Monday, May 31, 2010

On the Baltimore City Paper's Noise blog this month I reviewed The B-52s @ Ram's Head Live.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Today I officially announced the book I am working on, Tough Breaks: The Story of Baltimore Club Music, which is a project I have been thinking about and working toward for several years now. The official site for the book is, but I've also launched a page on the fundraising website with the goal of raising $5,000 by July 1st, and also recently began began posting on Twitter under @alshipley to promote the project. Many, many updates will follow on this blog, especially as the Kickstarter deadline gets closer, but for now I'll just attach the press release and ask you to spread the word!

Tough Breaks: The Story Of Batimore Club Music press release
Baltimore, Maryland, May 27th, 2010 ---

This week music critic and journalist Al Shipley is announcing his first book, Tough Breaks: The Story of Baltimore Club Music, and the launch of its companion website, Over the last two decades, Baltimore club music has evolved from a nebulous, eccentric fusion of house music and hip hop, locally popular but virutally unheard of outside Maryland, to one of the mid-Atlantic city’s greatest cultural exports.

Over the past 5 years, the press coverage of Baltimore club music has increased exponentially, and Shipley has played an integral role in that progress, as a contributing writer for the Baltimore City Paper and the proprieter of the Baltimore music blog Government Names. And with the regular column The Club Beat, he’s interviewed dozens of Baltimore club producers and DJs, and broken major stories in the genre’s recent history, such as the tragic 2008 death of Khia “Club Queen K-Swift” Edgerton and the major label signing of club veteran DJ Class.

Despite a growing fanbase and media interest in Baltimore club music, much of its 20-year evolution has gone undocumented, relegated to underground clubs and white label vinyl 12”s far outside the public eye, even as thousands of Baltimoreans danced to its frantic 130 BPM groove. As the first full-length book to delve into that history, Tough Breaks aims to be a complete and definitive document of Baltimore club music, an oral history in the words of its participants with timelines, photos, discographies and thorough critical examinations of the music and culture.

Over the next few months, as Al Shipley conducts interviews and research, the book’s progress will be documented on the official website,, as well as his Twitter ( And throughout the month of June, Shipley will be raising $5,000 to finance the writing and publication of Tough Breaks with the fundraising website, as well as promoting the project via various print and online outlets, and a series of segments on Baltimore public radio station 88.1 WYPR.

The 2010 Remix Report Card, Vol. 5

Wednesday, May 26, 2010
"All I Do Is Win (Remix)" by DJ Khaled featuring Rick Ross, Busta Rhymes, Diddy, Nicki Minaj, Fabolous, Jadakiss, Fat Joe, Swizz Beatz and T-Pain
I hate to say it, since I kinda felt like the original was a failed attempt to recapture the vibe of "I'm So Hood," but much like with that song I hated the original but am really feeling the remix. The first couple times I heard it on the radio I missed the first minute or so and thought it was an all-New York remix, which would be kind of interesting, but alas Ross is on it even though he was also on the original, just like with "I'm So Hood." Either way this is pretty entertaining, from Khaled actually spitting 8 bars of ridiculousness, T-Pain altering the hook just to let you know it's a remix, Swizzy showing up just to shout "showtime" during the pause in the chorus, genuinely good verses by Busta and Fab and Jada, and stupid Diddy and Nicki appearances that don't slow down the momentum.
Best Verse: Fablous
Overall Grade: A-

"Beamer, Benz or Bentley (Remix)" by Lloyd Banks featuring Jadakiss, Ludacris, Yo Gotti and The-Dream
In a recent interview on YouTube, Just Blaze talked about the state of remixes today, and while at first he was just going to give a predictable answer about how they're lame because they're just part of a marketing plan now, he made an interesting point: remixes with the same beat tend to get recognized as the same song by BDS computers, so there's almost a financial incentive to not get too creative and change the beat, to help get up the song's spins and make it a bigger hit. But there are still occasionally remixes with new beats, and this one's a pretty good example, hook's the same but I think the track is a total improvement, especially the little changes that come up during Kiss's verse. The-Dream's attempt to work melody into his verse is really awkward and embarrassing, though.
Best Verse: Jadakiss
Overall Grade: B+

"DJ Bring It Back (Remix)" by 8Ball & MJG featuring T.I.
The original felt like so much more of a Young Dro song with Ball & G uncomfortably tagging along, so taking Dro off is immediately a bad look. T.I. generally doesn't do well on this kind of beat, and here just goes for a really bad clear enunciation/precise flow that sounds corny as hell.
Best Verse: 8Ball
Overall Grade: C-

"Hello Good Morning (Remix)" by Diddy featuring Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj
Funnily considering what I just said in the last entry, T.I.'s verse was the only thing I liked about the original "Hello Good Morning," so I didn't expect to enjoy this at all, especially not Nicki's verse. This rubbery synthy beat turns out to be a pretty good foil for her, though.
Best Verse: Nicki Minaj
Overall Grade: B

"Love King (Remix)" by The-Dream featuring Ludacris
This, like the "Bentley" remix, is one of the increasingly rare examples of a remix with a new beat, but one of a different stripe: the last ditch attempt to rescue an underperforming single. The original already had a remix with Jeezy, but this is effectively a re-launch of a whole new song with the same title, to save face and not have to quickly move onto the next single, like The-Dream did with "Rockin' That Thang" after the failure of "Let Me See The Booty." This totally works, though, Dream totally approaching it in R. Kelly mode, and while I don't know if it necessarily sounds like more of a hit than the original it has a certain charm (a certain swag?) that the original, much as I liked it, was missing. Love the "Against All Odds" quote towards the end, too.
Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: A-

"Un-Thinkable (I'm Ready) (Remix)" by Alicia Keys featuring Drake
"Successful" is the one Drake song I'm really into, mainly because of that big brooding beat, and it's nice to finally hear that song's producer get another hit while Drake's other go-to producer that fuckin' Boi 1da guy's horrible overstuffed tracks are all over the radio. And while it was inevitable that Drake, who co-wrote the song (I blame him for the idiotic dash put in the middle of the word "unthinkable"), would drop a verse on it, that doesn't actually make it at all a worthwhile addition to the song.
Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: C

Sunday, May 23, 2010
Some new Singles Jukebox blurbs:

TI – I’m Back [7/7.09]
Monica – Everything to Me [5/5]
Christina Aguilera – Not Myself Tonight [3/4.92]
Jamie Foxx ft. T.I. & Justin Timberlake – Winner [5/5.33]
Big Boi – Shutterbugg [7/7.8]
Eminem – Not Afraid [1/3.55]

Netflix Diary

Friday, May 21, 2010
a) Couples Retreat
It's been a while since there was a good Vince Vaughn motormouth asshole vehicle, and this one looked promising, but fell a little flat. The dudes were all hit and miss funny, and the female half of the cast was basically barely used, which meant a waste of Kristen Bell but on the upside, Malin Akerman didn't get too many opportunities to be awful and movie-sinking.

b) Zombieland
Horror comedy is a genre I should probably be tired of by now but I probably won't ever be. This would have been a lot more fun without boring Adventureland dude, whose expressionless face and lack of vocal inflection made him hard to distinguish from some of the zombies, and they even let the fuckin' guy near ruin the movie with monotonous narration. Still pretty enjoyable, though.

c) The Informant!
I really dug this, especially how the cast was full of comedians playing straight man to Matt Damon (who honestly has been hilarious in at least a dozen different things by now, but still has enough of a leading man action hero edge that it continues to surprise). And really, despite the light tone and comedic handling of the material, I felt like it made a more interesting statement than yet another scathing indictment of corporate greed would have. Because really, when you hear about a lot of these white collar criminals and corrupt executives and what they did in detail, they often come off more insane and detached from reality than necessarily diabolical and calculating, so it made sense to play a story like this as a farce.

d) Inglourious Basterds
Although I have to say, Tarantino is pretty dependable as far as anything he does having a baseline of craft and entertainment value, this really kind of felt hollow to me given its huge success. A few really good performances, a few memorable scenes, but considering he delayed the thing for years because of third act problems, the ending still was kind of a shrug for me, big predictable grab for "fuck yeah!" fist-pumping with no attempt to put in a twist or creatively fuse the two storylines that kind of would've had the exact same result with or without the other's existence.

e) The Ugly Truth
Gerard Butler and Katherine Heigl are two people that have starred in a lot of comedies but aren't necessarily themselves that funny, but this movie isn't nearly as strained as I thought it'd be because of that. It's a bit broad, but they mostly pull it off, forgettable as it ultimately is.

f) The Hurt Locker
This was alright, well made with some good ideas and visuals, but really if you put a couple episodes of "Generation Kill" together and called it a movie I'm not sure this would be any better than that (and neither's amazing).

g) "Dead Like Me," season 1
As much as I loved the 2 other short-lived cult series created by Bryan Fuller, "Pushing Daisies" and "Wonderfalls," I had high expectations for this. And while it's definitely a decent show and has its moments, it's just not remotely on the level of those other two. It's temping to blame it on the fact that Fuller left the show after 5 episodes, but it's not like it started off amazing and then lost track. I'll probably still watch the 2nd season and the TV movie since it does have its charms, though.

h) "Twin Peaks," season 1
I've been hearing for literally 2/3rds of my life about how great and crazy and legendary "Twin Peaks" is (having not really delved into much David Lynch beyond Eraserhead, which I love), so it seemed like time to actually sit down with it. That first season is so short that I'm still not totally in a groove with it, though, and I'll watch the 2nd but that one doesn't have nearly as good a reputation. It's funny, the first two episodes I was kind of letting it wash over me with out being real engaged in it, and then that third episode just clicks and it's everything you've heard about and it's hilarious and awesome. I might like this a lot more if I re-watch it in a few years.

i) The Dead Zone
It's funny, I've seen the 'trivial psychic' parody sketch from the first time Walken hosted SNL back in the day so many times that it's hard to not think of that when watching this movie. It was really good, though, shame that quality directors like Cronenberg don't do Stephen King adaptations very often.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

This week is the Baltimore City Paper's annual 'Sizzlin' Summer' issue, and I wrote a fun piece that's kind of a playlist of local summer jams. I talked to folks like DJ Booman, E Major, Shaka Pitts, PenDragon, Kane Mayfield and members of Kadman, Jumpcuts, Rapdragons, the Art Department, the Cameron Blake Band and the Out Of Your Head Collective, and they picked songs by Wye Oak, LMS, Skarr Akbar, the Annexx Click, Junkers, the Get Em Mamis, Rhinovirus, Billie Holiday, Celebration, Sri Aurobindo and Brown F.I.S.H. We've even got a player on the CP site where you can stream some of the songs.

(illustration by Alex Fine)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I reviewed the new Thrushes album for

Sunday, May 16, 2010
mix for J.G., March 2010

1. Portastatic - "I Wanna Know Girls"
2. Butch Walker And The Black Widows - "She Likes Hair Bands"
3. Say Anything - "Less Cute"
4. They Might Be Giants - "Why Does The Sun Really Shine?"
5. Beatallica - "I Want To Choke Your Band"
6. The Cure - "Close To Me"
7. Elvis Costello - "Veronica"
8. that dog. - "Minneapolis"
9. Pink - "It's All Your Fault"
10. Fall Out Boy - "The (Shipped) Gold Standard"
11. Austin Stahl - "Great Things Await"
12. Wye Oak - "I Want For Nothing"
13. J Roddy Walston And The Business - "I Used To Did"
14. Brendan Benson - "Poised And Ready"
15. Squeeze - "Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)"
16. U2 - "Breathe"
17. Birds And Arrows - "Honeymoon Song"
18. Jellyfish - "The Man I Used To Be"
19. Paramore - "All I Wanted"
20. Sparklehorse - "Don't Take My Sunshine Away"

A couple months ago when I was burning some CDs for J.G. (the second Firewater mix, the Ted Leo covers mix, etc.), I decided to throw together a mix just of some songs I'd been enjoying lately that I thought she'd like, including some of my favorite Baltimore artists on tracks 11-13. This was also one of those funny mixes where a subliminal theme kind of ended up emerging when I realized that 4 of the songs have "want" or "wanted" or "wanna" in the title.

TV Diary

Thursday, May 13, 2010
a) "Gravity"
This is, without exaggeration, perhaps the worst television series I've ever seen on a national U.S. network. Sure, it's on Starz, which is barely a network, but they made "Party Down," which I guess turned out great by accident, because this has laughable production values (probably cost the same amount to make as "Party Down," but since it's not a mockumentary it looks ten times shittier), and is almost too dumb to exist. It's the kind of death-obsessed dramedy/'dark comedy' that usually gets 60-minute timeslots, but is only a half hour long, and feels like a dull stretch even at that length. Krysten Ritter is cute and Ving Rhames seems to be having a good time playing against type (as a wheelchair-bound therapist), but otherwise this show is so bad that I almost want to keep watching it to see if it eventually turns into The Room-style unintentional hilarity. Unfortunately I think it's too cutesy and self-aware to get there, though.

b) "Pretty Wild"
Like "Gravity," this is a show in a particular format (E! channel reality show about pretty people you have no compelling reason to care about) that's usually an hour long, but is only 30-minutes long, and still manages to feel pointless and threadbare. But the pretty people in this are really pretty, which is the only reason I found myself trying to watch it for more than 10 minutes, which I failed at.

c) You Don't Know Jack
It's funny to think that probably the best work Barry Levinson or Al Pacino's done in ages was for an HBO original movie, but this was pretty good. I'm kind of not a fan of biopics as a rule, but I think Jack Kevorkian is an interesting figure for a profile like this, especially since I was kinda young back when he was making headlines and never really gave the guy a lot of thought, and this sidesteps a lot of my usual gripes with biopics by just focusing really intensely on that one period of his life and not trying to span a lifetime or extrapolate the story into anything more than it is. Pacino in particular is really refreshing just for kind of stepping outside of his own tics for once and getting into the skin of the character really well, and the whole thing is surprisingly low key in a good way. As my brother warned me, though, it's weird to see James Urbaniak in the flesh and hear Rusty Venture's voice coming out of a non-animated human.

d) "Romantically Challenged"
This is one of those quippy sitcoms about boring peoples' love lives, which, like "Cougartown," will never even be as passable as the average "Friends" ripoff was 10 years ago because, as I've said before, mediocre single camera shows are so much more aggressively shitty than the worst sitcom with a studio audience ever was. But at the very least, this show has Alyssa Milano entering her third decade of being super blazing hot.

e) "My Life As Liz"
On some level, MTV doing a 'scripted reality' show like this about some mildly nerdy small town high school girl is mildly more commendable than making another such show about "The Hills" or "Pretty Wild"-type hoes. But the thing is, these shows are awful no matter who they're about. Watching charisma-deficient non-actors reenact scenes from their own lives, or versions of their lives that boring MTV producers dream up, is just lousy TV.

f) "Kids In The Hall: Death Comes To Town"
I'm still working my way slowly through this show online, and have only watched half of the 8 episodes, but they really seem to be hitting their stride more with each installment, and I've found myself laughing my ass off just like with old school KITH a couple times.

g) "Community"
As much as I enjoyed the first half of the season, it's really just been in the last few episodes that it's truly blossomed and become amazing, as their ambition has kind of stepped up with the chicken fingers episode and the paintball episode. I think the turning point was the end of the billiards class episode, where they really showed how far they were willing to take a premise and go nuts with it, and right now this is pretty much my favorite show on TV.

h) "Silent Library"
This is about as stupid and goofy as any MTV game show, but the idea that they have to do all these crazy stunts and challenges without making a lot of noise has kind of made a weirdly, appealingly serene show to watch.

i) "Party Down"
This was by far one of my favorite shows last year, and I'd been eagerly anticipating the second season even with the loss of Jane Lynch from the cast. So far it's not as consistent as before but still pretty frequently hilarious and refreshingly unafraid to keep changing the dynamics between characters and mining different comedic material out of every new plot wrinkle. The Steve Guttenberg episode in particular was incredible.

j) "The Colbert Report"
Some of the extra-broad stuff on "The Daily Show" is grating on me lately, but that's mostly because Colbert does that kind of thing so much better. In particular, the bit with Michael J. Fox inside his desk and the bizarre celebration after the pun about sheep on meth were kind of delightfully surreal moments of television that did a good job of breaking up the sometimes monotonous format of the show.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I recently sat down with Bossman for an advance listen of his new album, The Re-Up, which will be out on June 8th, and wrote up an extensive track-by-track preview of the album for Splice Today.

Monthly Report: April Albums

Sunday, May 09, 2010

1. The Nels Cline Singers - Initiate
It’s a great time to be a Nels Cline fan these days -- last year’s solo joint Coward was one of his best albums ever, and now his long-running group’s 4th album is their most ambitious and exciting to date, a double album that’s half studio and half live. The studio disc takes full advantage of his rhythm section’s versatility and is just all over the map, in a good way, and new wrinkles like Cline singing (!) some wordless vocals (which work great on “Divining”) and some guest players (Yuka Honda and members of Deerhoof) just make it even more fun and unpredictable. The live disc is interesting -- I wasn’t even sure if it was a concert recording or just a ‘live in studio’ performance until some audible applause at the end of “Raze,” about 27 minutes into the album. What’s especially interesting is that while there are renditions of familiar Singers songs -- “Blues, Too” and “Fly Fly” were on 2004’s Giant Pin, and are each stretched out by 4 minutes here -- there are also songs that originated on other Cline projects, like “Sunken Song” from 2000’s The Inkling and “Thurston Country” from Coward (the new version of which is especially revelatory). That leaves 4 songs with titles I can’t place -- curious if those are new compositions or even more obscure tunes from Cline’s vault. Incidentally, the Singers released another album with the Rova Sax Quartet in March that totally passed me by -- has anyone heard it?

2. Nice Nice - Extra Wow
Nice Nice is a Portland namd that I saw play a show in Baltimore with Cex about 7 years ago that really blew me away -- just 2 really inventive musicans doing crazy shit with their instruments. The album that I picked up at the show, Chrome, didn’t quite have the charm or energy of their live show, and had a little more of the band’s perfunctory attempts at vocals than I’d like. And other than them backing Cex on his Actual Fucking album a couple years later, I hadn’t really given these guys much thought since 2003. So it was a pleasant surprise to hear that they were finally releasing another full-length, this time on Warp Records of all labels. And while the half-assed attempts at vocals/songwriting still kind of drag Nice Nice down at times, they’re still a really odd, interesting band and they’ve kinda stepped up their production values and come up with some wild textures on this record.

3. Trans Am - Thing
Trans Am are a band that I think I grow to love and respect more the longer they go on making their records, kind of off in their own world, creating their own weird canon, and I wish more indie bands working in similar lanes had half their instrumental chops and production ingenuity. I don’t know if this one holds together as well as the last record, Sex Change, but it’s got the same overall feel (acoustic guitars are a surprisingly welcome new staple of their sound) and there are, as usual, some stunning moments, particularly the drums on “Naked Singularity.” I’m really really kicking myself for missing the tour they just did with Nice Nice when it came through the area.

4. Medications - Completely Removed
Devin Ocampo and Chad Molter have been making records together for over a decade with various other players rounding them out to a trio. True to Dischord tradition, they changed band names from Faraquet to Medications after the third member changed, but have decided to stick with the Medications name after the most recent lineup switch. And I’d almost say a name change would’ve made more sense this time, considering that Molter is now sharing vocal duties with Ocampo and their sound is kind of expanding in a few new directions. I can’t say I’m wild about all the changes (I dislike the opener “For WMF” so much that I’ve taken to playing the album on shuffle), but the one Faraquet album is a classic to me and it’s always good to hear these guys just jamming out on their mathy proggy post-punk steez. Their lyrics are getting better/more prominent, but I feel like they kinda fit into the inadvertent mostly-instrumental theme of the list this month.

5. Zeena Parkins - Between The Whiles
Zeena Parkins plays an electric harp, which is almost as awesome in practice as it is on paper, and I’ve heard her over the years on records with Nels Cline and Lee Ranaldo, but had never really checked out one of her solo albums before. These kinds of albums that are basically an hour of formless improv and noise and sound shapes have a limited appeal for me, so I don’t know if I’ll keep coming back to this much, but I do enjoy it for what it is. There’s a good amount of electric screech but you also get a nice showcase of the harp’s natural texture on “inyoufrom.”

Monthly Report: April Singles

Thursday, May 06, 2010

1. Cypress Hill f/ Pitbull and Marc Anthony - “Armada Latina”
The list of latin artists that have truly crossed over in the U.S. is short enough that it shouldn’t be surprising to see any of them collaborate with each other, but this is still one of the odder trios you’d be able to come up with out of that group. The “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” sample that makes the whole track so breezy and fun, and Stephen Stills jamming in the video, just add to the whole unexpected nature of this song being maybe my first summer jam of 2010.

2. Neon Trees - “Animal”
I breeze past MTV2 pretty often on my daily channel surfing, and incredible often lately, they’re playing some terrible new major label alt-rock band that as far as I know has absolutely no fanbase or mainstream profile outside of MTV2 playlists, shit like Paper Tongues and Honor Society and Hot Chelle Rae. But there’s one song among this undistinguished company that’s kinda hooked me hardcore, and it seems to have actually charted a bit. I wonder if their album’s worth a look?

3. Insane Clown Posse - “Miracles”
I’m generally not into using this space to talk about internet memes. But technically, this is a single off of a major label album that charted in the top 5 on Billboard last year, and it’s brought me about as much joy and entertainment in the past month as any other song on this list, so it’s fair game.

4. John Mayer - “Heartbreak Warfare”
Mayer usually gets me with one single per album, and I guess this is the one this time. The guitar feels totally ripped off of U2’s “Bad,” but I love that song so much that being reminded of it is enough to ingratiate me to whatever I’m listening to, and as a lyric this is one of his better hits too.

5. Young Jeezy f/ Plies - “Lose My Mind”
The shrill treble overload of “Who Dat” was one of my favorites of many favorites on The Recession, but it felt so singular that I’m kinda surprised that another song with a similar sound/feel is growing on me this much. As useless as Plies is as a solo artist, this and “Wasted” make a good case for him throwing 12 bars of goofball energy onto singles by other better Southern rappers, and I have no idea whether he’s saying that broads call him “fantastico” or “fantastical” but either is a pretty entertaining option.

Reading Diary (33 1/3 Edition)

Wednesday, May 05, 2010
a) It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back by Christopher R. Weingarten
Chris is someone I've spent a lot of time bullshitting with on AIM and message boards in the last couple years. So I was mainly excited to read this to see what he'd been working on all that time, since I'm not a huge Public Enemy fan and only got this album last year when another friend was selling off a bunch of old CDs. And to his credit, this book makes the album feel a lot more fascinating and fun than I'd previously given it credit for, and I like the approach of not just breaking down the samples on the record but tying them into PE's own lyrics and message and kind of constructing a narrative out of the music history they drew on. Hopefully people will stop giving Whiney so much shit for having a popular Twitter and recognize that he can do longform criticism pretty well. It's nice to read a really strong volume about a hip hop album in this series after the somewhat disappointing Illmatic book, too (anyone read the Tribe book?).

b) Aja by Don Breithaupt
I'm a big fan of Steely Dan in general and especially the Royal Scam/Aja era, but to be honest I figured after reading a ton of stuff about the Dan and watching the "Classic Albums" episode about this record, that I wouldn't necessarily get a lot out of reading this and it was just be kind of a pleasant time-killer. But really this is tremendously well written and engaging, definitely in the running for the best 33 1/3 book I've read so far. The writer really makes a strong case for why it's not just his favorite Steely Dan album but his favorite album period (it's still only my 3rd favorite Dan, but that's still high praise for me), and manages to really detail the complexities and subtleties of the album's arrangements, whereas so many writers simply pay lip service to the idea that it's complex and subtle. Also he has the right idea about how to discuss their lyrics, which is to avoid the rockcrit autobiographical analysis angle altogether, and gets some decent, fresh answers out of Donald Fagen in their interview.

c) Use Your Illusion I and II by Eric Weisbard
The Use Your Illusion albums hold so much more fascination for me than the undoubtedly superior Appetite. And though part of that is that it was one of the first records I got into as a 9-year-old burgeoning rock fan (my stepdad had II, and I was among the first CDs I owned myself), Weisbard looks at it from more or less the same angle that still holds interest for me, which is as the last time a band as big as Guns'n'Roses released a blockbuster album of that magnitude with that kind of level of anticipation -- I was almost disappointed as I got older and realized that bands didn't do huge ridiculous top-of-their-game statements like that, with 2 years' worth of big even videos, all the time. Weisbard also kind of strikes the perfect balance of blithe irreverence and genuine studied interest, which is really what you need to talk about GNR without sounding condescending and/or seduced by the legend. I was pretty consistently annoyed, though, by his tendency to view the album through the lens of Axl's cult of personality, to the point that he downplayed and straight up dissed the songwriting contributions of the other band members, something I, as a proud owner of Izzy Stradlin & The Juju Hounds, will not stand for. Overall this set has been much stronger than the last trio of books I read in this series.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Over on I reviewed the self-titled EP by Lands & Peoples.

Monday, May 03, 2010

A while back I started talking to some folks at WYPR, the Baltimore-based NPR affiliate, about contributing to some of their local music coverage for the station's Maryland Morning program. And the first product of that association is the web exclusive Spring Music Preview, a little 15-minute podcast kind of thing where Lawrence Lanahan and I discuss a bunch of recent and upcoming Baltimore music releases, and play songs by Bossman, Mullyman, Height With Friends, Rapdragons, Thrushes, Kadman and Wye Oak. I have a voice for print the way ugly people have a face for radio, but overall I'm happy with how it came out and was a lot of fun to put together.

Saturday, May 01, 2010
My latest Singles Jukebox blurbs:

Pitbull, Sensato, Black Point, Lil Jon & El Cata – Watagatapitusberry [8/7.67]
Janelle Monáe ft. Big Boi – Tightrope [5/7.43]
Drake – Over [2/4.09]
Kelis – Acapella [4/6.45]
Hole – Pacific Coast Highway [3/5.93]
The New Pornographers – The Crash Years [6/6]
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – The Mighty Sparrow [5/6.6]
Sean Kingston ft. Justin Bieber – Eenie Meenie [4/3.64]
Paramore – The Only Exception [8/6.23]