Friday, March 31, 2006
Cat Power, "Lived In Bars"
Cat Power, "Willie"
Cat Power, "I Don't Blame You"
I've been meaning to put these tracks up for a few weeks now, which in a perverse way is right on schedule for me, if that makes sense. Anyway, Cat Power is one of my favorites, that rare combination of talent, courage and crippling. I mean, the fact that she has stage fright and is unable to perform because of that is so endearing to me I cannot put it into words. Combine that with a truly amazing voice and heartbreaking songs and you have a winner.
These tracks come from her most recent album, The Greatest, her Memphis album. While sadly no one from Three 6 Mafia turn up, some of the best studio musicians from that city did. What came out is one of the early contenders for album of the year, a beautiful, soulful album that never comes across as a gimmick. In fact, it almost seems like Chan Marshall was meant to be singing back in the 60s for a label like Stax, putting out amazing 45s that DJs and collectors would be bidding up on eBay today. Cop the album here, as it is real necessary. How necessary? It's called The Greatest and has boxing glove jewelry on the cover. Nuff said.
As a bonus, I added the opening track off of her previous album, You Are Free. "I Don't Blame You" is one of the most haunting, perfect songs I have ever heard, a masterpiece. If you don't already have that album, stop reading and buy it. Palm Sounds Out, Dance Hall Hips, To Die By Your Side and Dreams of Horses have a few of her cover versions
-Didn't believe? You can see me on the cover of today's edition of the Metro Philadelphia [pdf file] in all my ugly, hairy glory. I want to throw up seeing myself.
-To get over the horror of that terrible vision, grab the live Clap Your Hands Say Yeah show over the BM Rant. It's from the 9:30 Club in D.C. and gives all of us who missed out on tickets a chance to hear a show from this tour. I kinda slept on these guys when the hype first hit, but after hearing the song at Making Time, their debut CD has not left the iPod Most Played list. How can you not love a Philly/Brooklyn group with a lead singer who has a strange singing voice? I don't know either. There is also a Belle and Sebastian show from the same venue and that Arctic Monkeys NPR broadcast I mentioned a few days ago. Thanks guys.
-This article is probably only interesting to me, but whatever. The New York Times looks at the last days of a synagogue and the Jewish community in Tajikstan.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the fact that this blog got one of its coolest links so far this week. Alex Blagg at The Best Week Ever blog linked to our Silver Jews post, which is cool in and of itself. Even cooler is the fact that he wrote, "Just in time for Passover, Pound for Pound has posted some rockin' tunes from the Silver Jews." Even cooler is that the post below is all about Jessica Simpson wanting to adopt foreign babies, TomKat and Vin Diesel being gay. Coolest of all is that it's Best Week Ever mang, one of my favorite shows.
Oh, and for those on the local scene, I may be in a picture on the cover of tomorrow's edition of that free rag they have in the subway, Metro Philadelphia. They are doing a story on the city's plan to go wireless and about the effect it will have on businesses that already provide this service. They didn't want me for my mind, just my pretty face. Further updates as warranted. Shout to Hausbrandt, which provides me with said wireless access and is the best cafe in the city.
Sky's the limit, kids, the sky is the limit. What's next? I don't know, but it better include a lot of free shit.
Oh, and for those on the local scene, I may be in a picture on the cover of tomorrow's edition of that free rag they have in the subway, Metro Philadelphia. They are doing a story on the city's plan to go wireless and about the effect it will have on businesses that already provide this service. They didn't want me for my mind, just my pretty face. Further updates as warranted. Shout to Hausbrandt, which provides me with said wireless access and is the best cafe in the city.
Sky's the limit, kids, the sky is the limit. What's next? I don't know, but it better include a lot of free shit.
National Eye, "Silver Agers"
National Eye, "Waves of Love"
It's been a lousy week, and so I have turned to memories to provide me with some cheer and joy. A few weeks back, I attended a show at The Khyber featuring three of the best Philly rock bands playing: Spinto Band, Like Moving Insects and National Eye. It was a great show, and the beginning of an incredibly drunken night.
So far, nothing special. The incredible moment, the moment that made my day, week, month and year occurred on my way back from the bathroom. For those who haven't been there, when the place is packed, the 25-foot walk back from the bathroom to the front can take 10 minutes. Normally, this is incredibly annoying. But on this magical night, I was stopped by a young lady who gently touched my arm to stop me from bolting through an opening. She then raved about my performance, how amazing the band sounds, and that she was going to have take off early and miss our show tonight, but she would catch us the next night in Wilmington.
That's right, kids, she thought Pound for Pound was a rock'n'roll star, or at least an indie one, and specifically a member of The Spinto Band, openers for Arctic Monkeys, about-to-blow-up indie rawk band. A fucking band member! Yeah, yeah, yeah! That's it, that's the whole story. I explained to her that I wasn't in the band, she apologized and we both went our seperate ways. Future versions will consist of sex in the bathroom, tequila & cocaine and a fight with Stephen Malkmus. I am a sad man, very sad.
-Above are two tracks off the new National Eye CD called Roomful of Lions. In fact, the aforementioned show at the Khyber was a CD release party for the quintet, who are taking the next step up the indie chain with this one. For those who haven't heard these boys play, I highly recommend giving it a shot. This album is excellent that simulataneously evokes both a laid-back country/folk feel and a tripped out, fuzzy vocals psychdelic one. It's clear that they took their sound further out on this album, opening up a bit. It was produced by Thom Monaghan of fame, which should let you know this ain't no damn joke. Go buy it right from Park The Van Records for $1o or go listen to the album for free and decide if you wanna buy.
-Make sure to check out the National Eye, The Spinto Band and The Teeth tonight at the TLA on South Street. I'm still deciding whether to attend, but that shouldn't matter to you. It should be a great night of music with three great live bands. Let's support our local bands, people! Yeah!
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Master P and RBL, "Tryin' to Make a Dollar Out of 15 Cents"
Dre Dog, Pee and Totally Insane, "Total Insanity"
Ray Luv and Tha Link, "Born Hustlaz"
C-Bo and Master P, "Headin' 4 the Jack"
Well, well, since no one could take the time and leave a comment requesting more from West Coast Bad Boyz Volume 2, I'mma move on to the epic first volume. West Coast Bad Boyz, Volume 1: Anotha Level of the Game is considered by many to be one of the greatest No Limit releases, documenting an entire scene and sound as well as you can.
The CD I have is the re-released version, as I know some of you rap nerds wanna know that shit. Unfortunately, as the original release has two more tracks and features Master P's partner, King George. It's still a classic, but hopefully I'll get a copy of the original as it was intended to be heard before P and George started beefing.
I still can't get over that warm, big bass sound that holds these tracks down. It's so different than the stuff from the same era coming out of the East and West, much more human sounding. It leads me to believe me that electro never really made it across the Mississippi. Listen to that crazy synth on "Total Insanity", totally eerie, reminds me of a siren, definite blueprint for the No Limit sound when it got to New Orleans. Lyrically, it's got the drug tales, the violence, the sex. However, this is less of the nihilism that I gravitated towards, even references to G-d and helping your fellow man. A strange combination, one that highlights why hip hop is such an endlessly fascinating, human music.
-Back on the East Coast, lots of good developments. Peep this article about the Philly rebirth spreading to east of Broad Street and this one about the benefit of having a Macy's in the amazing Strawbridge's building and a retail boom in the city. I'mma have a lot more to say about Philly in the next week or two, as it has dominated my thoughts lately.
-For those in Philly tonight, head to Fluid for the chance to hear Carl Cox and Josh Wink spin in an intimate space. There's no advance tickets, so you better get there early to make sure you to get in to this jawn. A rare chance to hear these two together in a really small space.
-In a similar hot dance music vein, cop the new DFA remixes release, The DFA Remixes- Chapter One. This is so necessary, you've got all the hot remixes they put out a few years ago that put their name on the map for good. Le Tigre, Metro Area, Chemical Brothers, essential shit. Cop at the UK's Amazon or HMV, or wait until this upcoming Tuesday for the North American release. Save up, as Chapter 2 comes out in the summer. All of it can be had on vinyl. Yeah!
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Mogwai, "Glasgow Mega-Snake"
Mogwai, "Friend of the Night"
With anything in life, you need to learn some lessons. With any hard times, you must learn a few things about yourself in the process. Here is what I learned from my ridiculous indie rock tour over the past week.
The best music I heard was from Love Is All. Runner-up was Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins. They were followed by Animal Collective, and parts of The Go! Team and Arctic Monkeys.
I'm not that big a fan of concerts, as it turns out. Don't really like crowds or people.
I have the body of a 70 year old man living in Boca Raton. My back would stiffen up and hurt, like, an hour into the show. Embarrassing shit, especially around a bunch of 17 year olds. I actually found myself thinking how much I wished there were more seated shows. The only thing left is complaining about how drafty it is inside, and turning up the heat to 150 degrees.
Diversity was judged by degrees of pallidness, from pale white to really pale white to vampire.
The quality of a show goes up exponentially if a big-boobed girl constantly gets up during a show and walks to the bathroom/drink station.
-Above are a few tracks from the recent Mogwai album, Mr. Beast. Why Mogwai now, you ask? Well, they have been scheduled for a show by R5 here in Philly, Thursday May 11, and it seems like those guys and girls are as excited about this show as any they've ever done. As it says on the website, "Fucking Yesssssssssssss! Shit Yeah! I kid you not we have been trying to book MOGWAI since 1998. This has been a long time coming. This show will be one of the memorable R5 events ever, you know they are absolutely going to destroy The Ballroom and put everyone on their ass." You can't front on that kind of talk coming from people who have put on thousands of shows.
Other notable shows coming up in my eyes are Editors and Stellastarr at the Troc (this Saturday), the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the Troc (next Wednesday), Art Brut at the Church (next Friday), Gogol Bordello at the Troc (April 14th), Jack Rose and Fursaxa in the Church's sanctuary (April 17th), Acid Mothers Temple at Vox Populi(April 21st), Jamie Lidell and the Lilys at the Church back to back nights, April 27th and 28th respectively. Check out R5 Productions, the Troc's site and Electric Factory for more options. Oh, and of course, the BM Rant's Philly Shows List.
-Speaking of the good folks at The BM Rant, they have a review of the Arctic Monkeys show from Sunday night. It seems to jibe with my thoughts, but damn them for having great pictures. Grrr, must get digital camera to compete in the Blog Arms race. Best line in the review: "When you only have 45 minutes of material to even play, where’s the encore coming from? Some Oasis covers?"
-Oh, the album, by the way, is damn good. I can't say I have listened to much Mogwai in the day, so I can't tell you how it stacks up to their past releases. All I can say is that it is a beautiful album, quite literally, with lush tracks that slowly take shape. It's instrumental rock for the most part, reminds me a lot of Tortoise or Sigur Ros. Buy the album here, as it seems fans think it's a great intro to the band.
Master P, "R.I.P. Tupac"
Tru, "Bad Boyz On A Mission"
Mac Dre, "What'cha Like"
I had planned on devoting this week to Mac Dre, but sometimes life throws you a curveball that you just can't hit. I'mma try to make the best out of a terrible situation right now, and up some songs from the two volumes of the mid 90s No Limit compilations, West Coast Bad Boyz. Many don't know, including me for the longest time, that Master P was born in the Bay Area and founded No Limit Records there. It wasn't until it moved to New Orleans that it became a mainstream, platinum, multi-million dollar operation. These two CDs should make clear that the early years were not lacking in great music.
Volume 2 came out in 1997, and was really the last stand of the Bay Area, underground version of the No Limit posse. This CD contains the core group of Master P, Silkk the Shocker, Mr. Serv-on, C Murder, Mia X and Big Ed, along with some of the best of the West Coast hip hop world at that time like Brotha Lynch Hung, Ice Cube and Rappin 4 Tay. I figured that I would lead with a Mac Dre track off of Volume 2, as I love a good segue as much as the next guy. This is some essential music, in my opinion, with the same laid-back flows, gangster imagery and huge bass that Tupac made famous at the same time. It's especially interesting hearing P rapping over a much slower music instead of the familiar, bounce shit that the Down South version of No Limit we all know and love. Oh, and shit, you actually get to hear P rap and spit lyrics, not those grunts and ughhs.
This CD is out-of-print, as far as I can tell, so I would be willing to put up a few more songs from the CD if people want it. I need love right now people, so holler if you want another taste. If not, I'll move on to the first volume, and end the week with the Lil' Wayne unreleased shit and some new Ghostface. Oh, and you know there's going to be at least one Morrissey/Smiths post. Has to be, sorry.
-Speaking of Bay Area Bad Boyz/Girlz, peep another new Bay Area blog, Bay.Watch!. It's not just a clever title, it's also a chance to learn more about the hyphy movement and other shit come out of the area like Hieroglyphics. Make sure to check out the Bay Area Video Lounge Volume 1 and Volume 2. Amazing, for real. Great start, teemoney, can't wait to see where things go.
-Finally, shout to Lifesport, my old gym in Fairmount that I finally rejoined as I have become a fat loser. A great, affordable gym that I recommend anyone in Philly join. I'll be the guy throwing up after walking on the treadmill for 10 minutes.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Mac Dre, "Life's A Bitch"
Mac Dre, "3C Romp"
Mac Dre, "Crest Creepers"
Mac Dre, "Let's All Get Down"
In honor of MC's return from the West Coast tonight, I figured I would up some more Bay Area rap for you kids. I've been digging deeper into this Bay Area shit, and yes, I know that I am like 3 years behind on this, but whatever. I was 21 before I realized that Z. Cavarrici pants weren't cool.
One name to whom I have tragically come too late is Mac Dre, the Oakland rapper who was murdered in late 2004. This name might not ring familiar to many, but he is a legend in his hometown, one of those figures that comes to light when a scene has blown up and people go searching for the roots, like Fat Pat down in Houston. Dre is one of the godfathers of the hyphy scene, and I hope that his music will gain a greater audience with the sudden popularity of Keak da Sneak and E-40.
These tracks above are from his 1998 album, Stupid Dumb Doo Doo, one of his many highly acclaimed albums. This one was one of the first released after he served a 5 year sentence for attempted robbery. I'll have more to say on his music later, but if you like what you hear, buy his album here.
I'm kinda feelin' a week dedicated to the music of Mac Dre, whatta y'all think?
-Houston So Real announces a chance to hear another legend, Devin the Dude, and his old group The Coughee Brothaz on a CD available only online. It's a compilation of their songs, not a mixtape of them rhyming over popular beats or whatever. Also, make sure to check out all of the flicks from SXSW and be real jealous. I'mm a makin' it a goal for Pound for Pound to be down there next year for this festival, word is bond.
-Speaking of the Arctic Monkeys and Spinto Band, you can hear a complete show from the 9:30 Club in D.C. on NPR.org tonight at 10.
-Since it can't be all music and candy, check out the must-read political essay of the week, Francis Fukuyama's "After Neoconservatism". This is big news because it is one of the main neo-conservative intellectuals coming out against that philosophy and the war in Iraq. You probably remember Fukuyama from his book and theory after the fall of Communism that we were at the end of history, that the democratic-capitalist idea had won. Whoops, good call on that one, Francis. You can also read Paul Berman's review of Fukuyama's book, America At The Crossroads.
The Arctic Monkeys, "The View From The Afternoon"
The Arctic Monkeys, "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor"
The Arctic Monkeys, "Fake Tales of San Francisco"
The Arctic Monkeys, "Mardy Bum"
The end of the road, the final show on the tour. 5 concerts in 7 days. What better way to end it than with the biggest hype show of them all, the one that sold out the fastest, the Arctic Monkeys at the Starlight Ballroom. Well, actually staying at home with MC and JC-S, watching the Flyers win the Stanley Cup in a world where pastrami on rye is good for you and poverty was eradicated, that would be better. But, you take what you can get.
The openers were The Spinto Band, a local act gaining lots of attention recently. I was very excited to see them playing on a big stage, and hope that this tour opening for The Artic Monkeys will bring them an even bigger audience and national attention. They played an excellent set, a nice, sloppy rock show that reminded me a little bit of the Dr. Dog show at Mercury Lounge. I'm a sucker for harmonies and backup vocals and "Doo doo doo"s being sung, and The Spinto Band give me that in excess. It was a good set, and real nice to see people giving them a listen. Check them out this Thursday at the TLA with The Teeth and The National Eye (two other bands that are ready to take the next leap) in a great Philly rock showcase. Buy their most recent album, Nice and Nicely Done, and show some love.
After a long intermission, the Arctic Monkeys came out and killed it with the first two songs from the album. They were so much louder than anything else I've heard recently, blowing my ear drums out with the attack. Man, it sounded soooo good. From there, they pretty much played the exact same way with the same sound for the next 45 minutes. That's not meant as an insult, as they know their strengths and don't fuck with 'em. They play good-old fashioned rock'n'roll, the kind that middle-aged white guys long for. It's similar on the album, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, as you get 12 tracks at 41 minutes, most with the same tempo and structure, hard and fast with an occasional slow number.
Sound and looks-wise, they still remind me of Oasis. Both are at their best when they write catchy, short rock/pop songs. Both have to live with the ridiculous hype and expectations of the British media and people. I almost feel bad for the Arctic Monkeys, as they are a good band that are being compared to the Clash and Radiohead on the strength of one album. I hope that they can make some money off of this and take some time off, to let the hype die down. The four tracks above should give you a good sense of their sound and their great potential. Everyone probably has it, but if you don't, make sure to d/l "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor", a not-quite 3 minute burst of pop brilliance. Buy the album here and see what you think.
A few random thoughts from the show, as my mind wandered towards the end. The guy who held up the British flag throughout the show was the most annoying person ever at a concert. Monkeys' fans are the tallest in the world, able to field a basketball team if British people weren't such terrible athletes. If I am 45 years-old, still attending shitty concerts, I will kill myself (assuming I haven't died already of a heart attack from years of worrying and self-loathing). The Starlight Ballroom is officially my favorite place to see a concert in the world. TA is an amazing friend, ready to roll to concerts for bands she knows little about, able to handle my mid-show life crises (sadly, no joke there) and one of the kindest, most wonderful people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
That's the end of the concert review week here at Pound for Pound. I think that we are going to return to the Pure Dork stuff, but I may choose to go in a different direction and discuss the future of Philadelphia and what the city lacks. We'll see. I hope that everyone enjoyed a look at the Philly concert week, as it might be the last ones I ever attend.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Love Is All, "Talk Talk Talk Talk"
Love Is All, "Make Out Fall Out Make Up"
As I mentioned in the last post, I went for a Go! Team show, but stayed for Love Is All. Or something like that. Basically, I had heard good things about them, read the glowing review in Pitchfork by the infamous Nick Sylvester and liked the tracks I had heard. I specifically requested that TA and I get to the Starlight Ballroom early, so as to guarantee that we caught them. But, none of that prepared me for seeing them Thursday night.
They came out after caUSE co-MOTION, looking very neat and proper. They proceeded to rip through a set of rock music that I have been waiting to hear for years. It wasn't revolutionary or experimental, no new ground is necessarily broken here. But, who gives a shit if it's this good? I know that making comparisons to other bands is wack and lazy, but deal with it. While watching them, a few bands came to mind, from Sonic Youth (with the male/female lead vocals) to the dance-punk bands that everyone knows about (more punk than dance) to Siouxsie and the Banshees.
As many of you, I don't listen to a lot of indie on the regular (despite what this past week says) and tend to be easier on criticism but less apt to really love something. Take it for what it's worth, but it's been the first time in a long time that a current band has given me that chill you get when a band or song or album sounds so right.
If you don't believe me, Dodge at the legendary My Old Kentucky Blog has given their album, Nine Times That Same Song, another glowing review. I cannot agree more, as it has supplanted snap rap and Morrissey (foreshadowing), a feat in its own right. A quick search reveals that all of the heavyweights of the blog world have shown love: fluxblog, Moistworks, 20 Jazz Funk Greats, Badminton Stamps, gorilla vs. bear, Said the Gramophone and Yeti Don't Dance. Oh, and there are others on the case, up and comers like yours truly, such as Silence Is A Rhythm Too (awesome name), Absolut Noise, The View From Yoorp, Like Flies on Sherbert and Motel de Moka.
Is that good enough for you? Is it? Your next step is to go buy Nine Times That Same Song, which is ridiculousy cheap. Also, make sure to keep up with them on Myspace in the down time between stalking exes. Let's do it, people.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
The Go! Team, "Ladyflash"
The Go! Team, "The Power is On"
The Go! Team, "We Just Won't Be Defeated"
The Go! Team, "Huddle Formation"
As promised, here's the one of the last concert reviews from my Winter Tour '06. TA and I caught The Go! Team show at the Starlight Ballroom Thursday night, which was the 10th Anniversary of the first show that Sean Agnew and R5 Productions ever put on. That was a ska show at the Electric Factory, which shows just how much can change in a decade. I mean, ska, people, ska. Does that music exist anywhere outside of a time capsule?
Anyway, TA and I got there earlyish this time, around 8:30, hoping to catch all of the bands. Little did we know just how early we were, as the doors had yet to open. This meant a line down 9th Street and a chance for suburban kids to see one of the grimier blocks in the 215. After about 10 minutes, we were safely inside the Ballroom, which is quickly becoming my favorite place to see a concert anywhere. We caught most of the caUSE co-MOTION set from the bar in back, as I needed a caffeine injection and both of us needed to slowly work our way into a night of music.
caUSE co-MOTION sounded more on the punk side, but I won't try to describe their music too much, as I was not listening closely to do it justice. It was good, just wish that they had come later in the night. Thankfully, we did head down to catch the Love Is All set, and all I can say is wow! B-A-N-A-N-A-S, the best set of music I heard in the four days, one of the best sets of music I have heard in a long time in fact. It was so good that I have decided to give them their own post. Stay tuned for my thoughts on this Swedish band, my weird crush on the lead singer and mp3s. Yeah!
The Go! Team came on 30 minutes later, and played exactly as I pictured they would in my head. Their album, Thunder, Strike, Lightning, was one of my favorites from last year, a totally different sound and energy to most of what I listen to. It was a catchy, upbeat disc from start to finish. Guess what? So's their live show. They ran all around the stage, had more energy than a Type A personality and played their songs perfectly.
It was good, but left me a little disappointed. Partly it was the fact that this was way too much live music for me in a short period of time. But, that clearly wasn't the whole story, since Love Is All killed. In retrospect, I think it was the fact that it was all so rehearsed and perfect. I mean, each member played all the instruments, and they rotated throughout, and call and responses for the audience, and they all leapt around and put on a great show. But, it felt too perfect for me, sounded too much like the album, never really got grabbed my attention. It actually reminded me of a lot of hip hop shows I've seen, as you leave wondering why spent the money to see the show when you should have just stayed home and listened to the album for free.
However, I was clearly in the minority on this point. The crowd went nuts for the band, cheering, dancing, waving their arms like they just didn't care. I mean, some people around us jumped up and down for the entire set. That's right, jumped and down for minutes at a time. It was another sell-out, and just a real energized place all night. I would recommend checking out The Go! Team the next time they come to ther States, especially if you are looking for a band that will give a 110% and put on a well-oiled show. Go here to buy the album, which is highly recommend, a great, lo-fi pop-punk album that doesn't really sound like anything else.
Friday, March 24, 2006
The Gossip, "Bones"
The Gossip, "Got Body If You Want It"
The Gossip, "Where The Girls Are"
The Gossip, "Hott Date"
Okay, I'm going to slow down this weekend, as I cannot keep this pace of two posts a day up. I literally woke up this morning lying under my bed, shaking, reeking of patchouli, having cried myself to sleep, broken from the four shows in four days. Actually, the real reason for the slower pace is because MC's away in San Francisco and she's my editor and I get cranky and uninspired when she's away on the Wrong Coast. I will have my review of The Go! Team/Love is All show up over the weekend, then we will resume Pure Dork Week. I also hope to have my hosting situation ironed out, which mean mp3s will be up for as many downloads as possible for limited periods. Yeah!
Since I can't make it to the show tonight, which is another sell-out, I figured that I would post up some early tunes from The Gossip. The Gossip are one of the many excellent artists currently on the Kill Rock Stars label, clearly influenced by that label's founder Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney. These tracks come off of their second album, That's Not What I Heard, and are way more punk than their most recent release. Lots of uptempo, short songs, short but sweet. Queercore to the roots, let us know what you think. Yeah!
Lots of good stuff coming up musically, Lady Sov, Mac Dre (RIP), Love is All and all that unreleased Lil Wayne shit that the kids are talking about. Yeah!
-Check out this great article in XLr8R on Kill Rock Stars label, as it celebrates 10 years of good music.
-For those in Philly, make sure to check out the Straight Dope party upstairs at the Khyber. Baltimore DJ Tittsworth will be holding it down with residents dev79 and Sharkey. Expect lots of Bmore club, bangers, dancing, sweat, good things in life.
-Speaking of Tittsworth, make sure to cop his three EPs of Baltimore club songs, which are available again after a first pressing.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Animal Collective, "The Purple Bottle"
Animal Collective, "Turn Into Something"
3rd show of the week, and things finally got weird. Not surprising, since I was going to see everyone's favorite experimental band, Animal Collective, at the Starlight Ballroom. The show was a sell-out, a packed house again. Yeah Philly! Stand up! Unfortunately, I again had to attend this show by myself, as a last-minute cancellation left me all alone in this concert world again. Fortunately, I was going to see an avant-garde group play, where a bearded white guy loner does not seem out of place. In fact, it's the people with friends and people to talk to who are the outsiders, so there!
I arrived in time to catch the last few songs of opening act, and came away impressed. It was a big band, really, with 7 people on stage, including a cellist (?) and trombonist. The sound was loud and chaotic, with hints of klezmer and jazz and rock spilling out. This is my kind of shit, to be honest, as I love that loud, sloppy sound that harkens back to old music. I don't know much about the band, but hope that they will make more stops in Philly. Fans of Gogol Bordello should take note, as there was a similar vibe and sound.
Animal Collective came on stage a little after 10, after a few false starts and annoying clapping displays by the mostly-teenage audience. They started off with a slow rumble from the samplers and mikes, then slowly built into a song and noisier interludes. It went like that for much of the night, as the band dealt mostly in peaks and valleys, soft than loud, composed than improvised. It was amazing at times, particularly when the sampler let loose and hit us with a deep, powerful bass and strange, resampled sounds and the drummer actually used his kit and banged out a simple beat.
Above are a few songs from their most recent album, Feels. It's interesting, as this album did not prepare me for the live show, which featured much harsher sounds, much more electronic noises, and less of a psychedelic feel. That is why I really like this band, and consider them a group to constantly keep an ear out for. They are willing to try different things, willing to look like an assholes up on stage or on wax, immune to the pressures of the industry or hype scenes. Is it everyone's cup of tea? No. But it's nice to know that they are out there, and all of the other bands who haven't achieved their level of popularity.
If there is interest, I will put up some more tracks from their earlier albums and side projects, not sure if people wanna check them out or what. Go here and buy the last album, one of the best of 2005.
Keak da Sneak, "Getting Money"
Keak da Sneak, "Shake It"
Keak da Sneak, "Super Hyphy (remix)"
More Bay Area, yeah! These are a few tracks off the new Keak da Sneak album, Contact Sport. Keak has been one of the integral people in the hyphy movement and really seems to be a future star in the rap game. He's young, he's part of a hyped scene, and he is talented beyond belief. He's got this real deep voice, distinctive and commanding.
I'm still not totally sure what denotes the hyphy sound, although it seems to be the focus on synths and handclaps and general upbeat tempos. If anyone has any comments on what else they think defines the sound, I'd love to hear.
-There is Always Plan B. That's right, my bol MF and his Funtime Party Team have put together another NYC happening at Plan B in the East Village (10th and B). DJs King Solomon (I-Rak) and Elle will provide the tunes. Mayhem will ensue.
-In the battle of the two cities last night, the Flyers beat the shit out of the Rangers, 6-1, at the Garden to move back into a tie for first in Atlantic Division. Great game - there were lots of goals, hitting and the Flyers won. It's nice to see the rivalry back, as the Rangers finally have a decent club, which means that Rangers "fans" will start following their team. I am in such a zen state right now, that I won't make even mention how much I loathe the Rangers and their fans, the Pelle Lindbergh incident or how empty the Garden has been for the past few years. Serenity now!
-You know Pound for Pound loves remixes and Bloc Party. Well, the good folks at m3 online (or is it Good Weather for Air Strikes?) have brought it all together in one amazing post. They have compiled all of the Bloc Party remixes that exist out there, all wonderfully packed onto 2 discs for your downloading pleasure. Make sure to thank Derek and all those responsible for this amazing post. [Via Done Waiting.Com]
-Animal Collective review is up, great show, The Go! Team and Love is All tonight with TA. Yeah!
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Silver Jews, "Punks In The Beer Light"
Silver Jews, "Animal Shapes"
Silver Jews, "There Is A Place"
I made it to the second show of the mini-tour last night, Silver Jews at the Starlight Ballroom. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend with MC, and couldn't find anyone else to take my extra ticket, so I had to be one of those creepy loners who go to concerts. Not a good luck, trust me. Anyway, I got there towards the end of the opening act, while two women playing acoustic guitars were completely drowned out by the people in the audience who were not listening. It was actually quite sad, and fortunately ended after a few songs.
After a 20 minute break, David Berman and his Silver Jews came on stage for their first Philly show ever. As Berman told the crowd at one point, he considered this only their ninth show ever. Honestly, it kinda showed. There was a sense of uncertainty, a rehearsal feel at times (especially when songs would peter out), Berman read most of the lyrics off of a music stand, and there seemed to be a general sloppiness on the opening songs.
This is a weird one, as I am not a fan of Silver Jews or David Berman. I'm not not a fan either, I just don't have much knowledge of the band, came to it only on the recommendation of MC. Therefore, the thrill of seeing them on stage on their first ever tour was lost on me. Likewise, I didn't know the songs well, and didn't have any sense when they were digging into their back catalogue for some great song of the past.
In spite of that, the show wasn't bad. I started to get into the sound as the night went by, as Berman is a magnetic figure. He seems to be a complete neurotic, constantly rubbing his face and running his fingers through his hair. He told an incredibly funny Adam and Eve joke. He seemed overwhelmed at times. He also has a voice that is deep and gravelly, which takes some getting used to. I know that's weird coming from someone who has made a living glorifiying some of the most villified voices (like Dylan and Garcia), but deal with it. I actually found some of my favorite moments to be the songs where his female bassist (and wife?) sung the lead or traded vocals with Berman. It provided a nice mix and a little bit of diversity to the sameness of their sound that came up on each and every song.
This tour is in support of the most recent Silver Jews album, Tanglewood Numbers, the first in four years. It's another album that has grown on me, although not as much as the Jenny Lewis one. Silver Jews are better to me as a recorded entity, where you can hear the lyrics of Berman clearly. Go here and buy the album, if you're looking for country rock music, a polished hi-fi record (not that lo-fi shit that your older sister liked) and amazing lyrics.
-Next show: Animal Collective at the Starlight. I'm already sick of music and people, so wish me luck.
E-40, "Yay Area"
E-40, "Tell Me When To Go (feat. Keak da Sneak)"
E-40, "Sick With It II"
This one is all about E-40 and his new album, My Ghetto Report Card, not a look at my hood status, as you might have thought when you first saw the title. (For those wondering, I get a D-, since I got robbed like a punk bitch, but whatever.) E-40 has picked the perfect moment for this release, as there is a bit of a lull in the rap game, with everyone waiting for the most anticipated albums of the year, Cam's Killa Season and Ghostface's Fishscale. It's also a great time, as the South has blown up and people are looking for the next thing, the next sound to grab onto. The Bay Area's hyphy music fits the bill perfectly, doesn't it? Ironically though, the King of Crunk, Lil Jon, produced the album, curious how that goes over with hardcore Bay Area fans. Oh, and 40 isn't one of the originators of the hyphy movement, so I imagine that there could be some backlash toward his carpetbagging. I don't know, since I am an even bigger carpetbagger from my position in Philly. Whatever.
It's a good album, though probably not a classic or his best. It's a long one, 20 tracks, only three jokey interludes. That's way too long; I appreciate the effort and the value for the buck, but feel like any hip hop album today suffers from quality control when an artist tries to put this much out. I put up some of my favorite tracks above; definitely make sure to cop the first song, the lead single "Tell Me When To Go," which is a monster with those big bass drums. The first half of the album is amazing (which is mainly the work of Bay Area producer Rick Rock), the second half just doesn't have the same heat. Buy it here and decide for yourself.
-If you like these tracks and wanna find out what's jumping off in the Bay Area, there are two essential sites that need to be a part of your daily clicks. Nation of Thizzlam is a new addition to the links list on the right, dropping all sorts of bangers from the likes of E-40, Federation, all the names you've been hearing about and many more you've never heard about. Staxwell and Mr. Pilly Wonk show love for other shit too, like Ghostface and the Dipset Dipset and lots of hate for Pitchfork and Fader.
Then, there's the O.G. legend, Jay-O's Get Stoopid. Bol's been introducing the blog world to this music for a minute now, and I cannot thank him enough for getting the music out. It appears that he is retired, but I'm hoping for a George Foreman-style return, where he comes back and takes back his rightful crown. Yeah!
-For those in the Philly/NJ area, tune in to 103.3 WPRB, Princeton's college radio station, tonight for a Handsome and Krash is King Shit session. These are some Philly electronic bols who are finna blow up if I can do anything about it. More to come on them, get a head start by listening to their show tonight.
-It was a real shitty week, sorry if the quality has slipped here. I've been sitting in my four-corner room, staring at candles, and that don't make for good writing. I'mma try to bring the heat in the next few weeks, as hopefully we'll be talking about how Pound for Pound Got His Groove Back. Holler.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, "Rise Up With Fists"
Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, "The Charging Sky"
Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, "Rabbit Fur Coat"
Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, "It Wasn't Me"
The first night of my run of shows started with a bang, as Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins put on an amazing show last night in Philadelphia. It was held in the sanctuary of the First Unitarian Church, as opposed to the basement where most shows are held. This brought an added dimension of grandeur and solemnity, especially when the lights went down and only the stage/altar was lit. Quite impressive, an amazing venue for the right type of show.
For those that don't know, Jenny Lewis is the beautiful lead singer of Rilo Kiley, one of the great bands to come out of the Omaha, Nebraska-based Saddle Creek label. This night, however, was a chance to see her side project with Louisville, Kentucky's Watson Twins; their collaborative album was released a few months ago on Team Love Records. It's a wonderful album, for real, something that has taken me numerous listens to fully appreciate. In fact, the show last night really brought that fact home, as the band sounded great live, with their songs about religion and love and death finding a nice home in the church.
The music is an exploration of one the main influences on Lewis and Rilo Kiley, country and western music. The band features a lap guitar player, two backup vocalists, a drummer, a organist, a bass and guitar. The sound is a mixture of rock, country and gospel, a really twangy sound even on the more rocking tracks. It never came across as parody or ironic; quite the opposite, as I had no doubt that this was a project that meant a lot to Jenny, a chance for her to delve deeper into country music without the expectations of Rilo Kiley.
My only issue was the religious references, as they seemed to come out of nowhere at times, giving a sense of playing a part, writing lyrics that were reminiscent of "country music." It's not that I have some adverse reaction to religious references, but rather that I wish that she would explore the ideas further, instead of just throwing it out there for one or two songs. I guess it also goes against my image of Jenny Lewis as a flatchested, city girl version of Dolly Parton or one of the great female country music artists. Lewis has this been-there, done-that attitude with a more East Coast sense of fashion and coolness, and that's where I see her fitting in. Maybe I'm wrong; I'd love to hear her older fans thoughts on all of this.
The band played for about an hour, playing most of the tracks from the new album. This included an opener where the band came out first and the ladies made a dramatic intro, coming on stage singing. There was also the first encore, "It Wasn't Me," where Jenny sang alone with her acoustic guitar, walking up one aisle of the church to the delight of the amateur photogs in the audience. Can I just add that she is absolutely beautiful and magnetic and a superstar waiting for a bigger audience? Her voice is magnificent, completely spellbinding, able to command an entire room without a mic. I can't say much more, other than go buy the album and catch this show if you can.
Monday, March 20, 2006
5 shows in 5 nights. The VW bus is packed, the tickets are bought and the excitement is building.
Your bol is going to try to do a stretch of shows, the likes of which hasn't been seen since the Dead played the Spectrum in 1987. Jenny Lewis, Silver Jews, The Go! Team, Animal Collective and The Gossip. Can I make it? Will I get the bends from the lack of bass? Will I collapse under the weight of my hipster cred?
All of these questions will be answered in the 5 days, as this indie experiment unfolds. Check back for reviews and pictures (hopefully) of these shows, and lots more goodness. Pound for Pound is rested and focused, wish me luck.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
This is my original love, one of the greatest periods in film history, the gangster movies of the 1930s. It's an amazing run by the old studios, a cycle when they put out one after the other of movies highlighting gangsters and their downfalls. Many had a ripped-from-the-headlines sensation to them, a la Law and Order today, attempting to bring the stories of the cities to the screen.
I'm not sure why these movies intrigued me at such an early age, probably because my Dad was the one who loved them, who told me about Jimmy Cagney and his walk to the electric chair and his defiance. These were the movies he watched as a kid, staying up late. Why have they touched two generations? Not sure, although it probably has to do with their tough guy images, their bigger-than-life characters who made the city theirs. Or it could simply be that these are some of the best movies ever, well-acted, well-written and intense.
Above is a picture from one of the greatest of the genre, Little Caesar, starring Edward G. Robinson as the title character. It's kinda the prototype for the genre, a plot focused on one gangster and his rise and fall. Robinson is amazing, the little man with the big appetite and big gun whose quest for more leads to his downfall. It's especially great that Robinson plays this paragon of the Italian mafioso, being that he was born Eugene Goldenberg in Romania, but I digress.
The other great film from this era is well-known to anyone who listens to hip hop, although I am sure few have seen the original, Scarface. That's right, the Al Pacino version is not only not the original, it's not even close to the best. The 1936 version starring Paul Muni is the greatest gangster flick ever made, in my opinion. It's got it all, taking all of the elements mentioned above and doing them the best they've been done. It looks and sounds better than any of the movies made from this early period of talkies.
Beyond that, James Cagney is a great starting point, as well, possibly the most famous actor to make a name for himself during this period. He fits the casting perfectly, a little man with enough attitude for ten men. Angels With Dirty Faces and Public Enemy are his two finest, giving the viewer some of the most memorable scenes in film history. I mean, the walk to the electric chair is priceless, when he breaks down before death. Or when he smashes the grapefruit in Jean Harlow's face. Classic shit, iconic Hollywood, the original gangsters that the rest of us are still taking cures from.
-Lots of great resources out there to learn more, as I can't imagine not wanting to know the roots of so much of what inspires this blog. This might be the best resource, aptly titled The Ultimate Gangster/Crime Film Web Site, with tons of great reading and images. Or this one, called Original Gangsters, which is great for those just starting to watch these movies or those who think they know it all. Here is a great history of the gangster film, although I disagree with the ellision of film noir and gangster films. Crime Culture also has a nice summary of the period and on the larger crime movie genre. Here is a look at the Hollywood gangster of the 1930s, focusing on the very ones listed above.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Dem Franchize Boyz, "I Think They Like Me (So So Def remix)"
Dem Franchize Boyz, "Lean Wit It, Rock With It"
Dem Franchize Boyz, "Stop Calling Me"
One good thing about this new two-post focus, it means I get back to my roots. Booty music, filthy hip hop, songs dedicated to women's asses, the good stuff. No where better to get back to work on that than Atlanta, the land where the bass and strip club reign right now. I know that everyone is already hatin' on this shit, Snap Music or whatever you want to call it, but get over yourself. This is fire, the next outpost of the incredible musical journey started in Miami in the 80s.
For real, listen to these songs above, and tell me that those snaps, those crisp drums and those synths squelches don't make the world seem like a better place. I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to see these guys on the magazine covers, on MTV, bringing Atlanta Bass to the forefront. More than anything, it's about time that Jermaine Dupri gets his due as one of the greatest producers ever. That So So Def remix is fire, the best thing on the album, although all of the above tracks do the job.
We will get into the history of this Atlanta ish in the near future, as I'm still trying to get a hold of more of it and learn all the names of people who were responsible for the genre. If you have recommendations or guidance, holler.
-It looks like A Silent Flute has a mix up of his own doing, so go and download that immediately. Take a look at the entire blog, though, for real, as it still might be my favorite/the best going today. I mean, ET fucking, Spankrock photos, lots of clothing knowledge to help us look good, music. Yeah, nuf said. Congrats to Nate on the Fader piece, I ain't jealous or anything.
-I want everyone to know that I have not been stalking Badminton Stamps, we just think alike. Great minds and all. Let's see, they too thought Making Time was the best ever, they were at the Clipse show at the Knitting Factory as well and they were psyched about Three 6 winning an Oscar. While I check with them to make sure that they aren't going to be talking about film noir this week, head over there, especially for the New Young Pony Club track and for their radio blogs at the top of the page.
-Finally, proof that America is the greatest country on Earth (except for maybe France), as if you need more proof after those songs.
Bob Dylan, Paint The Daytime Black (unlimited downloads)
A few weeks ago, we had a deluge of visitors after I posted up some Bob Dylan tracks and an unreleased retrospective CD of the man's work. Well, I have to admit that I became an addict to those traffic numbers. I mean, we broke 1000 visitors for the day! For someone who bases the quality of a day on the number of visitors and links he gets, it was like heaven. Better than sex or pizza. Like an addict, though, when my fix dried up, I became more and more desperate.
Lucky for you, I am bringing back the pure stuff, people, uncut. Above is a bootleg CD of a Dylan concert from 1978, entitled Paint The Daytime Black. I can't say I know much about the recording, other than what the related page at Bob's Boots tells me. The tracks are credited to The Band in iTunes, but it is clearly Dylan and The Band. This is a lot of music, a huge file, so be warned. Classic Dylan and The Band stuff, with that rocking Rolling Thunder Tour sound and vibe. Enjoy!
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
John Zorn, "The Big Gundown"
John Zorn, "Peur Sur La Ville"
John Zorn, "Battle of Algiers"
John Zorn, "Once Upon A Time In The West"
One of the biggest fans of Ennio Morricone has always been John Zorn, who was championing the man's work decades ago. One of Zorn's finest albums was The Big Gundown, his interpretations of Morricone's music, put together with the finest of the downtown NYC music scene in the early 80s. It's such a natural fit when you think about it, as Zorn has always championed lesser-known geniuses, people who have fallen out of the canon for whatever reasons (Sonny Clark, Hank Mobley, Ornette Coleman, Henry Mancini).
More importantly, Zorn and Morricone share an aesthetic that doesn't care about high or low art, popular or experimental. They are willing to put any parts together, try any instrumentation. You can hear it in both men's use of the electric guitar, rock music's great instrument, and in their willingness to use concrete sounds and noises that add an element of confusion. These similarities are made all the more effective on the album, because Zorn's respect for Morricone never falls into mimicry. Instead, Zorn creates his own music out of the work of Morricone. As the liner notes read, "Zorn never merely embellishes or fleshes out the originals; instead, he engages them in a careening, whiz-bang conversation whose tone is sometimes sportive and mischievous, at other times inquisitive and skeptical, but which always resists condescension and mockery." That's the ultimate tribute, isn't it?
I was told yesterday by MC that I call everything an "amazing document," so I am going to try to avoid using that phrase. Nonetheless, this CD is a must for everyone to listen to, although I have a huge bias for Zorn. This is the album that put Zorn on the map, his first release on a label and a great introduction to Zorn's compositions and recordings of the 80s. I know that he is considered weird and pretentious by most, but I've always thought those characterizations lose weight when you listen to the actual music. Buy the 15th Anniversary remastered edition of The Big Gundown, which comes with 6 bonus tracks from the original recording sessions. The songs above come from the original Nonesuch release, 'cause that's how I roll. O.G.
-If this music catches your ear, you must check out the catalogue for Zorn's very own label, Tzadik. It has something for everyone willing to gamble, from newest stuff out of Japan's noise scene to modern classical works to Zorn's own music. I highly recommend Radical Jewish Culture, Zorn's archival series, film music and the New Japan series.
-Read Zorn's liner notes to Crime and Dissonance, the Morricone compilation on Ipecac Records we discussed yesterday.
-If you wish to find out more about Zorn and the music he's created, or to get recommendations on the best in experimental music, you must join the Zorn listserve. It is a source that provided me with a guide to all sorts of music that I never had any experience with, a nice, painless way to take a leap into the unknown.
Yesterday was a real sad day at Pound for Pound, as a Philadelphia and basketball legend called it a career. Temple University coach John Chaney retired after 33 years as a head coach here and at Cheney University. He is a legend of Philadelphia, and rightfully so, one of the greatest coaches ever in the greatest basketball city on Earth. It really is shocking to think that he will no longer be on the sidelines at a Temple game, no longer be the face of Temple basketball, no longer yelling at players in the Palestra. I mean, he has been a fixture in Philly for my entire life, and one kinda had the feeling that he would be here forever.
Over the past couple of years, Cheney has garnered more attention for his behavior than his teams. That is a shame, as a few stupid actions and comments should not take away what the man accomplished. He made Temple a national powerhouse from North fucking Broad Street, he took them to numerous Elite 8s and tournament runs despite the lack of money and fame that bigger schools enjoy, and he developed some of the best players in the country (Eddie Jones, Mark Macon, Aaron McKie).
More than anything, I'll remember him for being himself when no one really is. While everyone loves Coach K and Roy Williams, I loved Cheney for being that old, cranky guy who has no filter. I love that he threatened to kick the shit out of UMASS coach John Calipari after a game. I especially loved the shots he constantly took at the Philly sports fans, who seem to think they are above criticism because there hasn't been a championship here in 25 years. He called these overrated fans out for their booing, their cynicism, their boorishness at every chance, the only person with the balls to tell it like it is. I'm not even getting into his stands against Prop. 48, his willingness to stick his neck out for his players and what he believed.
Cheney's teams have always been the most successful of the Big 5 schools, although they never won the big one. I've always considered them the team to root for if you are a Philadelphian, the one team that reps the city, recruits its students, resides in the heart of North Philly and has brought us a succession of Philly guards to shine on the national stage. It's sad to have him gone, another era slipping away, I guess.
-Rich Hoffman has the best piece in the aftermath of Cheney's retirement, which is not surprising. It's kinda pathetic seeing these Philly writers laud the man, after years of belittling him and taking shots. I won't link to the rest of them, as there's little value in ever reading Stephen A. Smith or Sam Donnellon.
-Congrats to my alma mater, as the University of Pennsylvania men's basketball team won another Ivy League title and another trip to the NCAA tournament. For those counting, that's 5 in the last 6 years. They play #2 seed Texas Friday night. I smell an upset, or an ass-kicking, hard to tell, really.
-Hit up Yoni Cohen's College Basketball site for all your tourney needs, as it is the best resource bar none.
-On a sad note, R.I.P. Peter Tomarken, better known as the guy who hosted the best gameshow ever, Press Your Luck. It appears the whammies get everyone in the end.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Ennio Morricone, "Corsa Sui Tetti (from The Bird With the Crystal Plumage)"
Ennio Morricone, "Forza G (Quella Donna) (from Forza G)"
Ennio Morricone, "Astrazione Con Ritmo (from Il Serpente)"
Ennio Morricone, "Ric Happening (from Metti Una Sera A Cena)"
As I mentioned in the last post, Ennio Morricone was possibly the most prolific composer for films ever. Having scored more than 500 films, he has quite a catalog and lots of compilations dedicated to his music. Unfortunately, many of them cover the same ground, highlighting his early work on the spaghetti westerns or his later work on famous films by Coppola, Scorcese and Tarantino.
This CD, Crime and Dissonance, attempts to remedy that by highlighting some of the experimental pieces that Morricone produced during his career, especially on lesser-known Italian films of the 1970s. It's an impressive project, lovingly put together by Mike Patton and his label, Ipecac Records. John Zorn, one of my all-time favorites and our next music upload, does the liner notes (they are very brief, which was disappointing). Alan Bishop of Sun City Girls fame compiled the music. The booklet features beautiful stills from the various represented on the two discs.
As you can tell, this is the work of some of the biggest names in the avant garde, conjuring up images of noise and weirdness. It never gets that far out, although it is clear that Morricone was willing to try any instrument or sound to achieve the right music for a particular scene. The music, again, holds up incredibly well outside of the context of the movies, elevating Morricone to the status of composer, not just a film composer. I prefer the more famous works done for the westerns, posted up yesterday, but would recommend this CD for anyone interested in getting a broader perspective on Morricone or fans of experimental music.
-The films represented on these CDs are just the type that the International House's film series would show in Philadelphia. Sam Adams has an article in this week's Philadelphia City Paper on the change at the top there and the struggle to have a film repertory series in Philly. It was an eye-opener, as I really didn't know much about this program and have always complained at the lack of film options in this city. Now that we know, we're going to show lots of love.
It was a rare, hangover-free Sunday, and your bol is really grindin' right now. So, I figured why not make another post, and try to start making one random one and one theme-oriented one per day. Will I live up to this schedule? No. But, hopefully I can come close, which will allow me to put up more music from the present and past.
Big news hopefully for Pound for Pound this week, definitely lots to come in the near future. Start linking to me now, get in on the ground floor, as this shit is gonna get real serious.
-While I am hangover-free, that does mean that I didn't go out. I made it to Making Time Friday night and the Pop-off Shack Saturday night. Making Time was excellent, although my attempts to take advantage of the PBR and Sparks open bar from 9-11 put my stomach on edge. Hot Chip played a half-hour or so set around midnight, and absolutely killed it. It was everything that I had hoped for (and not received) with the Juan MacLean show from a few weeks ago: a combination of hypnotic dance pulse and the spiky rhythms of post-punk.
After that, Dave P, Dave Pak and Mike Z kept people on the dancefloor, putting on one of the best DJ sets I have heard in a minute. What I liked most about it was its ability to put together the best of the newest dance-punk-y, house stuff with classic new wave jawns. Two specific moments stick out: first, hearing The Cure's "Boys Don't Cry" on the wonderful system with a packed dancefloor nearly brought tears to my eyes. That was nearly topped a few minutes later with a Clap Your Hands Say Yeah song that sounded so great as a dance song, so perfect.
The Pop-off Shack seems to be gathering steam, as the upstairs was crowded and people were dancing like they were trying out for a G-Unit video. Is there any better way to spend a night listening to Prince, Baltimore club and ODB? The answer is no. Each and every week people, no excuses.
-I've been slacking on the busty thoughts for your weekend, so I'm going to help you start the week out on the right note. Check out the newest issue of Esquire magazine for an article on one of the world's most beautiful women, Rosario Dawson. There is also a shrine for Rosario, if you are in that religious stuff. If so, this site should be your bible.
-Oh, for those who doubt that we're ahead of the curve with everything, that was William Burroughs' voice at the beginning and end of The Sopranos premiere, as clearly they were checking out the most gangster blog to find out what would sound right on their gangster show.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Ennio Morricone, "The Big Gundown"
Ennio Morricone, "The Ecstasy of Gold"
Ennio Morricone, "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (main title)"
Ennio Morricone, "The Theme from A Fistful of Dollars"
Ennio Morricone, "Man With a Harmonica"
During the 1960s and 1970s (1960-1975), a wave of films came out of Europe and did the Western again, but with a darkness and minimalism that the old John Wayne films would never have had the balls to do. They were ambigous movies, filled with violence and death, free of moralizing (that might be the defining aspect of all art that I love?). Because many of them were Italian productions, they became known as spaghetti westerns.
You can't talk about the spaghetti western without mentioning the triumverate that created the greatest of them all: director Sergio Leone, actor Clint Eastwood and composer Ennio Morricone. The three worked together as a unit, creating some of the greatest movies I've seen, becoming synonymous with the genre. Three of them, The Man With No Name trilogy, created this amazing world of sundrenched deserts, minimal aesthetics and steely killers. For A Few Dollars More, A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly should be required viewing for anyone who loves the gangster movies of the 30s, those paeons to the anti-hero and violence and money. Or if you like, these are the film noirs of the desert, leaving the city behind and still finding the same moral dilemmas and shadiness in the West's open spaces.
Ennio Morricone played a crucial role in all of this, creating some of the greatest music ever. These songs come off the essential Morricone compilation, A Fistful of Film Music, which covers his entire career scoring for movies. I have chosen some of my favorites, which should give a good sense of the different instruments, the eerie strings, the beautiful sounds that Morricone seemed to put together in his sleep. Go here to buy the 2-disc set used, for a lot of money. We will take a look at his music over the next few days, and I really hope people take a listen to all of it.
-The best resources for more info on the genre is A Fistful of Westerns. Also make sure to check out these two detailed pieces that trace the history and most important films in the canon.
-Next up are some of Morricone's avant garde compositions.
Movies are a tough one for a week dedicated to nerds, as everyone watches movies. It's like the one guaranteed currency, no matter where you are trying to start up a conversation. However, I think that movie nerd-dom does exist, and may be the most off-putting of all nerdtriccities. You've met the type. The person who refers to the "cinema," who calls movies "films," who disdains Hollywood movies, thinks independent films have sold out, and generally seems to only like the obscure and difficult. They are shocked that people don't know about Eisenstein, Cassavetes and Brakhage, enraged at the concept of Big Mama's House. Their viewing seems to be guided by some sort of syllabus from a college course most of us dropped out of in the first few weeks.
I am here to say that I am one of these people. Well, not really, but I am here to defend them. Don't shun these people, don't beat them up, don't hate them for their snobbishness. Embrace them, as they do have passion for movies and can lead you to some amazing ones that far too few people get to experience.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
I don't think it's coincidence that this hilarious article about the best mustaches in sports history came out today (Adam Morrison's is gully). Again, the media takes its cues from the life of Pound for Pound, as I am at this very moment growing a beard for the first time in my life.
I have decided to put this up to a vote with my dear readers, as I will only make future life decisions with the consensus of my readership. What do you think? Should I rock the full hockey player in the playoffs, rock musician in Philly, unemployed look? Or should I shave it off and return to my Pretty Boy origins?
-Popoff Shack tonight. Metro Lounge. Front and Fairmount. Philadelphia. See you there.
William S. Burroughs, "We See The Future Through Binoculars Of The People"
William S. Burroughs, "Just Checking Your Summer Recordings"
William S. Burroughs, "Creepy Letter, Cut-Up at the Beat Hotel in Paris"
Okay, I lied. One more book-related post, but this is a special one. Simon Reynolds' new book, Rip It Up and Start Again, has just been released in the United States, a cause for celebration. Reynolds has been a writer that I have always admired and searched out, since coming across his writing in the British magazine Wire in the early 90s during my avant-garde period. He was the first writer I encountered, and really the first person I had ever heard, talking about indie music, post-punk, British pop, jungle. All of these wonderful musics that were completely foreign to a kid growing up in Philly, listening to rap and jazz and alternative music. Not only that, he wrote with such brilliance, wit and passion that I had to read him. Even when I disagreed with him, which I often do in terms of rap music.
This newest book chronicles the post-punk scene that grew up in the late 70s and early 80s in the UK and US. Having been a reader of his blog, blissout, for years now, I am excited to see what Reynolds has to say about this music that he clearly loves. It's a music that I did not live through, but that I have found my way to through various routes. I can't wait to hear the stories about that time from someone who didn't just live through it, but was both a fan and critic of it. I am thinking that I am going to spend a week or so putting up songs from this post-punk, no-wave time next week or the week after. I will try to read the book in the meantime, as it has vaulted its way to the top of the stack. You can pick it up here.
-Check out an archive of some of his old writings on dance music, the stuff that originally got me into his writing.
-NYC people, head to Nublu and celebrate the book release with the man himself. More importantly, you can check out Kudu, who are playing at 1 AM, their last show before heading out on a national tour. Or even better, trace my footsteps from Tuesday night.
-A quick word on the above tracks. These come off the fourth disc of the the William Burroughs boxed set, which catalogues all of his tape experiments from over the years. Since I mentioned them in my last post, it seemed like a good idea to show just want sort of tape experiments and cut-up stuff he recorded. Buy the boxed set here.
-For anyone looking for more good non-fiction recommendations, there is an amazing resource at the TPM Cafe. They have had a TPMCafe Book Club running for awhile now, highlighting one book every few weeks, inviting the author and various intellectuals from that field to discuss the book and its implications. Straight nerd stuff, and a good way to jump back into that college recitation vibe you know you miss. This week is a good one, as the discussion centers around Gershom Gorenberg's The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements 1967-1977, a history of the settlement movement in Israel.
-We'll be getting into movies this weekend, as we continue on the Pure Dork road. That means lots of foreign film talk and un-self-conscious talk about film noir and Mean Streets and spaghetti westerns. Yeah! Get down with it!
Thursday, March 09, 2006
William S. Burroughs, readings from Naked Lunch
"I Can Feel The Heat Closing In"
"Meeting of International Conference of Technological Psychiatry"
"In Mexico The Gimmick Is To Find A Local Junkie With A Government Script"
"The Laboratory has Been Locked For Three Hours Solid"
"Dr. Benway Is Operating In An Auditorium Filled With Students"
"Fats Terminal Has Organized A Purple Ass Stick For Purple Motorcyclists"
"Hassan Is A Notorious Liquifactionist"
Before we close out the reading portion of Pure Dork Week, I wanted to take a look at the writing of William S. Burroughs, a close friend of Allen Ginsberg and a fellow member of the Beat Movement. However, like most classifications, it holds little weight. Burroughs and Ginsberg have little in common artistically, imo, but because they were in SF during the 50s and experimented with drugs and sexuality and were white males, put'em together, I guess. Like the Grateful Dead being lumped in with the hippie bands a decade later, the need for labels have eradicated the distinctness and radicalness of these writers.
Burroughs, in particular, seems a writer far out of league with Kerouac, Ferlinghetti and Corso, more prone to science fiction and experiments with narrative than this movement would have ever conceived of. Burroughs was not on a spiritual quest for enlightenment, far more in tune with the dark forces that lead to his junk habit and hustling.
You may wonder what connection Burroughs has to a blog that is ostensibly about hip hop music that honors women's booties. Well, Burroughs experimented with the notion of cut-ups in his writing, most famously in Naked Lunch, wherein he would write a page of prose, cut it into pieces, then rearrange randomly. Along with Bryon Grisin, Burroughs emphasized the power of the recombinant. It should remind you of a pivotal figure in hip-hop and dance music, the DJ who brings together various sounds and genres of music and creates a total piece. I know that Burroughs was working with words, and therefore it is natural to always highlight his heirs as Bowie and Throbbing Gristle. But, his heirs may also be people like DJ Spooky (named for a character in one of WSB's novels), Christian Marclay, dj/ rupture and anyone else who uses the turntable to remix and recombine musics.
-I came across a great Rolling Stone article from 1974 with a conversation between Burroughs and David Bowie, one of the most vocal proponents of WSB's cut-up technique. Can't imagine Burroughs in glam makeup and outfit. Actually, strike that, I think I can. [via themazz]
-The New York Public Library just purchased Burroughs' archive, an amazing addition to one of the greatest libraries in the world. [via LitKicks]
-We'll be moving onto the next nerd subject tomorrow, you'll have to tune in to find out what exactly that is. It was nice hearing some more book recommendations from readers, hope that some other people can let us know what they are working on now or what they consider essential reading. I'm working my way through Leaving Katya now, Philip Greenberg's novel about Russia and love and adulthood. Really good, hope I actually can make it through it this time without having to start over.