Sunday, November 30, 2008

Arkells - Oh, The Boss is coming

Now, I am not sure if actual penguins dig rock music, (I tried to reach Morgan Freeman, but his people told me he was not available for comment because he was busy being shitty) but Spanchy a.k.a. The Penguin turned me on to this song by Arkells earlier this afternoon. Apparently, the group also used to live on the same Arkell street in Hamilton that was home to Spanchy, Den Smeds and Big Laze for so many years.

After I watched the video, which I thought was kind of cool, I slid over to their MySpace page and checked out their shit. I have to say that I'm feeling both 'Oh, The Boss is Coming' and 'Pullin' Punches'. They are just good ol' solid pop rock songs, and while there is nothing challenging about them, they are packed with some infectious melodies and tight bass riffs.

If I was to signal who or what the crucial elements are to the band, I would have to say that Nick the bassist and Max the lead vocalist are pulling their fair share of the weight. Now, I am sure some Hamiltonians might say that naming their album 'Jackson Square' is a little shitty. Personally, I think it is such a shitty idea, that it actually makes it kind of money, just like the mall itself. There aren't too many other places in the world where you will find as many 'tilt masters' as you will at Jackson Square. Now, I don't think Arkells share my love for 'tilt masters', but I'll just pretend they do anyway.

I had a conversation with a buddy the other day about how the Hamilton Music Scene has slowly turned to shit over the last couple years, after being so strong and exciting at the beginning of the decade. Listening to these tunes though have triggered my dormant excitement again for local music and I have to say I am looking forward to coming home and see what else I've been sleeping on.

Below, you will find the video for Oh, The Boss is Coming. Enjoy...

I Love King Khan


"Yeah, first of all, it was my friend's 40th birthday who owns that place [a club in Muenster]. This was a really good friend of mine.... He loved the Black Lips so when I showed up, I went crazy. I grabbed a birthday cake during the first song--[laughing] his birthday cake, the cake one of his friends made for him with all their love--and I just grabbed it and I fucking lost it. I smashed it on the Black Lips and they were covered in cake. They looked like that album cover for The Damned. They were all covered in cake and Cole [from the Black Lips] starts puking. When they played "Stone Cold," I smashed 40 bottles of beer. There was glass everywhere. This girl came up to me, just looked at me, and slapped me. I was out of control. I was possessed or something.

And then to top it off, I ran into the kitchen and grabbed this bowl of salad. The band was leaving, they weren't even playing, and I just pelted them with lettuce... [laughter all around] Anyway, I was really outta hand. It was a rough time for me at that point, for my life. Things got much better." - King Khan

Check the full interview of King Khan and BBQ here.

King Khan and BBQ play Toronto at Lee's Palace on 5 December 2008.

The World Never Ceases To Amaze Us

The world never ceases to amazes us. "Stupid, asinine, backwards, mindless, splurging Friday" ( I refuse to call it anything else) has passed with one 34 year old Wal-Mart worker trampled to death, another 28 year old pregnant woman injured and taken to Hospital while the shoppers were allowed to finish their shopping then escorted out for questioning. Stupid and asinine? Yes. Necessary? No.

In our own Front yard, Ottawa is ripe with pettiness and political wrangling showing us the vacuum that our politicians live in. There is no other way to see it than our Prime Minister playing games with the Opposition, smelling political blood, and taking advantage of a weakened opposition at any moment he can. Opportunistic? Yes. Greedy? Of course. Harmful? Not likely.

Fortunately our country is in decent enough shape that our politicians are able to continue their game of snakes and ladders without truly harming the state of the country. The only ones really paying attention and looking forward to these shenanigans are political junkies (myself shamelessly included) and journalists. At the very least Canadians are given something to chew on, but like a piece of juicy fruit gum, we'll just spit it out quickly, as it becomes tasteless and short-lived.

Something we should be thinking about more as citizens of this planet are the recent attacks in Mumbai, India. We should all be concerned, not at the obviously emotional level, of those killed leaving many to mourn the loss of loved ones, but on a more global level. We should be asking ourselves and those around us; why is it that a seemingly peaceful country like India was attacked? What does this mean for the rest of the world? But more importantly why was that Hotel specifically targeted, and what was the message? When it comes to any type of large scale attack, the amount of people killed becomes inconsequential. The target is not money being stolen, property being looted, or specific high-ranking people being killed. The purpose is to send out a message to the country hit, and the world around it.

India is a relatively free place where commerce and trade is open to the globe. We are seeing a rising India just as we were watching and now witnessing a stronger China. I suggest you do what a lot of people are now being forced to do, and look at a map of the region where India is located. You'll find the epicentre where a war is certainly being fought, but not in its carnal way, but in an ideological way. Of the countries that surround India, India is the only one that is truly open to tourists and investors. People make Yoga inspired pilgrimages there, Wes Anderson shot his last movie there primarily based on the vibrancy and colours that India exudes, and of course living in Vancouver, I'm unable to ignore the amount of immigrants that now reside in Canada, but travel back and forth to their homeland, constantly stimulating the Indian economy with Canadian earned dollars.

If you haven't already figured it out, the reason that India was attacked, and the Taj Mahal Hotel targeted, is because of it's economic symbol in the world. The majority of the Hotel's guests and those near it are not Indians, but globetrotters. Be it for business or pleasure, people have swarmed to that area to see one of the many amazing things there are to see in India. In the aftermath of the attacks, the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of millions of people that have traveled, stayed or have seen the hotel before these attacks are enormous, and they're telling their stories, while news tellers find a way to make it relevant.

The attackers or organization (who are yet to be named) chose their target well. They knew that by slicing at one of the ventricles of the Indian economy, they would not only make headlines around the world, but they would impact the Indian economy, slowing it down and making India less attractive if not dangerous to travel to. This was not an attack on the Indian people and their country; it was an attack on capitalism.

That may be a bold statement, but one that cannot be dismissed so quickly. This is not to imply that these attacks were warranted or not; that's for you to decide. But ask yourself, "What begets violence in mankind?" In most cases I would argue jealousy and greed. The countries that surround India are very much aware of India rising. They are aware of the immense economical force that is India, and they want to cut at it, making it bleed and suffer, just as they have.

Of course other things may come into play, like religion, history, and political ideologies. But one thing is certain, and it's that when we become so self-involved, allowing greed, and jealousy to take over, we become violent in mind, spirit, but even more damaging, in actions. The attacks in Mumbai are a global message that money, and all that comes with it, can be evil; if we allow it. Bombings and shootings are happening around the world in the fight against or for capitalism, while close to home, a man was trampled at a local Wal-Mart to get to the "best deals in the world."

- authored by guest poster Samuel Ramos.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Book Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald


I have to begin by saying that I share Red's enthusiasm for the release of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button starring Brad Pitt this holiday season. However, upon reading the short story in anticipation of the film, I am a little worried that our excitement might be unfounded.
Clocking in at 25 pages, the story is certainly short, and while the story has some interesting ideas, it pretty much unfolds how you might expect it to unfold. Meaning that the ending is shitty, boring and a little premature. I believe Fitzgerald could have pushed the ending a little more and I hope that David Fincher (Director) and Eric Roth (Screenplay) have maxed out the potential of this story. I kept thinking the whole time I was reading the story that it read like a skeleton for a screenplay.
One element of the story that I hope is not lost in the adaptation is the bizarre, jealousy ridden relationship that transpires between Benjamin and his father. Considering the role is played by Jason Flemyng, who you may remember played Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde in the absolutely horrible League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I would have to think it should be interesting.
One final note is that unless you are a major fan of Fitzgerald, do not buy the Penguin Classics version of the story, as your hard earned clams might be spent better elsewhere. My advice would be to grab it from the library if you want to give a quick read before the film. And in closing all this Fitzgerald hype has got me spinning that it would actually be quite amazing if Scorsese was actually planning to do an adaptation of The Great Gatsby with Adrian Grenier. My heart tells me it will not happen, just as that Ramones film is doomed to never see the light of day.

Below you will find the trailer for the film. Now, if you were to go by the trailer, then I'd say we have a dynamite film on our hands. Personally, I have to lean and say the movie will impress and find itself on many top ten lists, but only time will tell...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sign of the Times...

Doesn't she look happy and fulfilled?

I was skimming the news today and I came across this ridiculous and absolutely disgusting story.

Today is Black Friday, as you may or may not know. Black Friday is supposedly the biggest shopping day of the year, with millions of retarded Americans running to the stores the day after Thanksgiving to consume at a record pace. The stupid thing about this whole day is that most of the things that are on sale are products that stores are looking to get rid of, like year old tank tops, vcr/dvd combo players, and other useless things. But, the masses, being stupid as usual, are blinded by these great deals and line up hours in front of the store before it opens. It's pretty much capitalism at its finest, or worst, depending on where you stand. Here's where the story gets disgusting.

This morning, around 6am, a Wal-Mart worker in Long Island was trampled to death by shoppers. Apparently, the shoppers were so excited about the 'great' deals that they couldn't wait any longer, and broke down the doors and trampled a 34 year old man. I mean, I'm almost speechless. How does something like this happen? What does this say about our society? Does this mean that our safety valve type arrangements like Black Friday aren't working anymore?

Whatever this means, I hope that every one of the shoppers involved in this event get significant jail time. There are definitely surveillance cameras at this Wal-Mart, I mean we are living in the time of the Patriot Act, so there is no reason why all of these people are not brought to justice. If Michael Vick can be sentenced to 2+ years in jail for dog fighting, these people better get at least that for contributing to the death of an innocent worker.

Seriously, what the fuck?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Change?


Not even a month into Barack Obama's time as President Elect, and it already seems like talk of change was premature, and more importantly a campaign lie. With the appointments announced so far, it looks as though Obama will settle in comfortably at centre-right in the democratic party. Two thirds of those appointed thus far come from the Clinton-era, and others named will remain from GWB's cabinet. Interestingly, throughout the campaign trail, Obama criticized the Clinton administration for missed opportunities and engaging in partisan politics, yet he seems comfortable filling his own staff with these same people. That doesn't sound like change to me. Listen, I'm not complaining about a right of centre democrat at this point, I mean America could still be under the leadership of a right of right Republican, but, even as a Canadian, I feel a bit cheated by these initial appointments. I was expecting change to come to America, not a return to the 90s.

And seriously, how are people not more interested in Canadian politics? Harper is expected to introduce a bill cutting political party funding that may trigger another election just over a month since the last one. How is that not exciting?

The Virus Redux

So, I Googled ahhfuckit because I was looking for other harbingers of the apocalypse and I stumbled on this really cool site that shows the activity of viral videos.


VVC was compiled by the folks at Unruly Media and social media marketing team that specializes in viral videos. 

It gives the thrity day trend of the video activity, how many blog posts it appears on and how many comments it receives. 

This website is awesome for companies looking to quantify their efforts on a viral video. You can also listen in and participate in the conversations going on about your vid! 

For those interested in social media and social media monitoring this website is a neat tool. 


If you recall I posted two viral vids one called "I'm a PC" and one called "Where the Hell is Matt"

Here is the video I posted a while back... notice it went viral for a good week. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The West Coast is Back

It seems Red has been a little too busy covering Kanye and Lil' Wayne and let another international superstar's quiet release slip through the cracks....

COOLIO is back and harder than Sconew's horse cock in Grade 12.

The Left Side's legendary lyricist dropped his 7th release, Steal Here at the end of last month. How Coolio dropped without hype or even a single getting any commercial recoginition is beyond me because there definitely are some high points on this record.

Coolio stays true to the traditional West Coast style and sound throughout the album. It really takes me back to those gangsta records we grew up on back in the QV. I won't come out and say this album is an album full of bangers or even that it is underrated, because it isn't. It is what it is. With features from Snoop, a.i., Ghost and... wait for it .... LV. The same LV that asked, "Why are we so blind to see that the ones we hurt are you and me?" Although LV doesn't bring the same heat he brought back in 95', he still adds that soulful gospel presence on One More Night.


The tracks that are doin it for me are:


Gangsta Walk feat. Snoop
Snoop kicks off the album with an obivously unscripted intro. He was definitely high.
This is the Euro single that Coolio pushing over in Italy. Source: wikipedia and Snoop.

Here We Come
This track is a massive banger. The beat pounds and Coolio comes REAL HARD. Strictly for the G'z. This should be up for Certified Banger of the week 52 weeks a year.

LV. Let it be known, he is 53 years young and still running with the South Central Cartel.

The low points are:
Coolio really ruins some nice beats with his shitty flow.

The track Lady and a Gangsta feat. K-la. This song is shit, skip it.

Overall not bad. 73%
Check out the Gangsta Walk video on YouTube

Night Out: Lucha Libre

Last night I finally made it to my first Lucha Libre match here in Monterrey. It was fuckin' hilarious. From witnessing two non-scorch rockets (UGLY Ladies) going at it to the death, to climbing the ropes, the night was a riot.

Here is a bit of stolen information on the Lucha Libre, in case you aren't in the know. Luchadores (the wrestlers) are traditionally divided into two categories, rudos ("bad guys", or "heels", literally "rude ones"), who bend or break the rules, and técnicos (the "good guys", or "faces", literally "technicians"), who play by the rules and their moves are much more complex and spectacular. "Técnicos" tend to have very formal combat styles, close to Greco-Roman wrestling and martial arts techniques, where as "rudos" tend to be brawlers. Técnicos playing the "good guy" role, and rudos playing the "bad guy" role is very characteristic of Mexican lucha libre, which differs from U.S. professional wrestling, where many technical wrestlers play the role of heels, and many brawlers play as "faces" (e.g., Stone Cold Steve Austin). I definitely preferred the Rudos last night. Something about a bunch of guys in tights constantly yelling at the audience to "Chinga Tu Madre!" (Fuck Your Mother) really wins me over.

I've included a few videos down below. The first has my buddy Ryan stealing some spotlight from a post-fight interview by making a cameo near the end. The second video, while filmed at the wrong angle (it actually provides a better view of the seat crash), features some antics outside of the ring. Enjoy...

Ryan stealing the spotlight:




Antics outside the ring:

If Bruce Springsteen Were Dead, I'd Title This Post "Springsteen Lives On"...


But he's not. Actually he's very much alive and kicking, so that title is pretty useless. The reason I would have titled this post that, if Springsteen had in fact kicked the bucket, is because The Gas Light Anthem's new LP, The '59 Sound, sounds like it could have been made by the Boss himself. I know I'm not the first to say this, but, The '59 Sound is so Born To Run-era Springsteen that it puts other Boss followers like the Hold Steady and Titus Andronicus to shame. That might be part of the reason why this record doesn't surpass either of the albums that I just mentioned in goodness. The LP just never ventures far enough away from their biggest influence to say anything new or important. With that being said, it's still some good stuff to listen to. I've never been a huge fan of the Boss, but I can definitely, for many reasons, respect his working class, rugged, classic rock vibe. Maybe it's because I could never relate to those hard times in the 70s that Springsteen was so good at writing about. Maybe that's one of the reasons that, although I'm not blown away by The Gas Light Anthem, that their record has caught my ear. I actually can relate to the things they are singing about now. I know, music is able to transcend time and circumstance, but the Boss never did that for me. So, I'm going to have to be content with the next best thing: a post-millennial Springsteen knock off that rocks pretty hard. And with Nickleback still releasing music, I'm sure I could do a lot worse.

Check out a few of their songs here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Certified Banger #7


I know, it's been a minute since I've posted a Certified Banger, but I've been busy reviewing albums and grinding away at application stuff. Anyways, I'm going to try and get back to making this thing a weekly or bi-weekly thing again. So since the time I last posted a CB, Love Is All went and released their second LP entitled A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night. The whole thing is somewhat of a retread of the first album, but with just enough variation and energy that allows it to come off as fresh and anything but boring. All of the same elements that made Nine Times That Same Song so exciting are present, with the saxophone once again taking on an important role playing over the jittery punk guitars and brash voice of lead singer Josephine Olausson. The themes of this album seem to follow that of its predecessor, with the band tackling subjects like love, breakups and boredom, but this time it seems a lot less youthful and a lot more bitter, resentful and misanthropic.

The track that best exemplifies these themes along with feelings of anxiety and insomnia that the record's title alludes to is album closer "19 Floors". Musically, the song is a standard Love Is All track; it's noisy, with striking and jittery guitar work, a steady beat, a sax freak out and some sing/shout flurries. Lyrically, this song is a monster. This song is all anti-socialism as Olausson dissects gentrified condo life with lyrics like "I don't want to walk my neighbour's dog and I can't lend a cup of milk." Olausson's misanthropy reaches a climax as she whines, "I'm sure I'm immature, but I choose detours to avoid eye contact/I know it might seem strange but I don't want to change, I just don't like to interact." The song seems to play as a useful social critique. Through biting lyrics and music that really creates feelings of social anxiety, sleeplessness, alienation, boredom and bitterness the song is able to sum up what urban life is like today. Kinda depressing, but still some great music.

As always, check the side bar for the track ---------------->

Album Review: Kanye West - 808s and Heartbreaks

Artist: Kanye West


Album: 808s and Heartbreak


Label: Roc-A-Fella Records (2008)


Rating: 82%


I've now had a chance to listen to this album in its entirety a number of times, yet it still remains as polarizing to me as the first time I heard it. Since starting to write this review a day or so ago I've actually changed the rating assigned to it three times. At first I thought it was pretty great, than I listened to it while doing some mind numbing application shit, which really changed my feeling towards it. Suddenly, I was experiencing a Kanye LP that didn't instantly grab my attention. There were no crazy French house beats, no irresistible bangers, and definitely no fun lyrical play. 808s and Heartbreaks really lacks any over the top, deliberate attempts at attention grabbing. It's just not your usual Kanye album.

Instead, what you have is a moody, piercing, synth soaked, sometimes sparse, almost atmospheric album that is anything but light fare. These aren't things that you would necessarily associate with a Kanye album, nor are they things that you would necessarily want Kanye to be doing with his music, however, like he usually does, Kanye has delivered a genuinely entertaining album. The twelve song album is based around the ideals of love, heartbreak, resentment, and the yearning for something more. Admittedly, Kanye has been through some heavy stuff this past year with the loss of his mother and the break up with his long time finance, and that's probably why this album doesn't come off corny or too self involved. Some may even call it a concept album, but I wouldn't go that far. Just cause dude has made a coherent statement about some real life stuff, doesn't make this some next level concept shit.

I'll get it over with now: I don't really like this whole movement towards auto tune, and after making this album (and also after Wayne's horribly misguided attempt at it on Dedication 3), I hope Kanye has got this whole phase out of his system and hip-hop can escape from this without too much collateral damage. With that being said, Kanye really has, as emjay commented when this first leaked, given his own twist to the whole auto tuned thing. Unlike Wayne and the others doing this sort of thing right now, Kanye is able to manipulate his voice in a way that gives a somewhat vulnerable feeling, as well as portraying a overarching feeling of almost robotic alienation.

It's the songs that are able to communicate these sorts of feelings that work the best on this LP. Some of the highlights include: "Robocop", with its swooning strings, pulsating beats and lifted robot sounds, plays almost like an epic, and Kanye keeps it altogether with some bitter lyrics about not putting up with his girl acting like a Robocop (whatever that means); "Heartless" and "Love Lockdown", the singles that leaked ages ago and which I have already commented on here, are two great songs that really benefit from further mixing and some different sequencing from the earlier versions I heard; "See You In My Nightmares" ft. Lil'Wayne is almost a wild card song. I'm actually not sure how I feel about it. The Wayne verse continues to grow on me, and the synths and stabs of strings and drums really gives me some sort of apocalyptic feeling. Okay, maybe I am sold on this track; and finally, the standout track on the whole thing has got to be "Amazing" ft. Young Jeezy. I know I'm not the first to say this, but Jeezy might be the only rapper out there that is still on top of his game. He brings consistent verse after consistent verse of fire. As per usual, his lyrics are nothing impressive (he raps podium with sodium), but his delivery and presence are just incredible. Not to mention, the percussion, ominous piano/synths and classic Jeezy ad-libs are all on point. Kanye's rap/singing isn't bad either.

There are few tracks on this album that really hold this album back from transcending 'pretty good' and becoming one of those classic 'experimental' or pull the rug out from under the fans albums like Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music or George Harrison's Electric Sound. Hold on, I did not just compare 808s and Heartbreaks to Metal Machine Music and Electric Sound. You know what, ignore that comparison, I almost just offended myself. But you get the picture: 808s represents an artist, at the top of his game commercially and critically, who just switched his whole style up and put out an album that may potentially alienate a number of his fans. And, if it wasn't for tracks like "Street Lights", which starts off promising but soon falls apart, or the contrived and overly dramatic "Coldest Winter", which actually does have some great things going on musically but ultimately fails because of its weak lyrics, Kanye would have been able to pull it off. Oh, and if I ever go to a Kanye show again and he plays "Pinocchio Story", I will walk out of that bitch, no questions asked. Despite these problem tracks, this album still has to be viewed as a major achievement, with Kanye delivering a record that pushes genre boundaries while revealing new layers to his already complicated character.

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this review, my rating of this album has changed three separate times since starting this review, and it wasn't until about my 10th or so listen that I was able to really sit down and give this album the attention it needs. It was then that I was able to hear how nuanced and atmospheric this album really is. So, if you don't feel like you can get into this album on the first or so listen, don't give up - give it a few more spins, or wait till you get some time to really sit down and give it a listen. I think if you have ever been burned by someone, or had your shit trampled on, you'll be able to eventually connect with this refreshingly vulnerable, yet not too emo material that is definitely some of the better pop stuff to come out this year.

As it stands now, 808s and Heartbreaks is making a serious push into my top 10 this year. Nothing crazy high, but definitely pushing for inclusion somewhere in the 7-10 range.

Looks like my concern about the direction of this album back in October was unfounded, and it also looks like I was way off for claiming that this probably would not come out on its announced 25 November release date.

The album drops tomorrow, if you haven't already got the leak, check it out tomorrow.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Certifiably Banging Wrestling Promos

It looks like Shawn Michaels' heel turn won by a "landslide" in last weeks CBWP segment.

This week we are going to take a look at the men who do the talking for the talent, when the talent can't speak for themselves.

The manager plays a pivotal role in getting his wrestler over with the crowd, either for good or bad. Managers can be good guys, bad guys or they can simply be eye candy. Some managers have elevated themselves to superstar status by doing exactly what managers should do ... make their wrestlers successful and getting them over with the crowd.

Noone has done a better job the the next two managers you are about to see.

Who kills a better promo?

The Doctor of Style Slick or Bobby Heenan.

YOU DECIDE.

The Slickster's Debut on WWF TV


Bobby Heenan creating controversy with Paul Bearer

Friday, November 21, 2008

Blast From the Past: G.I. Joe P.S.A. Parody


If you ever watched G.I. Joe as a kid, then you remember that most of the episodes ended with a mock P.S.A. that would feature our heroes helping stupid kids out of a 'real life' crisis situation. Well, in case you didn't know, a few years ago, independent film maker Eric Fensler spiced up those P.S.A's by splicing some of his own audio and voices over the clips. The result was a straight shitshow and the clips spread like wildfire until Hasbro ordered Fensler to remove the clips from the web.

Apparently, the heat has died down though, as they were readily available on You Tube, once again for our viewing pleasure. I've included three of my absolute favorites. Enjoy them, and post if there are any you can remember that were equally banging.

PORKCHOP SANDWICHES



KIDS GET TORCHED



REGGAE BUS RIDE


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Travel Log: Guanajuato and the Mummies

This last weekend, I ventured out to the state of Guanajuato with a few friends. We had a shitty mini van that drove like a shitbox airplane and no directions to get there. We made it though and in short, it was money. The town had such a great colonial vibe and a relaxed European feel to it. From the markets to the colonial architecture and endless tunnels, Guanajuato is the shit. It would be easy to ramble on about the great weekend, but I'll spare the details and talk about something as strange as ol' Salad Fingers himself.

While we were in town, we stopped at the popular El Museo de las Momias, which hosts a display of 119 modern mummies. The story goes like this, between the years 1896 and 1958, a local law required relatives to pay a grave tax to keep the dead buried. However, if the relatives could not pay this yearly tax for three years, the body was dug up from the cemetery and (if the fee still wasn't paid) placed on display in El Museo de Las Momias. A combination of the soil conditions and a dry climate of the mountainous area caused the bodies in the local cemetery to dry out naturally before they could decompose. So when they were exhumed, they literally looked like shit.

Below are a few pics I snapped. Now, play the Gregorian chant of R.E.M.'s Losing My Religion, which is also featured below and you will have a taste of my experience. Enjoy...

Gregorian Chant of R.E.M.'s Losing My Religion:



Mummy Pics:

Album Review: Lil' Wayne - Dedication 3

Artist: Lil' Wayne and DJ Drama

Album: Dedication 3

Label: Self-Released Mixtape (2008)

Rating: 62%


It's been pretty busy the last week or so for rap releases. In the midst of trying to get through the new Q-tip, leaked Kanye, leaked Luda and the new Illa J album, Lil' Wayne went and dropped Dedication 3. It obviously sees Lil' Wayne hooking up with DJ Drama again to drop some freestyle verses over some of the hottest beats from the past year or so. Sounds promising, but after listening to him rant, much like the almost unlistenable last 7 minutes of Tha Carter III's closer "Dontgetit", for most of Dedication 3, I'm almost sick of Lil' Wayne. Almost is the key word.

Don't get me wrong, this is a decent mixtape. But it just isn't doing anything to push Wayne in this post-Tha Carter III era. Not only that, but the thing is full of auto tune, some weak posse guest verses, empty Cash Money threats and way too many rhymes that don't make any sense, even for a Lil' Wayne tape. The saving point, as per usual, are the few lines sprinkled throughout that make you say "whoa", and demand repeated rewinds. This album is pointedly about sex and misogyny, and therefore most of the best lines surround these topics.

Some of the highlights include: at the end of "Aint I" where he raps "from the bedroom to the floors" and then coughs and clarifies "whores", classic Wayne; on "Dick Pleaser" he free associates, "Bitch who run it?/bitch nigga moi/that was french nigga/not...a kiss nigga nah"; on "Magic" he drops one of his classic movie references when he raps "John Travolta with that head/I suck yo face off"; and on "Stuntin" he drops a Hulk Hogan and David Hasselhof reference in one verse. Not the greatest or most creative stuff, but he says it with that Wayne lightness that just puts a smile on your face. I could list off more, but it's a Wayne record so you get the picture.

The thing about this mixtape, that wasn't present on Da Drought 3 or Tha Carter III, is that for every great line, he drops about three that suck or make absolutely no sense. There's actually not enough room for me to list all of the missteps on this one, but I'll give you a few. On "Magic" he raps "tell yo man to take the cake ball/I put his ass in the pocket like ball/You aint yall I never been tall". What? Another spot you hear him say "Yea talking big big shit/I am rude I take food from kid picnic nigga/Yea and we can bang like bumper cars". I guess he is going for the whole kid and bumper car connection, but seriously, that can't pass as a clever rap can it? There are just too many of these to list. It really bogs the record down, especially when you gotta sit through Young Money posse verses before Wayne has a chance to redeem himself.

Not that Lil' Wayne has ever been accused of being overly focused, but Dedication 3 might be the least focused album he has ever put out. Wait, that might be an overstatement, but it is definitely everywhere at once, and for once, this does not work for him. Like I said before, there are some highlights on this album, but they are few and far between compared to other Wayne releases. I don't know though, maybe Da Drought 3 was just a classic mixtape that I didn't appreciate enough. Maybe I've come to expect too much from Wayne. Either way, I'm not really feeling this album, and let's hope that that rumoured T-Pain collaboration and the reworking, not remix, of Tha Carter III (whatever the hell that even means) don't follow in the footsteps of this album. Let's hope Wayne switches it up a little, and starts pushing boundaries again, like we have come accustomed to.

Also, did anyone else see Lil' Wayne on the CMA's? Dude was standing on stage with a guitar that wasn't plugged in, and proceeded to air guitar Kid Rock's song, and didn't even do his guest verse that he did at the MTV show earlier this fall. Check that video here. I think Wayne may have smoked and screwed (the cough syrup drink, not intercourse) himself stupid. Before I might have thought a statement like that meant he would continue dropping some out-of-this-world-shit, but now I'm not so sure. Maybe I was wrong to worry about Kanye's sanity and creative direction, maybe I should have been worrying about Lil' Wayne all along...

Kanye Leaked


808s and Heartbreaks finally leaked today. I've heard most of the songs already through various different streams, but this is the first time that I get to hear it with the proper tracklist and as many times as I want. Check back in a day or so for a full review.

I hate to say it, but I'm kinda feeling this album right now.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Certifiably Banging Wrestling Promos

Week two edition of CBWP will pit the two most notorious "heel turns" in history against one another. In the wrestling buisness a "heel turn" is when a wrestler does an abrupt change from hero to villain. Who's heel turn was more legendary? Hulk Hogan joining the NWO or Shawn Micheals superkicking the shit out of Marty Jannetty in the Barber Shop. Bobby Heenan's commentary is incredible as always.

YOU DECIDE.

Hogan Stuns The World


The Birth of HBK



"Janetty tried to dive through the glass!" - Bobby "The Brain" Heenan

Monday, November 17, 2008

Album Review: Los Campesinos!


Band: Los Campesinos!



Record: We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed



Label: Arts and Crafts (2008)



Rating: 79%




2008 has been a busy year for Los Campesinos! Hot on the heels of 2007's excellent EP, Sticking Fingers Into Sockets, the band issued their debut full length in February of this year to mostly positive reviews. The album didn't blow you away, but it definitely built on what made their EP so great; it had just the right amount of enthusiasm, silliness, and catchiness in the mix. For most bands, Hold On Now, Youngster... would be a debut album that they would be happy with, and one which they could tour to death or sell a few songs to teen dramas or commercials. More simply, it's the kind of debut album that a band is able to milk for at least a good two years. 

Apparently this was not an option for Los Campesinos! Because, instead of endlessly pushing and touring their debut, they went right back into the studio and recorded a proper follow up. We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed hasn't had a North American physical release yet, but it is available at emusic.com as an exclusive download right now. While I was waiting for the album to download, I was struck with am overwhelming feeling of dread. I couldn't shake the feeling that this release was just the label, or maybe even the band, trying to cash in on some demos or B-Sides lying around. I didn't think there was really a chance in hell that the band had already recorded a follow up, or a good one at that. Boy was I wrong.

Gone is the fuzzy and layered, Dave Newfeldish production, and, instead, this album has a much more polished feel to it. This would instantly make you think that that lo-fi, fun feeling that was a trademark of the first two releases would be gone, however, the fun remains, if not increases, with the sharper instrumentation and vocals on this record. The record treads along the usual indie-rock fair of heartbreak, self loathing, and cultural referencing, yet the way lead singer Gareth Campesino! crafts his songs with witty insight and delivers them with perfect annunciation makes this record anything but tired and retread. Guitars wail, keyboards chime, beautiful chaos ensues, and we are left with noisy pop songs that really work.

Highlights include: "Miserabilia", which plays as a catchy, Pavement-informed guitar song; "It's Never That Easy Though, Is It? (Song For The Other Kurt), which perfectly captures teenage jealousy when Gareth sings "I walked into the room to see my ex-girlfriend/who by the way, I'm still in love with/sucking the face of some pretty boy with my favourite band's most popular song in the background"; and "Ways To Make It Through A Wall", which contains my favourite line of the whole year- "I identify my star sign by asking which is least compatible with yours". Genius songwriting. These are just a few examples of the gems that are waiting to be found on this dense record.

In the age of bands taking years (I'm looking at you Radiohead), sometimes even decades (I still can't believe Chinese Democracy is actually coming out this year) to release follow ups, Los Campesinos! should be celebrated for doing the almost unthinkable and releasing two albums in one calender year. Neither of these albums are best of the year material, but they are definitely solidly entertaining releases that merit your attention. If you haven't already, go to emusic.com and get this release, hell, get both 2008 releases.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Blast From the Past: Salad Fingers


I cannot believe that it was in 2004 that I saw Salad Fingers for the first time. I still remember when my friend Melissa suggested that we check out this 'creepy and kind of fucked up' cartoon that a friend had shown her. It was early in the morning, we were drunk and I had never watched a cartoon that warned you to take caution if you were zoomin' on shrooms, as it might be too intense for you. As the first episode closed all I remember thinking is 'Man, that was the most fucked up thing I've ever seen.' Of course curiosity continued to get the best of me and I continued to check out the rest of David Firth's animated catalog, from the brilliance of Burnt Face Man to the ridiculousness of the Milkman. Some say Firth is 'fucked', while others seem to think his creativity and animation are genius. I've included the first episode of Salad Fingers below...you make the call.

Certified Banger #6


I've been guilty through the first five entries of Certified Bangers of using this space to push songs that, although sonically pleasing, do not quite literally live up to the banger title. Wait, guilty might not be the right word; guilty seems to imply something inherently wrong with my previous choices, rather, I think it is just that I hadn't been able to find a new song that really was banging and great at the same time. Well, the wait is over.  Tronic, the new album from Detroit MC/Producer Black Milk, dropped earlier this month to little fan fare or any real hype. It might actually be the most slept on release of 2008 with most online and print zines ignoring this release altogether. Black Milk's sound is cut from the post-Dilla cloth, with his production feeling textured; full of beat breaks, beat kicks, vocal manipulations, and an overall flitting feel. His tracks are always full of interesting and subtle sounds which work to create dense songs that demand repeated listens. In the past it was Milk's lyrical skill which held him back to some extent, and it seemed as though his beats would ultimately fair better with a different MC rhyming over them. However, with this new release, he has cleared up any doubt about his lyrical skill, spiting fire on nearly every track and making Tronic one of the best releases of the year. And I'm not just talking rap releases, I'm talking one of the better overall releases of the year.

The standout track, or the one that bangs the hardest on the album, is "Hell Yeah". I know, the title isn't promising. It sounds like something that Nelly would make, but forget the bad title, this track combines everything that is great on Tronic into one incredibly tight song. The track is all throbbing synth, with a banging beat, a futuristic lazer-like loop, a few perfectly timed beat breaks, and a highly contagious hook that waxes about "coming with that heat shit, hell yeah". None of the lyrics on this track stand out in particular, but Milk brings an engaging flow that matches the intensity of the beat. But it's not the lyrics that are the main draw here, instead, it's the driving beat that seems to work its way into your head and stays there long after the extended outro finishes.

Side note: Black Milk also lends a hand on Invincible's Shapeshifters, one of my other favourite hip-hop releases of this year. Check that out here.

As always, check the track on the side bar. ------------>

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's Official, Ryan Adams is a Dick


Ever since the release of Gold, the follow up to the great and criminally underrated Heartbreaker, it has been increasingly difficult to take Ryan Adams very seriously. In the past, he has been involved in 'creative' battles with his label, released three shitty albums in one year, and recently penned his own novel/collection of stories and poems entitled, Infinity Blues. He has been quoted as describing his written work as "the jewel of my life's work". What made Adams' work in the past decent, and even enjoyable in some cases, was his ability to successfully toe the fine line between being a sensitive musician able to authentically communicate feelings of loneliness, alienation and sadness, and being an overly earnest, pretentious dickhead singer/songwriter type. Clearly, with this statement, his balancing act has come to an end.

In most cases, a statement like this would be enough for me to write someone off as a dick, not worth my attention, but Adams didn't stop here. Instead, he forced me to continue paying attention to him by publishing one of the most idiotic and pretentious piece of writing I've ever read. In the Fall 2008 issue of MIT's World Policy Journal, Adams published an article entitled "How to Save the World from Doom: Where You and It Are Headed". Adams was asked by the journal's editors to reflect on what his world might look like in 25 years. Instead of actually sitting down and making a legitimate attempt to think about things like politics, war, religion, the environment, racism, etc., he merely coped out of putting any real thought or effort into the article by responding with a poor attempt at a philosophical/artistic musing on the future.

After beginning the article with a short and incoherent introduction filled with a number of grammatical missteps and an overwhelming sense of self importance, the article proceeds to repeat the phrase "stay in the moment" over and over again. By over and over again, I mean three and a half full pages of this single phrase. And then, after subjecting his reader to this bullshit for three pages, he has the gull to end the piece by stating, "...and fuck you if you don't understand, but you just time-traveled by skipping ahead". Oh Ryan, you are such a deep and tormented soul...But seriously, how could we not understand? This might be the most obvious thing I have ever read. I am appalled that a publication produced by an institution like MIT would even publish this sort of pseudo-artistic bullshit. I wonder what Chomsky, Krugman or Yablo would think about their alumni publishing such dribble. Click here to read the full article for yourself.

Ryan Adams is a dick. I mean just look at that picture if you don't believe me.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Berg of the Week: The Berg Sans Nipple


In what will become a weekly segment, the first nod for Berg of the Week goes to The Berg Sans Nipple, an electronica duo composed of Lori Sean Berg and Shane Aspegren. Their tunes are pretty solid and feature percussion-heavy afro-beats, layers of feedback, pop melodies and guest vocals. I urge you to check out their MySpace page here. So while the first entry features a non shitbox entry, I would bet my clams that the next entry will revolve around someone or something that is just plain shitty. And since Scott's bar shirt has already been showcased on here, you can bet it will be something new.

Certifiably Banging Wrestling Promos

This is going to be a weekly thing where we put two wrestling promos up against each other and poll to see who had the more impressive or more ridiculous promo.

Voting is based preference.

Personally, I like it when wrestlers ad lib and really mess up their lines or basically rant about nonsense.

Without further ado...

Rowdy Roddy Piper goes absolutely ballistic.


vs.

Iron Sheik calls Junkyard Dog a "Dirty Black Dog" or something.


Who Do You Think Won The Promo Battle?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Blast From the Past: Dr. Dre featuring Snoop Dogg - Nuthin' but a G thang

I knew there was a classic rap joint that referenced Dolemite and Dre and Snoop's Nuthin' but a G Thang is it. Keep those ears peeled for the reference and enjoy it. Ol' Snoopy used to be so hard ass and this beat is a goddamn masterpiece. So take yourself back to the shit box year of 1992, throw your hands in the air and wave them like you just don't care.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

No Election Talk Here

Since the other two authors of this blog have done such a fine job in discussing the U.S. election I'll stay away from it. Let you in on the wonderful randomness during my recent hiatus from the blogosphere.

Reason 1. Halifax Pop music festival ... I didn't get to see a lot of bands from this weekend but I did catch two super groovy bands to check out.

band 1... Telfer

I heard these guys rocking out from Pizza Corner and had to investigate so Laura, Ash Beattie and I went in to the Coconut Grove to have a look. When we got in we saw these guys really kicking it with some awesome harmonies and Dave Matthews influenced guitaring.


http://www.myspace.com/telfermusic --- new single is called Heaven Sent but I personally recommend all of the tracks on here.. these guys jam out hard.

I tried to embed their widget on here but I kept getting some shitty music instead of the groovy Telfer jams. Go to their myspace.

band 2... The Metric System
The lead singer's vocals stunned us immediately. The passionate octaves that came out of this tall thin ginger kid was unreal, he also played a saxophone made in the 1930's. My friend Ash plays Sax and informed us that the beat he had was probably worth well over 5000 dollars. What an impressive group .. buddy on the keys had maaaaad game ... rivaled only by Donovan Frankenreiter's keys player with the sick red beard and Mr. Lonely, the keys player for
Hawksley Workman.
Peep this ish ... touch the sky homies.





Reason 2. Dolemite Died

I had been in mourning for several days because I felt my post praising the most pimpenest player to ever have walked the block had somehow jinxed that bad motha. Talk about synchronicity... that shit was weird. Cheers to the man who had been rappin' before and of these rap cats made it happen.

Rest In Peace, Rudy Ray Moore -- 1927-2008





No more excuses ... I'm back.

Barack 'The Rock' Obama: Know Your Role for CHANGE...



It was a big win last night for Barack Obama. The reason I have attributed the nickname 'The Rock' to Obama is twofold. First, I couldn't help but be reminded of former WWE star 'The Rock' at times during his victory speech last night, as the new president exudes the same confident demeanor as the former WWE heavyweight champion of the world. The second reason would be that this cup of hope and swing for change that America has ushered in will require ol' Barack to be one hell of a rock through his journey into the sea of shit that America has landed in. I've attached his victory speech below and I must admit it is pretty 'rock' solid...Enjoy. Furthermore, I have also attached the Best of The Rock video, which may help you draw the similarities between the two. Enjoy that as well...



Tuesday, November 4, 2008

An Intriguing Day...


Although I despise the fact that most Canadians are more interested in today's American election than their own earlier this month, I must admit that today's events are very intriguing. We seem to be at a cross roads in time, with capitalism failing all around us and the gap between the rich and poor only becoming wider. Obama is by no means revolutionary in his ideas, but his social democratic platform does represent a more forward thinking approach to politics than America, and even Canada, has seen in some time. Therefore, its seems as though this election represents an important choice for Americans: either vote Obama and hope that change can cure the social and economic ills of the country, or stick with McCain and the Republicans and go down with the sinking ship. Not to mention the fact that Obama is a strong and somewhat independent black candidate, who, if elected, would have to be seen as a huge step forward for a country that seems as racist and misogynist as it was in the early 20th century.

I don't support the Republicans one bit, and I really think that an Obama win would be huge for America and the world economy at this point, but something inside me is secretly rooting for a Republican win. I only say this because I have complete faith that McCain and his cabinet, if elected, will inadvertently help bring down the entire world economic system, ultimately bringing an end to the tyranny of our exploitative capitalist system. On the other hand, McCain and his government could also possibly drag the world into a nuclear war with Iran. I guess my vote would have to go with Obama on this one. The destruction of the capitalist system would be nice, but the thought of nuclear war is scary as hell.

Tonight should be interesting.

Certified Banger #5


I'm pissed. Not because the new Deerhunter record, Microcastle is disappointing, but rather, I'm pissed because I've been meaning to write a review of it since it leaked in August before any of the major webzines did a piece on it. Alas, my laziness and preoccupation with doing nothing got the better of me, and last week Pitchfork reviewed the record, beating me to the punch and praising it as one of the best of the year. Now, I could go ahead and write my own review, but that would just be redundant and boring since there is about 1000 reviews out there by now. Instead, I'll focus on the one track off the record that grabbed a hold of me first, and really helped me to become semi-obsessed with this album.

The track off of Microcastle which I speak of is entitled "Nothing Ever Happened", and not surprisingly, is the first single off the album, which, despite the recent exposure gained touring with NIN, will probably never gain any sort of airplay on the radio. It's a pity too, because this song is the most straightforward and clear 'rock' song in Deerhunter's catalogue, and is monumentally better than whatever shit 'alternative' radio stations are playing these days. Gone is the dense fuzz of effects pedals and the hazy layer of sound found on Cyrptograms, and instead, a more distinctly garage rock sound has emerged on this track giving Deerhunter a more urgent feel. This isn't to say that Deerhunter has abandoned their own vision of what pop music can be, quite the opposite. Deerhunter seem to have found the perfect combination of influences on Microcastle, merging their garage rock sound with psych pop and elements of noise, while still holding onto their shoegaze aesthetics to create some uniquely great, skewed pop music. As Marc Hogan noted in his Pitchfork review, a number of tracks of this record feel like a Pavement B Side, and this track is no exception with its rolling guitars, strong riffs and detached lyrics. To be honest, I don't know what else to say about this song other than I think that it is easily one of the best of the year.

Getting to the end of this post it seems as though I have backdoored a short review of Microcastle into this Certified Banger. Maybe that was my intention all along. Either way, you need to hear this song and this album.

As always, check the side bar for the track. -------------->

Monday, November 3, 2008

Book Review: Chuck Palhniuk's Choke




To say Chuck Palahniuk is a controversial writer, is on par with saying that the Kansas City Royals are a shitty baseball team. Since Fight Club, Palahniuk has crafted his black humour and ruthless voice to deconstruct the insanity of modern times. In Choke, he spins a tale about love, the war between mothers and sons and the horror we can expect with the inevitability of aging.
The story revolves around Victor Mancini, who as a medical school dropout relies on a plan to scam people by pretending to choke in upscale restaurants. His hope is that the person who 'saves' him will feel responsible for him for the rest of his life and thus offer financial support. Mancini needs the cash to pay for his mother's elder care, as she has Alzheimer's and is on her death bed. Her condition causes his mother to hint that Victor may in fact have been the product of divine intervention and it is this plot that drives the core of the novel. Along the way, Palahniuk investigates the tug of war battle between desire and morality through Mancini's sex addiction (Now, I wonder if Mr. Duchovny was an inspiration) and how hard it is for us to stray from temptation.
Much of the humour that is often laced in a Palahniuk novel is found within the exploration of Mancini's and his 'best buddy' Denny's working days at Colonial Dunsboro. A Colonial camp which reflects life as it were in the year 1734. One of my favourite passages in the novel comes when Victor responds to the tourists snapping pictures of him at the camp when he thinks to himself,"People are snapping pictures, trying to take some part of you home as a souvenir. People point video cameras, trying to trap you into their vacation. They're all shooting you, shooting the crippled chickens. Everybody's trying to make every minute of the present last forever. Observe every second." If you have any doubt that we have become a society obsessed with capturing time, I urge you to go creep some facebook and marvel at how many 'souvenir' pictures you can find within seconds.
Now, I have to admit that I was drawn to read this novel because I had read that it was to be adapted into a film. And knowing the speed at which current releases hit the Mexican cinema, I knew I had enough time to finish the novel before it was released here and so is the case. Overall, I found the novel an interesting read and as usual Palahniuk is on point with his dark social commentary and concern that we as a society have sunk to an overwhelming existential crisis. I did find the ending weak and I am curious as to how the film will adapt the story.
Now in case you want to check out this novel, I thought I should include this great opening passage that really grabbed my interest. It really echoes the beginning of The Catcher in the Rye, which may well be the reason I enjoyed it so much, but anyway, here it is:

If you're going to read this, don't bother.
After a couple of pages, you won't want to be here.
So forget it. Go away. Get out while you're still in one piece.
Save yourself.
There has to be something better on television. Or since you have so much time on your hands, maybe you could take a night course. Become a doctor. You could make something out of yourself. Treat yourself to a dinner out. Color your hair.
You're not getting any younger.


Below, is the trailer for Choke, which I believe unless you are living in Mexico, has already graced the silver screen. Enjoy.