Azealia Banks is an unsigned 20 year Harlem born rapper whose debut song “212” is ridiculously good. Right now you can’t buy it anywhere but its a huge club hit and Pitchfork named it one of the 10 best songs of the year. Three days ago I had never heard of her. Since that time, I’ve listened to this song about 15 times and can’t get enough. Others think so as well. Mumford and Son’s keyboardist Ben Lovitt called the rapper’s single ‘mind-blowing’.
Flavorpill’s Judy Berman had this to say about her:
Azealia Banks is its future. In a year that brought us the confounding viral success of Kreayshawn, we’re clearly hungry for women in hip-hop. But Harlem’s own Banks, who topped NME‘s 2011 Cool List and had been an under-the-radar critical favorite for a few months before that, is far more likely to sustain the momentum for long enough to release a great album. Mark our words: 2012 will be the year of the smart, funny woman emcee.
I wholeheartedly agree is female rappers are going to put out more songs like “212.” Please note, there are some choice words in it, so if you happen to have any kids or prudes around, you might want to listen using your headphones. Happy Friday – enjoy.
This post is a literal “lift and shift” of content that I received from Flavorpill. The post was titled “Outdated Videos That Are Still Awesome” and was written by Contributing Editor Tom Hawking and yeah, I cribbed his title and content but hey, I gave credit! Also, while their post had 10 videos, I only thought that 4 of them were actually awesome and unfortunately due to copyright reasons, only 3 of them were on the web. The FP write up, and video where possible, is all below – enjoy! Thanks again Tom. Peter Gabriel — “Sledgehammer” (1986)
In the era of Pixar and huge-budget animation, the idea of stop motion animation crafted frame-by-frame on tape seems almost laughably primitive. Of course, people still use the technique today — Michel Gondry has deployed it to great effect, and it also features in Wolf Parade’s “Modern World,” one of our favorite videos of recent years. But even so, it’s easier these days — at least, if nothing else, you have digital editing technology. No such luck for Nick Park (of Wallace and Gromit fame), who made this video. The creation of “Sledgehammer” was incredibly torturous — at one point, Gabriel apparently lay under a sheet of glass for 16 hours while Park carefully shot single frame after single frame. But while the techniques belong to yesteryear, the video is just as mind-blowing in 2011 as it was in 1986 (especially the dancing chickens!).
A-Ha — “Take on Me” (1984)
As with “Sledgehammer,” these days this would all be done digitally, and would probably be fairly straightforward for any filmmaker with the requisite knowledge. But back in 1984, making this video involved a painstaking process called rotoscoping, whereby the animated sequences were traced over to create the animation. However, tedious as it must have been, the technique gives the video an enduring charm — like, say, Star Wars, where the models of the original trilogy look way better than the CGI of the second, the use of analog technology and one’s own hands creates a degree of realism that digital equivalents still struggle to match.
Bob Dylan — “Subterranean Homesick Blues” (1965)
One camera. One take. One simple idea. Ten years before “Bohemian Rhapsody.” And still far more effective.
NO VIDEO DUE TO CW
Genesis — “Land of Confusion” (1986)
Much as it pained us to put a song we adore (David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes”) onto our list of videos that really aren’t all that good, it’s even more galling to put bloody Genesis onto this list. But there’s no denying that the Spitting Image-style puppets in this video are awesome — the whole thing is beautifully executed, tying into the anti-Thatcher ‘n’ Reagan sentiments of the song and featuring some pretty impressive puppetry. That Phil Collins doll is fucking terrifying, though.
I work with an amazingly interesting and intelligently creative bunch of individuals who from time to time, and that means virtually every single day, manages to send out a link to something new, different, fascinating, funny, odd, media related, data orientated or “other” and I never get to share them. So, in the spirit of sharing, I promise to do a better job at forwarding these nuggets along, especially since I don’t seem to have the energy to voice my own opinions as much as I used to.
For instance, check out In Bb 2.0 – a collaborative music / spoken word project that uses the simple beauty of code and YouTube videos to present something awfully compelling. The creators saw that YouTube doesn’t stop the user from running more than one video at a time and were curious to see if there was a musical way to explore that concept. There is, and its pretty cool: http://www.inbflat.net.
The Onion’s A.V. Club launched A.V. Undercover this past Tuesday and I’m stoked about the concept. The Undercover program will have 25 bands select from 25 songs to cover. Once a week (Tue) the songs will be covered one by one. Once a song has been played, it cannot be played again so the band next week has one less song to choose from. Therefore, there is a reason to get in early if you are picky. By my math, this will whole thing will last until August 31st.
The 25 songs that were selected are pretty diverse – running from Starship’s “We Built This City”? to Nirvana’s “Sliver” with lots of side trips in between. There are some inspired choices and Teo Leo and the Pharmacists led things off with their rendition of Tears for Fear’s “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” and did a bang up job with it. I am now looking forward to Tuesdays specifically to see / hear who is going to bust out what. Fun stuff.
OK Go not only produces funtastically imaginative videos for their super poppy / catchy tunes but they produce erudite treatises on the issues facing the music industry today. Who knew?
On Jan 18, they posted an “Open Letter From OK Go, regarding non-embeddable YouTube videos” and after going over the background info, came down directly in the middle – appreciating both their company’s and fan’s motivations while charting a middle ground that truly satisfies no one, while never alienating anyone. If you care at all about music and if you, like me, bought records, then tapes, then CDs, and now digital media, you’ll want to hear what this band has to say about how the “transformation” continues.
As you might have guess from the post title, the official video for OK Go’s “This Too Shall Pass” off of the new album “Of the Blue Colour of the Sky” cannot be embedded on my site. To watch it, you have to take the extra step of clicking on a link to YouTube. The horror, the horror…
The song itself is loud: its great, bombastic, full of marching band craziness. I dig it. It will go on a future running mix. I hope you click over and check it out.
It figures that my first real post of this new year is not about a first but a last, a goodbye and a very public one at that. The Late Night TV Debacle of ’09 finally ended with Conan signing off last Friday night from his gig at “The Tonight Show” – something which he called the “greatest gig in all of television” which I find very hard to believe. I would choose doing “In the Papers” on NY1 before hosting “The Tonight Show” even though I hate waking up early. “In the Papers” – that is a great gig. But I digress.
I wound up watching the Conan finale purely by chance – when I finished up something on the old TiFaux I was dumped onto NBC. While I loved to follow the Late Night sniping and barbs through the press, I never cared enough to actually tune into any of the shows to hear the grenades that were being lobbed back and forth nightly. But, once I arrived lazily at “history” I thought I would stay and check out what happened.
Well, after a sort of funny exit interview was conducted by Steve Carell (though all Conan did was laugh the entire time), his Tom Hanks interview was pretty lame and I was about to turn off the tube and head to bed when I decided to just stick it out and see how it all ended. I’m really glad I did.
To quote the review of the show from Time.com:
And after all the acrimony, bad faith and low blows of the Tonight fiasco, he [Conan] closed, voice breaking, with a statement of unimpeachable class: “All I ask is one thing, and I’m asking this particularly of young people that watch: Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism. For the record, it’s my least favorite quality. It doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, I’m telling you, amazing things will happen.”
That bit left me feeling a little warm and fuzzy and then low and behold something truly amazing did happen. Let’s now go back to the Time.com review (emphasis in bold added by moi) for the description:
Conan called onstage Will Ferrell, in bell-bottoms and wig (with cowbell!), to lead a band including ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Ben Harper, Beck and Ferrell’s own pregnant wife—plus Max Weinberg and the crew—in a full version of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird.” And in what must be a first in talk-show-host farewells, Conan—who’s wielded an axe numerous times on his shows—played himself off the air by ripping a guitar solo, to a balls-out Southern Rock power ballad about getting out of a relationship with no future.
You can watch a clip of the performance on the Huffington Post as it seems that NBC’s copyright attorneys have removed it from most of YouTube.
I must stop now and inform you of my love for all things “Free Bird” – both the highbrow and the lowbrow of it all. I love the song, the music, the lyrics, the flow and the way it builds. I love that it’s probably the best example of Southern Rock that exists in a single song. I love how the band has a two word name that is misspelled (like my favorite band).
I also love how people will shout out “Free Bird” during a break in a performance, no matter what type of performance they are attending. It could be a piano concerto, it could be a political speech, or it could be the “Bare Naked Ladies” concert I went to my freshman year in Binghamton’s West Gym. A guy was shouting “Free Bird!” at the end of each song from the start of the show. Finally, in the middle of the second set, the lead singer shouted into a microphone “If we play ‘Free Bird’ will you shut the fuck up?!” and when the man responded with a curdling “Yes!” BNL just launched into a pitch perfect cover that blew the doors off the gym. I have been waiting for something similar to happen at one of the shows I attend since. I have never been present for a “Free Bird” cover at a Phish show or any other shows and cannot wait for the day when I hear it once again because I love it, and this bird you cannot change.
I was lucky enough to ring in the New Year with Phish back on 12/31/02 when they played New York’s Madison Square Garden. This year, many of my phriends were down in sunny (and warm) Miami this past Thursday night to see Phish ring in the new decade. From the looks of the video below, it was a slamming good time.
Nobody usually likes to wait but today the adage “good things comes to those who wait” is an apt one for me. While awaiting my lunch order’s completion, I grabbed the latest issue of the Village Voice and in skimming through it, I learned about Blakroc, a collaboration between The Black Keys and 11 rappers (such as the RZA, Raekwon, Mos Def, Q-Tip, etc) who were gathered together by Damon Dash.
The Black Keys play music that sounds “old.” By that I mean that I thought they were a late 60’s / early 70’s band that I somehow did not know when I first listened to their tunes a few years back. The last time I made a mistake like that was when I heard Lenny Kravitz for the first time. While I haven’t gone to a Black Keys show yet, I would definitely say I’m a fan.
I’ve just spent the past 30 odd minutes on the Blakroc site listening to and watching various smokey recording (and other) sessions and boy oh boy would I have loved to have been present while these tunes were being crafted. I love the idea of cross discipline collaboration and it was amazing to see classic Midwest bluesy rock mixing with strong New York styled (Wu-Tang inflected in particular) rhymes.
The Village Voice article about Blakroc mentions “Judgment Night” as an example of a Rock / Rap crossover which made me think both of that soundtrack and movie, something I haven’t done in a long time. I believe that this crossover example will be more critically and commercially successful. It’s probably not going to ascend to the Aerosmith / Run DMC “Walk this Way” level but who knows.
My favorite part of the VV article is when Dan Auerbach, the singer/guitarist of The Black Keys, compares watching Raekwon record to “watching Bob Dylan – just someone who has such a command of their art form.” Raekwon himself says that the Blakroc project “is like brilliant acid.”
The album drops officially on Black Friday (aka the day after T-Day or 11/27) and I can’t wait to listen to all 11 of the tracks. I’m betting that the album is going to make me a huge fan of some rapper I haven’t heard of before and as new music is always good music, I’m excited for that possibility as well.
Phish is back with a vengeance and their 3.0 incarnation is blowing the doors off every venue they play. They have over the past few months debuted a whole slew of new songs, starting first during their historic Hampton three show run back in March and then continuing during their recently concluded Summer tour.
As an aside, I was at the first Hampton show which I still have not written about on this blog but I can honestly say that it was such a transcendent experience that other than seeing Page and Plant live in London in 1998 – I actually saw them two nights in a row, first with 2,000 people at Shepherds Bush Empire and then the next night at a BBC studio with 200 people which is when I got to high five Jimmy Page – it was the best single concert I’ve ever attended (I preface “single” because I was at Woodstock ’94). When Phish opened the show with “Fluffhead,” a phan favorite that they never played during their 2.0 incarnation, everyone lost their shit the way that Oprah’s audience did when she gave them all a car. It was chaos and it was phantastic.
Okay, now back to the present. I’ve been lucky enough to see Phish 5 times (so far) in 2009 and while I am a huge phan of some of their new songs, like “Backwards Down the Number Line,” one song in particular, a Jon Fishman original called “Party Time” that was debuted at their Merriweather Post Pavilion show on 8/15 which I attended, is just so flat out amazing that it not only vaulted its way immediately into my top 5 all time list but it quite possibly could be the best Phish song ever.
Oh yes, I did really write that statement. “Chalk Dust Torture,” “The Mango Song,” “Harry Hood” and “Down With Disease” now have a new neighbor. Come waste your time with me? No thanks “Waste” – you are now in the sixth slot because I just checked my watch and it says that it’s party time!
I feel so honored to have been at the debut of “Party Time.” It is such a rarity to have been at the only occurrence of a Phish song but right now there is one and only one version of this song out there – from Merriweather Post Pavilion, period. Even “Backwards Down the Number Line” which I mentioned above they have played about 5 times already. While you can listen to over 100 different live versions of “Tweezer,” there is only one live version of “Party Time” and I cannot wait for the first 20 minute version to be busted out. Festival 8 is around the corner and I’m praying they open with a nice long version of it.
A fellow phan and phriend of mine said in an email to me that,
“It is a rare event when a new song is debuted and immediately accepted by the crowd. I can’t wait for it to be played again and get tighter. The energy and goofiness of the song mixed with the odd rhythms and almost impossible layering of parts that shouldn’t make sense, but somehow seem to gel perfectly is almost the definition of what I love about Phish.”
I couldn’t agree more. Don’t believe me or my phriend? Check out the video below and you’ll probably never need to ask what time it is again because it will be permanently “Party Time!” ‘Nuff said.
A friend sent me a link to a song by Perpetuum Jazzile that is up on YouTube. Who are they? Well, they are the only Slovenian jazz choir, are conducted by its artistic director Tomaž Kozlevčar and are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year.
Their repertoire consists of an ear-catching selection of vocal jazz and pop, like “Africa” by Toto, which is what I was sent. The song is almost secondary to the amazing way that they create “rain” at the beginning – you have to hear it to believe it. Even the writer of the song loves it. The band posted this email below from David Paich, the aforementioned writer:
My name is David Paich. When I wrote Africa I never dreamed of hearing such an innovative rendition. All I can say is awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am truly honored that you not only would arrange a choir version of the song but the time and effort into creating REAL MAGIC! I have NEVER received so many emails from artists friends and colleagues on a singular performance of a song.
My hats off to all of you.
I know my co-writer Jeff Porcaro would have shared the same feelings. I know my band TOTO does.
Again, thanks you for such a wonderful gift.I would love to meet everyone sometime soon and maybe work together.
You don’t believe me, or him, then listen to the clip below. Enjoy!