Thursday, May 31, 2007

T & S, not T & A

Tegan & Sara
"The Con"

Like Fall Out Boy, Lupe Fiasco, and R. Kelly, Tegan and Sara are the victims of early leakage for their latest record, "The Con." How does it shape up compared to 2004's insanely good "So Jealous?" Well....

Employing Death Cab For Cutie's producer/guitarist/keyboardist/co-writer Chris Walla brings a bit of a stylistic change to Tegan and Sara's typically peppy brand of powerpop. Even at "So Jealous'" somber moments, the songs were still really catchy and clap-friendly. "The Con" finds the duo still churning out the powerpop, albeit in a darker tone.

The record opens with "I Was Married" a bare bones keyboard jam and a rally for Gay marriage, which quickly segues into "Relief Next to Me" which, as hooky as it is, sets the morose tone for the album. "Are You Ten Years Ago" showcases the band's Postal Service moments as syncopated electronic drums bang behind the sisters' overlapping vocals. "Back In Your Head" sounds like a lost song by The Cars.

There are mid-tempo songs dispersed throughout the tracklist to break up some of the Quin Sisters faster tunes, but for the most part, "The Con" is a consistent album. While it's not as instantly grabbing as "So Jealous," the synth-heavy record will grow on you over time. If you didn't like Tegan and Sara to begin with, you may not care about picking up "The Con," but if you're a fan like me, then you'll no doubt go out of your way to buy, even if you downloaded it.

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here it is: a groove slightly transformed

new Ryan Fresh song on Myspace. Dig IT!!!!

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My Bad: Thoughts on the Future and Other Issues I Usually Save For My Other Blogs

I've been really terrible at posting new op-eds on Chasing Coolness. Recently, I've been outsourcing my writings to Redefine (forever, ever) and High Voltage Media (where's my review of that pop-punk band at?). There's something else in the works, but nothing is final, so I'm not at any liberty to discuss that. More importantly, however, is the fact that lately, I've been refocusing all of my energy in releasing my book.

For those of you who don't know, late last year, I penned a short novel called A War Torn Letter. I sent it to a few friends and received a series of positive responses. Then it literally sat on my shelf until two weeks ago when I decided to release it independently. Keep in mind that I had every intention on soliciting publishers with a copy of the manuscript, but in all actuality, I had a rather difficult time swallowing the notion that once in the hands of the machine, the book would no longer be mine. There was, however, one strangely interested party, but that interest eventually fizzled. Which leads me here, putting my money where my mouth is and doing it DIY style.

Hopefully, sometime this week, I will have a few copies available. Everybody who gets shouted out in the foreward gets a free copy in due time. I should have at least five copies available at Easy Street Records in Seattle's Queen Anne neighborhood with more places to follow. I'll be keeping this site (as well as Stay Off the Crack) updated as information trickles in. I've also somehow fooled myself into starting a new book. The few people who like War Torn will no doubt like this book, but I'm not counting my chickens just yet.

With all this madness of writing a book, I'm also preparing for my return to higher education; that's right, I'm going back to school. I somehow tricked the UW into accepting me into the Digital Media program. It's a pretty fascinating field, which I happen to be employed in. Even if I weren't, the decline of physical product and the relevance of online stores like iTunes and Rhapsody, as well as sites like Youtube, MySpace and Google make Digital Media the best industry to be involved in. That said, I'm going to try to learn everything I can about it so as to not be an extinct dinosaur wondering why my cassette tapes aren't selling.

Those are all the updates I can muster to write. I have some reviews that I've been sitting on that I will post soon enough, but I just thought you'd like to know what's happening on my side of the woods. Excelsior and other fun words!

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Friday, May 25, 2007

the non-review review of mark ronson's new ish

I feel that I tend to walk a really fine line between militant ethnic writer and dude-who-calls-people-out-on-their-BS. Obviously, I've made my distaste for a certain local (Un)American Idol pretty fuggin' public, at the same time, I went somewhat batshit crazy over Dawhud and Amy Winehouse's records. That said, I was reluctant to enjoy Mark Ronson's new album, "Version."

For those who don't know, Mark Ronson is a White, privileged, trust fund baby, through and through. This dude was a model (or something like that) who parlayed his family's musical connections (dude's stepfather is Mick Jones) into a somewhat respectable DJ career. Then he put out the fantastic banger "Here Comes the Fuzz," which had the best Wu-Tang records on it. Somehow, he started "producing" tracks for the likes of Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen and using Sharon Jones' backing band, the Dap-Kings to bring their retro brand of Soul to these English broads jacking the same steez that Lauryn Hill jacked eight years ago.

I have every reason to hate "Version." It's much more derivative of that Pitchfork hipster pop shit that seems to be all the rage. The guests are a who's who of Lindsay Lohan playlist favorites: Maximo Park, Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse, Kenna, Phantom Planet and Kasabian. There are some covers of The Smiths and Radiohead tunes that completely rework how they sound. All of this comes via Ronson's connections which were funded by his mommy and daddy's cash.

Despite all of this, I still dig this record. Maybe it's because I'm a little older, so hearing the same Beyonce song (or Rhianna), has sort of lost its luster, but I really can't hate on this album. It's catchy as all hell and the cover of Radiohead's "Just" is pretty good. I'm bummed that there's an exclusion of emcees on this (save for an Ol' Dirty vocal clip), but maybe Ronson will come around once Rhymefest bitch slaps him for hanging out with permanently drunk British broads.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007


Last night, Blake Lewis let down every 311-loving-privileged-suburban-beatboxing White hippie-hopper by losing out to a kid. Ha!

It's no secret that I wasn't the biggest Lewis fan, despite the fact that he's from Seattle (actually Bothell, which is famous for having a stand alone Dairy Queen) and that he rolls with the Massline crew (Blue Scholars, Common Market, et. al.). My beef with this dude is the fact that he's just another blank face on television, contributing little to society at large. Yeah, he might be friends with Geo and Sabzi, but he's not really reflecting their political views; if anything, I just see another White kid from the 'burbs from a well-off family, not unlike the idiots from "Laguna Beach."

Musically, Lewis did nothing to whet my appetite. His song selections were pretty piss poor (covering a 311 version of The Cure's "Love Song?" WTF?) and most of all, he was exposed to two legends, Smokey Robinson and Doug E. Fresh, and he half-ass sings his way through one performance and makes a giant clusterfuck out of the other.

Even with his faux street cred, money from the North End and mall-chic fashion sense, this mickiefickie got beat out by a girl who can't even carry a tune to save her life. PWNED, bitches.

Anyway, "American Idol" has sucked and will always suck and the only reason I end up watching it is because there's seldom anything good in that timeslot when "America's Next Top Model" isn't on. In the end, I gave Blake Lewis ye olde' finger and watched this great documentary called "Slanted Screen."

Chasing Coolness: 1, Blake Lewis: - 0 to the infinite power.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Better Than the Super-Friends? Not So Much

Various Artists
"The Hall of Justus: Soldiers of Fortune"

I believe that based on the fanbase of Little Brother, the Hall of Justus crew (LB, Joe Scudda, Chaundon and assorted other grass handlers with awful names) fancy themselves to be the new Boot Camp Clik. Thing is, the BCC had major label money (Priority R.I.P.) and air time on MTV, BET, and the Box. Little Brother is no longer with Atlantic and I'm more than certain that MTV still isn't playing music videos. So how does their crew compilation stack up?

The real strength of this release lies in the production. 9th Wonder only pops up on a few songs and they're not even that great. Khrysis's Rawkus-for-the-new-year steez is pretty satisfying for the backpacker, or the backpacking thug. Jams like "Grind Season" and "I Want to Know" are the bangers on this. Buckwild shows up to lace Big Pooh and Phonte with a grimy D.I.T.C. joint and it's probably the best Little Brother song I've ever heard.

As expected, the rhyme aren't all that. In fact, I would venture to call them generic. In a nutshell, this is the kind of crap you'd expect from Phonte and crew: thug rhymes wrapped around some decent beats. As far as crews go, The Hall of Justus is pretty meh, but these days, heads will probably take what they can get.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

spiderman 3 soundtrack...worst soundtrack ever.

Various Artists
“Spider Man 3 Soundtrack”
(Record Collection/Warner)

On the disc it reads: “This CD should not be played in a computer. This CD contains additional copy protection technology, which may introduce playability issues for DVD players, car audio players, and some computer models.” So where the fuck am I supposed to play this?

My portable CD player, or at least what’s left of it (it was smashed pretty good) is sitting on my bookshelf next to the cassette player I rarely use. I’m not sure how the label expects people to review this, but I’ll give a list of all the bands on the soundtrack that I like: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Walkmen and Rogue Wave. Here are some bands on the CD that I think are absolutely terrible: Snow Patrol, The Killers, Wolfmother, Black Mountain, Simon Dawes, Jet, and The Oohlas.

I’ll never know what the songs sound like since I’m not able to play this on my computer, in my car or in my DVD player, but if it’s anything like the movie, it’s big, bloated and stars a dude named Topher as a bad guy. What the fuck?

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

stomp the trends

Last night, I had the pleasure of watching "Stomp the Yard," a tale about a fast-life urban youth who encounters a tragedy that leads him on the path towards a righteous life by attending a historically Black college. The movie parallels a similar-themed Nick Cannon vehicle called "Drumline" which, in my opinion, is far superior. Not to discount "Stomp the Yard," since it's a fairly decent flick in its own right, but it had me thinking "What other Black trends could Hollywood milk to make another movie like this?" I have a few ideas and I'm going to share them with you (P.S. if any of you motherfuckers steal [or sample] these ideas, I expect full credit as I am well versed with the law and my rights regarding intellectual property):

A young urban male with a unique fashion sense is accepted to a design school, only to have his clothing ideas mocked by his peers. Soon they come to terms with his brilliance and the film comes to a climax at the school's annual fashion show in which the protagonist will feature his latest threads.

The Imprint:
A young urban male who is in love with hip-hop tries to start a record label while in college. His best friend, a would-be rapper, is upset that his first signing is another young urban male with raw talent and thought-provoking lyrics. With tension arising, the best friend aligns himself with a long-standing, hostile label from the college. The film comes to a climax with a college-sponsored rap battle that pits label against label. Will the love of hip-hop prevail over the hostile faux college wankstas?

Get Cha Act Right:
A young urban male who is more Urkel than Denzel, recruits his roommate to teach him how to be suave with the ladies. He is able to charm an attractive townie who works at a local restaurant, but who is not aware of his true nerd nature. The film comes to a climax when the young urban male is asked to participate in an academic decathlon. Will he risk his newfound coolness and girlfriend to properly represent his school?

One in the Art:
A young urban male with a gift for illustrating, fights his way up from the mean streets and into a historically Black college where his love of art and its rich history is mocked by his fellow students, who are more interested in degrees that will help them get paid. While he is able to be successful in his art classes, his grades in other classes begin to falter and he finds his scholarship in danger. His only hope is a sassy tutor who sees no future with him or his art, though our young urban male would beg to differ. The film comes to a climax when the young urban male has the opportunity to show his latest project -- a comic chronicling his struggle from the ghetto to his blossoming feelings for the tutor -- at an art show.

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the KRS/Marley Album? Bananas!

I can't write a review about the new KRS-One and Marley Marl collaboration, "Hip-Hop Lives," because I can't simply do it justice.

I will say this: yes, KRS and Marley come off a bit heavy handed and didactic and preachy, but in exchange for that, we get KRS in top form, Marley's killer beats, and we're even treated to guest scratching and production from DJ Premier. I realize that the record is somewhat of an answer to Nas' "Hip-Hop is Dead," and features a lot of reminiscing from two rap stalwarts, but damn it's good, AND on top of that, a KRS-One album produced by Marley Marl? Bananas!!!!!!

[Related Links]
Beef: BDP Vs. the Juice Crew
KRS-One Vs MC Shan: Sprite Commercial
KRS-One & Marley Marl, "Hip-Hop Lives"

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

aww fuuuudddgggeee

I've been away from this forum for a minute so please excuse my lateness in posting this review. Word.


I've had the new Bjork album for two weeks and I've been listening to it at sporadic moments throughout the last 14 days. I'm not as big on Bjork as your typical 20-something hepcat, but I do appreciate her attempts to craft tunes that are sonically different from your average pop record.

Like most of Bjork's albums, "Volta," can only be ingested in tiny increments. "Earth Intruders," the record's opener, has a chorus that owes more to Kelis than whatever that wacky Icelandic fairy usually cites as her reference points. Timbaland contributes to a few songs here and they're pretty obvious when the syncopated drums kick in. Doesn't it ever confuse anybody that Timbaland pretty much just uses the same drum track on every song he does nowadays? He needs Magoo to keep that kind of BS in check.

As a whole, "Volta" isn't cohesive enough to listen to listen from start to finish; there are some good pop songs sprinkled around the album, but it lacks the interesting theme of "Medulla" and the pop sensibility of "Debut" and "Post." Bjork's probably at a stage in her career where people are going to buy whatever she puts out, no matter how bad or weird it is, so I'm sure this review won't really matter anyway.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Come Widdit: 2*Sweet

Location: Chicago
Sounds like: 2*Sweet riffs over 2*Sweet Melodies

Immortalized in Chris Gutierrez's Livejournal, 2*Sweet has the best that any contemporary pop-punk band has to offer: impressive riffs, great lyrics, catchy songs; they are what many of these little shitty Starting Line and Fall Out Boy rip off bands aspire to be.

More than anything, however, 2*Sweet lives up to their name on their debut EP, "Burning Alive in the Prairie State," which is probably one of the last CDs I made the effort to go out and buy. The whole fucking thing is pretty good, which is rare these days when most people cherry pick their favorite songs to upload onto their iPods. The band is also continuing on a 20 year run of really great bands from the Midwest (see: 88 Fingers Louie, Screeching Weasel, The Promise Ring, Lawrence Arms, Alkaline Trio, et. al.) Check out this band before you become a Johnny Comelately to the 2*Sweet party.

[Related Links]
2*Sweet - Official Website
"Better in Bed Than Ever as Friends" Music Video

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Punk Goes Crappy Vol.2

Various Artists
"Punk Goes Acoustic 2"

Before they signed bands like Portugal the Man, Gatsby's American Dream and Sugarcult, Fearless Records were widely known for their "Punk Goes..." series, in which they commissioned the hottest bands in the scene to participate in whatever theme the compilation was based on. There was "Punk Goes Metal," "Punk Goes 80's," "Punk Goes Pop," "Punk Goes 90's," and, of course, "Punk Goes Acoustic." The last one was widely successful and became Fearless' cornerstone release. Attempting to make lightning strike twice, Fearless is now unleashing a sequel, four years later, featuring a new crop of pop-punk bands to whet the appetites of message board miscreants.

The bad thing about thematic compilations is that not all songs translate well when it's stripped down. In most cases, none of these songs are very good, period. Daphne Loves Derby's "Sun" is pretty boring and their singer still cannot sing, the fact that the songs are bare bones, really showcases his inability to carry a note. Silverstein's "Red Light Pledge" is an explosive song on their debut, but without drums or the screaming, it just sounds like another band trying to rip off Dashboard Confessional.

The roster on this reads like a fantasy list for the readers of, but in reality many of these tunes are just hastily put together and not very well thought out. If you're going to re-record an existing song as a different incarnation, change it up. The only saving grace is Say Anything's reworking of "Woe" with prominently features ragtime pianos beneath Max Bemis' lyrical genius.

If Fearless plans on milking this "Punk Goes..." concept then perhaps they can be bit more daring, "Punk Goes Latin Disco" perhaps? Otherwise, this is just another bargain bin disappointment.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

blake lewis gives seattle a bad name, seattle responds by voting for his lame ass because he's "representing"

The poster boy for jockish-dudes-gone-emo-gone-hip-hop, Blake Lewis, placed himself in the upper echelon of douchebags by simultaneously raping Bon Jovi and Rahzel's style in one fell swoop.

Last night, the "American Idol" contestant decided to remix Bon Jovi's uber-crappy song "You Give Love a Bad Name" by adding some of his lackluster beatbox skills to "scratch" effects. Of course, the judges ate all this up like the elderly eating Old Country Buffet's Mac & Cheese, because, what else do they know? While I'm not the first person to suggest it, the three judges of "American Idol" are hardly cutting edge talent finders, even if "Forever Your Girl" is one of my favorite albums of all time. It's pretty apparent that Blake Lewis is poised to win the show, which may bring some notoriety to my little city, but that twatwaffle is not the guy I want to be representing the 206.

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chasing coolness' 380th post of awesomeness

What's shakin' party people?

I haven't really updated in a bit because I have a million things to review for the two outlets that I contribute to on a semi-regular basis. Also, it's been pretty busy here at my 9-to-5, which leaves less time to hit ye ol' I have some reviews and some other BS to write about but until then here's a video of my favorite Weezer song:

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