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 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).