Tuesday, January 18, 2005

"In a compact flat amid the bedsit land of Shepherd's Bush, west London, Maya Arul and two cohorts spraypaint stencil designs on to a pile of white-label 12" singles. The logo spells out "MIA", which happen to be her initials, as well as standing for the dreaded war jargon "missing in action", though Arul says it stands for "missing in Acton" (a nearby neighbourhood)..." From the Independent.

They describe her sound as "a mix of Jamaican dancehall and hip hop, though Arul sings in her own distinctive style that takes in Missy Elliott, Jamaican toasters and UK vocalists such as Estelle and Shystie. "People say I'm a musical blotting paper and I like that. I'm a living, breathing mixtape. I like dancehall beats, but because I'm Sri Lankan I have to ride the beats in a more melodic fashion. In Asia, melody is everything."

The lowdown on M.I.A. - real name: Maya Arulpragasam (via Brooklyn Vegan) - she's from London via Sri Lanka, and her song Galang is one of the best things I heard recently. Great interview with her in the New Yorker over here. The Galang video is available online here. Or if you're in LA or NY in early February, catch her live with Diplo on the decks, which should be madness. Her site says she's touring as support for Roots Manuva round the UK late Feb/early March too. (Image from Catchdubs)
ADDED: just got sent this link (cheers to the folk at Flavour) - the brand new video from Diplo, for the Diplo Rhythm, shot in Sth America. Kraftwerk gone Brazilian?

Also via BV... Download more Prince than you know what to do with.
more later...
Been listening to the M.I.A./Diplo mixtape all afternoon, brilliant stuff. It's called Piracy Funds Terrorism Vol 1, more here and a review here. It's long since sold out, but may be getting a re-release as a fundraiser for the tsunami victims in Sri Lanka.

Monday, January 17, 2005

"I don't know if I'd bother going to that Big Day Out."

The weekend papers were full of Big Day Out coverage, my fave slice being Herald writer (and former esteemed editor of Real Groove) John Russell's interview with Judah Bauer from the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Bauer clearly didn't want to do the interview; "my enthusaiasm level for interviews is not high", he said, but he went the distance, noting that interviews are "a necessary evil in the world of art and commerce." Poor guy.
At the end of the interview Bauer fires back a question of his own, asking who else is playing; "no one's told me anything about it". Russell replies, "Well for starters, you've got Beastie Boys, Slipknot, Le Tigre, Hives, Polyphonic Spree, The Streets, System of a Down, The Donnas..." Bauer interrupts. "I don't know if I'd bother going to that Big Day Out".

I saw the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion on their first visit here back in 99, and it was easily one of the best gigs I've ever seen. You know how overseas bands come down here, stroll out onstage and ease into their set cos they're tired and they've come a long way (boo hoo), and hit their stride after 3 or 4 songs? Well, the Blues Explosion walked onstage, Jon Spencer hit his guitar strings to check it was working, then BOOM! They were already blasting along at 100% within two seconds of the first song. Absolutely incredible energy. Definitely worth bothering to go out of your way to see em. Even if Mister Bauer don't really wanna be there.

Simon has added some BDO recollections over here. Free record company alcohol is a slippery slope at the best of times, you might say.

ADDED: Give it up for Rich Harrison.
via Jay Smooth... this tune is seriously funky, not so sure on the vocals, but if I can hook up an instrumental of this, hot damn!

"We shall henceforth refer to it as Rich Harrison "One Thing" (ft. Amerie), because the one thing that matters here is that Meters-on-steroids beat. I kinda wish he'd given this to Yonce or even Mary, cuz Amerie's voice isn't strong enough to carry it.
On last week's show DJ 3D was raving about "Get Right," the new single by Pro Tools Autotune (featuring J Lo). "It sounds like real instruments instead of sound modules, and has an actual snare drum on it!" Turns out this one's a Rich Harrison production too, and luckily there's a bootleg version of with Usher on vocals instead, as noted at Different Kitchen.
So Rich is damn sure the man right now. So far he's leaning towards the post-hip-hop school of R&B songwriting, i.e. "make a beat and then throw some vocals riffs on top of it" instead of "compose a melody/chord structure/lyrics and build around that." But he's got the chops to make it work." Also cop it here.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Bob Marley vs Elvis Presley

Ah, some fresh audio blog madness. "If there's one thing that Elvis knows more than love, son, it's Rasta biznezz. And snacks... a modern mashup of ol' Elvis croonin' the Orioles' 1953 hit "Crying in the Chapel" over the Wailers' 'Satisfy My Soul.'" This is so wrong, but I like it.
Via The Suburbs Are Killing Us - for your listening pleasure - don't sleep!

a few more audio blogs... Deep soul junkie is doing a nice line in New Orleans funk, and Funk you has some good stuff too - check the Deodato tune he discovered while playing Grand Theft Auto! He's also got a tune off DJj Keb Darge's collection Legendary Deep Funk vol 3. Keb Darge will be Djing in Auckland at the end of this month, at the monthly Turnaround night, hosted by Cian, Manuel Bundy and Submariner. Check it!

new toys...
check the Mini Mac, only US$499. Very cool, the Mini is available with either 40 GB or 80 GB drive with up to 1 GB of memory. Just add keyboard, monitor, and mouse.
Beat junkies, check the new MPC 2000 XL MCD, adding features they put in the MPC1000, like Flash card reader etc.
"The new 2005 updated version of the most popular production studio on the market. New features include: Multi-card drive supports: Compact Flash, Smart Media, Memory stick, and Secure Digital; resampling with different bit depth or sampling rate; slice function; timestretch with adjustable presets; internal IDE drive so you can replace floppy drive with a zip drive and more". Tech specs here (pdf format)

Danny Sugerman (Doors alumni/biographer) passed on recently - but check this, he was married to Fawn Hall ("who testified against her former boss Oliver North in the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s).
And is this the dirty ol Nick Eynon resurfaced? Or just a pretender?

ADDED: check this assessment of this years Big Day Out from Life of Reilly. Bang on.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Check out the list of the Official Most Played Alternative Tracks of 2004 - weighing in at number 62, Scratch N Sniff Remix by Dub Asylum! Yay! Also check out Strawpeople's tune The Andy Warhol Effect (cowritten by some guy) at number 14. Niceness.
I;m keeping a low profile gigwise, but catch my crew Bassteppa Sound System at the Raglan Reggae Sunsplash, Feb 5-6, alongside Blood & Fire Sound System, Trinity Roots, Fat Freddys Drop, the Midnights, Roots Foundation and many more.

Hey, check out the trailer for Lee Tamahori's latest directorial effort XXX State of the Union; stars Ice Cube and there's lots of blowing things up, always a good plot device in my book.

Fast food chains are desperately reinventing themselves these days, pitching their wares as healthy and good for you blah blah blah (and good for Sarah Ulmers bank balance, Olympic cracker ho that she is) ... well, here's a burger outfit doing the exact opposite. They are pushing a Monster Thickburger using some well-dodgy ads (more here). The above still is from an ad called 'Fist Girl'. Seriously. Read more at the underground post.

Monday, January 10, 2005

RIP Phill Matthias.
I got my first ever tattoo from Phill, in his studio up the top of College Hill. A friend of mine designed it (kinda Balinese-looking), and Phill dug the design, so he charged me stuff all to do it. I remember thinking that was really cool as I'd saved up a bunch of dosh to get it done.
"He liked the idea of artists becoming tattooists, not drunken bikers ... he helped to legitimise the whole world of tattooing, which was in a dark tunnel for a long time." said Otis Frizzell.
Tattooist and artist Frizzell got his second tattoo from Phill Matthias and later worked at Dermagraphic for nearly seven years. "He taught me the only trade I have ever had. How to be a tattooist and how to be a hustler. How to take on the establishment from the inside, and I have been doing it ever since."
I remember when Phill ran for mayor of Auckland in 1998 - the incumbent was Les Mills, and his main opposition boiled down to dodgy old Christine Fletcher. I was distinctly unimpressed with Fletcher when two of her competiting candidates bowed out and threw their support behind her - one was right-leaning Victoria Carter, and the other was Lynda Topp (of the Topp Twins), a leftie.
Her response at getting backing from the left AND the right? "That's interesting". And that's why I voted for Phill Matthias (and he had a spine, and a brain which he knew how to engage). People didn't vote for Christine Fletcher, they voted against Les Mills, same scenario as the recent mayoral election - people voted against John Banks.

The Kaikoura Roots Festival next weekend has sold out (features Salmonella Dub, Pitch Black Cornerstone Roots, Shapeshifter and one of the final performances by Trinity Roots among the highlights), look out for the same thing happening with the Raglan Reggae Sunsplash, Feb 5th (final gig by Trinity Roots). Don't say I didn't warn you! You can catch my crew Bassteppa Sound System down there too. It's a wicked site, just over the hill from the beach. Dancing to reggae in the sun, grass under your feet, doesn't get much better.

Via Coolfer... On the eve of the opening of Ramones documentary "End of the Century" in London, The Guardian's Alex Petridis talks to Tommy Ramone.

Go Home Productions clever fella Mark Vidler on mashups, from an article in January Wired magazine...
"...Like any self-respecting rule-breaker, Vidler is skeptical about the commercialization of mash-ups, fearing that it might be the genre's death knell. "It's just like punk," Vidler says. "Once you get 'Hurry Up Harry' by Sham 69, it's all over."
Tee hee. Mark has also started a blog, read about his former musical life in a band called Chicane.

Good Q&A with Nas about his latest album, on Yahoo News...
Yahoo: What's next?
Nas: There's so much that I've never done. I love clothes but I'm not excited about getting into the clothing business, I love sneakers but not really excited about doing it. My guys are interested in doing both clothes and sneakers that I might support ... but what I'm really interested in is doing books and I like screenplays and I've written some, so you'll probably see some movies and stuff like that coming from me. Not from the big Hollywood end but on the independent end. I'm a student of filmmaking and not a student of the glitz of Hollywood. So you'll probably see something from me on the independent end and something really different on the novel end of the book level.

Friday, January 07, 2005

via O-Dub.. "Greg Tate hits you with a double-tap in this week's Village Voice. He's absolutely brilliant on both counts: the first being an essay on hip-hop's 30th anniversary and what it means for Black public culture and politics. The other is a review of Nas' new album, which actually ends up touching on many of the same issues as the other essay."

Thursday, January 06, 2005

I got addicted to checking Google News every hour during the Iraq War. Thankfully this addiction has eased off. Russell Brown wrote a good piece on Google News recently in the Listener, worth a look if you missed it.He also backgrounds what comes up most often in their searches, as counted by wellington firm newsknife.com... "The first three in terms of top-ranking stories were not too surprising: the New York Times, Reuters and the Washington Post, in that order. But the fourth-placed site stirred some debate: it was China's Xinhua agency. Curiously, Google News often seems to regard Xinhua as a more relevant source of reporting on American stories than it does most American sites."
Also in the Listener this week, following on from their 'Summer of Rock' cover (what about the Summer of Dub? Kaikoura Roots Fest, Raglan Reggae Sunsplash, new releases from Katchafire, Salmonella Dub), the Listener serve up heaps of useful advice for new years resolutions; how to get fit, get rich, get a blog (they call Noizyboy a blogvestite!!! Ha ha), and they tell you how to play the guitar, so you can bash out a few chords when the acoustic is being passed round the campfire. They give you chords and handy diagrams for Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water. Its a cruel practical joke tho (intentional?) - the chords they've given their readers (E,A,B) will let you play Louie Louie or Wild Thing. Smoke on the Water is E,G,A,and A sharp. Rock on, Listener dudes! Turn it up to 11, man.

more lists... Best music writing of 204 by Jason Gross (tip of the hat to Matos) Check the worst music writing list too, Nick Hornby gets a mention...

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

via Coolfer: "The SF Chronicle's Aidin Vaziri is not only a music critic, he's also quite a comedian. Today he has clips from some of the interviews from the past year. Here's a segment from a Q&A he did with Ralph Hutter of Kraftwerk:

Q: Didn't you almost die on a bicycle?
A: No. It was just a very normal fall and a couple days in the hospital. It was nothing to worry about.
Q: Nothing to worry about? You were in a coma.
A: That's how it goes. I just forgot my helmet.

Cream of the crop
via the Guardian's Online team... "With the web still expanding, we have taken the opportunity to ask Online's readers, contributors, and some of the Guardian's journalists to suggest the 100 most useful sites." Heaps of useful stuff.
The Guardian also reports on local press in the tsunami-affected regions "News sites in the worst-hit countries of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand do all they can to keep up with the unfolding horror and a chaotic relief operation.
A photo gallery on the Phuket Gazette chronicles the enormous task of cleaning up the beachfront at this popular tourist destination.
The paper says: "Most big trash has now been removed, the beachfront street lights are back (but not all the electricity actually), the water is partly back (beachfront shops of course, the rest of Patong always had water and electricity) ... Traffic has been reopened. Few tourists are back on the beach and it gives us hope ... If you want to help Phuket and people living here, come back for holidays!"

Monday, January 03, 2005

Martha Stewart loses design contest in jail. Ha ha.

from Newsday: "We Americans like to think of ourselves as a generous people, but among the world's richest nations ours ranks dead last in terms of development aid as a percentage of gross national product. Still, Americans have an inflated idea of government foreign aid spending. In survey after survey, the median estimate is that foreign aid eats up 20 percent of the federal budget. The real number is about 1 percent, including both military and humanitarian aid."

Or as Stinkzone puts it, "Damn generous Europeans". His reasoning on US aid? "...we help poor countries by invading them and getting rid of stingy leaders and help open them up to foreign business aid. In short, we help countries by helping them to help themselves help us."

Friday, December 31, 2004

Check out this new MP3 blog, old local kiwi sounds. Could be onto something...
"An mp3-blog companion piece to thebigcity.co.nz - an archive of New Zealand music that attempts to reach the outskirts of obscurity." See http://thebigcity.blogspot.com/

"You heard of Nat King Cole? Well I'm his half brother, Charcoal." Prince Tui Teka.
I picked up a flyer for Te Papa's first online exhibition, on Maori Showbands, at maorishowbands.co.nz (requires Flash plugin). Well worth a look. Billy T James and Prince Tui Teka got their start in showbands.

O-Dub has an interesting take on news reports on the tsunami disaster...
"... I find it typical - and annoying - that some U.S. media outlets are doing what you might call National Death Rolls - last night, read in several places notes like, "3 Americans confirmed dead." That'd be 3 out of (at the time) 20,000 dead. Is national origin really that important at that point? Sports Illustrated relayed a ridiculous story about "swimsuit model surives tsunami." Seriously, they need to get out of here with that b.s."

Got any good new years resolutions? I'm working on some today.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Out, like bellbottom trousers.
So, Simon's got one, Stinky Jim dropped his in the Listener, Stylus mag has got theirs up, and I'm gonna do mine. Best Music of 2004. Why the hell not? I came across an old issue of Q Magazine with their Best 50 Albums of 2003 at the weekend and I owned a grand total of one of them (The Roots - Prenology), which is to say, I don't pay a hell of a lot of attention to white rock music these days. Maybe I should.
UPDATE more lists; Gilles Petersons Worldwide radio show faves here (scroll down). Dubber's 'It's a Jazz Thing' radio show best of 2004 over here. Nelson George weighs in with his faves for 2004 here. The NZ Herald's Best Albums of 2004 were in saturday's paper, but they're not online. Suckville.

In No Particular Order...

Tha Feelstyle - Break it to pieces (FMR)
Studio One Funk, Studio One Disco Mix, Studio One Classics (Soul Jazz)
Kanye West -College Dropout (Rocafella)
Sharkey feat Jean Grae - Summer in the city (Babygrande)
Butch Cassidy Sound System - Rudi EP Feat Cissy Strut, Hear what I say EP (Fenetik)
Romanowski -Steady Rocking EP (Future Primitive Sound)
Nas/Olu Dara - Bridging the gap (Columbia)
Overproof Sound System - Nothing to Proove EP (Different Drummer)
Diplo - Diplo rhythm (Big Dada)
Kelis - Trick me (Star Trak)
De la soul - Grind date (Sanctuary)
RJD2 - Since we last spoke (Def Jux)
Jay Z - 99 Problems (Rocafella) Question: now why does Jay Z feel the need to drop a crappy rock collabo with Linkin Park when he has already made the best rock tune of the year with Rick Rubin? Who knows.
Roots of Dancehall compilation (Auralux)
The Roots - Tipping Point (Universal)
Murs - Bad man (Def Jux)
The Clash - London Calling reissue (Sony)
And some other obscure vinyl that I forgot.
Oh yeah, Sesame St Fever - found it at the Grey Lynn Park Festival for a fiver. Muppets go disco. Choice! Any suggestions for your faves of 2004, anything I mighta overlooked, fire em in the comments. Share the information!
And that's me for the next little while. Hope you have a splendid xmas and a chilled out new years, and be good to each other.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

A few years back I was reading the message boards over at British DJ Norman Jay's site. One cratedigger asked why it was so hard to track down disco records from the late 70s, why were they so rare. Norman Jay responded by talking about the Disco Demolition Rally organised by a radio station DJ named Steve Dahl 25 years ago. Jay was visiting family in the US regularly during the 70s and 80s, experiencing the rise of disco and hiphop first hand. He also saw the underlying racism behind the anti-disco sentiment.

On 12 July 1979, 90,000 angry people converged on a baseball game in Chicago to burn disco records. What began as an effort to sell seats at a White Sox/Detroit Tigers double-header turned into a mass anti-disco movement that would later be credited as the official “day that disco died.”

Two Chicago radio DJs [Steve Dahl and Garry Meier] came up with the idea of having people bring unwanted disco records to the stadium. The spurned records would be burned between doubleheader games with the White Sox and the Detroit Tigers. Lead by the chant, “Disco Sucks!”, most of the records weren’t burned, but sailed through the stands during the game - nearly inciting a riot. Some fans started their own fires and mini-riots. There was so much commotion that the ballplayers couldn’t even finish the last game of the doubleheader; the White Sox forfeited.

Dave Haslam: "The 'Disco Sucks' campaign was a white, macho reaction against gay liberation and black pride more than a musical reaction against drum machines. In England, in the same year as the 'Disco Sucks' demo in America, The Young Nationalist - a British National Party publication - told its readers: 'Disco and its melting pot pseudo-philosophy must be fought or Britain's streets will be full of black-worshipping soul boys." (from Jahsonic)

More links... Disco music was gay music; Press coverage from the event; photos