Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 Rewind: Music Sucked; if it were a Child, it Should Be Put into Time-Out

It’s been a minute since I did these of the year recaps, but it allows me to take a breath and look at everything that was wrong with the calendar year so we can avoid it at a later date, so let’s get to it.

Gym Class Heroes put out another record that I would typically lampoon, except for the fact that compared to other rappers, Travis McCoy doesn’t actually sound that bad. Here is a list of “rappers” that are worse than McCoy:

Lil’ Wayne
Asher Roth
Kanye West
The Cool Kids

For every Wale, Ludacris or Jake One record that came out, there were about five mixtapes that sucked terribly and have no reason to be associated with hip-hop in anyway. I actually thought that 2008 would have a sense of promise as Blu and Exile release a very sick record, as did Little Brother. But instead, it’s just another year of mostly shitty albums and some good ones sprinkled in between.

It wasn’t just hip-hop that sucked this year, though. Rock music took a very giant hit to the face as musical abortions, Brokencyde, Millionaires and Cash Cash continue a reign of terror that will ensure a new generation of fresh-faced teens to turn into 20-something douchebags whose sole goal is to stay stagnant in a suburban nirvana of extending their collective childhood.

Brokencyde, for those of you who aren’t in the know, is a crunk/screamo band. Yes, finally!!! Someone has taken the two worst musical offshoots in the last six years and combined them so we can only have one band to hate! Thumbs up…no wait, thumbs way down. Brokencyde – with their neon colored shirts and stupid haircuts – remind me of the kind of dudes who own like three rap records, but who are generally afraid of Black people. I’d be willing to bet that the reason they got on this gimmick is because they couldn’t find a drummer.

Millionaires is basically a rip off of Fannypack, with some really young looking girls fronting the group wearing what you would expect from an American Apparel ad. I believe there are two reasons why this group is popular: one, they’re “hot” (by generic scene standards, I guess); two, nobody remembers Fannypack.

Cash Cash isn’t worth any mention beyond my feelings that they’re really, really awful.

All that being said, I’m holding out hope for 2009. One of the most underrated emcees of all time, Freeway, has been throwing out some serious jams lately, as has Big Pooh from Little Brother.

The hardcore band, Horizon, put out a pretty awesome demo and Boston’s A Loss for Words has something bubbling for the new year. All in all, 2009 could possibly erase all the crap we’ve had to put up with, or just turn into another year of stupid music.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Redux: Rilo Kiley, “Takeoffs and Landings”

(Rilo Kiley, "Science Vs. Romance")

Every now and then, I’ll have a record on heavy rotation and then I’ll put it aside for awhile before rediscovering it at a later date. Between Rilo Kiley’s releases, I’ve always favored “The Execution of All Things.” The production and songwriting are stellar and displays the best collaborative effort between Blake Sennett and Jenny Lewis, the band’s primary songwriters. Not to say anything bad about their debut, “Takeoffs and Landings,” but to paraphrase something that Lewis said in an interview, it’s a glorified demo.

Which is not to say that it’s an incomplete record; in fact, it’s probably a far more realized effort than “More Adventurous” or “Under the Blacklight.”

This morning, in a fit of sensitive artistry, I listened to “Takeoffs” on my iPod and took into the morose ambiance of the album. For all its raw attributes and sonic meandering, it’s a comforting record to listen to on a lonely December day.

Bravo, Rilo Kiley.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Top 10 Movies of 2008 (In no particular order)

Another day, another list. Perhaps Entertainment Weekly can hire me to write these arbitrary things.

1. Let the Right One In
Vampire romance that is more psychological than that melodramatic trainwreck people call Twilight.

2. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
When Jason Segel’s wang was exposed a bunch of teenage boys in unison yelled, “Eww,” to which I yelled back, “Don’t be afraid of something you’ve already had in your mouth!” I got daps from James.

3. Run, Fatboy, Run
David Schwimmer + Michael Ian Black + Simon Pegg = Comedy Gold, though the real star of this movie is Bernard Black himself, Dylan Moran.

4. Quantum of Solace
I never liked the Bond movies until Daniel Craig was in them.

5. Kung Fu Panda
The Asian in me should hate this, but fuck it, this movie was awesome if only for the part where Jack Black’s Po says, “There is no price for this awesomeness or attractiveness!”

6. Wall-E
Pixar’s version of “Clarity.”

7. Zack and Miri Make a Porno/Role Models
I’m a fan of Kevin Smith and David Wain, respectively and even though “Zack and Miri” didn’t do shit at the box office, it doesn’t take away from the fact that it was ridiculously funny. On the opposite end of the spectrum, “Role Models” did tremendously well and was able to combine David Wain’s ultra-nerd humor with viable commercial success.

8. The Dark Knight
Heathus will live forever as he channeled Brian Bolland and Alan Moore’s version of the Joker. Also Gary Oldman’s kinda hot.

9. Definitely, Maybe
Why isn’t Ryan Reynolds in more movies?

10. Iron Man
I love comics and I dig how Marvel is angling to do the Ultimates-version of the Avengers for the big screen. That is, if they don’t get too bloated (Punisher War Zone? Really, guys?).

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Chasing Coolness Doesn’t Understand the Appeal of Asher Roth; White People in Uproar

I never really understood what makes Asher Roth better than, let’s say, Prozack Turner, RA the Rugged Man, Miilkbone or a host of other white dudes who rap whose names aren’t Eminem or Vanilla Ice (that comparison was way too easy). In many ways, I should probably like Asher Roth just based on the fact that he looks/acts like the kind of guy I would hang out with. Except for the fact that that spot is already filled by my friend Corey Ball.

Unlike Corey, Roth doesn’t have a grasp on golden age classics (like the first three Tribe records) and most appalling of all is that his introduction to hip-hop was “Hard Knock Life.” Really? Hard Knock Fucking Life? This dude probably never heard of MOP prior to “Ante Up.”

But as is such, Asher Roth’s backpacker appeal with his Target model good looks has made him a lusted object for bloggers who are too afraid of Scarface to listen to real rap music and chicks who heart Danity Kane (or what’s left of them). Roth’s greatest asset is that he’s the semi-legit/edgy rapper that is there for when non-hip-hop rap fans are ready to graduate from MC Lars and MC Chris to something a little bit more substantial, which Roth is, particularly compared to the other two.

Yet sucky is sucky and I can’t deny that I would much rather listen to someone like Crooked I or Joe Budden than this lame ass carbon copy of the dudes from Lexicon.

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Review: Fall Out Boy, "Folie a Deux"

Fall Out Boy
“Folie a Deux”
(Island Def Jam)

I think it’s safe to write off any hope that the FOBs will ever return to their brash pop-punk roots of “Take This to Your Grave.” With each and every album, from the imitable farce “Evening Out with Your Girlfriend” to this new monolith, “Folie a Deux,” Fall Out Boy grows leaps and bounds, which is oftentimes too distracting to suggest any consistency in regards to songwriting.

With this new record, Patrick Stump and company continue on their journey of becoming a larger-than-life pop band; dare I say, the Beatles for the Hot Topic set. This isn’t hyperbole, either; it’s fucking fact. That being said, I believe that I may be too cynical to accept “Folie a Deux” and its aggressive online marketing campaign (see: Citizens For Our Betterment) as anything else but a publicity stunt in the form of a pop record.

The album’s lead single, “I Don’t Care,” is a direct descendent of Rihanna’s “S.O.S.,” which in itself benefited from a well-placed Soft Cell sample. The rest of the record is typical overproduced fanfare and is a natural extension of “Infinity On High.”

If anything, “Folie a Deux,” is pleasurable for fans who discovered the FOBs within the last three years and do not suffer from living life in a sardonic manner. For the rest of us who like to “up the punx,” as it were, we’ll stick to waiting around for a much better Chicago band called the Lawrence Arms.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Post 601: F(ar)k Face

When I was about 10, I collected baseball cards. I didn't like baseball per se; I mean, I acted like I did and even memorized random statistics, but in all honesty, I really liked having another hobby outside of comics and my subscription to "Fangoria" (what 10 year old had a subscription to that? Me!). During this age, I found that there were two Holy Grail cards of contemporary baseball -- the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey, Jr. rookie card and the infamous 1989 Fleer Billy Ripkin "Fuck Face" card. At some point, I acquired the Griffey rookie card for nothing more than trading my X-Men 1991 Annual and a bag of chips (really), but the Ripkin card was always difficult to find and just remained one of those legends -- a friend of a friend of a friend's cousin had it and would part with it for a mere sum of $500.

As a teen, I eventually befriended this kid named Brandon who, like me, collected all kinds of crazy shit (like comics, action figures, vintage video games and sports cards). We always joked about finding the "Fuck Face" card. Brandon had everything (at one point he even had the Japanese Megatron -- the black model that looked like an actual gun), so the idea that he couldn't find the Ripkin card was nothing short of astonishing. It's like Indiana Jones NOT getting the idol in the beginning of "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

The reason why I'm writing about all this is because MSNBC is running a feature about the legend that is "Fuck Face" and it's actually a pretty good read. Also, it allowed me to type "Fuck Face" into my blog. I guess in some ways, I'm still 10.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Another Reunion Post...Really

A few years ago, the Murder City Devils did a couple of reunion shows in Seattle, then some scattered dates. Today, Gabe announced that they were doing a west coast run from Seattle to Los Angeles. This is one reunion tour I can get behind because unlike some other bands (Get Up Kids and Park), they're not trying to shill out for any new or reissued material, but rather to relive their glory days of being that super drunk band. I plan on going to one these shows and if you even remotely liked this band, I would recommend on going, too.

[Related Videos]
Murder City Devils, "Idle Hands"

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Problem with the Wu

I was fucking around on Nah Right earlier and I saw that there's yet another new Ghostface Killah disc coming out this week. Didn't he just release a new one last year? I'm a fan of Tony Starks and all, but can't we get a proper release date for Raekwon's Dr. Dre-produced "OB4CL2." I realize that for his sheer charisma alone, Ghostface is probably the most likeable member of the Wu, especially since RZA is pretty crazy and Method Man is too busy acting. But that's no excuse to flood the market with throwaway discs. While I have enjoyed "Fish Scale," it pales in comparison to Masta Kila's "No Said Date." Though this little rant has me thinking that a new Inspektah Deck solo album might receive a fairly warm welcome.

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Review: Kevin Devine & the Goddamn Band, "I Could Be with Anyone"

Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band
“I Could Be with Anyone”

Right now, this four-track Extended Player is available through Mr. Devine himself on his tour and through iTunes. Whether you believe in the service that Steve Jobs provides for people to download single tracks at a low price, there’s something to be said about the quality of the EP that’s presented, namely that it’s kind of awesome.

To be frank, Kevin Devine could fart over power chords and I’d still buy it. I have all of his records dating back from the early Miracle of 86 records all the way up to 2006’s “Put Your Ghost to Rest.” Serving as a bridge between the last full-length and his upcoming record, “Brothers Blood.”

Anyway, “I Could Be with Anyone” contains three great new studio tracks and a really bittersweet demo called “She Stayed as Steam.” This is probably one of my favorite recordings that has come out in the last year and I really can’t wait for Devine and Goddamn merry band to come out with that new record.

[Related Video]

Kevin Devine, "She Stayed as Steam"

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

FBR Signs Paramore Rip Off Band! Paramore Busy Counting $$$ to Care

Isn't a little early for Paramore to have their own tribute band? Not for Floridians VersaEmerge, whose Microsoft-sounding name has earned them the honor of being signed to Paramore's label, Fueled by Ramen, who've been making money hand-over-fist by releasing audio abortions by the likes of equally poorly named bands like Cute is What We Aim For and Panic at the Disco.

I guess if I was in a band with Nicole Richie's little sister, I'd be pretty stoked too. But this kind of reminds me of when Drive Thru was the shit and then all their good bands either jumped ship or broke up and all they had left in the end was HelloGoodbye and that kid from the Early November.
Since Vinnie F. exited FBR, the quality of their bands have just taken the biggest nose dive since Amy Winehouse had a mirror and nose candy in front of her.

As a little pop-punk kid myself, I've always liked the releases on Fueled by Ramen like Jimmy Eat World's "EP," Home Grown's "EP Phone Home," Kane Hodder's re-release of their LP and The AKA's "White Doves and Smoking Guns." But this VersaEmerge shit? You guys can keep that one.

I guess with the rest of the record industry declining because they can't stop signing and promoting shitty bands and "artists" (yeah, 30h3 -- or whatever the fuck your name is -- I'm looking at you), FBR's best bet is to strike the Paramore iron while Hayley Williams' hair is still on fire, I mean, hot.

I've never been the biggest Paramore fan (or a fan at all) but even I think it's pretty tacky that FBR sign a band that sounds EXACTLY like their best selling band while they're still associated with the label (unlike Drive Thru who signed a billion screamo bands in the wake of Finch getting upstreamed to Geffen). And this is the only time that I'll ever admit this but...

Hayley > Nicole Richie's little sister from VistaStupidName

I guess Vinnie had the right idea by taking all his good bands and helping them find labels elsewhere and his new label, Paper & Plastik, an imprint that focuses on vinyl and digital relases, seems to follow where it's actually viable for record companies to stay afloat. I suppose in a few months FBR and their wranglers will actually be fueled by ramen. Or Cup O Noodles.

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