Thursday, March 31, 2005

Best This is What I Used to Do

Back before I was posting nothing but photos for weeks on end, I used to fill Steady Mobbin' with actual thoughts and writings. Often these writings would be things I had written for the Law School Paper, and now, just like old times, I'm going to post some recent record "reviews" (really, can it truly be said I'm in a position to "review" anything?) of mine from the paper, just as they appeared when read about by five or six of my classmates last week.

A.R.E. Weapons, “The Wasteland Tapes”

As gigantic and international as New York is, A.R.E. Weapons strike me as being something like a local band, in the sense that whatever university you attended probably had it’s local band that was really popular around campus and not to well known anywhere else. While A.R.E. Weapons play the usual “make the cool kids dance” music (albeit a much darker variety than the sort played by the Rapture, LCD Soundsystem, !!!, etc. etc.) that’s so popular these days and they can sell out shows around the city’s smaller venues, world domination doesn’t appear to be on A.R.E. Weapons’ agenda and they seem content to remain a local sensation. Nowhere else is this more evident than with “The Wasteland Tapes”, the band’s latest self-produced, self-distributed album. The CD is available in the sort of slim case that comes with your box of 100 CD-Rs because, well, if I’m not mistaken, the CD is a CD-R with a homemade label glued on along with a homemade bit of cover art, and, in a truly back-to-basics move, the album doesn’t even feature a url for the band but instead has two “hotlines” printed on it that you can call for the latest A.R.E. Weapons news. The record itself consists of 11 party-friendly yet menacing electro-punk songs. While I don’t think anyone took Axl Rose too literally when he declared “You’re in the jungle baby, and you’re going to . . . DIE!” on “Welcome to the Jungle”, when the lead singer of A.R.E. Weapons (sorry, I don’t know his name and I’m not about to look it up) sings “Don’t fall off the box / You’re gonna die” on the track “Don’t Fall Off Tha Box” (sorry, the song names are a little ridiculous) I can’t help but think he might really mean it.

Various Artists, “The Rub Mixtape”

When I began writing for The Commentator, we were basically given one rule, and that was to “Not use any of the really bad swears.” When I received this instruction I was like, “Cool, I don’t think I’ll have a problem with that” but now I find myself wanting to review an album who’s real name is “It’s the (something-something) Remix”, but I’ll be calling it “The Rub Mixtape,” as it’s a mixtape (even if it is on CD) assembled by The Rub, a weekly hip-hop party in Brooklyn. The disc features some of progressive hip-hop’s most popular deejays, such as DJ Eleven, DJ Ayers, Nick Catchdubs, and Diplo from Hollertronix and is packed full of back to back brilliance, with vocals lifted from popular tracks by artists ranging from 50 Cent to Outkast to Jay-Z layered over an incredibly wide variety of background tracks. The result is consistently incredible, but standout moments include the Beatles mashed up against Kelis’ “Milkshake”, Outkast rapping “Bombs Over Baghdad” and “Roses” over Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out”, and, my personal favorite, Mobb Deep rapping over the Ghostbusters theme—seriously this one in particular is definitely one of the most amazing mash-ups I’ve ever heard. The Rub Mixtape is like a voyage through musical ingenuity, and an excellent advertisement for the club itself.

The Deadly Snakes, “Ode to Joy”

Released in 2003, this garage-rock work of art received next to no attention or praise in the year of records like the White Stripes’ “Elephant” and the Strokes’ “Room on Fire.” It’s a real shame, because “Ode to Joy”, and I do not mean to exaggerate one bit, is an absolute A+, 10 out of 10, Five Star, Two Thumbs Up Masterpiece worthy of a top position on any discriminating “Desert Island” records list. On “Ode to Joy”, the Deadly Snakes perform slightly psychedelic old-school garage rock that is so true to its original influences (I’d say that the record is full of nods to the 13th Floor Elevators, One Way Streets, Electric Prunes, and the Sonics, among others) that it’s fair to call “Ode to Joy” some of the best 60’s music released since the 60’s. Not that the record is just a well-executed bit of genre imitation, “Ode to Joy” is just so, so perfect that it seems much more like a long forgotten treasure from forty years ago that is finally seeing the light of day then the excellent bit of modern work that it is.

Kaiser Chiefs, “Employment”

Since the original British Invasion of the 60’s, it seems the United Kingdom has never run low on bands to ship over to the United States to stir us up with. From the Beatles and Rolling Stones to Blur and Oasis to Franz Ferdinand and the Futureheads , may I submit the Kaiser Chiefs for addition to the list? It would be easy to label the Chiefs, who have already sold out shows in Brooklyn and Manhattan and Newark (much like Franz Ferdinand and the Futureheads before them), as just another band that sounds like all those other bands, but that’s not such a bad thing, really. “Employment” is a consistently strong record that really makes you feel what a great time this band is to see live and the music, which sounds very much like Damon Alburn of Blur fronting a far less syncopated , yes far noisier, version of Franz Ferdinand, won’t disappoint you at all if you’re always falling for the latest band to have hopped across the pond.

For the Record, I'm absolutely serious about what I said about "Ode to Joy."

Get This It has just been announced that LCD Soundsystem is touring the United States with M.I.A. this summer, pretty hot, right? But it turns out one place that M.I.A. will not be appearing with the LCD crew is when they come through New York in June. This better be because she plans to headline her own show over here, or else I'm going to have to catch a bus to DC for their show at the 9:30 Club. Details? Click here, then click on the "Tour Dates" link.

Last Night I caught the Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt's 2005 Animation Show. It was a lot more twisted and a lot less funny than the 2003 edition, but still pretty good, I especially liked the shorts "Guard Dog", "Ward 13", and Hertzfeldt's "The Meaning of Life." I wish I hadn't seen "Fallen Art." Pan With Us was a real work of art, amazing.

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