Tuesday, February 08, 2005

JAH DIVISION
There's this godawful album floating round called Dub Side of the Moon, someones wack idea of doing reggae versions of that crap Pink Floyd album. You should avoid it at all costs. Trust me on this. Instead, try this for size - dub versions of Joy Division songs. I first heard about this via the knowledgable Southerners at The Joint, and now you can grab a slice for yourself via Suburbs Are Killing Us.... Love Will Tear Us Apart, dub style. Tee hee.


M.I.A. performed in LA and NY at the weekend, here's a few reviews...

Give Them What They Want but Keep It Sort of Cool
By KELEFA SANNEH,
New York Times, Published: February 7, 2005

M.I.A. was raised in Sri Lanka and lives in London, and she has established herself as one of hip-hop's most exciting new voices, rapping and chanting and sometimes singing over hard-thwacking electronic beats. Sounds exotic, right?

Yet the thrill of her hugely anticipated sold-out concert at the Knitting Factory on Saturday night wasn't the thrill of the new - it was the thrill of the familiar. M.I.A. has a keen ear for the various mutations of hip-hop that fill clubs on both sides of the Atlantic, and she scrambles these styles in a way that sounds both fresh and inevitable. Some new acts take a while to sink in, but M.I.A. makes sense from the first time you hear her.And for 45 minutes on Saturday night, she made wildly entertaining sense, playfully calling out her playground-ready couplets ("Somewhere in the Amazon/They're holding me ransom"; "Pull up the people/Pull up the poor") while bouncing her slim limbs in time to the beat.

Backed by Diplo, her D.J., she rode tracks new and old, bringing together old-fashioned electro and futuristic dancehall reggae, London grime and Atlanta crunk. Maybe that's why her music sounds somehow inevitable: because sooner or later, these like-minded genres were bound to find one another.

Late last year M.I.A. and Diplo released "Piracy Funds Terrorism Vol. 1," an excellent unlicensed mixtape that paired her vocals with a smartly curated set of beats, most of them from other people's songs. (That's why it's not available in stores.) The mixtape helped earn M.I.A. a fanatical cult of listeners, even though her debut album, "Arular" (XL), won't be released until Feb. 22.

It's great fun to watch M.I.A.'s cult expand, and it will only expand further once there's an actual album for people to buy. "Arular" has a loose, infectious energy, and it seems likely to appeal to the indie-rock fans who tend to ignore similarly adventurous beat-driven albums when they come from, say, dancehall reggae producers - indie bloggers didn't exactly flock to Stephen (Lenky) Marsden's sublime "Dreamweaver" compilation - or even foul-mouthed American rappers (Ms. Jade's ecstatic debut album, "Girl Interrupted," is currently languishing in a bargain bin near you).

Part of M.I.A.'s appeal is that she borrows from rough-and-tumble, slightly-out-of-control urban genres while leaving behind the parts that may make hip listeners feel uncomfortable: gunplay and crude sex jokes and drug-dealer boasts and all the rest of it. Not coincidentally, "Arular" is missing some of the rambunctious energy that gives those genres some of their power. Nothing about "Arular" feels at all out of control, and maybe that's the reason it sounds a bit slight: it's the work of a canny young performer who has learned to give her listeners nothing they don't want.

Still, M.I.A. has created a handful of devastatingly good singles, and she left no room for skepticism at the Knitting Factory. During her thunderous underground hit "Galang," the crowd sang along to the wordless refrain that comes near the end, bellowing as if it were some sort of mutated soccer chant. (Who knows? Perhaps it is.) And near the end came "Bucky Done Gun," which began with a clever bit of reverse psychology: she chanted, "Manhattan, quieten down, I need to make a sound! / Brooklyn, quieten down, I need to make a sound!" She didn't look surprised when, for the first time all night, no one followed her directions.

Another take on MIA...
"It would seem that once in a generation we get a musical figure that co-opts the best elements of the underground, injects them with a healthy dose of sexy, and turns popular music into something you've never heard before. Watching M.I.A. last night at the Knitting Factory in Los Angeles was like seeing Madonna on American Bandstand. It was just bananas. You take one the hottest djs in America and pair him with a pint-sized ball of Sri Lankan sex appeal spitting fire and you've got yourself one hell of a show.

I fully expected to be disappointed. Seriously. But I wasn't let down. Not one bit. It lived up to the hype. There was a visual loop from her "Galang" video running in the background, one backup singer and Diplo on the tables. She played pretty much every track off the new album, but $10 was clearly the standout, and when Diplo mixed in some Eurythmics beats underneath the place went crazy. Such a great show. The soundsystem was fantastic and the beats sounded so good live."
From Music For Robots - they've got a MIA tune over there for you to have a listen to.

Friday, February 04, 2005

CAN YOU PLAY SOMETHING I CAN DANCE TO?
DJs hate requests. If you think that you know better than the DJ what the people in the club want to hear, you are wrong/stupid/drunk/all of the above. Any DJs out there got some stories? Please leave em in the comments.
Heres some goodies from Soulstrut forums, more over here...

"Are you going to play any hip hop?" (As hip hop is playing... they just don't know the tune. This usually happens when i'm playing Jurassic 5 for some odd reason).

Do you have anything thats like...not old?

"You're not even a real DJ. The DJ last week* was SO much better than you."*That was me.

At this past New Year's desi party, a fifty-something Indian guy walked in, heard the bollywood hits I was playing, and immediately told me "Play some Punjabi." I told him I would, and soon played Sukhbir & Daler Mehndi - that's Punjabi bhangra that pretty much never fails with the the older folks.
He and his friends dug it, going nuts on the dancefloor, so I got out a real bhangra oldschool classic (about being drunk) from probably the late 70s or 80s. Immediately the dancefloor stopped to commence ice grilling me. The guy came back with two other of his cronies, looking like they'd just eaten 15 sour lemons.
"That's TOO Punjabi."


The New Zealand Dance Chart - JANUARY 05
1. Chemical Brothers - Galvanize (Virgin)
2. Soulwax - E Talking (BMG)
3. Soul Central - Strings of Life (Defected)
4. Roni Size - No More (Full Cycle)
5. Mylo - Destroy Rock & Roll (Breastfed)
6. Deep Dish - Flashdance (Positiva)
7. Dillinja -Thugged Out Bitch (Valve)
8. Slam - This World (Soma)
9. Chab - Closer to Me (Saw)
10. Evil Nine - Crooked (Marine Parade)

The Charge New Zealand dance chart is compiled from 12” sales through independent record stores, radio station play on participating dance-music stations and club play from a broad cross-section of DJ’s around the country. A weekly radio broadcast featuring the official top 10 is played weekly on the following NZ radio stations:

National: George 96.8 (Radio broadcast in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Ohakune, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin & Queenstown, plus internet stream and Sky Digital)

Local: Auckland, Up 107.3 (FM & internet stream), Julia 107.5 (FM & internet stream), Fleet 88.3 (FM), Twisted 107.7 (FM & internet stream) - Wellington, Firm 107 (FM & Internet stream), Munt 88.5 (FM) - Christchurch, Pulzar 88.7 (FM & internet stream), Mofo 107.4 (FM) - Tauranga, Blowhole 97.4 (FM) - New Pymouth, The Most 92.3 (FM) - Palmerston North, Control 99.4 (FM) - Nelson/Blenheim/Motueka, Fresh 95.4 (FM) - Dunedin, Radio One 91.0 (FM & Internet stream) - Queenstown, The Studio 96.8 (FM), -Invercargill, Aural 107.3 (FM) Via Ms Behaviour



from The Internet Museum of Flexi / Cardboard / Oddity Records...
"Once bound by cereal boxes, held in the pages of a magazine, wrapped up in envelopes sent through our postal system or given away casually with some product, these bits of paper and plastic yearned to be set free to fulfill their destiny as... PLAYABLE RECORDS
Come and take an aural and visual journey through a partial history of these strange but true recorded anomolies." via BoingBoing


Valentines day cards a la Simpsons... remember the episode where Lisa gives Ralph a valentine that says I choo choo choose you, with a pic of a train? Well, here it is, in downloadable form. Hot Dang. Don't say I aint looking out for your best interests, okay?

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

CELEBRITY PLAYLISTS AT iTUNES
Dubber's been harping on about iPods again, some interesting ideas on possible radio shows (fronted by himself, of course!) "People who recognise the white cables dangling from the ears of other joggers, commuters and strollers-in-the-park are unplugging, and 'jacking into' each others iPods.
It's kind of like a hit-and-run mixtape for a stranger, and there are things about it that I find really appealing. But the etiquette of it worries me slightly.
Surely not every iPod user has a reliably diverse and fascinating collection of music. " He points the finger at Dido and Chris de Burgh fans. Too right.

So, anyway; celebrity playlists at iTunes.... they've got a million songs to choose from, but... "Most celebrities listen to the same music everyone else listens to on the radio or sees on MTV. The most popular celebrity song selections include OutKast's "Hey Ya,'' Kanye West's "Jesus Walks,'' Coldplay's "Clocks'' or "The Scientist'' and tunes by such acts as Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young, Stevie Wonder, Prince, U2, Jay-Z and Eminem.

Mischa Barton might think her taste is pretty eclectic, but her playlist - think Jay-Z, the Rolling Stones, Guns N' Roses - is more mainstream than anything you'd hear on an episode of [her tv show] "The O.C.''
Full article here...
DEEP FUNK
Keb Darge is easily the most entertaining DJ I have ever seen. His set on friday night was so much fun - sure, he's not flashy with it, no fancypants scratching, beat juggling or mixing, just one incredible tune after another. He gets on the mic too, not to MC, but to talk to the crowd like a radio DJ, with some fairly colourful language. "That's a classic by... now here's a new discovery for you, you lucky f*ckers..."

He played old and new funk, a bit of soul and r'n'b (old school); he even played one tune twice, a new release by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. When it finished he picks up the mic and says, "that's a gorgeous little f*cker, let's hear it again, I'm just gonna keep talking til the record starts cos I havent cued it, oh here it comes..." He DJed for 5 hours nonstop, which is pretty amazing when you consider he played 7" 45s for almost all that time - they only last about 2 and a half minutes before you have to start the next one. That's a lotta work for a DJ. Top bloke. Heard some good stories about what he got up to after the gig too...

I caught the Feelstyle at the tail end of BFM's Summer Series (and avoided all the angsty young men and their guitars, of which I hear there were plenty, sigh) and man, he was good. Joined by the Submariner on the mixer and Camillia on backing vocals - he introduced them, saying "they make me look good!" Singles Su'amalie/Ain't Mad At You and Outside Enclosure both sounded great, and Submariner got cheeky on it and dropped his remix of Bic Runga's Something Good, with Camillia singing Bic's part. She has a great voice, and sounded better than Bic Runga, no kidding. She may have come third in NZ Idol, but she has more talent in her big toe than Ben Lummis and that Murphy kid combined. When she drops some solo ish, it's gonna be huge (and memorable).


"These stories from the dark side of record digging veer between disgusting and funny. Usually at the same time. [Look out for the Kiwi entry, mentions intermediate school]

New blog alert (well, new to me anyhow): Promo Copy, an anonymous site by someone clearly in the deep belly of the music industry beast. People outside that sphere may not find much of interest here but for those of us who deal with this world day in, day out, this guy/gal speaks what we dare not say most of the time." Both the above via O-Dub... check his latest audio posts, new tunes from Prefuse 73, MIA, Lyrics Born and more.

from Coolfer...
"Another musician has become ensnared in U.S. visa rules. DJ/producer Laurent Garnier has cancelled three U.S. tour dates because of problems with renewing visa. He wasn't denied entry, though. He cancelled the dates because he refused to comply with the demands of his local U.S. Embasy.

In his own words:

"I am very sorry to have to cancel my forthcoming U.S. tour due to what I consider to be completely unreasonable demands by the U.S. Embassy in France in order to renew my work visa.

In order to obtain this new visa, the rules have once again changed since November 2004 and I would now have to not only fill out an exceedingly probing application form, but also be interviewed by a member of the Embassy staff, and provide proof of ownership of my house, details of my bank account, my mobile phone records, personal information on all my family members and more. I consider these demands to be a complete violation of my privacy and my civil liberties and I refuse to comply.

I am horrified by these new regulations and feel really sad that this is what some call freedom and democracy.

It has now become almost impossible for an artist to come and perform in the United States. And until this new proceedure changes I will unfortunately refuse to comply with this nonsense.

Thank you for your understanding.

Laurent Garnier"

Just last week, the Village Voice covered the many visa denials of such beloved Cuban musicians Ibrahim Ferrer, Omara Portuondo, Los Van Van and Chucho Valdez. Writer Larry Blumenfeld called it a "Cuban music crisis—-a development that has more to do with the Cold War than the War on Terror."

Friday, January 28, 2005

HEY, FUNK YOU.
"If you're a young black guy scrubbing toilets and you see people like Motown artists and James Brown you think, 'Hell, if I make a record like that then I can stop cleaning toilets and I'll get to shag women'.
"So they all had a bash at making records but most of them failed to sell or get noticed. They were tremendous records nonetheless." - DJ Keb Darge, interviewed in this morning's NZHerald. He's playing at The Turnaround tonight only, at the Rising Sun, K Rd, starts 11PM.

Check out this new blog, Phatusers.
"Phucked Auckland Transport Users (P.A.T.U.): share your experiences with the transport systems in Auckland and suggest alternatives for a more efficient and liveable city." Chip in your 5 cents worth.




ADDED: Following on from the U2-branded iPod, check out the new iPod Ashlee Simpson Karaoke Edition...
"Like no other, iPod Ashlee Simpson Karaoke Edition stands out. Virgin white, it features the new Apple Fast-Forward Click Button and, on the flip side, complete how to use instructions. Available for just $349, it comes with enough money to use a pay phone for calling your daddy, your agent or both, when you get caught lip syncing live on national television. We have also included some Kleenex for those special times when your entire fan base realizes you're nothing but a talentless hack." Via iPodlounge.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005



MUSIC OF SMILING NOISE!
This Friday at the monthly Turnaround night (hosted by stellar local DJs Cian, Manuel Bundy and Submariner), you can catch the undisputed heavyweight champion of deep funk, Mr Keb Darge. Hailing from Scotland, Darge has spent most of the past 25 years fighting giant cockroaches in dust-filled record warehouses around the world searching for those rare nuggets he now spins to his global audience of admirers. He’s collaborated on funk compilations with the likes of DJ Shadow, Kenny Dope, Pete Rock and the RZA. His off the hook DJ sets, along with his deep funk club nights have made him into the favourite DJ of the UK’s hottest dancers.
Starts 11pm and goes til daylight, at the Rising Sun, 373 K Rd, $15 on the door. (Stolen from the Turnaround flyer, one of the coolest little reads in the town).

Ghetto Postage outta Toronto has some good ish on the MIA/Diplo "Piracy Funds Terrorism" mixtape, which was released as a teaser/promo for her album due out in late February. I've heard a rumour that she's been dropped by her label XL, something about being too difficult to work with...

"i can't help but feel that the whole M.I.A. project is kind of an effort on the part of a large label to sell "world-y" sounding music to an audience that hasn't really pursued world music up to this point. you can't find any of M.I.A.'s singles at record shops that cater to the underground... M.I.A. confides in a recent interview that she want to be an alternative to norah jones, that she wants her music to be played in the most boring places imaginable..."
GP's take puts forward some interesting points, noting claims that M.I.A. is making UK Garage tunes are well off the mark.

ADDED: A special hello to the person who arrived here after typing tyna robertson ex boyfriend andrew into Google. Nice work. A few other visitors Googled "Starbucks Coffee Terminology" and "Jamaican dancehall porn". Gee.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005



ARE WE THERE YET?

... is the latest film from Ice Cube, and its opening weekend topped the US box office, taking in $US18.5 million. Check the trailer here - Steriogram's song 'Walkie Talkie Man' features on the soundtrack. The video for that song by Steriogram is up for a Grammy Award - its directed by Michel Gondry, who also directed the excellent film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The script is by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) and I think it's easily as good as John Malkovich. Check it. But it does feature Jim Carrey, which is okay, cos he's not pulling silly faces, he's acting and he's really quite good. I used to think he was crap til I saw the Truman Show.

Another Kiwi, expat Alan Broadbent is up for his third Grammy nomination in Best Jazz Instrumental Solo, for his jazz recording What's New off the album 'You and The Night and The Music' released by A440 Music Group but there aint even a bio or any news there about his Grammy nomination there, which is weak - BAD record company! (Scratch that - I emailed them and just got a reply apologising for the oversight, and saying they will correct this mistake immediately. Good.)

Broadbent left Aotearoa in 1966 to study at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, graduating in 1969, alongside Howard Shore (who later went on to work as LOTR composer) . Berklee have a handy little press release highlighting all its graduates in this years Grammys (39 in total) - from Melissa Etheridge to Bob James, John Mayer to Mr Broadbent.

"In 1997 Broadbent won a Grammy for his arrangement of “When I Fall In Love” for Natalie Cole. In 2000 he earned his second Grammy Award for best arrangement accompanying a vocal for “Lonely Town”, which he wrote for Charlie Haden’s Quartet West featuring Shirley Horn and strings." He's currently musical director for Mrs Elvis Costello - Diana Krall. Costello is off making an opera based on author Hans Christian Andersen's impossible romance with a Swedish woman. Gee. The Grammys are on February 13th.


'The Tsunami Song' controversy has been spinning round the hiphop blogosphere for a few days now, it's probably gonna hit the mainstream media any minute now. New York hiphop station Hot 97 played it on their morning show... The New York Post has picked up the story... "A popular hip-hop radio show is in hot water over a parody that mocked victims of the South Asian tsunami catastrophe, calling them "screaming chinks" and "little Chinamen." The station's apology is up here.

Jay Smooth has more background over here, plus audio of the incident. "On this tape you hear them introducing the "Tsunami Song," then Miss Jones and co-host Todd Lynn launching into an abusive tirade against Miss Info when she voices her objection to it. Miss Jones finally tells Info she's only complaining because "you feel superior, probably because you're Asian." Then, after Miss Info has said the song is offensive to Asians, co-host Todd Lynn informs her: "I'm gonna start shooting Asians." Yes, he really says that. It's at 3:37 on the mp3."
Have a listen, it's just incredibly stupid. The tune they use is... oh, just listen.


Dubber has some comments from Bomber (a man never short of an opinion!) on the changes going down at Channel Z, as it mutates into Kiwi FM.


"Greg Tate set it off a couple weeks back with his article about hip hop at 30. Now his contemporary Nelson George jumps into the fray with a look back at hip hop's development and 25 moments that defined the music." via Different Kitchen.


ADDED: Vote for Bizgirl at the Bloggies! Via Noizy... "
For some unfathomable reason, bizgirl has made the shortlist for the NZ/Australian section of this year's Bloggies. As far as I can see, Natalie is the only NZ finalist in any of the categories (the rest of the NZ/OZ category short-list is Australian-based). So, yes, if you're feeling all patriotic (and are, in fact, a New Zealander), or are just a bizgirl fan, get on over there and vote."

Monday, January 24, 2005

BIG DAY BLOGOUT
Gareth has some good reasons not to blog about the Big Day Out, such as...
-If the reader of your blog was there, they already know what it was like, if they weren't then they probably just want to hear that it was bad so they don't feel like they missed out on anything.
- Teenagers are too easy to make fun of - it's like shooting fish in a barrel, so why bother?
But then he adds... "maybe I'm deluding myself - maybe the real question should be: why blog about anything?"

The answer to this tricky question came from that erudite journo Paul Little, in his incredibly witty column on manners in the SST yesterday. He tackled bloggers and their innate need to write endlessly about any tiny thought that comes into their heads. His arguments against blogging were so stunningly convincing that I am sure he sent hundreds, no, thousands of bloggers racing to their computers to delete their blogs. So, all those bloggers out there who think they got it down, leave it to the professionals like Mr Little. Thank you.

Also in the SST, an interview with The Feelstyle (archived here if SST is offline), who released the best local album of 2004 - no freaking contest.

And on the MP3 blog tip, Dubber already beat me to this, but Tofu Hut has a great roundup of some new sources for sound, including NZ's Bigcity, and fine reggae blog Mr Bassie.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Free porn! Free porn!
via Boingboing... PC Magazine's John Dvorak follows up on a column he wrote two years ago about the inexplicable popularity of x-rated search terms in relation to non-porn content.

"My editor, Lance Ulanoff, was shaking his head the other day over the column I had written called "Free Porn." The column, written nearly two years ago, was an exercise in propaganda, done to prove that the use of the word "porn" in a headline would jack up the readership of any column. This was an assertion promoted by my previous online editor, Don Willmott, who revealed the trick to me after looking at years of online stats. He'd used it himself when he needed to pump up his own numbers.
Ulanoff told me that I had to do a follow-up to the "Free Porn" column since it has consistently been in the top readership list since it was published. "It's unbelievable," he said. "Every month it shows up in the list of top page views. It's never at the top, but it keeps showing up." Perhaps it's never at the top because it has nothing to do with porn. Just the use of the word is enough to pump up the numbers. Are online readers so drawn to porn that they aggressively seek it out? No wonder the amount of pornographic e-mail come-ons has been slipping. Why bother with spam? Just set up a porn site and the readers will seek you out." Link.
Wonder what this will do for my site stats? Tee hee.

And hoorah - Radar is back! Unfortunately the Herald haven't got his column online (yet?), which is a shame - he writes at length on his pastiness, and the problems his pale skin presents during the summer months,... "I suspect that not even Queen Victoria's pallid buttocks were as fair as I am, with my skin haviing that shade of pale luminescence that verges on blue." Nice work, there, fella!
So, there we have it - porn and buttocks. What more do you want? Free music? Drugs? Alcohol? Well, go jump the fence at the Big Day Out. Later.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

MUSIC FOR YOUR EARS
check the Bubblegum Machine audioblog... "If it's ever been on K-Tel or Ronco, it's in. If it features hand claps, cow bells, syrupy orchestration, walls of sound, wrecking crews, sha-la-las, lyrics about hugging, squeezing and rocking all night long, toothy teen idols or candy-based metaphors for carnal acts, it's in." Someone suggested this is the kind of site John Waters would love. Get the picture?
Also on the musical tip, Locust St features scratchy old jazz tunes -discovered via this story. For more audio blogs, check Tofuhut's list of links, organised by genre, etc. Niceness.

David Thorpe from Something Awful went to his local bookstore and picked up ten music mags for a critique.
"This week, a near-fatal whim struck me. I decided to go to a local bookstore and buy every single music magazine I could get my immaculately manicured hands on.
All in all, I picked up ten magazines representing a wide base of styles and genres. Well, by “wide base of styles and genres” I mean “eight boring white-people rock and roll magazines, one hip hop magazine, and one that seems to be some sort of a death metal magazine. Here’s the full list: Rolling Stone, Spin, NME, Magnet, Pit, The Source, Q, Uncut, Alternative Press, and Filter.
If you’re an astute follower of music journalism, you probably recognize and hold a deep contempt for at least five of those..."

Yes, it's a fun game that you can play too - try this (free) variation. Go to your local magazine shop, count how many music magazines you see, then count how many you would buy.


One for any UK readers, catch "The Fall: The Wonderful and Frightening World of Mark E Smith" on BBC4 on Friday at 9pm. There's a great interview with Mark E Smith at the Guardian's site...

"My grandfather used to stand outside the local prison and hire lads who were coming out to work in his mill,' he replies. 'That's kind of how I recruit musicians. It's like, "You're on bass, so get cracking." Seems to work, mind,' he muses, lighting another fag and taking a long swig of cider. The combination of the fag and the cackle produces a rattling cough, which he deals with by hawking up and gobbing in the ashtray. 'The thing about most musicians,' he continues, oblivious to the aghast looks of our fellow drinkers, 'is that they are not very interesting company. Don't tend to read much. I like to make sure they know from the start that the Fall is a job of work like any other. It's the same deal whether you're playing to 20 or 20,000. Discipline, that's what counts.'" The Fall - 28 years and still going...

Tuesday, January 18, 2005



PURPLE HAZE GALANG GALANG - so, who is M.I.A?
"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!


ATTENTION GEARHEADS
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.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005



ATTENTION: NORMAL PEOPLE
NZ Herald writer Scott Kara has a message for you...
"...Normal people - not just thousands of DJs and wannabe DJs - are buying record players again, or digging out their old turntables and rediscovering their long-lost record collections." Read the full article here.
Amazingly enough, their round-up of turntables doesn't include the Technics SL1200 MK2, the DJ-industry standard and a certified design classic (essentially unchanged since its debut in 1979). Good on em for hipping the masses to vinyl, tho. The world needs more vinyl junkies.

UPDATE: From Playlist magazine (US)
Vinyl's will to survive
"The New Zealand Herald’s article on vinyl’s resurgence as a music format was all the more interesting because it pointed out that the country’s last vinyl record-pressing plant closed in 1987. Still, the country is seeing that many others around the world are also seeing: Digital music can’t kill music lovers’ enthusiasm for vinyl records. The Internet is a godsend for vinyl lovers. eBay is basically a worldwide garage sale, and at online stores like Dusty Groove a shopper can find all kinds of rarities that used to be found in those local record shops that are dropping like flies these days. Digital music is the future, no doubt about it, but old habits die hard, don’t they?"


Nelson George has been out and about... "Last Friday night I went to see an inspired double bill at the Brooklyn Academy of Music -- TV on the Radio and George Clinton & the P-Funk All-Stars." Review here.

Coolfer has a go at the most overblogged bands of 2004...
excerpt... "In terms of music, Danger Mouse was way overblogged. Had the guy never stole the Beatles' music, had he gone the DJ Shadow route and created incredible music with samples from relatively unknown songs, Danger Mouse would deserve the hype. Taking (without permission) the music of the world's most beloved rock band and adding acapella tracks by one of the most popular rappers of our time isn't an impressive feat. It would have been hard to make music people didn't like. The David-vs-Goliath battle that ensued turned him into a cause celebre, and for this he justly received a good deal of publicity... What does 2005 have in store for Danger Mouse? The same thing 1997 had in store for OMC and 1993 had in store for Right Said Fred." Ouch.

Here's Coolfer on Dangermouse appearing in the Rolling Stone's Best of 2004 list...
"Danger Mouse's The Grey Album showed up on two lists, and just like almost every other critic's list I've seen it on, it's the only hip hop album on the list. There's little doubt in my mind that the rock community has embraced the album much more than the hip hop community. It's an indication that rock fans need hip hop to be safe and familiar. The Beatles samples provide all the necessary reference points (read: familiarity) for the non-hip hopper to get his/her feet wet. The political/legal implications/ramifications of the album are also reasons The Grey Album was so well regarded in 2004. They don't make the songs any better, but they offer a critic an easy way to show an opposition to "the man" and "the power" and big ol' greedy EMI."

I think Dangermouse came up with a great way to piss off diehard Beatles fans, and for that he should be applauded. Sure, non-hiphop heads got into it, and it served up the notion of mashups to a wider audience (Don't mention that Jay Z/Linkin Park turd-fest, okay?) and what's so bad about that? If Dangermouse had gone the DJ Shadow route as Coolfer suggests, then he would've been written off by the critics as a DJ Shadow clone, not praised for it. And the dude did it because he was a Beatles fan.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

HITSVILLE
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.