Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Loved Ones, "Living Will (Get You Dead)/Distractions" (Live at the Showbox)

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Video: Murder By Death, "Until Morale Improves, the Beatings Will Continue" (Live at the Showbox)

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Review: Polar Bear Club, "Chasing Hamburg"

Polar Bear Club
"Chasing Hamburg"

At this point in their career, Polar Bear Club probably hates being compared to Hot Water Music and Small Brown Bike. In fact, other than singer Jimmy Stadt’s gruff vocals, the upstart band shares little else with those other bands. I would liken Polar Bear Club more to Seattle’s defunct Waxwing, the post-hardcore slash emo band fronted by Rocky Votolato and flanked by guys who would go on to form Blood Brothers and Gatsby’s American Dream. With that comparison in mind, it’s pretty much a no brainer that PBC would recruit former Minus the Bear keyboard player and renowned knob twister Matt Bayles to production for their second full-length, first for Bridge Nine, “Chasing Hamburg.”

Lyrically, what I enjoy about all of the band’s recordings, and it’s something that is very apparent on “Hamburg,” is how transparent the words are. The topics on this particular record reflect that of a growing band, which is what Polar Bear Club is.

In “Boxes,” Stadt sings “You don’t have to be an asshole to be an artist.” A similar criticism is explored on “Song to Persona,” where Stadt mulls over the schism between a band, their music and the people who love them. As far as the music itself goes, it’s a natural progression from their last album, “Sometimes Things Just Disappear.” My biggest misconception about the album, based on the teaser 7” “The Summer of George,” was that the band was going to be poppier. But it’s quite the opposite. There are harder parts across the album and Stadt sings much better.

Having just got off a support tour with Set Your Goals and Four Year Strong and an upcoming tour with Crime in Stereo and Strike Anywhere, Polar Bear Club is definitely going to be a band to watch in the coming months and the proof is all over “Chasing Hamburg”

Recommendation: Buy it

Listen to: “Boxes,” “Chasing Hamburg,” “Drifting Thing”

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Video: Get Up Kids, "Holiday/I'm a Loner Dottie, a Rebel/The One You Want" (Live)

I shot some video of the Get Up Kids Reunion show for Redefine last night. I will be adding more videos on my YouTube channel throughout the weekend. Enjoy.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Review: Raekwon, "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II"

“Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II”

It’s funny that when people who are held in high regard and hit a bit of a stumble are forced to go back to the well. Unfortunately, Wu-Tang’s gulliest member, Raekwon, has had to be that guy. Arguably, Rae has the strong solo album under his name, 1995’s “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…” Featuring strong guest appearances from all the members of the Wu, as well as Nas, the street-dubbed Purple Tape is heralded as a hip-hop classics.

In subsequent years, Raekwon’s been chasing the strength of “Cuban Linx” and oftentimes with underwhelming results, as is such on “Immobility” and “The Lex Diamonds Story.” While Rae’s partner, Ghostface Killah, has become the most popular solo member of the Wu (Method Man notwithstanding), the Chef has toiled away regaining relevancy with a string of YouTube covers and signing with Dre’s Aftermath imprint.

Unsurprisingly, Dre dropped Raekwon (like he did with Rakim and Lord knows who else); undaunted, Raekwon formed his own label (Icewater) and put out the sequel to “Cuban Linx” himself.

Since 2006, tracks have slowly leaked online and many of them do not appear on this album, which is probably why “Cuban Linx II” sounds so fresh.

The album’s full opener, “House of Flying Daggers” is a return to form for the hungry Wu rappers going over a Dilla beat. The Pete Rock-produced “Sonny’s Missing” is complimented with Marley Marl’s interlude, “Pyrex Visions.”

The dreary Motown vibe of “Cold Outside” is one of the album’s strongest tracks with Suga Bang singing the hook. In fact, I would go as far to say that it’s the definitive moment of the record – Raekwon and Ghostface trading narrative barbs while the horns recall early RZA production techniques.

It’s too early to tell if “Cuban Linx II” will match the popularity and success of its predecessor, but it’s definitely one of the best hip-hop records that’s come out in sometime, as well one of the most gratifying Wu albums in general.

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