Monday, August 20, 2007

All Blogs Go to Heaven

This Blog is Dead, Long Live the Blog.

It's been a good run...85 posts over the last year...but i never really expected her to last, in this form, as long as she did. This was the pupae, now we're moving into the chrysalis stage (thank you Freshman Earth Science!).

I've finally built the site i wanted a year ago and if you've stuck around this long, please move over to my new site, There, you will find my new site, with information on my clothing line, KWblack, and you will find my new blog, The Conglomerate: The Collective Thoughts of Adam Mack Wright. (Presumptious? You betcha!)

Please update your RSS readers, Favorites and most importantly, the links on your own blogs...this should clean things up nicely for you.

See you at the new spot.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Borderline Beautiful

A. I love Mandy Moore. I'm not even going to apologize for it. She passed Jeniffer Aniston on my list of "Celebrities Who I Think Would Be the Most Fun to Hang Out with in Real Life" a long time ago. I know CP will share the sentiment, but ever since I watched "A Walk To Remember" I've been pretty damn infatuated.

B. I hate this song. It's just silly. It's infectious and i find myself not hating it when i hear it at the bars but i remind myself that i hate it and all remains right with the world again.

C. My love for Mandy cancels out my hate for this track. It's almost friggin awesome. Enjoy

Monday, August 13, 2007

Monday Morning Shuffle

Sorry for the absence last week, there's not a ton of internet access up here:

However, i did take my iPod and although i tried to spend most of my time listening to the sounds of nature, i did fall asleep each night to The Shins and The Decemberists. They were instrumental in drowning out the waterfall that we camped next to (i don't care what they put on those relaxation CDs, listening to pounding water for 8 hours sucks.) and also my father's snoring. Good times!

On with the shuffle:

1. Chop 'Em Down - Matisyahu, off of Shake Off the Dust...Arise
Maybe it's my Hebrew roots, maybe it's the fact that a Hesidic Jew in full garb is singing reggae, rapping and beat boxing, or maybe it's just because i like good music, but Matisyahu is terrific.
I mean after a weekend of watching Making the Band 4 with my sister, do you realize how rare it is for a musician like this to be noticed and become even the slightest bit mainstream? Just read his Wikipedia entry...this guy has been everywhere, done everything and somehow has become a famous musician while interjecting Old Testament ideas and thoughts into his lyrics...tell me what the odds of that are in today's musical climate??

2. Jambi - Tool, off of 10,000 Days
This is a song to get you jacked up on a Monday Morning. If i was driving (and i guess everyone on the 101 should be glad that i'm not...) i would be drumming on my steering wheel and full on rocking out to this song while stuck in traffic. This is a perfect Monday Morning Shuffle song.
I especially like the voice-box guitar solo towards the end of the song...very Frampton.

3. Eat The Rich - Aerosmith, off of Get a Grip
I believe this is Aerosmith's first turn on the Shuffle...strange how long that took...
So this is one of those teenage-angst anthems i loved in Middle School because of the swear words and that fact that my mom absolutely hated the album cover (the pierced cow udder anyone?) I used to rock out to this song, knew the lyrics by heart and would pump my fist during the ubiquitous "take that Grey Poupon my friend and shove it up your ass!" climax of the song.
Then one day, i looked around at my surroundings and realized, "hey, i'm not living such an under-privileged life here..." and then that lead into my thinking, "Hey, Steven Tyler's probably got some money lying around too...why the hell is he singing about rich people when he's loaded?" And the whole thing just got really hypocritical real fast.
And although i think he was talking about the blueblood, Lifestyles of The Rich And Famous type people and not just people who had a few bucks and although i still love the song and the sentiment, it just got a little weird for me to consider it my anthem.

4. Gone for Good - The Shins, off of Chutes Too Narrow
Of course the shuffle would play a song from a band i've already mentioned once...
Anyway, the thing i'm really starting to like about The Shins is the breadth of their influences. This song is straight country, steel guitar and everything and it's the only song i've heard on 3 different albums that comes even close to sounding like this. You have to have a certain level of respect for a band that will sound completely different from song to song. I know they're not the first ones to do it, but just like Matisyahu, it takes some balls to go that far from the norm. I'm just saying...

5. How I Could Just Kill A Man - Rage Against the Machine, off of Renegades
And now for something completely different... I love when the shuffle does this to me.
This CD was a cop-out full of cover songs but i have to admit that it really did expose me to some music that i never would have listened to otherwise. Rage could have gone with rap covers and some metal/punk stuff but they really dug deep for some of these songs. Some of the bands they covered on this album: Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul-Sonic Force, EPDM, E-40, Bruce Springsteen and Devo...that's right, Devo..the same guys who wore the red pyramid hats and sang Whip It.
This is actually the live version of this song with Zach on stage with B-Real and Sen Dog from the original and mighty Cypress Hill. And before you get all caught up in the fact that i had to stop listening to Eat the Rich because the song was kinda, sorta about me but i can still nod my head to a song about killing cops...well, you'll just have to figure that shit out for yourself.

Thanks for reading.

P.S. Are you guys downloading the music? Does it work? Do you like it? Anyone? Beuller?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Monday Morning Shuffle

I'm about to head into the woods for a 6-day backpacking trip in Wyoming so i won't be here next week. I'm not heading in until next Sunday so maybe i'll try and write next week's a little early or maybe we'll just skip it. I'm not sure yet, we'll see how it goes.
Here's the major question...while i'm packing up my gear, i'm charging up my iPod. I've got some backup headphones that i usually use while running and i was thinking how nice it would be to have some tunes to accompany me on my 14+ mile hike into and out of the mountains...then again, maybe i should just enjoy the sound of the woods and being out with nature and talk with the people i'm going with. That's the point of taking this trip isn't it? To get out of the city life for a while and commune with nature? Kind of a pickle. What do you think? (I think i'm going to take it and not use it unless i absolutely need a pick me up or an escape...can't hurt to have right?)

Oh yeah, and i'm adding a new wrinkle this week. You'll see that the song names are linked now. Click on the links and it'll allow you to actually download the song i'm talking about. Wow...only took me 8 months to figure that out...

Anyway, on with the shuffle:
1. Graceland - Paul Simon, off of Graceland
Due to the "You can Call Me Al" video, ("I can call you Betty, and Betty when you call me, you can call me Al"...seriously, yet another reference...) i can't separate Paul Simon and Chevy Chase in my mind. I just imagine Chevy Chase doing something goofy throughout every song i hear.
This album also has "Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes" and a bunch of other recognizable songs on it. A good one to say the least.

2. Street Signs - Ozomatli, off of Street Signs
Apparently we're only going to have title tracks today on the shuffle...
I fell in love with Ozo during the old J5/Chali 2na collaboration on Super Bowl Sundae (as opposed to Chocolate Covered Mondae...thanks Erin) which is still one of my favorite songs. This CD is heavy on the Latin flavor which makes it extremely fun to listen to and basically impossible to understand if you're mono-lingual like me. If anyone can translate Te Estoy Buscando for me, i'd appreciate it.
I love the mix of Spanish sounds with the hip-hop a different sound than the boom-chick-boom-boom we're so used to hearing on top 40 hip hop and rap. Street Signs isn't their best album, but it's pretty good. And these guys have been around forever too if you didn't notice them before. They've shared the stage with Tribe, De La Soul and others in their careers. (And they have an interesting Wikipedia entry...)

3. What Am I To You? - Norah Jones, off of Feels Like Home
I've said this before but Norah still melts my heart... There's just this warmth to her voice that feels like hot coco or whiskey or something. I know that you know what i'm talking about.
I'd like for her to call me and leave a voicemail in that voice. That would be spectacular. I need to date a musician. She would write songs about sleeping with me and make inside jokes for me in the liner notes of her album. This needs to happen...

4. Every Little Thing She Does is Magic - The Police, off of The Classics
Two stories:
1. I was watching Office reruns the other night and the episode where Phyllis gets married was on and Kevin's band, "Scrantonicity" was playing...and all they played was Police songs. It killed me for some reason...partly because it was just so stereotypical of weddings and wedding bands, but also because they just didn't have any other material. Top notch.
2. On April Fool's Day every year, the ASU student newspaper, The State Press, released a joke edition called The Stale Mess, in which they'd do their best Onion impression and make up headlines about the school and make fun of the city, etc. So one year, instead of the usual Police Beat article, it was "The Police" beat...and every story tied in with a in "A woman was arrested Tuesday night on suspicion of witchcraft. One eyewitness claimed that everything the woman did was magic, and everything she did just turned me on.
Someone was also charged with littering Tempe Town Lake after sending out a message in a bottle and then finding a hundred million bottles washed upon the shore...

5. Keep On Loving You - REO Speedwagon
I can't say anything about this song that will make it any better. Just download it (especially if you're at the office) and turn up your speakers. EVERYONE wants to start their Monday morning with this song.
I just cranked up the speakers and i'm lip-syncing into a pen and i didn't even bother to shut the door to my office.
If this doesn't get you pumped up to be alive, then you're probably dead and should call 911 immediately.

Have a good week(s). If i'm not back in two weeks, just wait longer.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Links of the Day

A lot of good musical stuff going on today:

First and foremost, the new Common CD, Finding Forever, is streaming at VH1 (see? it is good for something!) So far, i'm loving it. It's very mellow, which is what i expected.

Also, check out the new Kanye video starring, who else, Zach Galifinakis. Say what you will about Kanye, he loves having fun with his videos. I'll give him that. (Man i hope this new CD is good...)

Blender has put together a list -- with accompanying youtube videos!! -- of the "wackiest cover songs on the web." It's an amusing, if not incomplete, list. Good material for a friday.

Ok, here's my Top 5 list of Hip Hop Albums. Thanks to Kevo for getting this started:
5. Jurassic 5 - Quality Control
4. Dr. Dre - Chronic 2001
3. Talib Kweli - Quality
2. Fugees - The Score
1. Mos Def - Black on Both Sides

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Monday Morning Shuffle

Thanks to everyone that came to my party last week. When i made that post about the importance of it and the songs that were catching my ear leading up to it, i was shitting my pants, to say the least. The night turned out amazing. Everything went off completely as i had hoped and i had so much fun. I hope everyone that came had a great time too. The music was amazing...check out to hear a track or two from our DJ that night. And if you're interested in the apparel at all, it's all posted at

On with the shuffle:

1. Wearing Thin - Further Seems Forever, off of The Moon is Down
Didn't i just talk about songs that are intrinsically tied to moments a few weeks ago? This is another one.
I guess i hadn't thought of this one in a while but i once made a valiant attempt to be honorable using the words to this song. It didn't work out quite like i had planned, but i guess the offer still stands also. Ha ha. Yikes.
Anyway, this is a song from the Chris Caraba days of FSF and i gotta say, i liked those ones the best.

2. Scavenger Type - NOFX, off of Punk in Drublic
Oh, silly punk bands trying to be folky, how you amuse me.
But let's be real for a second...NOFX was one of the better and more influential punk bands of our time. They made a lot of good music and talked about a lot of political and socio-economic statements (as the do in this song) that has really been missing in todays popular music. And Punk in Drublic was one of my first Punk albums, so there's a spot in my heart for it. Take a look at this album if you'll only take you about 20 minutes to get through the entire thing...another beautiful thing about punk music...1:30 second songs!

3. Ticks & Leeches - Tool, off of Lateralus
Have i done my top 5 list of best musical screams ever? I know i've been thinking about it for a while, i guess i've just never gotten to it. Well, anyway, this song has an unhuman scream in it. How that sound came out of a man's throat, i'll never know.
Top 3 Screams Because i Can't Think of 5:
5. My Heart - Paramore, off of All We Know Is Falling (at the 2:42 mark)
2. Ticks & Leaches - Tool (at the 1:10 mark)
1. Won't Get Fooled Again - The Who (at the 7:45 mark)

2. Burn One Down - Ben Harper, off of Live from Mars
I don't even smoke pot (cough, cough...anymore...cough) and i love this song. And without getting into too much of the argument about this natural occuring plant's legality, he makes some good points in this song about the freedom to do what you want as long as you're not messing with or hurting other people. Now, you could argue that you're affecting others even if you're sitting on your couch, stoned, demolishing a bag of doritos, but that's another conversation for another time. For now, let's just enjoy the hippy drum beats and singing out against the man.

1. Ghost Song - The Doors
Speaking of hippy songs...Well i went nuts to other day and downloaded a crap load of Doors songs because i didn't think that i had enough in my collection. And this is definitely a weird one. It's got the typical Doors sound but with this kinda upbeat new age melody going on with it and Mr. Morrison doing some kind of trippy incoherent spoken word thing. Yeah, i think i'll find Light My Fire or Break on Through and stick to that...

Kevo and Ron are having a good conversation about the Top 10 hiphop albums over on their blogs so i'll probably throw my hat into that ring some time this week. In the mean time, check out their posts.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Kid Icarus

I'm sitting here less than 24 hours away from one of the biggest moments of my adult life. I've tried to keep it down, tell myself it wasn't a big deal, play it low but i started thinking about thinking about the last time i achieved something that i actually gave a shit about...i had to go back to high school and building a house for Habitat for Humanity. Really, seriously, i haven't done anything that i was personally proud of in 6 years. You might say i'm being hard on those 6 years i've graduated high school and college, i've been the editor of a nationally published magazine, i've done some things that a lot of people would be proud of. But i hold myself to a higher standard. High School was a piece of cake. College was easier. The magazine was awesome but not a big deal by any stretch and the events that lead to me leaving that magazine pretty much marred any acheivement i felt about it.

Well, this thing tomorrow. This clothing line, this fashion show, this company. This is big. This is the first thing i've done in 6 years that i'm actually proud of. This is the first thing that has any potential. This is the first time i'm not being a lazy slacker asshole, breezing through life under the motor of minimum of effort, expecting things to be handed to me and being angry and cynical and playing the victim when it wasn't. This is the first time in 6 years that i'm even thinking about reaching my potential. I'm laying it on the line. My eggs aren't all in one basket, but they're not far from it. If this doesn't work, well then, i'm just not sure i can have any regrets about it...not in the sense that i won't, but in the sense that if i do, i won't be able to handle it. I just can't imagine a Friday in which Thursday night was not a success. I guess we'll see.

Anyway, in all of the planning and turmoil and stress i've been escaping to my sanctuary of Bose headphones and listening to some music and today two songs have occured to me that have struck major chords.

The first one is A Comet Appears by The Shins, off of Wincing the Night Away and it's pretty self explanatory why this one caught my ear. It's pessimistic, but so am i:

One hand on this wily comet, Take a drink just to give me some weight, Some uber-man I'd make, I'm barely a vapor They shone a chlorine light on, A host of individual sins, Let's carve my aging face off, Fetch us a knife, Start with my eyes, Down so the lines, Form a grimacing smile, Close your eyes to corral a virtue, Is this fooling anyone else? Never worked so long and hard, To cement a failure, We can blow on our thumbs and posture, But the lonely is such delicate things, The wind from a wasp could blow them, Into the sea, With stones on their feet, Lost to the light and the loving we need, Still to come, The worst part and you know it, There is a numbness, In your heart and it's growing, With burnt sage and a forest of bygones, I click my heels, Get the devils in line, A list of things I could lay the blame on, Might give me a way out, But with each turn, It's this front and center, Like a dart stuck square in your eye, Every post you can hitch your faith on, Is a pie in the sky, Chock full of lies, A tool we devise, To make sinking stones fly, And still to come, The worst part and you know it, There is a numbness, In your heart and it's growing.

The second song that struck me is a tad more optimistic but not much. This has been a favorite for a long time and i've always loved the meaning but tonight it struck me.

Thrice - Melting Point of Wax, off of Artist in the Ambulance:
I've waited for this moment All my life and more And now I see so clearly What I could not see before. The time is now or never This chance won't come again Throw caution and myself into the wind. There's no promise of safety with these secondhand wings But I'm willing to find out what impossible means. A leap of faith. Parody of an angel Miles above the sea I hear the voice of reason Screaming after me"You've flown far too high boy now you're too close to the sun, Soon your makeshift wings will come undone" But how will I know limits from lies if I never try?There's no promise of safety with these secondhand wings But I'm willing to find out what impossible means. I'll climb through the heavens on feathers and dreams' Cause the melting point of wax means nothing to me. Nothing to me Nothing to me I will touch the sun or I will die trying. Die Trying. Fly on these secondhand wings Willing to find out what impossible means I'll climb through the heavens on feathers and dreams' Cause the melting point of wax means nothing to me Nothing to me Means nothing to me Miles above the sea.

And the thing that caught me about this story isn't the main point i don't think. Sure the obvious story is that Icarus wanted to fly so he made wings out of wax and took off...he flew too close to the sun, the wax melted and he fell back down to earth. It's an interesting moral about ego and arrogance and learning your lesson the hard way, but there's another angle that i don't think i've ever seen until tonight:

If Icarus hadn't made his wings out of wax then they wouldn't have melted and he wouldn't have fallen. In other words, if he had made a decent product, he wouldn't have had a problem. So here's the crux of the biscuit: If my clothing is worth a shit, i'm flying to the sun. If nobody likes it, i'm falling on my ass from a long way up.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Monday Morning Shuffle

Sorry about this morning. Some things have been set in motion to ensure that years to come, i will be dictating this blog to my personal assistant while having my morning B, BJ and BR (figure it out for yourselves...) instead of typing it myself.

Will i still write the shuffle when i'm fabulously wealthy? Good question. I guess we'll see. (Going on a year by the way...)

On with the shuffle:
1. Zealots - The Fugees, off of The Score
I almost skipped this song. We've talked about the Fugees before. We've talked about how this is one of the finest hip-hop albums ever created. We've talked about how much i love Lauryn Hill and how i miss her. So what else is there? Well, nothing. But this is my favorite song on the album and if you have it, you should listen to it. And if you don't have it, go get the entire CD.

2. 500 Miles - Social Distortion
Man, i hate this song. But i love Social D covers. For some reason, they just do good work. I highly recommend Ring Of Fire and I Fought The Law.

3. Televators - The Mars Volta, off of De-Loused in the Comatorium
Lot's of repeats today but they're all good songs and we haven't talked about them before so we'll stick with it.
This is one of my favorite songs on this starts of slow and has this methodical way about it. The lyrics are considerably creepy in the way that only the Mars Volta can be and it gradually gains steam and leads into the final song of the album. Since this is a concept album and all the songs lead into the next, it is kinda tough to separate one song in particular but this was always a segment of this album that made me stop and listen. There is also this meandering guitar through the song that you have to dig underneath the vocals to hear but it's one of those parts that is almost fun to follow.
If you don't have this album, well, i just don't know what to tell you.

4. Each Coming Night - Iron & Wine, off of Our Endless Numbered Days
I actually don't hate this song. I mean i knew there had to be a few in their collection that i could enjoy, i just didn't think it'd take me this long to find.
I don't get it. What's with the whispering. Just belt it out for fuck's sake! Unless you don't have a good voice, and then you shouldn't be a musician in the first place (with apologies to Bob Dylan).

5. Get Rhythm - Johnny Cash
This is one of my favorite Cash songs. Stop reading this and go listen to it. Great tune if you're stressed or in a bad mood.

Wow...that was uninspired. My apologies. That my friends, is why we do the Shuffle in the morning. I'll try harder next week.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What my Blog is Rated

I thought i'd test all of my blogs to see what they're rating would be if they were a movie. Again, not a ton of surprise:

Free Online Dating

Mingle2 - Free Online Dating

Monday, July 09, 2007

Monday Morning Shuffle

My life has been insane lately. Great, but insane. There's something going on pretty much every moment of every day... I have this party going on,
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I am out all the time trying to promote it, i'm working like 6 days a week and by the time i go out at night to pass out flyers and meet with people, i'm "working" like 18 hours a day...and i'm not complaining at all. I love it. I really do. This isn't me bitching about it. I'm having the time of my life and no matter how busy or how stressful it gets, i still find myself with a huge smile on my face. When i used to work hard for someone else, i was bitter that my effort was benefiting someone else's pocketbook. Now that my effort is 100% my own, it's just a night and day difference. But, no matter how much fun i'm having, it's still pretty exhausting and i find myself wired at all hours of the day, all jacked up on Red Bull and feeling about as bugged out as a speed-addict with a bad case of ADD and an unlimited Starbucks gift card. The only other time i've really felt this is during my frequent trips to Las Vegas...whether it's for fun or for business, when i'm in that town i find myself so overstimulated that i often have overwhelming cravings for just 5 quiet minutes without flashing lights or naked ladies or a drink in my hand.
When i get the chance, i throw on my Bose soundproof headphones and pick one good song to just absorb that allows me to check out for a few. Anyone who has roomed with me there has seen it. It's an absolute must when i'm in that town...and apparently it's becoming a must in Phoenix too.
Friday, i asked in a myspace bulletin what people listened to in order to chill out...i was listening to Imogen Heap at the time, but here are some of the suggestions i received: Sigur Ros, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Joshua Radin, Cary Brothers, Regina Spektor and Iron and Wine. Some of these i have, some of these i'll be checking out. If you see something that should be on this list, let me know in the comments. If you see me with my headphones on and my eyes closed...just give me 5 minutes and i'll be right with you.

On with the shuffle:

1. That Girl is Poison - Bel Biv Devoe
This song keeps popping up in my life ever since Mos Def performed it in February. I hadn't heard it in a long time, but now it frequents my iPod and my party mixes. The DJs at the clubs seem to be playing it a lot more recently than i remember as well. Weird how that happens. Anyway, this song is great, good harmonies, lyrics i can agree with and a rock-hard classic beat.

2. I Could Die For You - Red Hot Chili Peppers, off of By The Way
This album was totally underrated. It has been completely missed and ignored. I don't know why, but nobody thinks anything happened between Californication and Stadium Arcadium, and they couldn't be more wrong. This CD, while it didn't have the epic stature of the two aforementioned albums, was very very good and worth every bit as much time as the others. And like many of the RHCP albums i have, i purchased it at the beginning of the summer, right as i was about to take a road trip to Wyoming. Ever song on this CD reminds me of some part of that summer, this song in particular bringing to mind a drive from Pinedale to Jackson Hole, with the sun shining the windows down and a very slow RV teetering through the canyon on its way to Yellowstone, doing everything in its power to keep me from passing it...

3. Muhammad Walks - Lupe Fiasco
This is the Jesus Walks beat but with Lupe rapping about the muslim prophet Muhammad instead of Jesus...a pretty interesting take and, because he helped do the production on the original, he has the rights to the beat.
Whatever power you believe in, this beat is amazing no matter what they're rapping about and since Lupe kicks a bunch of ass, it's worth checking it out.

4. Blue Mind - Alexi Murdoch
Something tells me i've written about this song before but i can't find any record of it and i really like this song, so we'll talk about it.
There's some intangible quality about his voice...i'm not sure if it's an accent, or just a way of enunciating certain words, but it makes everything he says sound more important and poignant. And this song really reminds me of something that would have been on the Braveheart soundtrack. Bad ass movie=good song. If you haven't had a chance to listen to Alexi, i definitely recommend it. He's a good one out the "guy and his guitar" set and an excellent choice for those 5 minute music refreshers i mentioned earlier.

5. Do It Now - Mos Def, off of Black on Both Sides
Mos teams up with Busta Rhymes for one of the most poppy songs on the entire album. It's interesting to hear how talented Busta Bust is when he's not just accompanying Janet Jackson or some shit. I mean, he and Mos go back and forth and you can almost feel the energy of their collaboration through the CD. I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall of this recording session...i just wonder what Busta Rhymes is like in real life. Do you think he's that excited all the time? Hoo Haa!

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Top 100 Days That Changed Music

I thought this would be a hard list to put together and that they would totally fuck it up....i was wrong.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Hurricane Katrina-Inspired Songs

I was driving to work this morning when the song "Dollar Days" by Mos Def came on. This song starts with Mos telling a story about some rescue workers a few days after the storm, find this old lady wading through the flooded streets. By this time, they weren't expecting to find any survivors, so they were surprised to see this lady alive. They approached her and said something to the affect of, "How did you survive? Where have you been?" and her response was, "Where have I been? Where have YOU been?"

So that got me thinking about the songs that have been created in response to that mess. I've heard a few but i want to get a collection together and make a top 5 list later in August, around the time we'll be hearing from the mainstream media just how great everything has become over the last 2 years.

Here is a link to some more tunes.

The one's i like so far are definitely Wide Awake - Audioslave and Dollar Days - Mos Def.

What are your favorites?

Reminds me of the Hurrican Katrina mix i made in 2005 shortly after the storm:
1. Led Zeppelin - When the Levee breaks
2. Bob Dylan - Hurricane
3. REO Speedwagon - Riding the Storm Out
4. Journey - Wheel in the Sky
5. REM - New Orleans Instrumental No. 1
6. Credence Clearwater Revival - Who'll Stop the Rain?
7. The Doors - House of the Rising Sun
8. Dispatch - Water Stop
9. Johnny Cash - Bridge over Troubled Water
10. Blindside - Eye of the Storm
11. Bob Dylan - Blowin in the Wind
12. The Scorpions - Rock You Like a Hurricane

Monday, July 02, 2007

Monday Morning Shuffle

A few things before we get started.

A. So, I'm starting piano lessons again and i'm ready to actually commit this time. I have far fewer distractions, a lot more time on my hands and with my new lifestyle changes, a few more dollars to spend towards an actual piano in my house to practice on. I'm making a CD of good piano tunes for Ashley, my friend and teacher, to transpose for me to play and practice. Playing a simplified version of Piano Man is a lot more fun than Mary Had a Little Lamb, trust me. So here's a brief synopsis of the CD i'm making for her:
1. Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond (a bar classic)
2. Piano Man - Billy Joel (another barroom classic)
3. Don't Stop Believing - Journey (after The Sopranos finale, this song will bring the house down)
4. The Luckiest - Ben Folds (for the ladies...)
5. Brothers On A Hotel Bed - Death Cab for Cutie (this song kills me, i could play the intro over and over)
6. Scenes From An Italian Restaurant - Billy Joel (one of my favorites)
7. Clocks - Coldplay (not my favorite band, but a good piano song)
8. Colorblind - Counting Crows (this song breaks hearts...)
9. Riders on the Storm - The Doors (i know it's a keyboard, but this song kicks ass.)
10. Something in The Way She Moves - James Taylor (not that i could do it justice...)
11. A Boy Named Sue - Johnny Cash (can't wait to sing along to this one)
12. Nightswimming - REM (just sounds good, even if nobody knows what it is)

Let me know if you have any suggestions. I'm definitely open to them.

B. There are 2 new shows coming out, one on Fox, one on NBC (i think) that are these karaoke shows in which the contestant wins by knowing the words to songs. They play the song, the person starts singing the words and then they turn the music off and the person keeps singing, or they're expected to say the next line. Why wasn't i informed that these shows were happening?!? Is there some kind of web site in which they look for contestants for these things that i don't know about? Did they identify me as a threat to their bank accounts and blacklist me? I WOULD DESTROY THESE SHOWS! I'm figuring out how to get on one of them as soon as i finish writing this.

On with the shuffle:
1. House of The Rising Sun - Bob Dylan
Is it possible to have a worse voice and still have the song sound amazing? I think no.
I mean, his voice just sounds awful, but it's so perfect at the same time. I've heard this song done a thousand different ways and by a thousand different voices and while i love The Doors' version, this one is really growing on me. I think that Dylan's voice just fits the rawness and pain of the context of this song. It sounds like the song you'd hear if you just jumped a train or were sitting around a campfire with some other downtrodden folk. It just sounds like it's from another time period altogether.

2. Captain Jack - Billy Joel
A terrific Billy Joel song about drugs and women and trying to be cool and all the stuff that make being a rock star so kickass. Is it just me or is this song the musical equivalent of Boogie Nights?

3. Stay or Leave - Dave Mathews, off of Some Devil
Some songs are inescapably connected to moments in our lives. Some good, some bad, it doesn't matter, but for those of us who view music as the soundtrack of our lives, you know what i'm talking about. It's almost symbiotic. There are songs the make me actually feel guilt, pain, happiness, goosebumps, etc. Interesting that music has this physiological affect on us...
Top 5 Songs that Completely Rip My Heart Out:
5. Brothers on a Hotel Bed - Death Cab
4. Rough Draft - Yellowcard
3. Mess - Ben Folds
2. Stay Or Leave - Dave Mathews
1. Colorblind - Counting Crows

4. American Pie - Don McLean
Totally forgot this one on the piano mix CD. I'll have to add it to the 2nd one. This is a terrific bar and sing-a-long song that any decent barroom piano player (and really, that's all i aim to be) should know.
One summer in Wyoming, my mom, brother, sister and I went on a hike up to some lake. My mom promised that there would be fishing at the lake and that it wasn't far. My sister and her mounted their horses and took off down the trail. My brother and i, having refused to ever ride (horses smell, are a pain to take care of and miserable to ride if you have testicles...) so we strapped our fishing stuff to our backs and started walking. Eight miles later we caught up at the lake, fished for about 18 minutes before realizing that there were either no fish, or they didn't want what we had, and turned around and headed back down the trail. Well i don't know how many of you have walked 16 miles in one day (not to mention 8 uphill and 8 downhill) but there's not a whole lot you can do to avoid being uncomfortable at some point. Your socks get sweaty, you get blisters, the packs start to rub your back raw, your calves and toes start to hurt from walking downhill and accidentally kicking you do what you can to pass the time and take your mind off it. Somehow i managed to bet my brother that between the two of us, we could put together every single word of this song in order..and so for a few hours on the way back to the truck we sang and sang and argued about whether the marching band refused to yield before or after jack flash sat on the candle stick...good times.

5. Let's Get High - Dr. Dre, off of Chronic 2001
Normally, i would skip this song...there's just not that much that can be said about it, and for one reason or another, i don't think this song really connects with the target audience of this me crazy.
Anyway, the reason it's being included is because there's a story behind it. Back in my senior year of high school, when i had a whole lot of jack shit to do, Danny Bogen and I would go run the bleachers or the track at Horizon at night. Inevitably, our parents realized we were at the school and logically could pick our brothers up from Marching Band practice since we were already there. So Danny and i would do our thing and then sit in the car listening to music, waiting for them. One night, there are about 30 other parents in the parking lot, all waiting for their kids and Danny grabs the Chronic 2001 cd...we're listening to it at a reasonable volume level and then this song comes on...for those of you who don't know, here are the lyrics to the first few lines of this song: "All the niggas and all these hoes is here/somebody here's gonna fuck." So what does Danny do as he sees Nole, Ron and Jack walking towards the parking lot? Of course he blasts it. I'm in my old Suburban, so Nole and Ron come running up, jump on the running boards and start rocking the shit out of my truck, thus directing even more attention to the complete vulgarity of the music we're playing ... and then come our little brothers, absolutely mortified at how we're acting in front of all the other kids and their parents. (Of course, we were the cool kids on campus, so we were actually making them cooler simply by being associated with us...) Makes me laugh every time.

Alright, have a great week. Enjoy music.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ridiculous Band Names

Cracked Magazine (yes, it's back) has made a list of the Top 25 Most Ridiculous Band Names and it's pretty funny. I have to say that the list seems rather proportional to the suckiness of the band as well...

Here's my personal top 5 list of ridiculous band names:
5. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs (How about no, no, no.)
4. Five For Fighting (Pretty sissy song for a band named after a hockey penalty...)
3. Fountains of Wayne (huh?!?)
2. Jefferson Starship (was supposed to be an updated version of Jefferson Airplane, might have turned out to be the worst band ever.)
1. Snow Patrol (I actually briefly enjoyed their work so this isn't based on my taste for their music at all. I just hate this name with a passion. It has no relevance to their body of work and just seems one of those names that happened when everyone was stoned and someone said something and everyone stopped and said, "That would be a good band name, dude." only it sounded clever while everyone was messed up. Upon becoming sober, most people would have forgotten the name, these guys, however, were nominated for a grammy with it...Here's the story (from Wikipedia): "In a recent issue of Rolling Stone magazine, bass player Paul Wilson joked the reason for the name stemmed from an encounter with police in Telluride, Colorado. The band members apparently were caught trying to cut down a Christmas tree from the skiing hotspot. The band successfully eluded the police when they hid in a cave for over five hours. Drummer Jonny Quinn suffered from pneumonia after the ordeal."

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Monday Morning (ok, Night) Shuffle

Sorry this took me so long to get to. I had an insane morning, there was just no way i could take the time out to write it. My apologies.
This will also be interesting because these will not be the first 5 songs of my day, as they typically have been, instead, i have listened to music a lot today and this will be the last 5 songs of my day. Could be interesting....

On with the shuffle:
1. Fuck You Slowly - Tenacious D
No little kids read this right? Right?
Funny that this song came on because i just happened to make a pilgrimage back to Mill Avenue and The Big Bang Saturday night. It was probably the first time since i graduated that i was back hanging out with the college kids, raising a glass (of water) and singing my lungs out to the dueling pianos. That place is still fun, even if i felt like 420 years old.
Well they play that song at the Big Bang, because it's just generally an awesome song to play in a room full of 20-somethings that are drinking and hoping to end up sharing body heat with someone later in the evening.
Great song, great subject matter. No art needed. Just come right out and say it. HAHA. I've probably heard it 500 times, and it still makes me laugh. (also appropriate given the title of this blog and the Jack Black connection that lay theirin...if you don't know what i'm talking about, stop reading and go watch High Fidelity. Don't come back until you do. Seriously, i'm not even joking.)

2. In The Cold Cold Night - The White Stripes, off of Elephant
This song is surprisingly beautiful and enjoyable. I've NEVER liked the White Stripes, not even a bit. But not there are 2 songs on this CD that i like and i'm wondering if, like a virus, this CD is starting to spread a little bit. I don't think i'll ever completely like it, but it is growing on me.
I was kinda writing the last few sentences of the last song as this one came on, and i didn't immediately recognize i open up iTunes to see what it is and i was pretty surprised with the result.

3. No Joy In Mudville - Death Cab For Cutie, off of We Have The Facts And We're Voting Yes
Mostly, i really like Death Cab. This song is not working for me. Too slow, too many effects and weird sounds. I'm sure i'd love it in the flow of the entire album, it just isn't working for me in this venue. It's actually actively bothering me. I'm hitting next. I never do this.

4. Cambridge - Motion City Soundtrack, off of I Am The Movie
So i've often spoke of the traits of my favorite CDs...a good flow from song to song, how the organization is important, how the first song - like a lead-off hitter in baseball - can set the tone for an entire album, and if the first song doesn't work, it can ruin an album. So let's do a little top 5 of best Track 1's, Side 1's in my uneducated opinion:
5. Bombtrack - Rage Against The Machine
4. Black Dog - Led Zep IV
3. Enter Sandman - Metallica, Metallica
2. Son Et Lumiere - The Mars Volta, De-loused in the Comatorium
1. Welcome To The Jungle - Guns and Roses, Appetite For Destruction

There are a ton more we could list, but these were all Lead-off Homeruns. Now let's talk about this song: IT'S A TOTAL STRIKEOUT! I bought this CD because i liked one song off of an epitaph CD sampler and i put it on at the beginning of a road trip, and this song was just putrid. Almost ruined the trip...but i forged through it and I can say that i've liked every single one of their songs on 2 cds since this song. That's 25 out of 26 songs that i've loved, and 1 that i can't listen to at all. How the hell did that happen?
5. Carry On - Crosby, Stills and Nash
This is one of my favorite CSN songs of all time. Between this one and "Lee Shore" these are really the only two songs that i'll actively search out and listen to on purpose. This song has this raging guitar intro that would absolutely thrash were it not played on an acoustic guitar. Then there's this little break down section in the middle that is almost jazzy, with the 3 men succeeding in sounding like a 25-person chorus in the high-harmony that is so characteristic of their finest music. A terrific song all around, and a perfect way to end the Monday Night Shuffle.
Goodnight all.

The Monday Morning Shuffle

Will be written tonight...probably. Sorry.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Monday Morning Shuffle

Alright, busy day today. Lot's going on. Let's just get right down to it.

1. Flesh Into Gear - CKY, off of Infiltrate.Destroy.Rebuild
Most of you are familiar with CKY's sound from countless hours of watching Jackass. Bam's brother Jess is the drummer of this band and Jackass (and Bam) really got their start from being complete idiots on these promo videos called, creatively, CKY. If you haven't seen them, and you want to explore the roots of Bam, The Margera family, some sick skating and the performance art chaos that these fine individuals have perfected, then go find CKY, CKY2k, CKY3 and most importantly, Landspeed. Landspeed started it all...very few people know this. Also, CKY stands for Camp Kill Yourself.
As far as the band goes, i really like them. They rock for the sake of rocking. They have a crisp metal sound that doesn't go over the top in its brutality and i really like the sound of the lead singer's voice. They do some pretty unique things with effects and lyrics and they're definitely worth a listen. Some of it is actually rather catchy.

2. Don't Drag Me Down - Social Distortion, off of White Light, White Heat, White Trash
Last week, I decided to go nuts and download every Social D and Deftones song i could find. I was honestly surprised that the RIAA police didn't knock down my door that very moment. These are two bands that have massively obsessed followings that i never got into myself. I decided to give them a chance.
I've always liked Social D for the same reasons i like CKY above. They just rock for the sake of rocking. Let's get everything up tempo, let's get some good hard guitar going, let's beat the drums until our knuckles bleed and lets sing the lyrics like we've got an extra set of vocal chords, if we ruin these ones.
This song is no different. Good solid rock and roll fundamentals...verse, chorus, verse, guitar solo, chorus, done. I love it.

3. Free Bird, Lynrd Skynyrd
Jesus, am i over my head now or what? How do i write about this song? How do i even put it into context? Which part of the 10:07 do i talk about?
Ok, i figured out what to talk about: Why do people yell 'Play Freebird!!' at every concert? A simple google search proves that other people have spent quite a bit of time thinking about this very fact, the Wall Street Friggin Journal wrote quite a few words about it.
My favorite "Play Freebird!" moment happened a few months back when i was at the Mos Def show in Brooklyn. It was kinda quiet, Mos took a ton of time in between songs, looking at the set list, talking to the musicians, taking his jacket off, drinking water, talking to the he walks up to the mic after what had to be 3-4 minutes of silence and right as he's about to say something, someone yells it...Mos immediately cracks up, stumbles back a few steps and then just sits down in the middle of the stage with his head in his hands, laughing his ass off. I think he laid down at one point, and then gets up, walks back to the mic and says, "Fucking Free Bird???" and they go into the next song. Hilarious.
(and because it deserves mentioning, i pulled up google, did the search, read the article, wrote my little story about it and already typed the number 4 for the next song before Freebird finished...)

4. The Arcade Fire - Neighborhood 3 (Power Out), off of Funeral
I could have sworn i talked about this song in a shuffle before but it turns out that i haven't. I did mention it a week or two back in my Beats, Part 1 post.
This is without a doubt my favorite Arcade Fire song to just rocks. I love the sound of it, the beat and the guitar. This is a song you can dance to. I really fell in love with it one night at The Hard Rock casino in Vegas when i was there with Nole, Ron and Jesse for the POOL show. We had met some other guys from the show and they had driven us over to the casino to hit another bar (we had been at The Palms and it sucked). As we were walking in from the parking garage, this song was playing over the main stereo and i asked the guy i was walking next to what he thought of the band, since i was still deciding if i liked them or not. He gave me a great explanation (although i'll be damned to remember what it was.) and the song just struck me as awesome as we walked through the casino listening to it.
Oh, and here's the inspiration for the song...

5. Every Ghetto, Every City - Lauryn Hill, off of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Again, i'm out of my league here. This song, this CD, this artist, is just flat out amazing and nothing i can say can do it justice.
This is one of my favorite songs on the album, just because her voice is so alluring and the beat is such a toe-tapper. It's just good.
Come back Lauryn. We need you. (i'd take a solo cd, a Fugees reunion, anything.)

Alright, that turned out pretty well. Wish i had some more time to discuss, maybe i'll come back tonight and add to it.

Have a good Monday.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Monday Morning Shuffle

Too tired for stories. Let's just get on with it. (Back in the day when i started this, i was unemployed with no prospects. I created this blog -- and the others -- as a forum to continue reading and writing and push myself creatively instead of sitting on the couch all day. I picked Monday MORNING Shuffle because it had a nice ring to it and because i needed a reason to get out of bed before noon. Now that i'm gainfully employed and i'm waking up early anyway, Morning is a regrettable choice. However, I will push on.)

1. We Know - Talib Kweli, off of The Beautiful Struggle
When this CD first came out, i listened to it a lot. And then i just quit. Not sure why. But this weekend, after spending about 12 hours in the car driving to LA and back, i listened to it straight through. Actually i pretty much listened to every Kweli song i had on there and i gotta say i think i'm getting back into him in a big way. There was a lot of stuff that i missed the first times through. Don't you love that?
Anyway, this song is a slow one but beautiful in both its sound and subject matter. It is also dated in some of its rhymes, which is kinda hilarious just because things have changed so much since then. Kweli says something like, "We can cruise like Tom and Penelope." and until i heard that, i totally forgot that relationship ever existed. Hilarious.

2. The Late Greats - Wilco, A Ghost is Born Again
Wilco is another one of those bands, like The Decemberists, that i find myself loving and hating depending on the mood i'm in. This song i particularly love. Not sure exactly why, the music just strikes me as compelling and the melody is catchy. Some of their stuff is slow and boring and experimental and noise for the sake of noise and the vocals aren't good enough and the lyrics not interesting enough to make me continue listening. This song is the opposite of that.

3. Don't Ask Me - OK Go
Has a band ever received more fans from a youtube video ever? Because i never listened to them much before this video and now i'm constantly keeping my eyes open for them. Good for them and hurrah for technological liberation.

This thing has over 4 million views...

4. Wonderful Day - O.A.R., off of Stories of a Stranger
This CD is one of the best road trip albums ever (in fact, i'm kind of angry with myself for not listening to it over the weekend.) It's happy, it's poppy, the sing-a-long factor is through the roof. This is a CD that will keep you awake on 1 hour of sleep (especially when added to Red Bull and sunflower seeds.). I don't even care if this isn't your type of music. If you're a music fan, then you like beats and melodies that compel you to move and sing. You can't argue with me about this. If you don't have this CD, or are too emo to think that you'll like happy music, then you've completely missing out.

5. Papa Loved Mama - Garth Brooks, off of Ropin' The Wind
This is interesting twist to the shuffle...Garth is absolutely the only country i will allow on my iTunes (only mainstream country that is...Pat Green, Robert Earl Keen and other "texas" country artists are allowed.)
I have to give Garth (and country music) a little credit in this one rite, it is the only genre of music that will sing about a truck driver husband driving his rig into a hotel room, thereby killing his cheating wife and presumably her lover, and make it sound like a great song to sing along to, dance to and cheer for at a live concert. It's absolutely hysterical.
My favorite Garth moments in life, and believe me these happened a lot, were when i'd get home from work in college and Danny Bogen, my roommate at the time, would already have a big drink poured for me, a few shots lined up, the Playstation tuned up to NHL Hitz and Garth blaring on the stereo. I can't tell you how many times we'd be signing and hooting and hollering and generally howling at the moon in our living room until the wee hours of the morning as we got piss drunk and laughed our asses off singing Friends in Low Places. I tell you what, it may seem stupid to you, but those nights were some of my favorites ever. Ever.

Alright, thanks for reading. Have a good week.

Friday, June 08, 2007

This is Why i Hate, This Is Why, This is Why, This is Why, This is Why I Hate

Not that long ago, i wrote a few thousand word defense of rap and hip-hop (which received one comment. Seriously, what the fuck?!?). Today, i came across this Village Voice "breakdown" of This Is Why I'm Hot which just made me laugh. It's top notch, tongue in cheek and absolutely the reason that i hate this song, and others like it.

Also, check out Kweli's take on this song. Pretty quality.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

"Like Heavy metal for girls..."

Here's a good article for all you Fall Out Boy-genre haters (and a new reason to hate them, because Wentz compares himself to Bob Dylan, which makes me want to puke a little bit.):

June 6, 2007 -- ONLY a few years ago, Jonathan Daniel had hit 40 as a failed hair-metal god replete with gray hair, stolid paunch and a penchant for faded, tapered denim jeans. Bob McLynn, a Mr. Clean look-alike one decade younger, was a failed post-hardcore bass player living off a deficit account.
So it makes an odd kind of poetic sense that together, as the masterminds behind the New York-based agency Crush Management, they are responsible for some of the most popular, ubiquitous and critically savaged emo/pop-punk bands of the moment - Fall Out Boy, Panic! At the Disco, The Academy Is . . . basically, any band that a 13-year-old girl with a blog and Hot Topic habit obsesses over.
“[I thought] as long as I could figure out how to make money with artists, it’ll be a business,” says Daniel, whose face shines with a fine film of sweat and who punctuates nearly every thought with a high-pitched, machine-gun-style laugh. “And the turning point came when I found Fall Out Boy.”
How Daniel found Fall Out Boy is in dispute (he says he stumbled across a song on the Web; FOB bassist/lyricist Pete Wentz recalls mailing in a tape), but the band was the first act Daniel and McLynn signed to their struggling company - though Daniel was skeptical.
“I was like, ‘I don’t know. They’re so green,’ ” he recalls. “But Bob was like, ‘I know what to do.’ ”
McLynn threw the band in a van and had them tour the country for a year, while Wentz intuitively built up a fan base - albeit primarily among 13-year-olds - by creating a patina of intimacy with them online. Which, to suburban girls suffering from strip-mall ennui, felt very real.
“And then I went to see FOB down at the Continental for a little Sunday afternoon show, and there were 300 kids there, at 3 in the afternoon, singing every word to every song,” says Daniel. “I started going crazy. This was the new way to reach kids.”
Fall Out Boy’s success has spawned a legion of sound-alike, look-alike bands, several of which are now signed to Crush, including Panic! and Academy - both discovered by Wentz. He also encouraged Crush to sign the supremely goofy rap-rock outfit Gym Class Heroes, who just had a No. 1 hit with “Cupid’s Chokehold.”
Much like Lou Pearlman - the crooked impresario who created and controlled the ubiquitous boy bands of the mid- to late ’90s - the guys behind Crush have successfully marketed a critically dismissed, yet commercially successful, stable of cute boy bands to timid teenage girls not yet ready for real rebellion.
“It’s no different than *NSYNC with guitars,” says Butch Walker, a producer and songwriter who has worked with FOB and Academy. “Which they’re not. But I don’t think [these] kids are as critically discerning as they would be if they were older.”
Crush’s management style borrows from Pearlman’s business model, as well as parts of Motown and the Brill Building. They’re a factory, operating out of a single loft-like office space on East 11th Street.
The recording studio is in the back, as is the in-house producer, a lanky, talkative 37-year-old journeyman named Sam Hollander. The merchandising is run out of the front. The on-call video director, a super-chill 38-year-old “Sound of Music” obsessive named Alan Ferguson, has a room of his own, littered with candles and DVDs of old Hollywood musicals, while core songwriter and producer Walker is based out of Los Angeles.
Shrewdly, Crush simply manages this team. None of these artists is on the Crush payroll, but when they work with Crush artists, Daniel and McLynn - who pointedly and often refer to their company as a “family” - get a cut.
“It’s not as ugly, seedy, inside-job as it seems with us,” says Walker. “It’s really like a family.”
Until now, Daniel and McLynn have intentionally remained anonymous, which allows their biggest bands to seem like part of an organic movement rather than extensions of a calculated, cultivated brand.
Fall Out Boy, Panic! and Academy specialize in baroque videos with narratives not seen since the ’80s, as well as logorrheic song titles only an adolescent could love: “Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying (Do Your Part To Save the Scene and Stop Going to Shows),” “Champagne for My Real Friends, Real Pain for My Sham Friends” - Fall Out Boy tracks both. “The kids get so deep on the lyrics,” says McLynn. “They speak to kids on a level that no one’s spoken to them before.”
Also unofficially employed by Crush is Fall Out Boy lyricist/bassist Wentz, the band’s most famous member and the elfin, guylinered mascot of the entire scene. A pop-culture obsessive who spends an inordinate amount of time online, Wentz basically works as their A&R guy, having signed all three bands to his own label, Decaydence, which is also managed by Crush, as is Wentz’s clothing line, Clandestine.
“It can get incestuous,” Wentz concedes. “Crush manages everything I do - almost everything. I pee on my own. But it’s a trickle-down theory of economics that really works.”
“Wentz is an entrepreneur,” says Walker. “He was a bored kid from the suburbs who was like, ‘I’m gonna have more T-shirts to sell than songs in my set list.’ ”
Wentz himself - who recently hit a new, Us Weekly level of celebrity by hooking up with the dubious likes of Ashlee Simpson - admits that “Fall Out Boy is the way I support my lifestyle.”
“All the bands judge each other by how much merch they sell,” says Daniel.
Such crass commercialism has long had its place in hip-hop - Wentz himself aspires to be like his mentor and Island/Def Jam president Jay-Z - but in Wentz’s scene, not so much. This makes him one of the most loathed figures in rock, suspected of exploiting his fans’ false sense of a confessional community in the interest of selling CDs at $20 a pop. And the Crush bands are among the very few, in the age of file-sharing and downloads, who can; FOB’s latest record, “Infinity on High,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts.
Yet these profit-margins haven’t translated to critical respect, or fans over the average age of 15. Daniel, to his credit, isn’t so shocked. He admits that the bulk of his bands aren’t so familiar with rock.
“Panic! in particular - I think their musical history traces back to the first Third Eye Blind album,” he says. “That’s it. Like, the guy producing their record gave them ‘The Beatles Anthology.’ And they were very excited, but they didn’t know any of it.”
Also, Daniel thinks that FOB and its spawn are disparaged by critics because “they’re very much like the hair bands of the ’80s, like Motley Crue - it’s, like, heavy metal for girls. This scene is very much like that. It’s very female-based.”
“He couldn’t be more on the mark,” says producer Hollander of Daniel’s assessment. “Dead on. If you were a hipster, like I was at that age - God, you wanted to laugh at it. That’s exactly right.”
“It’s not edgy,” says songwriter Walker (he’s also written and produced for Pink, Avril Lavigne and Bowling for Soup). “It’s no different than the hair metal movement that Bon Jovi pioneered,” he says. “When those girls outgrew New Kids on the Block and Debbie Gibson and started smoking cigarettes and hanging out with boys who drive Camaros, they started listening to Bon Jovi. And that music was not good either.”
Walker, whose tastes run more toward the Arcade Fire, concedes that a lot of the Crush bands sound “so same-y - they all have the same look, play the same guitar songs, all the songs are about the same s - - -. I think that’s why the critics don’t like it.” He pauses. “Jonathan may not be the poster boy for what is indie-cred cool, but if he was, he wouldn’t be successful. Let’s not have our head up our ass and shoot ourselves in the head with the hipster gun. And I think that’s why the company is equally loved and loathed.”
To Wentz, it’s all just white noise. He sees himself as one in a long line of great artists who, in their prime, were profoundly misunderstood: “You know, Bob Dylan plugged in and everyone started booing,” he says. “Thirty years later, he’s hailed as one of the greatest artists of all time. There are plenty of ways to get rich. It’s very easy. But if you want to be involved in this, you want to be involved for the legacy of your art.”
He prefers to see himself and Crush as a latter-day version of Andy Warhol’s Factory. “The most important thing is the brand, and the shift in popular culture we’re making,” he says. “We don’t have meetings about what color we should dye our hair.”
And so next month, the band - which to date has employed monkeys, Wentz’s dog Hemingway, and Kim Kardashian in its videos - will expand its navel-gazing oeuvre by shooting its next video in Uganda.
“Pete and the band want to focus a lot of attention on humanitarian efforts,” says director Ferguson. “The band is going to meet at orphanages, political leaders. Fall Out Boy will play at a school, for example. You know those big, inflatable things that kids jump on at carnivals? We’re gonna bring one of those to the orphanages for a day so the kids can play with it.”
Trickier, he says, is capturing the mood: “I need to make it compelling. You don’t want it to look like a Sally Struthers commercial. This is a ‘TRL’ video.”
But for now, there’s a tour to wrap up: FOB played Jones Beach last night, along with Crush stablemates Academy and Cobra Starship, after which Wentz headed over to his 28th birthday party at Angels & Kings - a theme park-y dive bar in the East Village recently bought by Crush (all their artists are investors).
The opening night party hosted Jay-Z, Helena Christensen and Kate Bosworth, though of course the Crush guys prefer to position it as just a dirty little clubhouse for their artists. Wentz, hilariously, told The Post at the opening that his own bar was a necessity because he wasn’t “cool enough” to get into most clubs. “We just want someplace where we can hang out and be ourselves.” And which, no doubt, will lure kids from Long Island and New Jersey, hoping to “hang out” with their favorite uncool, superfamous rock stars.
Wentz and Crush, though, aren’t worried about the little girls catching on. “I feel like our fans could smell a fake,” Wentz says. “I do the things I believe in.”
“Wentz, as much as he is hated on by the cred kids - they have no idea what kind of force they’re reckoning with,” Walker adds. “A lot of people think he’s cashing in on empathy and pain. But whatever.”

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

More Beats, Part 1

On the shuffle Monday, i made a quick Top 5 list of my staple beats if -- and when -- i ever become a DJ (or really, just get to spin once.)

So i've been thinking about it more and more and i've come up with a few more of my favorite beats that i would spin. In no certain order and not always with explanation:

Bill Withers - Ain't No Sunshine - The beat of this song was used for some rap song that i heard and i was kinda pissed about it at the time but it did make me realize how good the beat actually is, and actually, you could use the vocals over a different beat. I absolutely will use this a lot of ways. You know, when i get my tables.

Journey - Seperate Ways - Totally random song but i'm definitely playing this right at the beginning of my set. There's just something about this song that pounds through the speakers and gets people tapping, nay, stomping their feet.

Jurassic 5 - Quality Control + What's Golden - Have you ever met anyone who didn't like Quality Control? I think that even Nole would like this beat and this song.
And What's Golden has got to be one of the better party songs created in the last 10 years.

The Roots - The Seed 2.0

The Arcade Fire - Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)

Asia - Heat of The Moment

Arrested Development - Tennessee

Beastie Boys - Rhymin and Stealin (or, as it's also known, When The Levee Breaks by Led Zeppelin)

Boyz II Men - Motown Philly

The Caesars - Jerk It Out - Yeah, it's kinda tired but still a great song.

Dre - Keep Their Heads Ringing

George Clinton - Bop Gun

Ina Gadda Da Vida - Iron Butterfly - Maybe speed it up a bit, but it's a great riff and could be applied to any vocals.

Jay -Z - The Threat, 99 Problems

Johnny Cash - God's Gonna Cut You Down - I think this is an amazing song and the beat could absolutely be adapted to the club. There's just a sound to it that'll get people stomping and clapping. I think it would work.

Marvin Gaye - Sexual Healing - I mean, who doesn't want to hear this when they're out and have had a few cocktails?

Alright, that's enough. Part 2 later.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Monday Morning Shuffle

Another nice musical weekend...i finally sacked up and with the help of a birthday gift certificate to best buy, bought a really nice surround sound package to go with my really nice TV. The musical importance of this is that my new surround sound receiver comes with an iPod dock. I just plug it in, the same way you would to charge it, and the iPod plays through all 5 speakers and the sub-woofer. It can also be controlled from the remote control and the menu pops up in the corner of the TV so you can see where you're scrolling. It also charges while connected...
It's a pretty awesome feature and one that i'm sure will keep me listening to music even more than i already do.

On with the Shuffle:
1. New Desert Life - Further Seems Forever, off of The Moon is Down
FSF has more reincarnations than the Buddha himself but i think this one is my favorite. I would have passed up on every Dashboard song i'd ever heard to keep this one together.
This album, along with Yellowcard - One for the Kids and Taking Back Sunday - Tell all your Friends, was my baptism into the world of "emo", so to speak. Sophomore year of college. I was pissed about pretty much everything and this seemed like the perfect music to connect with, at the time.

2. How Come - Ray LaMontagne, off of Trouble
We've been over him a few times, but this is definitely one of the better songs on the album. If you haven't started listening to Ray yet, definitely give him a shot. That's all i can say...

3. Bow Wow W0w - Snoop Dogg
This is one of my favorite main stream rap songs ever. I love the beat, absolutely love it. I can blast this in my car like nobodies business. The collaboration between Snoop and Dre is just classic and i love Snoop's delivery back when he was just getting started. It seems like he worked a little harder on his rhymes then...
Anyway, i was at Pussycat Lounge Saturday night...and i friggin hate that place...but, the DJ is always really good. He plays a really good mix of classic rock, 80s rock, hip hop, old school, everything...and he gets really creative with how he mixes it all together. He plays the most obvious riff of a song just to get everyone excited and then he goes away from it as a tease, only to bring it back a minute later, just at the moment everyone is going, "I know i heard that beat...i'm mad he didn't play the whole song.." It's exactly the kind of DJ i like to think i would be, and i really am considering getting some tables and learning how to spin. I don't even care if i get any good, i just want to spin for my friends one night, at one party, and i would be happy. I think i'd be good. Anyway, i was thinking on Sunday morning about my 5 absolute staple beats that i would have to spin every night:
1. Ain't No Fun - Snoop
2. Juicy - Notorious BIG
3. That Girl is Poison - Bel Biv Davoe
4. Pistol Grip Pump - E40
5. Boyz In the Hood - Eazy-E

4. Summersong - The Decemberists, off of The Crane Wife
This song falls on the side of Decemberist songs that i actually like. In fact, The Crane Wife is probably my favorite album from them so far. I don't know why i like this song and i don't like others...i think the music is more full and rich and so it's not the vocals i notice so much as it is the Sea Shanty quality that the music has. The hook and chorus are just more compelling than other songs i've heard. This is a good one though.

5. Smiley Faces - Gnarls Barkley, off of St. Elsewhere
Does Charles Barkley like Gnarls Barkley? These are the thoughts that keep me up at night...

As sick as i am of hearing Crazy as every one's ringback tone of their cell phone, i still like it. (I think that i don't get sick of popular songs as fast as everyone else because i don't listen to the radio...) but this song really kicks ass. There's a lot of other good tunes on this CD but this one is definitely one of my favorites. I love the old school/new school hybrid of their music. There's some Doors -esque organ in this song and the beat just seems like something the Temptations should be singing over. If you have only heard Crazy and are writing Gnarls Barkley off, i suggest you check out the rest of their album.
It's not very often that the Labels let something this experimental (it's experimental today...wouldn't have been 30 years ago...which makes it retro-cool) slip through the cracks.
In fact, when this song ended, an old Al Green song came on right after and i thought that i had accidentally turned the shuffle button off and it was playing another Gnarls' song...interesting.

Alright, i have a huge busy day so i'm licking the stamp and mailing this Shuffle in just a little bit. Still, such a good way to start the day...

Monday, May 28, 2007

Monday Morning Shuffle

So i open iTunes yesterday to listen to something while i'm working and guess what? It's gone. I mean...there's nothing there. I have no songs, no videos, no explanation. So i frantically click over to my iTunes folder where everything is stored and sigh with relief that all the files are there. So what happened? iTunes just decided it didn't want my library anymore and dumped it. I have no explanation. So anyway, i imported the library again, which is still in shambles because of my complete deletion a few weeks back, and end up with about 1,000 more songs than i had. At first, i said, "Great, it found some stuff i forgot to add." Until i started scrolling through and noticing double and triples of a ton of stuff. Not everything, but enough to make a difference. Anyway, my OCD kicked in and spent the next 2 hours with a focus unlike i ever have and completely retraced and reorganized everything. I deleted most of the doubles and triples completely off my computer, freeing up about a gig of space. Let's hope i didn't kill anything important.

On with the shuffle,

1. This Ain't A Scene, It's an Arms Race - Fall Out Boy, Infinity on High
I started here on purpose because i know i'm the only one here that consistently likes them. And i have no idea why. You know that i'm usually the first one to write off a band that the masses like, especially after that awful Verizon commercial with the meathead lifting and sweaty and listening to it on his phone and then getting a call from his "babe" all the while forgetting to spot his friend on the bench. I mean, that's usually the breaking point for me. But here i am, enjoying yet another guilty pleasure from the most sold-out band available today. Part of me is ashamed, and part of me doesn't really give a shit. It's poppy and fun to listen to and sing along with. Sometimes you need that...i can't sing along with Sigur Ros. (besides, you all have your guilty pleasures too. I know it so i won't feel too bad.)
Anyway, so far, i like this album. It sounds like all the other ones, and talks about the same exact shit. But like i said, it's catchy, poppy and you can sing with it. When my windows are down (not really an option now that we've hit summer) flying up the 101, this is what i'll be listening to.

2. Chi-City - Common, off of Be
Common is one of my favorites. It's been welllllll documented. I love his voice and his delivery. He sounds so relaxed on the mic, it almost sounds like a saxophone or a soulful trumpet just being played casually by an expert in complete control. He never sounds too bored or too excited. It's a unique sound out of the genre.
My favorite lines in this song:
A black figure, in the middle of chaos and gun fire/So many raps about rims, I'm surprised n***** ain't become tires/On the street you turn code and then go screech/I tell em fuck em, like I do the police/The beast in runnin' rampant/I'm in between sheets tryna have sex that's tantric/But the ghetto, trying to make a get up, stand up anthem/You spit hot garbage son of Sanford/What you rappin' for to get fame or get rich?/I slap a n***** like you/And tell him Rick James bitch.

3. Cat Power - Satisfaction
This was one of the suggestions way back in November 06 (jesus, has it been that long?), when i threw together a hastily prepared and ill-conceived top 5 list of favorite covers.
I like this song a bunch. I love it when people take covers and completely make them their own, almost so it could have been the original song and nobody would have been any the wiser...
I also like the fact that she never sings that chorus. It's a want it to be expect it to be there...and it never comes. It's like a secret she thinks about telling you and then decides not to. It drives me crazy and keeps me coming back for more. I've always had a thing for teases.

4. The Patient - Tool, off of Lateralus
This is just another good song on what has to be the best Tool album...and since there really is nothing specific to talk about...let's tell a story.
We talked on our group blog about what it was like back in the day to invite friends over to listen to music. Not to watch a movie or do something else, but to literally come over just to listen to an album. I couldn't remember the last time i did this until i heard this song. I have no idea what grade it was but Nole came over, and i'm pretty sure that some of the girls were with him, but i can't remember because Nole and i were so into listening to the bass lines and the drum bits that we weren't paying attention to anyone else. I can remember Nole sitting at the head of my parent's kitchen table, during the opening to Schism, trying to explain to the girls what kind of technique the guy must have used to create that sound because, at the time, there was no conceivable way that the bassist had enough fingers to play that opening. Anyway, he stands up, and he has his arms out like he's playing a bass and he's demonstrating in only the way Nole can when he's excited and everytime i hear that song, i'll think of it.

5. Hear You Me - Jimmy Eat World, off of Bleed American
Speaking of nostalgia...this song has such an old school quality to it that even though i didn't hear it until my junior year of college (maybe even senior), it still takes me back to moments in high school. There's just something about the reflective quality of it.
This song is about these 2 girls, in the midwest i think, who worked or hung out at a venue and apparently were really cool to all of the small travelling acts, giving them places to stay, feeding them, giving them goodie bags for the road, etc. After hearing Nole talk about touring and how some people just came out of the woodwork to be cool (and how sometimes you just had to straight up ask kids if you could crash....ha ha.) this song means a lot more to me. Anyway, i guess these two girls were very cool to Jim and the band and when they died in a car accident, the band wrote this song for them. "Hear you me" is something that one of the girls used to say a lot apparently. And i'm writing this without researching it, but i'm pretty sure when i read about it, there were a few other bands with songs about these same girls. Apparently they made an impact on a lot of people. May angels lead them in.

It's a federal holiday and i'm still doing to shufflle...and in the morning no less... Now that's dedication.

Much love. Have a great holiday.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Monday Morning Shuffle: The Hand Picked Edition

It's hard to write the shuffle in the morning if you don't wake up until noon. And yes, i have a job that i probably should have gotten up and gone to, don't remind me. But last night i went to a bar in Old Town Scottsdale that i've been meaning to check out for a while. Martini Ranch has this 80s cover band called Metalhead that puts on the outfits and the wigs and pleather pants (complete with the lead singer holding a vodka bottle, assumingly full of water, that he carries around with him on stage...) and rocks out to all of your favorite 80s big hair hits.
Given that admitting you have a problem is the first step to overcoming it, i'm going to tell you that i have an unhealthy obsession with cover bands. I want to be in one, i want to play at crappy little bars for 4 people and sing my favorite songs and use someone else's talent and hard work to make myself look like a rockstar. So i have an addiction to cover bands...watching them, being in them, whatever. (Seriously though if you want to be in a cover band with me, e-mail me here: I'm dead friggin serious. I can sing but can't play guitar or piano to save my life. I can play percussion though and i would definitely give Christopher Walken more than enough cowbell. Call me, please.)
Also, my other problem in need of admitting is that the only musical pleasure i have that is guiltier than liking Fall Out Boy is 80s hair music. I love it. And i'm not ashamed. I own VH1's sounds of the 80s and i've seen Ratt, Poison, Warrant, Quiet Riot, Slaughter, Great White, Bon Jovi, Kiss, Journey (Greatest band ever? Discuss.), Def Lepard and more in concert. I mean, come on. If you're going to go out and be overserved can you think of any music you'd rather hear? I can't. So anyway, that's why the shuffle is a little late today. And i feel awful...i have no voice and i'm definitely having the sweats and shakes. Totally worth it. Might do it again next sunday even.

So today i'm going to do something different. I usually get up early and write the shuffle at home using my iTunes on my computer. Well today, since i was running late, i decided to write it at work and ended up having the first 5 songs of my day be played on my iPod in the car. I heard some good songs that i want to talk about and so instead of being completely random today, i'm going to pick good ones that i want to talk about. Probably more fun that way anyway.

Anyway, on with the shuffle.

1. Know Your Enemy - Rage Against the Machine, off of Rage Against the Machine
Zach, where the hell have you been? We needed you more than ever over the last 8 years and you just straight up abandoned us. 9-11, Katrina, Iraq, Bush...seriously. We needed your guidance. I needed your fistpumping, angst-filled lyrics to get me through some tough times and you blew it. I'm mad at you and you need to make it up to me. Lecture over.
So another great story about this song and high school Ron, Nole, Keegan (and maybe Adam Mortemore?) were supposed to play for this assembly. The theme of the whole thing was America and we were going to put this medley together of patritotic songs (Neil Diamond, Lee Greenwood, etc.) and rock out. Well the more we talked about it and messed around, the more we thought that we didn't really like the way things were being handled in our country and that it would really ruffle some feathers if we walked out and played some Rage Against the Machine instead. We picked this song, learned it, practiced, had it completely perfect and then completely chickened out. That's all i can think of whenever i hear this song....good times.

2. Don't Let Money Change Ya - Blackalicious
I've always loved this song. Banging beat with a bunch of different layers and tempos and the hook is really what makes it (I can't explain'll have to listen to it.) Gift of Gab is one of the most talented MC's i've ever heard...just listen to the track Alphabet Aerobics for an idea...and he doesn't swear or talk about bling...he just flows and flows with these super intelligent and creatively rhymed lyrics. He's relatively political too which you know i don't mind...He did a track called Release with Zach De La Rocha and Saul Williams on the Blazing Arrow album that is totally amazing and you should check out also.
This song tells the story or a rapper coming up in the game, his success going to his head and his inevitable fall. Gift of Gab says the person's name is Sisqo, but i have no idea if he's talking about the Thong Song guy or not. That would be pretty ballsy i guess.
Anyway, if you like Kweli or Mos or Kanye definitely check out Blackalicious.

3. Goodbye Sky Harbor - Jimmy Eat World, off of Clarity
I'm not a huge Clarity fan to be honest ... not as big as some i know (the obsession borders on Radiohead-like for some people i've talked to...) but this song is one of my favorite Jimmy songs of all time. All 16 minutes of it. And i didn't even really appreciate it until after i read "A Prayer for Owen Meany." It's an amazing book that i know all of you who read this would really appreciate and Goodbye Sky Harbor's lyrics are taken directly for the book. I actually put it on when i read the last few pages of the was a cool cross of mediums that i highly suggest.

4. The Widow - The Mars Volta, off of Frances the Mute
I once got a lapdance to this song...true story... and in Anchorage, Alaska no less. And it's completely irrelevant but can you think of a more random set of circumstances to connect you to a song? Because i can't.
The best part about it is that i would have never ever thought this song was sexy before but given that's kind of a sexy song to me a Nine Inch Nails - Closer kinda way...just dark and melodic and the girl had jet black hair and was kinda dark and melodic herself and now i have a Pavlovian response to it.
I told the girl after the dance that i really loved the song and that it was probably the most random song to hear in a strip club ever and she said, "Yeah, and i just love the girl's voice too." AND COMPLETELY RUINED IT FOR ME. That's the last time i give a stripper musical credit.

5. Brothers on a Hotel Bed - Death Cab for Cutie, off of Plans
This song never ceases to blow my mind. It is primarily my reason for wanting to learn piano, just so i can sit down in a bar or at a friend's house and play the first few chords of it and tear everyone's heart out with the beauty of those first few notes.

And that's all their is to say about that.

I'll leave you with a gift: A New Lauryn Hill song!

Have fun out there kids.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

My Take on Rap Music

So this conversation has been going on for a while and yielded some really interesting thoughts and points. The fans (Ron, Kevo and I to varying degrees) have rallied to the genre's defense and the detractors have expressed valid points that i would have dismissed a few years back but now are starting to grow on me...most specifically that the music that people listen to does have an affect on them.

I have a few concerns before i launch into of which is that i'm not sure where to post it. Do i post it on the music blog because it's about rap music or do i post it on the socio-political blog because it is a social commentary. One of these days i'm just going to have to consolidate the damn things...i digress.

My other concern in typing this is that i'm sitting in a house i own, typing on a relatively top-of -the-line computer that i also own, in one of the more affluent neighborhoods in the entire country, Scottsdale, AZ. Now i don't live in the nicest part of the nicest neighborhood in town but still...i'm not living in the projects or ghettos -- my town doesn't really have too much in the way of these types of neighborhoods even -- so how am i going to sit here and talk about rap music and the plight of black people and music's affect on the inner city when, hell, i've never really even been to an inner city for fuck's sake... So i'm a bit torn, but i'm going to press forward. Here's the deal. In the paraphrased words of Ben Folds, i'm a suburban white kid with a relative life difficulty of ZERO. Everything i am going to write has been viewed through that scope and everything you see is going to have to be read through that lens and digested accordingly. Disclaimer over.

My first hip-hop CD ever was Wyclef - The Carnival. I bought the edited version at a walmart in Jackson Hole Wyoming because i desperately needed new music and i wanted to piss my mom off by buying a rap CD, i think. I listened to this CD all summer and ended up liking almost every song on the CD, the beats appealed to me and the lyrics stuck in my head. I've always been able to memorize lyrics in about 3 listens of a song and knowing all the strange lyrics (including the song in Haitian french) just worked for some reason. It's a fun, light-hearted CD and i felt that a lot of the more "gangster" lyrics were tongue-in-cheek anyway. When they talked about shooting people (and i'm pretty damn sure that the collective body count of Wyclef, Lauryn Hill, Pras Well, Melky Sedek, and the others on this CD don't climb too high...) it seemed more along the lines of watching a mob movie or playing a violent video game than people actually discussing reality. It still does. I can watch the Godfather and not put a hit out on my enemies. I can watch Goodfellas and not start selling blow. I can steal a car and shoot a hooker in Grand Theft Auto and never even remotely consider doing these things in real life. Hereto, therefore, i can listen to rap music and not (even subliminally) start thinking that the actions spoken of are even the slightest bit OK. As Kevin put it in his comments, even a lifetime of listening to NWA has never caused Kevo to reach back like a pimp and smack a ho. The same, obviously, goes for me. One of my favorite rap songs of all time is "Ain't No Fun" by Snoop and that's about the filthiest song i've ever heard. I've always looked at it as a parody and never thought that any human being ever would listen to it and consciously think "You know what? I gotta start treating women like this. It sounds great!"

As i've said before, misogynistic and degrading lyrics are not new, and they're certainly not mutually exclusive to black people. Over the course of the history of music, dating back to African tribes thousands of years ago, there is evidence that words and sound were combined to create music in rituals and traditions that were made to lower and debase women and raise up the confidence and superiority of the men (the warriors). It has been passed down for thousands of years and as bad as our music seems today, we (as in today's humans) definitely didn't invent it. Like i say all the time, and i've pointed out in often in my Everything is A-Ok blog, we really haven't evolved that much. We're not that much different, that much more mature or that much smarter than our ancestors of thousands of years ago. Evolution is a process that takes millions of years. We've advanced an iota. We still beat our wives and televise it on Cops. We're not any better. I know we'd like to think that we are, but we're not. At all.

Now i'm not saying that it's OK, i'm just trying to provide some context. We have come a long way in our respect and treatment of women and they have proven their great worth to us ignoramus men time and time again throughout history. I'm not saying that because tribes of indigenous people treated their women poorly 8,000 years ago, that it's OK today. It's not.

Music has always been a great communicator of thoughts and ideas. Musically talented people have always been the story tellers and instant messengers of every generation. When white people ripped Africans from their continent to bring them to the U.S. as slaves, the negroe spiritual was born. They weren't allowed to gather in great numbers so they passed on messages of hope and strength through music. Music is, and always will be, a medium in which ideas and messages are carried on. So, i suppose i have no choice but to finally admit that music, and more importantly the message contained in that music, is a powerful thing and to varying degrees has an affect on all of us. It would be ignorant (and i've been accused of ignorance a time or two) to assume otherwise.

Here's where it gets sticky and entirely friggin off topic. If music is a great communicator and it's messages affect us no matter what (and i think that they do.) then it becomes a matter of right and wrong vs. censorship vs. responsibility. Earlier in the post when i talked about the different kinds of violent and inappropriate media that i've taken in throughout my life and how it hasn't affected me, i meant that it hasn't spurred me into violent and/or illegal actions. To say that it hasn't affected me at all would be completely incorrect. I have certainly had major emotional reactions to music. I've admitted time and time again in this very space that i love music that makes me feel something, that gets something out of me and that i hate music that doesn't move me in some way, no matter how brilliant the musicians that created it may have been. I have heard songs whose lyrics struck me at a particular time and motivated me to change the way i thought about certain situations or people; and in the end, some of those changes in perspective have even caused me to act differently the next time i faced the situation. So, if you want to oversimplify it, i'll go ahead and admit it: Music at some point in my life has driven me to take an action. I chalk up the fact that i've never slapped a ho to the fact that my parents taught me the difference between right and wrong. I know better. I know that would be wrong, so i don't do it. It would be easy for me, as an affluent white male from a good part of town with parents who cared about me and are still married, to write off the societal implications of rap lyrics by saying, "Well, if parents would just teach their kids right from wrong..." and wipe my hands of all the extenuating circumstances. But that wouldn't be fair. Parents are just like any other group of people, a few good ones and a whole lot of shitty ones. So we can't rely on parents to tell their kids, "Hey, it's fine if you listen to Dre. Just know that you can't cap a nigga just because Dre said so." It's never going to happen. Some parents just don't give a shit and so we'll always end up with kids who have no concept of the right way to behave. It'll never change.

So then what? Do we rely on the government to censor the music we listen to so that kids with crappy parents don't act out lyrics they hear? I think that's a slippery slope and one that is so obviously a bad idea that we don't even need to discuss it. We do still live in America, and despite all that is happening around us, we do still hang on to a few scraps of freedom ie. it's ok for the government to censor and hide war news, but it's not OK to censor our rap music. That's where we draw the line. Makes perfect sense, right?

So the third option is responsibility. When Talib Kweli has a forum with 4th and 5th graders or Russell Simmons holds a hip hop summit, that is practicing responsibility. Still, is it just me, or do you not see Mims, Yung Joc, 50 Cent and Suge Knight lining up to host these things?? It's just never going to happen on a wide scale. There's no interest in it and more importantly, there's no damn money in it. If it was human nature to be responsible, we wouldn't still have cigarettes or liquor or drugs or television or cheeseburgers (BORING!) fact, we wouldn't even be having this conversation in the first place. So i'm not going to hold my breath and wait for the rappers and hip hop artists to make sweeping changes in the name of responsibility. Call me a pessimist, but it ain't friggin happening. From the very top (white) executive at the top record label, to the kid selling his demo on the corner, there is absolutely no interest -- financially or otherwise -- in protecting the children from dirty, obscene, irresponsible lyrics.

So what is rap to do? Or rather, what are we to do about rap? Here's 2 possible answers. The first one cynical and the 2nd, somewhat optimistic.

It goes completely out of style as a genre.
And that's it. That's the only feasible way that rap lyrics will ever be OK. For them not to exist at all. And if they exist, for people not to give a shit. You don't hear anyone complaining about how Polka is ruining our children, do you? Any news lately on the kids who were jailed because of the Waltz? How about that congressional hearing on Bach and Chopin? All of those things went out of style, became obsolete and are no longer affecting our culture. If rap music goes this way, the discussion will go away.

And the second:
Mos Def has this speech at the beginning to Black on Both Sides (my favorite hip hop album ever) and he says something along the lines of, "Hip hop is the people. We are hip hop. And hip hop won't get better until the people get better. So when you ask me, 'hey Mos, what's gonna happen with hip hop?' i say, 'what's gonna happen with us?' Hip hop will get better when the people get better."
And that's the poignant line for me. Hip hop will get better, when the people get better. That's the only solution.

Can the people get better? We will see.