Friday, May 27, 2011

The Lonely Island - Rocky

Rocky by The Lonely Island Listen on Posterous

Comedy rap seems a little repetitive considering that a lot of the best lines to come out of any MC's mouth are the hysterically funny ones. In the case of The Lonely Island, though, since there's nothing serious about them, at all, and it works. Hard.

Turtleneck & Chain finds the boys of Lonely Island mostly rapping about being dorks. Weak dorks, at that. I mean, really, mom harassing you while you're trying to record bad-ass rap songs? Too shy to perform? A pimp who gets murdered by Rocky before AND after picking up men and women? Yeah, there's 19 tracks on this thing that sound strange in traffic. But when Rihanna sings the words "boner alert," you'll love the looks you get from other cars. That's a true story, by the way. Some guy in an SUV was really wondering about me while waiting to get on the highway. Awesome.

As good as the album is, you've got to respect Lorne Michaels for allowing Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer to use the album tracks for digital shorts on SNL. It's almost like MTV in the 90s where, before you grab the record, you've heard a few great ones. Unlike a lot of the shite that MTV pimped in the 90s, the rest of this album delivers too.

Samberg, Taccone and Schaffer have been doing, basically, well, this for more than a decade, starting when they were in high school. At this point they're really good at it. And though it's not lifechanging, Turtleneck & Chain, for all the seriousness behind Justin Timberlake suggesting everybody get down with everybody else's mothers, asks the most important question there is these days: Why so serious?

Buy The Lonely Island's Turtleneck & Chain at Amazon.
And if you don't already have it, grab Incredibad too. "Natalie's Rap," with Natalie Portman, is a revelation. For real.

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Beastie Boys - Crazy Ass Shit

Crazy Ass Shit by Beastie Boys Listen on Posterous

I didn't detect any of the "have they still got it" or "have they still got anything" or "I fear it's going to suck really baaaaaaaaaad" in the lead-up to Hot Sauce Committee Part Two's release three weeks ago. That's what I heard for weeks leading up to the release of To The Five Boroughs in 2004, and then "it's way better than I thought - like, really good" almost universally. After the release of two tracks on the Super Surprise EP last year, and especially "Make Some Noise," the potential for a good Beastie Boys album turned into an expectation this time around.

More than one review has pointed out places that Hot Sauce Committee Part Two sounds like Check Your Head but it's hard not to hear echoes of Hello Nasty throughout too. For all the effects and live-playing a la 1992, what a lot of it adds up to is the bouncing, playful sound of 1998. The combination works well on an album that finds the Beasties sticking to a single subject: Just how bad-ass they are.

"Nonstop Disco Powerpack" has a refreshingly familiar "Pass The Mic" vibe, and "Make Some Noise" is perfectly in line with "Intergalactic" and "Ch-check It Out" as lead singles from a new Beastie Boys album meant to get the party started. For any reminders of Beasties history, and, as always there are plenty, this is no rehash - and not even in the Check-Your-Head-and-Ill-Communication-sound-the-same kind of way.

Aside from distorting their vocals way too often - I mean, really, it's going to take twice as long to memorize the lyrics now - this could be another instrumental album. Unlike the uber-jazz of The Mix-Up, this is a hip hop album in every way, from samples to scratching to outros that are often better than the beat actually rapped over in the song. Even if the rhymes weren't as referential as they are, and it's often references that are old school, or just old, but in a good way, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two is perfect for those hung up on the instrumentals of Madlib, Diplo or Oh No, among others.

The only reason the Beastie Boys aren't still the tastemakers they were throughout the 90s is because it's been six years since their last album and this is a very different world. The Beastie Boys are still the Beastie Boys though, their universe is still vastly more cool than anything we live out here, and the occasional glimpse still makes some of us hope to get halfway there one day.

Buy Hot Sauce Committee Part Two directly from the Beastie Boys.

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Goldfinger - Get Up

Get Up by Goldfinger Listen on Posterous

I have a friend who bought the Sublime classic 40 oz To Freedom on the strength of their cover of Bad Religion's "We're Only Gonna Die." He was disappointed in the record - the expectation was for hardcore, not the ska-reggae-punk hybrid Sublime did so well - and returned it to Sam Goody in exchange for the first Goldfinger album.

While I came around to 40 oz..., to the point that it's a desert island album for me, that Goldfinger album remains a top party record. That's a smiling, dancing, let's get moving kind of album. And there's nothing groundbreaking about Goldfinger. Goldfinger is some ska, some punk, and just poppy enough that the masses understood it enough to buy at least that first effort.

As ska's few moments in the limelight faded, so did the attention lavished on Goldfinger. It's sad, considering that the band has continued to pump out great records, including 2008's Hello Destiny, which is what this track comes off of. In the meantime, they've become more involved in working with other bands (lead singer John Feldmann has worked with The Used, Story of the Year and Good Charlotte, among others), and they've got some social awareness now as well.

"Get Up" is pretty clearly about animal rights, one of the bands chief causes. That being what it is, I think it's a pretty good rallying cry too, especially on a suddenly slow-moving Tuesday afternoon when a shot of espresso and snappy ska-punk track is the only thing that'll do...

Buy Hello Destiny from Amazon.

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Monday, May 16, 2011

DJ Shadow - I Gotta Rokk

I Gotta Rokk (Lp Version) by Dj Shadow Listen on Posterous

For the most part, pop music has gone dance. That is, many of the pop "tarts" as they have been referred to for the last several years - that's artists such as Ke$ha, Katy Perry, Rihanna and especially Britney Spears - have started making their tracks either dance floor ready or braced for a mild remix that will finish the job of taking it from morning drive-time radio to boozy humping dance floor anthem.
In the world of Josh Davis, it must be 1997. All the remixes on the I Gotta Rokk EP are drum 'n bass, as is "Def Surrounds Us," which might as well have come off Plug's classic Drum 'n bass For Papa. "I Gotta Rokk" is the midpoint of the late 90s sounds of The Chemical Brothers and Prodigy: Heavy, live-sounding drums; samples buried in the mix; and power chords taking it a little metal. This could pass for early Propellerheads or Monkey Mafia efforts. I mean this all in a good way, though I don't know how many people still want to hear any of those names. Do YOU know anybody planning to buy that live Prodigy DVD out this week? Do you even know it was coming out? That's all I'm saying.
I bet there are a lot expecting The Less You Know The Better, due out in September, a sound moored in that of "I've Been Trying," the second track on the I Gotta Rokk EP, which draws on the funk and R&B sampling hip hop Davis has built his legend on. There's a good chance the album is going to be split between that and the clearly techno-leaning stuff, which could be a good thing. On all of the new, bouncy-beat areas being explored here, the new track and two pseudo-new tracks (they were released last September), are dense and should not be easily dismissed. 
Scanning comments on posts and stories about this and the other two songs there seems to be disappointment already, which I can understand. But before writing this I listened to the first two albums, in full. While it's possible there's another Private Press in there, I can almost guarantee he'll never make another Endtroducing... Which is fine. These three tracks sound like Davis is trying stuff out again instead of contributing to a scene. Hyphy-be-gone, they sound like a DJ Shadow album. Excellent.

Also, his old drum 'n bass stuff was pretty good anyway, you know? I think this is going to be good.
Buy the I Gotta Rokk EP directly from the DJ Shadow website.

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Queens of the Stone Age - Hanging Tree

Hangin' Tree by Queens Of The Stone Age Listen on Posterous

I've spent a lot of time making the case that Dave Grohl is the bet drummer alive. Now, I know there are all sorts of metal drummers that have sick proficiency, and there are guys like Vinnie Paul, Travis Barker and this guy (and yes, the guy from Rush too), but give me a second here.

From "Scentless Apprentice" to "Red War" (among others) on the Probot album to "Hanging Tree," Grohl has the technical stuff down. What he's got over all those other guys is a combination of luck and the ability to write, or at least play on, songs that capture well beyond the niche his band exists in, be it a pretty mass market rock band like Foo Fighters or a low-key display of love such as Probot, which is anything but low-key anyway. 
I can vividly remember several conversations in 2002 and 2003 that centered around QUOTSA's third album, Songs For The Deaf, and Grohl's work on it. The songs, from lyrics to grooves, are on par with Rated R, the universally-acclaimed predecessor to Songs for The Deaf. The big difference, though, is the man pounding the skins.
Many of those conversations would start after the end of "Hanging Tree," the last 30 seconds of which is some fast pounding, not that the rest of the song isn't, but the whiplash from that part makes you look back over the former Nirvana drummer's career. At this point, ten years after "Hanging Tree" was even released, you've got Probot, several Foo Fighters albums, the Nine Inch Nails album With Teeth, and, possibly most notably, the self-titled album from Them Crooked Vultures.
Teaming with QUOTSA's Josh Homme and Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, the trio evoke images of all three of their primary bands, but when Jones started telling interviewers how much Grohl reminded him of playing with Zeppelin drummer John Bonham something became clear: Like most of humanity, that guy's day job isn't even what he's best at.
Buy Songs For The Deaf from Queens of the Stone Age at Amazon.
And please, for the love of Lemmy, if you've got an argument on what living person is a better drummer, make it, don't just shake your head in disgust.

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Black Lips - Modern Art

Modern Art by Black Lips Listen on Posterous

The Black Lips are America's party band. Sure, most of the country doesn't know who they are, but nobody objects to the Black Lips. Nobody. Test it out. Put on a record and see what happens.

My introduction, like many, I'm sure, was via their Vice Records debut, the exquisitely messy Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo, - was a bit of a brilliant move cause the record sounds like a party, which actually makes their studio efforts sound livelier.

This new track, the first single off the forthcoming Arabia Mountain, is notable not only for the rock and roll jangle and a saw as an instrument. It's also doing drugs and, it sounds like, enjoying them. To erase any doubt, they put it in the video

"Modern Art" is a strong first single. Let me rephrase that - it's not like this is a Rihanna album and radio has to like it enough to play the shit out of it. This song makes me expect something good on June 7. 

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop