Thursday, August 28, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
THIS IS SOME FUNNY SHIT
The album begins with a whimper-- the tentative patter of "Donde Esta la Playa" followed by instrumental "Flamingos (for Colbert)"-- but there's one striking, early difference between this record and all their previous work: You can make out what singer Hamilton Leithauser is saying. It's a good thing, too; among hazy tales of reckless vacations, the album's most vivid tracks are often its most lyrically straightforward: "Red Moon" is about missing a girl, "The Blue Route" is about missing better days.
Those are simple, well-worn topics, but nearly all of these songs are buoyed by some small, cautious detail that-- while it might sound slight on paper-- make for indelible musical moments: The woodsy whistling on "On the Water", the horns that make "Red Moon" gorgeously mopey, or the warm hum of organ and harp-like piano fills on "Long Time Ahead of Us". Elsewhere, the fantastic, clattering percussion on "Postcards From Tiny Islands", "Four Provinces", and more reaffirm drummer Matt Barrick is the band's MVP.
Moreover, these songs refine old ideas scattered throughout the Walkmen's catalog, mostly building them into stronger tracks than their predecessors: "Red Moon" takes the ostentatious horns from "Louisiana" (from 2006's A Hundred Miles Off) and use them as essential pieces of atmosphere and mood. The loping guitar and offbeat drumming of "Look Out the Window," from their 2002 split EP with Calla, are folded into the late-game clincher "The Blue Route". Here, all the band's wanderings coalesce with more focused lyrics and assured songwriting, neither racing nor shuffling towards its ambiguous climax. With all the elements of a Perfect Walkmen Song-- cavernous echo, stinging guitars and straining organ, vocals where you can hear the veins on Leithauser's temples bulge-- it would easily fit on the band's peak, Bows + Arrows.
You & Me isn't as hard or immediate as the band's earlier records, but that's not a complaint; its sound is coy, and invites you to spend time with it. Its lyrics are direct and its pleasures are simple-- as easy to notice as the mournful horns on "Red Moon", or hearing Leithauser hoping to get home to his loved one on the same song. While the Walkmen likely have more hits in them, if they keep making records as consistently engaging this, they won't sink for a lack of them. This is the sound they've reached for since the very beginning, and they've never played it as gracefully or confidently as they do here.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Don't panic, he is not markbrizzi. He is an innovator. Keep pushing the limits. See you at the top. BtW, big ups to the bartender at Pianos for the free whisky shots. It changed our night. My apologizes to Ben Affleck, we could cover your confession tonight.
What's Up??? Please come by my party tomorrow... There will be free Patron shots at 4 PM and they are first come first serve, so get there early. Here's the description I've been posting around the web:
Yes, yes, y'all!!! It is time to do it again... Thighs High is going down again this Saturday August 16th at Huckleberry Bar with Fool's Gold maestro Nick Catchdubs & DJ around town Rezound. You already know what the deal is: Great music (we've got a speaker outside this time), great food & drinks, and great vibes. Huckleberry Bar is one of the newest and best bars in New York. It has a modern and classy decor inside, and a spacious and inviting deck with seating outside.
Chef Seth, formerly of 11 Madison, will be grilling up burgers, brats, hot dogs, etc.. on the grill out back, and feel free to ask around - the food is really, really good. If nothing else, come just to eat. The cocktails are something else here...
There is an open bar on Patron while it lasts - Get there early!!!
It is also my friend Devin's birthday, so come wish him a happy one!
So clear your calendars and come chill with us this Saturday at Huckleberry Bar.
Also, as a bonus, download the entire Jay-z discography HERE
Thursday, August 14, 2008
A Washington, D.C.-based DJ/producer with a pronounced Baltimore club influence, Jesse Tittsworth uses the tinny breakbeats and raunchy subject matter of this once-local subgenre within a broader dance, pop, and hip-hop context. Last year, Tittsworth put out a couple of sample-driven EPs, Afterparty and EZ-T, both in the Baltimore club style, and he got together with the like-minded DJ Ayres for a Baltimore/Miami loops-and-grooves battle record called T&A Breaks. But Tittsworth also joined the electro-house hordes churning out "D.A.N.C.E." remixes for Justice. A free Tittsworth DJ mix posted online to promote his first proper album, 12 Steps, jumps from Baltimore's Blaqstarr to Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Daft Punk, Soulja Boy Tell Em, Hard-Fi, and George Michael. Clearly, this could've been Baltimore club's pop moment.
Unfortunately, 12 Steps is too little, too late-- the free mix is worth more of your money. The sort of electro-rap synthesis this album achieves has been done before, and better, not just by West, but also by his associates like A-Trak, Kid Sister, Flosstradamus, and Cool Kids, or even by Alaska-based Curtis Vodka. Kid Sister, a charismatic young Chicago MC whose "Pro Nails" does for manicures what Lil Mama's "Lip Gloss" did for L'Oreal, appears on one of 12 Steps' catchiest tracks, "WTF". But the "whassup, whassup" hook, despite reportedly being sung by post-M.I.A. it-girl Santogold, is as dated as the old Budweiser TV campaign; Pase Rock's rhymes about "So Fresh, So Clean" and "Trapped in the Closet" fall as flat as day-old beer. On blippy first single "Broke Ass Nigga", with an orchestral melody similar to the "place in France" playground song, Tittsworth skirts the obvious issues inherent in a half-white, half-Asian guy throwing around the n-word by bringing on guests DJ Assault, Kenny B, Jinxx, and Frankie Baby. The result is mildly funny, particularly the deliciously absurd closing non sequitur: "Can I hold your fish, man? I need some company."
But 12 Steps is more interesting when it sounds less East Coast, more European. Tittsworth, whose background is also in hip-hop and drum'n'bass, gets the album off to an energetic start on "Haiku" by combining those distinctive Baltimore handclaps with robotic filter-disco buzzing and dramatically swooping synths. And on "4.21", he turns crackling distortion, hard-edged beats, and light, floaty electronics into what could've been one of Simian Mobile Disco's more contemplative tracks. By comparison, predictable fare like the gimmicky "Bumpin'", in which a DJ complains about a drunk guy bumping into his turntables, or the raucous Baltimore-club update "Drunk as Fuck", in which a knife sound accompanies rappers the Federation bragging about "cut[ting] up the pussy like the movie Hostel," sounds like (mere) childish imitation.
Tittsworth has produced, by and large, an album of potential novelty singles. That's fine-- you can argue that some of the best records are novelty records-- but the problem is that most of the tracks on 12 Steps are neither particularly novel nor memorable. The guitar-coated "Almond Joy" begs you to-- wait for it-- "play with my heart like a toy," and the soppy light R&B of "Here He Comes" nicks a melody from Hall and Oates' "Maneater", which Timbaland referenced with Nelly Furtado two years ago. As many words as the Clipse have for snow, Baltimore club and its cousin Miami bass have for sex, so letting guest rapper Pitbull settle for such Kindergarten Cop-level laziness here as "spread legs like a gynecologist" is an insult. Not to his Miami base, not to Baltimore clubbers, but to pop fans. We're fickle-- not stupid.
* MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/titts
- Marc Hogan, August 14, 2008