Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Kick Starting A New Era

It seems that I may have the ease of opportunity to resurrect this blog. Which would be fantastic as I never really gave it a fair run to begin with.

I should give a nod to LondonJazzCollector (http://londonjazzcollector.wordpress.com) for inspiring me with his fantastic blog. Do check it out.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The White Stripes - Signed D.C. 7"

The White Stripes
Signed D.C. b/w I've Been Loving You Too Long 7"
Third Man Records (TMR 097) - 2011

"Your Turntable's Not Dead". If you've been paying attention to Third Man Records for last few years, you would
know their credo to be true. Third Man is one of the most exciting independent American record labels out today. They specialize not only in faithfully handling The White Stripes and all things Jack White, but are constantly bringing forth offerings from the fringe realms of independent music here in The States and abroad. From Dex Romweber Duo to Karen Elson, TMR is
breaking boundaries and keeping your record collection growing.

Perhaps their crowning achievement is the subscription-based "Vault" service. A service, which one pays to be a part of and is granted access to all manner of information including audio, video and news updates. The top-level of this service is, of course, a vinyl subscription. Limiting the production to that of the number of members signed up at press time, these releases are not available to the general public directly from TMR. You will have to claw your way on eBay for that.

Shipped in July, this single was included with Vault #8 for the 2nd Quarter of 2011. It features two songs that Third Man states are "some of the earliest recordings the White Stripes ever made". Both are cover versions.

Side A:
Signed D.C.
This song was described by Third Man as "haunting" and I have to agree. The original version, done by garage-psych originators Love is haunting to begin with, but Jack has a tendency to take things to another level. Even though this version is
stripped-down in true White Stripes fashion, White's performance evokes the emotion behind the lyrics while leaving the power of Arthur Lee's original performance intact and unchallenged. The performance almost has a Roky Erickson vibe to it, which I'm sure will beg some clemency.

Side B:
I've Been Loving You Too Long
Originally issued in 1965 as an A-Side by Otis Redding, this song is something of a soul standard having been recorded by the likes of The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Etta James and more recently, Seal.

You really can't top Otis Redding. Some would ask, why try. If you go into this side with that mindset, you will invariably be disappointed. The casual White Stripes fan might not like this track for it's simplicity and lack of guitar heroism. The Redding enthusiast might overlook this
altogether for it's lack of soulful wail and sheer emotion which is present in both recorded versions of Otis' original. The more dedicated White Stripes fan will love this. Jack deconstructs the song, keeping of course the lyrics and overall structure including that nice scale in the pre-chorus. Giving it his own spin thus showcases what the Stripes sound would ultimately be all about.

This is the stuff that got me into collecting and what keeps me collecting today. Two, mostly forgotten about songs from a powerhouse of a band that has reached it's zenith. If you are a fan of The White Stripes or any of Jack White's other projects, you cannot afford to miss out on Vault releases from Third Man Records. More information can be found at: Join The Vault Today!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

mc chris - mc chris is dead

mc chris
mc chris is dead

indie release - 2008

This is supposedly the final release by mc chris. Which is truly a bummer because one thing I will stand by when it comes to mc chris is that with every album, he gets progressively better in his rhyming. The production has always been solid, from the DJ John produced albums to this latest offering which was produced by Andrew Futral of The Age Of Rockets. The album has a darker tone to it, and the humanistic qualities of mc chris' writing shine throughout. Now, I'm not gonna get into the label game because this cat is truly transcendent. Call it "emo-rap" if you want, call it "nerdcore" if you must...just put it on and dance your ass off.

The vinyl release comes several months after the initial CD/Online release and loses several tracks from the original edition. The bonus here is the track "my rhymes" and of course the exclusive packaging and the fact that it is the first and only (to date) mc chris release on vinyl. I would have opted for a colored vinyl being that it is the sole piece of vinyl from mc and liner notes would have rocked. But I get the impression that this was done fairly quickly and possibly on a tight budget. That is not to say that it isn't a quality release at all, just a little lacking in the "acoutrement" department.

#1-mc chris is dead
Typically I hate when an album starts off with a "title track", but in this case there was no better way to start the record. Futral's production work is dark and menacing, reminicent of horror film score music from wayyyy back. I'm talking orchestral style, but in an updated and electronically delicious manner. The rhymes are incredibly tight in structure yet flow so evenly that it just adds to the tone of the track.

#2-older crowd
Put those Couture Nikes on and get your ass on the dance floor. The onyl reason you should stop dancing is to take inventory of yourself and see if he is talking about you in this song.

#3-pizza butt
The beginning of this song has a nice drrty south rhythm working into M.I.A. reminiscent electro-pop and the lyrics should take you right back to the songs that gained mc the attention in the first place. Hilarity.
#4-hoodie ninja
Everytime I listen to this track, I see the B-52's on stage backing him up. I just cannot shake the visual from my head. It's the surfish rhythm in the guitar I think. Futral really got original on this song.
If you are a huge mc chris fan, this skit will make you die. Inside jokes and the inevitable death of Mr. Chandler made this the highlight of all the skits for me. Zombezie, word.
The last time I saw mc chris live, this song was one of the highlights of the show. The lyrics are hysterical and the reggae vibe makes the song a potential live favorite. Great vocal cameo by Hallie Bulliet.
#7-nrrrd grrrl
The highlight of the album in any format for me. This song was originally "pre-released" on mc's myspace page with a different mix. I prefer the finished version. The beats and production are the catchiest on the album and I am surprised that this song didn't make it to radio. Not that there was a great push for it. A call to arms and some hope for all of the geeky girls who show up faithfully to every mc show, and get pushed down and ignored on their way back to their dorms. Don't count them out fellas, there's nothing hotter than a smart girl.
The thing I like about this song is that the lyrics parallel to a degree many things I expereinced in high school. Which I am sure is true for tons of people out there. Late night congregations at Denny's with the other misfits that happen to relate to you. Not one of my favorite songs out the gate when this came out, but it has become one of my favorite mc chris tracks of all time.
The second and final skit of the album. I could have done without it in exchange for one of the better songs that were on the cd/download version.
#10-my rhymes
An excellent addition to the vinyl version. This song is also available on the deluxe version or "black" version of the mc chris is dead cd.

One of my favorite records this year. I can only hope that it won't be the last we hear of from mc chris. Oh, and head to mcchris.com and check out the snobots remixes. Also check out
The Age Of Rockets.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Patti Scialfa - Play It As It Lays

Patti Scialfa
Play It As It Lays

Columbia Records - 2007

Overall, a great record. I haven't heard too much of Patti Scialfa's solo work, but I've been a fan of her voice since I was a kid. She began as a backup singer for Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band. The record is full to the brim with emotional and passionate writing, from one of the greatest female writer's out right now.

When I put this record on, it went by quickly. Not because it is necessarily a short record, but because it was so damned enjoyable. The record is also not too invasive. I was able to focus in on lines when they caught my attention, yet if I had this record on as background music it would have been just fine.

I definitely suggest a deep listening though, the woman can write a song.

#1-Looking For Elvis
This is a cool song. A journey through the youth of a young woman discovering Rock N' Roll. I love the juxtaposition of the crossroad in memphis and coming of age.

#2-Like Any Woman Would
A song that suggests pain from the past. Pain that has been learned from though. She's in love, but not sure what her lover is after. It's that uncertianty that drives so many of us crazy. Pay attention to her point of view.

#3-Town Called Heartbreak
Breakup songs can be hard to do. They can also be hard to listen to on infinite repeat unless you are a heartbroken teenage emo kid. This is an exception. Great to listen to over and over with a hopeful heart.

#4-Play Around
A bit contrived. Not my favorite on the album. Good rhyme-scheme, but the message is too simply stated. Grow up, women don't like boys, they like men.

#5-Rainy Day Man
The antithesis of the previous song. Kind of that romance-novel like man coming into play. Is that a regional thing or an age demographic thing? Do I see Fabio in the video for this song?

#6-The Word

This one didn't get stuck in my head. I had to look back over the lyrics to really remember it. Low point of the album for me, and the start of the second side.

#7-Bad For You
My favorite track on the album. The lyric, "You could've rolled me like tobacco, you could've spilled me like wine, across the lips, across the fingers, across the skin of your neighborhood, oh I could've had it bad for you and that's not good". Is it a thankful looking back? Did she have it bad for him and doesn't want to admit it? Sounds like it to me.

#8-Run, Run, Run
An ode to Shirley Muldowney, they first lady of drag-racing. Great prose here.

#9-Play It As It Lays
Listen for the B3 solo. Great song for being a title track. Excellent music.

#10-Black Ladder
Beautiful lyrics. Mysterious and gentle. This song is an excellent closer to the albums. Stripped and raw. Listen to the words.

A final note on this record. Not only is the material great and Patti's voice kicks ass, but the backing band is phenomenal. "The Whack Brothers Rhythm Section" is their moniker and they consist of no few than: Willie Weeks, Nils Lofgren, Clifford Carter and none other than "The Boss" himself, Bruce Springsteen (Scialfa's husband and Hammond B3/B4 man).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Queens Of The Stone Age - Era Vulgaris

Queens Of The Stone Age
Era Vulgaris
Interscope/Rekords Records

A complete powerhouse of a record. Probably the best I have heard all year. It seems QOTSA make every other record consistently good all the way through. Not that "R" or "Lullabies To Paralyze" weren't great records, but they didn't hold a candle to either their self titled debut or "Songs For The Deaf" and "Era Vulgaris" is no different. A complete departure from the sound of the previous album(s), this record bludgeons its way into your skull from the second you press play or drop that needle.

The reason I am just getting to writing about this (it came out on June 12th of this year), is that it was released on triple 10" vinyl on December 4th.

Now to delve into the tracks.

#1-Turnin' On The Screw

I actually said to my co-worker, "When did Joshua Homme morph into Jimmy Page?".
The rhythmic pattern of this song is so blatantly Led Zeppelin it would be contrived if it weren't coming from this band. A standout track almost immediately.
#2-Sick, Sick, Sick

Either its the mix on the CD or my high-range hearing is going to hell, but I can barely pick out Julian Casablancas on this track. I know he's on there...down in the chorus...but maybe he got...lost.
#3-I'm Designer
Keeping the flow moving. GREAT opening lyrics, "My
generation's for sale, it's a steady job. How much have ya got?".
#4-Into The Hollow
Reminds me of tracks from "Lullabies to Paralyze", given the b-sides I would've left this one off.
#5-Misfit Love

Getting back to business here. A fucking great track that should translate exceedingly well live. I believ
e it's their current opener. This song makes muted fret-string grinding cool again.
#6-Battery Acid
#7-Make It Wit Chu

If you are a heavy listener of Joshua Homme's work, you will recognize this song from the last volume of The Desert Sessions. A pretty killer song featuring Jesse "The Devil" Hughes from Eagles Of Death Metal. Did you catch QOTSA perform this on MTV with Cee-Lo and Dave Grohl? Check It Out Here.

#8-3's & 7's
This song could have been on "Songs For The Deaf". Probably my favorite on the record. The video i
s fucking killer...and NOT work friendly.
#9-Suture Up Your Future

Nice, laid back psych kind of feel. Definitely a comp-worthy track for driving through the desert. (mental
#10-River In The Road

#11-Run, Pig, Run
Joey Castillo let's you have it. Like a bore through the back of your head. I had serious doubts about him following Dave Grohl's stint with the band, but the guy earns my props for his drumming on this album. Fantastically tripped guitars here as well.
Bonus Tracks
Depending on where you bought your copy, you got one of the following:

Running Joke
Era Vulgaris

Stand out song. Should have been on the fucking record. Features Trent Reznor. I mean come the fuck on.

The Fun Machine Took A Shit And Died
Remember when they mentioned this song in the liner notes for "Lullabies To Paralyze"? Well here it is. Just try finding the ultra-rare 7" of this fucker. Go ahead, I dare ya.
White Wedding (Billy Idol)
Meh. Not a huge fan of this song. I was in a band that did it once. Fun to play.
Goin' Out West (Tom Waits)
Awesome. Should have been on the record just to expose all the Bro's to Tom Waits' material.
I'm Designer (Primal Scream Remix)
Now, anything Adrian Sherwood touches is almost automatically great. Well usually. This is a pretty decent remix of a great album track.

I truly believe this band is one of the few saving the Hard Rock sound. I don't typically talk like a hippie, but seriously folks. There aren't a lot of inspiring Hard Rock bands out there anymore. If you have the chance to hear their first album "Queens Of The Stone Age", do yourself a favor and check it out. It's different from this, but equally as rockin'.