Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Grammy Predictions for 2006

Grammy nominations will be announced tomorrow morning. I know it's running a bit late, but hopefully you guys will see this in time. Grammy nominations will be up at This is what I believe will be nominated.

Album Of The Year

Corinne Bailey Rae-Corinne Bailey Rae

In what will be a pattern during announcements tomorrow, Corinne Bailey Rae is a sure shot in this category, and in many others. She has all the ingredients that have been included in Grammy success in the past. She's an attractive new artist with a classic sound (see: Alicia Keys, Norah Jones), her music crosses many demographics, including boomers, soul enthusiasts and the Starbucks crowd, and she writes her own songs and plays an instrument. With increasing public visibility and a gold album, there is too much momentum for Bailey Rae to be denied.

Justin Timberlake-FutureSex/LoveSounds

Not only is Timberlake a past nominee in this category for Justified and the one pop star you're not afraid to admit to liking, but the album has only been out for three months and is still fresh in voters' minds. FutureSex/LoveSounds debuted impressively at #1 with 600,000+ and boasts one of the year's biggest catchphrases with "SexyBack". But what really edges Timberlake into one of the five slots is that not only is he a voter favorite and a commercial success, but the album itself is ambitious and actually pretty damn good.

Dixie Chicks-Taking The Long Way

It's been four years since a country album was nominated for Album Of The Year. Guess who it was. The original DC3 are no stranger to this category with past nominations for Fly and Home. The Dixie Chicks released one of the few albums that created headlines this year and will not be too easily forgotten.

The last two slots are where things get a bit sketchy. There is usually a slot reserved for "old fogeys" in this category (Springsteen, Santana, Dylan, Steely Dan, U2), but none of this year's eligible fogeys stand a terribly strong chance. Johnny Cash's American Recordings V comes at the end of Cashmania, which reached its zenith between his death and the release of the motion picture, Walk The Line. Bruce Springsteen's We Shall Overcome was a strong record, but it wil probably get relegated to the traditional rock or folk categories. Out of all the old guys, Bob Dylan's Modern Times stands the best chance of cashing in on the old fogey vote, but while it is still a loved album, it has not received the gushing stratospheric praise of his two previous efforts, which also garnered Album Of The Year nods.

The Grammys have shown that they're ready to embrace rock again in this category in recent years (U2, Green Day, White Stripes), but only if it is an event album. The biggest selling rock album of the year belongs to Nickelback, but the fact that it's Nickelback, I won't even mention the title or further entertain the thought. The Red Hot Chili Peppers' numbers for Stadium Arcadium are impressive, but it didn't have even half the cultural impact as the White Stripes' Elephant, which sold considerably less. John Mayer's Contiuum appears to be generally well-liked, but it's fallen from out the public eye since its release. Snow Patrol's Eyes Open stands a good shot of getting a nod, but that's only on the basis of one song, their smash hit "Chasing Cars". As it stands now, rock music may get left out this year.

Another possibility includes Madonna's Confessions On A Dancefloor, but it was released right at the beginning of eligibility for this year way back in October of 2005 and might be too club-oriented to reach a wide range of voters. Christina Aguilera's Back To Basics stands another fantastic chance at getting nominated since voters will appreciate her more classier approach and remind themselves of why she was voted Best New Artist in the first place. Like Timberlake, they might warm up to a pop act experimenting with their sound and getting agreeable results. I really don't have a reason why it can't be nominated, but I'm just going with my gut at this point.

R&B and hip hop music has been on a roll this decade. Depending on how Corinne Bailey Rae is defined, we may see another urban act in this category. T.I.'s King boasted one of the biggest songs of the year and cemented his status as a universal MC that appeals to both the roughest street corners and top 40 radio stations, but Grammy voters have yet to embrace the "hardcore" rapper, unless their name is Eminem. Mary J. Blige's The Breakthrough got some of the best reviews of her career, but past R&B and hip hop nominees in this category have been event albums, and The Breakthrough, while a commercial and artistic success, does not have the reach of say a College Dropout, a Confessions, or a Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. She is one of the most respected and well-loved artists that we have, but she stands a better chance in the other two general categories. Another artist whose nomination depends on how their genre is defined is Gnarls Barkley. If the voters think they are urban enough, St. Elsehwhere will get the nod. Like I said, it honestly depends on where Bailey Rae's other nominations will land (pop? R&B?). I don't see all three of them getting the nod.

And now we come to the last slot, which will be a battle of the newcomers: James Blunt vs. KT Tunstall. I will make this simple. Blunt will get plenty of nominations for "You're Beautiful", but Back To Bedlam was one of the worst albums I've heard this year. Eye To The Telescope gets the last slot by default, but mainly since she shares the same Grammy bait qualites that Corinne Bailey Rae has (universally loved, writes own songs, plays own instrument, new artist).

Record Of The Year

Gnarls Barkley-Crazy

Sing this on the train platform. Watch as the masses flock around you and sing along.

Nelly Furtado F/ Timbaland-Promiscous

With Timberlake's FutureSex/LoveSounds sure to get some love, the Timbaland coronation will continue in this category (and may also garner him a Producer Of The Year nod). Last year's nomination of "Hollaback Girl" in this category shows that the Grammys aren't afraid to honor quirky rap-lite, pop. "Promiscous" was a #1 single and is about 17 times better than "Hollaback Girl."

Christina Aguilera-Ain't No Other Man

Grammy voters will show their appreciation for Xtina's new look and sound with a nomination in this category.

Corinne Bailey Rae-Put Your Records On

India Arie's "Video" seemed like an unlikey nominee for Record Of The Year back in 2002 and so does "Put Your Records On", especially with this categories focus on pop, R&B and rock in the past few years. "Put Your Records On" was not an event record, but this is Bailey Rae's year and this song is the kind of sunny and safe material that goes over well with voters.

James Blunt-You're Beautiful

As much as it disguts me to admit it, this has a pretty good chance of getting a nod, especially with the lack of strong rock contenders for this year. And no, I don't really consider Blunt "rawk", but he will have to do for this year.

Here are some other possibilities:
Shakira-Hips Don't Lie (If Aguilera doesn't make it, watch out for this one. Another song that you couldn't escape. )
KT Tunstall-Black Horse And The Cherry Tree (Not a typical nominee in this category, a lot of people are crazy about this song.)
T.I.-What You Know (Too rough for the Grammys. Will get more nominations in the Rap categories.)
Mary J. Blige-Be Without You (Would stand a better chance if The Breakthrough was a bigger album.)
Justin Timberlake-SexyBack (I for one think that the melody for this song is a bit lazy and as far as dancefloor starters, it's not in the league of past nominees such as "Yeah!" or "Gold Digger".)
Cassie-Me & U
Rihanna-S.O.S (Rescue Me)
Pussycat Dolls-Buttons

Song Of The Year

I always do horribly in this category, but I think I can net one or two this year. It's hard to explain the logic sometimes in this category. It's often a mishmash of sentimental favorites, ballads, uplifting songs and doesn't depend as much on commercial success as Record Of The Year

Corinne Bailey Rae-Put Your Records On
James Blunt-You're Beautifuly
Mary J. Blige-Be Without You
Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars
Dainel Powter-Bad Day

other possibilities

Gnarls Barkley-Crazy
KT Tunstall-Black Horse And The Cherry Tree
Mariah Carey-Don't Forget About Us
John Mayer-Waiting For The World To Change

Best New Artist

The obvious ones here of course are Corinne Bailey Rae, James Blunt and KT Tunstall. That leaves us with two slots that could go to a number of people. One person who might be a surprise is Lupe Fiasco. "Kick Push" is the kind of hip hop song that folks that aren't fans of hip hop can enjoy. Plus, he's another Kanye West protege, the same as last year's winner, John Legend. But the only rappers that are ever nominated in this category are those who have a substantial amount of mainstream success. Daniel Powter possesses one of the biggest hits of the year, but his album has been absent from the charts. Same thing with Fort Minor. As far as rock goes, Panic! At The Disco stands the best chance, but if eligibility counts for anything, their record was released during last year's period. Wolfmother had some moderate modern rock radio success, but they can't be taken too seriously in this category. Often times, there will be a country artist that I've never heard of nominated in this category. I've heard of Carrie Underwood, and she was the biggest new artist in country this year, which is why I'm going with her. The only main genre left is R&B, and we are left we three major contenders: Ne-Yo, Cassie and Chris Brown. Ne-Yo has the album sales behind him, but I don't think he has much appeal outside of the R&B realm and who knows how many Grammy voters are even aware that he is one of the hottes songwriters around right now. Cassie had one great single, but not much has been heard from her otherwise. That leaves us with the teenage phenom, Chris Brown. His album has been out for well over a year and has spawned multiple hit singles, plus the fact that he is still in his teens and has become such a huge success will not be lost on voters.

I believe that Corinne Bailey Rae will get the most nominations, along with these people in descending order:

James Blunt
Mary J. Blige
KT Tunstall
Justin Timberlake
Gnarls Barkley

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Khari Lemeul

It's long been a running joke that myspace is full of crappy bands trying to be your friend. After being on myspace for a little over a year, I can attest that this is no joke my friends, but pure reality. Gems from unsigned or undiscovered artists are very hard to discover on myspace and it is very rare that one of those artist profiles sticks out. I want to share with you one of the profiles that do stick out.

I've met Khari Lemeul. I've seen him perform at an open mic. Hell, one of his bands even opened up for my band at the Hothouse. I've always known that he was very talented and a capable multi-instrumentalist, but when performing live, one can only play one instrument at a time. Lemuel's talent is immensely magnified when one is listening to the recorded songs at The sound quality and production values are definitely more sophisticated than your average artist profile on myspace, but beyond the technical and studio wizardry lies an earthy vibe that transcends you back to the days when Sam Cooke and Otis Redding ruled the charts. Sam Cooke is the most apparent connection when listening to "My Soul Is Happy."It could have easily been the B-side to "A Change Is Gone Come" with its somber string arrangements and Lemuel's soulful tenor. Although Lemeul is recreating a sound that was popular over 40 years ago, it is a sound that has rarely been revisited since then. After listening to the impressive songs on his myspace page, you'll wonder why it isn't revisited more often.

Extra Ivan points for being from Chicago.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Who Should Sing The Next Bond Theme

The release of the next James Bond film, Casino Royale, will be here before you know it. I'm not much of a Bond bluff though. Sure, I enjoyed the first few Connery films and any person with eyes and ears can see that Brosnan was born to play that role, but what I'm most excited about is who will sing the next theme song. For the most part, the Bond songs have been killer. I mean seriously killer. "Goldfinger." "You Only Live Twice." "Diamonds Are Forever." "License To Kill." Even A-Ha managed to squeak out a quality Bond tune. The history of these songs is what makes the themes so anticipated. As of now, no one has been named, but I figured I would give my opinion before it's too late. If the producers of Casino Royale were smart, they would choose one of these five options, instead of say Beyonce or Coldplay. While the more recent Bond songs have been solid, they will less than likely be immortalized like the aforementioned songs. These people have the potential to add proudly to the Bond legacy.

Fiona Apple
The next Bond theme is expected to be darker than the previous installments of the franchise. Bond songs have long been heavy on sex appeal and sorrow, which Apple could deliver without straying too far from the grittier tone of the film. It's no question that Apple knows how to do sorrow, but the movie would still retain some of its sex appeal through Apple's husky voice without having her sing about lust and martinis.

What may seem like an odd choice at first is actually quite perfect for the Bond series. Bond songs are heavy on bombast and dynamics, which Bjork can deliver greatly. Just imagine a Bond theme song that has the ambient feeling of being washed calmly under the sea one minute and a soaring vocal that blasts you into the galaxies the next minute.

Franz Ferdinand
They're one of the hippest bands going right now to have reached a wide audience. There's no telling if Franz Ferdinand will still be relevant by the time the second Craig film rolls around which makes it even more important to capitalize on someone who's still popular and is still critically acclaimed. Franz Ferdinand have proven countless times that they have enough suave to handle the task of a Bond theme, and if chosen, they would be the first rock band to do so since A-Ha performed the theme for The Living Daylights.

Probably the least commercially viable out of all the hopefuls here, only because a lot of people have heard the songs, but probably don't know who they are. "Ooh La La" has been inescapable for the past year and landing the Bond theme song could push Goldfrapp into the mainstream, where they've seemed to be on the verge of since the days of "Strict Machine" and "Train." If the producers want to keep the sound of Bond futuristic, as seen by Madonna's synth heavy "Die Another Day," then you could not do any wrong with Goldfrapp as a choice.

It's been a while since someone's done a classy, soulful Bond theme. There are plenty of talented singers available, but few can match the songwriting skill and the coolness of the Purple One. Imagine Prince doing a slow, scorching stab at a Bond song. The anticipation for that song would be crazy.

And a few other artists who have no chance in hell in being asked to do the Bond theme, but would still make a pretty kick ass one:

Could take the Bond song darker than its ever been before, but still palatable for the ordinary consumer.

Van Hunt
Knows all about being one of the coolest men on Earth.

Pulp/Jarvis Cocker
The 90's are over and it's been 4 years since their last album. They've already been bumped from one Bond song by Sheryl Crow, but whenever Jarvis Cocker opens his mouth and lets his wit shine, you couldn't imagine the perfect soundtrack to the opening credits.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Emmy Nominations

Nominees for the 58th Annual Emmy Awards were announced Thursday. Yes, there were some surprising snubs, but for once, there was a lot of good news. Let's do a category-by-category breakdown, shall we?

Outstanding Comedy Series
Arrested Development FOX
Curb Your Enthusiasm HBO
The Office NBC
Scrubs NBC
Two and a Half Men CBS

The biggest WTF here is Two And A Half Men's nomination. I understand it's the highest rated comedy on television, but just because Raymond, Friends and Sex And The City are no longer on the air doesn't mean that this field has to be diluted it's inclusion. Arrested Development and Scrubs are two of the biggest surprises, in my opinion, since AD was on and off the air so many times over the course of the season, that it's a wonder that anyone still remembered it, but then again, it won this same category only two years ago and was nominated last year as well. Scrubs hasn't been doing as well in the ratings either, but it's still one of the funniest shows on television.

Overlooked: Gilmore Girls, Everybody Hates Chris

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series
Larry David
Curb Your Enthusiasm HBO
Kevin James
The King Of Queens CBS
Tony Shalhoub
Monk USA
Steve Carell
The Office NBC
Charlie Sheen
Two and a Half Men CBS

Carell was pretty much a no-brainer, and it's also nice to see that Kevin James' fine, underrated work on The King Of Queens getting its recognition. Jason Lee of My Name Is Earl was robbed. It hurts too much to even it call it overlooked.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series
Lisa Kudrow
The Comeback HBO
Jane Kaczmarek
Malcolm in the Middle FOX
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
The New Adventures of Old Christine CBS
Stockard Channing
Out Of Practice CBS
Debra Messing
Will & Grace NBC

Don't really watch any of these shows except for Malcolm In The Middle, and I'm kind of tired of seeing Kaczmarek being nominated long after the show's creative peak. I know a lot of people who were high on Kudrow's work on The Comeback, but I've never seen the show. Seems like the only interesting nominee in this bunch.

Overlooked: Lauren Graham-Gilmore Girls, Felicity Huffman-Desperate Housewives, Tracee Ellis Ross-Girlfriends

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series
Will Arnett
Arrested Development FOX
Jeremy Piven
Entourage HBO HBO
Bryan Cranston
Malcolm in the Middle FOX
Jon Cryer
Two and a Half Men CBS
Sean Hayes
Will & Grace NBC

Arnett should have been nominated all three seasons that AD was on the air. Just watch any episode where Europe's "The Final Countdown" appears. Or that one where he says "I've made a huge mistake." Yeah, those are all good. Cranston deserves the nod, but mainly because his work wasn't recognized when the show was still good.

Overlooked: Neil Patrick Harris-How I Met Your Mother, Rainn Wilson-The Office, Terry Crews-Everybody Hates Chris, Donald Faison-Scrubs

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series
Cheryl Hines
Curb Your Enthusiasm HBO
Alfre Woodard
Desperate Housewives ABC
Jaime Pressly
My Name Is Earl NBC (Pictured above)
Elizabeth Perkins
Megan Mullally
Will & Grace NBC

Jaime Pressly's Joy is one of the funniest scene-stealers on television today. It's still a shame that Jason Lee didn't get a Best Actor nod, but it would have truly been a tragedy if Pressly was overlooked. The Alfre Woodard nomination is a head scratcher though. As tortured and as great as her performance was, there was really nothing funny about it. If the they wanted to go that route, Marcia Cross should have gotten the nod instead, who dealt with an equally dark season, but also brought more lols. The moment where she slapped her over-mourning mother-in-law at the table gave me as big a laugh as any moment this season.

Overlooked: Judy Reyes-Scrubs, Tichina Arnold-Everybody Hates Chris, Nicolette Sheridan-Desperate Housewives, Marcia Cross-Desperate Housewives

Outstanding Drama Series
Grey's Anatomy ABC
House FOX
The Sopranos HBO
24 FOX
The West Wing NBC

Ugh. Who is still voting for The West Wing? Hell, is anyone still watching it? Hasn't the damn thing been nominated in this category every single year it's been on the air? With any luck, it won't win, thanks to the amazing seasons of Grey's Anatomy and 24. I'm very biases towards 24 since it's one of my favorite shows period, and it just had one of its best season's ever. I still have to catch up on Grey's Anatomy (haven't seen any eps since November), but I've seen enough to know that it belongs in this group. If the Academy wanted to give an episodic series the nod, that slot shoud have gone to Law & Order: SVU instead, whose value did not go unnoticed as proven by the lead acting nods for Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay.

Overlooked: Lost(!), Alias, Veronica Mars

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series
Christopher Meloni Law & Order: Special Victims Unit NBC
Denis Leary Rescue Me FX
Peter Krause Six Feet Under HBO
Kiefer Sutherland 24 FOX
Martin Sheen The West Wing NBC

Once again, who in the hell is still watching The West Wing? It's nice to see Sutherland back in the running, but his best work was in the first and third season (when he was frickin' junkie!). As great as this season was, I'm not sure there was that much of an emotional arc to Jack's character to get Sutherland a win. The Meloni nod is a very welcome surprise, but he pretty much doesn't have a chance in hell of winning.

Overlooked: Hugh Laurie-House, William Fichtner-Invasion, Matthew Fox-Lost

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series
Kyra Sedgwick The Closer TNT
Geena Davis Commander In Chief ABC
Mariska Hargitay Law & Order: Special Victims Unit NBC
Frances Conroy Six Feet Under HBO
Allison Janney The West Wing NBC

Just imagine how many more nominations Commander In Chief would have garnered if it had mainatained the success it had earlier in the season. I'm still undecided if that's a good thing or a bad thing since the show delved into cornpone here and there, but dammit, I just couldn't stop watching. Geena Davis was one of the main reasons why. The POTUS can be one of the most endearing roles if played right (see Josiah Bartleet, David Palmer) and Davis does a great job of making us wish she was the President in real life. Looking over the nominees, this category looks pretty weak. I think Sedgwick could probably win, and I don't even watch The Closer.

Overlooked: Jennifer Garner-Alias, Kristen Bell-Veronica Mars

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series
William Shatner Boston Legal ABC
Oliver Platt Huff Showtime
Michael Imperioli The Sopranos HBO
Gregory Itzin 24 FOX
Alan Alda The West Wing NBC

This might be the only time that I ever root for President Logan. Itzin played the most loathsome character on television and had us rooting for his downfall every episode. I also loved the subtle change from the bumbling inepititude he displayed last season to the slightly inept but still weasely scoundrel he was this past season. I didn't keep up with Boston Legal this season, but Shatner always bring the lols on that show. Everyone else seems like they belong here.

Overloooked: Terry Quinn-Lost

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series
Candice Bergen Boston Legal ABC
Sandra Oh Grey's Anatomy ABC
Chandra Wilson Grey's Anatomy ABC
Blythe Danner Huff Showtime
Jean Smart 24 FOX

Let's be honest. This race was over the moment that Jean Smart dunked her head in the water during that opening scene. Everyone else here had great seasons as well, but Smart's role as the president's wife was definitely the most talked about. Looking at this category actually makes me the most happiest.

Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series
Arrested Development Development Arrested FOX
Entourage HBO Exodus HBO Leverage and Closest to the
Extras Kate Winslet HBO
My Name Is Earl Pilot NBC
The Office Christmas Party NBC

Who could forget "Yankee Christmas" during the Christmas party at Dunder-Miflin? One of the best episodes from a season that was filled with hilarious moments. The Earl pilot was funny and sweet, but it's little consolation for snubbing Jason Lee. "Development Arrested" was a nice way to end the series, but it felt as if it was trying to wrap things up too quickly.

Outstanding Writing For A Drama Series
Grey’s Anatomy It’s the End Of The World, As We Know It (Part 1 & 2) ABC
Grey’s Anatomy Into You Like A Train ABC
Lost The 23rd Psalm ABC
Six Feet Under Everyone’s Waiting HBO
The Sopranos Members Only HBO

"It's The End Of The World..." is that Super Bowl episode that everyone was talking about, right? Gotta see check that one out. "Into You Like A Train" was pretty intense and heartbreaking. Hope they don't cancel each other out.

Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour)
Camp Lazlo Hello Dolly / Over Cooked Beans Cartoon Network
Family Guy PTV FOX
Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends Go Goo Go Cartoon Network
The Simpsons The Seemingly Neverending Story FOX
South Park Trapped in the Closet Comedy Central

"PTV" was probably one of the most consistent episodes of Family Guy I've seen. I don't even remember what Simpsons episode was about. And obviously that South Park ep is the class of the bunch.

Overlooked: The Venture Bros., King Of The Hill

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
The Amazing Race CBS
American Idol FOX
Dancing With The Stars ABC
Project Runway Bravo
Survivor CBS

The nominations here are pretty predictable. Hopefully that family edition won't tarnish the Amazing Race's chances.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Adventures at Intonation

Yeah, I'm already a day late with this whole Intonation recap thing, but something must be said, no? I'll have pictures up at a later time when I get them developed. Even though they're probably gonna be crap pictures since they were taken on a disposable, they will still be shared with all you lovely people, nonetheless. I still don't think that I've fully recovered from the fest, y'know, after standing on my feet for about a total of 18 hours over the course of two days. Luckily, the fest was amazing enough to numb any pain that I would soon feel.

Saturday, June 24

I get to the park a little before 1PM with plenty of time to spare to see the first act, Favourite Sons. Only thing is, my name isn't on the guest list, so I was told that I might be on the VIP list, which includes all access and a sandwich. That's right, a sandwich y'all. I'm living the good life now for sure is what I was thinking. Of course I wasn't on the VIP list, which sucked because not only do I not receive a sandwich, but I had to walk all the way around Union Park just to get there, and I have to walk another lengthy distance to get back to the front gate. I frantically call my contact at Vice who was mad busy at the time trying to figure out what was going on. All I got was the voicemail, which was expected, since c'mon now people, they're working for the people who are curating and helping to run the fest. Anyways, as it turns out, the will call booth didn't have the Vice guest list, so I was able to get in once I name dropped my contact. If it hadn't been for the runaround, I would have been able to see Favourite Sons. I walked into one of my DJs who was there and he told me they suck. I trust his taste, so take it however you want to. I let up my black umbrella for shade and proceeded to enjoy the day.

Erase Errata

I walked in on the middle of their set and I was impressed from what I heard. Good enough to start the day off and get your foot tapping.

90 Day Men

Nice melodic background music. I would be very interested to hear what they sound like in the studio, but I really kept tuning out through all their Sigur Ros lite instrumentals.

Devin The Dude

Finally, the first act on today's bill that I'm looking forward to seeing. Devin brought multiple lols as expected, but his music isn't really suited for such an expansive venue. His demeanor and his tracks are so laid back that I can't imagine how the translation would be to someone who was halfway across the field (I was right in front of the stage). He did his verse from "Fuck You" which got everybody rockin', and I left a few songs after that to get a good view for Jose Gonzalez.

Jose Gonzalez

Oh man, what a lovely set. Guy+acoustic guitar usually = zzzzz because it's so hard to sustain interest with no accompaniment, but judging from Veneer, I knew he could pull it off. The crowd surprisingly cheered when he started playing "Heartbeats." I had no idea there were so many Knife fans in Chicago. Or maybe they just really like Jose's take on it since he makes it sound really really pretty.

Monday, June 19, 2006

You can't tell nobody. I'm talkin' 'bout nobody.

Sorry for the long delay in posts. Summer school doesn't allow for any free time. Anyways, thought you guys should be made aware of The Gossip's cover of Aaliyah's "Are You That Somebody." Of course, nothing could ever compare to the original, but I like this slow, leering, kinky take on it. Go download it at .

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Lupe Fiasco - Kick Push

The video for "Kick Push" is finally out. I love how they choose some of the more subtler and lesser known Chicago locations (the Puerto Rican flag gate on Western and Division), but nothing terribly impressive except for some cool skateboarding tricks. If you haven't heard this song yet, now is a good time for an introduction. This kid is talented in the classical sense and I'm itching for the day that Food and Liquor drops. You can watch the video here:


Windows Media


Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Concretes - In Colour

Don't look so glum. The new Concretes album isn't as good their self-titled debut, but that album was amazing, so it would be difficult for anyone to produce an equal follow up. I'm sure you probably miss the hazy overtones of the production and the unique combination of the Velvet Underground's minimalism and The Supremes' bursting choruses that took the songs to delightful heights. At first listen, In Colour seems like another bland and unimaginative indie pop release because of the absence of said hazy production, but the real strong suit of The Concretes is still there: the songs, silly. In Colour may feel less dream-like than its predeccessor, but it's still worth the time of any melody addict looking for a soundtrack to the spring season. "Tomorrow" is the one track that reminds me the most of their 2004 album and further proves that if the original songwriting thing doesn't work out, they could very well have a future as the greatest Mazzy Star cover band to ever grace this universe.

The Concretes-Tomorrow

You can buy the album at Amazon by clicking here

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Van Hunt - On The Jungle Floor

Holy shit. I know it's pretty cliche of a blog to use hyperbole, but once again I gotta say it. Holy shit. I dug Van Hunt a lot the first time around. His self-titled debut released in 2004 was a very solid effort and had a few tracks that would help to break him away from being lumped in with all the other inauthentic, over-produced neo-soul flavors of the month. The choruses on "Dust" (a top 10 single of the year for me) and "Hold My Hand" shimmered vibrantly and more cheerily than most modern soul does nowadays. But for his latest album, On The Jungle Floor, which was just released this Tuesday, Mr. Hunt fulfills the promise he showed on Van Hunt and clearly stakes a claim for the title of soul's boy wonder. D'Angelo is too busy gaining weight and smoking weed. Maxwell hasn't been heard from since 2001. And as much as I love Anthony Hamilton, he's a one-trick pony, ladies and gentlemen. In what is typical of sophomore albums, Hunt expands his sound, runninng the gamut from smooth funk to even some pyschedelic rock. It's clearly no surprise why Van Hunt was one of the few artists to escape Sly's Grammy tribute unscathed. This album proves that he is the real deal and one of today's true progenies of Sly's sound (instead of say, Ciara or the guy from LFO). On The Jungle Floor is the first album I've heard this year that has chiseled its place on my top 20. The two tracks that I'm digging the most are "The Thrill Of This Love," which probably has the most soaring hook on the whole album and seems like the kind of would-be single that everyone except for America could embrace. "Hot Stage Lights" is the album cover come to life. Suave, sexy, smoldering and funky. Just check out the man's threads in that picture. If there was ever a wikipedia entry on being the shit, Van Hunt would have several links on it. It's beyond clear that he's the man of the year.

The Thrill Of This Love
Hot Stage Lights

You can also buy the album here at Amazon

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Jan. & Feb. Singles Round-up

Okay, it's been a crazy long time since I've done one of these, but I've been trying to get more and more in the spirit of updating this blog more often (two posts in two months! like lightning I am). So here goes, and hopefully by the time May rolls around I'll have more posts and I'll do another one of these

Fiona Apple-Not About Love
The Extraordinary Machine has quickly become the queen of capturing beauty and heartache all in one song. The Jon Brion version would be a 10 for me, but the Elizondo version still warrants a strong (9)

Beyonce F/ Slim Thug & Bun B. -Check On It
So it looks as if Swizz Beats finally managed to update his synth horror sound that brought him fame in the late 90's and turn it into a success. One of his better productions in recent memory and the way Beyonce coos over the track makes it even more dreamier.

Black Eyed Peas F/ Q-Tip, Talib Kweli, Cee-Lo & John Legend-Like That
Party like it's 1993! But getting serious for a moment, I can't remember being this much in love and surprised by a BEP song in ages. Is it because of the guest appearances or the lack of Fergie?

Bow Wow F/ Mike Jones-Fresh Azimiz (Remix)
The keyboards have a very David Banner-ish progression. As for Bow Wow, I'm not sure he isn't that different from Nick Cannon. (6)

Bubba Sparxxxx-Ms. New Booty
The beat comes on. You think it's a new Ying Yang Twins joint, but Bubba's voice says otherwise. You haven't heard Bubba spit on a club track in a long time. This makes you smile. And then, your body freezes in mid-thrust while you're dancing as soon as you hear some of the most fucking annoying, useless, grating, idiotic shouting that you've ever heard on a party song. The chorus is akin to farting during sex.

Busta Rhymes-Touch It
If a club could be banged any more harder than this, you would think there was a terrorist attack after you viewed the aftermath.

D4L-Betcha Can't
When they don't make annoying candy references, these guys aren't that bad. So not about the lyrics with these guys, it's about the groove.

Goldfrapp-Ride A White Horse
The Queen and King of dark electro pop continue to kick out the jams. This single goes along with the more atmospheric feel of Supernature as compared to Black Cherry.

Quasi R&B track in which Juvy auditions for the role of your perverted drunken uncle. (7)

Jzabehl-Naughty Boys
If I had a choice between this song or whatever Pussycat Dolls song that's on the radio, I'd probably blow my fucking brains out. (3)

Kaiser Chiefs-Na Na Na Na Na
Wears out its welcome quick after a few spins. You may think that you're listening to a good song, but be honest, you were probably pre-occupied with something else at the time, weren't you?

The Like-June Gloom
The breakdown during the chorus was one of the most gorgeous things I heard all last year. If this doesn't make their album a hit, then nothing else will.

Tha Liks-The Flute Song (LaLaLa)
Don't worry. They still got it. (8)

Euphoric. Scorching. Pulsing. We forgive you, baby.

Matisyahu-King Without A Crown
OMG! He'z Jewish and he singz reggae! So rad!

Morningwood-Nth Degree
I don't care if it's considered faux-indie or whatever you wanna call it, catchy is as catchy does. (7)

Ne-Yo-So Sick
Dude, you really should have kept "Let Me Love You" to yourself.

Nelly F/ Paul Wall, Ali & Gipp-Grillz
Paul Wall compares his mouth to a disco ball for the approximately 215th time, but JD's solid production and the hook are here to save the day. (7)

Pink-Stupid Girls
Pretty pedestrian musically for Pink, but I can always take comfort in the fact that she more than likely always have something interesting to stay. The video is a 9, the song: (6)

The Pipettes-Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me (pictured above)
Seriously, when have you ever heard a song where cheerleader chants, organs and guitars didn't work?

Prince-Black Sweat
Warning: Track may not cause you to a holler like a white girl but may cause serious dehydration and sunburn. When you finally think that Prince has stepped into the 21st century, he goes all Minn. funk on the chorus just to remind us all who the fuck he is. (7)

Mark Ronson F/ Phantom Planet-Just
I swear to you guys, even though this is one of my top 5 Radiohead songs, I approached this cover as objectively as I could. It's just a damn good recording.

T-Pain F/ Mike Jones-I'm In Luv With A Strippa
I admire T-Pain's honesty. First he was sprung, and now he's in love with a stripper. He gets points for interesting content, but that's really the only thing interesting about this song, which is sorely lacking in replayability. (5)

Sean Paul-Temperature
I actually feel sorry for Sean Paul. He releases two of the greatest singles of 2003 and possibly the decade ("Get Busy" and "Like Glue"), so everything afterwards is gonna pale in comparison. The Trinity won't do Dutty Rock numbers, but that's hard to grasp when the singles are this blazing.

The Sounds-Song With A Mission
More proof that Sweden will make any feeble attempt at American music look weak. Their sound hasn't changed much since Living In America, but lest you forget, Living In America kicked ass.

Three 6 Mafia-Popping My Collar
Worthy follow-up to the amazingly hot "Stay Fly." The rest of the album isn't as soul-infused as the singles would have you believe, but they've always made great music, so don't be alarmed. (8)

The Veronicas-Everything I'm Not
I wouldn't judge any heterosexual males who sing along to this song in the mirror while using their brush as a microphone. This is your one free pass. But if you're singing along to one of those tuneless Hilary Duff tracks...

Yeah Yeah Yeahs-Gold Lion
I'm not quite ready to see YYY give up their brash approach to guitar and drums, but if Show Your Bones does end up going all Zoso , this gives me little reason to complain. (8)

Yellowcard-Lights And Sounds
Call me a meth addict or whatever, but I actually like this one more than "Ocean Avenue" (which I can barely remember). That soaring chorus means they're trying. I'm a guy who appreciates effort. (7)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Most Anticipated '06 Releases

Okay, I know I'm a little late with this, but I figure it's still early enough in the year to discuss the albums that I anxiously await.

*Disclaimer: I am very well aware that some of these albums have been available on import since last year, but upon gaining the knowledge that they would get U.S. releases, I've restrained myself from listening to them until I can buy them at a fair price on my own soil.

1. Joi-Tennessee Slim Is The Bomb (Her 2002 album, Star Kitty's Revenge, continues to get much play in my stereo to this day. That album proved that Joi is one of the most forward thinking artists in R&B today, and one of the most underrated in general. Expect more of her sultry and experimental brand of soul when the album hopefully drops this spring.)

2. The Polyphonic Spree-The Fragile Army (One of my top 5 favorite bands today. If they make an album better than Together We're Heavy, I may die from an abundance of joy.)

3. Junior Senior-Hey Hey My My Yo Yo (D-D-Don't Stop The Beat has become one of my favorite albums this decade. If "Itch U Can't Skratch" is any indication, we're in for another delightful mix of pop and bubblegum funk.)

4. Outkast-Idlelwild/The Hard Ten (Yeah, this is sorta cheating since I'm naming two albums, but Outkast is one of the few groups that I will follow anywhere and I anticipate both of these albums equally.)

5. Ghostface-Fishscales (He's my favorite active MC. None of his albums have yet to be average.)

6. The Coup-Bring A Bigger Weapon (Being on Epitaph could result in more exposure for a group that definitely deserves it. The best hip hop group that you've probably never heard of. Check out "My Favorite Mutiny" featuring Talib Kweli and Black Thought)

7. Scissor Sisters-untitled (Another anticipation based on the band's previous album. If they keep the sex and the Elton John tribute going strong, this one should be just as enjoyable as their debut.)

8. The Knife-Silent Shout (I have yet to be convinced that they can do any wrong.)

9. Pharrell-In My Mind (I've followed pretty much every Neptunes-related project and have been rarely disappointed. )

10. The Veronicas-The Secret Life Of The Veronicas (I've been told this is a good pop album, and the only song I've heard, "I Can Get Used To This," became pretty hard to get out of my head.)

11. Kanye West-Graduation (Both of his albums placed in my top 5 in their respective years. How could I not be anticpating this album?)

12. Goldfrapp-Supernatural (Goldfrapp makes some of the sexiest music around today. Judging from "Ooh La La" and the Number 1 EP, the duo will continue to move forward with the electro dance sound of 2003's Black Cherry.)

13. Flaming Lips-At War With The Mystics (I could leave this space blank and you guys would still understand that anything the Lips do should be paid attention to.)

14. The Grates-untitled (I fell in love with them when I saw them open for The Go! Team. Their songs had a very juvenile, energetic quality to them.)

15. Gnarls Barkely-untitled (I'm honestly more excited in the Cee-Lo half of this project instead of the Danger Mouse half, but there are few who can deny the hotness of "Crazy."

the rest

Christina Aguilera-untitled
Erykah Badu-untitled
Bubba Sparxxx-The Charm
Busta Rhymes-The Big Bang
Cannibal Ox-untitled
Neko Case-Fox Cofessor Brings The Flood
The Concretes-In Colour
Death From Above 1979-untitled
The Delays-You See Colours
Dixie Chicks-untitled
DJ Shadow-untitled
Dr. Dre-Detox
Fiery Furnaces-Bitter Tea
Nelly Furtado-Loose
The Futureheads-untitled
The Hives-untitled
Junior Boys-untitled
Lady Sovereign-Public Warning
Ludacris-Release Therapy
The Mars Volta-untitled
Nellie McKay-Pretty Little Head
Rhett Miller-The Believer
Mylo-Destroy Rock & Roll
Nas-Nasir bin Olu Dara
The Noisettes-untitled
Obie Trice-2nd Rounds On Me
Ol' Dirty Bastard-A Son Unique
Beth Orton-Comfort Of Strangers
Pink-I'm Not Dead
Redman-Red Gone Wild
The Roots-Game Theory
The Secret Machines-10 Silver Drops
Starlight Mints-untitled
The Stills-untitled
The Streets-The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living
Justin Timberlake-untitled
Vitalic-OK Cowboy
Yeah Yeah Yeahs-Show Your Bones

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

It's good out here for a pimp...

Oscar nominations came out today, and for the most part I'm pleased. I already knew that my favorite movie of the year, Good Night And Good Luck would get a good deal of the main nods, but I was elated to find that Terrence Howard got a nod for Hustle & Flow. There was a chance his slot would go to Russell Crowe for Cinderella Man since he got a Golden Globe nomination as well, and there were already so many locks for the Best Actor category (Phoenix, Hoffman, Ledger), but the trend of African-American actors being nominated for Best Actor continues. Of course Howard won't win since the award is really a three-man race between the aforementioned front-runners, but his honest and endearing portrayal of a conflicted pimp looking for one last shot at redemption is still noteworthy. The movie is worth seeing just for him.

If you want to look at all the other nominees, go to

Friday, January 27, 2006

Pandora owns you

For those not in the know, is one of the hottest websites around. It's a website that creates an online station based on an artist or song of your choosing. What it does is takes the characteristics of said artist or song and find other similar artist or songs and plays them in that station. So for instance, the first thing I put in was Puffy AmiYumi and it created a station that played some of the most ass-kicking, sugar-coated guitar pop that I've heard in a while. A few of my favorite stations are: Scott Walker, Nancy Sinatra, David Banner, and a station based on The Supremes' song, "You Can't Hurry Love." If anyone finds a better internet station than this (besides of course), let me know so I can die with a smile on my face.