Saturday, October 28, 2006

Musings From the Back 9: Music Edition III

Ludacris - Release Therapy

Before dropped, declared that this would be the album that the rap game would take him seriously not just a jester who would sport five foot afros and The Hulk hands in videos and even shaved his trademarck braids in the process. Then he goes and releases Moneymaker as the first single off the album with such thought provoking lyrics, “Took yo momma nine moths to make you, might as well shake what yo momma gave ya.” Okay, so he is not. But trying to be may not have been the best idea because the Luda created a nice niche for himself in rap but with this album, without the usual wit, he just sounds like everyone else. Then when he tries to grow out his boundaries, like with his soft diss track War with God, it just falls flat. And who exactly is he dissing here? He includes the line “Just do what your song says and shut the (expletive deleted) up” which is a line from his own Get Back. Being a rap album there are plenty of guests rappers including , , , , and along with hook singers, , , and on the way too sentimental Runaway Love. Luda does save the best for last with church inspired Freedom of Preach where Luda takes the pulpit with . But it’s too little too late to save the album.

Release Therapy gets a Terror Alert Level: Guarded [BLUE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Sister Hazel - Absolutely

Remember the musical landscape of the nineties? It started out with the dark and bleak Grunge era and end with the onslaught with the uber-fluff of boy band. But somewhere in the middle there was a few years where rock music that were reminiscent of old time rock and roll ruled the charts with bands like , and . One of the best songs from this period of music was All for You by that was pretty much their only hit. And much like other bands from that era, are releasing an album to try to get back past success. But much like all those other bands (Better Than Ezra excluded), their new album entitled sounds very nineties and is just a rehash of previous work granted with nothing as catchy as All for You. That doesn’t necessarily make it a bad album, This Kind of Love should be included on your next mixtape for a significant other, but the retro sound does it make a good one. Give it another decade before the nineties sound comes back in style.

Absolutely get a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Method Man - 4:21… the Day After

was always the breakout star of the . But to his credit, whenever the troupe reconvened for an album or tour, he was always there and would routinely recruited Clan alums to appear on his album or produce his tracks. But something seems different with his new album , name after, well, just think of what the day before 4:21 is, and if you still don’t get it, the opening starts off with a “make marijuana legal” chant. But the album sounds overproduced thanks to weak tracks from Scott Storch, the guy who brought us and . And for a guy from the dirty slums of Shaolin, his music should never sound overproduced. Bad production aside, Meth can still spit some quality although he lets his guest outshine him occasionally like the late great on Dirty Mef and running mate on Walk On, the standout track, and Red even has the best line on the album with “I’ll blow your mind like Kurt Cobain.” also makes a great appearance on Say. But some of the guests, like Morbidly Obese Joe on Ya’Meen, turns what should be a great track into a mediocre one.

4:21… the Day After gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Yippee-I-Yay Yippee-I-Yo

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes Love Their Country

When it comes to , it’s always the parodies that get all the press, but for me, it’s the polkas that make the album. The parodies are always hit are miss, but Al has never made a bad polka and can usually turn an unlistenable song, much like the Don’t Cha on his latest album, into thoroughly enjoyable medleys. If you are like me and find Al’s polka medleys entertaining, here’s a band for you: who take pop songs, but there genre of choice is punk. Comprised of members of NOFX and Foo Fighters, the band has been converting songs into punk since 1995 and you have not lived until you have heard their rendition of ’s I Believe I Can Fly.

After albums featuring songs from the 60’s and 70’s (Have a Ball), show tunes (Are a Drag), R&B (Take a Break), as well the live album Ruin Johnny’s Bar Mitzvah which was recoded live at some dude named Johnny’s actual Bar Mitzvah. But on , the boys naturally focus on country music. Now even if you are like me and avoid country like the plague, you will most likely still recognize most of the songs here like On the Road Again (), I’m So Lonely I Could Cry (), Looking for Love (). Also look out for other country artists that actually don’t suck like , (not to be confused with the cheating baseball player), , and , and yes Desperado is basically a country song.

But the highlights of the album are their versions of ’s Jolene and the ’s Goodbye Earl if only it’s extremely hilarious hearing a dude singing very female specific lyrics which they don’t change at all. If there is one complaint it would be that the band chooses Garth Brooks Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old) with the begging to be mocked Friends in Low Places. Well that and the under a half an hour run time. Plus the album has the potential to get old real quick, but I’m just knit picking here.

Song to Download - Goodbye Earl

Love Their Country gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Toss Up: Lost vs Veronica Mars week 4

Dick and KeithBefore I get to this week Toss Up between Lost and , I just have to say Dick making a house call to the Mars apartment may have been the greatest scene in the whole series, from Dick saying he once picked up his maid there, to “Why rape a cow when you’re swimming in free milk,” to Dick calling the Mars kitchenette cute, and Dick saying thanks threw the door because Ronnie told him to leave now before she changed her mind. The Dick and Ronnie scenes are always the best so it make me wonder how long until Vee sports an “I (Heart) Dick” t-shirt. And seriously how has this scene not made it to YouTube yet? But anyways. Onto the Toss Up:

Ooo, two islandsTour around the Habitat
Lost: Not- Henry takes Sawyer up a hill to see that there are two islands
Veronica Mars: Dick invites himself around and scouts out Ronnie’s cute kitchen
Winner: Veronica Mars

Caught on Tape
Lost: Sawyer plotting his escape
Veronica Mars: The possible rapist was caught having Claire use her ATM
Winner: Lost

The dude from The Drew Carey ShowBack Together
Lost: Apparently the dude from The Drew Carey Show has worked with the creator of Lost before
Veronica Mars: The cast of
Winner: Veronica Mars

Welcome to the Family
Lost: Sawyer’s daughter
Veronica Mars: Logan’s half brother
Winner: Lost

Reading Material
Veronica Mars: Heart Free Press
Winner: Lost

Double Cross
Lost: Sawyer used the dude from The Drew Carey Show to get out of jail
Veronica Mars: The dude from used the other Logan to scoop a story
Winner: Veronica Mars

Lost: Not-Henry
Veronica Mars: Not-Charlie
Winner: Lost

Apple GolfForm of entertainment
Lost: Golfing with apples
Veronica Mars: Baywatch pinball machine
Winner: Veronica Mars

Forced Form of Entertainment
Lost: Watching cartoons in a shark tank
Veronica Mars: Being groped in a Boo Room
Winner: Lost

Follow the Money
Lost: Sawyer tries to make it hard for his daughter to find out who gives her money
Veronica Mars: Logan’s business made it hard to find out where his trust fund is going
Winner: Lost

Working for the Enemy
Lost: Jacks helps operate on an Other
Veronica Mars: Ronnie clears the Pi Sigs of any wrong doing
Winner: Veronica Mars

Ronnie and Dick: together at lastWork Clothes
Lost: Juliet wears her Dharma scrubs to operate on the dying Other
Veronica Mars: Vee wears a pants suit when interviewing the Pi Sigs
Winner: Veronica Mars

New Guys
Lost: In four episodes we’ve seen a fleeting glimpse one of the new chicks and not much more of the new dude
Veronica Mars: In four episodes, Piz has been MIA half the time and Parker was missing for one
Winner: Veronica Mars

Parker and her Jersey Mall Hair wig: I'd hit thatA close win for Veronica Mars this week with both shows rebounding from poor outings last week. But here is something that is bugging me with both shows that I hinted at in the lat toss up of this week that both shows are not really doing a very good job handling the new cast members. Veronica Mars has done slightly better when they introduced Piz and Parker in episode one but Piz was missing from two of the next three episodes and Parker “went to the gym” after the previous episodes mini cliffhanger where she may have gone back home with her parents. Then on Lost aside from, Juliet, we have barely seen the two newbies and four episodes in and I done even know their names. What makes this more disturbing is how bad both show did last year introducing new characters leading to Jackie being written off while Ana Lucia and Libby both got killed off. Even the regulars seem to be missing this year as we have only seen Weevil, Lamb, Sun, Jin, Sayid, Eko once each this year. Of course I’m just saying this because I want to see more of Parker especially if she continues to wear her Jersey Mall hair wig.

Someone's tumorSome big news on Lost this week, of course none of which answered any questions but instead raised some more, the biggest being that there are two islands. Now we know exactly why Not-Henry didn’t want Sayid to have the yacht. But this raises some big questions like how did Desmond not see the second island. And where exactly is the town we saw on in the opening scene of the season? It has to be on the main island if both Ethan and Goodwin could get there by foot, right? Or are there underground tunnels that we don’t know about? The other big unanswered question is who has the tumor on the back that Jack saw? Is this is why he was taken? Keep in mind only two more episodes new episodes until February. Oh and Sawyer is apparently a dad and Desmond can still see into the future.

Then on Veronica Mars, there was actually more happening than Dick visiting Ronnie. Dick, of course, was there to ask Vee to help get the Phi Sigs off the hook for all rapes because she did such a good job last year getting the brothers off for that rape case. Umm, did I miss something? I remember her clearing Troy’s name, but not the Phi Sigs. If fact didn’t she get them in trouble for their points board? But you got to love when she addressed the Phi Sigs as, “Dick, Chip, random Star Trek dudes.”

The two LogansThen there was the whole Not-Charlie storyline, although I believe Ronnie called him Fake-Charlie instead. Great job by hyping the Logans being brothers all summer only to pull a fast one on us. I’ve never understood why people that run or act in shows don’t lie more to fight spoilers, it would at the very least more entertaining than the standard “I can’t answer that.” And then the other plot twist with the chick from Just Shoot Me who finds out that not only is her husband not cheating but he actually turned down someone’s advances.

And now for my way out there theory of the week: the rapist and the head shaver are two different people. Okay, so here’s how this plays out, after a rape occurs, the feminists swoop in and shave the heads to help their case in getting the fraternities and the Lampoon guys kicked off campus.

Download Lost

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Don't Download These Videos vol. IV

There have been a couple of videos that have caught my eye lately so I though I’d give them some love since the death of Musical Television left a void for a forum on the art form so here they are courtesy of YouTube. I advise you to watch them before you read my reviews if you don’t want me to spoil things. If you are interested in buying the video through iTunes, click the title link (where available, if not the link goes to YouTube where you can watch the video in full screen). If you are interested in buying the song, look for a link in the analysis.

Hurt - Christina Aguilera

Yeah the big plot twist under the big top has been done before and to better effect by and in claymation by , the chair spinning thing is annoying, and Christina Aguilera continues her decent in to looking more and more like a drag queen, but when it comes there are very few videos that give me the chills and this is one of them. And even though Johnny Cash’s song with the same title is much better, Xtina’s song may have something to do with the chill factor. And am I the only one who thinks her “dad” looks like the new .

Keeping with the big top theme, here’s the latest video from off of her debut not the recent acoustic one. Now my courses tell me that the song has been featured in a few crappy television shows, but don’t let that negatively effect the song (same goes for Chasing Cars that has wrongfully co-opted by even crappier shows). There is also a cool CGI version (for the British I think) of the video if you can hunt that one down.

There is something seriously wrong with the charts that a fill with disposable rap songs that pretty much are the exact same song, yet the originally refreshing can seem to get a hit. Here’s his latest album from the film Half Nelson. To be honest one of the reasons I’m showing this video is to get more face time for the dude from whom I used to get mistaken for back before he fell into obscurity. So hopefully this movie put him (and Rhymefest) back in the spotlight so I can get some “you remind me of the dude from The Notebook” lovin’.

In a story I broke yesterday, released the best baby making album of the millennium so far. Need proof? Look no further than the first single from Once Again where over the course of four minutes, Legend hooks up with as many as eight video hofessionals. My personal favorites are the token white chick and the chick in the cab. And once again, if there are any video hofessionals who would like to test out the baby making ability of the album and will be greater Cleveland area soon, shout me a holla.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tonight I Wanna Groove and Let the Music Make You Move

Once Again - John Legend

Much has been made of the poor track record for the Grammy’s Best New Artist winners, but the award has also been handed out to such artists as , , , and a little band out of Liverpool, England, called The Beatles. So don’t write off last year’s winner just yet. Plus it’s not like Best New Artist was the only golden gramophone that Legend took home that night as he also nabbed two other awards that night. Fun Best New Artist fact, is also a winner. Yes that Bob Newhart.

On the Best R&B Album of last year Get Lifted, Legend effortless blended classic rhythm and blues with modern day hip-hop thanks to guest producers , who also provided a verse, and as well as a memorable spot from . But even though West and are back behind the boards on the follow up , gone are the guest rappers as well as any resemblance to a hip-hop beat. Instead the album is inspired by some of his favorite singers. You can hear ’s influence, whom Legend recently did a duet with, on the opener Save Room where Legend croons over some mellow organs. Then on Show Me, Legend channels and puts it over some soul music. While Slow Dance sounds like classic had John Mayer played guitar for them.

There are times on the album where it sound like Legend is trying to recreate past hits like with Stereo, a song about a golddigger whose “favorite colors are platinum and gold” that might as well be called Used to Love U II. Thanks to the sparse instrumentation aside from the piano and lyrics dealing with relationships, Again could also go by Ordinary People Again. Although the diversity on the rest of the album makes it worth picking up and you might as well start engraving Legend’s name on the Best R&B Album Grammy for the second straight year.

But when it comes down to it, fore those who are missing great baby making albums that seemed to have disappeared along with ’s career this is the album for you. If can’t get things done with songs like Slow Dance or PDA (We Just Don’t Care), where Legend encourages his companion to hook up whenever, wherever, it may be time to look into joining your local monastery. If fact if there are token hot chicks that are (or will be) in the Cleveland-metro area and would like to test out the baby-making ability of this album shout me a holla. (Scooter’s Note: This will only be a test so no actual baby will be made in the test run, just the act of baby making)

Song to Download - Slow Dance

Once Again gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

John Legend on iTunes

Monday, October 23, 2006

I Don't Have to Raise My Voice

Acoustic Extravaganza - KT Tunstall

Earlier this year, released one of the best pop albums in recent memory with Eye to the Telescope even garnering a rare Severe rating on my Terror Alert Scale (see: Her Face Is the Map of the World). A couple months after that album, Tunstall released , a collection of songs that was recorded in one day, through her website. But now it’s getting a proper release along with an accompanying DVD which includes a making of the album documentary. Don’t expect an acoustic rendering of the big hit Black Horse and the Cherry Tree or even the follow up single Suddenly I See.

Instead, the album is comprises mostly of material that didn’t make the first album and work as acoustics songs instead of converting her hits like a poor version of MTV Unplugged. The last three tracks though are from the album, Miniature Disaster, Universe & U, as well as Throw Me a Rope, which was on the British release of the album but got cut from the Yankee release. But the newer tracks are the real gems most notably the opening track Ashes that bounces along like a country track and is also the song that gets the album its Parental Advisory sticker so be warned. Then One Day could have fit perfectly somewhere on her first album is polished up a little.

As Eye to the Telescope was close to pop perfection, Acoustic Extravaganza fall short of its predecessor thanks in part to the theme of the album. Acoustic songs lend themselves to be mellower than there plugged in counterparts which lead to a lull of too many mellow songs in the middle of the album. Add to that the holdovers from the first album just are not as good as the originals. But with that said, had this had been album that was released first; it would be up there as one of the best of the year.

Song to Download - Ashes

Acoustic Extravaganza gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

First Impressions: Ice T's Rap School

Ice-T's Rap SchoolBack in 2003, in a time when Jack Black was still funny, he made a movie called where Black played a long term substitute teacher at a private school who taught his class how to rock so he could enter a battle of the bands. This then spun off a reality show where Gene Simmons of did basically the same thing, but with the private school’s approval that naturally appeared on VH1. VH1 is now taking the same concept but with rap and the original gangsta himself, as the educator in the appropriately titled Ice-T’s Rap School. Iceberg now has a couple weeks to school the Middle Schoolers in all that is hip-hop before the final exam which is opening up for . Of course it’s Public Enemy because VH1 much fill their minimum requirement to feature Favor Flav on their channel.

SophiaBut the stars of the show are the students that have no clue how to rap and weren’t even born when Ice recorded New Jack Hustler. The standout is Sophia who complained after Ice announced they were taking a field trip to the South Bronx that she would be shot, murdered, and raped. Then later she endured herself less to Ice when she said that sunglasses he handpicked for her to were “Ghetto.” If Sophia moved out to the west coast in two or three years she could easily be the new star of . Then there is Dodge who wears pinstripe suits over his prep school uniform and listens to old school music. And by old school I’m not referring to Ice-T, no even older like stuff from the forties.

Dodge CityThe cast is rounded out by a student with a stutter, your token kid with a bad case of attention deficit disorder, the stock market playing kid, the uber-shy fat chick, the poor girl who attends the school on scholarship, and another token mean girl that is Sophia’s running mate. The very British headmaster may be showing up quite often as Ice got called to the principal’s office in his first week complaining that he was dressing the kids up like little gangstas. Apparently Mr. Headmaster didn’t do his homework before letting Ice-T supervise his students. Not to mention I don’t think Ice is Highly Qualified under the No Child Behind Act.

Verdict: For a guy who made his living on very aggressive lyrics, Ice surprising is very good around the kids (maybe it’s all those years seeing the bad side of adults and how they treat children with his tenure on Law and Order). Ice-T’s Rap School is a show that is actually something for the whole family, which is rare on television these days. New episodes of Ice-T’s Rap School airs Fridays at 9:00 on VH1 (of course the episodes will be repeated constantly) and you can check out deleted and extended scenes on VH1’s broadband channel .