Thursday, September 30, 2004

Big Up Yourself - Dot Allison (Woman Love to Dub)

Today sees yet another new feature of MMM being introduced. The name, highly unoriginal but fun to say, "Big Up Yourself," will be a regular segment where I will get on the cyber soapbox and tell everyone why a certain artist or group deserves some respect.

I am starting the segment with an old standard of mine that my closest friends will probably not be surprised by - Scottish indie chanteuse Dot Allison. Ms. Allison has a serious sensible musical resume. She made her debut as the singer of the blissed out One Dove, whose one album, 1993's Morning Dove White, is a sexy hunk of understated ethereal dub pop produced by Andrew Weatheall (who certainly deserves his own BUY for his work producing Primal Scream, his own bands Sabres of Paradise and Two Lone Swordsmen, and for being a badass, tattooed DJ).

Since the breakup of One Dove, Dot has released two excellent albums, 1999's Afterglow and 2002's We are Science. Afterglow, as the name might suggest, is a fairly logical progression from her work with One Dove - a bit of an end of the night album that has moments of lush orchestration, and of course, a bit of dub. Some serious collaborators on Afterglow, like Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine (and now in Primal Scream), Mani the bassist from the Stone Roses and Primal Scream, and the guys from Death in Vegas - Richard Fearless (her then boyfriend) and Tim Holmes. We are Science is quite a bit edgier, with a very cool electro sound mixed with hints straight up rock("Strung Out" is a seriously underrated indie-rock tune). WAS also has studs involved in the process, as much of it was produced by Keith Tenniswood (the other half of Two Lone Swordsmen with Weatherall), and collaborations from Weatherall and Death in Vegas.

Dot has also done a bunch of guest vocals with Death in Vegas, and Slam (fellow Scots and techno badasses). Over the last year or so, she has been the touring female vocalist with Massive Attack, and apparently will be singing on their next album.

I recently read she is the current squeeze of former Libertine Pete Doherty. Absolutely tragic on a variety of levels: a) How sad that her and Richard Fearless, one of my favorite couples, have broken up, b) Pete Doherty is a junkie idiot who I am tired of reading about in music news, and c) If she had to break up with Richard, how was I not picked as his replacement?

Essential Dot Allison tunes: "Fallen" by One Dove, "Strung Out" by Dot Allison, "Dirge" by Death in Vegas, and "Visions" by Slam (Ewan Pearson Remix)

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

A Couple Choons

I have recently gotten my hands on a few songs worth noting:

Kelis - "Milkshake" (X-Press 2 mix): Everyone knows the original. X-Press 2 are longstanding studs of house ("Lazy" with David Byrne is simply a perfect house pop song), with occassional forays into main room techno ("Smoke Machine"). This reworking of Kelis' track is definately more techno than house, but is not as far removed from the original as you might think. In fact, by beefing up the track on the rhytm side but not doing too much work on the melody makes you realize how tech-ed out the original version of "Milkshake" actually is. This version bangs but doesn't go too far over the top with breakdowns and explosions and could serve as a good building track in a set.

Barry Adamson & Jarvis Cocker - "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Pelvis": If I was going to form a super group, JC, the leader singer and all around brains and body of Pulp, would be my pick for the singer. Frontmen like Mr. Cocker should be taken very seriously indeed, so it is not a surprise that other bands and artists have recruited the man to work on their stuff. I found this song recently on a recent Soulseek binge. The song is from 1996, just after Different Class came out. It's quite a catchy number; it sounds like a Primal Scream song from the early 90s, with a stompin poppy acid house beat, like "Rocks," a chorus background, and some ® Cocker crooning ("I enter a room and all the girls say"C'mon Jarv, can I be the first?") Classic...

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

This ain't Crunch! The HQ Plaza Gym Song Generator

Now that I am working in Morristown, NJ, I needed to join a local gym for the occassional muscle shaking session on an elliptical. My office is located in a complex that is straight out of the 1980s. There is a gym here in Headquarters Plaza, but it is a far cry from my old gym, a hipster Crunch on 13th Street. The gym has amenities, such as a pool and a sauna, and is by no means a bad gym, but it really reflects the 80s ethos of HQ Plaza.

What may be most dated about my gym and most indicative of how it clearly targets a clientele of 40something suburban corporate types is the music they pump into the gym. The soundtrack is pure classic rock. Some good songs, some questionable, but none of them have the requisite BPM (beats per minute) to keep a workout going.

In honor of the HQ Plaza Gym's mid-life crisis melodies, I introduce the newest feature on MMM - the HQ Plaza Gym Song Generator. After each workout, one of the cuts will be posted.

The HQPGSG begins with an 80s classic - ZZ Top's "Sharp Dressed Man." ZZ Top are clearly legit classic rock, even slated to make an guest appearance on the new Queens of the Stone Age album, but a textbook example of what people in NJ work out to.

Stay tuned for more examples...

Monday, September 27, 2004

Shaun of the Dead

This weekend, when I was not fasting or eating kielbasa at the Bohemian Beer Garden in Astoria (that sounds a bit inconsistent - eating sausage when not observing Jewish customs), I saw the excellent Zombie/British cultural satire Shaun of the Dead.

Based on the commercials, the film definately had some potential - a lighthearted spoof of Zombie movies, which in light of the myriad undead films of late (28 Days Later and the remake of Dawn of the Dead), could be very entertaining. What made this a cut above was how well it used this format for a humorous yet not too obvious mockery of contemporary culture - how essentially living in a service based economy society, where everone around you wears salesman nametags, isn't that far off from a world of Zombies. That is obviously not a completely novel idea to present, but the specific jokes that are made along the way to support that premise are original enough to make it very entertaining.

Perhaps what made the film hit home for me was how damn English it was. As a recent resident of Oxford last fall, I am always up for good British humor and Shaun had a healthy dose - plenty of pub culture, waiting in queues, and references to the Stone Roses critical flop, Second Coming. From the moment the opening shot started with The Specials' "Ghost Town," I knew this film could not fail.

Extra points for two members of The Office crew, Lucy Davis and Martin Freeman, making an appearance in the film. The Office is one of the funniest TV shows of the moment - an English Curb Your Enthusiasm set in an office in Slough, a podunk English city.


Friday, September 24, 2004

This Could Be My Moment

For anyone who is a (The) Verve fan out there, they are releasing a greatest hits collection, at least in the UK, on November 1, called This is Music: The Singles 92-98. Hopefully it won't be released here ages after that. The tracklisting is what you would expect - all the big singles, but unfortunately, no Star Sail, which is one of their best. The most interesting thing is two tracks from the Urban Hymns recording sessions, "Monte Carlo" and "This Could Be My Moment." I heard a rough demo of "Monte Carlo" and it definately had potential - very ambient and groovy, like some of the stuff at the end of A Notherern Soul and my other favorite Verve track not on the compilation, "Catching the Butterfly." I guess the easiest way to make a greatest hits package and one that will sell the most copies to the middle of the roaders who didn't buy the albums on their initial release but really liked "Lucky Man" when they heard it on the radio, is to just put the singles out and then leave yourself no discretion.

In the ideal world, and I think I have said something to this effect before, the best way to celebrate the release of this collection would be a one-off show at the Bowery Ballroom. I am not saying that they would be able to pull it together and have a really legitimate reunion years after the fact (though they did break up between A Nothern Soul and their most successful album, Urban Hymns, of a couple years), but I would like to have seen them once with their moody yet brilliant guitarist Nick McCabe.

Here is a tracklisting:


http://www.nme.com/news/109858.htm


Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Charly says...your anger is a gift

Recently, while scouring my favorite P2P file sharing program for music that is arguably legally downloadable because of the fair use doctrine, I found two albums from my past that were in need of a definite rediscovery: The Prodigy Experience and Rage Against the Machine. Both of these albums came out in 1992, and while they are quite different musically, there is an underlying ethos that is very similar. Both are unrelenting, musical punches in the stomach (in the good way).

TPE is a straight up rave album that fires all kinds of bells and whistles at you (and when I say bells and whistles, I literally mean those ravey sounds like cash register machines and actual whistles and all that) over nasty breakbeats that seem to creep in between techno and drum n bass. I got in the mood to hear this album again this summer when I saw Laurent Garnier (appropriately) play "Out of Space" at Club Space in Ibiza. Hints of dub, house keyboard hooks and hip hop on amphetamines (though that may just be the d n b) are sprinkled throughout the album. This is hardcore...

Unlike TPE, which I discovered well after the fact, RATM I got into right when it came out. The resulting difference is that you look at the music with a whole thicker coating of nostalgia when you hear if you saw it in context - of course the boys from Rage don't seem to be that into nostalgia. As much as I love Rage, and have the scars to prove it from shows such as when they toured with Wu Tang, or when they played at the Roseland Ballroom and the crowd moshed with the lights on, I hate them as well, as they are perhaps the band most responsible for what happened to rock music over the last five years. How else can one explain the Fred Durst phenomenon? At any rate, for the 5 of you that don't have a cassette of RATM buried somewhere, its best desribed as highly politicized rock, with the nastiest guitar licks since Jimmy Page and some simple yet servicable rhymes.

Some music would be brilliant and timeless, no matter when it was released (IMO Siamese Dream and OK Computer are good examples). RATM could have been made at any time and doesn't sound tied to when it was released. The only thing that dates the music is how it was an essential piece in a certain direction that music went in.

Other great music is very tied to a time and place, whether for aesthetic reasons or social reasons. The manacing, high energy raving lunacy of The Prodigy Experience is pure 1992 - both in terms of the specific sounds used and in terms of the ethos driving the music.


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Black Rebels and Strippers

I read recently on NME that drummer Nick Jago has left Black Rebel Motorcycle Club after a spat with Peter Hayes the guitarist. All I can say is thank Yahweh! I really like the BRMC and think they have a lot of great songs, but every time I have seen them with Jago and when I listen to them, all I can hear is his completely crap drumming skills. Not much rhythm, not many chops, and clumsy fills. From what I have been told by girls, he is the dreamy guy in the band (untalented drummers don't seem so dreamy to me) and perhaps they will lose a few of the girls in the front of their shows because of his departure, but that is fine by me. When he was having visa problems a while back, Pete Salisbury, formerly of (The) Verve, filled in and it made a big difference having someone that badass hitting the pagan skins for them. He would make a great permanent replacement, unless (The) Verve come to their collective senses, realize that they are the ultimate example of the sum of the parts being far greater and all that, and make another stab.

I need to moan about one thing quickly...I went to a friend's bachelor party this weekend. I am sure it is not difficult to figure out where we ended up after the groom to be was properly liquored up. I am not too big on adult cabarets and that whole thing, but what really irked me about the experience this weekend is how the music is such crap at strip clubs. What happened to the days when live jazz bands played for the girls and Lenny Bruce honed his skills between dancers? I didn't bother buying any lap dances that night except for one for the bachelor (though it was his third in a row with the same girl, which can be attributed to the girl being shrewd enough to not leave and my friend being too inebriated to notice) but if you put some Goldfrapp or Pulp's "This is Hardcore" (the anonymous person who posted their own rider deserves credit for that song as a stripping soundtrack), I would be dishing out the sawbucks. The question is whether the Lower East Side could economically sustain a Suicide Girls-type sensible adult club where both the clientele and the dancers are, you know, bloggers and fans of DFA Records types?

Friday, September 17, 2004

What's on your Rider?

Admit it, at some point you have fantasized about what has to be one of the best perks of being in a touring band that has just enough negotiating leverage to pull off the coup of getting the concert promoter to pay for your party supplies - the rider.
So today, I thought I would put a few of the things that I would have on my rider if I was in a band, or just a solo artist with a bunch of friends hanging out backstage.

1 6 Pack of Heineken

1 6 Pack of Red Stripe
1 6 Pack of Newcastle Brown Ale
2 Liters Ketel One vodka
1 Bottle of Kahlua
1 Case of Red Bull
1 Gallon of OJ (no pulp)
1 Gallon of cranberry juice
1 Liter of 1% milk
3 1.5 Liter bottles of Iceland Spring water
3 1.5 Liter bottles of 365 Whole Foods spring water
40 White bath size towels
(If in UK) 6 Toffee Crisp bars
(If in USA) 6 Skor bars
(If in UK) 5 containers of Walkers bacon flavoured crisps
(If in UK) 5 containers of Walkers prawn flavoured crisps
1 Bag of Baked Doritos - nacho cheese
2 Packet of Rizlas - extra thin
1 Packet of Golden Virginia rolling tobacco

If I am on my third album or later, perhaps a smoothie machine and a bunch of fruit and protein boosts, but I think earlier in my career I would be less interested in such healthy foods, though if the city has a Jamba Juice, perhaps I would add a Razzamatazz to the rider.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Ready to Die While Ready to Put on the Donut

Yesterday morning, while driving to work in Morristown from NYC, my rear drivers' side tire exploded on I-78. Not the best way to start the day, but now that I am an NJ resident that lives and dies by the car, these events are just something you have to deal with.

The NJ turnpike authority, who AAA was sending out to put the donut on my car (it was not the safest place in the world to change a tire - better to bring in someone with cones and a florescent vest), said they would take 30 minutes to come and rescue me.

While waiting, I put on my new copy of the just released, remastered Notorious BIG's Ready to Die. My first thought was "why am I supporting Bad Boy and giving money to Diddy?" but for 10 bucks at Best Buy, it was certainly good value - hopefully Mrs. Wallace will receive the bulk of the royalties.

Now I am a fan of rap but there are definitely holes in my knowledge and my collection. Biggie was always an artist I appreciated the singles of and a roommate of mine in college had gotten Life After Death, which I thought was pretty good - especially that ridiculous R Kelly "F%^& You Tonight." The singles on Ready to Die I liked too, but I didn't know the album. A first listen to it while stuck on the highway in the morning, overlooking Jersey City, definitely worked. There isn't much I can say that hasn't yet, except that it is a baddasss record and it's obvious why Biggie is considered a GOAT (greatest of all time) - he has good lines, good stories, articulates them well enough to understand his lyrics, and has some serious charisma because he has such a unique personality in the often monotonous world of rappers.

One thought...is "Big Poppa" for Ready to Die what "Bob's Yer Uncle" was for the Happy Mondays' Pills, Thrills and Bellyaches? "Bob's Yer Uncle" (which is actually british slang for saying bingo, essentially) was the mellow track that producer Paul Oakenfold (can't call him Jokenfold when talking about his work with the Mondays) told the band to put on the album for the ladies. "Big Poppa" stands out as a real Puffy song - its the most pop song on the album and it is very muted in its misogyny, compared to the other songs on the album that are about girls instead of guns. Think Puffy told Biggie to put it on to satisfy of those ladies that should be having my baby, baby?

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

M83/Ulrich Schnauss at the Bowery Ballroom

Last night's show at the Bowery perhaps should have been called "the electronic spawn of shoegazing," as the spirits of bands like My Bloody Valentine and Rise were clearly channeled by M83 and Ulrich Schnauss.

While I dig both of them, Schnauss was the act I was most excited about going into the show as I have both records of his and absolutely love them, whereas I only have heard M83 a few times. Schnauss is a German solo artist, who has the look and feel of a conservatory student that traded his piano for a synthesizer and a laptop. He opened the night on a table with his keyboard, his laptop and a few other pieces of obscure equipment that make beeps and squelches (although they may have just been a few pedals). He played nothing from his first record, the sublime Far Away Trains Passing By, instead focusing on the new album, the slightly more rock and beat driven A Strangely Isolated Place, and a few other new tracks. The sound is pretty straight-forward - he sets a beat and a lead melody on the laptop, and then pounds out the rhythm lines on his keyboard with some serious keyboard playing. When seeing an electronic show, the general feeling is usually "these guys twiddle some serious knobs," not "this guy is a serious musician," but with Ulrich, there is legitimate musical talent.

Excellent stuff - hypnotic but not sleep inducing, his music is the sort of stuff you can listen to when you need something downtempo, but at the same time has just enough rhythm for dancing. One high point was"On My Own," which is the perfect example of his music's somewhere in between serene and clubby, as the track was on Sasha's newest mix CD. Also really dug "A Letter From Home" - another really pretty track.

After the show, I saw an attractive blond chatting Ulrich up - on the way down all I heard was Ulrich say "no, I am not British, I am German, but the next band is French." On the way back up the stairs, I hear her say "hey, my name is Donna," to which Ulrich responded "I am Ulrich."

Next came M83, a French band with a very un-french on stage look. While their music is walls of shoegazing sound with a 1 part dreamyness and 3 parts edginess that sound very synthesized on the record Dead Cities, Red Seas, and Lost Ghosts, but live it was a 4 piece rock band with a lot of pre-recorded music. They akwardly danced and the guitarist in the center took off his shoes early on to reveal his white athletic socks. I definately enjoyed the music but can understand some of my friends' criticism that it should not have been a band as it appeared too canned. The best, most enveloping moments were at the end - "Run Into Flowers," "Noise" (played during the encore), and another track right after "Run Into Flowers."

All in all, a quality night at the Bowery - 2 very good acts, in particular Ulrich Schnauss, bringing some serious no vocal, shoegazing rock, er, electronic, er...music.

More later on my harrowing morning and how Biggie saved me...

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Including but not limited to...

I don't read nearly enough blogs to be prepared to become a blogger. I have a good friend who blogs about music and a law professor who seemed to live by the blog, but that is probably not sufficient to be ready to blog. But as one to face almost everything in life a touch underprepared, and because I have something due at work today, (despite having just began my professional career, I have a feeling many of my academic tendencies will find their way into my M.O.), I have decided to start my own blog - welcome to Mega Mega Mega.

As the most common currency among my friends and loved ones is music, and to a lesser extent film, those will probably be the most common things I blog about. Other things might creep in - as I have a feeling I might not follow any rules that I set up nearly as effectively as the One Louder crew has so far (check out http://onelouder.blogspot.com for a proper blog on music - they say they write about NY too but really never outside of framing what swank venue or sensible record store they have recently visited).

That should be enough of an opening statement. Blog is a wretched verb; I have only used it so far sarcastically in case you can't tell (it's hard to see the tounge in my cheek when I type) and I will try not to use it again.