Tuesday, July 28

100 Best Rap Songs Ever: #73 Kanye West ft. Mos Def and Freeway - Two Words

Artist: Kanye West ft Mos Def, Freeway and the Harlem Boys Choir
Song: Two Words
Album: The College Dropout
Year: 2004

Comments: From "Through the Wire" to "Jesus Walks," from "New Workout Plan" to "Spaceship," The College Dropout has no shortage of hits. However, five years after Kanye West's career-starting classic dropped, no track has as much replay value as "Two Words," a track that still sounds fresh half a decade after the fact.

Mos Def opens the track with more focus and confidence than anything he's had since Black on Both Sides (although I hear The Eclectic is a stellar return to form. More on that later), delivering his quick syllables with air-tight flow. West, never a strong lyricist, submits one of his best Dropout verses here, doing his best to stand up with the star power on the the track. If the track has a downside, it is the lack of Freeway, who only gets 12 bars but still finds a way to compare himself Steven Seagal and threatens to turn haters into Olympic athlete Jackie Joyner Kersee. Seriously, we all need more Freeway.

And, of course, the beat is fucking bananas.

more about "Kanye West - Two Words (feat. Mos Def...", posted with vodpod

Monday, July 27

Secondhand Sounds from Scrambles Superhero

Artist: Bomb The Music Industry!
Album: Others! Others!
One Liner: Covers, singles and online-only tracks for long time fans of BTMI!.

Comments: B-side collections need to be held to a different set of standards than regular records. A listener has to go into the album with a different mindset, knowing that the tracks will not be as cohesive or complete as they would be on a regular album.

It should also go without saying that B-side collections are usually for die hard super fans only. There is no B-sides album that I would recommend as a good place for a listener to start learning about a band (some folks might argue Etc. by Jawbreaker, but those people are idiots. Incidentally, if you are interested in getting into Jawbreaker, I recommend starting with 24 Hour Revenge Therapy).

So with that in mind, if you are a fan of DIY punk or have an established Bomb The Music Industry! fetish or just like free music, you should download yourself a free copy of BTMI's Others! Others!.

Others! bundles BTMI's 7-inch tracks with some Myspace.com only gems into one free collection of songs that were not good enough to show up on actual BTMI releases. Fans will be familiar with some cuts, like "All Alone in my Big Empty Apartment" and "This is a Singalong." Both tracks, demos here, were featured more fleshed out and, quite frankly, better on other releases.

While there are some quick little charmers on Others! ("Come On, This Shit is Getting RIDICULOUS" in particular), the main attraction here are the covers. BTMI has always been enthusiastic in it's covers, and having a bunch of them all in one place is nice. The band goes all ska-mitzva on Pavement's "Gold Soundz," and turns in a shockingly faithful cover of We Versus the Shark's "This Graceless Planet." The gold star, however, goes to the synth-ed out cover of Andrew Jackson Jihad's hilarious and charming "Little Brother," a surefire candidate for song of the year.

For first timers, there are much better places to start with BTMI (Scrambles or Get Warmer, for example), and the most obsessive of fans will probably already have most of these tracks already. For the rest of us, however, there are enough charming tracks to make Others! Others! worth the hard drive space.

Key Tracks:
This Graceless Planet, Come on, This Shit is Getting RIDICULOUS, Little Brother

Download the album here from Quote Unquote Records

Tuesday, July 7

We Believe in Nothfink, Lebowski! We Cut Off Your JOHNSTON!

This review appears on Noripcord.

Artist: Future of the Left
Album: Travels With Myself and Another

Comments: It seems like everyone uses keyboards these days, but not the way that Future of the Left uses them.

Matt and Kim use keyboards to form one half of their quick, cute pop songs for teenagers.

Mates of State use them to write lullabies.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs use them so people have music to do coke to.

Franz Ferdinand use them so people have music to fuck to.

Future of the Left, however, uses keyboards to punish, to pummel. It's keyboards, like it's guitars, bass and vocals, don't so much pluck or hum as they do howl and snarl. It's keyboards are not instruments, they are weapons.

From top to bottom, Travels With Myself and Another is one of the toughest albums of the year. The bass is distorted and low, growling like a bear and strong enough to crumble pavement. The guitars buzz, not with the clean metallic sound of a saw but with the panicked chaos of an angry swarm of bees. Lyrics, for the most part, are screamed from the center of an angry chest, except when they are spat, bitterly and sarcastically, through a knowing sneer.

And as for the keyboards, they are used sparingly and only on the most accessible of tracks. Even then, they sound broken and used, like something a robot organ-grinder would use to make a man dance.

There's a scene in The Big Lebowski where Tara Reid explains that the passed-out German in the pool below her is a nihilist. "He doesn't believe in anything," she says, before offering to suck Jeff Bridges' cock. Future of the Left is the same: it believes in nothing, but rather than float idle in a pool, it is laughing in the faces of the followers, sounding smarter and having more fun in their max-volume, full-throated atheism than most people find in their religions or love.

Love? Fuck love. "I'm on a mercy mission / to prove to my new love / that she is my nothing / that she is my no one...that even these triumphs are empty," lead singer Andy Falkous informs the listener on "Lapse Catholics," one of Travel's finest tracks. The song is a 4 minute burn that boasts the album's best riff along with lyrics that jump seamlessly from Morgan Freeman to the Devil, dripping with wit and obnoxious cleverness.

Falkous doesn't exactly write lyrics as much as he writes conversations and inside jokes. Characters and settings are introduced but given no context, resulting in the kind of screaming schizophrenic songwriting that one might expect from a deranged John Darnielle. The words are compelling despite their lack of clarity, and even with all the ambiguity there are plenty of self-explanatory one liners ("Re-imagine God as just a mental illness / looming toward the end of our days" on "The Hope That House Built" or "The while man claims that he's in love / does anybody doubt him?" on "Yin / Post-Yin").

And, while this has nothing to do with the music, the song titles themselves are pretty funny. Album highlight: "Stand By Your Manatee", although "You Need Satan More Than He Needs You" is pretty good, too.

By no means a feel-good record, Travels With Myself and Another is rich with enough black humor, sharp perspectives and tight muscular music to make it one of the best rock of albums of the year. Think of it as comfort food for the condemned: if everyone is going to die, might as well laugh along with Future of the Left.

Note: I don't love this song, but it is the only quality video I could find for the new album. Plus, sideburns!

Key Tracks: Lapse Catholics, Arming Eritrea, Throwing Bricks at Trains, Yin / Post-Ying

Buy, Steal, Skip: Buy