Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Reporter vs. Drunk Guy

Most of the time when bystanders interfere with field reports, the reporter will handle it calmly, either ignoring the interloper or quickly cutting back to the studio. Fortunately for us, this is not the case here. This is obviously the culmination of an extended period of antagonism, which we don't see but was probably also hilarious. It seems like, "we can't get this guy to leave, but fuck it, LET'S DO IT LIVE!" But then the reporter loses his shit. It's priceless.

Two additional things worth appreciating:

1. The drunken fool appears to be alone. There's nobody egging him on, he's just such an asshole that he will ruin stuff solely for his own enjoyment.

2. The anchors' faces.

What happens in Vegas, AMIRITE? HUH? HUH?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

RIP Michael Jackson

I don't even know what to say. Only 50 years old. Let's have a party and celebrate his legacy.

Jackson 5 - I Want You Back

Just take a few minutes and appreciate how good this song is.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Crime Pays: A Breathing Shark Mix

Lately, I've been really into two things: The Wire and the Wu-Tang Clan. The former is a TV show about, well, a lot of things, but it boils down to cops and criminals in Baltimore. The latter is a long-running hip-hop collective from Staten Island. These two things are similar, and the reasons why are simple, which is ironic, because both are intimidatingly complex. The Wire and the music of the Wu-Tang Clan are both at their best when they tell intricately detailed, painstakingly realistic crime narratives. They go deep into the minds of drug dealers and murderers, exploring the ins and outs of the drug trade. They have superb eyes for character detail and ripping storytelling ability.

The show and the group are currently occupying most of my headspace, and as a result, I've been thinking a lot about crime. Primarily about dealing drugs, but other types of crime as well. And, like everything I think about, it eventually circled back around to music. I started thinking hard about great songs that tell crime stories, came up with many, narrowed it down to fifteen, then put them in a playlist and uploaded it to the Internet. These songs are crime songs, about everything from multiple murder to drunk driving. If you study this mix, maybe you'll grow up to be as a gully as me.

Break the law by downloading as a zip here. Snitches get stitches.



GZA - Gold - buy

It was hard to keep this to just two Wu-Tang-related songs, because there are so many excellent little short stories (audiobooks?) in every member's discography. However, this track from Liquid Swords is probably my favorite, and the most like The Wire of any I've heard. GZA is like Stringer Bell on this song, cold and focused, looking at dealing like a business, worrying about the quality of his product, and killing when he has to. This song is basically my favorite parts of the first season of the show in four minutes, complete with detailed descriptions of the life of a drug dealer and a chess metaphor. Waiting for the train overhead to make noise so he can shoot a competitor? I wish I was GZA/Stringer Bell.

Curtis Mayfield - Pusherman - buy

Here's a different view on dealing than GZA's. While not as detailed as "Gold," "Pusherman" it doesn't glorify the life. It's a sarcastic, despairing take on hustling. It's an anti-drug song, but you could easily misinterpret it, with its funky drums and seductive offer, "want some coke? have some weed."

Ghostface Killah ft. Raekwon - Kilo - buy

And now back to Wu-Tang glorification. This song is basically an instruction manual on how to produce and sell crack. According to Ghost, the drug trade is dangerous, but with potential for wealth and glory. Again, it's all in the details: mayonnaise jars full of water and crack, handing out lighters to clients during the holidays. It's what makes it realistic, separates Ghostface and Raekwon from mere braggarts. This is the closest rural whiteboys like myself can get to knowing what it's like to be Scarface. I could have gone with something from Only Built 4 Cuban Links, but I wanted to give you a chemistry lesson. Educate yourself!

The Velvet Underground - I'm Waiting For the Man - buy

It's not just dealers who write songs. This song is a step-by-step chronicle of the process of buying heroin from one of the preeminent junkie icons, Lou Reed. Reed has said that everything described in it is probably still true today, except the price.


Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Henry Lee - buy

This is a haunting duet with PJ Harvey. It's pretty much exactly what a duet between Nick Cave and PJ Harvey should be: a creeping murder ballad from two of the creepiest, most death-obsessed musicians out there. "Henry Lee" is traditional, rearranged by Cave, and a passionate tale of jealous, murderous love. Crime isn't just an urban phenomenon; sometimes bodies get thrown down wells in the backyard.

Big Black - Things To Do Today - buy

More black comedy from Big Black. Further evidence of their mastery of simple brutality and razor-sharp humor. This is based on the true story of the Billionaire Boys Club, a Ponzi scheme that led to murder. I love the title, which makes murder sound like an errand. And what's colder than "kill the dog, evidence?"


Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Tired Eyes - buy

This is a song from Tonight's the Night, one of the druggiest, most on-the-verge-of-collapse, most BEST albums ever released. It tells the story of The Doctor, a man who, as the song says, shot four men in a cocaine deal in Topanga Canyon. Neil Young is both recounting and listening to the story, and pleading for dead men to come back. Some of the rawest emotion you'll ever hear.

The Hold Steady - One For The Cutters - buy

Craig Finn of the Hold Steady is a Ghostface-level storyteller, and this is his "Shakey Dog." It's the story of a girl who goes away to college, parties a little too much, and gets mixed up with some townies she shouldn't get mixed up with. Things start out fine, then escalate into crystal meth use, class conflict, existential ennui, and stabbing. It's a disturbing, reflective song, plotted like a movie and packed with rich imagery in every line. The "Cutters" of the title are residents of Bloomington, Indiana, home of Indiana Univeristy. This song is driven by harpsichord. I'll keep preaching the gospel of the Hold Steady until I die, and this song is a large reason why. It has everything you could ever want in a song.

Notorious B.I.G. - Gimme the Loot - buy

Biggie is Omar Little in this song. An eccentric renegade robbing drug dealers and killing anyone in the way. Actually, he's not quite Omar, because Omar has a code, whereas Biggie is just on a rampage, unrepentant and evil and insane. Also, Biggie would kill you if you said he was like Omar, because Biggie ain't gay. He raps in two distinct, equally threatening voices and declares that he doesn't give a fuck if he kills pregnant women. It's pretty much the most gangster thing I've ever heard.


X - Johnny Hit and Run Paulene - buy

White-knuckle rockabilly punk from X on this harrowing story about a serial rapist and one woman who fights back. It's easy to let the lyrics become secondary to the hard-charging music here, but paying attention will disturb the holy living fuck out of you.


Mr. Bungle - Love Is A Fist - buy

This is irresponsible of me to post, because domestic violence isn't funny, and this song makes a joke out of it. But how can you deny the gnarly metal of the chorus and John Zorn's evilly skronking sax? And, um, this song is a little bit funny. "I feel strongly about violence." C'mon, that's funny. It's just a song by some sickos who really like Blue Velvet, alright?


The Clash - Bankrobber - buy

Similar to Wu-Tang, it was difficult to settle on just one Clash song about crime. This band approached crime and poverty more thoughtfully than any rock band before or since, and "Bankrobber" is as brilliant as any of their other, better-known songs. This dubby number about a Robin Hood-esque thief is supposedly based on Mick Jones' fantasy about his grandfather, who may have been involved in a bank robbery.


Bruce Springsteen - Atlantic City - buy

For as long as I have been aware of him, I have argued that Bruce Springsteen sucks. He is prone to overblown melodrama, working-class-guy hypocritical shtick, and all-around tastelessness. Recently, however, I've found that I need to reevaluate that stance, because this album, Nebraska, is excellent, and this song is the standout. It is lyrically one of the best songs I've ever heard. No exaggeration. I get goosebumps on top of my goosebumps after every line. It is both specific and subtle, perfectly balanced between the two. It is enriched by outside knowledge. It is philosophical and sociological, but handled understatedly and gracefully. Plus, it's a perfect crime story about a man driven by circumstance into a gig with the Mob.


Pitchfork Militia - Crash - buy

Gonna get real drunk and drive my car gonna get real drunk and drive my car gonna get real drunk and drive my car and crash.


John Hiatt - Shredding the Document - buy

Not everyone can be hard like Biggie. Some of us have to get money in other, less violent ways. This was Jeff Skilling's theme song. Some go to jail, others get sex changes and go on Larry King.

Now you know how to sell drugs, suppress evidence, and get away with murder. Best of luck to you in your future endeavors!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sunny Day Real Estate reunites

This is great news! Seminal 90s emo band Sunny Day Real Estate is reunited and touring! Currently, they only have shows lined up in Seattle and San Francisco, which is funny, because I thought they refused to play in California. Which is one of the coolest things a band can do. Anyway, I know emo is dead and a joke and everything, but 00s emo bands could have done well to play closer attention to Sunny Day Real Estate. Don't get turned off; emo doesn't have to be a dirty word. Check it out:

Sunny Day Real Estate - Pillars - buy

Hopefully, they'll come to New York so I can watch balding men cry in Webster Hall. Sounds fun, right? Seriously, though, this is exciting, because SDRE is a great band.

via AV Club

They are playing in New York! Yay! Two days before my birthday! Yay! At Terminal 5! Boo! But their original bassist is back in! Return to Yay!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Aural Sandpaper #4

Zebra Mu / Schadenfreude - "The Good, The Bent, & The Twisted" Split
Zebra Mu - Taped to Destruction
Schadenfreude - Country Gas Station

It's been an embarrassingly long time since I've posted an Aural Sandpaper, and I have no excuse other than there have been thrilling things like interviews with DMX that I felt were more deserving of your attention. However, as my primary goal with this blog is to use it to eventually become the Arts & Leisure editor of the Times, I figure I may as well write about music or something, like I told myself I would. And so, for your listening displeasure, today I present to you the unbearable sounds of Zebra Mu & Schadenfreude.

I'm jumping the shark a bit in terms of sheer unpalatability with Zebra Mu & Schadenfreude. My last post was about Big Black, a band that is certainly abrasive, but still uses things like melody, rhythm, meter, and other such outdated musical cliches. These dudes, on the other hand, make absolute, honest-to-God noise. Maybe it could be called sound collage, maybe it could be called abstract composition, maybe it could be called, I don't know, something else (there's my Washington Post audition sentence), but really, it should just be called "guys destroying shit on tape." It's like the audio form of Jackass, only not funny and twelve-year-olds wouldn't like it. I like to think I have a high tolerance for extreme weirdness, and can listen to just about anything, no matter how nauseating (I plan to write about Wolf Eyes next), but Schadenfreude and especially Zebra Mu really bother me. This is maybe the only piece of music I possess that I can't listen to. I downloaded this album last summer during a fleeting period of fascination with circuit bending, and I only now made it through the whole thing.

Circuit bending is manipulation of electronics like toys and cheap keyboards for musical purposes. It creates new, experimental sounds by using devices in a way they were not intended to be used. While circuit bending can produce results where the source sound is still recognizable, that is not how Zebra Mu & Schadenfreude do it. They are more apt to record a tape being eaten or a toy being dismantled by a screwdriver. While these sounds may have at some point been a Tickle-Me-Elmo or something, now they sound like a broken stereo being dragged by a car. The squalling white noise and grinding gears are disorienting and irritating. There are no patterns, very few recognizable melodies, and a whole lot of racket. It may remind you of your VCR fucking up your copy of Fern Gully.

What makes this album so difficult to listen to for me is the aforementioned lack of pattern. There's no rhythm to grab hold of, so it just becomes an assaultive collection of cheap, hideous broken electronic noises. It's impossible to follow, making it extremely difficult to focus on while listening to, and it's too abrasive for background music. It may be beautiful to the smallest of niche audiences, but it would only annoy most listeners. It's interesting conceptually for its repurposing of items with a fixed meaning, making it a form of evil children's music, but it's so headache-inducing to listen to. Which is not to say that headache induction is its ultimate goal. It's not cruel like other super-abrasive music (again, I'm thinking of Wolf Eyes), where the performers are trying to freak people out. Zebra Mu & Schadenfreude seemingly more interested in finding out what happens when things get taken apart. This is nerdy rather than aggressive. Which kind of contradicts what I was saying about how painful to listen to this is; don't get me wrong, it's still painful. It's just that the pain is more a side effect than the intended result. But, like many medications, the side effects are worse than the disease (if after taking Viagra you ejaculate blood, please consult your physician).

I must say, though, these dudes are growing on me. I'm going to listen to them side by side with Drake now.

If for some reason you want to download this album, you can do so legally here

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Jams '09

The summer is starting in earnest, which means corn, hot dogs, and most importantly, songs that correspond to the season. Every summer needs a defining jam, a song that you can't go anywhere without hearing but doesn't really get old. Here are three picks for songs that deserve to be heard over and over for the next three months:

Best I Ever Had (Remix) - Drake feat. R. Kelly

This is a radio dominator, the kind of song that gets everyone in the car singing along and will be played at least once every hour. I'm a sucker for well-placed profanity, and this song has it in spades. If you haven't heard this song, don't drink anything the first time you listen to it, otherwise you will spit it all over when a line catches you off guard. Because it will. In these troubled times, this song gives us what we need: A fun R. Kelly ode to fucking. Myspace?

Combination Pizza Hut & Taco Bell - Das Racist (Wallpaper Remix)

File this one under "gloriously stupid." Here's the story: one guy is at the combination Pizza Hut & Taco Bell, and so is the other guy, but they don't see each other. One guy has a lot of smells, the other has that pizza butt. You'll love this one until idiots find out about and ruin it for you, like "Paper Planes" or something. Or maybe that won't ruin it, and I'm just an elitist douchebag. Certainly possible. In any case, this is a worthy addition to the summer novelty song canon. Myspace!

Stillness Is the Move - Dirty Projectors - buy

Dirty Projectors are making a move to claim every ass for themselves. By that I mean if this song doesn't make your ass shake, you must not have one. A combination of West African guitar, flawless harmony, huge drumbeats, and, of course, Mariah Carey, this song is not only the best song of the summer, but may end up being the best song of the whole year. It's a perfect marriage of Dirty Projectors' mind-expanding experimentation and Hot 97's well-constructed pop. Dirty Projectors are your new favorite band.

Satan Rock

I'm not going to explain why this is crazy and wonderful, you're just going to have to trust me. The title should be indication enough. There's a whole lot of crazy in not a lot of time. The fact that this exists makes me want to buy a moving van and go into business with God.

If this is what Hell is gonna be like, I never want to go to that place.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Norm MacDonald on The Tonight Show

You may or may not know this, but Norm MacDonald is probably the funniest man in America. For proof, see here, here, and especially here. All of these are great, as any Norm MacDonald talk show appearance is, but that last one in particular is a transcendent comedy moment. His Bob Saget roast (link #2) is a close second. Anyway, he appeared on The Tonight Show last night. While not as classic as some of his other appearances, he still manages to tell some jokes about Winona Ryder and abuse his signature word, "whore."

If there is an online petition to get Norm MacDonald his own show, I will sign it.

Monday, June 8, 2009

On Hipsters and The Hold Steady

I've said this before, and now someone agrees with me. Therefore, I'm right. I don't want to hear the word "hipster" anymore.

To see this so you can actually read it, click here

If you don't know about Cat and Girl, you should. It's by a woman named Dorothy, and she is almost always right.

Another thing I'm right about but no one I know seems to agree with is that the Hold Steady are one of the best bands in the world. If you can't appreciate this band, I don't think you are capable of appreciation.

The Hold Steady - The Swish - buy it here

This isn't even one of their better songs, and it's still the best. It contains the line, "My name's Rick Danko but people call me One Hour Photo/ I got some dangerous chemicals." Let's see you write a punchline like that, hotshot. Just because something sounds like Bruce Springsteen and the Replacements and AC/DC doesn't mean you're not an asshole.

The Hold Steady has two shows at the Bowery Ballroom and two shows at the Music Hall of Williamsburg this week, and I am going to none of them. The first one is tonight. If for some reason you read this and are going to one of them, raise a toast to St. Joe Strummer for me. Just so you know, I was looking for a live video to post there, but the video I linked to instead is hilarious.

Fake Band Names

Today, while cleaning my room, I found some old papers, and one of them was a list of fake band names that my friends Dave and Riley made up. If I remember correctly, they came up with them while high during an SAT prep class. Now, everyone has a list of fake band names they think are hilarious (mine are School Bus, School Bus Disaster, the Cool Dads, Admiral Dad & the Admirable Dads, and Shep Smith & the Vengeance), but these go above and beyond the average fake band names. They are incredible feats of free association and nonlinear thought. The LOL per word ratio on these is about 1:1. At least, I think so. They may be too inside-jokey and arbitrary for anyone else to get, but what you need to understand while reading these is that there is nothing to get. The joke here is simply in the names themselves. So, without further ado, I give you the roster of my fake record label (My favorites in bold):

"Mustard, Bitch"
"Tater Clumps"
"Binky Mumps"
"Dick Musk"
"I Can Smell Doug's Dick Musk From Here"
"Snarler Booty"
"Frankie Muniz and his Ding Flingers*"
"Soda Poop"
"Fink Sprinkles"
"I'm So Sorry, Doug"
"No Dumpling"
"Black Stump"
"Sack Happy"
"Flute Nuts"
"Birch Lodge Fucknips"
"Spank Jesus"
"Backseat Bangers"

For a list of real band names that will make you laugh for weeks, check out the AV Club's 2007 roundup of the year's worst band names. I read this list every few months when I'm bored, and it makes me crack up every time. Highlights include "The House That Gloria Vanderbilt," "Shoot For the Stars...And Kill Them," and "Happy Mother's Day, I Can't Read."

This band is on that list:

Batman vs. Predator - 20BUX

*This is a reference to the band Frankie and his Fingers.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Upstate Music #1: Coors Light - "Deva With An 'E'"

Coors Light is the project of Raphael Cohen, a student at RISD and Alligerville native. He plays pensive lo-fi that accurately reflects the influence and circumstances of its creation: weed, alcohol (duh), and lonely late nights. With little more than an echoey bass and his plaintive, Jeff Mangum-ish off-key wail, he makes music to soundtrack bleary, end-of-the-night ruminations. Imagine that you're very drunk, lying in bed, the room is spinning, and you have to throw up, so you stumble to the bathroom, and the light hurts your eyes, and you kneel over the toilet waiting for the vomit to come, and it finally does, and you feel better. This is like that.

"Deva With An 'E'" is a heartbreaking song about the death of a dog, unrequited love, and the Yankees. It's driven by a toy dog bark, harrowing background screams, and that ever-present echoey bass. It's ugly, thorny, and depressing, but so are lost games, dying pets, and girls who don't love you.

Coors Light - Deva With An 'E'

Full disclosure: Raphael is one of my best friends, and one of his other bands is Preferably Tapioca, which I am also in. Today is his 20th birthday, so this post is sort of a birthday present. If you see him, tell him "happy birthday," or leave him a comment on


Thursday, June 4, 2009

...And Then There Was X

It must be hard being DMX. He just got out of jail, he is about to be sentenced, his house was placed in foreclosure and looted while he was in jail, he doesn't know who Barack Obama is, and he makes dog noises during sex. He seems to be at ODB-levels of crazy. On top of all that, he roller skates. Ruff Ryders Roll:

"It's not a motherfucking game! Skee-ball, over there in the corner, that's a motherfucking game!"

I shouldn't make fun of DMX, because even though he's a punk-ass roller-skating bitch, he'd still kill me. All they'd find of me is a small piece of my arm, but it wouldn't be easy to tell, because of the bomb.

DMX - Party Up (Up In Here)

Brat Pack/Phoenix Mashup

This is a mashup of footage from Brat Pack movies (you know, the 80s. Don't be nostalgic. You don't remember them) with the song "Lisztomania" by Phoenix. It works remarkably well. It's like synching up "The Wizard of Oz" with "Dark Side of the Moon." MINDZ BLOWN. But seriously, this is cool. The song is irresistibly infectious, as is Molly Ringwald's dancing. The same clip of her is used about five times, but it's ok, because she dances exactly how you should to this song.

Don't post Phoenix songs. Your post will get deleted. You can stream/buy the song here.

Bonus Video:
This is another mashup that is totally batshit and you'll love:

"I don't want to grab your dick, I just want to bake a cake without using the Metric system! Stop yelling at me!" Poor little pink-haired tween.


I just came across this video, which is a bunch of Williamsburgers reenacting the first video posted here. It's kind of annoying, but also kind of cute. They're no Molly Ringwalds, that's for sure.

phoenix - lisztomania *brooklyn pack mashup* from ian parker on Vimeo.