Monday, August 30, 2010

Bun B - Trill OG

Texas hip-hop wasn't really on my radar until the Geto Boys hit in the 90s. I liked that Mad Flava track for obvious reasons and knew Primo was from Texas, but it wasn't until Devin The Dude rocked my world that I really started digging into the Lone Star rap. As I'm not a syrup guy, it was kind of hard to find something to grab onto, but a gang of Texans like Paul Wall, Slim Thug and a mess of others soon came on the radar gave me more than ample material to sink my teeth into.

UGK I never really liked, even after Big Pimpin made them a nationwide force to be reckoned with. They have charted consistently since the 80s going back to Pocketful Of Stones, but post-Pimpin it was the big time for the Port Arthur duo. Then Pimp C caught a three year gun charge for pulling a gun in a mall.

The bid ended up being doubly bad for Pimp C, as Bun B went for his, attacking every track he appeared on like a lion and shouting out Pimp C at every turn. It exposed what many hadn't realized: Bun B is a fucking beast on the m.i.c. His solo record Trill charted high on the pop and R&B charts, laying the groundwork for a new self-titled UGK double record upon C's imminent release. The record did well, and UGK seemed like they could finally get back to the level they operated on prior to Pimp C's incarceration. And then Pimp C was found dead in a Hollywood hotel room from a promethazine/codeine overdose.

Post Pimp C's passing, the self-titled UGK record sold a ton. Bun B retreated back to the lab, selling respectable numbers of II Trill. Now, just over two years later, we have Trill OG. I'm not one to lend a lot of credence to The Source in this day and age, but Trill OG got the first five mike rating in like six years this time around and I just might be tempted to agree. Did I mention that Bun B is a fucking beast? He kills almost every track here, whether it be on a Premier beat solo, or with trendy soon-to-be has-beens like Jeezy or Gucci. Not for nothing, but neither of those dudes are worthy. There is a healthy roster of guest spots, but the solo songs are the ones that shine here. Much has been made of the 'unreleased' verse from Tupac, but it's really nothing special. The Drake tracks are ok, but its important that everyone know that this is a Bun B record and B deserves all the accolades for it. Chalk up another win for the old heads. For every copy of this that sells, a backpacker's Zune crashes. I'm buying two.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

NOFX - The Longest EP

You're either a NOFX fan or you're not. There really isn't a middle ground, either you like their curiously insightful slices of sophmoric punk rock or you slag it as unlistenable juvenilia. I'm often pretty derisive of the Fat Mike schtick, yet I own all their records and was pretty into that tour reality thing they had, so I guess I might be the asshole here.

The Longest EP collects 30-some tracks from the million or so EPs they have dropped over the last couple decades. Nothing groundbreaking here: See Her Pee is still awesome, My Orphan Year still strikingly poignant. It's nice to have this all in one place. I can't see playing this over and over again, but it's a fun listen. Keep the lights on over at NOFX HQ and grab a copy of The Longest EP here.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Free Smiley The Ghetto Child Rap CPR mix tape at Unkut!

God bless Robbie at Unkut. If you like real hip-hop, his site is consistently the best place on the web to get great interviews, video clips and links to all that is mighty, old and new, in hip-hop. You'll thank him this time around for this Doo Wop-hosted mix of Uptown's own Smiley The Ghetto Child. The cost is gratis, so while you're waiting for this to download (and peeping the primo Large Professor interview clips), click a link or two. You can stream too, if that's your thing.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jen Kirkman - Self-Help

Jen Kirkman is from LA. Self-Help is her first release, and it was recorded at the left coast branch of the Upright Citizens Brigade. Normally, invoking UCB to me causes simultaneous visions of improv comedy competitions and companion desires to imitate Oedipus and VanGogh, but rest assured that this is not improv comedy. This 40 minutes is the only stuff I've heard from her, but from this set Kirkman reminds me a lot of Morgan Murphy with a strong Louis C.K turn. Which is to say that it's pretty damn good. I'd check it out.

In tracking down label info for this, I have discovered that Self Help is both a couple years old and on my new favorite comedy label A Special Thing. Get it here, anyway.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Touch And Go: The Complete Hardcore Punk Zine '79-'83

I was a little bit too young and sheltered to be exposed to Touch and Go the fanzine when it was an active entity, but the 90s output of the label was a huge part of my nascent music dorkdom. The label has drastically slowed its output in recent years, choosing to focus on their back catalog, but luckily for us, independent presses have been keeping this old stuff alive in the digital age for those who were young to enjoy it the first time. Anthologies of old zine material have been dropping like so many suckers as of late. Norm Brannon (nee Arenas) and his Anti-Matter have made it to bound form, as have Nate Ganglehoff and You Idiot! Both of these eventualities made this old man very happy. I'm still hoping that The Probe and Change Zine are released in anthology form, but I've come to accept the fact that my tastes don't drive the publishing market in this day and age.

Lucky for JS-NYC, thirty years on Tesco Vee and Dave Stimson have been kind enough to release this coffee table sized compendium of all the Touch And Go zine stuff, along with some essays and annotation from the author and old-schoolers like Brannon and MacKaye. Touch and Go: The Complete Hardcore Punk Zine '79-'83 comes out via the JS-NYC wet dream book purveyor Bazillion Points. You can get signed copies and all sorts of other awesomeness via this link. This book is a big 'un, so if you want to save on shipping, I'd try and find a local bookstore that can service you. NYCers can get a copy at Generation Records, but I had a hell of a time finding it anywhere else in town. I'll accept that this is kind of a niche thing, but it's not like we're in the greatest metropolis in the world or anything. No accounting for taste, I guess. Hear me now and believe me later: Do what you need to do and get this. Touch and Go: The Complete Hardcore Punk Zine '79-'83 is a must-have for any fan of punk and/or hardcore.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Hannibal Buress - My Name Is Hannibal

I've seen a couple of Hannibal Buress spots on the late night TV and enjoyed him a bunch. Originally from Chicago, he has been living in NYC for a bit. He seems to be maximizing his potential around town, hosting a regular Sunday night thing at the Knit in Brooklyn and maybe writing for Jimmy Fallon, on top of maintaining a pretty hectic touring schedule. Can't knock dude's hustle.

My Name Is Hannibal is his first record. Recorded in front of his hometown Chicago audience, it's on Stand Up! Records and covers topics including, but certainly not limited to: L'il Kim, drunk driving, pigeon killing and the benefits of owning prosthetic metal arms. It's educational and hysterical and you would do well to pick it up here. Any guy who has glowing endorsements from Chris Rock, Aziz Anzari and Mike Birbiglia is ok by me.

Keep track of Hannibal's whereabouts here and look out for those Sunday shows at the Knit


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Live: The Dopamines with House Boat, The Challenged, Grabass Charlestons @ Lost & Found 8.16.10

It is always a cause for much rejoicing when the Dopamines make it to town. I was bummed that they weren't playing with Grabass Charlestons, as they had been for the previous week or so, but it was free and I had preemptively taken the next day off, so all seemed to poised to put a check in the W column. This was probably going to be one of the last shows I'd be seeing for a bit and I wanted to make the most of it.

My plan was to arrive to see part of House Boat and The Dopamines set, then go home and eat mass quantities. I posted up about 10:30 to the strains of a curiously Gainesville-sounding band. A quick glance to the merch table confirmed that Grabass were in fact in the house, added unannounced as the first band on the bill. Well played, promoters! It was free and all, but come on! Does no one think it's a good idea to actually announce touring bands are playing? Seems to me it would make it a lot easier to put gas in the van at the end of the night, but hey I'm old. Grabass are great, and I would have liked to have seen more than the four songs I caught, although the Mikey Erg guest spot for the closer was fun to see.

The Challenged were up next. The trio are locals playing the Green Day card who have been increasingly larger players on the scene of late. They have played a bunch of dates recently with the recently de-mothballed Screeching Weasel and dropped their a new full-length called Loaded Language that think I'm going to have to check out. I would have been much more into them if I hadn't missed Grabass beforehand. House Boat were up in fairly short order, sporting their NYC (read: non Zack Rivethead) incarnation. Grath was as drunk and unemployed as he has been of late, and chatty as a result, but when they actually played songs HB were quite good. I can't say I'm that crazy about them that I wanted to catch their whole set, but they are a fun time.

Dopamines were up next, in their double Jon/double Mikey recent incarnation. Spirits, as well as blood alcohol levels were high, helped in no small part by Sib bartending and a five-liter bottle of Jameson the band had picked up a few shows previously. The show was heavy on the awesome new record Expect The Worst, along with a smattering of older chestnuts, all jammed into their now-obligatory half-hour set. A stage invasion by the aforementioned bartender with Jameson bottle in tow stretched things out somewhat, but I was sweaty and sated headed South by ten after one. I'd like to see them longer and earlier, but there are few thing more enjoyable than The Dopamines live in this day and age. Here's hoping we get a tour with Cheap Girls in town real soon.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Live: Ink & Dagger with Primitive Weapons @ Brooklyn Party Expo 8.12.10

As the handle may evince, I am all too aware of the double-edged sword that is being on the scene. As I approach old age, my desire to seek out shows that you can only get the address from mysterious websites or message boards or however hipster spread the word about these things. Much of what little desire I had to be one of those in the know was soundly quelled last year when Thorns Of Life were an active entity. The number of red herrings about shows, as well as the fact that they maybe weren't so up to the hype and that I had to go to damn Philly to see a Brooklyn band put whatever pretentions I had towards sporting a white belt and bad haircut on the shelf.

You can imagine my dilemma when Eric mentioned Ink & Dagger were going to be in town and playing at some DIY space in Brooklyn. The fact that the singer was dead was intriguing, even moreso when it came to light that Geoff Rickley from Thursday was manning the mic in his stead. Then it became a coincidence, as I realized that Thursday and Ink & Dagger are both bands that I like much more without their singers. That insensitively pointed out, once we found that it was promoted both by Brooklyn Vegan and Vice it seemed prudent to get there stupid early, as it was bound to be a madhouse.

Brooklyn Party Expo is an old party supply storefront way out on Broadway. By the time I met Eric out there, he had had just seen the Ink & Dagger dudes and could confirm that the six of us were the only people there. A couple/three rounds later we posted up and caught most of Primitive Weapons set. Bands set up on the floor, a move that I admire from a populist (and vertically blessed) perspective, but still find kind of silly as it guarantees that unless it's Lamb Of God or Pennywise or some other band with a giant in its ranks, 3/4 of the crowd won't be able to see the band. Combine that with the sound system of the average DIY venue, and you can see how/why that scene can be so frustrating. Brooklyn Party Expo is a good space, and truth be told, the sound was pretty good for a storefront. I can't say I found anything memorable about PW, but save for the less that Philly-sized crowd, Ink & Dagger brought it. Rickley simply cannot carry a tune in a bucket, but the rest of the (original?) band brought some serious Philly hardcore. The band has wisely opted to go without the makeup that typified the late period McCabe I&D lineup. They opened with The Road To Hell, and despite the lack of theatrics it was off to the races for the next half-hour or so. I wasn't the hugest fan way back when, but there is a point in a weekday evening when you've had a couple beers and being tossed around a room isn't so bad. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to go out of my way to see Ink & Dagger, and still question the Vice connection, but this is one of the few reunion shows that came close to living up the hype.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Black Wine

I have seen Black Wine a couple of times now and while I'm pretty sure I liked them in a couple opening slots over the past year, their set the other night at The Studio reminded me that I needed to spend a little more time with the Black Wine franchise. I picked up the record and am pleased to find that this trio does pretty well on record. Black Wine features Jeff from The Ergs! on guitar and vocals along with 2/3 of Hunchback. Miranda also sings. The band may be fairly new, but there is something about this record that sounds old. Not in a derivative sense, but few bands can lay claim to having a sound more than Black Wine. The music is steeped in the Pacific NW, with traces dating from The Sonics through the Fastbacks and Sub Pop/Pop Llama heydey. When this amalgamation catches fires, like on Broken Arm Bear, it will take a week to get the hook out of your head. The three-piece format keeps things economical and the band makes the most of the space. There is nothing to hide, so even when things get stripped down to a single guitar and Miranda vocal on Greengrove Road, Black Wine is just as compelling as the coffee it takes its name from.

Get the record from the good folk of Don Giovanni here. Black Wine can be found here.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Measure (sa) and New Bruises split cd

Kiss Of Death has a good thing going on with their free downloads. It confounds me that vinyl is such a big deal in 2010, but if it's a lucrative enough endeavor to get me quality music on the regular for free and everybody still gets to eat, I say bring it on.

My most recent acquisition from KBD is this new split from Brooklyn/NJ rock machine The Measure (sa) and Tampa foursome known as New Bruises. I enjoy The Measure (sa) very much. They've got great tunes and I like the co-ed vocals a bunch. I tend to find one member of the band a tad silly, but by and large I'm pleased to be able to see them on the regular around town. There is a new Measure (sa) record coming down the pike, but this split serves up four pretty much unreleased new tracks to tide you over in the interim. All pretty uptempo, replete with some dual vocals and Black Flag interpolation on Ruby Is A Punk. None goes past 1:30, but you'll want to play Response over and over anyway, so call it a win and get over it.

New Bruises hail from Tampa and are also the proprietors of Kiss Of Death, which must make it easier to give your product away for free. I knew I was familiar with them, but confused them with another band with brothers. What I did not realize was that they were half of PA emo franchise Mid Carson July. NB cover MCFNJ for their last track and do it well, with obligatory studio joshery at the end. Save for that, our heroes ply their trade in a pleasant mid 90s Crank! Records rock that isn't terribly far removed from its predecessor. I bet they would sound good in a backyard with a keg. I'm not sure how much of a touring entity they are, but here's hoping we get to see this pairing live in NYC soon.

Get the vinyl or the download here from Kiss Of Death.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Live: Noise By Numbers, Let Me Run, I Hate Our Freedom, Black Wine, Worrier @ The Studio at Webster Hall 8.9.10

I had tickets for this for a bit, figuring the Vapid factor would really fill the room up, but day of I wasn't really of a mind to go. I was totally wiped from the Ceremony show and a trip North the day before, but Eric convinced me to make it out. I got off the train and made it there early, having never been to the new-ish basement annex of Webster Hall called The Studio and was pretty pleased with the layout, as well as the bevy of places with light where I could sit and read between sets. It's an old guy thing.

In a move that ingratiated me to her more than she could ever hope to know, Lauren had posted that Worrier were both opening and playing at 7:30. When the enchanting Ms. Measure took the stage with a rhythm section of two indie looking gents at 7:30, I almost wept, but maintained my composure enough to enjoy their short set. Worrier features Mike Hunchback on bass and maybe a new drummer? Either way, the songs were good and I like Lauren's music a bunch, but the backing crew needed to hit a little harder and give the songs some edge. They sounded good though, and Ms. Measure gets huge gear nerd props for the blonde AC30 she's playing through. Very, very nice.

Black Wine feature Jeff from the dear departed Ergs with the rhythm section of the dear departed Hunchback. Man, are they good, and throwing down in a Jersey Husker Du sort of frenzy mixed with some early Sub Pop and Taang. I've been remiss in doing their record, and aim to rectify that situation with the quickness. Jeff has a great voice, and may very well get the medal for best post-Erg franchise. Miranda is a great vocal foil. She's a triple threat in that she can play, sing and scream and Black Wine is way lucky to have her in the fold. The full-length is on Don Giovanni and sounds great. Just a great set from a great band. Look for the review of the self-titled debut soon.

I Hate Our Freedom were up next. They have dudes from Garrison, Texas Is The Reason, Thursday and Milhouse in the band and sound like it. As you might surmise they sound very much like a late 90s Rev band. It was ok, but didn't really rock my world. Nice dudes though.
Let Me Run were up after. Hailing from New Brunswick, they signed to Paper & Plastick recently and have a new singer in Rocky Catanese. I've not heard it, but they had a Hot Water/Jawbreaker vibe, which will rarely ruffle my feathers. I wouldn't go out of my way to see them again, but definitely want to check out the EP.

This was the last night of tour for Noise By Numbers, who had been out for a little over a week, Danny and Jeff looked tired, but the band was tight as hell and sounded great. The new Noise By Numbers record is pretty great, and bodes well for the SW reunion being a fruitful one. Odd that no one has brought the SW/Riverdales two-fer into NYC as yet, but NBN are close to being as good in a lot of ways. Same sound, same aesthethic, half the crowd and companion douchebaggery. This this old man likes.

This was the best five band bill we have had in a while, here's hoping that we get a lot more shows like this in NYC. Props to all the bands involved and to Late Night Wallflower for booking this at The Studio.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Live: Ceremony with Rogue State @ ABCnoRIO 8.7.10

It's been a stressful couple weeks with some medical issues and I had been more than a bit antsy. The weather had been so sweltering that it was hard to get out on the bike for any distance with getting heat stroke, so a hardcore show three blocks from the JS-NYC corporate offices seemed more than adequate of an eventuality to both distract me and blow off a little steam.

Popped in early at ABC to get my hand stamped and found that Punch had dropped off the show (and eventually cancelled a bunch of dates) after the singer broke her ankle. When I did cross threshold to get my rock on, Rogue State were tearing thing up. Like Ceremony, Rogue State are from California and make the hardcore. The are a four-piece, although I could have sworn only three guys played, but hey it was crowded. Vocals were kinda non-existent as well, but the band was well-received. If you were there, or the prospect excites you, know that Rogue State have a new record out on Be Happy called emis vs etic that you can get here. You're welcome.

A between set med break had me a little light-headed by the time I made it back to ABC, but the crowd proved frisky enough to keep my senses sharp. The kids were circle-pitting up a storm and the ladies were mixing it up on the floor a fair bit as well. Ceremony kept the pedal to the floor for the duration. Ross was all over the place from the first note: on the floor, in the crowd, on the crowd, sometimes sporting his hoodie pulled over his head. What end said sartorial leaning accomplished, I know not, but it made for a fun Saturday afternoon.

I like the Ceremony records ok recorded, but they are a lot more fun live. The band is a nutty mix of hair farmer with Nikki Sixx model Explorer (set phasers to awesome) and shirtless guy in lace arm garters. I couldn't see the drummer, but I'm sure he was equally bizarre. It's an odd mix, but not an unpleasant one. Ceremony have gotten very much in touch with their inner Black Flag over the last couple years. Ross especially has gotten a lot more Keith Morris, and all of these factors make for a hell of a fun show. Hardcore fans and lovers of rambunctious matinee shows in general would do well to take in a Ceremony show with the quickness before they head overseas for a while. Explore the possibilities here.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Big Jay Oakerson - An American Storyteller

I stumbled upon Big Jay Oakerson through his Comedy Central special. He was sort of a super-sized Dave Attell, with a great delivery and similar tastes in sexual and scatological humor. I was pretty obsessed with that special, but lost it in a string of cable box failures and figured I'd have to charge it to the game.

Then I found An American Storyteller. Upon some investimagation, I was red-faced to realize that it had been released over a year ago. Doh! An American Storyteller is a comedy record not to be be missed. Or played in front of those with more sensitive tastes, as our dear Jay covers a number of topics that would cause the more modest people in our midst to have a hemorrhage. An American Storyteller is stem to stern hilarious, but be forewarned. There is a point towards the end of the set where Oakerson realizes that he's purveyed easily a half-hour of filth in front of a 15 year old girl that has to be heard to be believed. Frankly, it would almost seem like a plant for purposes of the recording (ala the infamous Mitch Hedberg special), but it no way makes An American Storyteller any less of a must-buy. Buy it here. The Oakerson web presence is here.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dan Telfer - Fossil Record

Dan Telfer has been quietly making a name for himself in the stand-up comedy world, playing the nerdy Mike Birbiglia meets Greg Proops card to increasingly larger crowds. For his first EP, Fossil Record, he has opted to release product via the upstart AST (A Special Thing) Records. Telfer is good, and seems to be ingratiating himself to the Oswalt / Posehn / Tompkins set, as the opening slots are coming fast and furious for him.

Again, it's kind of a niche thing, as the lion's share of the material on Fossil Record is about dinosaurs. Intelligently put forth and funny, but about dinosaurs on a comprehensive Discovery Channel meets National Geographic level. Picture a world where there were comedians who made their living doing corporate Paleontology gigs and you've got a good starting point. For some, this may be a deal breaker. Truth be told, there are small asides about Star Wars and Voltron, if either eventuality piques your interest, but the Dane Cook fans in our virtual midst might want to look elsewhere for their comedy fix.

The Telfer web presence mentions a desire to host a science show and he'd be wise to pursue that endeavor. In the absence of that opportunity to hear him, poke around his site and see for yourself what he brings to the table. Here's a link. Lovers of economy as well as comedy might opt for the three-fer EP deal that AST has going on their site. You get Fossil Record, along with the new Greg Proops and Paul F. Tompkins EPs, all for $15. Not so bad of a deal, and no two drink minimum either. Here's a link to the AST deal zone.


Monday, August 2, 2010

The Stupendous Adventures of Marco Polo!

Marco Polo has been maximizing his Stateside potential, dropping his Port Authority and Newport Authority mix cds, as well as collabos with Torae and Rustee Juxx on Duck Down. All four are must-owns for anyone who enjoys real hip-hop. It's kind of baffling that it takes a guy from Toronto to bring it to US ears, but release number five for Marco Polo is yet another great comp.

The Stupendous Adventures Of Marco Polo collects a bunch of material that fell by the wayside from other projects due to deadlines ands whatnot, combined with some rare MP remix stuff. Great tracks from a bunch of new artists like Skyzoo and Red Clay rub shoulders with old head favorites like Large Professor and Grand Daddy I.U. Even Skoob from Das EFX weighs in with a great track here. Can't say I saw that eventuality transpiring when I picked this up, but you're not going to catch me arguing either. I don't want to have to track that Rick Ross record down until I get really desperate. In the meantime, join me in avoiding that eventuality and grab a copy of The Stupendous Adventures Of Marco Polo here and look for Marco Polo on the road worldwide, repping for real hip-hop.