Thursday, February 24, 2005

Choon of the Week: Jay-Z "Threat"

Jay-Z inspires strong feelings: most I know love him yet a few of my friends who are hip-hop stalwarts think he is a cocky punk (which, of course he is). "99 Problems" was the clear choice off of The Black Album and was one of my favorite tracks of last year. However, I need to be so sin-ser - "Threat" has been getting increased spins as of late.

In broad strokes, "Threat" has plenty of ace qualities: a sense of humor, a sly self-confidence (bravado if you will), and a slick piano/strings hook. Cedric the Entertainer provides the over the top colloquy about making threats that opens the track and segues between the verses - jeez, this stuff is up there with the Wu-Tang intro to "Method Man" in terms of tough guy hyperbole (but you know I love it)! Mr. Z, in sharp contrast to imminently combusting Ced, delivers his threats with such relaxed sharpness, the evil words just sneak up on you. You can check all of the lyrics for the song here, but can you beat lines like:

a) "It's a match made in heaven when I [blaow] 'splay the 7/Put you on the nigga news, UPN at (according to the lyric link, though it sounds like 'and' to me) 11"

b) "I will kill you, commit suicide, and kill you again"

Now that's just hard-core...but at least Hova's delivering it.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Back in the Day...

On Saturday afternoon, I attended a panel at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts called "Back in the Day...'Til Now: Disco's Lasting Legacy" - it was supposed to be a panel about the history and impact of Disco. Right now, at the NYPL for Performing Arts, there is an exhibit going on called Disco: A Decade of Saturday Nights - it is most worth a visit. The usual suspects also attended (Peephole, .5 of One Louder, SoF and others that do not have a blog handle, which makes them less lame than us).

The panel included the following luminaries of the Disco era:

Mel Cheren: financial backer of the Paradise Garage (home to Larry Levan) and the head of West End Records.

Carmen D'Alessio: "public relations goddess" who was (probably in her own words) "the architect of Studio 54" as she put together the guest lists for the club.

Michael Fesco: a Broadway actor and the man behind Flamingo - a notorious club from the early part of the disco era.

Kervyn Mark: a local DJ that made a documentary about the club music scene of NYC called Maestro

Nicky Siano: he started The Gallery, one of the OGs of disco clubs, started in 1972. According to his bio, both Frankie Knuckles and Larry Levan worked at The Gallery. He was the first DJ to produce a record ("Kiss Me Again"). He recently put out a mix called The Gallery that One Louder digs.

Chi Chi Valenti: Not sure what her deal was, but she just came across like a scenester that has been around since the beginning. She looks like a drag-queen (and that name seems to suggest she is one) but apparently she is not as she is married to DJ Johnny Dynell (no idea who he is).

What was great about the panel and the exhibit is the respect shown to the Disco movement; it clearly has been a signifcant part of nightlife culture and music, and a historical perspective of this sort is deserved, the same way libraries and museums celebrate earlier eras in music (like musical theater, classical, jazz, etc.)

Parts of this panel were great. Amusing anecdotes about pigs in cages at parties at Flamingo and Madonna's super unsuccessful debut at the Paradise Garage were the highlights of the event. The panelists lost me (and presumbly anyone who was attending the panel that was not old enough to have actually gone to the Paradise Garage) when they were given the opportunity to express opinions rather than telling stories. The attitude of Cheren was that good music and any semblance of melody died with disco and all club music today is nothing more than "boom boom boom" (it should be noted that his label has released remixes of tracks by major boom boomer Danny Tenaglia, as well as a mix CD by "Little Louie" Vega and Kenny "Dope Gonzalez"). Siano (and Cheren) talked about how there is no talent in playing 8 minute instrumentals, as opposed to the skill possessed by disco DJs that were playing 3.5 minute vocal tracks. There were many of these old fogey attitudes being espoused throughout. Very little credit was given to the offspring of disco (Chicago House, Detroit Techno, etc.). Clubs today don't care about the punters as they are owned by "beancounters and lawyers," hence the fact that most places are bottle services clubs. I hate a bottle service place as much as anyone else, but realistically, it's hard to give free food out to your guests when you consider how much more rent would be for a club today than it was in the early 1970s.

I understand that current house may not be for everyone (much of it isn't for me), and other attitudes of this sort. However, I can't get my head around the ironic fact that this movement which was formed around an extremely open minded ethos is now represented by a bunch of old curmudgeons. These guys need to hear 2manydjs and tell me there is no talent in that, or need to tell me there is no melody in Underworld's "Jumbo." Point being, it's true that the kick drum (the boom boom boom) has become far more omnipresent in dance music in the last 15 years, but to dismiss all modern music on something like that is straight up elitist and living in the past. Even my dad - a historian of musical theater - digs Radiohead (and drove to see them in 2003 in Camden, New Jersey, where he pumped his fist as they played "Nice Dream" for the first time in eons).

Karl Hyde is a Stylus reader

A quick note - checked out the Underworldlive daily photo/diary entry. Each day, there is a link to something that presumably Karl finds interesting. Today, he put a link to a Stylus review of Max de Wardener. Also learned that he just took in the Joseph Beuys exhibit at the Tate. Finally, and most importantly to UW fans, "r (Rick Smith) burns the oil of many mid nights (sic) mixing&writing" - this should be a good sign for fans, but this has been going on for a while. My personal hope is that they get something out by summer time and hit the festival circuit.

Advice to R and K: I hear Benicassim, Spain is lovely in early August.

We have the day off of work thanks to the holiday but I actually have to be productive so this may or many not be all I have to say today.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Would you buy Second Toughest in the Infants for your 6 year old?

Sometimes you can't beat a well written fan review on Amazon - check out this write up of STITI (it's the fifth review down the page) but the complete text is as follows:

Misleading title but a few nice bits, November 26, 1998Reviewer: A music fan

The title led me to believe that it would be good for sending 6 year old (enrolled as a senior infant in St. Matthew's primary school in Raheny) to sleep each night. I thought it might help him grow up into somebody assertive and confident but I find really it a bit too noisy. It's all beats and electronic sounds that give me a headache. There's a nice bit I like though at the beginning of one piece called "Pearl's Girl" but it only lasts a few seconds before some rhythmic thud begins. I don't recommend it for parents like myself. It's not really for your children as the title led me to believe. I think I made a mistake. It must some really alternative music for other people.

So this person was inspired by the name "Second Toughest in the Infants"? He (or she) wanted to make a toughie out of their 6 year old?!? No this album probably wasn't written as a self-help guide for confidence lacking children - perhaps it needs a parental advisory. I am mainly curious how this person stumbled upon this record - it rarely shows up in the children's music section. And how could someone classify the whipcrackin' breakbeat of "Pearl's Girl" as a "rhythmic thud?"

Thanks to bryantm3 on the Dirty Forums for posting it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Choon of the Week: Orbital "Impact (The Earth is Burning)"

I never danced in a field in Hampshire until 1999. By then, all night raves were sponsored by Ericcson, which takes some of the je ne sais quoi out of it. But one of my most fatalist beliefs is that we don't come into contact with music and love it until we are ready for it, and I was not ready for all things electronic until about my sophmore year in college (1997-1998).

My most romantic side is the one that fantasizes about hearing great music within the context it was originally written. The rebellious energy of early rave/acid house/whatever you want to call it will clearly be a bit muted when you are listening to it at your desk at work, but a boy can't help but dream of driving around the M25 (where Orbital got it's name) waiting for a call on a massive mobile phone to find out where the underground party is going to be, and that dream for me arrives when I listen to Orbital's "Impact (The Earth is Burning)"

The song is off of the Brown Album (Orbital 2), which came out in 1993. It's a completely epic track clocking in ten and a half minutes and it should be noted that when Orbital released their greatest hits compilation, Work 1989-2002, vitrually every other song was edited down to a three minute version, but "Impact..." was left completely in tact.

"Impact..." starts off with a factory plant sounding breakbeat drenched in acid (808, not LSD) but quickly devolves into a battle of the synth lines. First, a bubbling acid line that serves the role of a bassline throughout the song. Then everything stops for the main riff - as majestic and dramatic an acid house melody as you can find. I know this sounds like completely hyperbolic, but check it out and tell me if I have completely lost the plot. Attached to the main riff like a siamese twin is the synthetic bagpipe line - like two attention-starved kids flailing their arms, but in a very appealing way. Both are great, completely distinct from each other but co-existing to the point of co-dependency (maybe not - I am sure one could make a very effective remix using just one of the lines). From there, the song undulates in and out of these main melodies (and a few others), before building to the crescendo of the song - one of those dramatic vocal samples from an obscure old movie or TV show ("it's a cry for survival!") delivered as the rhythm keeps building into states of pure serotonin-soaked bliss.

Now I am looking out over the panoramic view of New Jersey from my office window (trust me, it's actually very pretty) wishing I was freaky dancing instead of drafting memos, but you can't go mad for it on a Wednesday morning (sorry this COTW is two days late), and at least I have "Impact..." to color my impression of what freaky dancing in the proper context would have been like.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Westminster Dog Show

The Westminster Dog Show is on this week at MSG and it is hot! MSG was sold out last night for the first time ever for the show (you can insert your own joke about Oasis selling out the garden).

By far the most exciting dogs in the bunch is this breed - several of them were seen lining up outside the bathoom to do some charlie while discussing whether the balearic sound has withstood the test of time.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Icelandic Soccer Drunks and Quentin Getting Tingles

Two bits of interesting news today worth mentioning:

I love Iceland and I love soccer/football. I am an Arsenal fan, so I definitely don't love Chelsea (though guys like John Terry are hard to knock). Therefore, I am torn about Eidur Gudjohnsen - the star of Iceland soccer that plays for Chelsea. At about 5am on Sunday morning, Eidur got pulled over on the A3 and was arrested for (I love this) "drink driving" - I love England and all the quirky ways they say things, but some are just too quirky without any underlying logic. How can you call it drink driving? If Chelsea was not kicking the stuffing out of every football club in sight, this incident, coupled with their former Romanian international Mutu testing positive for co-co-co-co-co-cocaine, things would look bad for them. This isn't a PR person's wet dream, but it's a lot easier to overlook it with them well ahead of the rest of the English Premier League. Here's hoping Arsenal beats up on Bayern Munchen next week in the Champions League (the preeminent soccer event in Europe - a tournament between the top European club teams that takes place during the regular season).

A quick note on Arsenal - when I started writing this update, they were tied with Crystal Palace 30 minutes into the game - now, at the 40 minute mark, they are up 3 to nil. Nice one boys!

Second, NME reports a whole bunch of Wu activity going on in 2005. As an homage to Dirt McGirt, the Wu has reunited to sing "I Go Through Life" on the upcoming ODB solo album that is coming out in March. Notable in this article is RZA's description of playing the song for one half of ultra-violence machine Q & U:

According to the rapper, the "very emotional" track has caught the attention of some very high profile celebrities too. He said: "I played it to Quentin (Tarantino) two weeks ago, he was in the studio, and he went, 'Man!' He caught tingles up his spine."
"I played it to him again, at the same location, and he caught the same tingles!" he added. "He had a lot of friends here, and they were all feeling the vibe. Some people are saying that
Method Man has probably the strongest verse on there. He gave a nice pullout."

The image of RZA and Quentin hanging out listening to Wu demos is very cool.

MMM Sneaker I Love You

Adidas is having a bunch of famous and sensible folk design sneaker lines for their 35th anniversary. Here's a link to a poster that shows a bunch of them. Among them include Run DMC (of course), Ian Brown (? - perhaps the world is waiting for a decent pair of trainers), and the controversial Missy Elliot shoes.

Most significant in the bunch is #19 - designed by Rick Smith and Karl Hyde. The Underworld Adidas sneaker - it almost sounds too good to be true. Fellow UW head/blogger kwiebusch has posted a much better picture of the shoe. This guy's blog is almost exclusively about UW, so for that, he gets on the music link list on the right side of the page. Kwie - don't let me down as this is a prestiguous honor to receive - keep posting juicy stuff!

According to a bloke that talked to someone at the London Adidas Originals Store, the shoes come out on March 1 and will cost 75 squid, which by then maybe 300 bucks with the current state of the dollar.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

An Erol Alkan Update

The website of one of the favorite selectors around here, Erol Alkan, has recently been updated with a couple of bits of interesting news. He has been busy as of late, doing two remixes for the Bloc Party single "She's Hearing Voices," as well as completing a 2CD mix for Bugged Out! I like the remixes he did of Alter Ego's "Rocker" and of Mylo's "Drop the Pressure" but his real talent is in DJing (hopefully he makes it back to the US one of these days), so a 2CD mix sounds very promising. That is supposed to be released in April (of course that will probably only be in the UK).

One of my all time favorite mix CDs is the one that he did for Muzik Magazine a while back called One Louder (no relation the OL boys of course - just demonstrates a mutual love for the OG of mockumentary films, This is Spinal Tap) - a frenetic romp that showcases a love for new wave and uptempo electro tracks, including the sickest transition ever from the Night Version of Duran Duran's "Girls on Film" into the Thin White Duke remix of The Faint's "Conductor." It also includes Goldfrapp's "Train" (Ewan Pearson remix), and the monstrous Michael Mayer remix of Ferenc's "Yes Sit, I Can Hardcore." All excellent tracks and put together in a very playful, energetic way that makes for a perfect CD to soundtrack a warmup for a night of debauchery. This CD is unfortunately super rare, in part because Muzik Magazine unfortunately went out of business (which is a shame) - any version of this mix on the internet will lose a bit in the chopped up transitions between tracks but it is very worth getting your hands on.

His current chart was also interesting. It has Soulwax's "E Talking" (a quality track), "The Prime Time of Your Life" by Daft Punk (One Louder declared this as the Daft Punk foray into schaffel - the subgenre of microhouse that gaffled the beats of T-Rex songs and Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence") , his own remix of Bloc Party's "She's Hearing Voices," and the Chemical Brothers "The Big Jump." Erol is always playing Chems' tunes or championing them in his charts ("Galvanize" was on the last chart) - I am certainly happy to see an "indie" DJ with love for Tom and Ed.

You can hear a stream of his set at his weekly party Trash from January 25 here

Friday, February 11, 2005

Tosca and Underworld Updates

Two pieces of information to share today for starters.

First, MMM is a big fan of Kruder and Dorfmeister, as well as their various side projects, which include Peter Kruder's Peace Orchestra, and Richard Dorfmeister's Tosca (with Rupert Huber). I received an email last night from Backspin Promo, who handles Tosca's PR, and at the bottom of the email was a small listing that a new Tosca album is coming out in June. On the Backspin current projects page, there appeared to be the artwork for the album, titled j.a.c. - exciting stuff.

Second, as One Louder had reported yesterday, there was another Underworld radio broadcast on Dirty Radio yesterday. Because of work's firewall, I couldn't hear it, but someone was nice enough to pull out three tracks of their own that were played on the show - they may or may not be on the upcoming album, but at least it is new Underworld material. No "Dark Train"'s are really in there; these tracks are a bit more in the ambient mode, but interesting nonetheless. Here are some Mp3s


Ancient Fat Farm Coat (funny vocal sample on this - something off a tape for learning Welsh)

020202 (I believe this is an older track from the UW archive)

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Odd sightings

Yesterday, I did what every good NJ resident does - visit the Mall at Short Hills. A very posh mall indeed - nothing but top shelf stores and even the bathroom has the choice between towels and the air dryer (sparing no expense!). I found my shopping excursion soundtracked by far more sensible music than what you would expect from a New Jersey mall. At Macy's, dub was in the air and they played Tosca's "Annanas" from Suzuki. Over at Express, my theme song, Air's "Sexy Boy" was on. A little strange to hear genuinely good music at the mall but I am certainly not complaining.

Then, last night, in the Yahoo homepage news section, the headline read "Scissor Sisters Win Big at Brit Awards" (!) - was not expecting to see that on the US Yahoo front page. Here is a link to an article about their triumph.

Anyone else have any stories of hearing suprising songs at stores or other locations?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Further Update on the 2manydjs/Radio Soulwax Essential Mix

A while back, I was very excited about the 2manydjs/Radio Soulwax Essential Mix, even giving a second posting on it. Time for another follow up.

Daft Punk's "Teachers" is a banging track that surves as a great primer for all things house and hip-hop. 2manydjs played an alt version of it during their EM that had lyrics that namechecked all things rock and roll (Jane's Addiction, Nirvana, MC5, AC/DC). 20 Jazz Funk Greats has done us a series of solids on a recent posting: 1) Provides the complete list of original names/lyrics from the Daft Punk version, 2) Pointed out that on the internet versions of the lyrics to "Teachers," Ashley Beedle is mistakenly referred to Ashley Beatto, 3) Provides the complete list of names for the version 2manydjs played, and 4) posted an MP3 of the track

Ulrich the shoetronicer?

MMM loves (I am not going to join the bandwagon of saying that I heart everything) Ulrich Schnauss. My man Ulrich clearly outshined M83 at their show in September, which I why when I have the choice of seeing him on his own, or opening for the M83 again in March, I am clearly seeing the headlining show at Rothko on March 16.

Ulrich's sound is sort of easy to describe yet clumsy too. He clearly loves his shoegazer rock (as evidenced by the links on his webpage, but he creates his ethereal swirls of melody on a keyboard and a Mac. His first album, Far Away Trains Passing By (2001), has unfortunately not been released in America - so go out and download it anyway you can! I am not one for encouraging the violation of copyright law, but you aren't violating the law if you qualify for one of the fair use exceptions and downloading something you can't possibly buy should come under that exception (but don't take my word - I am no lawyer or nothing). The first two tracks, "Knuddelmaus" (which was a standard track for many of the downtempo copilations of 2001/2002) and "Between Us and Them" are excellent, beautiful songs, but unfortunately he said he no longer plays the first album live when I talked to him at the Bowery show in September, moments before he mysteriously broke his hand.

Pitchfork arguably created a new genre name today by labeling Ulrich as a "shoetronic German act" - nice one. I ran a Yahoo search (I hyperlinked Yahoo for those of you that may not be familiar with this website - and yes I know Google is a better search engine, I happened to be there and was feeling lazy) for the word "shoetronic" (no hits) and for "shoetronica" one hit on a blog, where someone hypothetically asked whether combining shoegazer and electronica created shoetronica? Hard to say whether the word was an original idea of the Pitchforkers.

To get a first hand sense of Ulrich's sound, here are a bunch of MP3s to shuttle you off to a beautiful field in the middle of nowhere:

"On My Own' - from the new album A Strangely Isolated Place (believe it or not, Sasha managed to fit this song onto his last mix CD, Involver)

Some rarities on his website

On an unrelated note: while finding the link to Ulrich's show at Rothko, I noticed that motherfucking pressure dropper Mylo is playing with a full band there the following week, on March 23. Mylo got some love here with the prestigous COTW award a while back. Another possible show to see.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Choon of the Week: The Stone Roses "What the World is Waiting For"

The Stone Roses - "What the World is Waiting For"

Writing about how good a Roses song isn't exactly predicting all star talent while it toils in the minor leagues - if you love music and have any inkling of an Anglophilic bone in you, you know that the Stone Roses started their career off with about as much bang as any artist possibly can when they released The Stone Roses, and then withered away in a mix of demasiado dope and legal wrangles with Silvertone Records, returning 5 years later with the apotheosis of a sophomore slump, The Second Coming (it's really not that bad but it just became the butt of many jokes because of the large amount of time that elapsed, the heightened expectations, that arrogant title, and for just not delivering the collection of anthems that The Stone Roses did).

"What the World..." was the AA side to "Fools Gold" (meaning not a B side but not on the album), though it sounds little like the sprawling epic groover on the A side, aside from in rhythm. Sunny, jangly guitars over the trademark Roses' funky drummer beats - this is happy, arrogant, northern (England of course) rock. Ian Brown's vocals alternating between understated, gravelly verses and a bright, energized chorus. And to spoil the big surprise of the song: according to Ian, the world is waiting to get real.

The Roses have some killer songs and this is another one that matches up against anything on the first album that happens to be tucked away on the "Fools Gold" AA side (it is also available on the b side/rarity/a couple of singles collection erroneously titled The Complete Stone Roses, which contains a horrible edit/remix of "I am the Resurrection" that uses a bar mitzvah band keyboard as the bridge back into the verse - it is so awful that it just needs to be heard to be believed). The other thing the world has been waiting for is a perfect Ipod song for indie rock strutting on your way to a job interview - sorted, mate!

Monday, February 07, 2005

Didn't I see you boys at Crobar on Friday? Posted by Hello

Sasha at Crobar - 2/4/05

On Friday night, Peephole and I went to Crobar to see Sasha and James Lavelle. A bit of explanation is necessary. On this week's Flavorpill email, answering the trivia question "what is the connection between Lavelle's Mo Wax record label and NYC's DFA Records?" Having answered correctly, I got two free tickets to the event ($40 bucks at the door!), and without anything more compelling to do, we couldn't pass it up. Both of us had spent our time at the Sasha and Digweed residency at Twilo back in the day. We had also seen Lavelle recently, so musically, it looked like a fun night on paper.

Arriving at Crobar at 12:30, the scene was sheer chaos. One long line (that apparently took an hour to get through) and a bunch of shorter lines - we managed to get to the door in about 15 minutes, but not without all kinds of shoving and what not. Some little girl who apparently had friends waiting for her at the door tried to push by everyone - when I got in her way and wouldn't let her pass (as she had given no reason to let her by), she shrilly began to tell the security that I was an asshole/dickhead - it didn't help her cause. The line had all kinds of B & T characters (for my non NYC readers, B & T means bridge and tunnel, which are all the people that come from New Jersey, Long Island, and Westchester to infest NYC on the weekends) - then again these days I am a B & T character. All kinds of great lines were overheard while waiting - personal favorite: (with a thick NJ accent) "yeah, Sasha plays the more trancey/airy shit, but Diggers plays the harder shit which I prefer."

We finally got in and Sasha was hard at work on a Mac, apprently playing the tunes using
Ableton Live (according to One Louder, this software is invented by Monolake). The music illustrated that there is a difference between progressive house and trance. Sasha was playing a more ambient progessive sound throughout the night - no overly dramatic keyboard waves or diva/goddess vocals, just kick drums and bass-ey melodies. Perhaps in my more progressive days, I would have been able to identify more tracks but I only recognized a couple of songs. First, Sasha was certainly using the Ableton when he a played very extended edit of the new Chems' song "Hold Tight London" (it should be noted the Chromewaves had a bit about the band Tresspassers William - Anna-Lynne Williams who does vocals on "Hold Tight..." is their lead singer - she is also really attractive!). Sasha also played proggy version of Groove Armada's "Chicago" from Vertigo. Unfortunately, we didn't hear Sasha play Ulrich Schnauss' "On My Own," which closed Sasha's mix CD, Involver.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't address the men's hairstyle of choice at Crobar. I am not sure if this new hairstyle is attributable to those idiot Gotti children on the TV show Growing Up Gotti, but every guy in the place looked like one of them - where all their hair stands up, even the back of the head. It's a truly horrible haircut.

We didn't get to see Lavelle, though he was lurking behind Sasha. Not sure if he played before or after Sasha. We asked someone at the club if they knew when he would be on and she was completely clueless. That never would have happened at Fabric! You always know who is on in what room there - but Crobar is no Fabric.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Gruff vomited throughout your saxophone solo...

Sometimes the best concerts sneak up on you - they are announced shortly before the date of the show so you don't have much time to build it up in your head, or there is not a bunch of hype around the show (speaking of hype I don't think the words "Arcade Fire" have ever appeared on this blog!). Last night, Gruff Rhys, lead singer of my girlfriend's greatest gift to me and the best Welsh band of all time, the Super Furry Animals, played a solo show at Tonic as a benefit for the beleaguered venue. The concert was in promotion of his recently released (all in Welsh) solo album, Yr Atal Genhedlaeth.

Peephole and I got to Tonic a bit early without trying, but it put us at the front of the line and we ended up with seats front row and center - SoF was the fortunate beneficiary of our generosity and he returned the love by taking these pictures (best one is with Gruff using the tape player to illustrate how the closing track on his album, "Ni Yw Y Byd" is a reworking of the most popular Welsh song ever, which gave him nightmares as a child) . His stage set up included 2 very simple looking keyboards, a small wind-up bird that whistled, his "electric bagpipes," a harmonic strapped to a thing that goes on the neck (I don't know what's it called but you know the thing - what Dylan always has), 2 acoustic guitars, and a few other odd noise makers. Gruff strolled in at about 8:45 to a packed room with an FC Barcelona scarf draped around his shoulders (I wonder if he can speak Catalan as well as Welsh) and immediately turned on the quirky Gruff charm by putting a flashing bite guard into his mouth as he triggered a pre-programmed lo-fi version of Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are" on his rinky-dink Casio.

The first proper song of the night was the opening track on the album "Gwn Mi Wn." Yr Atal… is a sophisticated lo-fi album with far more production that it wants you to believe - it has a bit of a singer-songwriter on a four track recorder quality, but there is plenty of other sounds in the subtly dense mix. On "Gwn Mi Wn," he immediately showed he could pull of the tricky multiple layers of vocals and sound live by recording himself sing each vocal part of the song while clapping out different rhythms and then loop it such that after a couple sequences, he had produced a thorough yet crisp wall of acapella sound - this was the best song of the night. He focused on the album, playing several songs off it, including "Pdyn Wy 1" and Pdyn Wy 2," (a two part epic about dating a girl whose nickname translated to cake that's similar to a flan, breaking up with the girl and said girl giving the protagonist a tropical disease before she moved to South America - like I could make something like this up?!?) "Epynt," and "Caeffosiaeth," plus one song off Mwng (which was apparently about the infrastructure of Wales during the Roman occupancy). He played only one song in English called "Colonize the Moon" which may well be a new SFA song, that had several clever lyrics, including the subject of this posting.

Throughout the set, Gruff was his charming self between each song, telling amusing anecdotes about things like how come he plays a right-handed guitar as he is was left handed (so the strings are upside down - which make explain some of the melodies he plays), as well as background for the Welsh songs so we had some frame of reference.

Before one song, he recorded the audience making "rural noises" and looped it; thanks to our close proximity to the stage, the predominant sound that looped throughout the song was SoF's dog-like howl. Gruff solicited background noises a second time, but to create a "more urban sound" - SoF tried to restrain himself but to no avail and out came something. Fortunately Gruff dug it and pointed the mic in SoF's direction and raised his eyebrows in hopes of getting more out of SoF. I really hope a bootleg of this show surfaces because versions of Gruff's solo work with SoF sound effects must be kept for posterity sake and because it was a great concert.

Whether he is with SFA or doing it solo, Gruff has the fortunate one-two punch of being an excellent performer that has great charisma on stage. It's a rare opportunity to have the intimate concert experience with someone like that and last night was absolutely great for it. Here is SoF's writeup of the night.

After the show, Gruff told us that last night was the only US date, with a Wales tour upcoming, and then he is "breaking up with himself." Other worthwhile pieces of news: the new SFA album will be out in May (hopefully they'll be back to promote it) and finally, this year (like every year) the band has asked the Benicassim promoters if they can play - like Peephole and me, SFA knows a great festival when it fiestas and siestas its way through one!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Hump (or death) day

It's Wednesday - I had a work deadline yesterday, hence the low activity on MMM yesterday. Today is lowkey, but I need to prepare for an interview tomorrow - so I imagine I'll have another entry later today (but no guarantees).

First, I would like to say that I am an idiot. Yesterday, in the middle of my deadline madness and chatting with a co-worker, the 1pm pre-sale for QOTSA tickets came without me being dilligently pressing F5 on my computer - result: at 1:10 it was sold out. Hopefully I'll be able to score tickets through the regular sale or another route. I feel particularly foolish as I bought tickets for a trip that weekend a day later than I had originally planned because of that show.

Second, thanks to largehearted boy and Ipoditude, I found a useful article on how to take music from your Ipod and put it on your hard drive. Now does anyone know if you can plug your Ipod into any other computer than the one it is formatted for?

I read the Pitchfork review of the LCD Soundsystem album and the verdict was good not great. I am not sure I completely agree with it - I have listened to a leaked copy and been very impressed, but trying to reserve my final opinion until it is released. I do have to say that for a leaked copy, it sounds great, but of course only James Murphy would have the best sounding leaked version of an album out. The review says the album is not enough like "an album" and that no moments are as strong as the singles (which are included as a second disc that got a higher rating). I agree that the album tracks are not as impressive as "Yeah" and "Losing My Edge" (then again - has anything ever been written that is as strong as those songs?) but that is perhaps the point - I think it is extreme cohesive as a full listen (neither of those singles could ever fit on an album without completely overshadowing the rest of it and it was smart to not put them on it) and there are still several excellent tracks. The album comes out two weeks from yesterday.

Finally, its a sad day for the Gunners -
losing to Man Utd 4-2 at home. The mighty have fallen. It's like October 2001 all over again (queue spiteful comments of the Yankee nation).

But while I am discussing Arsenal, I need to dive into some romance gossip because this is frankly a cool couple: Arsenal/England full back Sol Campbell is apparently dating Martina Hingis as reported by the Sunday Mirror (though I can't find the article on their site) - I always preferred the Swiss Miss to Anna - yeah she is attractive, but it is just so obvious, and she is talentless, whereas the Swiss Miss had attitude and backed it up with game. Stud Sol was also romantically linked to Dido at one time.

And for more lowbrow material from the Sunday Mirror, here is ex-Libertine Pete Doherty "chasing the dragon" (that is actually how I am preparing for my interview)

Quiz: Peephole in my Brain is excluded, but what is my subject today a reference to? First correct comment gets a ticket to see the Arcade Fire tonight and a U2 general admission ticket for MSG. (note: this is a wholly unenforceable contract because any blog reader reasonably knows there is no chance in hell that a) i have an extra ticket for these shows and b) i would give it away for this)