Monday, February 21, 2005
WEEKEND VINYL DELIGHTS (more excuses from a vinyl junkie)
So, Saturday was a beautiful sunny day, just the kind of day to head inside and spend a few hours in a dingy old nightclub for a DJ Record Swap Meet. Must feed the addiction...
Finds; Jazzy Fat Grooves EP vol 6 feat DJ Smash
Smith and Mighty - Steppers DelightEP
Born Jamericans - Yardcore (Stalag remix) 7"
Flying Lizards - Self titled LP (includes 'Money')
Funkmaster Flex and Mad Lion: Safe sex, no freaks 12"
Upper Hutt Posse - E Tu EP
Jay Z - Red Green and Gold reggae remixes
Eric B and Rakim - Microphone fiend - 45 King Remix
Basic Black - She's mine
grand total - $55 (that's $US40, or 21 pounds)
I know some of these tunes might not be considered that rare, but things like the Funkmaster Flex or Eric B And Rakim don't turn up every day down here in NZ.
The event was pretty low key, not many stalls - Rob Salmon and Roger Perry had a bunch of crates of house/techno, Ruffian and Earl E from Champion Sound had a few crates of reggae/dancehall/garage, and Cian from Conch Records had a ton of stuff on sale from his shop and was doing some great bargains on funk/jazz/hiphop. There were a few other DJs with a bag or two of techno/hard house. It was fun hanging out talking about records with cats who clearly love music. If I'd got there five minutes earlier, I would've made it to Rob Salmon's bin of hiphop and got my hands on a copy of Nas - the world is yours, cept the guy in front of me got it. Damn. Still, scored another Mad Lion 12, very happy bout that - I've been hunting down some of his stuff recently. Cheers to the organisers, please do it again soon!
NME Awards - Best Radio Show: Zane Lowe (pictured above accepting his award). Expat Kiwi makes good! Well done, that man. Some may remember Zane from his Max TV days, and his 90s hiphop group Urban Disturbance. Zane also produced one of the best local hiphop tunes ever, 'Behold My Kool Style' for Dam Native. He's been UK-based of the last 7 years, working for MTV Europe and Radio One. Bio here.
Check Zane's current musical project Breaker's Co-op (a collaboration with Hamish 'Hame' Clark) have a new album out in March, and there's a single doing the rounds on the radio at the mo.
Vinyl extinct by 2009
"It looks as though audiophiles may have to resign themselves to the fact that in a few years time there will be only the chance to fondly re-live the good old days of nostalgia, rather than experience the new. Vinyl, the medium that took over from Shellac, Bakelite and even earlier the wax pressing, has had its final play – well, almost. The year 2009, looks set to be the final turn in the long standing vinyl revolution.
A June 2003 press release from The Institute of Chemical Engineering, advised that key by- products of the current petroleum refining process would no longer be generated by 2009, due to deadlines agreed, in principle, with the chemical industry back in 1992. These deadlines were however, only finalised in 1999, in the face of increasing environmental concerns and lobbying.
The IoCE went on to advise that a voluntary co-funded research and development program to seek a green alternative, possibly a polycarbonate based compound had been proposed in the 1999 summary. However no members of the industry wide syndicate had been able to substantiate a sufficiently high market demand for a replacement for the petroleum by-product, which is the primary base for vinyl record albums."
Full story here. The last story I linked on this subject was headed Record Revival. So, what about recycling, then? Whole story sounds a bit fishy to me.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Heard about this? First Annual DJ Record Swap Meet, happening in AK this weekend.
"Designed expressly for record music enthusiasts, The First Annual DJ Record Swap Meet is a revolutionary concept and a true chance for big name and bedroom record spinners to unite and gain new tracks. Finally, a unique occasion to swap/ buy/ sell and trade records, flipping through the crates of your friends and favourite DJ’s collections in search of elusive electric gems.
• 12NOON - 6.00pm, February 19 at The Studio, 340 K Rd, Auckland City
• Heineken are bringing to the party Found@thirst winners Matt Harris and Javed Haider to perform
• Tickets ONLY $5 available on the door!! Guarantee your place by registering your name and contact details to Swap-Meet@deejay.net.nz to be in to win fantastic prizes
• Free gift for first 500 registered" Via Hiphopnz.com.
So, two double-oh five is the year I get to see George Clinton and Parliament, AND Grandmaster Flash, live. Damn! Me so happy!
Missing in Acton.
"Every so often, the GBs like to give some shine to those struggling artists who don't have the luxury of the media hype machine (i.e. The Man) puffing them up to ridiculous heights that no one could live up to. There's a whole world of untapped, unnoticed talent out there just waiting for some kind of recognition — an opportunity to prove that, yes, there's more to music than what you see on eMpTyV (haha ... I just made that up) or hear on the ray-D'-oh (not as clever, but it's hard to top the MTV one).
In the past, we put you on to such hidden gems as Dizzee Rascal, The Streets, Lil Jon, Cam'ron, and most recently The Game (it took forever for us to convince people that he was an actual person, and not a thing). Now we have yet another mumbling, accented, not-really-rapper to present to you, the discerning music fan: Maya Arulpragasam, also known to us (and soon the world) as M.I.A. The most important thing you need to know about this new artist is, she is totally hot! And totally not white!"
Gossiping Bitches New Artist Spotlight...Dissecting M.I.A. (tip of the hat to funkdigital)
I like the bit suggesting that M.I.A. is one of "those struggling artists who don't have the luxury of the media hype machine" - if you Google her, you'll discover she has management representation from William Morris Agency, one of the most influential actors/musicians management companies on the planet. And then there's all the heat she's getting from the indie bloggers... perhaps because she's hot, as the GBs point out.
Chris Rock, Oscars host, not a fan, however...
"Come on, it's a fashion show," he added. "What straight black man sits there and watches the Oscars? Show me one. And they don't recognise comedy, and you don't see a lot of black people nominated, so why should I watch it?"
All that jazz
Not too sure about lettin RJD2 loose on Astrid Gilberto, but the previous two Verve Remixed comps have thrown up some gems, so who knows? Out April 5 in the US.
Via Billboard... Here is the track list for "Verve Remixed 3":
"Little Girl Blue (Postal Service remix)," Nina Simone
"Speak Low (Bent remix)," Billie Holiday
"Sing, Sing, Sing (RSL remix)," Anita O'Day
"Fever (Adam Freeland remix)," Sarah Vaughan
"Come Dance With Me (Sugardaddy remix)," Shirley Horn
"Just One of Those Things (Brazilian Girls remix)," Blossom Dearie
"The Gentle Rain (RJD2 remix)," Astrud Gilberto
"Peter Gunn (Max Sedgley remix)," Sarah Vaughan
"Stay Loose (Lyrics Born remix)," Jimmy Smith
"The Boy's Doin' It (Carl Craig remx)," Hugh Masekela
"Lilac Wine (the Album Leaf remix)," Nina Simone
"Yesterdays (Junior Boys remix)," Billie Holiday
"Baby, Did You Hear? (Danger Mouse remix)," Dinah Washington
Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation
Jeff Chang's book Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation arrived at stores in the US February 2nd. I ordered a copy thru Amazon.com and it arrived last Friday. I spent a better part of the weekend dipping into it, and it's a fantastic read. The book is due for publication downunder in April, but if you can't wait, hit Amazon. The book's cover lists the retail as $US27.95, but Amazon have it for about $18. I landed it here for $US30 including shipping.
"From the gangs of the late 60s to the icons of the new millennium, from the Ghetto Brothers and Universal Zulu Nation organizations to the Hip-Hop activists, Can't Stop Won't Stop presents the Hip-Hop generation in all its grime and glory with breadth, wit and style. Featuring an introduction by the father of Hip-Hop, DJ Kool Herc, Can't Stop Won't Stop is based on original interviews with DJs, dancers, rappers, graffiti writers, activists, and gang members, with unforgettable portraits of many of Hip-Hop's forebears, founders, and mavericks."
There's a bunch of press about the book at Chang's site, lotsa quotes from famous people like DJ Shadow and Mike Davis, plus more reading, including the excerpt below. It's long, but it gives you an idea of just how essential this book is, rather than me blathering about it. If you've ever had a passing interest in hiphop or black music, you need to check this book.
"Chapter 4: Making A Name
How DJ Kool Herc Lost His Accent And Started Hip-Hop
...the logic is an extension rather than a negation. Alias, a.k.a.; the names describe
a process of loops. From A to B and back again.
--Paul D. Miller
It has become myth, a creation myth, this West Bronx party at the end of the summer in 1973. Not for its guests--a hundred kids and kin from around the way, nor for the setting--a modest recreation room in a new apartment complex; not even for its location--two miles north of Yankee Stadium, near where the Cross-Bronx Expressway spills into Manhattan. Time remembers it for the night DJ Kool Herc made his name.
The plan was simple enough, according to the party's host, Cindy Campbell. "I was saving my money, because what you want to do for back to school is go down to Delancey Street instead of going to Fordham Road, because you can get the newest things that a lot of people don't have. And when you go back to school, you want to go with things that nobody has so you could look nice and fresh," she says. "At the time my Neighborhood Youth Corps paycheck was like forty-five dollars a week--ha!--and they would pay you every two weeks. So how am I gonna turn over my money? I mean, this is not enough money!"
Cindy calculated it would cost a little more than half her paycheck to rent the rec room in their apartment building at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue. Her brother, whom she knew as Clive but everyone else knew as Kool Herc, was an aspiring DJ with access to a powerful sound system. All she had to do was bulk-buy some Olde English 800 malt liquor, Colt 45 beer, and soda, and advertise the party.
She, Clive, and her friends hand-wrote the announcements on index cards, scribbling the info below a song title like "Get on the Good Foot" or "Fencewalk." If she filled the room, she could charge a quarter for the girls, two for the guys, and make back the overhead on the room. And with the profit--presto, instant wardrobe.
Clive had been DJing house parties for three years. Growing up in Kingston, Jamaica, he had seen the sound systems firsthand. The local sound was called Somerset Lane, and the selector's name was King George. Clive says, "I was too young to go in. All we could do is sneak out and see the preparation of the dance throughout the day. The guys would come with a big old handcart with the boxes in it. And then in the night time, I'm a little itchy headed, loving the vibrations on the zinc top 'cause them sound systems are powerful.
"We just stay outside like everybody else, you know, pointing at the gangsters as they come up, all the famous people. And at the time they had the little motorcycles, Triumphs and Hondas. Rudeboys used to have those souped up. They used to come up four and five six deep, with them likkle ratchet knife," Clive says. He still remembers the crowd's buzz when Claudie Massop arrived at a local dance one night. He wanted to be at the center of that kind of excitement, to be a King George.
Cindy and Clive's father, Keith Campbell, was a devoted record collector, buying not only reggae, but American jazz, gospel, and country. They heard Nina Simone and Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole, even Nashville country crooner Jim Reeves. "I remember listening to Jim Reeves all the time," Clive says. "I was singing these songs and emulating them to the fullest. That really helped me out, changing my accent, is singing to the records."
In the Bronx, his mother, Nettie, would take him to house parties, which had the same ambrosial effect on him that the sound systems had. "I see the different guys dancing, guys rapping to girls, I'm wondering what the guy is whisperin' in the girl's ears about. I'm green, but I'm checking out the scene," he recalls. "And I noticed a lot of the girls was complaining, 'Why they not playing that record?' 'How come they don't have that record?' 'Why did they take it off right there?'" He began buying his own 45s, waiting for the day he could have his own sound system.
As luck would have it, Keith Campbell became a sponsor for a local rhythm and blues band, investing in a brand new Shure P.A. system for the group. Clive's father was now their soundman, and the band wanted somebody to play records during intermission. Keith told them he could get his son. But Clive had started up his own house party business, and somehow his gigs always happened to fall at the same times as the band's, leaving Keith so angry he refused to let Clive touch the system. "So here go these big columns in my room, and my father says, 'Don't touch it. Go and borrow Mr. Dolphy's stuff,'" he says. "Mr. Dolphy said, 'Don't worry Clive, I'll let you borrow some of these.' In the back of my mind, Jesus Christ, I got these big Shure columns up in the room!"
At the same time, his father was no technician. They all knew the system was powerful, but no one could seem to make it peak. Another family in the same building had the same system and seemed to be getting more juice out of it, but they wouldn't let Keith or Clive see how they did it. "They used to put a lot of wires to distract me from chasing the wires," he says.
One afternoon, fiddling around on the system behind his father's back, Clive figured it out. "What I did was I took the speaker wire, put a jack onto it and jacked it into one of the channels, and I had extra power and reserve power. Now I could control it from the preamp. I got two Bogart amps, two Girard turntables, and then I just used the channel knobs as my mixer. No headphones. The system could take eight mics. I had an echo chamber in one, and a regular mic to another. So I could talk plain and, at the same time, I could wait halfway for the echo to come out.
"My father came home and it was so loud he snuck up behind me," he remembers. Clive's guilt was written all over his face. But his father couldn't believe it.
Keith yelled, "Where the noise come from?"
"This is the system!"
Keith said, "What! Weh you did?"
"This is what I did,'" Clive recalls telling his father, revealing the hookup. "And he said, 'Raas claat, man! We 'ave sound!!!'
"So now the tables turned. Now these other guys was trying to copy what I was doing, because our sound is coming out monster, monster!" Clive says. "Me and my father came to a mutual understanding that I would go with them and play between breaks and when I do my parties, I could use the set. I didn't have to borrow his friend's sound system anymore. I start making up business cards saying 'Father and Son.' And that's how it started, man! That's when Cindy asked me to do a back-to-school party. Now people would come to this party and see these big-ass boxes they never seen before."
It was the last week in August of 1973. Clive and his friends brought the equipment down from their second floor apartment and set up in the room adjacent to the rec room. "My system was on the dance floor, and I was in a little room watching, peeking out the door seeing how the party was going," he says.
It didn't start so well. Clive played some dancehall tunes, ones guaranteed to rock any yard dance. Like any proud DJ, he wanted to stamp his personality onto his playlist. But this was the Bronx. They wanted the breaks. So, like any good DJ, he gave the people what they wanted, and dropped some soul and funk bombs. Now they were packing the room. There was a new energy. DJ Kool Herc took the mic and carried the crowd higher.
"All people would hear is his voice coming out from the speakers," Cindy says. "And we didn't have no money for a strobe light. So what we had was this guy named Mike. When Herc would say, 'Okay, Mike! Mike with the lights!', Mike flicked the light switch. He got paid for that."
By this point in the night, they probably didn't need the atmospherics. The party people were moving to the shouts of James Brown, turning the place into a sweatbox. They were busy shaking off history, having the best night of their generation's lives.
Later, as Clive and Cindy counted their money, they were giddy. This party could be the start of something big, they surmised. They just couldn't know how big."
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
"New Telepathics is the brainchild of Darryn Harkness, brought into being with the assistance of Sandy Mill and Tom Fielding. Together they have created a melting pot of afro-beat, soul, jazz, funk and house - similar in vibe to the west London broken beat sound or that of the Tru Thoughts / Quantic output.
Their live set is never the same, with improvisation and rythmic complexity the key. The band includes 2 drum kits, 2 bass players, keyboards, horns, vocals, and a theramin! Darryn's other project is the rock band Serafin, who are signed to PIAS/Sony and have spent the summer touring with Frank Black of the Pixies. Sandy Mill has worked with a host of musical stars, from Gary Numan and Placebo to Basement Jaxx and Dick Johnson. She is probably best known, though, for her vocals for Lofty and Bob Jones's East West Connection."
Two wicked tunes for free, over here.
"Behold the anthropological marvel of this ancient Kris Kross website, miraculously preserved by Sony Music in its original state since 1996. Gaze in wonderment at the monstrously pixelated graphics! The downloadable AIFF files!! The seizure-inducing backgrounds!
Let's see how long it takes Sony to wake up now and delete these pages." via Jay Smooth...
from Pop-life... "Normally, Kanye West has the stage presence of a spelling bee announcer. But last night, Kanye (and his church dancers) deserved an award for that exhilarating performance. He probably was wired with adrenaline after praying on national television to win the Best New Artist award, only to demonstrate his complete disappointment when he lost. (Apparently, Jesus walks with hustlers, killers, murderers, drug dealers, and even Maroon 5.) Yes, Kanye was robbed. But on second thought, I like Kanye and don't want him to end up in the same class as Hootie & The Blowfish, Milli Vanilli, and the Starland Vocal Band." More Grammy roundup here.
TVOne managed some brief snippets on the news last night of the Grammys, including some bogus line about Kanye West (sounded like Kenny West when the presenter said it tho) being pipped for best new artist by Maroon 5, but hang on, Kanye won 3 awards (including Best Rap Album), right? Didn't rate a mention. Sigh, the mainstream. Check Funkdigital for a link to Kanye's speech, absolute genius. "I plan to celebrate and scream and pop Champagne every chance I get because I'M AT THE GRAMMYS, BABY!"
ADDED: Kiwis at the Grammys - Alan Broadbent missed out on Best Jazz Instrumental Solo record (that went to some guy named Herbie Hancock), Steriogram were up for best video but that went to U2 - Steriogram were reported as looking forward to going to the Grammys and meeting U2 - networking for Jesus? Fran Walsh won Best Song Written For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media with Annie Lennox and Howard Shore, and LOTR-ROTK won Best Movie Soundtrack.
Monday, February 14, 2005
PLAY BY PLAY
Coolfer is blogging the Grammys live, check it.
"Record Revival" examines how DJ culture and vinyl afficianados have kept alive the record format. Stores have expanded vinyl sections, and bands that a few years ago shunned vinyl are releasing LPs to go along with their CDs.
"CDs far and away rake in the lion's share of sales, but vinyl records have a dedicated following that have kept sales steady, said Michael Gartenberg, vice president of Jupiter Research. In 2003, 746 million CDs were shipped, compared with 1.5 million LP/EPs. At the half-year mark in 2004, 329 million CDs were shipped compared with 700,000 LP/EPs, indicating the vinyl format is holding firm as CD sales could be experiencing declines, said RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy. 'Vinyl aficionados never went away,' Gartenberg said." Via Coolfer
From funkdigital... "I did some dumpster diving yesterday. The Mecca is good for that. Location was E. 7th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues. I took a lunch break to head up to the E. Village heading over to Turntable Lab. Got some hotness but had to put that Pete Rock extras down. They wanted $20 buck for it on vinyl, of course, so I had to be like "that's awight, son."
Anyway, coming back down 7th I eyed this white chick on top of a dumpster like she ws playing king of the hill. She's riffling through vinyl records. Aww shit. It's on now. The $1 used record shop that was there went out of business. So on that street me and her are going through it. Not alot of much. I told her to pass me any joint with black faces. She did. I got Harry Belafonte w/ Miriam Makeeba, Stevie Wonder, Kool & The Gang and a few others. Well worth the dirt I got on my coat.
image above courtesy of Satan's Laundromat
Friday, February 11, 2005
Tribute records are always pointless
Ahmir ?uestlove Thompson got his hands on the original master tapes of Sly & The Family Stone’s “Everybody Is A Star,” which his band, The Roots, sampled for the opening track of their recent album, The Tipping Point. Excerpt below from a great interview with the drummer/producer in latest issue of Modern Drummer magazine. Save the drummer jokes, this guy is incredibly talented.
"Sliding faders up and down, Thompson goes through vocal tracks until the only thing you hear is Sly Stone, front and center, crooning for all his life. This is a truly spooky and wonderful experience, like being in a time machine with Ahmir Thompson as your commander. He pulls up more faders: brass and bass kick in, Larry Graham’s thunderous voice booms from the speakers. This is not simply for fun—Thompson is also working on a Sly Stone tribute album.
“Tribute records are always pointless,” Thompson asserts. “And when someone asked me to do the Sly thing, I knew it could be a disaster. But I was so curious about the drum sound; I really did it because I knew they would send me the masters. They even sent me the original engineer’s notes for the session.” Modern Drummer interview here.
Another ?uestlove interview over here.
Via Working for the Clampdown... "It's that time again. It's time for Guardian/Observer Rap Editorial Policy Watch! (Okay, you think of a catchier title.)
I'm pretty sure that Kitty Empire is not stupid. So what on earth possessed her to write, when reviewing the new Roots Manuva album, the following?
Disgust, weariness, self-loathing and the fear of God are not the usual themes taken up by hip hop.
As my partner pointed out, "Even I know that those are all really, really common themes in hip hop, and I know very little about it!" Moreover, they're particularly common themes in the kind of hip hop not normally credited with much intelligence or artistic value by broadsheet music critics. Mobb Deep much?
But it gets worse:
In a genre best known for its posturing and violence, Roots can rap 'Pray for me, Mummy' without worrying about saving face.
Um... It's almost compulsory for those rappers supposedly "best known" for "posturing and violence" (yeah, whatever) to have a song about how their mothers should pray for them. 'Dear Mama' much?
I don't think this can be entirely Kitty Empire's fault. There can only be one explanation. Guardian/Observer Rap Editorial Policy has struck again!
The Beastie Boys last album may have been mediocre crap, but they still got it going on... Rolling Stone reports that "The BEASTIE BOYS have joined Al Sharpton in a PETA campaign to boycott Kentucky Fried Chicken for the chicken chain's alleged cruelty to animals. The group's open letter of protest to the KFC CEO is posted at peta.org" KFC - its Kiwi for Chunder.
ADDED The buzz about M.I.A. hits new highs/lows... "Coolfer has read and heard a lot of great things about M.I.A.'s show at NYC's Knitting Factory, but nothing compared to this blurb over at More in the Monitor:
"On the subway ride home, this guy Tony told me that he had been standing next to an overweight middle-aged couple near the front of the stage, and the woman gave the man a blow job in the middle of the concert. I think that is a bigger and better endorsement of M.I.A. than anything anybody could ever write about her."
M.I.A.s album is getting a local release (YAY!), out April 4 (unless they have trouble with a few uncleared samples).
I was watching C4 last night, and on Homegrown Late, host Clarke Gayford intro'd the show, noting he had lots of giveaways, including the new issue of Real Groove with Pluto on the cover, and told viewers to remember that bit of info for later, then he blathered a bit more, and said they also had a brand new Apple iPod Shuffle to give away, and they had loaded it up with Pluto's new album Pipelines Under The Ocean.
Now, who had the bright idea to load up Pluto's album on the Shuffle? Was it C4? The band? The band's record company? Surely these people know that copying a CD to another format is illegal in New Zealand. Quick, somebody tell RIANZ. Still, I got to watch Clarke announce the new Mint Chicks video, Fuck the Golden Youth; he took particular delight in saying the f-word, he even said the song title twice. Such a rebel.
Thursday, February 10, 2005
"The excellent free peer-reviewed net-journal First Monday has published an exhaustive survey of the earnings made by British and German musicians. Their conclusion? Copyright doesn't give creators a living, and in many cases (such as clearing samples) it costs them more than they can afford.
According to a GEMA (German collecting society) insider, only about 1,200 German composers can live from their creative output. Only a small minority of artists reaches ordinary living standards from copyright income... If an artist wants to include a sample from another record, major rights holders often insist on a controlling interest of 50 to 100 percent of the rights in the new track."
Link (via Boingboing)
and here's the flipside...
"This may come as a complete shock to the people who forget that entertainment is a business, but writers, like musicians, get an advance and then have to pay back that advance with royalties from book sales. What is the average advance? One small, non-scientific survey put it at less than US$6,000 (not adjusted for inflation)." Via Coolfer.
Neal Stephenson interview here.
Also from the BBC's site... "homophobia in Jamaica goes far beyond songs lyrics, with gay men and women "beaten, cut, burned, raped and shot on account of their sexuality", according to Amnesty International. It says while no official statistics are available, according to published reports at least 30 gay men are believed to have been murdered in Jamaica since 1997. And at least five Jamaicans have been granted asylum in the UK in the last two years because their lives had been threatened as a result of their sexual identity."
Village Voice Pazz and Jop Critics Poll out now. Kanye tops it - no surprises there, he's one of two hiphop CDs most critics bothered to listen to last year - that and the Grey Album.
Via O-Dub - "Lizz Mendez Berry's Vibe story on how hip-hop silences the issue of domestic violence is an important, important piece - one of the few examples of real investigative, issue-oriented reporting you'll find in today's urban culture mags.
Alas, what I think will be the ultimate fall-out is a much public hand-wringing but business as usual otherwise. As Lizz points out: that's not on hip-hop alone, but it's fascinating to see how fast people circle up the wagons to defend a batterer. If you're talking the talk, i.e. "kick in the door/wavin' the 44/all you heard was 'Poppa don't hit me no more'" at least be man enough to own up to it."
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
From Aaron Wherry... "Here's a little tip for the kids. If you're going to be interviewing Miss M.I.A., be sure to tell your editor you're going to need at least a half dozen pages to squeeze in all the good stuff. If your editor finds this unreasonable, get a blog and just reprint everything there. That way, everybody wins.
So. Today we talked to the delightful Maya Arulpragasam. The 800 word version of our encounter appears in tomorrow's National Post. [Read it here] If you'd rather just read a couple thousand of her words without ours getting in the way, this post is for you. Laughs have been edited out. But they were frequent. And wonderful." Read it all here.
UPDATE XL Recordings (MIA's label) list her album as coming out April 4 in the UK, but will be out February 22 in USA/Canada. Check Amazon.com for audio previews, cover art etc.
And have a look at Whinin' Simon, examining the notion of Kiwi music failing to churn out any 'standards'.
"it occurred to me [while he was drinking Belgian beer and eating mussels, bless him] that New Zealand, as a songwriting nation, for all the classic performances (and there have been countless) hasn’t yet matured sufficiently to produce standards as Australia, for example has. Perhaps it’s the result of a largely moribund recording industry for many years and the lack of any airplay...." Go on Simon, drink yourself more bliss, forget about the old songs, sing yourself a new one...
what about that Michael Murphy tune? Hang on, some Yank wrote that... (Just kidding about the whining thing, okay Simon?)
ADDED Simon suggests that there are plenty of Kiwi classic songs, but how do you define classics as different from standards? The two seem so closely interlinked. The term 'classic' is one that is so overused on relation to Kiwi music - as Simon notes, "we might have a recording history going back fifty years but we’ve only really had a mature recording industry for a decade or so." thats' not nearly enough time to generate standards.
Even worse are the music reviewers who label a new release an 'instant classic' (and no, I have never done that). I guess you could argue that a standard is something deeply ingrained in the national psyche, a tune that everybody knows. The one tune Simon missed out in his list was the Ka Mate haka, as used by the All Blacks. I think you'd call that a standard, yeah?
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
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
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
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...
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.
"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.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."
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.
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
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
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.