's not like you had to travel, draw the paycheck and milk it. You could have just... done. your. job. I get that politicians generally do 'milk it' (and it's admirable she doesn't want to do that) but that doesn't mean you have to quit your fuckin' job to not do those things, just don't do them.

4. Palin being Palin - For her supporters this is a great thing - she's a maverick after all. But for her detractors and more importantly to independents, I suspect this decision looks unstable both in her choice to resign and in its clumsy execution.

Palin had promise. She's a vibrant and galvanizing figure. Among her base, she inspires the equivalent of Obamamania. The major difference between her and Obama (aside from just about every major political position) is that she hasn't been able to attract independents and pick off Liberals (the way Obama picked off several notable Republicans). For the reasons I cite above this inability is now irrevocable, permanent and politically fatal.

In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.

Gotta leave that nine to five up on the shelf

134. Michael Jackson - "Off the Wall" (Epic, 1979)

This is a smooth little disco number and it prolly has my favorite intro of any MJ song. It's like a coven of party people beckoning you to party. And that ties into what I think is interesting about the lyrics, which is that "Off the Wall" is sung explicitly from the point of view not of a person about to get off work and go party, but rather from someone that parties "night and day". The singer is not a character to identify with, he's beckoning you, the regular working shmoe, to this land of debauchery and luxury. And I totally wanna go, obviously.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I'm not here to make friends

Rich at FourFour is our hero yet again. Be sure to watch until the very end.

Monday, July 6, 2009

the dead start to walk in their masquerade

135. Michael Jackson - "Thriller" (Epic, 1982)

Michael Jackson had twelve number one singles in the US and this wasn't one of them. But am I wrong in thinking that if MJ has one defining single it has to be "Thriller"? No, I'm not. Not saying it's the best (tho maybe it is), but god what an indelible mark on society at large this song is. Prisoners a'dancin' and such. Maybe it benefits from being the title track, you think? Cuz we all think of the album Thriller (cuz how can you not) and, boom, there's a single with the same name? I guess the song's pretty good though, ha. Oh, and there's a video.

Congratulations Sarah Palin

I'd like to congratulate Sarah Palin on joining an elite club - "influential Republicans". She now joins the ranks of Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity - Republicans (or conservatives, if you eschew partisan labels) who have never or no longer hold political office. Without the restraint of responsibility to constituents, influential Republicans can say whatever they want.

For example, Newt Gingrich can make patently disingenuous remarks about Obama's response to the Honduran coup. Never mind that the UN, EU, UK, France, etc. had similar responses, the only responses that matter are the dictators US citizens get riled up about. Ya know, I heard Obama also agrees with Castro and Chavez that the earth is round. Forget analysis of the situation, that would involve questions of political philosophy that weigh the appropriateness of a military coup (admittedly, a loaded term) supported by two branches of the Honduran government against a democratically elected president pushing for a suspension of term limits in a country with a constitution with no mechanism for impeachment. Instead, just (not so) subtly suggest Obama is a totalitarian dictator.

So welcome to the club Palin, with the absence of responsibility comes great power. Then again, holding elected office never really stopped you before.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

There Will Be Sweat

Sooooo, we're throwing this party, y'kno? It's called There Will be Sweat and it's gonna be in our spacious loft in Bushwick on July 11th. I went ahead and made a little promo mix of some of the jams I might be playing, with the obligatory MJ, some UK Funky, some Good Ole' American House, and a few other tracks for dat ass. Check that shit out and we'll see ya at the party.

There Will Be Sweat Promo Mini-mix (mediafire link)


- Michael Jackson - "Rock With You (Frankie Knuckles Remix)" (Epic, 1995)
- Tensnake - "In the End (I Want You to Cry)" (Running Back, 2009)
- Matthew Dear - "Elementary Lover (DJ Koze Remix)" (Ghostly International, 2007)
- Jazmine Sullivan - "Need U Bad (Crazy Cousinz Remix)" (Crazy Cousinz, 2009)
- Donae'o - "Party Hard" (My-ish, 2009)
- Sis - "Trompeta" (Sei Es Drum, 2008)
- Green Velvet - "The Case of the Lost Jacksters" (Relief, 2009)
- Electrik Red - "Friend Lover" (Def Jam, 2009)

You tell me I'm wrong/then you better prove you're right

136. Michael & Janet Jackson - "Scream" (Epic, 1995)

This kind of seems more like an event than an actual song but a) so what and b) listening to it again and again in these past few days it is actually a killer song, who knew. I listened to it without watching the video just now, and it struck me that without the video (during which she almost steals the show), Janet's singing isn't nearly as intense as Michael's. Which makes sense, as she didn't have two albums of paranoia behind her at this point (even on "If", it's only her speak-singing in the verses that is kinda scary, the chorus is still more-or-less Janet-style cooing).

That said, she still has my favorite moment in the song, that being the last "you try to cope with every lie they scrutinize" (yeah the lyrics kinda hard to scrutinize at times, lolz) at around 3'46, in which she takes the melody up as should pretty much be expected, but it works 100%. Really this whole super hero team up is astoundingly successful.