The Get Busy Committee – Uzi Does It Album Review

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I received an email about three weeks ago from a friend with the following message:

Your new favorite album has arrived.

You’re welcome.

In his email, he also included a link to download the album as an MP3. We have a pretty similar taste in music, and furthermore, he is quite passionate about what he likes, so I figured this wasn’t just hyperbole. The band is “The Get Busy Committee” and the album is “Uzi Does it”. It’s hip-hop with a healthy dose of humor and satire, and is already one of my favorite albums of 2009. Do yourself a favor and head over to their website pick this up, you will love it.

Here are a couple of my favorite tracks.

The Get Busy Committee | I Don’t Care About You

The Get Busy Committee | Chillin out Maxin

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Mos Def – The Ecstatic Album Review

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Finally Dante delivers. If you are a fan of Black Star or Mos’s first album, “Black on Both Sides”, then you owe it to yourself to give this a listen. “The New Danger” and “True Magic” just didn’t do it for me. Sorry Mos. The Ecstatic on the other hand is great. The beats are solid (especially the drums) the use of samples is right on and Mos delivers with his detailed rhymes and stories. For all you doubters, listen to this with an open mind.

Mos Def | Priority

Mos Def | Casa Bey

The Middle East – The Middle East EP Album Review

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Since this band isn’t from the States, I suppose I can’t classify them as Americana. How about Australiana? Yup, hailing from Australia this six piece offers up five fantastic songs on this EP release. What’s more, for a limited time, you can pick up the EP as MP3 from their website for a mere $1.00. The Middle East craft sparse, atmospheric folk/pop songs that employ haunting, harmony vocals. After purchasing the MP3 I did two things; listened to it over and over, and told everyone I know about it. Guess I am just doing more of the same here, but now you get a listen as well. This EP does not disappoint. What’s more it “feels” like an autumn album; perfect for this time of year.

The Middle East | Blood

The xx – xx Album Review

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Wikipedia tells me that the xx are a foursome coming to you live and direct from the UK. Apparently the foursome are alumni of the Elliott School which also counts Burial, Hot Chip and Four Tet as graduates – some serious talent coming out of that school. The easiest and most common mechanism to describe a band (or a book, film or play ) is to identify something comparable and use it as a reference. We all do it. Not sure it is possible with The xx. They are truly something different. Try to imagine programmed beats coupled with instrumentation which is at times stark and austere. The album feels like a concept album in the sense that there isn’t a lapse or a song that doesn’t fit. Take a listen. Hoping to catch them at Neumo’s on November 27th where they will be sharing a bill with Friendly Fires

xx | Islands

xx | Basic Space

Major Lazer – Guns Don’t Kill People, Lasers Do Album Review

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I picked this album up at the beginning of the summer, have been killing it not stop, and am now just getting around to posting a quick review. Major Lazer is the nom de plume of Diplo and Switch (the guys that produced “Paper Planes”). The fictious back story of Major Lazer is that he is a Jamaican commando who lost both arms, and is now outfitted with prosthetic lazers, thanks to the United States Military. Pretty silly if you ask me. I bought it for the music not the mythology. Now, on to the tunes. Diplo and Switch have produced a great mashup of classic Jamaican dancehall-ragga, rocksteady and pop that is the perfect soundtrack for the summer. If Diplo and Switch set out to re-introduce dancehall to the club kids (as some have speculated), this album certainly has the chops to get the job done.

Major Lazer | Hold The Line Feat Mr Lex & Santigold

Major Lazer | Can’t Stop Now

The Melvins – Showbox Market 5/22/2009

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So I am finally getting around to writing this Melvins review. I figured it was about time that my one dutiful reader farming his days away in Western PA had something new to read. A caveat here, I am not a HUGE Melvins fan. I am however a HUGE “Houdini” fan. I know that to many core Melvins fans, “Houdini” is not considered their best album or most representative of the Melvins. Hell, after reading The Stranger’s preview, it sounds as if King Buzzo himself is not even that big of a fan.

That said, the show rocked. Did I mention that Green River played as well? For those not up on their Northwest Grunge history, here is a little primer. Green River featured singer Mark Arm, bassist Jeff Ament and guitarist Stone Gossard. Later, Mark Arm would be known for his work in Mudhoney and Ament and Gossard would go on to be members of Pearl Jam, and prior to that Mother Love Bone. During roughly the same time period, The Melvins were playing similar music in Montesano, WA and would soon influence a young Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic, both of whom would go on to form Nirvana.

Later, after “Grunge” became part of the zeitgiest, Cobain used his influence to get the Melvins a major deal with Atlantic, and the forthcoming release was 1993’s “Houdini”. To many, including myself, this is the album that sparked an initial interest in the Melvins. But I digress.

The show. The show. Well the lineup was as follows; Melvins playing as they did in 1983, then Green River, then the Melvins playing “Houdini” from start to finish. I attended the show with some friends who are musicians and HUGE Melvins fans. They, as did I loved the first Melvins set. Heavy on the punk influences, less on the dirgy, stoner metal. Not too long, just a tease really. After a short set break, Green River came on with Mark Arm attacking the stage like a young Iggy Pop/Mick Jagger. Arm hasn’t aged a day. He looked liked he just graduated high school. Fun stuff seeing these legendary musicians playing in a band that they last played in back in 1987. You could tell how much fun they were having, and the crowd really responded. I thoroughly enjoyed the cover of Bowie’s “Queen Bitch”, but what I really wanted was “Houdini” and that slow, sludgy, stoner metal. Not to be disappointed, the Melvins soon took the stage.

Not only was the lineup different for this, the final set, but the volume was turned way up. At the first chord of “Hooch”, the pit began to swirl – lucky for me, I was nowhere near the pit, but safely up on the mezzanine area by the bar. Highlights include the Kiss cover “Going Blind”, “Set Me Straight”, “Honey Bucket”. Just an amazing show. Like I said the day following the show, if the Melvins are coming to your town, do not miss them.

My Bloody Valentine – Wamu Theater 4/27/2009

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I am finally getting around to writing a quick review of the My Bloody Valentine show at the Wamu Theater that occured way back on April 27th. First things first, My Bloody Valentine are LOUD. Really, LOUD. This is the first show I have ever been to where the ushers are offering up earplugs to the concertgoers! MBV sets up this auditory assault by creating a layer of incredibly loud treble or high end that kinds of rides underneath all their songs. It sounds cool, but without earplugs my ears would still be ringing. Overall, the show was an incredible experience. The strobe lights, the visuals and the beautiful noise all combined to make this an event I will not soon forget. I, like many others found myself slack-jawed and standing, holding my hands up to the noise and actually feeling it as it moved around the theater. I have never quite experienced this before and found it quite beautiful. If they are coming to your town, go check them out – they will blow you mind!

P.O.S. – Never Better Album Review

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I have to admit, I slept on this for a while. For some reason, I had already made up mind (inexplicably) that I wouldn’t like this album. Don’t know why. I am just crazy that way sometimes. I am glad I changed my tune and listened to this album. P.O.S. Never Better – and there is nothing out there right now that comes close! It absolutely fucking rocks! I haven’t been this hyped for a hip-hop album in a couple of years. If you like hip-hop and/or punk, please take the time to listen to the album – or at least the MP3’s I have posted below. For me, this was not a “slow-burn, it grows on you” album. I connected with it viscerally on my first listen.

This is everything a new, current hip-hop album should be – fun, witty, thought provoking, but most of all; ORIGINAL! The beats and rhymes are new and different but still familiar enough not be jarring or obtuse. In addition to the quality of the music and words, the CD digipak is fantastic – it is totally customizable with different picture inserts and plastic overlays – a very nice touch.

Here is a fun video clip showing the various packaging options – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6IrjDvVkKI

P.O.S.| Purexed

P.O.S.| Low Light Low Life

Rockers! (and my quest for classic reggae albums)

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Well, after years of hearing about the movie “Rockers” I finally checked it out of the library and watched it. It is incredible! Right from the opening scene I was captivated. The film begins with the Abyssinians, and local healer Ashley Harris (scope his dread, its HUGE!) pounding out the Rasta anthem “Satta Massagana” – and immediately I was drawn in. What makes this movie great is not so much the plot, but the music and the musicians themselves who portray the various characters in the film. A real who’s who of the golden age of reggae.

The plot loosely centers around the legendary reggae drummer Leroy “Horsemouth” Brown, and his quest to find his stolen motorcycle. During this search, he solicits helps from reggae luminaries such as Gregory Isaacs, Burning Spear, Jacob Miller, Robbie Shakespeare and others. It is a thrill to see these artists on-screen not only as musicians, but as actors, dutifully following the script and clearly enjoying themselves.

Of course, the main reason to see this is for the music. My favorite sequence is of “Horsemouth” navigating the winding foothills of Jamaica on his motorcycle to The Heptones’ classic, “Book of Rules”. This scene just gives me chills.

I guess the best thing I can say about this film is that it has become the catalyst for me to discover reggae music.

Since viewing “Rockers”, I have been on a quest to collect classic reggae vinyl – my journey really starts and ends with the local record shop, Zion’s Gate. The staff is excellent and really knows their stuff. I left with the following LP’s after my first visit:

The Heptones – “Freedom Line”
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Culture – “Two Sevens Clash”
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The Abyssinians – “Satta”
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All great LPs.

Another great source for all things reggae is Kid Hops, DJ extraordinaire and host of KEXP’s Positive Vibrations. I sent Hops an email telling him what I was up to and could he help me out by recommending some more classic titles of this era, and he did not disappoint. He enthusiastically suggested a bunch of classic titles for me to check out.

So, if you are reading this, go rent “Rockers” and maybe I will meet you disc digging some Saturday afternoon!

iTunes store pricing changes

In the news today, Apple announced that iTunes will be increasing the price of their “hit” tracks from $.99 to $1.29. Back in January, iTunes announced this tiered pricing structure by stating that it would begin selling individual songs at $.69 and $1.29 in addition to the current price point of $.99. This move was trumpeted as a way to offer a discounted pricing option directed to consumers looking to fill out their digital music collection with some older, less popular titles as well as offering a higher priced option for those interested in a better quality, DRM-free files. Does that mean, I can stock up on all those Steely Dan albums? Maybe, we will see. Will the $.69 price option offer back catalog songs that are DRM free? Don’t know, my hunch is everything is the iTunes store will be DRM-free, but I can’t confirm that. To be fair, Apple may have detailed all of this, but I just can’t find it anywhere. If anyone has the breakdown as to what costs what, and what you get for your money, please point me in the right direction.

Color me skeptical of Apple’s whole tiered pricing structure. My bet is most everything you will want to purchase will be $.99 or $1.29 (please let me know if you find anything interesting for $.69) and forgive me if I don’t get too excited about the fact that the files are DRM free. Big whoop; Amazon has been DRM free since January 2008 and offer 256kbps MP3 files not AAC. I have been purchasing MP3s from Amazon since they launched the MP3 store -they offer better prices, better quality and a more flexible and portable file format. Somebody please tell me what I am missing over at iTunes.