Wednesday, April 26

Epitaph Strikes Again with The Coup/ Mr. Dogg Gets Writer's Block

Artist: The Coup
Album: Pick a Bigger Weapon

Comments: I’m having a really hard time writing this review. Is it because I’m lazy and can’t seem to focus? Is it because I’m not really sure what I think about The Coup’s latest album “Pick a Bigger Weapon”? Or is it because this album is so good that it might change the face of hip hop? Well I know it’s not the last one; Pick a Bigger Weapon is without question a good album, but it’s not revolutionary. And I do know what I think about the album; I think it’s a great hip hop album with some flashes of brilliant production and professional word slinging, with some flat parts that don’t play out to well. I guess I’m just lazy then.

Well, how should I go about writing this then? Well, I guess I could start by saying that The Coup is made up of Boots Riley, the lyricist, and DJ Pam the Funkstress, the producer with a kick ass name. I could go on to say that the band that backs them on the album is extraordinary; it contains some original P-Funk All-stars, not to mention Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine (and sadly, Audioslave). Maybe I should point out that The Coup signed to Epitaph Records for this release, which is a good sign for them seeing as Epitaph is on a hot streak with hip hop acts as of late; just look at Atmosphere and the Danger Doom album. I guess all that star power and hype would have given me pretty big expectations if I had heard of The Coup before this album.

That’s the back story of the album, wonderful. Great. Grand. But what the heck does it sound like? Well, it starts of pretty weak, which is both unusual and unwise. The first track “Bullets and Love” is only about a minute thirty in length, and features some pretty mediocre production and played out gansta lyrics. The second track “We Are The Ones” is longer, but still has uninspired production. As far as the lyrics are concerned, there are some good rhymes and the subject of the song is worthy (struggle of the middle class) but is done in some kind of terrible English accent which is really distracting and annoying.

With two strikes against them already, The Coup launch into “Laugh/Love/F***”, and this is where the album starts to get good. DJ Pam backs the track with what I can only describe as what a Sega Genesis playing 70s soul would sound like. It’s a bit unexpected and a bit weird, but it works in the best way. The track solid lyrical work, but nothing amazing as it lets the beat law down a mellow funk feeling. Very cool. The next track, “My Favorite Mutiny”, features Talib Kweli and Black Thought of the Roots crew, and despite the lyrical powers of the two guests, its Boots who steals the show, rising to the challenge set by the visitors. With the score even two good tracks to two bad tracks, “I Just Wanna Lay Around All Day In Bed With You” tips the album into the land of the good, with Boots serenading his woman over a truly soulful production. Think of it as Barry White with skills.

From there, the album just takes off. The Coup spend the majority of the album from that point using their soapbox to motivate change. “Head(of State)” speaks out against Bush and the US’s history of Iraq, while “AssBreathKillers” speaks about stepping up and speaking out rather than kissing ass of superiors. The production by DJ Pam falls into two categories, the soft and soulful (“ShoYoAss) or the funky fresh (“I Love Boosters!”). Lyrically, Boots never comes down from the bar he set on “My Favorite Mutiny” and is consistent in his message of public awareness and call for changing of crooked politicians and a system that holds down the people within it. His case is strong, but at times is a little bit immature and sophomoric about his need for change. But overall, its strong lyrically.

Well ok, so what do you think of the album as a whole? Well, I think it’s a really good album that trips over itself at first, but then takes off and rarely comes back down. I think DJ Pam’s production is inspired if not always impressive, and when mixed with the backing band, can be downright amazing. I think Boots’s lyrics are sharp and on point for the most part, although at times he can take himself a little to seriously and lacks some sophistication at points. I think the closing track is amazing. I think that The Coup is important for hip hop, that they channel the militant spirit of Public Enemy and soulful flow of Curtis Mayfield, and that feeling of sincerity intimacy that the album gives off is what is missing in hip hop today.

(Whew, hopefully no one realizes that the questioning myself method is just to cover the fact that I’m a terrible writer.)

Final Rating:
8 out of 10

Worth The Money: Yes sir

Key Tracks: “My Favorite Mutiny”, “I Love Boosters!”, “A*sBreathKillers”, “The Stand”

Wednesday, April 19

News Update

Hey there music nuts. Happy Easter/Passover/ any other religious holiday.

Here's the skinny.

1) No review this week. Money is especially tight and there isn't anything I am really keen on buying. But keep your eyes peeled, because a free copy of the new Saves The Day Album might be coming my way and if it does, ill throw that out there.

2) I've decided I'm going to start up a mailing list. All you've gotta do is send me your email adress and I'll send you notifications any time the site gets updated with reviews or news posts. Ill also throw in some concert info and other music news. So leave a message here or email me at and I'll put you on the list.

3) Last week I reviewed the Less Than Jake EP and then went on a rant. One of my readers sent my comments to J.R from Less Than Jake and he sent a resonce back. I'll be posting that sometime this week

4) Have you seen the lineup for Lollapalooza? It's like an indie nerd's wet dream. Im gonna be surrounded in scarves and tight cloths and indifference music snobbery the likes of which the world has never seen.

OK, thats about it for today. There is some more Jared Adams news, and Atreyu has a new album out, so you can pick that up. Also, Ghostface Killah's album is suppsoedto be hot fire, so get on that. Built to Spill has got a new one out for you indie folks, and as I said, Saves the Day's new one is out too. So there's stuff to listen to untill I get around to a review. Peace Out!

Mr. Dogg

Wednesday, April 12

Less Than Stellar

Hey hey folks! Just an EP today, real busy.

Artist: Less Than Jake
Album: Absolution for Idiots and Addicts

Comments: I have no love of major record labels. I believe major labels see bands as a way to target a new demographic and nothing more; that albums are nothing more than a comparison of profit margins to produce successful fiscal quarters. And I am ok with this, because as much as I believe music should be about art and expression and beauty and soul, I realize that music is a business. I guess I'm a sellout, as the punk rock kids might say.

I'm guessing that they would call Less Than Jake sellouts as well. For those unfamiliar with this particular group, I'll give a brief history. Less Than Jake is a ska band from Gainesville Florida who were part of the third wave ska invasion of the early and mid 90s. From their humble beginnings on "Pezcore" to their most recent release "Anthem" Less Than Jake has used their high energy, off key harmonies, blazing horn section and brash indifference towards adulthood to build a loyal fan base. They received some backlash with the release of "Anthem" because of its departure from their signature ska sound, relying more on pop punk guitars and hooks. They were on a tightrope, dangling between their old fan base and the potential for new fans.

With that position in mind, they released "Absolution for Idiots and Addicts". This EP sounds like an attempt to please both the old ska kids and the new pop punkers. The first track (entitled "Overrated (Everything Is)") and the last track ("The Rest of My Life") seek to draw in new listeners. These songs sound more like Bowling For Soup than Less Than Jake, but are easy on the ears and will draw in the alienated youth market that is so important these days. With their simple chord progression and catchy hooks they almost scream for radio play.

The other two tracks ("Negative Side of Optimistic Eyes" and "We, The Uninspired") shoot to appeal more to the hardcore LTJ fan. "We, The Uninspired" especially, which has the kind of ska riffs, rocking horns and jumpy walking bass lines that LTJ fans haven't heard since their earliest days. These two even have better song writing; here they sound more like the Loser Kings they are, as opposed to whiny teenagers they sound like on the other two tracks.

I never bother with EPs usually, but Less Than Jake and I have a history together. The goal of an EP is to get people excited for the new CD. While it didn't particularly excite me, I believe Less Than Jake will expand their fan base more than they will hurt it if this EP is any indication of the album.

OVERALL RATING: 2.5 out of 5
WORTH THE MONEY: Nope, wait for the CD. Or just go to myspace and listen there.
KEY TRACKS: "We, The Uninspired"


(This EP is shit. Absolute shit. I know i said all that other stuff in the review, and I stand by what I said. What I say now, I do not say as an objective music critic, but as a longtime fan of Less Than Jake and their music.

What the fuck did I ever do to deserve this? I forgave "Boarders and Boundaries", chalking it up to FatWreck thinking maybe they just didn't know how to make a ska album so they tried to focus on other parts of your sound. I forgave "Anthem" which had maybe four good tracks on it because I believed you were still able to produce good music. Then I get this EP. The first track on this godforsaken EP is fucking Anthem by Good Charlotte. I shit you not. Where do you get off LTJ, making fucking Anthem part 2??!?! I know you want new fans, and I know your sound has changed, but god damn! If not for We, The Uninspired I would have no hope for this new album.

I am hoping that this is all a cruel joke. If this new LTJ sounds anything like this EP, i don't know how much longer I can call myself a fan. I'm running out of excuses for you now. I'm afraid that it might be time for me to just say a band i used to love is just not good anymore. And I hope that isn’t the case.)

Wednesday, April 5

April Notes

Hey All, a few quick things.

1) Money is kind of tight this week, so I won't be able to get out and buy any new records untill sometime next week. I'll put up a few Mr. Dogg Classics in between now and then, and maybe a Top 5, but as far as new albums go, it'l be about a week. Make sure to check back.

2) New Layout: I'd been getting some complaints that the old layout was alittle rough on the eyes, so i switeched layouts. Let me know if this is easier for all you with less than perfect vision.

3) I'm kicking around the idea of a mailing list to let people know when the site gets updated, keep poseted on music news, ect. Anyone think thats a good idea?

4) Dude, have you seen LOST lately? That show is friggin intense with a capital INTENSE.

Ok, thats about it for now. Thanks alot for reading. Feel free to email me your comments, concerns, or suggestions at or just leave em here. Adios

Sunday, April 2

Adams Invites You To His World, Offers A Drink

Artist: Jared Adams
Album: Halls, Brawls, and Bathroom Stalls
Comments: Any failures (there are a few) or success (there are a few more) that "Halls, Brawls, and Bathroom Stalls" has in it are the fault of one man and one man only. Jared Adams stands alone on his debut album, making it a one man show where he is the opening act and main event. Adams's show invites the listener into his world, which he discribes through bloodshot eyes and beer soaked breath, as he takes the listener on a drinking tour of Albany, New York. Armed with only his guitar, his voice, and a handful of friends, Adams sets out to tell the story of every college kid, while putting his own spin on it.

Adams's songwritting is driven by the wild life he lives, fueld by alcohol and drugs. This is the main focus of the album, whether he is trying to convince a woman to leave the door open for him ("Don't Shut The Door") or getting caught by the police for public urination ("Pissin Ain't Easy"). This one sided focus on the non stop party of youth is something we can all associate with, but is limiting at times as the subject matter of the album rarely changes.

Because the album is independently written, recorded, produced and distrubted, it posesses a very stripped down, basic sound. Most songs are just the man and his guitar, allthough the occasional bass line or chorus of friends can be heard on some tracks. This minimalist sound can sometimes hurt Adams; when he tries to sing outside his range, he has nothing to hide his straining voice behind. At the same time, his confidence and charisma can bend the basic sound into a song that is both intimate and engaging (the hilarious epic of "Pissin Ain't Easy" comes to mind).

Don't get the idea that Adams is nothing more than a drunk with a guitar. His guitar playing, while not mind blowing, is more than good enough to carry the songs. He playing style is somewhere between G Love and James Taylor (I would say young James Taylor, but that man was born at age 45), while his writting has a sort of everyman quality that remindes me of Bruce Springsteen. Adams even has a friggin folk ballad in the shape of the six miunte oddesy that is "Matty Rodgers". That being said, this is definetly a party album; songs like "Disco Shit", "Bum Rush" and "Havoc" will get the party rocking, but are somewhat shallow and unfullfilling.

Two songs on the album stand out amongst all other and give the impression that in time, Adams could blossom into a serious deal. The first is the title track "Halls, Brawls, and Bathroom Stalls" which touches on the sense of emptyness that one can feel from a life of non stop parting. The other is the 10 minute long "Thursday". The song, mid tempo and upbeat, focuses on the waiting and longing everyone feels, that if we could just have this one thing, everything would be allright. The first half of the song features voice mails from Adams's phone; friends calling to party. As the song winds down, we here Adams on his phone; his night over and his friends no where to be found. This peice of vocal imigry serves as a bridge between the glamour of the party and the wisdom that there is more to life, and suggests that Jared Adams has got potential to be more than just a party MC

For all its flaws (repetive at times, shallow material) "Halls Brawls and Bathroom Stalls" is a solid bedut from Jared Adams. Its an album that is made for the drunken college kid in all of us; partying hard making mistakes before we're forced to step into our real lives. Thats what Adams is doing now, parting hard. I for one can't wait to hear what he'l sound like when he starts his real life.

OVERALL RATING: 6.5 our of 10
WORTH THE MONEY: If you like to party on a Saturday night and think about it the next day, this album is for you.
KEY TRACKS: "Pissin' Ain't Easy" "Halls, Brawls, and Bathroom Stalls" "Matty Rodgers" "Disco Shit"

NOTE!!! - Spelling errors? You Bet! Will I fix em? No!