Review of Beck’s ‘Odelay’ at Modern Vinyl

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Revisiting this record after decades of alt-rock radio play, it’s refreshing to know that everything still stands up. The singles have been ran into the ground, and lord knows I never need to hear “Devil’s Haircut” again, but “Jack-Ass” is like a revelation. That swimming, relaxed mood provides a glimpse into what Beck would do on his follow-up, Mutations, and the switch-up from what is — at its heart — a blues record still feels as fresh as it did 20 years ago. Start to finish, this is a record which stands the test of time. Much like Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique, or RZA as Bobby Digital, this is the sort of music to which most musicians have yet to catch up to.

Read the full review at Modern Vinyl. Published 10/27/16

Phil Canty Q&A in the Pitch

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The name Phil Canty might ring a bell, but if you’ve heard of Canty, it’s probably because of the production work he has done under the name P. Morris. In this guise, he has worked with Kelela, Feist, Chilly Gonzales and Fat Tony. Canty lived in Lawrence for quite a while but is now in Los Angeles. This past July, Canty, with singer, songwriter and director Maal A Goomba, released the excellent album Good Morning, I Love You, via the Bear Club Music Group collective. Canty and Goomba started that label together, and it has released the majority of both of their work.

I spoke with Canty by Skype about the minimalist, genre-hopping Good Morning, and about the history of Bear Club.

Read the full Q&A at the Pitch. Published 10/11/16

Local Album Reviews & Interviews at the Pitch

The Uncouth / photo by Samantha Levi

The Uncouth / photo by Samantha Levi

The past few months have yielded some especially strong local releases. The psychedelic rock of Lawrence Psychic Heat, AY-MusiK’s positive hip-hop, the Uncouth’s throwback oi — there’s something new for just about any taste. And five of the acts behind the best such recordings are playing in the area over the next week. Here’s what they have to say.

Read all the reviews and interviews at the Pitch. Published 8/30/16

The Fat Boys’ “Are You Ready For Freddy” video at Cinepunx

are you ready cover

If you’ve not read Ed Piskor’s Hip Hop Family Tree, you can be faulted for thinking that the Fat Boys were just another novelty group, the likes of which littered the ’80s. However, for thems what know, the Fat Boys actually started out as the Disco 3, winning a talent competition sponsored by Swatch in the early ’80s, and gaining popularity through a series of MTV commercials.

Read the From the Stereo to Your Screen column on The Fat Boys & A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master at Cinepunx. Published 7/6/16

Public Enemy concert review in the Pitch

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“Last night’s show in downtown Lawrence might have drawn the most patient crowd I’ve ever seen. For real: I can’t even conceive of the tolerance required to stand on hot concrete and cram in with 7,500-some of your fellow sweaty Lawrencians and not lose your goddamn mind. After a series of equipment issues and a weird freestyle thing featuring members of the opening acts, Public Enemy didn’t take the stage until about 10:30.”

Read “Public Enemy brought the noise but not the party to Lawrence last night” at the Pitch. Published 6/26/16

mc chris drops “Apple Lung”

cover-mc-chris-apple-lungAt some point, my excitement over the new mc chris mixtape, Apple Lung, just becomes a litany of the songs he uses to remix his tracks: “Ohmyfuckinggod — he takes ‘Hoodie Ninja’ and uses Sleigh Bells’ ‘Infinity Guitars’ and Devo’s ‘Whip It’ and ‘Hijack’ gets mixed with The Little Shop of Horrors theme and David Bowie!”

Bonus points for mc doing his second-ever cover. The first was Atom & His Package’s “Punk Rock Academy,” and now it’s “The Time Warp.” Those are a couple of serious, nerd-cred choices.

Honestly, having it drop the morning of Labor Day is perfect timing. There’s going to be people grilling, drinking, and partying all day today, and this is as good a soundtrack as any. Frankly, I’m rocking my ass off six ways from Sunday down here in the basement, wishing I had a reason to blast this sucker outside. That being said, it goes just as well with coffee and PJs as I imagine it does with cheap beer and cut-offs. Party time, bitches.

Download Apple Lung from mc chris’ site.

DiCola & McLeod’s “Creative License” excellently explains sampling’s legal ramifications

book-cover-creative-licenseIf the name Kembrew McLeod means anything to you, it means you’ve seen the 2010 documentary he co-produced, Copyright Criminals. This book he’s co-written with Peter DiCola, Creative License, might as well be a companion piece to that film, covering as it does the same territory – namely, the book’s subtitle, “The Law and Culture of Digital Sampling.”

The “law” portion of the subtitle factors into Creative License more than the culture does, although the culture is where the law becomes difficult to understand. However, the first two chapters are all about the “golden age” of sampling. These two chapters are lyrical descriptions of a historical era wherein the turntable went from an object that reproduced music to one that made it. After that, we hit the third chapter, which is when everything gets quite legal. “The Competing Interests In Sample Licensing” is complicated, confusing, and dense. Considering that this is probably the most simplified version of copyright law I’ve yet to read, that says more about the legalese itself than it does about DiCola and McLeod’s writing style.
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It’s worth the money

Now, I pay a decent amount of money to host my site here at GoDaddy. It’s not exactly expensive, but being as this is just a hobby, and not any sort of money-maker, it’s all out-of-pocket. I’ve never seen a dime from Amazon or Google AdSense, because I just don’t get enough clicks to warrant a check. Seriously, this is more for my own personal amusement, and a desire to keep somewhat flexible in terms of my writing ability. I spend so much time doing radio anymore that I just don’t have time to seek out replacement freelance gigs for the ones I’ve lost.

But, after reading this LA Weekly article, I’m pretty damn happy I’ve never chosen to go with Blogger or WordPress or any of the regular blogging sites. Losing stuff I’ve written – ugh, even the thought of it – makes me physically ill. I kept a hard drive from a dead PC in a drawer for five years because of all the stuff on there that I didn’t want to lose, and that stuff was mostly papers I’d written in high school.

The article makes a good point, though. I’ve gotten loads of e-mails from record labels with attached mp3s that I’m told to post and share with my “readers” (all five of you). I don’t, mainly because I very rarely ever get anything that interests me. I’m not here to shill what’s hip, cool, or new. Frankly, this is just an outlet for my musical interests, and a way to justify blowing large amounts of money on records every month. It’ll probably morph once I’m done with school, and probably end up reflecting my interests in providing some sort of radio show, but that’s months from now.

But back to what I was saying – I usually end up with three or four e-mails a week from labels and promoters providing me with mp3s that I am “free to post.” It’s insanely frustrating to realize that there are people posting those very sound files who are getting slammed with fines and cease-and-desist orders. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see e-mail presented verbatim as a text file link in the future, just to forestall any of this shit. It’s just another case of corporations being so large that one portion has no idea what the other is doing, or one end producing something that pretty much contravenes the desires of another, like Sony making mp3 players and releasing records, essentially contributing to their own demise, and robbing Peter to pay Paul.

MC Lars – “Download This Song” (from The Graduate)