Tuesday, February 28

Punk Rapper With a Laptop Takes on The World

Artist: MC Lars
Album: The Graduate
Release Date: 3/21/06 (Available now on iTunes)

Comments: Rather than trying to define himself, MC Lars decided it would be easier if he just up and created his own genre of music. And so, MC Lars's "The Graduate" is the first "post punk laptop hip hop" release in 2006, and to my knowledge, the first ever. True to his genre, MC Lars was in a few punk bands in the California area before moving to England where he decided to pursue a career in rap. As to how he made that transition, you're guess is a good as mine. But the combination is interesting to say the least.

Lyrically, MC Lars is unimpressive to say the least. But in this case that's ok, because these songs are more about what is being said than how they are being said. MC Lars takes on almost everything from writer's block (21 Concepts) to the commercialization of hip hop (Generic Crunck Rap) to the record industry (Download this song) to Hot Topic. (Hot Topic is Not Punk Rock) And while his raps are sophmoric and simple at their most complex, his ability to speak his mind with clarity and send a message makes up for it.

There is a problem though. MC Lars likes to joke around. Songs like "If I Had a Time Machine, That Would be Fresh" and "Space Game", while hilarious, detract from his overall message of DIY ethics and independent music and lifestyle. It's hard to take MC Lars seriously when he talks about the fallacy of the record industry on one track, and plays six degrees to Kurt Kobain on another track. It makes one wonder how MC Lars can preach with his tongue so firmly planted in his cheek.

One of the draws of MC Lars is that his live shows consist of anything from a full band to a single laptop, and that is reflected in the album. Many of the beats are simple and sound like a kid making his first beats on the families laptop. This simplicity is both a blessing and a curse, as it sometimes works (21 Concepts) and sometimes falls right on its face. (Roommate From Hell) Overall, the simple beats just furthers the DIY theme that covers the album. This point is further driven home by the guests that appear on the album. Both MC Chris and Ill Bill contribute lyrics to the album, giving MC Lars credibility and steps up the lackluster lyrics on the album.

The perfect combination of tongue in cheek humor and thought provoking message is found in the last track, "Singing Emo" which tells the story of the rise and fall of the fictional emo band "Hearts that Hate". This combination of commentary and comedy makes for the key track of the release, and shows that MC Lars has the potential to be a voice for a new generation of the technologically overfed youth, if he can just be taken seriously.

OVERALL RATING: 7.5 out of 10
TRACKS: "Download this Song" "Singing Emo" "iGeneration" "Hot Topic is Not Punk Rock"
WORTH THE MONEY: Fans of DIY punk, DIY hip hop, or fans of fun but poignant music should pick this one up ASAP.

Thursday, February 23

Ambitious EP From Upstate NY Beatmakers

Artist: Abbrev.
Album: Abbrev. EP
Website: http://www.myspace.com/seanmoretti

Comments: Not much ever really comes out of Olean, New York, the upstate farming community that is home to the two drummers-turned-producers that make up Abbrev. (Which is an abbreviation for the word abbreviation) Chances are, the only thing you're going to find in Olean is cows, college students, and drugs, and I'm pretty sure two of the three were involved in the making of this EP. Whatever fuel this EP was recorded on, what has come out is a collections of songs showing ambition, promise, and youth.

The standout track in the collection is definitely "Death Toll Methane(Fetamine)." Solid drum rolls and fills rule this track, all while a horror movie like melody plays in the background, giving the song a haunting sense of urgency and importance, while never seeming desperate. This track would sound completely at home on an Aesop Rock album, or maybe Del tha FunkyHomosaipen. At the same time, the fact that it is able to stand on its own without and lyrics over it says a lot about the track.

The rest of the EP shows promise, but is flawed. For example, the interesting if not grating "inFLUxenza" uses a carnival like melody over solid beat making, but the big feature is the use of coughs and sneezes to enhance the song. This is impressive, simply in the fact that even in the hands of seasoned producers, this could sound more like a gimmick than an aid to the song, but Abbrev. avoids this completely. The only problem with the song is that it seems just too long, and the tempo changes are bound to give someone an epileptic seizure.

Overall, this collection of offbeat beats serves as a promissory note for good things to come. Whatever flaws the songs might suffer from (length is an issue, some songs seem too busy to be held together by the middle) in the end it is ambition youth that makes these tracks life. Keep an eye on Abbrev. because it won't be long before they get it perfect. And when they do, you're going to want to be there.

But bring some drugs. Lots of drugs.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 (EP ratings only go to 5)
Tracks: Death Toll Methane(Fetamine)
Sounds Like: A pinball machine making love to a synthesizer making love to a nintendo on speed.

Wednesday, February 15

Mr. Dogg's Top Five

No album review yet. No concert review. (which was fun, thanks for asking) But still, I really want to put something up here, so I decided to do one of my world famous, rarely seen, always appreciated TOP FIVES!

OK, so all this really is, is a chance for me to list a bunch of songs that I enjoy like the pretentious assclown I am. But still, you guys read it, so I must be doing something right.

(Why the last 20 years you may ask? Well because the top five singles of all time requires alot more research than I am willing to put into this right now. Also because it covers the most important 20 years in music, the 20 years that I've been alive. Question answered? Good!)

5) Blind Melon - No Rain
Everyone knows about this song. Maybe you know about it from the bumblbee girl in the video, maybe you know about the lead singers struggle and eventual death from heroine, or maybe you're just a diehard Blind Melon fan. (all six of you out there) Regardless of who you are, when this song comes on, people sing along, people listen, people enjoy.

4) OutKast - Hey Ya!
Man alive, if you didn't like this song, chances are you don't have a pulse. Everyone has got an opinion about OutKast, but when this song came on, it didn't matter if you were a socer mom or a trap star, you were dancing to this catchy-as-all-hell song about shaking it like a polroid picture.

3) R.E.M - It's The End of The World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
This is the official challenge. If anyone out there (besides my friend Evan, who always impresses me) can sing to me in one try the correct lyrics to this entire song, I will crown he/she the official king of music. Faster than all hell, stream of counsiousness, and flat out fun. If the sky falls, I know I'll be playing that song on the stereo.

2) Weezer - Buddy Holly
Not only did this song launch a thousand black rimmed glasses, but it also made Happy Days cool again. You know, not to mention the fact that it helped to launch one of the best rock groups of the last 20 years, and is still played on alternative radio stations all over the county. HAPPY DAYS PEOPLE!

1) Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Cop out? Maybe. Is it the truth? Yes. I can't really say anything about this band, this album, and this song that hasn't allready been beaten into our heads by long haired flannel wearers and rock journalists for the last 15 years. It was important, really really important. But more than that, it was a good rock song that I can still listen to.

HONORABLE MENTIONS! (Either these are songs didn't fall in the 20 year category, or wern't very good singles, or just didnt make the top ten.)

Violent Femmes - Blister in the Sun
Blink 182 - Dammit
Pavement - Cut Your Hair
Unwritten Law - Seein' Red
Journy - Don't Stop Believeing
Bruce Springsteen - Born in the USA

Problems with my list? I'd love to hear em. mrdogg45@yahoo.com

Tuesday, February 14


Happy V day all you musical nuts!

Well, it looks like i haven't revied a CD in quite some time. My bad. I'd like to say I've been busy, but i haven't. Truth be told, I've been a little low on cash this month, but I swear I'll try to get a review up this week.

In the mean time, I'll be at the Flogging Molly show tonight, so stop by and say hello. Maybe I'll review the show.

As it is V day, I reccomend you send it listening to "She Is Beautiful" by Andrew WK. Or, if you're alone today, put on some terrible victory records album and argue with your friends about who is more depressed

Mr. Dogg

Thursday, February 2

More Scene Than Science

Artist: We Are Scientists
Album: With Love And Squalor

Comments: Its got that sound. You know the one I'm talking about. The one that The Strokes made mainstream. Thats same sound that made The Killers the breakout group of last summer. That sound that the Bloc Party used oh so well in their debute. That sound, my friends, is the sound of simplistic, 80's influenced rock. The kind of "Let's-make-the-guitar-sound-like-a-keyboard-unless-we're-actually-using-a-keyboard" sound. Repetative and simple drums that keep the songs focused. Basslines that occasionaly drift off, but for the most part anchor the guitar. We all know the drill by now.

We Are Scientitst have that sound all over, which makes them really easy to write off as another knockoff band. Right off the bat, the album opens with "Nobody Move, Nobody Gets Hurt" which plays more like a Bloc Party C side or Killers B side than anything else. Later on, "Inaction" sounds almost exaclty like a Hot Hot Heat song, or at least a song that they would play. This formula of sound almost exactly like other bands follows throughout the entire album, which not only gets old fast, but also reminds you of the other bands who did it better to begin with.

The album is not without its own merit though. Every now and again, you get the feeling that these guys just want to return to their garage roots and just rock out. And it is at these moments when the band sounds strongest, because they are not copying a style of music, but building on their own. Songs like "Callbacks" and "It's a Hit" play more like early 90's grunge with a bit of 80's postureing thrown in. It is at those times, when the band is pushing past their own scene, that they sound most relaxed, most focused.

I can see this album getting some radio play and selling a few singles, but not much more than that. At its best, its a group of kids trying to bring a touch of rock into a scene based on the effeminate 80's. At the worst, it sounds like a collection of other bands's demos and B sides. We Are Scientists have some potential, but choose to bury it in scarves and eyeliner.

Tracks: "Callbacks" "It's a Hit"

RATING: 5 out of 10

WORTH THE MONEY: Only if you can't wait for the next Killers album.