Review Music Archive

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Rapper’s Re-write: A Handy Pocket Guide to Foreign Translations of Rap Names

Last Friday, keen-eyed Twit-wit, Andrew Bloch, noticed something slightly askew in his copy of Malaysia’s top-selling English-language periodical, The Star: namely, that America’s third richest hip-hop star, 50 Cent, was only worth RM1.50 in local currency.

An innocent mistake by an over-zealous, under-hip copy editor? Well, yes. Nonetheless, the amusing misappropriation started me thinking. There are plenty of current and latter-day MCs whose pseudonymous handles have the potential for inadvertent cross-border translations. How might those folks be referred to in different parts of the world?

Forthwith, a less-than-comprehensive compendium (offered in graphic form, since tables in this template are some ugly-ass Mofos — see end of post):

Hat tip to Benjy Sarlin.

(Crossposted on Motherboard)

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(Actual table version available after the jump.)

Read the rest of this entry »

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Song of the Week

As usual, I’m a few days behind the eightball on this one, but this van-centric cover of Hall and Oates’ “I Can’t Go For That” by Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers is flippin’ awesome. I hope they blow up (in a fame kind of way — not a car van bomb kind of way).

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The Year is Over

So, it’s 2012 in a bit, and as 2011 winds down, we figured we’d do you the disservice of providing some links to some of the better stuff we’ve put out this year. Everyone does it, I know. We’re not trying to blaze trails here, we’re just trying to toot our own horns. We did some terrific shit! It’s just a shame that back when we actually tried, no one paid attention.

Without further ado:

The list is long, but if you’re new here, those are some of the things we’re proud of in this website’s brief existence. We’ll be back next year with more. We hope you’ll stick around.

Much love & respek,

~The editors

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Because when I think “football,” I think “Madonna”!

I’m genuinely curious about who makes these decisions. Is it a clueless cadre of rich white guys with absolutely no insight into current pop culture? A premeditatedly diverse group of third-party advisers and marketeers with their supposed finger on the musical pulse of the nation? A dartboard and a monkey?

Because any or all of those seem like possible candidates for having chosen many of the Superbowl acts in my viewing lifetime.

Case in pointless: According to the AP,

The Material Girl will be taking the stage on football’s biggest night.

Madonna, who has sold more than 300 million records, will perform at halftime of the Super Bowl in Indianapolis. The NFL and NBC announced Sunday during the Detroit-New Orleans game that the Grammy Award-winning singer will highlight the show at Lucas Oil Stadium on Feb. 5.

Look, I realize that — regardless of your personal opinion of her — Madonna is a peerless cultural icon. And I readily admit to enjoying much of her music (though, to be honest, I can’t actually name anything she’s done since “Beautiful Stranger” from Austin Powers). But Madonna is emphatically not a Superbowl halftime act. For that matter, neither are half the acts that have appeared over the years? Why? Because the Superbowl is FOOTBALL!!!11!, and FOOTBALL!!!11! is not pop — it’s rock and/or roll. Arena Rock, Grunge Rock, Southern Rock, Brit Rock — it doesn’t matter what kind of rock, as long as it’s rock.

To borrow from the immortal George Carlin:

Football is played on a GRIDIRON, in a STADIUM…

Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting, and unnecessary roughness…

Football is played in any kind of weather: Rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog…can’t see the game, don’t know if there is a game going on; mud on the field…can’t read the uniforms, can’t read the yard markers, the struggle will continue!

And to add my own: it’s the only sport where the interactive object upon which the sport is contingent is also referred to as “the rock” (e.g.).

Now peep this list of Superbowl halftime acts from just the last decade:

  • 2001: Aerosmith, ’N Sync, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, Nelly
  • 2002: U2
  • 2003: Shania Twain, No Doubt, Sting
  • 2004: Janet Jackson, P. Diddy, Nelly [editor’s note: twice in four years? WTF?), Kid Rock, Justin Timberlake
  • 2005: Paul McCartney
  • 2006: The Rolling Stones
  • 2007: Prince, Florida A&M UniversityMarching 100 Band
  • 2008: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
  • 2009: Bruce Springsteenand the E Street Band
  • 2010: The Who
  • 2011: The Black Eyed Peas, Usher, Slash
  • 2012: Madonna, Cirque du Soleil

See those underlined names? Those are the only performers who even remotely belong on stage at a Superbowl halftime show — and that’s a generous assessment, including, as it does, No Doubt and Tom Petty.

The biggest annual sporting and television event in the nation deserves better. Not necessarily bigger, mind you — it’d be tough to get a “bigger” name than Madonna — but I would gladly watch a lesser-known rock band like a Jet or…shit, I don’t know, even Nickelback over a withering pop star like stringy Ciccone there. Where are the Chili Peppers? Where are the goddamn Foo Fighters? Where are my co-editors to name a rock band that people actually listen to these days since I know jack about music?

UPDATE BY TOM: Sting deserves an underline here, as The Police are most definitely rock and/or roll.

As you were.

UPDATE BY TREVOR: Have you heard a Sting album in the last 15 years? The dude hasn’t rocked since The Police!

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The most fun that has ever been had in all the world

If you, like me, currently find the world a particularly depressing place to be, and you also just generally hate Mondays, and you need something to get excited about, and you also really fucking hate Glee, may I suggest watching The Sing Off? (I apologize for the presence of Nick Lachey, but I promise this show is so goddamn good, you barely notice him). You probably haven’t heard of The Sing Off — an acappella singing group competition — because some dumb assholes at NBC decided to run it opposite Dancing With the Stars on Monday nights. This show brings me pure joy, which, dear Christ, I can really use these days. I haven’t felt this obsessive about a show since I was fourteen and Dawson’s Creek was in full swing. The show started with 16 groups, and they’re now down to the top four, but really only two of the groups matter: Afro Blue from Howard University, and Pentatonix from Arlington, Texas. Just crazy good, these two:

(Even my husband thinks this is awesome, and he thinks acappella groups are about as cool as meningitis).

(Apparently these are both shitty Kanye West songs, which I suddenly love).

You will also notice, following these performances, that the judges on this show are actually legit singers/musicians — Ben Folds, Shawn Stockman from Boyz II Men, and Sara Bareilles, unlike, say, drunken choreographers that can’t sing, snooty British egomaniacs with no musical talent, and a woman more famous for her arse than her voice. Also, the judges are the ones who decide who goes home until the very last episode of this show — SUCH a vast improvement over letting 12-year-old girls vote for that cheese dick Scotty McCreery week after week. We all know the American public cannot be trusted to vote (properly).

There are a million wonderful things about this show, but what really stands out for me is the  incredible teamwork involved — everyone works so well together and all the while they look like they’re having THE MOST FUN THAT HAS EVER BEEN HAD IN ALL THE WORLD. Plus, some of these groups have so much musical talent and come up with such original arrangements, I just have to hoot and yell at my TV and literally jump up and clap at the end. You should know by now that I’m not the kind of person who jumps up and claps at the TV unless there is some kind of gruesome hockey play in progress.

So spend your Monday checking out these fine-looking, super-talented young folks just killing it:

Ugh, get a load of this dreamboat. Want. To. Touch. Inappropriately. His munchkin backup singing friends are also wonderfully adorable.

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A month later, I bought the album. This is the review.

Over the years I’ve realized that I’m not really a lyrics guy. They just aren’t what’s important to me about music. I don’t mean that lyrics don’t matter — they do, emphatically — but, for me, they only matter by about the hundredth time I’ve listened to an album. Even then, they don’t matter to me as much as they seem to matter to most people. I read reviews of music and they invariably quote some poignant (or twee) line to convey what the album is about, and I just sit there and wonder to myself, “How are you even there yet? How could you have gotten past the music and into the lyrics already?”

What I do get are hooks. But then, everyone gets hooks. That’s the whole point of hooks. Hooks are why it’s always awkward and hilarious to be asked, as an audience member, to sing along to the band’s big hit. “We don’t know all the words, chaps! We only know the chorus!” you want to shout back — and maybe if you’re drunk enough you do. But assuming you’re not, everyone else sort of claps and says “Yeah, I guess!” and mumbles through the verse and sings “Naaah, nah nah, na-na-na-naaaah! Na-na-na-Naaaah! Heeaay Jude!” real loud and enthusiastic like.  Or maybe that was just me. But it probably wasn’t. There were 100,000 people there.

Anyway, “Hey Jude” isn’t really a great example of my point, but it’s the hook that popped into my head when I was thinking about hooks and singalongs. My point is that I’m not a lyrics guy. A corollary to that point, and the reason “Hey Jude” isn’t a great example (and oh sure, I should just find an apt example and do away with all this hyper self-awareness of the aforementioned “Hey Jude Problem,” rather than drone on and on about it — Yeah, I get it) is that people with beautiful voices usually just slay me with hooks. And music. Hooks and music. That’s all I really care about. And I don’t really care about the content of the hooks that much as long as the music is good.

Which brings us to the part where we turn to the matter at hand. It turns out the matter at hand is some rock record I bought by a woman named Leslie Feist. She uses her last name as her stage name, so we’ll call her Feist from now on. Her new album, Metals, came out a month ago. A month later, I bought the album. This is the review.

The review is going to be laudatory. Metals is a pretty great record. If you’ll allow me to go all Pitchfork on you, it’s the most cohesive album Feist has put out. It’s sad and hopeful and world-weary and wise. It understands doom, and it doesn’t shy away from it. And it doesn’t genre hop for the sake of novelty. It does what it does incredibly well. And I haven’t even listened to the lyrics yet.

I feel familiar enough with the album that I’m going to liveblog the reasons I love it from here on out. I will then give it some sort of “grade,” so if you want to skip all the brouhaha, just go ahead and click “Page Down” a couple of times. That’s down at the bottom. If you don’t want to even bother with that, just trust that it’s in the B to A range, and go about your business.

1. There is nothing you cannot love about this song.

2. Pretend that you are driving past a graveyard, holding your breath in the backseat for good luck. Your parents are in the front seat. You’re eating Smartfood. You’re never going to die. No one ever dies. And even if they do, they come right back to life.

3. The hand claps at the very end are the hook in this one. I throw books away to that beat.

4. Best song on the record. If it had a little more funk, it’d be one of my favorite songs of all time. As it stands, it’s just my favorite song on the album.

5. This song makes me want to jump off things. Not buildings, though.

6. Exactly.

7. This is the only weak spot on the album.

8. And this more than makes up for it. It’s like velvet crossed with licorice crossed with the month of February with the addition of cold rain and cotton socks. You stick your feet in front of the fire, pour yourself a bourbon, and thank God that you’re not alone. Fall asleep watching the football game.

9. Have you ever wanted to shout, “Is this the right mountain?” Or, “Is this the way to live?” Because, if so, this is your song.

10. Take a breath. There are two more songs left.

11. This is one of them.

12. And a nice ballad to bring you back down to earth. See? It wasn’t that hard.

Since this is a review I have to give you a final score. I think it’s kind of silly, but if I’m playing critic here, it’s only fair.

Feist: Metals – 8.5/10

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Weird Al Rocks the Orpheum

Say what you want, but the weirdo known as Al Yankovic has been around longer than most of the acts he’s parodied, and he’s got ridiculous stage presence. In fact, considering his age — 51 — his energy and flexibility is borderline astonishing. (I’m guessing they’re a byproduct of his super vegan powers. See minutes 2:16 and 4:48 for evidence. Also, see 11:35 for a fat kid dancing in balcony. Gotta love dancing fat kids.)

Below, bootleg highlights (not recorded by me) from his show at the Orpheum in Boston on Saturday.

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Thom Yorke, and Radiohead, in a Nutshell

On Thom Yorke:

“THIS IS THE NIGGA FROM RADIOHEAD. IDK IF YOU KNOW THIS BUT RADIOHEAD IS IN EVERY WHITE PERSON’S TOP 5 BANDS B. ALWAYS. IT DON’T EVEN MATTER IF THEY INTO PUNK OR DEATH METAL OR SOFT ROCK OR FUCKIN BEETHOVEN MY NIGGA. THEY LOVE THIS NIGGA B. WHITE FEMALES WOULD EAT THIS NIGGAS ASS AFTER HE DID GLASTONBURY WITH NO DRAWZ ON IF HE STEPPED TO THEM LIKE “DUNLEEMEE HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA DUNLEEMEEE DRAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAAAHH” THAT’S IMPRESSIVE B SINCE THIS NIGGA LOOKS LIKE A SICK BABY BIRD THAT FELL OUT THE NEST. THIS NIGGA IS SO WHITE HIS VEINS PUMP ORGANIC CARROT JUICE B. MY SON ALSO IS NAMED TOM BUT SPELLS IT “THOM” AND HE’S PROLLY WEARING A PAIR OF TOM’S RIGHT NOW. IF I HAD TO MAKE UP A PRETEND NAME FOR A BRITISH HOMO IT WOULD EITHER BE “ELLIS SHERMANY” OR “THOM YORKE”. YOU ARE AN EXEMPLARY CAUCASIAN MY FRIEND. SALUTE.

In a word, yeah.

(via The Awl)

 

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Two musical inversions

To my simultaneously vast amusement and utter dismay (depending on my mood at the time), sardonic references to Swedish rock band Europe’s classic 80′s trash hit, “The Final Countdown,” have become a mainstay amongst my cubicle mates over the last couple of months. I have also found myself regularly besieged by this rousing synth opus outside of the office, whether it’s blaring over the loudspeakers at my gym or accompanying Gob’s magic act on every third episode of Arrested Development. The song has become so ingrained, in fact, that — in an apparent subconscious effort to invigorate the more mundane aspects of my life — I now catch myself humming the opening riff while engaging in such previously soporific tasks as peeling cucumbers and taking out the recycling.

The point being…uhhh…okay, there is no point. I just needed a way to introduce this kick-ass YouTube video I found of a group of cellists tearing it up on “The Final Countdown.”

 

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More YouTube laziness: After overhearing our umpteenth reference to TFC last week, another co-worker sent me a link to the following video featuring Toto’s “Africa” as performed by Perpetuum Jazzile — who, as you know, is a popular a cappella jazz choir from Slovenia.

The singing itself is good, but didn’t strike me as extraordinary or anything. However, the opening crescendo simulating a strengthening then weakening thunderstorm is truly incredible. Just make sure to turn up the volume to get the full effect, since the first pitter patter of voice rain is quite subtle.

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So, Nirvana was a pretty great band…

In honor of the twentieth anniversary of the release of Nevermind, the Guardian got a former Spin reporter, among the first to interview Nirvana, to reflect on their legacy. It’s a pretty great read, and I recommend the whole thing. For example:

Cobain’s often disturbing visual and melodic artistry, mixed with the band members’ sense of humour, created a musical model vastly different from the carefully crafted careers the music industry usually constructed with the aid of marketers, stylists and managers. Nirvana were messy. They wore their own clothes and rolled around in their own musical mayhem, giving interviews that often bordered on the absurd, or at least un-checkable, as I found when my researcher attempted to confirm Kurt’s last-known address as under a bridge in the logging town of Aberdeen, Washington.

This is the best Nirvana song, btw. You know, in case anyone asks.

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