Tuesday, May 31, 2005

RIP Oscar Brown Jr.
Most recently heard on the Verve Remixed series, with the killer tune 'Brother Where Are You?'

Singer, songwriter and playwright Oscar Brown Jr. died Sunday in Chicago after a brief illness, his family said. He was 78. Brown was hospitalized in mid-April following emergency surgery to stop the spread of an infection in his lower spine. Before the surgery, he had complained of severe pain and suffered paralysis to both of his legs.

He had been released but was readmitted about two-and-a-half weeks ago and died at St. Joseph Hospital from complications of the illness, said his niece, Lauren Hudson. "Although we will miss him deeply, he has left a wealth of works that will continue to touch the world," his daughter, Maggie Brown, said in a statement.

Brown is known for his compositions "The Snake," "Signifyin' Monkey" and his lyrics for Miles Davis' "All Blues." Early in his career, Brown shared the bill with jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane. Brown, who was active in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, also ran and lost twice for political office - first for the Illinois legislature and later for a seat in the U.S. Congress, according to his Web site. Along with his wife, Jean Pace Brown, he is survived by one son, four daughters and grandchildren. From Chicago Sun Times.

From AMG bio for Brown...
The multi-talented Oscar Brown, Jr. wrote several classic pieces, including the lyrics to "Dat Dere," "Work Song," "Watermelon Man," and "The Entertainer" (the latter a bittersweet biography of Scott Joplin); and the compositions "Signifyin' Monkey" and "But I Was Cool."

An important social commentator and playwright, Oscar Brown, Jr. acted on a regular network radio soap opera while in high school. After a wide variety of careers (including public relations, real estate, ad copy, and running unsuccessfully for political office), he became a professional songwriter, starting with "Brown Baby" (which was recorded by Mahalia Jackson) and collaborating with Max Roach on the "Freedom Now Suite."

A dramatic singer, Brown was signed to Columbia in 1960, where he recorded several classic albums. In 1962, he was the MC on the legendary Jazz Scene USA television series (some episodes of which have been made available on video). Brown performed on and wrote many shows through the years, and served as artist-in-residence at several colleges. After recording steadily, he was off records altogether during 1975-1994, until returning with Then & Now for the Weasel Disc label in 1995, a disc full of both fresh remakes and new material.

Check NZ On Air's page about NZ Music Month. Notice something badly wrong with it? Here's a clue... "NZ Music Month is coming ... ! May 2004 will be NZ Music Month again and this time, the colour will be GREEN." In the words of Nelson Muntz (from 'the Simpsons') HA HA!

Friday, May 27, 2005

48 Hours
Went to the screening of Group Ten of the 48 Hour Film Competition last night - some of my music ended up in an animated short called 'Little Red Riding Hood and Dr Wolf: The Extreme Makeover Edition'. Looked great projected on the big screen at the Civic. The competition involves teams making a 5 min short film in 48 hours - they get given a genre, a prop (this years was a banana), a character (Bodil De Rezny, animal lover) and a line of dialogue ("Please don't do that").

Other notable entries included the group who got Disney Family Movie as their genre, and made a delightful film called 'Khristmas with the Khunts' about the Khunt family - yes, the H is not silent. They were getting kicked out of their home by property developers, so the father reassured the family it would be all right - "don't worry, Khunts stick together!" And sure, enough, they did.

Last years winner Radar is one of this years judges, watching 5 and half hours of shorts every night this week, poor bugger. He wrote about it in his column this AM in the Herald...

"...Many of the films are brilliant. Some are bad. A few are brilliantly atrocious, which makes them all the more enjoyable. It has, however, made me realise that election campaign advertisements and party political broadcasts should be produced in the same way. Each party should be given 48 hours to come up with a range of short films showcasing its policies. Each film must contain an explanation of economic policy using a real pie and contain a line of dialogue stating "and that's a promise". "

The Top 12 Shorts from AK screen at Civic Theatre, Sunday May 29th, Doors Open 8pm
Tickets Available from Ticketek from May 5th - Always very popular, book in advance

The Live National TV Final on C4, SUNDAY JUNE 12, 9pm
The Top 5 films will screen, one from each city, plus a wildcard
Everyone can txt vote for their favourite film shown on C4
Overall Grand National Winner of the 2005 48HOURS will be revealed

Simon Grigg lists the bands he unreservedly hates. Well worth a read. First up, Dire Straits. "If the National Party were a band, they’d sound like this." He also gets stuck into Bob Dylan and Bob Marley, to name but a few.

As an aside, he also gets round to talking about the Fat Freddy's Drop album... "It’s not my cuppa…it’s pleasant enough, and its hit a nerve in NZ, but it still sounds to me like a feral (what is it with the feral thing in NZ right now…can musicians no longer afford soap) UB40 infused with a touch of Stevie Wonder, which is better tha
n The Black Seeds, who remind me of UB40 with Nick Kershaw on vocals. But I think its bloody fantastic that it’s number one, with all that implies for independent music and the future of musical expression in this country. You don’t have to like a record to support it.."

From Coolfer... "There's a lot of spin out there. A lot of laziness in chosing words. People could do better. Here are some translations.

Quote: "I think shareholders are the great evil of this modern world."
Translation: "I've been reading some literature given to me by Oxfam, and I'd like to think that record labels are inherantly different than other businesses and shouldn't care so much about the bottom line."
What should have been said: "Like many musicians, I cannot reconcile two immutable facts of the music business: That is is indeed a business, and that artists like myself would rather enjoy my celebrity status and my celebrity wife than act in a manner more befitting of my public statements -- such as starting my own record label or signing with an independent." [Like this big-name band, perhaps?]
• Inspiration: A direction quote from Coldplay's Chris Martin.

The rebound of internet radio, in the Village Voice

Via Boingboing "NPR's Rick Kleffel did a long interview with Chuck "Fight Club" Palahniuk which he ended up getting cut down prior to airing, due to Pahlaniuk's hilarious, R-rated side-remarks about his fans and their odd habits and confessions, as well as his fiction. The interview is up in an unexpurgated MP3 and definitely worth a listen." Over here. [note: it's a 39.6MB file]

And finally, Glorious Noise interviews the Music Supervisor for The OC...

GLONO: Oh yeah, I know. Hey, one final question.

Patsavas: Uh oh.

GLONO: Any chance you can kill off Marissa?

Patsavas: I love Marissa.

GLONO: She's got to die.

Patsavas: No way, I love Marissa. I do.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

John Williams must die
And there's your four-word Star Wars review. Dialogue so wooden you could build several decent-sized suburbs outta it. Acting not much better. But it's all about spectacle, right? No witty one liners like back in the day with Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. This puppy has dialogue flogged from sources as disparate as GW Bush and Frankenstein.

For your amusement...
Q. What is the quickest way to get a music critic in bed?

A. Send them the new White Stripes advance LP.

from Nerve.com: Sex Advice from Music Critics

but wait, there's more!
Sex Advice from Bloggers
Sex Advice from Publicists
Sex Advice from Stand-Up Comedians
tip of the hat to Brooklyn Vegan.

Coolfer follows the Bob Mould story linked yesterday. "Modern technology has again run up against good ol' business realities. At his blog, Bob Mould wrote about two websites that were posting his new album in its entirity and how he contacted them to request its removal. One, he wrote, had "respectfully removed the content."
Mould: "For the record: this project has taken me 3 years (on and off) to complete, with a price tag of around $50,000. ... There was no evil label paying these costs - I write the checks. I get paid on records sold. This is how I do my business. The price tag doesn't account for my own time and effort, for which I typically get paid fairly well. After 26 years on the job, I have earned my keep."

Also from Coolfer, Go team have signed to Columbia/EMI in the US.

"UK cartoony cheerleaders The Go! Team have inked a deal with major label powerhouse Columbia Records. After weeks of dinner dates with A&Rs from various labels at Warner, Atlantic and both of the Sonys, the buzz band closed with Columbia Records and EMI for publishing. Their sample-heavy tracks are supposedly giving EMI a major headache, especially considering none have been approved and the album has as of yet been released in the U.S.

And just when we thought hip hop was on it's way out, Epic Records has picked up Hasidic reggae rapper Matisyahu. The Hasidic rapper will be appearing at Bonnaroo with album release scheduled for early fall."

Monday, May 23, 2005

Bono and his incredible exploding ego.
Via Coolfer, a long interview with Bono, titled..

Bono: 'We need to talk'
"U2's frontman sits down with Greg Kot to 'clear the air' about negative reviews, the band's direction and the role of rock 'n' roll."

Heard some of a very interesting interview with longstanding local musician Rodger Fox on BFM's Jazz Show, hosted by that knowledgable young chap Sean Grattan.

Fox was talking about the current state of the music scene here, saying that he thought the various government initiatives like the Music Industry Commission and so on were on the wrong track, throwing money at 4 or 5 bands. He recalled the 70's and early 80's when he was in Quincy Conserve, describing that as a time when we had a proper music industry that supported a wealth of musicians, unlike now, in his opinion.

Back then, he said there was a brewery circuit that bands could go out and play and make a decent living. Fox said he was often playing 5 nights a week, and earning more than his father, who was a schoolteacher and head of the music dept at a high school. The brewery circuit developed from a time when the breweries owned a large number of pubs around the country and also handled the bookings for live entertainment - Fox said this eventually fell apart when the breweries decided to get out of owning property in the early 80s, and pub owners took over booking bands.

Fox suggested that if instead of throwing money at a smalll handful of bands, if the government schemes went towards creating a live circuit, then say 200 bands could be out there working and making a decent wage from being a musician, just like a nurse or a mechanic. Nowadays, if you are on a band, you can only play live in your own town once a month or so.

Friday, May 20, 2005

How many TV reporters roll like this? Not many, if any
... and probably with good reason. Saw Te Radar's Timor Oddysey documentary show last night, it's brilliantly funny, well worth checking out. Radar provides live narration to the doco as it screens. It originally screened a few years back at the Comedy Festival, and this new version features tighter editing and some tasty music from Jason Smith and Ed Cake. The NBR called it "A voyage of extreme bravery and stupidity".

If you aint heard the premise, it goes a little like this... Radar and chum Aaron set off for East Timor via Oz, drive across the middle of Oz in the wet season thru numerous flooded roads, and then arrive in Darwin, where Radar talks his way onto a UN plane to Dili with nothing more than a TVNZ Visitors pass and a lot of cheek. If only more current affairs tv here took the same attitude, we might have something intelligent to watch (that means you too, Simon Dallow).
On tonight and Saturday at the Silo Theatre, Auckland, and he's taking it round the country too. More info here.

Aslo, out and about this weekend, at the Writer's Festival, you can catch this..
Co-Offenders: A Gang of Three.
"New Zealander Chad Taylor's edgy novels are appreciated around the world. He joins fellow dark imaginers English author Mark Billingham and locally based South African crime writer Zirk van den Berg. They talk about the intricate art of putting together the most entertaining crime". Saturday, 8pm at the Hilton, Princes Wharf. More here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

DJ Sirvere gets back to basics
After yesterdays depressing news on Staple mag's impending closure comes this slice of good news...

"Satellite Media and Dawn Raid Entertainment have announced the re-launch of New Zealand Hip Hop magazine Back2Basics.
Satellite Media currently produce New Zealand's version Top Of The Pops, Coke Countdown and Coke New Releases in addition to publishing Rip It Up.
Dawn Raid have built up an empire which includes a record label, a clothing manufacturer, a hair salon and are venturing into publishing.

Back2Basics will be re-launched with a fresh look and feel, and a new editor, in the form of local Hip Hop mogul DJ Sir-Vere. Sir-Vere started out on 95bFM's True School Hip Hop Show, and now fronts the Holla Hour on C4. He is co-founder of the Aotearoa Hip Hop Summit and compliled the albums for the Major Flavours series.

Back2Basics launches on September 1st." From nzmusician.co.nz.

We saw 'Hitch hikers guide to the galaxy' last night, very amusing. If Chad Taylor was still blogging, he'd write something entertaining about it... hang on, he did, a few weeks back in the SST. Oh. (ADDED: Chad kindly sent me the link to it, in all its untrimmed glory - couldn't find it on the SST's website.)
Great casting, esp Mos Def - his first appearance involves going to an English country pub and ordering six pints, three for him and three for his mate Arthur Dent. Then Mos proceeds to knock back his pint as fast as he can. Skull, Mos Def, skull! Worth the price of admission alone.

THIS JUST IN... Fat Freddy's Drop hold onto number one album slot on the national charts - five of the top ten releases are NZ. (via Radioscope). Savage is still at number one on ther singles chart for the seventh week in a row.

1 Based On A True Story - Fat Freddy's Drop - TheDrop/Rhythm
2 Trouble - Akon - Universal
3 Love Is The New Hate - Shihad - WEA/Warner
4 The Sound Inside - Breaks Co-Op - Capitol/EMI
5 In Between Dreams - Jack Johnson - Universal
6 Playground Battle: Bonus Ed - the feelers - WEA/Warner
7 Il Divo - Il Divo - SBME
8 Love, Angel, Music, Baby - Gwen Stefani - Universal
9 Songs About Jane - Maroon 5 - SBME
10 Out Of The Moon - Goldenhorse - Siren/EMI

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

While Matisyahu was in Austin playing at SXSW recently, his other SXSW highlights included "spotting Elijah Wood, Jessica Simpson's dad, and Karl Rove and Karen Houghes (ok, we didn't see the last two, but all our friends did!)". Matis -who? Read on.
Matisyahu has the distinct advantage of cornering one particular genre - beatboxing Hasidic reggae MCs. Here's the live video to prove it.

From Rolling Stone: "He sticks to his virtues," says D'niscio Brooks, an organizer of New York's massive summer Reggae Carifest, which Matisyahu will headline. "When I first heard Matisyahu, I was taken aback, just at the thought of a Hasidic Jew doing reggae . . . but he's so authentic."

"He can really rip," agrees hip-hop producer and bassist Yossi Fine (David Bowie, Me'Shell Ndege-Ocello), who is himself part Israeli and Afro-Jamaican Jew. "He's extremely fierce, jumping around the stage. The only difference between him and a Jamaican rapper is that he takes the lyrics from the Bible instead of from Rasta. He changes 'Jah' to 'Hashem' [Hebrew for God]."
Reminds me a bit of Snow (remember 'Informer'?) crossed with RATM's singer.
Brookyln Vegan reviews a recent gig at a sold-out Iriving Plaza in NY. Quote; "When someone first offered me two free tickets to see a Hasidic Jew who sings reggae, I assumed it was a joke (see 2 Live Jews). Then I watched the video on Matisyahu's official site, and realized he was more than for real. He was actually really good."

There's a live clip of his latest album on MTV here. His band are more lightweight Sublime than say Bad Brains; maybe a horn section would give their sound a bit more flavour.

Here's video of Matisyahu's national television debut (performance and interview), in which he braves the tauntings of Scott Baio and Kevin Nealon on Jimmy Kimmel's TV show. You gotta wonder if he will last past the sheer novelty value of his appeal Scott Baio gets smart by asking him how does he grow a beard like that, cos Scott has been trying to grow one. Matisyahu answers by telling Scott the trick is to stop shaving. Musically, there's no doubting his sincerity, but the way media works, he will get chewed up and spat out, in all probability...

Matisyahu's story is almost as interesting as his talent....
"Matisyahu, the 25-year-old Hasidic Jew who is a rising star on the reggae music scene, is no novelty. He is part of a growing wave of young Jewish performers who have merged their religious interests with contemporary musical styles. His peers include So Called, a rapper who rhymes in Yiddish; Balkan Beat Box, a group that blends hip-hop and electronic dance beats with Israeli and Eastern European music; and Golem, a post-punk rock band with a strong klezmer influence....

A few days later at his home in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, Matisyahu discussed his unusual journey. Named Matthew Miller by his parents ("Matisyahu" roughly means "Matthew" in Hebrew), he grew up in White Plains, N.Y., in a Reconstructionist Jewish household.

"I've always wanted to sing," he said. "I participated in gospel choirs, performed in theater productions — anything that would enable me to sing." He left high school at 17 to follow the jam band Phish around the country."

From NY Daily News interview... "Any listener who hasn't been warned about the singer Matisyahu has the same reaction when they first see him. "They laugh," says the singer. "They think it must be a joke." After all, it's not every day you see a guy in the black suit of a Hasid singing and rapping over swaying reggae melodies, goosed by a hip-hop beat. "This is my path," the singer explains. "It's how my influences unfolded."

And of course, he is the cause of much blog-angst among young Jewish bloggers which is fascinating. Example; "During Matisyahu’s Boston’s gig on Chanukah my friend Jamie summed it up: "this man can make tzitsis cool!" Or "Matisyahu successfully takes reggae and elevates it, infusing it with kedusha."

ADDED listening right now to author/indie label lackey/internaional librarian of mystery Gareth Shute on BFM, he's talking about music journalism in NZ - he's part of a panel called Dancing About Architecture, Writing About Music at the Writers Festival this weekend. 6pm this Saturday, at Maritime Museum, with Gareth, Nick Bollinger and Graeme Reid, chaired by Chris Knox. And BFM host Noelle M just dropped the bombshell that she's heard that Staple magazine is closing down - stink! One of the top magazines in NZ, gone in a flash.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Who got the RZA?
Tofu Hut goes all out on the RZA from Wu Tang Clan, highlighting his wicked production on the movie soundtrack for Ghost Dog, including some MP3's. Niceness. Sample...
"Read this May '04 interview with Rizz in which he talks about how he met Jarmusch and read this December '04 interview where he talks about studying Danny Elfman." Dropping knowledge like Britney's dropping babies.
More later.

Friday, May 06, 2005

M.I.A. asks - How do you get British people in a room and make them dance to bloody reggaeton?
M.I.A.s album Arular finally dropped here a few weeks back, and I picked up a copy yesterday. Clincher was hearing the track U.R.A.Q.T, which is not included on the US pressing of the CD, due to sample clearance problems, apparently. It is on the UK/Aus/NZ versions of the album, tho. Sample in question is credited to Quincy Jones (unless there's another sample in there I aint picked yet).

What's it sound like? Insert handy blog quote here... " it rocks hard and deftly (loudly!) melds grime, ragga, dancehall, electro, breakbeat, and hip-hop, throwing in riffs that vary in intensity from sensible pop to hardcore bass." Thank you. In short, this aint subtle.

Of course, if you US indie bloggers who've been giving heat on M.I.A. really want that tune, you could go to her label's website and download the vocals and do your own remix of it. Strangely, the indie music bloggers have gone quiet on M.I.A. now that she's on US TV and magazine covers - surprising, given she's touring there at present. No longer underground enough for you?

You can also download some of her artwork, which is just as well - she does some cool art, but the shocking jumble that is the cd cover is just hideous (download it and make your own cover). One blogger noted that her label XL Recordings was disappointed her album hadn't cracked the top 50 album chart in the UK on release, and suggested perhaps the reason for that was the messy cover art.

You can't clearly read her name or the album title, there's just too many fiddly little elements going on. And the CD comes with an outer cardboard cover sleeve that you have to slide off to get into the CD - the cardboard sleeve features the exact same cover art as on the cd case - what a waste of packaging, not very 'green' of you, M.I.A! You aint saving the Brazilian rain forests doin' that sheeet!

She's been getting great reactions from US crowds right from her first show Stateside late last year, saying that "… [The British] don’t have an arena [for] the tempo of my songs. There are no clubs that play reggaeton, baile funk, dancehall all in the same room. They just don’t dance there. They stare! Or they get really pissed, rock out to a guitar band, and then come home. How do you get British people in a room and make them dance to bloody reggaeton? That’s like a 10-year program to me." - M.I.A.

buncha relevant links....

Via Brooklyn Vegan - Listen to fan-made M.I.A. remixes

Download M.I.A. vocal tracks to make your own remixes (or just because)

Listen to Galang: Real | Windows

More videos here. Shockingly bad camera work on her recent live tv appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Show, and links ot the Piracy Funds Terrorism mixtape. Plus Galang/Sunshowers music vids.

M.I.A. interview in Australian paper The Age, and another at The Guardian.
M.I.A. live on KCRW (listen or watch) from May 2. She's currently doing shows Stateside, like the Coachella Festival.

Funky cold money
The US producers of I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here contacted Tone Loc to see if he'd appear as a contestant. His reply was to fax them a copy of his 2004 tax return, showing more than $1.5m in post-tax earnings.

Tone Loc credits George Hamilton for showing him how to build a well-diversified portfolio of commercial and residential property. Via Pop Bitch.

Illicict Clothing hold a retrospective exhibition of the work of the late great comic artist Martin F Emond, opens tonight at Illicit HQ Basement, 202 K Rd from 8pm and runs til 27 May. Plus there's the CD launch too (from 10.30 ish at K Rd Ballroom), more at Illicit's site. Throw up ya goats!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Based on a true story
Amplifier.co.nz report that the Fat Freddy's album "has been our biggest seller in the 5 year history of amplifier! Our dispatch department is now resting after 4 days of manic activity."

Quick price check on the album in downtown Auckland … Marbecks - $29.99, Beat Merchants - $31.95, Sounds Queen St - $32.95, $33 at Conch, $34.95 at Real Groovy.

I talked to a few retailers and heard that it’s rocketing out the doors, so I’m predicting this album will go gold in a week - and that will be actual sales out of shops, not just some ‘presell into shops’ hype. Might not hit the charts immediately tho, as a lot of the shops its selling well from are not chart shops. Fat Freddy's album will be the big hit of NZ Music Month (not Shihad, or Phoenix Foundation), despite not being officially associated with it. Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Run to your nearest cd shop right now.

Fat Freddy's Drop long awaited album is finally in stores around NZ today. I am currently listening to it for a second time and its absolutely wicked. Now, off you run.

What, you're still here? Okay then, have a read of this or this.

ADDED (vai Tofu hut) - "Moistworks is BACK and back STRONG; today's post of mostly unreleased Stax vocals, demos and promos is great stuff".

Speaking of the hut, check out the Hugh Mundell post, including some dubs of his tunes by Augustus Pablo - great audio clips too.

FAT FREDDY’S DROP :: BASED ON A TRUE STORY This is a message from the Fat Freddy’s Drop crew, sent via the Spacific mail list, for UK folk:
“Kia Ora. Fat Freddy's Drop's here, our album Based On A True Story will be released in the UK on June 27th, and we need your support to help us make the big splash overseas. So please hold back from ordering it online from back home and wait for the international release date. The album should be available from all good record stores so please pester your local shop to pre-order copies. We're heading overseas in August for a 6 week tour so see you soon...."