2006 so far

Thursday, August 31, 2006
1. Jon Auer - Songs From The Year Of Our Demise
2. Rhymefest - - Blue Collar
3. T.I. - King
4. The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers
5. Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
6. Field Mob - Light Poles And Pine Trees
7. Prince - 3121
8. Ray Cash - Cash On Delivery
9. DJ Khaled - Listennn...The Album
10. Asobi Seksu - Citrus
11. Donald Fagen - Morph The Cat
12. Lil Wayne/DJ Drama - Dedication 2
13. Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
14. Remy Ma - There's Something About Remy
15. Jaheim - Ghetto Classics
16. Junior Private Detective - Erase
17. B.G. - The Heart Of Tha Streetz, Vol. 2 (I Am What I Am)
18. Morningwood - Morningwood
19. Shawnna - Block Music
20. Pearl Jam - Pearl Jam

Not much movement here since June, but then, I haven't heard much new (except for the Rhymefest album, which is benefitting greatly from being pretty fresh in my mind and sounding pretty great at the moment, no telling how that will hold up in 3-4 months when I'm more sick of its obvious shortcomings) and haven't revisited the other stuff a whole lot since. My mild disappointment with the Jon Auer album has been perhaps momentarily blinded by a pretty great recent live radio performance of a few of the songs. A German version just came out with a couple exclusive bonus tracks on there, lord help me but I might have to track it down. Pearl Jam is hanging onto the list at all by a sentimental thread, considering that it's quickly supplanted Riot Act in my esteem as their worst studio album.

1. T.I. - "What You Know"
2. DJ Khaled f/ Paul Wall, Lil Wayne, Fat Joe, Rick Ross and Pitbull - "Holla At Me Baby"
3. Foo Fighters - "No Way Back"
4. Justin Timberlake f/ T.I. - “My Love”
5. Evanescence - “Call Me When You’re Sober”
6. Omarion - “Entourage”
7. Muse - “Knights of Cydonia”
8. Ray Cash f/ Scarface - "Bumpin' My Music"
9. Fergie - "London Bridge"
10. Jessica Simpson - “Public Affair”
11. Frankie J f/ Mannie Fresh and Chamillionaire - “That Girl”
12. Pussycat Dolls f/ Snoop Dogg - "Buttons"
13. Chamillionaire f/ Krayzie Bone - "Ridin'"
14. India Arie f/ Akon - "I Am Not My Hair"
15. Pink - "Who Knew"
16. Lil Wayne - "Hustler Musik"
17. Ne-Yo - "When You're Mad"
18. Beyonce - “Ring The Alarm”
19. Beyonce f/ Slim Thug and Bun B - "Check On It"
20. Remy Ma - "Conceited"
21. New Found Glory - “It’s Not Your Fault”
22. Jamie Foxx f/ Ludacris - "Unpredictable"
23. Pussycat Dolls f/ Will.I.Am - "Beep"
24. Ciara f/ Chamillionaire - “Get Up”
25. Kelly Clarkson - "Walk Away"
26. Raconteurs - “Hands”
27. Obie Trice - “Cry Now”
28. Jagged Edge - “Stunnas”
29. LeToya - “She Don’t”
30. Daz f/ Rick Ross - “On Some Real Shit”
31. Tha Dogg Pound - “Cali Iz Active”
32. Snow Patrol - “Hands Open”
33. Fall Out Boy - "A Little Less 16 Candles, A Little More 'Touch Me'"
34. Twista f/ Pitbull - "Hit The Floor"
35. Yung Joc f/ Nitti - "It's Goin' Down"
36. Chris Brown - "Yo (Excuse Me Miss)"
37. Shareefa f/ Ludacris - “I Need A Boss”
38. The Killers - “When you Were Young”
39. Lupe Fiasco - "Kick Push"
40. Disturbed - “Land Of Confusion”
41. DJ Khaled f/ Kanye West, Consequence and John Legend - “Grammy Family”
42. Heather Headley - "In My Mind"
43. E-40 f/ Keak Da Sneak - "Tell Me When To Go"
44. Cassie - "Me & U"
45. Keane - “Is It Any Wonder?”
46. Keyshia Cole - "Love"
47. B.G. f/ Mannie Fresh - "Move Around"
48. All-American Rejects - "Move Along"
49. Click Five - "Catch Your Wave"
50. Prince - "Black Sweat"

It seems like most of the big event singles have been overblown hip hop moves by pop divas ("Promiscuous Girl," "Deja Vu," "Ain't No Other Man," etc.) that I'm pretty lukewarm on, besides "London Bridge," which I can't really make any excuses for liking other than that I do. I do like the Jessica Simpson song, though, partly just because she's doing straight up throwback Madonna pop (whereas when Madonna tried to do a throwback move it was joyless robo-disco), which isn't quite as sacreligious as all the other classic pop she's otherwise butchered in the past ("Jack And Diane," "These Boots," "Take My Breath Away," etc.). As sick as I am of Beyonce, though, I really have to give it up for the chaotic Swizz Beatz productions, which work so great with R&B that it's a shame he always tried to smooth out his style for all those old tracks with Eve and Mashonda. "When You Were Young" is pretty underwhelming (and combined with the Killers' 2nd absurd mustaches-and-cowboy-hats video in a row, could spell career suicide), but there's something perversely enjoyable about a big multi-platinum rock band coming out with a single where the vocal delivery is so weird and quavery that it reminds me of Lungfish. I appreciate the fact that even if Muse's singer is never going to make any attempt to sound less like Thom Yorke, they're at least going to do some kind of insanely silly surf rock epic that Radiohead would never ever try. New Found Glory has helped me learn that my tolerance for emo ballads is in direct proportion to their similarity to late-period Superchunk. And I think I like Keane a lot more when they're biting U2 than when they're just generic wimpy Britpop.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Dinosaur Jr. - "Show Me The Way" (mp3)

I couldn't justify going to Dinosaur's reunion show at the Ottobar the other night when I'm dead broke and already saw their 9:30 Club show last year, so I'll console myself by posting the only song that was on SST's original CD release of You're Living All Over Me but not on last year's Merge reissue. It wasn't on the original vinyl album is their justification, but instead of preserving the album's original incarnation by ending the CD with the suck-ass "Poledo," they merely tacked on a different cover, "Just Like Heaven," which I didn't really understand. Why the Cure but not Frampton? Why not both? Still, the SST disc is pretty much the worst sounding CD of good music I've ever heard (I guess that comes down to bad mastering or the quality of digital technology available to small labels in the late 80s), so the Merge reissue was absolutely necessary and appreciated.

Monday, August 28, 2006
AllHipHop.com's rumors page is officially getting weird:


You know what? Some astronomy crew up and decided that Pluto is no longer a planet. Bump that, fam. Pluto IS a planet, I aint trying to hear that, nine planets like Wu Tang. Does freakin' Saturn have a Disney character named after it? Hell to the no. Cats kill me and it is clear that they are just bored, that's all. If Pluto aint a planet, why are they trying to visit it with their lil doo-dads? Pluto never hurt anybody - stop fronting.


Netflix Diary

Saturday, August 26, 2006
1. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
Being as Sports Night is probably my favorite short-lived series of all time, I've been pretty psyched about Aaron Sorkin's new show this fall, which also takes place behind the scenes of a live TV show (although visually and in terms of the hourlong format, it seems to bear more similarities to West Wing, which I just never got into but I've been meaning to rent the first couple seasons and give it a shot sometime). And when I found out that NBC decided to make the pilot episodes of a couple new shows available on Netflix a few weeks early, I had to check it out. It's definitely one of those pilots that's so busy establishing who the characters are and the relationships between them and setting a lot of future events in motion that it's probably not very representative of what the actual series will be like, but all that is done pretty deftly and it's a promising start. Matthew Perry always seemed to me like he was capable of more than being just a wisecracking Chandler Bing or coasting along in The Whole Eleven Yards or whatever, and his role in this is pretty much what I've been hoping for. The rest of the cast I'm not entirely sold on, although I was impressed by Amanda Peet, who I've never really liked before (again, The Whole Twelve Yards, arghhh). Steven Weber is a surprisingly great villain, considering how weak he came off in that TV remake of The Shining. It should be interesting to see how this show compares with NBC's other new show that's a more overtly comedic behind-the-scenes look at a thinly veiled surrogate for SNL, Tina Fey's 30 Rock, which has to be one of the oddest cases of synchonicity in a fall TV lineup since those two shows about hospitals in Chicago competed in the same timeslot.

2. Kidnapped
This was the other pilot on the Netflix disc with Studio 60, and though I probably wouldn't have gone out of my way to watch it when it came on TV, I figured what the hell and watched it. Jeremy Sisto always seemed to me like a pretty decent actor who was probably never going to get a good starring vehicle in the movies, so the move to TV seems like a start move. The pilot set things up nicely for a tense serial thriller in the 24/Prison Break/Lost mold that seems so popular these days, but time will tell if they make anything of the premise. If it was a movie I'd dismiss it out of hand as a (much) tamer version of Man On Fire, which is what it feels like at times, but the fact that they've got a wring an hour of drama out of this plot every week means it might defy the usual predictable point A to point B of Hollywood kidnapping thrillers (which really are so numerous these days we might as well just accept it as a subgenre).

3. Network
I kept reading about the Studio 60's direct homages and references to Network, and since I hadn't seen it before I figured I might as well rent it at the same time. Good flick, although the whole "I'm as mad as hell" thing being an obnoxiously iconic pop culture moment made those parts even harder to sit through than they'd be already. Ned Beatty's brief appearance in particular was probably my favorite scene. I kind of had to focus on the black comedy element to really enjoy the movie, though, otherwise it came off a little shrill and over the top in stating its case.

4. Burnt by the Sun
Another one of the foreign flicks that J.G. always seems to gravitate to, but I enjoyed this one, put a whole historical situation I only have a surface understanding of in an emotional perspective. I was kind of surprised to see on IMDb that there's a sequel in production, though.

Friday, August 25, 2006
This might be better than the Fergie song, and this is way better than anything by Lady Sovereign.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Sonic Youth: the Notorious Rockin' Lee megamix

Disc 1:

1. Skip Tracer
2. Eric's Trip
3. Genetic (mp3)
4. Paper Cup Exit
5. Pipeline/Kill Time
6. Bookstore [Mote demo] (mp3)
7. Unwind
8. Lee #2 (mp3)
9. Wish Fulfillment
10. Karen Koltrane
11. Karen Revisited

Disc 2:
1. Mote
2. Hoarfrost
3. Hey Joni
4. Saucer-Like
5. Rats (mp3)
6. In The Kingdom #19
7. Rain King
8. I Dreamed I Dream
9. NYC Ghosts & Flowers
10. Wish Fulfillment [Rehearsal Tapes Version]
11. Guido [Rehearsal Tapes Version]
12. Lee #2 [Instrumental Version]
13. Lee Is Free

I know I'm not alone in thinking that Lee Ranaldo is arguably SY's best vocalist and songwriter (nothing against Thurston and Kim, who of course are a huge part of the band's appeal and creative core, but aren't as traditionally talented in terms of lyrics and melody), although I wouldn't go so far as to say that he should sing all the time or significantly more often. In a way, the rarity of his songs makes them more precious, the fact that there's less than two dozen among the band's catalog of hundreds of songs. I originally did a cassette version of this mix a couple years ago. But since then, I've gotten a CD burner, and SY released a new Lee song, "Rats," on Rather Ripped as well as previously unreleased demo versions of some of his songs on the Goo and Dirty reissues (and hopefully the forthcoming Daydream Nation reish will contain some alternate versions of Lee's 3 songs from that album), so it seemed like time for a revision. After having just the instrumental version of "Lee #2" on a bootleg of the Goo demos for over a decade, it was kind of anticlimactic to finally hear the vocal version, so I can see why it was left off the album. But I still maintain that "Genetic" is one of the band's best songs ever, and the rumor that its exclusion from Dirty was the main reason Lee almost left the band around that time seems totally justified to me.

There were a few gray areas that I had to make judgement calls for inclusion. For instance, Lee and Kim both sing lead on "I Dreamed I Dream," and Lee and Thurston kind of harmonize on "Unwind," but Lee's voice is pretty audible on both, so they're in. But there are a number of songs in the band's catalog where all three of them sing/shout in unison ("Death Valley '69," "Renegade Princess," etc.), and I decided not to count those. And since I had to use 2 discs anyway, I tacked on Lee's solo demo of "Wish Fulfillment" and three Lee-related instrumentals ("Guido" is another version of "Wish Fulfillment"), kind of as bonus tracks, although you could kind of say the mix ends with "NYC Ghosts & Flowers." "Bookstore" has some different lyrics from the final version of "Mote," so I kind of count it as its own entity. Of course, there are numerous other official and unofficial live and alternate versions of Lee songs out there, so it's kind of arbitrary what I included there. I'm pretty happy with the sequence I put together, though, I think it flows a lot better than if I just put it all in chronological order.

Netflix Diary

Tuesday, August 22, 2006
1. Born Into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids
Totally depressing documentary about children of prostitutes in India. It was interesting but not particularly well made, and left me with a lot of unanswered questions, like I'd kind of prefer a more hard news approach to this topic than a character-driven doc about a handful of people. It focused primarily on the struggle to get some of these kids out of that environment and into a good school, with limited success, and in that respect it reminded me a lot of Boys Of Baraka, which is a pretty scary parallel when you think about it.

2. City Of God
Another incredibly disheartening movie about kids born into poverty and violence (for some reason J.G. always manages to find these and puts them on our queue), except a dramatization of a true story instead of a straight doc. Really well written and beautifully shot, though.

3. Fantastic Four
Considering that it's been barely a decade since the first failed attempt at a FF feature film, you'd think they'd be really careful not to make the same mistake twice. Nobody ever really seemed excited about this, though, and maybe that just has to do with the fact that people don't really care about the Fantastic Four as much as the X-Men and whatnot. J.G. thought it was terrible but I actually enjoyed it, or at least it surpassed my meager expectations. A Dr. Doom vehicle would probably be cooler than a sequel, though.

4. March of the Penguins
It was nice to finally see this, although it is kind of weird that something not all that different from the kind of stuff the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet produce all the time became a runaway box office hit. What I didn't really expect was how well they impress upon you the incredible struggle the penguins go to just to live and breed. I mean, wasn't this a big family film? How did kids get through all the stuff about eggs cracking and being frozen and the parents nearly starving themselves without bursting into tears? I mean, J.G. was kind of traumatized just watching it. I did like that they didn't gloss over it and gave you the brutal facts, though.

5. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, season 1
J.G. left her Netflix account open on a computer at work recently, so her co-workers sneaked a disc of the first season of this into our queue as a joke. Although I was initially a little disappointed that it wasn't that crazy Dolph Lundgren movie, we decided to watch it anyway, which was a pretty weird way to kill a Saturday night. I watched the show a bit when I was really young, but it was never as interesting to me as, say, Transformers, so my memories of it are all pretty vague. I'm pretty sure even as a kid I could tell it was a really dull, poorly made show, though. Watching this did help me realize how much The Monarch from The Venture Bros. is an eerily accurate Skeletor impression, though.

6. The Wire, season 1
As my Wire fanaticism reaches a fever pitch in anticipation of season 4's premiere next month, I've started renting the old seasons on DVD. I'd watched most of the previous seasons on HBO in order over the past year, but I know I missed a few episodes here and there, so it's good to finally fill in the holes, and listen to the commentary tracks, which haven't contained any big revelations yet, but have all sorts of interesting trivia and minutiae. I just wish more of the episodes had commentary tracks. BTW, the members of the cast that were at that Sound Garden signing, along with David Simon, were Herc, Proposition Joe, Slim Charles, and I think one of the young kids that's going to be a major character in the public school storyline this season.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Karmella's Game - "Cyberspace Lip Gloss" (mp3)

This week in the Bmore City Paper, I've got a roundup of local releases: Karmella's Game (who I've talked about on here before), DK, and Skarr Akbar (more on them over on Gov't Names). When the issue first went up on the CP site, my editor was erroneously credited with writing the reviews, but it was fixed shortly after I pointed it out and the byline is correct in the print edition.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006
OK, hands up: did anyone else get momentarily confused the first time they saw the Wicker Man trailer (the first 30 seconds of which feature Nic Cage riding a motorcycle and then being engulfed in flames) and think it was his other upcoming project, Ghost Rider? I mean, c'mon, I can't be the only person who was thrown off by that.

Monday, August 14, 2006
LeToya - "This Song" (mp3)

Just like Jermaine's silly outro hook is the best thing about the "Torn" remix, JD's silly intro hook is the best thing about this song, called, uh, "This Song," which is one of the better moments on the otherwise pretty dull LeToya album.

In My Stereo

Friday, August 11, 2006
The Alchemist - 1st Infantry (Deluxe CD/DVD Edition)
LeToya - LeToya
Architects Recording Studio presents Street Radio Vol. 3
Labtekwon - DJ Jazzy Jerk presents Ghettoclectic Volume Won (King of the Slow Burn)
Billo - CD Sampler
Real 2 Real - Playground Legends
Backland - The One
Barnes - The Last Shall Be The First
Huli Shallone - Huli Shallone
Ray Lugar - Exclusive Respect II


Thursday, August 10, 2006
Jay-Z - "Things Groupies Say (Skit)" (mp3)

Revisionist history makes it harder to recall, but I do remember when Jay was actually underrated. Back in '98, I was a big fan of In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 (the good 2/3rds of it are still some of the best stuff he's ever done and it amazes me that people routinely write off that album as a failure or lowlight), copped the original Priority Records pressing of Reasonable Doubt, and lurked on the AOL message board for Roc-A-Fella Records, getting early info on Vol. 2 (like that tentative track listing that included "Imaginary Player 2," which ended up only being on some import-only version, and I'm still curious to hear that). And that ramp up to Vol. 2's release, realizing it was going to be huge, my brother picking up one of the limited edition copies (I think it was the first 100K or 500K, either way they probably sold out the first week) with the bonus disc, Roc-A-Fella presents This Thing Of Ours. It's only 7 songs and a Pain In Da Ass outro, not really anything special, and some of the tracks were later released elsewhere ("Can I Live 2" on the Def Jam reissue of Reasonable Doubt, "Cru Love" on the Belly soundtrack), but it's still kind of a cool little collector's item.

The best thing about that bonus disc, though, is "Things Groupies Say," a bizarre, hilarious little track that's part skit, part Jay and random crew members or Roc-A-Fella staffers making up a song on the spot. Pounding out the beat on tabletops and tapping pencils against drink glasses or something, singing "thiiiiiings groupies saaaaay" while Jay and other voices interject phrases like "I thought I seen you on BET," "can I sit in the front seat?" and "YO, I AM PREGNANT," everyone trying to crack each other up and one-up the last guy. And then someone shouts "remix!" and the chant changes to "I got a groupie/on my jock/got a groupie on my jock." It's more than a little mean-spirited and misogynistic, but it's still fucking hilarious and way more lighthearted than Jay tended to be in public back then.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006
This week, Plain White T's get my third consecutive D rating on Stylus. Scraping the bottom of the promo barrel here, folks.

Hip Hop/R&B videos featuring cast members from HBO's The Wire

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I always noticed certain dudes from The Wire popping up in a lot of videos, and always thought about trying to look up all of them, but I really didn't expect to find quite so many.

The 3rd season of The Wire is out on DVD today, August 8th, and tonight the cast and crew of the show will be appearing at The Sound Garden at 7p.m. The 4th season begins on September 20th.

Chad L. Coleman (Cutty), Anwan Glover (Slim Charles) and Hassan Johnson (Wee-Bey) in “Dem Boyz” by Boyz In Da Hood

Andre Royo (Bubbles) and JD Williams (Bodie) in "Lord You Know" by Cam’ron and Jaheim

Michael K. Williams (Omar) in “Trapped In The Closet,” Chapters 4 and 6-12, by R. Kelly (the above is Chapter 7 but they’re all on YouTube)

Lance Reddick (Lt. Daniels) in "'03 Bonnie & Clyde" by Jay-Z and Beyonce

Anwan Glover (Slim Charles) in "Guess Who Loves You More" by Raheem DeVaughn

Wood Harris (Avon Barksdale) in “Testify” by Common

Wood Harris (Avon Barksdale) in "Daily Bread" by Martin Luther

Idris Elba (Stringer Bell) in “All I Need” by Fat Joe and Tony Sunshine

Idris Elba (Stringer Bell) in “I Wanna Thank Ya” by Angie Stone and Snoop Dogg

Hassan Johnson (Wee-Bey) in “Snitch" a.k.a. "Mindstate Of A Mobster” by Obie Trice and Akon

Hassan Johnson (Wee-Bey) in "Break You Off" by The Roots and Musiq

Hassan Johnson (Wee-Bey) in "Anything" by Jay-Z

JD Williams (Bodie) in “What We Do” by Freeway, Jay-Z and Beanie Sigel

JD Williams (Bodie) in “Never Leave (Uh Ooh)” by Lumidee, Fabolous and Busta Rhymes

JD Williams (Bodie) in "Breathe" by Fabolous

JD Williams (Bodie) in "How Could You" by Mario

JD Williams (Bodie) in "Ghetto Gospel" by 2Pac

JD Williams (Bodie) in “Through The Rain” by Mariah Carey

JD Williams (Bodie) in “I Miss You” by Aaliyah

Others not available on YouTube:

Wood Harris (Avon Barksdale) in “Through The Wire” by Kanye West

Idris Elba (Stringer Bell) in “Just Came Here To Chill” by the Isley Brothers

Anwan Glover (Slim Charles) in "Gotta Go Gotta Leave (Tired)" by Vivian Green

Anwan Glover (Slim Charles) in "Dem Boyz" by Lil Mo

Hassan Johnson (Wee-Bey) in "Just A Lil' Bit" by 50 cent

Hassan Johnson (Wee-Bey) in "Just Can't Hold" by Tre Hardson (of Pharcyde)

You could make a case for mentioning Method Man, who acted in videos by Alicia Keys and Beanie Sigel for songs that he didn't perform on after appearing on The Wire, but that's a bit of a stretch.


Friday, August 04, 2006
Producer Series Mix #4: Chad Wes Hamilton

1. Beanie Sigel f/ Peedi Crakk and Twista - "Gotta Have It"
2. Young Gunz f/ Freeway - "Parade" (mp3)
3. State Property f/ Freeway, Oschino, Sparks & Young Gunz - "Want Me Back" (mp3)
4. Cam'ron - "Do Ya Thing" (Remix)
5. Ray Cash f/ Beanie Sigel - "Better Way" (mp3)
6. Young Gunz f/ Rell - "No Better Love"
7. Young Gunz f/ Slim from 112 - "Don't Keep Me Waiting (Come Back Soon)"
8. State Property f/ Oschino, Sparks, Twista & Young Chris - "Blow" (mp3)
9. Jim Jones - "Lovely Daze / Memory Lane"
10. State Property f/ Young Chris - "94 Bars"
11. Ice City f/ Peedi Crakk - "I'll Take Ya Lady" (mp3)
12. Ice City f/ Freeway and Oschino - "Philly Niggas"
13. Memphis Bleek f/ Livin' Proof - "Get Low"
14. Young Gunz f/ Memphis Bleek - "We Still Here" (mp3)
15. Young Gunz f/ Beanie Sigel - "Roc U"
16. Young Gunz f/ Sparks - "Take It How U Want It"
17. Ray Cash - "Take It How You Want It"
18. Ma$e - "Money Comes And Goes"
19.Juelz Santana f/ Jim Jones - "Wherever I Go" (mp3)

Philly's Chad "Wes On Track" Hamilton has the dubious distinction of being the only producer who's landed dozens of tracks on Roc-A-Fella releases without Jay-Z ever gracing one of his beats. Of course, he started producing for the label pretty late in the dynasty's history, but it's kind of a shame that the Young Gunz got so many of his best tracks. "Parade" in particular was the one that first made me really sit up and take notice, and "Want Me Back" is pretty great despite being only the 2nd best recent use of that sample after Just Blaze's beat for Usher's "Throwback." I heard that Chad is doing some production on the Bossman album, I'm looking forward to hearing that.

Previously in the Producer Series:
#1: Shondrae "Bangladesh" Crawford
#2: Rich Harrison
#3: Kevin "Khao" Cates


Thursday, August 03, 2006
Ted Leo/Pharmacists @ The Ottobar, Baltimore, Maryland 8/2/06

One More Time [Daft Punk cover] / Little Dawn / 2nd Ave, 11A.M. / Sons Of Cain / Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone? / The One Who Got Us Out / Some Beginner's Mind (mp3) / Colleen / Me And Mia / Counting Down The Hours / The High Party / Who Do You Love

post-blackout singalong: Since U Been Gone [Kelly Clarkson cover] / Maps [Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover] / Don't Stop Believin' [Journey cover] / Dirty Old Town [Ewan McColl cover] / To Whom You Were Born (mp3) [Lungfish cover] / Mace and Grenades [Hugh Masekela cover] / Ballad Of The Sin Eater

Last night was one of the more memorable concerts I've ever been to. Not so much because it was Ted Leo, who I've seen at least 8 or 9 times now, but for the circumstances of what happened halfway through the show. The last couple times I saw him, I wrote about how I gradually went from going to Ted Leo shows alone, to bringing along my girlfriend, to her bringing along her brother, to him bringing along his girlfriend. This time, there were six of us: me, J.G., her brother John, and 3 of his friends. Plus I ran into my friend Chris (who I hear has a blog now, though I've yet to see it) and a couple of his people, so the posse I go to Ted Leo shows with has really grown over the years.

We missed the first opening band but saw the 2nd, Jai Alai Savant, who I guess are a kind of new band and were pretty good. Very dub/reggae-ish post-punk, so I can see why Ted brought them on tour. He jumped up onstage during what was already quickly becoming the best song of their set, the one with the silly title about Scarlett Johansson, and played a tambourine and sang backup.

Between bands, the soundman was playing house music or something with a thumping beat, and when Ted was ready to start playing and the soundman hadn't turned the record off yet, Ted started playing along and ended up doing a Daft Punk cover full on for a few minutes, which was pretty funny. I'm pretty happy that "2nd Ave, 11A.M." has become a live staple, I never get tired of that one, and the Shake The Sheets stuff is aging pretty well. There were about four new songs in the set, and I knew "Some Beginner's Mind" from the practice space demos he'd posted on his site earlier this year. He introduced a couple of the other new songs by name, but the only one I don't know the name of, the first one they played, was my favorite at the last show and at this one. I have no idea when the next album is coming out but I'm definitely looking forward to it.

(Edit 8/4/06: An anonymous commenter pointed out that the name of the new song I didn't know the title of is "Sons Of Cain," and based on that info I found this blog, which has an mp3 and video footage of the show where the song was played for the first time last year.)

The Pharmacists had been onstage for almost an hour, and were almost through one of the new songs, when the lights went out. I'd heard about a lot of blackouts in Fells Point, a few blocks from our apartment, over the past few days, but not in the part of town where the Ottobar is, so it was kind of a surprise. There were a few minutes of confusion and optimism as people kind of talked amongst themselves and waited for the power to come back on. When it became clear that it probably wasn't going to anytime soon, Ted decided to keep the show going with no electricity. And the crowd was willing to stick it out, even with no AC. Some wiseass shouted for "Since U Been Gone," which Ted posted a cover of on his site last year and was then inundated with requests for it and vowed that he'd never play it. But given the circumstances, he made an exception, and sang it a cappella and led the audience in a singalong, still clutching the mic stand presumably out of force of habit. After a couple more singalongs. He was able to borrow an acoustic guitar from a member of one of the opening bands, and played a couple more songs. Ted preceded the Lungfish cover, which he released on a split single a few years ago, by shouting out "the best band ever from Baltimore," and it was kind of funny to see that barely anyone in the room knew who he was talking about.

At that point, the venue people insisted that everyone clear out of the venue. So Ted walked right out the front door, still playing guitar, and most of the crowd followed him out. I'm not sure what song he was playing out there at first, but it was followed by a big singalong of "Ballad Of The Sin Eater" in the middle of Howard Street, with people standing in the way of one of the lanes of traffic. After a few minutes of that, the Ottobar staff told everyone to take it to the alley next to the club, but apparently Ted disappeared or went back into the club around that time. The post-blackout singalongs were all kind of awkward and it was hard to hear him unless everyone was quiet, which was rare. And I'm still a little bummed that the proper set was cut short and we probably missed out on a few Tyranny Of Distance songs for the encore. But still, that was a pretty unpredictable night that I won't forget anytime soon.

(Edit 8/6/06: The incident was reported on Pitchfork, although I'm pretty sure that one witness's account of Ted falling off the stage isn't right. I was over on the other end of the stage so I'm not 100% sure, but it looked to me like he jumped off the right side of the stage, which is right by the front door of the club, while still strumming the Lungfish song, and kept playing to lead the audience Pied Piper-style out the door for the impromptu street performance.)

(Edit 8/11/06: Another related news bulletin on Pitchfork, this time a couple YouTube videos of Ted's performance on Howard Street.)

TV Diary

Wednesday, August 02, 2006
1. Last Comic Standing
This is about the only Americon Idol-style contest/reality show that I've gotten hooked on even remotely as much as AI, which make sense since comedy is the only other thing I take as seriously as music. It's a little less involving, partly because it feels a lot more low stakes, considering that no LCS winner is really that famous even by the modest standards of stand-up comics. Some pretty funny people were eliminated early on, but I'm more or less happy with how the competition has shaped up so far. I was mad about Roz getting into the top 5, because her delivery was the same static shouting for every joke, and the jokes themselves weren't that funny. I feel bad for Gabriel Iglesias, he really could've gone farther if he hadn't recklessly broken the no-phones/sidekicks rules. Michelle was good, although I never liked her as much as J.G. did. Chris Porter was great on some of the earlier challenges, especially the Friars' Club roast, but his stand-up is kind of spotty. Ty Barnett has won me over, he's pretty good, but I think at this point I'm rooting for Josh Blue. He's got cerebral palsy, but there's no way he would've gotten this far on a pity vote, and his material is so fucking razor sharp. I was a little skeptical early on, but right now I really believe he's the funniest person left.

2. It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia
This show would be completely terrible even without the risible ad campaign that repeatedly compares it to Seinfeld. Unless they just mean the later episodes with the stupid 'zany' Kramer/Newman subplots, then maybe it's apt. This show is basically only funny if you like that kind of obnoxious anti-PC humor, real "oh my god, they just said 'retard'!" type shit. It's fitting that Danny DeVito apparently liked this show so much that he joined the cast for the 2nd season, since most of the movies he's directed have been really hacky 'dark' comedies.

3. 8 Simple Rules
This is the show that John Ritter starred in for a year before passing away, and kept going without him for a couple seasons after that. Along with Grounded For Life, I never really gave it a chance when it was on the air, but now that I'm bored and unemployed I've been watching both in reruns pretty regularly. I watched most of the Ritter-less seasons before cycling back to the first season with him recently, and although he's alright I think the show was actually better later without him, after adding James Garner and David Spade, who have unexpectedly great comic chemistry. I haven't seen any of the immediate post-Ritter episodes yet, though, so I don't know how they handle that.

4. Entourage
This season has been pretty good so far, although it feels a little slower since they're doing twice as many episodes this time so they can kinda work their way through the plots. The couple episodes with Herc from The Wire were pretty good, although his character was pretty annoying, and it seemed like they resolved his arc really abruptly, like he was just there one day and gone the next.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Shandon Sahm - "In My Heart Now" (mp3)

If I wanted to convince you of how ridiculously half-assed the Shandon Sahm album is, I'd post the song where he says "woofie" a total of 68 times. Instead, here's one of the only halfway decent songs.