Monthly Report: February Albums

Friday, February 27, 2009
1. Nels Cline - Coward
Nels Cline is one of my true musical heroes, and usually every year I end up picking up at least a couple new projects from him. Last year was a quiet one, though, aside from that one song he did on the Evangelista album and seeing him play with Wilco at a festival, and he hadn't been updating his site as much so I wasn't sure if I had just missed some good under the radar albums he played on recently. So when I checked his site again recently and found a big update with news of a just-released solo album, and a bunch of other upcoming releases, it was some seriously joyful Christmas morning-type shit to me. Best of all, it's a true Nels Cline solo album, no backing players, just the man with a guitar overdubbing multiple tracks of pre-written melodic instrumentals, which is something I've always wanted to hear from him, and it does not disappoint. He even includes a new version of one of my favorite songs of his ever, "The Divine Homegirl" (which originally appeared on the Nels Cline Trio's 1995 album Ground).

2. 8Ball - Memphis All-Stars: Cars, Clubs & Strip Clubs
8Ball & MJG are one of those elder statesmen rap groups that I wish I had more music by, less out of an obligation to catch up on rap nerd history than because I simply love all of what little I do know by them. So I snapped this up as soon as I saw it on eMusic's new releases the other day, and I really have no idea how it compares to old Ball & G albums but this whole album is fucking solid from front to back in a way that overstuffed posse albums like this almost never are. There's enough MJG appearances that it pretty much feels like a duo album that just happens to feature a ton of other Memphis guests (Yo Gotti, Tela, various Three 6 people) and if someone asked me to illustrate what my ideal for Southern rap production is I'd probably point them to just about any random track on this. Even the weird psychedelic guitar spoken word track at the end turns into a hard-ass 8Ball rap track out of nowhere and it's one of the most awesome things I've heard in a minute.

3. The Lonely Island - Incredibad
I've always been mildly annoyed at the way the phrase 'SNL Digital Shorts' has kind of became a brand with its own cachet in the past few years, as if the show hasn't been doing pre-taped sketches (although not on a digital camera, OK, like it fucking matters) for forever. Still, the Andy Samberg/Lonely Island stuff definitely has its own sensibility that's kind of distinct from the rest of the show, and I'm glad they've collected all the musical ones together on a CD, which is probably my favorite comedy album in years (granted I don't know a ton). The preponderance of awkward white raps in the vein of "Lazy Sunday" actually ends up being more of an asset where I would've thought it'd be a problem, mostly because this album helps cement the fact that pop culture is now at a point where white guys rapping is no longer a joke in and of itself, but merely an extremely popular medium in which to deliver jokes. I'm probably going to be pretty obnoxious constantly referencing Santana DVX and boiled goose for a few months.

4. Eleni Mandell - Artificial Fire
I checked out Mandell's last album, 2007's Miracle Of Five, on the strength of Nels Cline playing on it, but was slowly drawn in by the sleepy-eyed charm of her smoky voice and the gentle lilt of the music. Given that I still haven't heard her earlier stuff, I don't know if that album was the norm or not, but I was kind of suprised by how much Artificial Fire is kind of an uptempo rock record, not terribly fast or loud but still a big step in that direction. And what's more surprising is that it actually works, especially when the arrangements taking on this nervous jumpy early-Elvis Costello quality that I never would've thought would work with her voice.

5. Jadakiss & Green Lantern - The Champ Is Here Pt. 2: Kiss My Ass
The first Champ Is Here is a modern mixtape classic and always kind of overshadowed the album it was supposed to promote, so one of the most exciting things about Jada's new album finally getting a release date (which has since been pushed back AGAIN) was that he reunited with Green Lantern for another promo mixtape. Like most sequels (especially hip hop sequels), it disappoints if you hold it up to the original, but it works as a little 40-minute appetizer for an album that I still have fairly high hopes for. Jada's in top form and the beat selection is unpredictable in a good way, although the Green Lantern remix of "Letter To B.I.G." is pretty lame (no cool cuts or Biggie samples, just a straight blend with "T.R.O.Y."). This DJ Finesse tape compiling every R&B track Jada's ever done is pretty dope too, and a great reminder that he's one of the few mainstream MCs that can do those kind of songs without softening up his flow or his persona.

Monthly Report: February Singles

Wednesday, February 25, 2009
1. Jamie Foxx f/ T-Pain – “Blame It”
This is a little ridiculous since my #1 last month was the Jamie Foxx single that I was belly-aching should’ve been an official single instead of this, but “Blame It” soon after took over my brain, much like it has since taken over R&B radio. If not for "Chopped N Skrewed" this would be the best T-Pain hit in a looooong time (in accelerated T-Pain time, I mean), every second of it is a fucking blast, from that weird wonky intro to the verse melodies and goofy lines like "feeling on your butt what" to the ridiculously catchy stuttering chorus. Even though I've warmed to The-Dream a little (more on that in a minute), I still hate "I Luv Your Girl," but the riff on it in T-Pain's verse totally justifies its existence.

2. The-Dream – “Rockin’ That Thang”
As I said recently, this is the first single by The-Dream that I've actually genuinely really liked (although I've warmed up to "Shawty" and some of the first album stuff over time), he's still a terrible vocalist and a so-so songwriter, but Tricky Stewart is at the top of his game and the weird variations he pulls on that remix are even greater.

3. Ciara f/ Young Jeezy – “Never Ever”
Ciara isn’t the only superstar having trouble launching an album right now, but it’s kind of hilarious how badly her whole project is being mismanaged: a terrible multi-disc ‘alter ego’-themed concept (hot on the heels of I Am…Sasha Fierce no less), tons of unintended leaks, and a confused singles campaign. “Go Girl” with T-Pain was always doomed, but I had pretty high hopes for this song, given that it’s a sweet slow Polow Da Don production pretty closely in line with my favorite Ciara song ever, “Promise,” even if it doesn’t scale the same heights. I don’t even know if I really like this song that much, and Jeezy sounds a little out of place, but that delicate little guitar melody just kills me (even if Polow probably lifted it from a software demo). I never really liked all the crunk’n’B dance tunes, so as far as I’m concerned Ciara can keep doing wounded ballads forever. But exactly a month after this song was sent to radio, the label decided it wasn’t rising up the charts fast enough and rushed out a (lame) new single with Timberlake, so I guess that’s it for “Never Ever.”

4. Coldplay – “Lovers In Japan (Osaka Sun Mix)”
I realize that Coldplay are kind of this big unavoidable thing that a lot of people have kind of gotten used to actively disliking, but it really kind of irks me when people act like their new album is as bad as X&Y when it's by far the greatest (or, if you're being less charitable, most tolerable) stuff they've ever done. And one of my favorite parts of the album has always been "Lovers In Japan," and I'm glad they finally cut it down to the best parts for a single, even if it seems to have come and gone very quickly in between "Lost!" and "Life In Technicolor," at least in the U.S. That polyrhythmic tack piano is something I never thought Chris Martin had in him, even Coldplay's good piano songs like "Clocks" are usually kind of big blocky riffs, even when they played this song in a dumb montage on the Oscars the other night I got chills.

5. T-Pain f/ Chris Brown – “Freeze”
More and more it looks like Chris Brown’s career is over, or at least is never going to be at the level it was just a few weeks ago. But it’s hard to measure the immediate effects of recent events, or how much all that talk of some radio stations boycotting his music is true, since he doesn’t have a recent solo single out right now. The one major current single featuring CB, though, “Freeze,” has actually risen up a few spots on most charts since the Rihanna incident, which in a weird way makes me happy, since it’s a pretty fun song and it’s be a shame if it immediately got tossed off the radio because of bad timing.

Monday, February 23, 2009

My new stuff this month on the Baltimore City Paper's Noise blog: an interview with Debonair Samir on my Club Beat column, and live reviews of Aural States Fest @ Sonar/The Talking Head, The Baltimore String Felons/Spoke Ensemble/Matt Pless @ the Sidebar, Susan Alcorn @ The Carriage House, Tiger Hill/Rejouissance/Manson Family Picnic @ the Charm City Art Space, and Thee Lexington Arrows/The Howlies/The Dustys @ The Sidebar.

Saturday, February 21, 2009
Black Star featuring Common - "Respiration (Dr. Luke Remix)" (mp3)

So the big news the other day was that the new #1 song in the country is Flo Rida's "Right Round," which I hadn't even heard or heard of before it broke iTunes sales records and topped the Hot 100. There's nothing remotely interesting about Flo Rida having a hit with a cheesy '80s hit interpolation, but I did find it interesting that the song was produced by Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald, who's best known for the constant stream of female pop guitar anthems by Kelly Clarkson/Pink/Avril Lavigne/Katy Perry/etc. And I thought it was funny that people are going to be kind of weirded out that he's now produced a hit rap song, when the first time I ever heard the guy's work was on a Mos Def and Talib Kweli remix single about 10 years ago.

Since "Since U Been Gone" made Dr. Luke a brand name, he's done the occasional hip hop production, but it's mostly been directed at the same teenybopper audience as his rock/pop work: a pretty decent generic southern rap track on the Jibbs album (remember Jibbs?), and a few songs with Lil Mama, including "G-Slide (Tour Bus)," the single released between "Lip Gloss" and "Shawty Get Loose" that completely stiffed on rap radio. He also did that Lady Sovereign single a few years back that was kinda big and I guess that's rap. Really, I wish he did more R&B: 2 years before the glammy stomp of "I Kissed A Girl" and "So What" became the Dr. Luke/Max Martin sound of the moment, they tested it out on Kelis with "I Don't Think So." He says he loves hip hop in this interview, but doesn't say anything more specific than that "Rapper's Delight" was the first record he ever bought. Still, I gotta imagine that someone who very early in his career was doing remixes for Rawkus 12"s (he also did one for "Body Rock" from the Lyricist Lounge album) knows some shit about rap. And if that's the case, hopefully he'll be doing much better beats than that cheesy Flo Rida song.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

DJ Class f/ Pitbull and Lil Jon - "I'm The Ish (Remix Pt. 2)" (mp3)
This week I have a story in the City Paper about Baltimore club producer DJ Class, who just got signed to Universal Republic off the strength of his single "I'm The Ish," which I named one of the top club tracks of 2008. There's already been a couple big remixes of the track, but Pitbull just added a verse to the one with Lil Jon recently. It should be interesting to see if the song keeps growing, and which version of the song will become the most popular, but either way, pretty cool to see Class getting his due right now. Thanks also to Sean Caesar from Unruly Records for some quotes for the article.

TV Diary

Wednesday, February 18, 2009
a) "Dollhouse"
Man, this is the pits. I'm not a big Joss Whedon fan but I know he's at least good enough at writing banter and likeable characters that I was surprised by how terribly dull this is. I don't think I even like Eliza Dushku enough to want to watch more than one episode of it, kind of has the same problem as that cancelled Christian Slater show where the whole multiple identity/erased memory premise requires a lot more versatility of the lead actor than they actually have.

b) "Important Things with Demetri Martin"
This really is one of those guys who's only good in small doses, on a short "Daily Show" segment or channel surfing in and out of a stand-up special. Asking him to come up with a show that holds together at all, even in the kind of sketch/stand-up hybrid "Chappelle's Show" formula, is just kinda too much for him, and even with a 'theme' for each episode he never sticks to it and the segues range from painful to awkwardly nonexistent. And the pace is just off enough that I spend less time laughing than staring at his horrible bowl cut.

c) "Lie To Me"
I like the premise of this show, with all these experts in facial expressions and 'tells' that use their abilities to solve crimes and stuff, and apparently it's all based on real science and they use real photos/footage to illustrate their points sometimes so it's a little less nonsensical than most TV procedural pseudoscience. But the way they implement the ideas, like finding a would-be assassin by basically telling people "keep your eyes out for someone making this face" ends up coming off kind of ridiculous. I also wish Tim Roth was more interesting as a central character, instead of just being the token older movie star they need to head up a TV ensemble cast.

d) "Man v. Food"
Is it bad that I actually find myself envying this guy who gets to go around and try different "eat this giant burger/omelette/etc." challenges at various greasy spoons around the country? Yeah, I guess it is.

e) "Lost Tapes"
It was really weird to find this monster/urban myth-themed mockumentary show on Animal Planet, even though all the beasts are I guess technically animals. I love these kinds of things (especially the 'mothman' stuff, oh my god so creepy), but really doing poorly acted fake footage and fudging all the real life details kind of makes it less interesting instead of more dramatic or watchable or whatever they're going for. Really a disappointment to what degree trash TV can ever be a disappointmet.

f) "The New Adventures Of Old Christine"
I really liked this show in the first season or so, but as it's been moved around the schedule I haven't seen it as much in a while, and lately checking in on recent episodes I'm not enjoying it as much, and I don't know if it's changed or if I've fallen out of the groove. Definitely seems to be less Clark Gregg, which is a shame, but also less of the annoying son, but they've been getting into increasingly cheeseball sitcom situations like Christine getting her foot stuck in the toilet. That "Seinfeld" gag last week was pretty terrible, too.

g) "Lost"
Now that I'm all caught up on the first 4 seasons in my whirlwind month of DVD bingeing, I'm still a little behind on the new episodes, but the first couple that I've watched so far have me really excited for where the show's going. The premiere had one of the most kickass Sayid scenes ever, and I have no idea if they can keep the time jumping thing going without it becoming completely confusing, but righ tnow I like it. 'Neil' was one of the lamest, most obvious redshirts they've ever inserted into the show, but the way they disposed of him was pretty awesome.

h) "American Idol"
As shitty as the last season was, I didn't think I was totally over this show, and was encouraged by some of the new changes they've implemented (especially having a 4th judge who hasn't been saying the same predictable shit for 7 years straight), but I really just have barely felt motivated to watch this show much so far, even now that the freakshow auditions I generally avoid are over. Watching it this week there were a few bright spots, though. That chick Tatiana or whatever needs to go, though, that kind of fake-crazy is so much more annoying than real TV-crazy and the only way to deal with an attention whore like that is to, y'know, not put her on TV.

2007 Reconsidered

Monday, February 16, 2009
1. Sloan - Never Hear The End Of It
2. Wye Oak - If Children
3. UGK - Underground Kingz
4. Prodigy - Return Of The Mac
5. Scarface – Made
6. Dan Deacon - Spiderman of the Rings
7. T-Pain – Epiphany
8. Paramore - Riot!
9. Avec - Lines
10. Say Anything - In Defense Of The Genre
11. The-Dream - Love/Hate
12. Amerie - Because I Love It
13. Ted Leo - Living With The Living
14. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss - Raising Sand
15. Rich Boy - Rich Boy
16. Jarvis Cocker – Jarvis
17. The National - Boxer
18. J-Roddy Walston and the Business - Hail Mega Boys
19. Parts & Labor - Mapmaker
20. Mario - Go!
21. Freeway - Free At Last
22. Darkroom Productions - Hamsterdam Vol. 2 - Stash to da Strip
23. Styles P. - Super Gangster (Extraordinary Gentleman)
24. The Gaslight Anthem - Sink Or Swim
25. Blaq Starr - The King Of Roq

Since we're coming to the end of a decade at the end of this year, and inevitably there's going to be a lot of big lists coming when that does happen, I thought I'd get a jump on that, by going backwards year by year and really re-evaluating what I liked each year, and re-doing my albums and singles lists. Of course, '08 just happened so I can't really update that yet, but we've already got a little bit of distance from 2007 that I can start looking at that with a different perspective, even if it's not a hugely different perspective. One of the main differences is that in these lists I'm including Baltimore stuff, whereas at the end of the year I usually do best-of lists for local music that are kind of separate from everything else. With a little hindsight, though, I feel like it's easier to place that stuff in a larger pantheon, especially since '07 had some really memorable releases by people from Baltimore, like Wye Oak and Dan Deacon. And there's a few albums I heard well after the year was over that I like now: Amerie, The-Dream, Robert Plant/Allison Krauss, The National, etc. But really '07 and '08 were the first years that I really felt like I heard just about every album I wanted to hear at the time, and so I don't know if I'll ever have a lot to catch up on. For a couple years before that, I heard about as many albums, but a lot of them were crappy things I only checked out to have something to review but never thought would be good. And before that, I was too broke and/or busy to hear a lot of stuff, and will have a lot more to catch up on as this series of posts continues.

1. Beyonce - "Get Me Bodied"
2. Mary J. Blige - "Just Fine"
3. Rihanna - "Don't Stop The Music"
4. DJ Khaled f/ Akon, T.I., Rick Ross, Fat Joe, Birdman and Lil Wayne - "We Taking Over"
5. Finger Eleven - "Paralyzer"
6. R. Kelly featuring T.I. and T-Pain - "I'm A Flirt (Remix)"
7. UGK featuring Outkast - "Int'l Players Anthem"
8. Fantasia - "When I See U"
9. Kanye West f/ Dwele - "Flashing Lights"
10. Paramore - "Misery Business"
11. Maroon 5 - "Makes Me Wonder"
12. Diddy f/ Keyshia Cole - "Last Night"
13. Amy Winehouse - "Rehab"
14. 50 Cent - "I Get Money"
15. Foo Fighters - "The Pretender"
16. Matchbox Twenty - "How Far We've Come"
17. Swizz Beatz - "It's Me, Bitches"
18. Linkin Park - "Bleed It Out"
19. Playaz Circle featuring Lil Wayne - "Duffle Bag Boy"
20. Kanye West f/ T-Pain - "Good Life"
21. R. Kelly f/ Usher - "Same Girl"
22. Keyshia Cole featuring Missy Elliott and Lil Kim - "Let It Go"
23. Kelly Rowland featuring Eve - "Like This"
24. Cassidy f/ Swizz Beatz - "Drink N My 2 Step"
25. Fergie - "Clumsy"
26. Crime Mob - "Circles"
27. The-Dream - "Shawty Is Da Shit"
28. Foxx f/ Lil Boosie and Webbie - "Wipe Me Down (Remix)"
29. Chris Brown f/ T-Pain - "Kiss Kiss"
30. Swizz Beatz - "Money In The Bank"
31. My Chemical Romance - "Teenagers"
32. Fergie f/ Ludacris - "Glamorous"
33. Foo Fighters - "Long Road To Ruin"
34. Nickelback - "Rock Star"
35. Eddie Vedder f/ Corin Tucker - "Hard Sun"
36. Birdman f/ Lil Wayne - "Pop Bottles"
37. Justin Timberlake - "Until The End Of Time"
38. Eve - "Tambourine"
39. Nelly Furtado - "All Good Things (Come To An End)"
40. Katharine McPhee - "Love Story"
41. Justin Timberlake - "What Goes Around...Comes Around"
42. Young Jeezy f/ R. Kelly - "Go Getta"
43. The Fixxers - "Can U Werk Wit Dat?"
44. Fall Out Boy - "I'm Like a Lawyer With the Way I'm Always Trying To Get You Off (Me & You)"
45. Keyshia Cole f/ Amina - "Shoulda Let You Go"
46. Muse - "Starlight"
47. John Legend - "Another Again"
48. Three 6 Mafia f/ Chamillionaire - "Doe Boy Fresh"
49. Bow Wow f/ T Pain and Johnta Austin - "Outta My System"
50. Kanye West, Rakim, Nas and KRS One - "Classic"

There's not a lot of substantial change here -- "Rehab" and "Shawty Is Da Shit" are the only song I didn't include in the original list but eventually gave into the appeal of -- but I did rejigger the order quite a bit. The top 4 are all things that were much lower in the list that I ultimately felt won me over more in 2008, particularly "Don't Stop The Music" and "Just Fine." A lot of top 10 stuff sank way down, and sometimes I feel bad that some of the minor hits that I put high up on my singles list one year drop off when I hear them way less than the bigger hits later, but it is what it is.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I've got a review of the new Oranges Band album on

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Art Department - "Dennis Quaid" (mp3)

In this week's Baltimore City Paper I profile The Art Department, who are one of the strangest and best local bands I've seen in the last few months. My review of the first show I saw by them is here, and you can download the entire Art Anthology album on this site.

(photo by Rarah)

Netflix Diary

Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I'm not the type to get mad about the Oscars, but damn, this was the movie of the year, probably one of the best films of the decade. Every time I think Pixar couldn't top themselves, they do it again, and I loved Ratatouille. Even though the humor wasn't always pitch perfect and the social commentary was sometimes a little heavy-handed, it all tied together beautifully and I feel like this is the movie that children should see, rather than just one that they would enjoy.

b) Kung Fu Panda
This was kinda fun but felt especially lightweight when seen so soon after WALL-E. It was really funny in parts, and the combination of computer animation and traditional animation was really sharp. But it kept feeling like it was going to build to some grandiose Lion King type shit and the plot just never picked up steam and it closed out feeling really minor, without the slightest bit of suspense or gravity, which feels like an odd criticism of this kind of flick but you really do notice it.

c) There Will Be Blood
This could've been more than a scenery-chewing Daniel Day-Lewis showcase, but it's not, and it's mainly because the great look and atmosphere of the movie is constantly undermined by the Radiohead guy's score, which might be the most poorly implemented score this side of Miracle At St. Anna. It was almost constantly tonedeaf to the pacing and the emotional tenor of every scene, to the point that my favorite parts of the movie were the stretches with no music. Half the time the guy just throws on Psycho strings to induce dread for no particular reason (much the same way the title makes the film seem much more ominous than it really is), and even when he settles down there's something awkward about the way the music mingles with the dialogue. And Paul Dano was really cringe-inducing in ways that I think had way more to do with him than his character, just an awful over-the-top shrieking performance, which is a shame because I could really see a more subtle actor doing great things with the role.

Sunday, February 08, 2009
Pearl Jam mix for John
disc 1:

1. Corduroy
2. MFC (mp3)
3. Rearviewmirror
4. In My Tree
5. Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town
6. Breath (mp3)
7. Brain Of J.
8. Get Right
9. Gods' Dice
10. Blood
11. Not For You
12. Gone
13. Alive (Brendan O'Brien Remix)
14. Dissident
15. Smile
16. Insignificance
17. I Got ID
18. Once (Brendan O'Brien Remix)
19. Last Exit
20. Present Tense

disc 2:
1. Hard To Imagine
2. In Hiding
3. State Of Love And Trust
4. Go
5. Porch
6. Grievance
7. Glorified G
8. Given To Fly
9. Who You Are
10. Animal
11. Do The Evolution
12. Mankind
13. Immortality
14. Leash
15. Satan's Bed
16. Lukin
17. Black, Red, Yellow (mp3)
18. Black (Brendan O'Brien Remix)
19. Red Mosquito
20. Yellow Ledbetter

Last June, my friend Robbie took my wife and I to Pearl Jam's show in D.C. as a wedding present, and we brought along my brother-in-law John. Since John is a little younger than us (Blink 182 was to him at 12 what Pearl was to me at 12), he asked me to make him a Pearl Jam mix after the show, and since I tend to go overboard with these things, I had to make it a double. I hope it wasn't too daunting for him, even listening back to the mixes recently they're just so overstuffed that I'm not sure if I sequenced it well or if Pearl Jam is just a band whose songs are so unrelentingly big and aggressive and emotional that there's no way to do real peaks and valleys and seques like I might ordinarily attempt with a mix (although I did do some goofy theme blocks in disc 2 that you can probably figure out for yourself anyway). But I think I did a decent job of reflecting what I like about the band, mixing some but not all of the hits with a lot of quality deep cuts.

I thought that maybe like the Steely Dan mix I did last year, my song selections would reflect my opinions of the album. And they did, for the most part, except I was surprised to see that I ended up including 8 songs from Vs., more than any other album, when I'd probably tell you that Vitalogy or No Code is my favorite. It makes sense, though, I guess, Vs. is not a great album but has maybe their best run of radio hits and songs that work outside its context. Even though Ten was one of the first albums I ever loved, it's aged really bad for me compared to their other albums, largely because of the production, which is why I used a few of the Brendan O'Brien remixes they included on Rearviewmirror (Greatest Hits 1991-2003), and I'm looking forward to the mix of the whole album he did for the Ten reissue coming out in March. I regret forgetting to put "The Long Road" on here, though.

Viewing Diary

Friday, February 06, 2009
a) ”Lost,” Season 2
About a month ago, I had had the DVDs of the first 3 seasons of “Lost” that my brother had sent me for Xmas for just over a week, and had already breezed through the first season. Since then, he sent me season 4 for my birthday to complete the set, and we got all caught up to all the previously aired seasons just about in time for the new episodes (not quite, though – still have to watch the S5 episodes aired so far online before I can start tuning in weekly). The only time I previously attempted to watch the show regularly for a few episodes in S2, but without the context of S1 I didn't totally understand why certain plot points or character moments mattered, and wasn't compelled enough to keep up with it. So it was a trip to re-watch episodes like "Everybody Hates Hugo" or "Collision" and totally get the resonance.

b) ”Lost,” Season 3
As much as I'm kind of excited to finally be caught up and maybe start kind of joining in on the cultish watercooler discussions about current episodes, there is something great about watching this stuff in a relative vacuum. Looking at internet chatter now, I'm not surprised that there was a lot of complaining about S3 (Nikki and Paolo, throwing half the main characters in cages for several episodes), but watching it all in a row almost in the same time frame that the plot was moving throuhg, I never got impatient with the slow pace or the devices that held up developments or revelations. I wish I could've experienced some of the big reveals in real time with everyone else, though, as awesome as all the Benry/Others stuff is I heard enough to see a bit of it coming, or at least know he wasn't who he said he was from the outset.

c) ”Lost,” Season 4
This whole season was pretty awesome and has got me pumped for the new stuff, though. I didn't realize at the time how popular "The Constant" was but I totally understand it, I love the way they've slowly begun to show their hand with some of the more out-there sci-fi elements that were just ever so slightly hinted at in the first season. I'm still now sure how much I do or don't want to read stuff like Lostpedia for theories and speculation about future developments, though; I'd love some reccomendations on where to start, but I almost like the show being self-contained, and having to come up with my own ideas.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Ogun review in the City Paper this week, and a post about the CD to follow on Gov't Names later this week.

The 2009 Remix Report Card, Vol. 2

Monday, February 02, 2009
"Beep (Remix)" by Bobby Valentino featuring Ludacris, Lil Wayne and Lil Kim
It's nice that Luda is cool enough to appear on this even after he kicked Bobby's ass off DTP, but his verse is seriously disappointing on this, I can't remember the last time he sounded this lackluster on a remix or single. Wayne, on the other hand, has sounded plenty lackluster lately but has a kind of enjoyably laid back flow. Lol Kim still has the most disgusting AutoTuned voice in rap.
Best Verse: Lil Wayne
Overall Grade: B-

"Blame It (Remix)" by Jamie Foxx featuring Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne
The more I hear this song, the more I'm convinced it's one of the best tracks T-Pain has done in a while. The groove is so suited to melodic singing that I'm not really that crazy about hearing rappers on it, though, especially these two dried out husks of once-great guest verse experts. Wayne's topical drink metaphor riff is one of his more cohesive verses of late, though.
Best Verse: Lil Wayne
Overall Grade: C

"Good Lovin' (Remix)" by Slim featuring Jermaine Dupri and Bow Wow
I know that this song isn't a huge hit and Slim is pretty B-list, but it's still really disappointing to hear a track this good thrown to a couple clowns like J.D. and Bow Wow for the remix, there are a lot of MCs that would kill that beat. I mean, with the right ghostwriter either of them coulda brought some heat, but they did not, and the Fab verse from the original tacked onto the end effortlessly slays their efforts.
Best Verse: Jermaine Dupri
Overall Grade: D

"Lions, Tigers & Bears (Remix)" by Jazmine Sullivan featuring Fabolous
This is definitely the most hilarious trainwreck remix I've heard in quite some time. I was surprised enough to see that there was a remix of this song to begin with, with its dramatic strings and total lack of drums, and even more so that Fab was on, and just assumed that maybe they had a hip hop producer remix the beat, too. But it really is just Fab rapping in a halting cadence over the song's stately waltz, and I have no idea who ever thought that would work but bless them for trying.
Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: B+

"My President (Remix)" by Jay-Z featuring Young Jeezy
This song has grown on me, although it's still probably my least favorite track on The Recession, but I enjoy that it's still essentially just another ignorant Jeezy anthem that just happens to namecheck Obama rather than some earnest bullshit. So Jay's appearance on here tips it a little further toward being another cheesy-ass Obama song, and even the good parts of his voice are kinda labored. I'm so glad Jeezy added a new verse, though, I could listen to rappers chew out Bill O'Reilly all day.
Best Verse: Young Jeezy
Overall Grade: B-

"Rockin' That Shit (Remix)" by The-Dream featuring Fabolous, Juelz Santana, Ludacris and Rick Ross
This song has been riding the wave of my newfound tolerance for The-Dream's questionable talent and has been stuck in my head more than any other song lately. I don't know if it really needed a remix but it is kind of nice to hear a true posse cut remix with several independently famous guys on it, which is weirdly kind of rare these days. I was just saying nice things about Rick Ross on this page the other day, so of course he has to be as lazy and half-assed as possible. Once again, Luda's flow sounds strangely slow and stilted, like his voice is suddenly lacking all its expressive elasticity. Is he just depressed about the sales of Theater Of The Mind or something?
Best Verse: Fabolous
Overall Grade: B