Thursday, January 27, 2005

 

Worst Hip Hop Ev-er! (Part two)

Don't let the somewhat gay bondage getup fool you, Macho is seriously hard core. Listen to Hulk Hogan: Beach Patrol Listen to Randy "Macho Man" Savage: Be A Man (clipped and really loud) Ok, it's been awhile since I've let you in on one of Fatcitizen's Incontrovertible Laws of Rock so here's another one: Law Number 46: Steroids and rhymin' don't mix. I got suspicious that there was a trend when I dropped the "worst ever" labels on poor old Mr. T. and the Fridge yesterday. Things really came together today, however, when I learned of the rap "careers" of various members of the World Wrestling Federation. The tracks were bad enough that I've broken my "don't post it unless you own it" rule. The things I do for you guys. Ok, so listening to Hulk Hogan repeat "Whoops there it is" (call me crazy, didn't the those other guys Woop? or Whoomp? Or something? . . . No matter) is equal parts side-splittingly hilarious and eye-piercingly painful. On the other hand, listening to Randy "The Macho Man" Savage arhythmically call out Hulk Hogan for starring in telephone commercials well that, my friend, is GANGSTAH!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

 

Worst. Hip Hop. Ev-er!

No doubt, T was solid. His rhymes however . . . Ok, this is a warning. The following posts are bad. Really, bad. Not "so bad their good" but bad. B-A-D. You've been warned. Listen to Treat Your Mother Right It's hard to believe, but at one point in the eighties, Mr. T wasn't a punch line, he was a pop cultural force. Action figures, movie stardom, board games, cartoons, breakfast cereal . . . and the world's most painful rap record. I know this album was supposed to be aimed at street-proofing kids and I have a great deal of respect for T's love of his mamma, but this is a track only a mamma could love. "We're not here, to start no trouble . . ." Listen to The Superbowl Shuffle The '86 Bears will be remembered for many things: one of football's all-time most punishing defences, the Fridge playing fullback, Jim McMahon's headbands and a rap single more painful than a Mike Singletary body block. Mitigating Factor: "Shuffle" was recorded to raise money for needy families in Chicago. But it gets worse: "Shuffle" actually peaked at number 41 on the Billboard charts in 1986. Thanks very much to Paul at the great new blog We're Here to Help You Through Yr Changes for posting this track a while back and doing the Billboard research. Listen to The Mighty Stephen Hawking This is just offensive.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

 

New Kings of Leon

No, it's not a yearbook picture from 1978, it's those adorably scruffy little Kings of Leon Listen to The Bucket (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) Buzz band or not, I love the Kings of Leon. Can't say that their whole "sons of a preacher man in desperate need of a bottle of conditioner" vibe is a positive, but their first record, Youth and Young Manhood, was a great mix of classic southern vibes with a little 21st century mick n keef swagger thrown in for giggles. The new record (Aha Shake Heartbreak) isn't likely to help the Kings shake the "Southern Strokes" label that's been dropped on them since day one. It's a record that continues to pay respect to the southern thang, but also seems to - as Simpy points out - bring a little more London new-wave to their Nashville tent revival. It's a more complicated record than Youth and Young Manhood, and a record that I'm looking forward to picking up February 22nd.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

 

The OTHER West Coast (Plus a taste of Mount Real)

Strangely, Kid Koala didn't show up for the outdoor Bullfrog photo shoot Van City sends its love: Mcenroe: Nothing is Cool (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) Swollen Members: The Deep End (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) Rascalz (Feat. Checkmate, Choclair, Kardinal Offishal and Thrust): The Northern Touch (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) The Front: Power Theme (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) And so does Mount Real: Bullfrog: Reverse Psychology (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) My buddy Juan gave me a tee-shirt which reads simply "Canada Kicks Ass." It's not supposed to be ironic, but when I go down south people tend to think I'm pulling their leg. (Typical comment: "Yeah, so does New Jersey.") Brief word of advice, never wear a tee-shirt reading "Canada kicks ass" to a casino in Green Bay Wisconsin. You'll get into a run of bad luck at the black jack table and those around you will all pretend they're the bastard sons of Rodney Dangerfeild (Typical comment: "Canada's not kicking much ass now, is it?") Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. The shirt only merits mention this because yesterday's post laid the title of Canada's best ever MC on K-OS. This might lead some wags to make like the denizens of Green Bay casinos (Typical Comment: "Best ever Canadian hip hop act? Who was second place? Céline Dion?") Well, no. Check this four pack of hip hop from Vancouver and a track from Kid Koala's former live hipa hopa, funka tastic unit: Bullfrog. Visit Rascalz, The Front, Mcenroe, Swollen Members or Bullfrog online.

Friday, January 21, 2005

 

Don't they know it's COLD up here?

Canada's best MC since, well, ever? (Sorry Maestro) Listen to K-OS: B-boy Stance (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) The recent cold snap doesn't seem to be deterring the touring acts. Friends of PWI The Joel Plaskett Emergency are bringing their classic rock cavalcade to the Capital Music Hall tonight with Cuff the Duke (more on them later), while across town the very tight, and very talented K-OS (more on him later too) has a sold out show at L'Université. Embarassment of riches? Yes. But that's not even to mention the fact that Hilliary Duff played two gigs at the enormodome earlier this month. Oh, and Steve Earle just announced a March 5th date too.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

 

More Conor Oberst

Chopin? Naw! More like Eraserhead Sorry for the "me too" but Kenny just sent me a really cool piece from Nerve on Senor Bright Eyes.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

 

My other column is a blog

Mischa was nice, Paris . . . not so much More music later, but first this. There are things every smart reader has to hate about blogs in general and pop culture ones in particular. Some of my personal favourite pet peeves are the self-referential “laundry list” and the “me too.”

The laundry list (“I went here, then I went there, I ate this, the girl in line who asked me for a smoke looked like Lindsay Lohan.”) is particularly annoying when the writer is enjoying exclusive – often free - access to something they have the temerity to complain about. This approach isn’t always fatal (some people are talented enough to transform a trip to the Mac's into interesting, even hilarious, reading) but most laundry listers leave you with the feeling that you’re reading some 15 year-old’s diary (which, in some cases, you are).

“Me toos” are a sadder bunch, they have nothing to say themselves, but are more than happy to add a link to Boing Boing without adding any insight of their own (Mea culpa on this one lately, BTW.) Not all link gatherers are “me toos” (Chromewaves, Largehearted Boy and the aforementioned Boing, do such a good job of bringing together info from such a wide variety of sources . . . it's like talking to a well connected buddy) but many more folks are unfortunately biters and not writers.

At any rate, it’s nice to know that the mainstream media will always provide a harbour from the navel-gazing and amateurism in the bloggosphere.

“Old media” reporters have the most access, the most cash, the most time and the most training. People answer their phone calls and send them press releases. They’ve been taught principles like “Balance”™ and “Objectivity.”™ They couldn’t possibly be paid to write work that wouldn’t get them a link to Tofu Hut, could they?

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to Globe and Mail television columnist Andrew Ryan.

Periodically, Mr. Ryan (or his colleague the estimable John Doyle) head to L.A. to file their “reportage” from the TV “critics" junket (the junket might be annual, I’m a blogger, I can’t be bothered to do research). The “critics” go from presentation to presentation musing about the schwingyness of the PR flacks ("I had to doubly assure one pert cable publicist I would indeed be writing a feature on The Dog Whisperer, whatever that might be") praising the food that’s being served ("leave me alone with the fine sushi buffet.") swooning about the celebrities who were nice to them ("Mischa Barton . . . patiently posed for pictures and took time to talk to journalists") and nursing hurt feelings when others weren’t ("When people tried to talk to (Paris Hilton) she whispered a bit and ran away.").

All the while, they’re committing the essential mistake that millions of bloggers make every day: Assuming the reader gives a rat’s ass.

Memo to Mr. Ryan; sports reporters who complain in print about the food in the press box; and campaign trail reporters who use public airtime to complain about hearing the same stump speech over and over again every day for six weeks:

Stow it, we don’t care.

We don't read the newspaper to hear your gripes, listen to your wedding plans or know that "your big head got on (Entertainment Tonight)."

Your job is a position of privilege, just like the professional athletes, actors, politicians and pitchmen you cover and brag/complain about. The areas you cover are called “subject matter” because THEY are the subject. You are, ostensibly, paid to bring insight events you attend; to provide information, analysis or humour that the average amateur can’t. If you can’t do that, get out of the way and give the job to the kids at Defamer.

At least they’re not pretending to be journalists.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

 

Take this Plane to Japan: Guitar Wolf

Guitar Wolf: Toru, Seiji & Billy get their pose on Plane Songs: The Final Chapter Listen to Jet Virus (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) It's taken two whole weeks but I've excorcised my distaste for Air Canada (that is, at least, until they bugger up my trip to SXSW . . . ). We can settle up the plane songs theme with a quick trip to Tokyo to visit Guitar Wolf. This is appropriate because: 1) The Wolf have a relatively recent release - Rock n' Roll Etiquette - in the states on Narnack Records (no Canadian distribution, it seems); and, 2) They're louder than a jet engine. Don't expect particularly professional-sounding production, just pin back your ears and hold on tight! Long live Japanese garage n' thrash. Buy Rock n' Roll Etiquette direct from Narnack.

Friday, January 14, 2005

 

Bust an ADDITIONAL move

Ever wonder what Young M.C.'s follow up single was supposed to be? McSweeny's knows. (with thanks to Hold My Life)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

 

New AC Newman

Is it just me, or does Carl (AC) Newman look like Archie Andrews? New Pornographer and 2004 Outie winner A.C. Newman has four live in-studio tracks on CBC Radio 3 this week. Check THAT out. But, before you do, here's a taste of a New Pornographers track that makes me chuckle and devil horn every time. Listen to Your Daddy Don't Know. (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) Long live Toronto. Your Daddy Don't Know is featured on the soundtrack to Fubar. Or, if you'd rather, get a copy of the original, Toronto's legendary Get it on Credit. Much love to Kenny for the New Pornographers hook up.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

 

I think I broke my audioscrobbler

Separated at birth? Munsch's screamy and Conor Oberst Listen to Landlocked Blues (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) I'm trying really hard not to type "It's only January 12th and I've already found the best song of the year." But, it's only January 12th and this track is so perfect that I've already listened to it about 20 times in a row. Bright Eyes is Conor Oberst (he of Desaparecidos' AMAZING Read Music, Speak Spanish, and a drooling profile in the NYT mag a couple of years back). He is releasing two records on the same day later this month. The "country" one (entitled I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning) has just been added to the top of my shopping list. (once again, thanks to Stereogum for the hookup) Pre-order I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

 

Not an Elvis/Céline Dion Mashup

How can Céline Dion stand up to the power of Three Cord Gord and The King of Rock n' Roll? Plane Songs Volume 3 Elvis: Early Morning Rain (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) I can't, for the life of me, find a full-length version of the Air Celine jingle. Can anyone help me out? It's crying out to be used for the forces of good, rather than evil (imagine it remixed with announcements regarding cancelled flights, or mashed up with clips of Robert Milton's public posturing . . . ). Anyway, Early Morning Rain is - for my money, anyway - the best song about planes ever written by a Canadian artist (You folks in the back petitioning for Fifty Mission Cap must have forgotten that it contains references to the Toronto Maple Leafs. It is, therefore, disqualified. I will not debate this. There may be no NHL, kids, but the Leafs still suck.) Where was I? Oh, yes, Elvis and Gordo. Unfortunately for Lightfoot (who could probably have seen quite a few bucks had this version been a hit) Elvis' version of Early Morning Rain suffers from the same lethargy as many of the King's later, dilaudid and peanut-butter soaked recordings. Elvis' version of "Rain" can be found on the justifiably unknown Elvis' Canadian Tribute, which also features a lude-cranked King of Rock-n'-Roll taking runs at Can-Con classics by Buffy Saint-Marie and - believe it or not - Anne Murray. Good times, my friends. Good times.
 

New Josh Rouse!

Scenestars, will you be my friend? You have all the best toys including these two tracks from the pop-tastic Josh Rouse's new record, Nashville. Pre-order, Nashville.

Monday, January 10, 2005

 

New Hot Hot Heat!

Check out the studio footage @ HHH.com. This has gotta be one of my most anticipated releases of the year! (thanks, Stereogum)
 

Plane Songs: Volume Two

Round two: It's Laval vs. Durham Listen to Out on the Wing Listen to Phone Sex (Go! Buy the Rekkid!) It's been a long day and I don't have the energy to say anything much negative about Air Canada except for this: Did you know, that if you google "I hate Air Canada" you'll get twice as many hits as if you google "I love Air Canada?" I bet you didn't. At any rate, I think Superchunk's Laura Ballance & Mac McCaughan might be a little afraid of flying (and maybe even travelling in general). Their fear didn't get in the way of them writing some amazing pop arrangements on their fabulous 2001 album Here's to Shutting Up. These songs wrap lyrics about icy plane wings, t.v. plane crash footage and deadly, un-sanded highways with harmonies, keyboard and string lines that make melodies about broken dreams sound like lullabies. Buy Here's to Shutting Up

Thursday, January 06, 2005

 

Plane Songs: Volume One

Laval vs. Minneapolis: It's as plane as the nose on her face Listen to Waitress in the Sky Listen to Private Plane (Go! Buy the Rekkids!) Non-Canadian readers may not be aware of this, but Céline Dion, Laval's most famous plastic surgery victim is currently spokes-chanteuse for Air Canada. My favourite part of that press release is when they quote the ad's voice over as saying "Now there's an Air Canada that makes it easier for everyone." (As if anyone could HEAR the voiceover with C-dogg screaching away over her three or four octaves.) It's a sale's pitch that mixes both an admission of guilt and a desperate scraping for forgiveness. Delicious! Seeing as I'm still bitter about being brought home at four-thirty in the a.m. on Sunday (good news though! I got my bag made it home by Wednesday!). And seeing as we're in the middle of another major, transportation-artery clogging snow storm here in central Canada (and I LOVES to be topical) I thought I'd spend a couple of days throwin' plane songs at y'all. Enjoy! Buy Flip Your Wig Buy Tim

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

 

The Outies 2004

To paraphrase my boy, Treat Williams: The Interweb is Godzilla, and I am Japan! Three weeks ago when I set out to rip off (that is emulate, EM-U-LATE!) Information Leafblower's* Top 40 Bands in America Today I didn't think it'd be that hard. A couple of e-mails to my favourite blogs (Coolfer, check, Chromewaves, Check, Largehearted Boy, also check) mix their ideas with some PWI contributors (including a few "Real Journalists" (tm)) and come up with a list. Piece of cake if you ignore two small issues: 1) Math is hard (and I'm not HALF as accomplished at excel as I'd like to think I am); and, 2) Part of the reason why MP3 blogs are so interesting is because there's such a wide variety of opinion. There were nine voters in this poll. All but one of them voted for at least one of the top three records. Despite this, only one record (the eventual winner) had more than one first place vote. (Does anyone else think those last three sentences sounded like a logic problem on the LSAT?) At any rate, without further ado. Let me introduce you to The Committee: The "Real Journalists" (tm) My Buddies KC (who shared his top ten with us on December 14th) and Simpy. The Bloggers Frank: The ringmaster of T-dot's finest source: Chromewaves Sofi: From la belle ville de Mont-ree-ill. Sofi writes You're the bee's knees (but so am i) and is one of the first people to write a comment on PWI (she corrected my spelling, if memory serves). Luke "Optimus Crime" Neville: Whose is also keeping it reee-ahl in my second home, the magical island of poutine. And, just for balance, a few token 'mericans Glenn from Coolfer who also writes for Gothamist (and is a freak of the industry) David: AKA The Boy @ Largehearted Boy (In *my* humble opinion, the best musicalbookelectroniculture blog going. David, how do you FIND all those great articles?); and, Craig at Songs:Illinois who keeps the twang coming, which I really appreciate. When you're done readin, go visit these fine folks, they obviously put a lot of work into their sites. Ok, ok, ok. Here they are, without further ado, the winners of the 2004 Outies: Number 9 Tom Waits Real Gone Simpy says: The master gets uncharacteristically topical, but remains wholly distinctive. Buy it. Number 8 The Mountain Goats We Shall All Be Healed Dave says: John Darnielle's second studio album offers the best songwriting yet from America's best tunesmith. John Vanderslice's production is a perfect match. Buy it. Number 7 AC Newman Slow Wonder I say: This is definitely one to add to the "to buy" list. All of what I liked about the New Pornographers with less of what I wasn't so hot on (ie Neko Case). Listen to Miracle Drug Buy it Number 6 Loretta Lynn Van Lear Rose KC Says: The woman's been on the planet for seven decades, and she's now singing about getting loaded and getting it on with Jack White -- that's rock n roll. I played the shite out of this thing for months. Buy it. Number 5 The Streets A Grand Don't Come for Free Dave Says: Mike Skinner follows up Original Pirate Material with a concept album, and the results are amazing. He takes chances (like the guitar-driven first single, "Fit But You Know It"), and always wins. Buy it. Number 4 Feist Let it Die Glenn says: Sublime and beautifully crafted songs from Ms. Leslie Feist, a member of the Broken Social Scene collective and thus far its best off-shoot. That it was recorded in France helped give this sultry post-folk record a worldly character that is quite different from the typical North American record. And at the root of it all are great original songs and some interesting interpretations of others' songs. Buy it. Number 3 Wilco A Ghost is Born Frank Says: Possibly the very definition of "a grower", it's hard to separate the record from everything that made up the year in Wilco. It may be a bit of a cop-out to say that it makes more sense if you've read the press about Jeff Tweedy's rehab, seen the live show or read The Wilco Book, and I've obviously done all of the above, but it's true. It may take a while, but when A Ghost Is Born finally reveals itself, it's worth the effort. Buy it. Number 2 The Arcade Fire Funeral KC Says: Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Buy it. And the Outie for record of the year goes to: Franz Ferdinand Franz Ferdinand I think Glen says it best when he concludes: Yeah, I know it means I have the same tastes as a few hundred thousand 12-year-olds around the world. So what? It's a stinker-free album that gave rock and roll a much-deserved kick in the striped trousers. Buy it. Honourable Mentions Go To: Mike O'Neill: The Owl Comets On Fire: Blue Cathedral Nathan: Jimson Weed The Secret Machines: Now Here is Nowhere * Good looking redesign, BTW, I.L.B!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

 

PWI Record of the Year 2004

Number 1 Franz Ferdinand Franz Ferdinand Listen to Take Me Out (Go! Buy the Rekkid! . . . I mean, everyone else has.) A question I get asked a lot, well enough that I'd remark on it. People come up to me and they say: Hey, FC! How, in a year where the defining global events were a war, a mind-numbing re-election and the biggest natural disaster since Pompeii (and the fact that some people think the second and third thing are the same thing); how - in the middle of all this - can you justify a new-wavy pop album as record of the year? Cummon! How? My answer is pretty simple. Franz Ferdinand is my record of the year, not only because it's a collection of this year's best pop tunes, but because it's also a pretty catchy funeral march. Yeah, you heard me right. Y'see, friends, the whole concept of the album is gonna die. The fact that you're here, and on iTunes and Get Your Bootleg On is just part of the proof. You're not just reading about music, or listening to music, you're helping me plan a wake. "Albums" don’t exist for musical reasons. There is no limit to human creativity or imagination that forces us to pack 12 songs together with art and liner notes. The limitation has always been the size of the grooves on a slab of vinyl. I'm not claiming to know anything anyone else doesn't; in fact, when I asked some of my blogland neighbours for input on this year's uber-ten list (it's coming, today or tomorrow, I promise) I received more than one response along the line of "Geez, I don't listen to albums anymore. I'm kinda more into SONGS." More. Into. Songs. Unfortunately, the first 30 years of Rock-n-Roll history were marked (some might say marred) by albums that included one or two or three good or great tunes, and a bunch of filler. Things didn't get better, obviously, when the CD was introduced. Sure, listeners had a format with room for way MORE music, but the record industry kept the whole "album" concept in play because it made them money (why force an artist to record 20 tracks when you can ask full price for 11? When an artist has more to say, spread the music across two discs and charge nearly twice as much for a double cd, even if you could fit all the songs on one disc.) File sharing has permanently changed the connection between the song and the listener. We've jumped right back to the golden age of the single without the scratches, lack of portability or $2.49 price tag. Shuffle play on my iPod has completely changed the way I listen to music. It's rare when I listen to a record beginning to end. The concepts of "distribution" and "promotion" and "the record label" are bound to change as well (just check out these guys). I don't know exactly what the new world is going to look like, but anyone with an ear can tell it's going to be different. You can already hear the dinosaurs entering their death throws. So what does all of that rot have to do with four flouncy lads from Scotland? Nothing more than this: Franz Ferdinand is a record where every track is a keeper. Each one isn't AS good as the next (for me, Take Me Out stands head and shoulders above the rest) but there isn't one that's a let down. Not one that makes you think "Geez, now THAT didn't need to be here." In short, it's a perfect record for the age of the iPod. A record that deserves to be packaged as a record and listened to track-by-track, beginning to end. A record where each and every song is a fun havin', foot tappin', head bobbin', influence checkin' three-and-a-half minutes of rock. We, you and me, are planning a wake for business as usual in the record industry. In 2004, Alex Kapranos and the boys were thoughtful enough to bring the tunes. Buy a copy of Franz Ferdinand Interested in the way technology is going to change the world of music. Check out Downhill Battle or, for a different take, the work of Dr. Robert Zatorre?

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