“Go West, young man.”
So encouraged Horace Greeley. In the 19th century, the young and ambitious had only to march towards the sunset to make their name in this blank slate of open land. The sky was the limit because that was all you could see. Today anyone who’s watched the purple, smog tinted sunset from the midst of an LA traffic jam knows that much stands between your dreams and that sky. Still every day people push towards the Pacific hoping that altitude increases with longitude and they get high enough to break through to the clouds.
Many get high, few leave the ground. Most head home, wiser for the trip if still embarrassed that dreams once too large to wrap your head around have deflated to realites that fit in a carry on. It happens. Casiotone For The Painfully Alone sum up that long ride back East as well as the single tear you shed on your way. You hope that when you get there people at the bar have heard the lyrics to “Bobby Malone Moves Home” and buy you a beer. Things didn’t work out like you planned. Ask the people who never left and they’ll tell you it didn’t work out for them either. At least you saw some beautiful sunsets.
MP3: CFTPA- “Bobby Malone Moves Home”
Excuse the long absence boys and girls. Summer vacation was in effect under the bridge and we decided to take some time off for a little fun in the sun. We start to get a little pasty if we spend all year trapped down here. But now playtime is over. No more late nights and lazy days. It’s time to start setting the clock and sharping pencils cause school is back in session.
Now that the bell has rung and everyone has taken their seat, who better to do the morning announcements on this first day back but princess of the lunch room Lil’ Mama. She already upgraded your lip gloss and now she’s blowin pixie dust on yellow buses to make sure the student body is riding pretty. You all know the words, so don’t be scared to sing along when the melody turns “Wheels On the Bus”. She’s obviously no dummy so Lil Mama doesn’t have a problem with class. Don’t play her for a teachers pet softy though. The evil synth verses propping up the nursery rhyme chorus prove she’ll wait for you in parking lot if you want beef. Picture the purple limo this girl’s bringing to the prom.
Lil’ Mama: “G-Slide/Tour Bus”
I started to get the feeling that Slug was feeling put upon lately. Just look at the cover of the last Atmosphere album. There he sat, mohawked head in hand looking haggard. Plus they named it You Can’t Believe How Much Fun We’re Having, a backhanded way of saying they weren’t having any. Dude was stressed and I understand why. He had to please the grizzled backpackers who hold onto Rhymesayers as one of the last of a near extinct Indie-Hop breed. He had to please the ladies who pack his shows looking to catch any cigarette butts he might flick into the crowd. And he had to please the hip-hop loving kid in his heart who’s gotten everything he dreamed of from a music game that he now knows is totally rigged. Sisyphus always gets tired of rolling his bolder.
Thats why “Sunshine”, off of the Sad Clown Bad Summer 9 CD, is such a relief. He’s not pushing so hard this time around, and dare I say he sounds relaxed. With the next Atmosphere album titled When Life Gives You Lemons… it’s like they’ve found a little sweetness beneath all the bitter. Slug starts the track with a nasty hangover but stumbles his way into appreciating a summer day regardless. At one point he comes across a bike and even though “The brakes are broken that’s alright/ The tires got air and the chain seems tight”. Even Ant backs off from his usual soul sample funk workout and lets a gentle breeze twinkle his ivories instead. Maybe it’s seasonal affective disorder but the sunlight has done them both some good.
MP3: Atmosphere- “Sunshine”
I like it all. I like banjos as much as I like pianos, as much as I like keyboards, as much as I like turntables. And so on and so forth. The Hood Internet seem to have an equally mature pallet. This team mashes up the freshest songs from across the blogosphere into batshit singles that never exactly clear the bar you’re hoping for but always rise higher than you expected. The best of them manage to sidestep your judgement completely and take you in a direction you never thought of. Mostly just seeing the names of your favorite hip hop and indie acts together on the same MP3 is enough to warrant a listen.
These songs don’t amount to much more than a trifle and if some of them flew any closer to the sun it might melt the wings off of their gimmick. The photoshop work that accompanies the tracks can even top the music on occasion. Thankfully pointless has never meant worthless and The Hood Internet prove their value everytime you chuckle at how bizarre some of these pairings prove. In a word, bonkers.
Download: The Hood Internet Mixtape Volume One
2. The Pack vs Crystal Castles | I’m Shinin’ Like A Crystal
3. Dizzee Rascal vs Cyndi Lauper | Girls Just Wanna Fix Up
4. Rhymefest vs !!! | Put It On My Chk Chk Chk
5. Rick Ross vs CSS | Push It To The Alalimit
6. Birdman & Lil Wayne vs Black Rock | Stuntin’ Like Black Rock
7. Rihanna (feat. Jay-Z) vs Menomena vs M83 | Cyborg Umbrella
8. Trillville (feat. Cutty) vs The Knife | Some Cut Like A Knife
9. Omarion vs Mylo | Drop The Icebox Pressure
10. Tag Team vs LCD Soundystem | Great! There It Is
11. Lloyd vs Feist | My Moon My Shawty
12. Crime Mob (feat. Lil Scrappy) vs The Shins | Rock Yo Sea Legs
13. Swizz Beats vs Deerhoof | It’s E.S.P., Bitches
14. Lil Wayne vs Modest Mouse | Fire It Up, Firemouse
15. Lil Mama vs Marnie Stern | Absorb The Lip Gloss
16. Mos Def vs Battles | B-Boy Battles
17. The Game (feat. Kanye West) vs The Go! Team | Wouldn’t Grip Far
18. Snoop Dogg (feat. R. Kelly) vs Architecture In Helsinki | That’s That Whirlwind
19. T.I. vs Fujiya & Miyagi | What You Know About Transparent Things
20. TLC vs Led Zeppelin | All My Scrubs
21. Timbaland (feat. Nelly Furtado, Justin Timberlake) vs Hot Chip | Give It To My Boy From School
22. Destiny’s Child vs Justice | Lose My Waters Of Naza(b)reath
23. Ghostface Killah (feat. Jacki-O) vs Spoon | The Ghostface Of You Lingers
24. Khia vs Dan Deacon | Snatch Da Crystal Cat Back
25. R. Kelly (feat. T-Pain, T.I.) vs Broken Social Scene | I’m A Flirt (Shoreline)
26. UNK vs LCD Soundsystem | North America Walk It Out (UNK Soundsystem)
How many times can you approximate an approximation before you’re left with a cardboard cutout? Musical influences often get sliced ever thinner until you end up with a 2D model that looks an awful lot like the real thing but plays totally flat. Considering that most pop stars start out cardboard and then try to work their way backwards into 3D, you probably deserve points for having your heart in the right place. That is to say, for having a heart at all.
Kate Nash has been done before. The first time we heard this cheeky attitude and confessional storytelling with a London accent we called it Lilly Allen. It wasn’t like Lilly was being overly original on her go round either. She was just the sunnier sum of darker UK parts before her. So with Kate obviously getting her moment on the back of Lilly’s earlier approximating, she runs the risk of slicing things too thin and falling flat. Then you watch the video for her single “Foundations” and she earns back some of your trust. She comes across real, from her body type to her expressions. This kid’s got heart and it’s her saving grace.
Kate Nash – “Foundations”
White Rabbits? It’s more like wild horses the way these songs gallop over the horizon, kicking up swirls of dust and gaining speed the closer they get. Before they’re even in full view you can fell the ground rumbling. Its not the shaking of an Earth quake, it’s the beating of steady foot stomps. White Rabbits is a 6 man wagon train that’s found itself in a frontier town called Brooklyn, NY and they’re here to strike it rich with their debut Fort Nightly. They’ve come clear across the Mid West prairie and managed to keep the wide expanse of the plains in their sound, faced with a city where you can’t go a mile without turning a corner. When these guys saddle up you can tell they like to ride hard. I doubt they would trample an old lady but they’ll barrel headlong down a dark alley without knowing where it empties out. Talk about a sense of direction. Just when you think they’ve taken a wrong turn, they get you home safe and sound.
In reality, the entire band lives in a loft that doubles as a rehearsal space and the sense of togetherness this must create clearly holds the somewhat messy affair together. A loose Clap Your Hands Say Yeah jangle lets the whole thing tumble around in its shell but unlike that band you never get the sense that White Rabbits might rattle to pieces. It all comes down to confidence. Every one of them is sure of their abilities but still smart enough to realize their real weight comes from standing together. On the first song they set the stage for the rest of the album. A short but steady guitar strum lays the ground work for the heart and soul of the music to come surging forward and drive things ahead. Heart : drums :: Soul : piano.
Nearly every song hangs its drama on the skeleton of these two instruments and considering the theatrics White Rabbits are inclined to indulge they have to be fairly robust to support the weight. Opener “Kid On My Shoulder” is a dizzying number that builds through 2 verses of ascension before bursting wide open in 3 part harmony that literally drips down the track. Nimble and deceptive, you don’t hear how sinister it really sounds until you catch yourself singing out loud. It’s a testament to the band’s inventiveness that they keep you snapping your fingers to some fairly dark material without once falling back on callow irony. They pull this off in part through the latin and ska infused pulses that swing below a number of the tracks. You can feel the slinky heat of both these styles across the album with White Rabbits even name checking The Specials and Madness in their bio. “While We Go Dancing” has them kicking up their heels for a little sophisticated skanking before gliding right into the tango of “I Used to Complain Now I Don’t”. The vocals spread the icing on the cake. Standing out in the mix, the clever melodic lines and layered harmonies give off a glimmer of Queen operatics, with all the grand surprises that implies.
Fort Nightly is anything but country and yet more than a little western. The remote eeriness, the charging rhythms, and the saloon piano all give off a borderland vibe. The band is new to the music scene and still exude a wild, untamed spirit. Lets hope the city doesn’t encroach too far into their territory and smog things up. New bands with so much to offer are a breath of fresh in an over clogged scene and deserve protection as such.
MP3: White Rabbits – “While We Go Dancing”
MP3: White Rabbits – “I Used to Complain Now I Don’t”
Weezy’s cleaned out his medicine chest and now he’s got no one to talk to, minus the voice in his head that keeps reminding him he’s all alone. If you pitch enough product to the smokers, you might just end up with some amount of sympathy for your clientle. You can’t stay high forever and when you hit the floor of your cell “locked up behind xanax bars” it has to feel cold. Cold and hard. This is meta Trap-Hop. Now that we’re getting both sides of the hand to hand the story is less “Oh Shit!” and more “Oh…Shit”.
MP3: Lil Wayne – “Living For Dying”