Thursday, December 17, 2009

Best of the 2000s: Albums

Dear readers of What Is Groove?,

Your faithful committee of one has tortured his brain and eardrums in creating a list meant to reflect his view on the 20 best albums and songs of the last ten years. Examining the artists that appeared numerous times, it became clear that the foremost artists this decade were OutKast and Radiohead. I tried to make these lists as objectively as possible, taking holistic views of artists and the music they created, instead of a self-satisfying exercise in taste. Of course, don't treat the lists as gospel. I hope y
ou enjoy reading about these albums and songs, and who knows, you may discover something you had overlooked in the past. So without further Bob McAdoo...

1. Radiohead,
Kid A (2000)

In the classic rock era, "back to basics" meant embracing acoustic instruments, folk, country, and early rock n' roll influences. Fast-forwarding to 2000, we run into Radiohead, three years after their breakthrough OK Computer and going back to basics themselves. Only this time, deconstruction of rock n' roll is not based on the genre's musical origins, but on ideas of what rock n' roll could be. Verse-chorus-bridge structures are largely ignored, live drums are mainly absent,
the lyrics are mumbled in exhausted hazes, and the soundscapes feel simultaneously distant and immediate, expansive and minute. It's not merely rock n' roll, but a leveling and extreme reduction of its assumptions. Oh, the songs are great too. "Morning Bell" is an overpowering portrait of divorce and loss. "Everything In Its Right Place" and "How To Disappear Completely" are meditations on the price of stardom and the alienation it produces. Even the most "rock" style tunes - from the free brass blowing in "The National Anthem" to the ironically amoral "Optimistic" - are disorienting and jarring. Kid A was Radiohead's first piece of evidence suggesting that the best band in the world may also be its most progressive.

2. OutKast,
Stankonia (2000)

From the
Sly Stone cover, down to the bubbling basslines, syncopated mayhem, big hooks, outrageous humor, and heavy amounts of stankydank consumed in its recording, Stankonia is easily the most creative, important piece of funk since Prince's heyday. Yeah, I said it. Funk though it is, hip-hop is its essence. Where else can you get an in your face dose of cosmic slop with "Gasoline Dreams" and also hear dudes talk about how cool they are ("So Fresh, So Clean")?
"B.O.B." is the most out there tune of the decade, bringing gospel choir, funk and metal guitar, hard electrofunk, and catatonic snares all under the fold. Its title proved to be prophetic as well. (Stank, the Southern pronunciation of "stink" is one of the original definitions of the word "funk.") Stankonia, then, "the place from which all funky things come," is the absolute embodiment of what this record is about. True, there are numerous contradictions in the album, from the ladies first ("Ms. Jackson" and "I'll Call Before I Come") to the ladies last ("Snappin' & Trappin'" and "We Luv Deez Hoez"), and from the anti-materialist ("Red Velvet") to the "Gangsta Shit." The album dares not have a bottom line though, and challenges its listeners to try to find one themselves, all while shaking their asses. Reversing Funkadelic's maxim, OutKast seem to encourage us to free our asses and our minds will follow.

3. D'Angelo, Voodoo (2000)

All hail ye grand smoky groove! D'Angelo's sophomore album is simply the best R&B album of the decade, and quite possibly of the last two. It was part of the neo-soul movement, which aimed to incorporate hip-hop and old school R&B sensibilities. The unhurried pace of the tunes make them often sound like random mid-points in cannabisjams, all while feigning a haphazard approach. The truth is that the tunes are supremely focused. D'Angelo and his cohort seamlessly blend fat hip-hop backbeats with the pulsating grooves of vintage '70s soul and funk while his multitracked vocals fall somewhere between Marvin Gaye, Al Green, and Prince (especially "Untitled [How Does It Feel]"). The thick funk of "Playa, Playa" and "The Line" isn't diminished by the low BPMs. In fact, D'Angelo shows that the slow, tense simmer is just as good in funk as in boudoir soul. As a whole, the album builds on the continuum of classic R&B by adding hip-hop inflections, vocal themes and phrases, and lyrical matter. The misunderstood minimalism of the tracks should not be seen as a fault: Think of it as a way of getting to the roots, to the origins of soul, where they bask in cauldrons amid heavy history, spinning wax, Stevie, minor 9ths, scratched 16ths, hard bass, falsetto grasps, all in all, an attempt to re-imagine modern soul and where D'Angelo sees it needs to go. That's the voodoo.

4. My Morning Jacket, Z (2005)

For about seven years, My Morning Jacket had been toiling as a country roots band. With their fourth studio album, the band embraced its alternative rock potential, leaned on the melodic benefits of a good keyboard player, and let the guitars rip. Such is Z, one of the most dreamlike, trance-inducing alternative rock
albums. Jim James's exquisite voice is put to the test in the first track, "Wordless Chorus." His falsetto wails may not have a literal meaning, but they create a visceral, emotional meaning. When was the last time you heard singing this good in a rock band? A splash of reggae via Hawaii Five-O in "Off The Record" kicks off the tune, before the dub jam sets in. "Lay Low" is an exquisite exercise in the development of tension and release. Once the jam begins, both guitars begin a rolling chase, playing melodies that each hint at or play half of, then disappear or stop. Little by little, the dual guitar solos overlap in jousting melodicism, and when they play the crescendoing melody in harmony, it is utterly devastating. "Dondante," the album closer, is another guitar showcase, desolate and bleak, but ultimately ravishing as well. James and his band manage to reinterpret alternative rock as an extension of classic rock, in which solos are not postmodern blatherings and compositions are equally elusive and expressive.

5. Ghostface Killah, Fishscale (2006)

Non sequiturs are one thing, abstract, bullet-paced logorrhea is something else entirely. Ghostface raps in a way nobody has before by choosing not always to craft meaning but effect. That's why his rhyme schemes, attention to detail, and metaphors transcend an everyday rapper's. Take "Shakey Dog," the first track. It's one long narrative, almost four minutes long, about a drug raid gone wrong, with no hook or chorus, immense amount of narrative details (cab fees, shoe types, food being eaten, dialogue, et al.) and on top of all that, chord changes. The last four bars of every 16 occupy a single chord change that often underlines the action in the story being narrated. And that's just the first track. "The Champ" is a live band rip, with Ghost flying at 200 mph,
with no regard to logical connections ("I'm James Bond in the octagon with two razors.") The best Wu-Tang jam since the 36 Chambers is here with "9 Milli Bros." and J Dilla contributes from the beyond in "Whip You With A Strap," where the sampled tune is his own "One For Ghost." Good thing Dilla was looking out. Unlike the vast majority of other high performance hip-hop records of the decade, Fishscale achieves unity between production and rapping, where each would be unimaginable without the other. Ghostface Killah's vocal performances are unparalleled in hip-hop, and Fishscale represents his high water mark.

6. Kings of Leon, Aha Shake Heartbreak (2005)

The "Southern Strokes" is old, homie, let it go. Also old are the cutesy recounts of the band being descendants of a Pentecostal minister named Leon and being comprised of three brothers (Caleb, Nathan, and Jared) and one first cousin (Matthew), all of them of the surname Followill. This band is the most promising American rock band not named My Morning Jacket. Their boogie swagger and inventiveness is simultaneously a throwback and a progression. They got some Stones circa Exile on Main Street in them, balanced between disorder and focus, but they also move the melodic heart from the guitar to the bass. This funkiest instrument and its player, Jared, hold do
wn the riffs ("Slow Night, So Long") and the center of the tunes, while the guitars swirl and dip in all directions. It serves as both anchor and rudder, an unusual and subversive role. Caleb's vocals are the second most awe-inspiring sound on this album. In the songs where he sings of loose women that confound him ("Soft," "Taper Jean Girl," "Milk," let's just say 90% of the album), he both repels and attracts them with his viciousness and vulnerability. Compound that with his sandpaper-on-jagged-glass voice and you have a singular achievement.

7. Erykah Badu, Mama's Gun (2000)

It would be unfair to label Badu's first album of the new millennium as the female neo-soul version of D'Angelo's Voodoo (or vice versa.) It's a bold, deliberate attempt to reconcile analog soul (dig the muted tones in the album cover, plus her Natty Dread glare) with jazz phrasing and hip-hop attitude. Thematically, the album sticks to heartbreak, excluding the barn-burning opener, "Penitentiary Philosophy," which serves as her own sign 'o' the times. Badu bares everything she's got in the album, revealing anguish and emotional wreckage in the closing multipart suite "Green Eyes," about her breakup with Andre 3000 from OutKast. Between these bookends, Badu insinuates herself inside slinky funk grooves ("Booty"), ride a midnight wave ("Didn't Cha Know"), and devotes herself to spiritual ("Kiss Me On My Neck [Hesi]) and social ("A.D. 2000," about the violent death of Amadou Diallo) causes. Neo-soul wasn't really a genre. It was a natural extension of musicians using what's at their disposal. For many soul and R&B artists, hip-hop has been a part of their musical education, so why not use it? This Badu does tremendously, with help from ?uestlove on the drums, J Dilla on production, and Pino Palladino on bass. Most of this crew was known as the Soulquarians, along with others such as James Poyser and Q-Tip, and their very best work were D'Angelo's and Badu's albums from the year 2000.

8. Radiohead, Amnesiac (2001)
9. OutKast, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003)
10. Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine (2005)
11. My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges (2008)
12. Radiohead, In Rainbows (2007)
13. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III (2008)
14. Danger Mouse, The Grey Album (2004)
15. The Mars Volta, Frances the Mute (2005)
16. U2, All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000)
17. The White Stripes, Elephant (2003)
18. Erykah Badu, New Amerykah (4th World War) (2008)
19. MGMT, Oracular Spectacular (2007)
20. Ghostface Killah, Supreme Clientele (2000)

Best of the 2000s: Songs

The first in two-part Best Of series in this here blog will focus on the best songs of the decade. I took into account general greatness and also effect in popular culture and music. Stay tunes for the top albums of the 2000s.

1. "Crazy" - Gnarls Barkley

The biggest song of the decade was the one your mom and dentist liked too. Dark, paranoid, and catchy as hell, it was completely unavoidable. Danger Mouse's spacious production left a lot room for Cee-Lo's haunting vocals to breathe. When the age of YouTube and the death of radio seemed to be a reality, in came this true worldwide hit, and with it the retro feeling of a song taking over the world. The Raconteurs, Nelly Furtado, and Ray LaMontagne are a few of the artists who have covered this song so far.

2. "Hey Ya!" - OutKast

Who would have thought that a solo Andre 3000 song would be one of the best songs of the decade? Especially considering that it's not a hip-hop tune, but an electro pop nugget. The bubblegum chorus was inescapable even before the video came out. After seeing the eight Andres and the jockey-looking background vocalists, it absolutely exploded. And yes, the tune still sounds weird today.

3. "Paper Planes" - M.I.A.

Arguably the best production in a hip-hop song this belonged to M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes." Yet it was her unification of production to content that elevated the song to its current status. The tribulations of the hustler, trying to make a living when odds have been stacked against, is not only the theme of the tune, but of masses trying to persist. Not only bangin' and dope, but significant too.

4. "Seven Nation Army" - The White Stripes

Delta blues via Detroit lo-fi. Wailing slides and thunderous percussion. Jack and Meg White. "Seven Nation Army" is heavy with a purpose, it rocks with rhythm and Jack's E-String lick, and with the most memorable riff of the decade. If you wanted to melt your face with aggressive, stratosphere reaching guitar work, you could do worse than picking this tune.

5. "B.O.B." - OutKast

What is this? Gospelfunk on electro hip-hop steroids? Yes, indeed. Andre 3000 and Big Boi rap about the end of times for contemporary humans without irony. When the choir comes in at the end singing of "Power music/electric revival," it is as much a prayer for hope as an acknowledgment of the song's greatness.

6. "A Milli" - Lil Wayne

The baddest man in the planet, freestyling his way to immortality, Lil Wayne takes this hot, menacing beat and creates a song about his awesomeness. Too many hilarious and surprising lyrical moments to highlight, but let's try: "Tell the coppers hahahaha/you can't catch 'em;" "Look at that bastard Weezy/he's a beast, he's a dog/he's a motherfucking problem/OK you're a goon/but what's a goon to a goblin?"

7. "How To Disappear Completely" - Radiohead

"That there, that's not me," Thom Yorke begins singing. It's not a portrait of invisibility, but a confession of alienation and loss of identity. The song's atmospherics allow the listener to imagine and actually observe the evaporation of the narrator. It's an exquisite song, and one of the very best Radiohead have composed.

8. "Electric Feel" - MGMT
9. "Reptilia" - The Strokes
10. "Stan" - Eminem
11. "Shakey Dog" - Ghostface Killah
12. "Idioteque" - Radiohead
13. "Crazy In Love" - Beyonce
14. "99 Problems" - Jay-Z
15. "Ms. Jackson" - OutKast
16. "Taper Jean Girl" - Kings of Leon
17. "Stronger" - Kanye West
18. "Last Nite" - The Strokes
19. "Lay Low" - My Morning Jacket
20. "Hot Night" - Meshell Ndegeocello

(Photo credit: Bao Nguyen)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

In Search of Loss

Yesterday night I went to see the Dark Star Orchestra, a band dedicated to recreating the Grateful Dead concert experience. Though they sometimes create their original setlists made up entirely of Grateful Dead songs, they usually cover complete concerts, from beginning to end. The show they ended up covering was October 2, 1972, originally played by the Grateful Dead at the Springfield Civic Center in Massachusetts, but played last night at the Lowell Auditorium.

It's worth to mention that the Orchestra was without its founding guitar player John Kadlecik because he had just resigned to join Furthur - a band with original Grateful Dead members Phil Lesh and Bob Weir - as a full-time lead guitar player. Taking his place for the night was Jeff Mattson (left), who played earlier with Donna Jean Godchaux's band as the opening act. He played capably, quoting Jerry tones and lead lines, building the dramatic solo in "Morning Dew" to a hard peak and running quicksilver Mixolydian scales across multiple octaves in "Playin' In The Band."

The crowd was comprised of mostly baby boomers, some talking about the last time they had seen Donna and some young, wasted people. Most audience members knew all the tunes and could predict the expected high points in some arrangements. But somewhere above the bobbing heads and the Windows '95 light show there was an irrevocable sense of loss.

What were the audience members looking for? Why were so many there, in a cramped auditorium seeing a Grateful Dead cover band? Why were they reacting with such joy and anticipation at familiar opening chords or at expected arrangements? I counted myself as one of those people until midway through the first set. Then profound sadness and a sense of irretrievability sunk in. As my show companion said, "This is a cover band, people. Not the Grateful Dead." And it's absolutely and unarguably true. Mattson tried to play like Jerry and rhythm guitarist Rob Eaton imitated Bob Weir's vocal inflections. In short, every band member put on their Dead suits for the night, and I felt truly sad. Yes, their attention to detail, in "Half Step" particularly, was outstanding, eliminating the jam before the vocal section of the coda since the Dead didn't play that in 1972. But I just couldn't help thinking that the people at the show - and the performers on stage - were in search of a ghost, a ghost that has been long gone, and will be forever lost.

Phil Lesh once said, "Since Jerry's death I get the feeling that a lot of Heads need to confirm for themselves that it was as good as they thought it was." And that's what going to a Dark Star Orchestra show feels like. A bunch of people looking for confirmation that their memories were really as good as they thought they were. Only one idea struck me for the duration of the show: Jerry Garcia is dead. He's gone. Gone. And nothing's going to bring him back.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Who - Live at Leeds

Yes, I know, I'm late to the party. Doesn't make much sense reviewing a record that came out almost 40 years ago, does it? Well, it's new to me and sufficiently mind-blowing to necessitate some exposition.

Word on the street is that Pete Townshend burned all the tapes from a US tour in a huge bonfire and then booked a short British tour for the purpose of creating a live album. This is after The Who Sell Out and Tommy, and before Who's Next and Quadrophenia, literally at the very apex of the band's prodigious powers. It was common for the band to perform Tommy in its entirety in this period, which they did at the Leeds show, and whose performance they included in the Deluxe edition of Live at Leeds in 2001.

To be honest, it doesn't make much sense to include the famous (at this point, infamous) rock opera with a live album that was always intended to sound and look like a bootleg. The non-Tommy music is The Who at their most unhinged; Tommy is The Who at their most structured, relying on story and order rather than combustible energy. For this reason, I prefer the 1995 reissue of the album, which includes the original six songs on the 1970 album, along with eight other tunes (including "Amazing Journey" and "Sparks" from the Tommy part of the set.)

Recorded Valentine's Day 1970, Live at Leeds fucking rocks the house, busts eardrums and roofs and molars and loins. It is HEAVY, intense, and insane. The Who go all Cream on our heads with all three instrumentalists soloing at the same time ("Heaven and Hell"), but bassist John Entwistle (known as The Ox) and drummer Keith Moon are incomparably better than Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. When guitarist Pete Townshend solos he sounds like a rhythm player, and of course The Ox knows this and solos himself as Pete is going off and Moon is just himself - nuts and playing fills and rolls without abandon - while vocalist Roger Daltrey wails his way to goldenlocked rock n' roll glory.

All the unexpected segues ("See Me, Feel Me" and "Underture," among them) in "My Generation" are flawless; "Young Man Blues" is protometal; the two chord pounce after the "Soon Be Home" section in the middle of "A Quick One (While He's Away)" is punk and grunge melodic power at its mightiest. It's incredible how the record sounds both so heavy and loud and yet so spare at the same time. There's a lot of space between the instruments. Perhaps that has to do with the lack of rhythmic accompaniment (either bass, keys, rhythm guitar) to "main" instruments, since all musicians are basically playing lead. Everybody is going at it, it's life or death, jam out or risk annihilation. It's the most rock n' roll record I've ever heard, the most unapologetic, and the most prophetic. Yes, The Who's maximum R&B is highlighted here, but there are also punk, metal, and grunge moments.

Listening to this record makes me wonder why The Who is the most underrated band among the rightly famous British bands - Beatles, Stones, Led Zep - from the golden age of rock. I think their reputation has suffered in the last decade or so because the perceived and acknowledged pretentiousness of Tommy the rock opera. The band's standing in rock's pantheon of greatness will surely be subject of another post, but for now, let Live at Leeds be exhibit A for The Who's immortality.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ray Charles - "Bein' Green"

This is my personal favorite musical performance on Sesame Street. Ray sings with conviction, emotion, and heart, taking a somewhat whimsical tune and making it a soul ballad. It's an incredible performance. The song may sound corny - especially if you're hearing Kermit sing it - but the movement from shame and self-doubt to pride and acceptance is truly touching. "Bein' Green" of course is a metaphor for feeling inferior, for being made fun of or discriminated against for whatever reason (race, disability, religion, social status, anything) and then realizing that you don't need another person's acceptance to feel good about yourself. You need your own. What better lesson for kids to learn than to love and be proud of who they are?

Happy 40th Birthday Sesame Street.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Behold ye DUBSTEP

Dubstep, a British subgenre that derives as much from grime, jungle, and dub, is
the next club music. The slow rolling grooves are punctuated by big bass, computer blips, thick synths, and the insinuation of a dub beat.

Joker's "Digidesign" (see video above) unites a nightstalker tempo to a hip hop inflected reggae beat. The funky come hither melody at times gives way to a dirty synth, who then takes over. The roles reverse before any one melody really has a strong hold. It's an unsettling, paranoid track, and it evaporates as quickly as it came to. It's easily one of the most adventurous tracks I've heard in the last year or so, and certainly deserves more exposure.

Most of the dubstep artists are on the Hyperdub label. A compilation was recently released, celebrating its five years in the genre. The next two videos are by label owner Kode9 ("9 Samurai") and Burial ("Distant Lights.") Hope you dig it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bombass Groove of the Week #5

No words from me today. This is Iggy Pop on James Brown and "I Can't Stand It '76."
The one that flipped me out - I still remember being in the car, hearing it - is "I Can't Stand It." He was down to fuck the chorus, fuck the melody. This is barely a riff. But he pushes the group along like the coxswain on a Roman galley: Stroke, motherfucker, uh!
Amen, brother.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Temple of the Dog (briefly) reunites

For a brief moment this week, Temple of the Dog reunited on stage. The band, formed in 1990 after the death of Mother Love Bone frontman Andrew Wood, released their eponymous record in 1991. Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard from Mother Love Bone joined Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell and drummer Matt Cameron, along with guitarist Mike McCready and vocalist Eddie Vedder, making his debut on record. If these names seem familiar it's because all members excluding Cornell, are now Pearl Jam. (Cameron has been Pearl Jam's drummer since 1998.) I can't think of another supergroup that didn't form as a supergroup. When Pearl Jam dropped their debut in the summer 1991, Temple of the Dog became a big deal.

At their recent show in Los Angeles, Pearl Jam brought Chris Cornell out on stage for "Hunger Strike." Click here for their full performance of "Hunger Strike." Another Seattle moment materialized at the end of the show when Alice in Chains lead guitarist Jerry Cantrell took McCready's place during their performance of "Alive."

Great day to be a grunge fan, no?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Too Many Rappers

The first single of their upcoming record Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 1 finds the Beastie Boys on firm Beastie ground. As far as hip hop traditionalism goes, it's not quite the return of the boom bap. The production is murky and heavy, making the mood of the tune slightly paranoid. The drums busily hack away at the beat while a distorted stream of bass, guitar, and sometimes turntables encircle the voices. Much like Erykah Badu's most recent record, the Beasties and Nas manage to sound simultaneously old school and futuristic.

"Too many rappers and there's still not enough MCs," Nas raps during the hook. MCA expounds on the wackness of said rappers in one of his verses: "Too many rappers to shake a stick at/I oughta charge a tax for every weak rap." No weak raps in this bunch. The mutual admiration society these veteran MCs belong to lash out at - what else - sucka RAPPERS and tell them who's boss.

[We wish MCA a swift recovery from his surgery due to a cancerous lymph node in his parotid gland.]

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Elis and Sade

I was listening to Elis Regina and Antonio Carlos Jobim a few days ago and was thinking a lot about bossa nova and how it had inspired the most vapid elevator muzak. (Exhibit A: "The Girl From Ipanema.") It's unfortunate, because it is a rhythmically and melodically complex genre, paradoxically profound by being supremely breezy and easy to listen to. Also, most people in the U.S. know bossa nova only through saxophonist Stan Getz and his Getz/Gilberto record (which Jobim is featured on), so it is not difficult to see how the bossa nova cliche arose. Anyways, I woke up in the dead of night yesterday and thought, "Elis and Sade" and immediately fell back asleep. That's probably the craziest shit that has ever woken me.

After some reflection the next day, the main commonality I heard was the emotional restraint combined with the sexual longing. It must be terribly difficult to express vocally because the sentiments are at odds with each other. Elis and Sade are brilliant vocalists, but stealthily so. Here are two clips for you to decide. The first is "Pois E" by Elis and Jobim (whose nickname is Tom) from their album Elis & Tom, the second is by Sade, "Nothing Can Come Between Us." By the way, please focus on the voice, not the visuals, otherwise you'd call me crazy.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Beatles' albums to be remastered

Well, it only took 22 years.
Apple Corps and EMI have announced that the Beatles' albums will be remastered in individual stereo CDs and two box sets (one stereo, one mono) and released on September 9. The albums have been untouched since they were initially released on CD in 1987.

Allan Kozinn writes that the remasters series "will include only the 12 albums the Beatles released in Britain from 1963 to 1970, from Please Please Me through Let It Be, along with Magical Mystery Tour — an American album that was originally released as a two-EP set in England — and the two-CD Past Masters compilation of the group’s nonalbum singles."

'Bout time.

Photo credit: Miramax Films Copyright 2001

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ghostface Killah raps for Rihanna

Ghostface Killah has recorded a song expressing support for Rihanna. Click here to listen to "Message from Ghostface."

Photo credit: Def Jam Records, Scott Schafer

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Prince and Target

Looks like The Purple One digs the government's recovery plan.

Instead of releasing his upcoming albums
through a big time label and packaging them individually in record shops, Prince will bundle his two new albums, LOtUSFLO3R and MPLSoUND, and his protege Bria Valente's Elixer, in one package for $11.98 starting March 29 exclusively at Target. That's a real bargain. Admit it, even though you don't really care about Valente's record, it's pretty sweet to pick up two new Prince records for about twelve bucks. And if Elixer turns out to be good - or even a'right - then that's just a lucky boon. Prince is another in a line of artists, including AC/DC, The Eagles, and Guns n' Roses who have exclusively released records via massive retailers such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy. These retailers have been hit or miss with exclusive deals lately. AC/DC sold more than a million units while GNR has sold barely over 500,000.

[Note: Rolling Stone Magazine says the price will be $11.99. Billboard says $11.98. Penny's is a big deal, no?]

Small props.

Photo credit: Theo Wargo/WireImage

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Top Ten Records of 2008

1. Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III
2. My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges
3. Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)
4. Kings of Leon - Only By The Night
5. Porter Batiste Stoltz - MOODOO
6. Metallica - Death Magnetic
7. Gnarls Barkley - The Odd Couple

And a few reissues...
8. Dennis Wilson - Pacific Ocean Blue
9. Otis Redding - Otis Blue
10. Beck - Odelay

Photo credit: Nunez/WireImage

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Two "new" Pearl Jam records?

Pearl Jam is back in the studio with producer Brendan O'Brien for the first time in 11 years for their ninth studio album. They last collaborated on 1998's Yield. Bassist Jeff Ament says that vocalist Eddie Vedder just "keeps getting better." 2009 looks like it will be a busy year for Pearl Jam. On March 24, their debut album and grunge cornerstone Ten will be rereleased with brand new mastering and mixing, courtesy, of course, of one Mr. O'Brien. Here is a remixed Porch and fan fave B-side Brother.

Photo credit: Spark St. Jude

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

D'Angelo is coming back! For real!

D'Angelo is expected to collaborate with none other than Prince on James River, his follow-up to 2000's bongepic, sultryfunk suite, Voodoo. He has already teamed with Raphael Saadiq (who was the axeman behind "Untitled [How Does It Feel?]), Cee-Lo from Gnarls Barkley, and trumpet/cornetist Roy Hargrove. D will also tour Europe and the U.S. in support of the album, which is slated to be released this summer. All we need is Dr. Dre's The Detox and we're golden.

Photo credit: Phil Bonyata