Archive for the ‘Internet Roundup’ Category

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Internet Roundup

June 20, 2011

Back in the late 90s, Jamiroquai was one of those crossover acts that convinced my alternative and electronic-addled teen self to take R&B and disco music seriously. Some Kind Of Awesome has their new song “Smile” up for free download. The song’s artwork says it all – sunny and slow buring. It mixes the chill bounciness of Stevie Wonder with the spacey melodies of Steve Miller. Those used to Jay Kay’s more bumping singles like “Canned Heat,” and “Feels Just Like It Should,” might be taken aback, but I can assure you “Smile” brings mellow goodness.

Now if you need that uptempo crazy dance awesomeness, boogie on down to Hard Candy. They posted the Hype Jones remix of Dev’s track “In The Dark.” It’s like an even more propulsive and energetic “Like A G6” (on which Dev raps the chorus.)  While that’s hardly a novel compliment, good dance music is good dance music and you could do a lot worse with a free download.

In somewhat more serious news, 50 Cent is writing a book about a bully who learns the error of his ways. Katherine St. Asaph at Popdust points out that while 50 has used violent imagery in his music, he’s far more qualified to write about bullying than the 5 acts that make up her rundown. Highlights of the list include John Mayer (“…anyone who ironically or not refers to part of himself as a “white supremacist” is not the right person to be teaching kids about bullying….”) and Katy Perry (“UR So Gay” would be enough, with lyrics like “you’re so gay, and you don’t even like boys” that even the hardest bullies would smear off the bathroom stall like Good Samaritans.”)

Finally, my condolences go out to the families and friends of Clarence Clemons (1942-2011) and Ryan Dunn (1977-2011.) Rest in peace.

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Internet Roundup

June 13, 2011

First off, congratulations to the Dallas Mavericks for winning the 2011 NBA Finals and defeating the Miami Heat to avenge their 2006 Finals loss! Crazy old Mark Cuban gets a trophy and crazy old Lebron James gets to brood for another year. My condolences to the rest of the Heat team and the Miami fans, but BAHAHAHAHAHA TOO BAD SO SAD LEBRON.

Since the PlayStation Network fucking finally came back online I’ve been catching up with the backlog of DLC for Rock Band, especially since I took the offline time to start learning Pro Keys. The new Lady Gaga DLC is a given, but I’m crazy excited for tomorrow’s release of Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” and A-Ha’s “Take On Me” for the game. The former has a good mix of shout-along karaoke, big instrumentation, and a little politics. The latter has that hot keyboard line and that fabulous low-high singing. Too bad the song won’t come with a video filter that lets players import the band into “Take On Me’s” iconic video. Eh, a good party song is a good party song.

Meanwhile, Andrew Unterberger of Popdust has a takedown of Eminem’s recent dis on Lady Gaga. I won’t go too much into it, but the takedown reminded me of Sady Doyle’s awesome critique of Odd Future’s Tyler The Creator and his nasty sophomoric rape posturing on Tiger Beatdown. One defense that comes up of both Em andTyler’s offensive content is that “it’s provocative,” or “it’s funny.” What Unterberger hints at and what Doyle really lays out is that these half-assed attempts at “edgy” are tired, trite, and frankly make the tellers seem insecure. I used to be just like that, probably through my early 20s, and I was a dumbass.

Finally, due to some work commitments the next The Voice recap will not be up on Tuesday. I will be DVRing the show and will whip up a recap for Wednesday.

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Internet Roundup

April 25, 2011

First, RCRD LBL has a trio of barn burning dance numbers up for free download. Former Daft Punk emulators Digitalism push the tempo with the new-wavey rock piece “2 Hearts.” Meanwhile Herve and Adam F remix the Missy/Ginuwine/Timbaland tune “Get Involved 2011.” They commit the remix sin of using virtually no elements of the original song, but they still get by on the sheer hard electronic catchiness of their “stadium kaos” music. Finally the site has “Wait And See,” yet another new song by New York’s Holy Ghost!, who must have at least an EP’s worth of material for the taking. They’re good stuff: the sweet synth leads, the sincere vocals, the 80s disco rhythm section, Holy Ghost! are one of my artists to watch this year.

Meanwhile, The Awl has a very in-depth piece by Willy Staley about the ups and downs of reading rapping as poetry. While Staley touches on the obvious performative aspects of rap that separate it from plain ol’ poetry, he also covers the aspects of the medium that murk up authorship like ghostwriting and flat out rhyme-stealing (such as the evidence that Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” the “Rock Around The Clock” of hip-hop was partially plagiarized). The best part of the piece is the profile on the business Rap Rebirth, where you can pay a guy to write rhymes in the styles of certain rappers. It seems part Aries Spears attention to detail, part Wayne Brady versatility, and part Ark Music Factory commercialism.

Finally, NBC’s new music competition show The Voice premiers tomorrow. The show’s big features appear to be the “blind audition,” and the four coach/judges, three of whom (Cee-Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine) have made albums I have spent money on. I don’t know much about the fourth, Blake Shelton, but he seems nice enough and I recall seeing him getting visibly irate with Larry King’s inane and nonsensical questions when he was a guest on his show. Finally, the whole thing is hosted by Carson Daly, a man whom I had pegged to be the next Dick Clark before Ryan Seacrest took that crown. I plan to catch the premier tomorrow and if the talent and formatting is tight enough, I will recap it with the same idealism and hostility I bring to my Idol recaps. Popdust has an extended trailer.

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Internet Roundup

April 11, 2011

On Thought Catalog, Caroline Washington has a nuanced and hilarious rundown of 5 Artists You Should Never Listen To At Work. I’m fortunate enough to have a job where I can listen to music and while I have a somewhat different list (notably Andrew WK, DJ Shadow, Goldfrapp, M.I.A., and almost any band Mike Ladd was in); I totally see where Washington is coming from. If you can listen to music at work, are there any artists that you like but put you in a difficult state while you work?

Flashing back to the mid/late 90s, Fluxblog has a couple of old songs by the “emo before they was emo” alternative band Sebadoh. I first heard the band through a Sub Pop label sampler I got in the mail when I registered my Sega Saturn. I thought “Rebound” was pretty damn catchy, and singer Lou Barlow’s voice was low and kind of like “melodic talking,” so it was great for someone like me to sing along to. I was 13 when I received Sebadoh’s Harmacy album as a gift one holiday, and it was right at the time when I started having crushes on people. I had no idea what I was doing romantically and in time I built up this whole “obsessive tortured soul” persona. When I look back I realize I was totally acting like a “nice guy,” and not in a good way. Matthew Perpetua puts it best: “Their music is a catharsis for unflattering feelings — pettiness, jealousy, neediness, foolishness and passive aggression. These are valid feelings, but…ugh, you know?” I still love the music and I still have a good time singing along to Barlow’s thin bass of a voice, but there’s a distance now for me that’s come with experience.

Finally in Idol news, Andrew Unterberger at Popdust has a rundown of the aftermath of Pia Toscano’s elimination from the show last week. Surprise, surprise, she signed a record deal with Jimmy Iovine’s Interscope (though getting signed does not always mean getting paid). Also, the collective shock uttered from the Internet (including me), has executive producer Nigel Lythgoe talking about yet another format change to the show – this time with the bottom three elimination being decided by the judges a la So You Think You Can Dance, Lythgoe’s other show. This seems cool at first, but then I think about it: Randy would squash any interesting contestant, J. Lo would put the cute kids though, and Steven Tyler would be alternately a dirty old man and a pitch stickler (never mind Expert mode on Rock Band vocals would likely maul his ass).

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Internet Roundup

April 5, 2011

The first bands I liked came from my mom’s music (Genesis, Billy Joel) or from my best friend who was into music a little before me (Ace Of Base, ZZ Top). Really though I was into video games before I was into music. So when I accompanied an older cousin to Sam Goody so she could get Boyz II Men’s II, I got Mortal Kombat: The Album, a collection of keyboard-heavy rave tunes inspired by the game and performed by “The Immortals,” which I presumed to be some producer’s house band. Those cheesy songs were pretty awful, (save for “Techno Syndrome” which became the theme for the Mortal Kombat movie), but they planted the dance music seed that would grow when I heard “Firestarter” two years later. So to promote Mortal Kombat’s 2011 video game reboot, there’s a new batch of dance songs inspired by the game. In place of a no-name production team from the first album these songs are by hip-hop and electronic producers I’ve actually heard of: 9th Wonder, Them Jeans, LA Riots, and JFK of MSTRKRFT. The music is as diverse as the game’s character lineup. Mortal Kombat: Songs Inspired By The Warriors goes for $5.99 on Amazon. At worst, the music sounds like it will be great workout music.

Kathy sent me an essay by Lyndsey Parker on Yahoo that counts down the 9 Worst TV Judges of All Time. Three of the judges Parker lists come from music shows, two come from dance shows, and one comes from a variety show that often features music acts. Parker’s criteria for making the list seems to be pretty fair: to be a bad judge is equal parts a lack of credibility and awful onscreen antics. As down as I am on the current judging panel on Idol (well really just Randy and Steven), I understand why none of them made the list. Spoiler alert: Parker’s piece certainly made me rethink my argument that Diddy would make a great judge on Idol.

Finally tax season is upon us here in America and apparently Lil Wayne owes the IRS $5.6 million in back taxes (thanks to Andrew Unterberger at Popdust for the original story). The feds have issued a lien against him based on earnings from 2008 ($3.4 million including interest) and 2009 ($2.2 million including interest). While it’s not the epic $32 million Willie Nelson owed the IRS in 1990 (which was so bad he recorded an album specifically to pay off the debt), Weezy should pay it off before it reaches that level. Luckily Wayne has a great work ethic. Counting the Young Money album, he’s released an album every year since 2008 (right on time, Tha Carter IV is due out May 23rd), so some revenue should be coming in. Then again, given the industry nowadays….

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Internet Roundup

March 28, 2011

Popdust has a rundown of the Juno awards, which is the big music awards show in Canada. Drake was the host! Arcade Fire took home several of the big awards, including Album Of The Year, but lost the Artist Of The Year award to Neil Young. Justin Bieber won the Fan Choice award. Deadmau5 lost the Electronic Album Of The Year award to Caribou, but took home the Dance Recording Of The Year.

Meanwhile Hard Candy has posted a new DJ mix by Aeroplane. I don’t normally care for that “Balearic Beat,” but Aeroplane’s remixes of Chromeo’s “Don’t Turn The Lights On” and The Human League’s “Never Let Me Go” were pretty damn catchy. The 12-track mix features songs and remixes from French House vets Etienne De Crecy and Alex Gopher, up and coming power diva Clare Maguire, and remix band The Swiss (who are actually from Australia).

Finally in serious matters, I managed to track down an old essay by ESPN columnist and native Detroiter LZ Granderson. Granderson wrote the article in October 2009; about seven months after Chris Brown violently beat Rihanna. Ryan O’Connell expressed a similar sentiment in a piece on Thought Catalog written a few days ago. Read both articles back to back and see how much has changed in 2 years (answer: not a whole lot). Brown is still very violent and never really did any time for domestic assault and yet there’s still a big media push to “welcome him back.”

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Internet Roundup

March 21, 2011

First in Idol news, here is further verification of the Scotty McCreery/George W. Bush comparison. When Melissa McEwan of Shakesville juxtaposes pics and videos of the two “country boys” with similar smirks and expressions, it kind of reminds me of those old protests signs that put ol’ W’s face with that of a chimp. The end result is just eerie. When McEwan elaborates on what might lie beneath McCreery’s expressions and what his run represents, it makes me rethink what’s going on with the kid who ruined my favorite Josh Turner song. I don’t have the antipathy towards Scotty that I’ve seen on other sites, but I reiterate that my reason is that Scotty has never been in a position of power, so he has never had a chance to say, as Todd Barry would put it, “Fuck you. War!” If that’s how he responds to one of Randy’s wooden complements, all bets are off.

On a different note, the Ann Arbor dancethink band My Dear Disco has changed their name to Ella Riot. I think this is a good move on their part. As the band has indicated on their site, it clears up any confusion with the Australian band My Disco as well as any preconceptions that they make disco music (they don’t). I’ve written about the band before on this site and saw them live with their current lineup back in November. They have shown no signs of slowing down in their high-intensity dance-rock rave-ups. Ella Riot is currently touring and I look forward to seeing them when they come to metro DC next month.

Finally from my inbox, I had a chance to listen to the new release Warm Blooded Lizard by San Francisco hip-hop producer Nym. The album focuses on spaghetti western music, like the kind Ennio Morricone composed for Sergio Leone’s movies. It’s a territory you don’t see mined a lot for instrumental hip-hop. It’s also not a whole album of “flute flute flute….wah wah WAH.” I was impressed with the variety of instrumentation and the mix of vocal lines from old movies long forgotten (at least to me). There are a lot of standout tracks. “Redwood’s” simple but effective mix of beats and guitar made me feel like an outlaw badass. “Rats” features the ominous vocal intro, bass, and piano combo-ing that put RJD2 on the map back in the Deadringer era. “Cucko” ambles along leisurely and quirkily like a sepia-toned Wagon Christ track. Oh, and just when you thought you weren’t gonna get any original vocals or Morricone, along comes “Bandida.” There’s this sexy male + female vocal rap duet over a certain iconic melody that for me was the centerpiece of the album. You can pick up Warm Blooded Lizard for a cool $5 at Nym’s Bandcamp page.

Rest In Peace Jet Harris, 1939-2011.

 

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Internet Roundup: Pop Pop ‘Pocalypse

March 14, 2011

Chris Randle has a review on Popdust of Jessie J’s performance on SNL. The review says the performance had an “unnerving level of ‘quirky’” which pretty much equated to Kathy’s impression of Jessie J – “British Katy Perry.” Duffy was catchier, Lily Allen was more interesting, Adele was classier, and Joss Stone was more fun.

If you’re looking for something more participatory, Shakesville’s Melissa McEwan poses the question “What Are The Worst Song Lyrics You’ve Ever Heard?” The emphasis is more on poor writing (see above for “Price Tag”) than offensive content, though sometimes those two themes go hand in hand (see Nickelback).

And after a dozen or two comments on the above thread, you’ll see a mention of this fine slice of unintentional comedy, “Friday,” by Rebecca Black. “Friday” is dance pop by the numbers. Vocal processing? Check. Hard 4/4 dance beats with heavy keyboards? Check. A rapper pops up to do the bridge? Check. Josh Liburdi of Thought Catalog has a pretty harsh takedown of what may well be a high-end version or one of those “star in your own video” booths you might find at a mall. It’s just that this song happened to find its way onto YouTube.

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R.I.P. Guitar Hero 2005-2011

February 9, 2011

Image from MTV Multiplayer

“At the same time, due to continued declines in the music genre, the company will disband Activision Publishing’s Guitar Hero business unit and discontinue development on its Guitar Hero game for 2011…. These decisions are based on the desire to focus on the greatest opportunities that the company currently has to create the world’s best interactive entertainment experiences.” – from Activision’s recent financial statement,  2/9/2011

So it’s the end of an era. I’ll admit that when it comes to music games I’m more of a fan of Rock Band and Dance Dance Revolution, but Guitar Hero was the franchise that really blew up the music game genre in the West after years of trying by Konami and I respect that. While Rock Band catered more to the “music” side of “music games,” Guitar Hero was definitely on the “game” side and filled a real demand in the market. It represented the potential of the genre for straight up fantasy and with Warriors of Rock I thought it was beginning to find its voice. It’s a shame.

My sympathies go out to all the people affected by this announcement, especially the developers and their families, as well as all the business and support personnel who are stressing right now since their jobs are likely tied into making that franchise operate. If you look further into the financial statement and go into the “Business Highlights” section, you’ll notice only two franchises in bold: Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. In my opinion, that’s just bad business.

So here’s to you, Guitar Hero. You weren’t the first music game, you weren’t the first rock game, and you weren’t the first to use guitar controllers, but you made music games mainstream in America and we’re worse for your departure.

You can learn more about the announcement at Eurogamer, Kotaku, Joystiq, Rock Band Aide, and the Los Angeles Times.

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Internet Roundup: Wake Up To Something New

January 18, 2011

Image from Mike_tn @ Flickr

First, Ladytron is back! I remember bumping “Playgirl” and “Sugar” back in the day, and it’s great to hear some new material from Mira, Reuben and co. New material is coming out from the band, as they seem to be gearing up for a greatest hits package called Ladytron 00-1. One of the new songs is “Ace Of Hz.” You can grab the original mix and the Punks Jump Up remix from Hard Candy. The remix takes the Ladytron cold urgency and pops it into the dancefloor.

Let’s talk about Hard Candy. Kathy got me into this blog after hearing about the Duck Sauce remix of Chromeo’s “Hot Mess.” They deal music along the pop/dance/electronic continuum with highlights on popular streams (I first heard of the new Britney Spears song through the site), as well as up and comers for download (Oh Land’s “Sun of a Gun”). You also see posts around more conventional pop/rock/soul artists like Duffy and Adele. The site’s posts are prolific, you get a lot of convenient streams via YouTube and Soundcloud, and the free downloads are frequent. A good start is the new Pnau song “The Truth.”

Another site that has made its way onto my regular list is Popdust, which is a pop music news site that’s run by, among others, Maura Johnston. Johnston has been one of my favorite music writers, having followed her since her days on Idolator. You get quick reviews, opinion pieces, trend watches (like the expanse of pop stars wearing thick glasses as fashion), and recaps like Cee-Lo Green’s appearance on SNL. (By the way, if the fashion glasses piece interested you, head to Feminist Music Geek for more on “Nerd Drag.”)

Speaking of Cee Lo on SNL, I thought he did pretty well on the show. I thought that the number of jokes that the show made on his “Fuck You”/”Forget You” single were not that funny and kind of annoying, but he seemed like he was having fun. His duet of “Islands in the Stream” with Jason Sudekis as Kenny Rogers was cute, and the skit leading up to his performance of “Forget You,” had funny moments (“Did you mean ‘cat’?” “No.”). I’m just happy we got to hear more than one song from Cee-Lo, as “Forget You” has been the only song that has been coming out of media, at least here in the States. “Bright Lights, Bigger City,” was pulsing and fun. I ended up buying The Lady Killer the next day.

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