Saturday, May 27, 2006

Loading...Loading...Loading...

I have noticed recently that this blog takes a few minutes longer than normal to load. This is probably due to the amount of videos on this site. Common sense would dictate that I should cut back on the videos, mp 3 files, etc... Luckily, common sense was never one of my strong points. If anything, it just makes me want to put up even content to reward readers for their patience.

On a side note, the loading time for the videos is governed by YouTube. As I have no control over them, I suggest you "pause" a video and let it load fully before playing it. Now onto three albums that I picked up a month or two ago:


Random Song 1: Jay-Z - Dead Presidents II


Destroyer - Rubies


Buy

Hailing from Vancouver, Daniel Bejar's band Destroyer has always been somewhat of a point of contention for many indie music lovers. Destroyer's style of artsy, grandiose, almost operatic, rock n' roll can be grating at times. Especially if you find Bejar's high-pitched nasally vocals irritating. Frankly, I never really liked Destroyer's stuff because it was too inaccessible (i.e. weird) for my taste. Yet my views of them are starting to change with the release of their latest album Rubies. This is by far Destroyer's most accessible album to date. I think the reason I enjoyed this album so much is that the songs don't immediately jump out at you. It takes a few listens before songs like Painter in Your Pocket, European Oils, and 3000 Flowers get stuck in your head. This is the type of album you may want to sample a few times before deciding to purchase. So if you are looking for something new and unique, you may want to give Rubies a chance.


Random Song 2: Sean Paul - Temperature


Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings The Flood


Buy

I will be the first to admit country music is not my thing. I'm not slamming the genre or anything but I just don't see the appeal in it. That's not to say that I won't tap my feet to a catchy song by the Dixie Chicks, I just won't be rushing out to buy their albums. Yet regardless of your personal views on the genre, it must be said that Neko Case's latest album, Fox Confessor Brings The Flood, is one fantastic album. Neko has one of the best voices in music today. Unlike most artists, she even sounds better live than she does on records. Which speaks volumes about her talent. Neko's vocal range gives each song a distinct feel. This is evident when hearing songs like Hold On, Hold On, and Margaret Vs. Pauline. I highly recommend checking out this album.

Here is the lead off single "Maybe Sparrow"





Random Song 3: Stars - Your Ex-Lover is Dead (Live at KEXP)


Death Cab For Cutie - Plans


Buy

Although this album was released last year, I only got around to it recently. Many have dubbed them an "O.C" band, as the Fox. teen drama "The O.C." brought them to the attention to a more mainstream audience. Backlash in indie music has become quite common these days, the minute an artist becomes successful they seem to loose all credibility. To be fair, these guys have been around for a long time and paid their dues. They have released 7 albums, of which I have 3, and countless EP's. To be honest this band annoys the heck out of me, but not for the obvious reasons. With ever Death Cab for Cutie album, I find half of the songs are painfully beautiful and well crafted; while the other half is downright forgettable. They still haven't released a truly classic album in my opinion. Yes, Transatlanticim was good, but this band is capable of even better. Lead singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard is very talented and it shows on songs like Crooked Teeth, Soul Meets Body, and Diffent Names For The Same Thing. Although Plans never really reaches the level of Transatlanticism, it is a decent addition to the Death Cab canon.

Here is "Your Heart Is An Empty Room" off of Plans




Ipod Workout Plan: Annie's "Hearbeat" from her Anniemal album.


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Pop Goes The Dance Weasel

As Britney's parental woes fills the airwaves (seriously, is this considered news nowadays?), I decided to post a slightly pop inspired selection today.


Random Song 1: Fela Kuti – Water No Get Enemy


Nelly Furtado




Pop music is probably one of the most ruthless facets of the music business to be in. Very few musical genres create and destroy artist as quickly as mainstream pop. Hence why so many artists are constantly “reinventing” themselves in attempts to stay one step ahead. Since Madonna has basically become the blue print for most female pop singers, it was rather interesting watching Nelly Furtado perform on the season finale of SNL. Furtado has reinvented herself with every album to varying degrees of success. I remember picking up her debut album Whoa. Nelly! and enjoying the fact that it was one big melting pot of musical genres. Gwen Stefani would use the same formula five years later to even bigger success on her own debut solo album. The Whoa. Nelly! album, and her collaboration with Missy Elliott on Missy’s hit single “Get Ur Freak On”, showed Nelly Furtado as fun-loving music sponge. Of course all this changed with the release of Folklore, her “more “grown-up” album, and Nelly has never been the same since. With Folklore, Furtado was determined to portray herself as a serious singer with a message. Nelly was now a mother, which provided her with a more serious and uplifting outlook on life. Sadly this did not translate well musically and the album was considered a major disappointment. Which brings us to the latest incarnation of Nelly Furtado…sexy dance diva. Her latest album titled Loose hits stores in June; and includes tracks like Maneater and Undercover. These songs show Nelly striving for a sexier image, while still trying to satisfy her younger pop fan base. Will the new version of Nelly Furtado be a hit? Probably, as sex always sells in pop music. Will Loose be any good musically? That still remains to be seen. Although based on the songs I’ve heard so far (the catchy “promiscuous” excluded), the outlook is pretty grim.

Here is the 80’s influenced lead off single “Promiscuous” (which features Timberland):





Random Song 2: Michael Jackson - Wanna Be Starting



Basement Jaxx



If you are looking for dance music that will not disappoint, you cannot go wrong with the Basement Jaxx. Ever since the release of their debut album Remedy, this UK duo has created one hit after the next. Despite the huge international success of songs like “Red Alert” and “Rendez-vu”, for some reason North America never really took notice. That was until the Basement Jaxx released their follow up album entitled Rooty. The album had several hits but nothing as huge as the insanely popular single “Where’s Your Head At?” You could not go anywhere in the summer of 2001 without hearing the song. Heck, even Pringles was using it to promote their chips. The song nearly overshadowed the other great tracks on the album. Although their last release Kish Kash was not as successful as Rooty, it was still another solid effort. If you are in the mood for consistently good songs to get your booty shaking, look no further then these guys.

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you mixed Bollywood with house music? Well here is your answer..."Romeo" from the Rooty album:





Random Song 3: The Decemberist - Human Behavior (Bjork Cover)



Pharrell Williams



Even if the name Pharrell Williams doesn’t immediately jump out at you; chances are very good that you have danced to several of his beats. Pharrell is one half of the production team known as The Neptunes. He is responsible for hits like: Nelly’s “Hot in Herre”, Gwen’s “Hollaback Girl”, and Snoop Dogg’s “Drop it Like It’s Hot” just to name a few. While most producers would be happy to rest on their laurels, Pharrell has been trying to make a name for himself as an artist for a few years now. He, along with fellow Neptune Chad Hugo, formed the band N.E.R.D a few years back and released two moderately received albums. N.E.R.D was a place were Williams and Hugo could divulge in their love of Rock, Funk, R& B, etc…it was a far cry from their work with Jay-Z and Britney Spears. Although I really enjoyed N.E.R.D’s albums, they never found true success nor do I think they will in the future. The problem is that they were too hip-hop/r&b for the alternative rock community; and too alternative for the hip-hop/r&b community. As the band is currently in contract disputes with Virgin Records, Pharrell has opted to release his debut solo album, In My Mind, in the meantime. I am very curious to hear what the full album will sound like. Mainly due to the fact that I have always thought of Pharrell as a supporting character rather than the main star. Vocally speaking, he is not necessarily the strongest singer, nor is he the strongest rapper. Just listen to “Can I Have It Like That”(featuring Gwen Stefani), “Mamacita” , and the awful Number 1"(featuring Kanye West) for examples of this. Yet he does know how to incorporate great beats to mask his limitation. Regardless, you know Pharrell will at least be bringing a few new surprises to the table.

Here is “Angel” from In My Mind





IPod Workout Plan track of the day: Yeah Yeah Yeah's "Gold Lion" off of Show Your Bones . Honestly, I’m not a big fan of yyy’s but this song is a great motivator when at the gym.




Until next week,

CS

Friday, May 19, 2006

All Hail The Queen

Finally the Victoria Day long weekend is upon us. This is a time for all Canadians to celebrate the reign of Queen Victoria (1837 -1901). You see, during the 1900s, Victoria Day used to be called Empire Day and then... Okay, lets just get real for a moment shall we? This weekend is unofficially known as May 2-4 in Canada. A weekend devoted to leisure, bbq's and more importantly alcohol ("2-4" is a beer reference for my non-Canadian readers). Still, this blog has decided to pay respect to the late Royal with a "Queen" related post...sort of. Hey, the show Jeopardy gets away with such loose associations all the time. All hail the Queen!

Random song 1: Queen - Another One Bites the Dust


Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary


Buy


In my opinion Wolf Parade's Apologies to the Queen Mary was one of the best albums to come out in 2005. If forced to make a top ten list, it would rank number two by a hair (Sufjan Stevens' Illinois album slightly edged them out...just slightly). I first encountered Wolf Parade when they opened for Arcade Fire. Having no prior knowledge of the band I thought they put on a decent set, yet no one song stood out. It was only after I listened to the EP, which I picked up at the show, did I truly get a sense of the bands potential. There was a lot going on in the EP, in regards to both the instruments and the lyrics, that my ears missed during the live show. Needless to say I was glad to see that their full-length debut Apologies... surpassed all my expectations. Their themes are often dark; dealing with such things as lost, death, ghost, etc.… Yet Wolf Parade's songs, for the most part, are rather upbeat and diverse. This is evident in songs such as Shine the Light, and Grounds for Divorce. The thing I like the most about this Montreal band is how distinctive there sound is. This is a result of having not one, but two unique lead singers. Both Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug alternate singing duties on every other track. While you can debate which singer is better, you cannot deny the fact that both vocals fit the bands overall sound perfectly.

Here is the video for the somber track “Modern World”




Random song 2: The Queens of the Stone Age - Go With The Flow


Ghostface Killah - Fishscale


Buy

Back in the 1993, the Wu-Tang Clan emerged from the Queens Bridge projects to release their landmark debut album Enter The Wu-Tang 36 Chambers. The record is easily one of the most influential rap albums of the 90's. While the album is still relevant today, the same cannot be said for a lot of the Wu-Tang members. Artist like Method Man, GZA, and RZA, to name a few, have long since branched out into Hollywood. Leaving Ghostface Killah to proudly carry musical torch for the group as far as he can. The funny thing is, he keeps getting better with age. Fishscale is not just a response to all the critics that thought he dropped off after his Supreme Clientele album. It’s also a battle cry to the rappers trying to take his throne. Songs like The Champ and Kilo demonstrate that Ghostface has not lost a step. You truly get the sense that Ghostface, unlike many artists today, has really lived in the world he talks about. He never glorifies the criminal lifestyle by turning it into a mindless party/club anthem. Yet my one complaint with the album is that there are too many "skits" on it. I remember when skits first started to appear on albums, they were actually funny. Now they are just plain annoying, and make the record feel much longer than it actually is. With 24 tracks (skits included) on Fishscale, you can't help but feel exhausted by time you reach the 18th song. Still, with so many good tracks on the album Ghostface can be forgiving for the skit mishap…this time.

Take a look at "Back Like That" featuring Ne-Yo:



Since I have a soft spot for animated videos, here is Ghostface Killah's classic video for "Daytona 500" off of the Ironman album. This video promptly brought Speed Racer back into the mainstream...unfortunately, he was sent back to obscurity three days later. R.I.P Racer X:




Random song 3: David Bowie - Queen Bitch


ABBA - Dancing Queen



Oh, don't act like you didn't know it was coming. I played the Queen (the band) card too early with the first random song selection. Obviously the picking were somewhat slim after that. Say what you will about ABBA, but this song still gets women (and yes, men too) of all ages on the dance floor. I thought about putting up the original video for the song, but decided to use this version instead. Partly because Muriel's Wedding is a really good film, but I also think this video truly embodies what the song is really about:




Ipod Workout Plan of the day: LL Cool J - Mama Said Knock You Out. What does this have to do with the overall theme of the day? Haven't you seen the recent movie Last Holiday? No? Me neither. Regardless, LL Cool J had a small role in the film playing the love interest to the main star: Queen Latifah. Yes it's a stretch but work with me here people! :)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Who Are These People? (The Animation Edition)

Finally figured out how to attach songs to the blog, thanks again Keith (be sure to checkout his blog The Sho'nuff). This post was merely to test the mp3 feature. So talk amongst yourselves, I'll give you a topic to start…”dated pop culture references”

Random song 1: Seu Jorge - Life On Mars?


MF Doom



It wasn't until his collaborations with both producers Madlib (Madvilliany) and Danger Mouse (Danger Doom), that MF Doom got my attention. I must say that is quickly climbing my list of favorite rappers. In his trademark silver mask (ala Fantastic Four villain Dr. Doom), MF Doom concocts some truly unique songs. What surprised me the most about him is how extensive his catalogue is. MF Doom has been an underground sensation for quite sometime, yet he is only now starting to reach a wider audience. This is most likely a result of his contribution to Danger Doom, a successful cross-promotional venture with the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim Team. The album featured many character from such shows like Aqua Teen Hunger Force, The Brak Show, etc.… The album was so successful that Adult Swim is planning to release a new 9 song Danger Doom disc which will be sold online only later this month. Hopefully my beloved Venture Brothers (underrated cartoon gem) will make the cut on the new album.


This is "All Caps" from the Madvillainy album:




Here is "The Mask" (featuring Wu Tang Clans' Ghostface Killah) off of the Danger Doom album. Considering the nature of the album, it's fitting that this "fan made" video features an Adult Swim Show (The Boondocks):




Random song 2: Sufjan Stevens - Chicago


Chris Mills



What does it say when someone has release a "best of" album and you have never heard of them? Well considering that Hillary Duff released a best of album after only one or two records, I guess I can be forgiving for my oversight. To be honest, normally Chris Mills' style of music isn't really my cup of tea. Yet for some odd reason I absolutely love his song "Chris Mills Is Living The Dream" (click to listen) off of his Wall to Wall Sessions album. Apparently Mills has been around since the early 90's, and has a fairly large and loyal fanbase. After being introduced to him through the Living The Dream track, I am interest to hear what the rest of Wall and his other recordings sound like. Hey, we all have to expand our horizons once and a while.

Random song 3: A Tribe Called Quest - I Left My Wallet in El Segundo


The Fiery Furnaces



After releasing five albums in three years or so, one would think The Fiery Furnaces would be a household name. The thing is, this brother and sister team are a rather acquired taste. You either love them for their quirky songs, or hate them because of their quirky songs. I leave it up to you to decide which side of the argument you are on. Personally I find their "E.P." record is a great album to have playing in the background when you're writing (but that's just me).

Here is "Tropical Iceland" which can be found on both the Gallowsbirds Bark and E.P. albums (hey, I said they were an acquired taste):



The last video will be the "IPod Workout Plan" track of the day. While I have no affiliation with Apple, I have no qualms about getting free stuff from them (you reading this Apple?). Basically I will try to finish each post with whatever random track pops up on the IPod. Considering that almost every genre of music is on there, it may result in some interesting (i.e. embarrassing) selections. As for the "Workout Plan" part, well the only time I ever use MP3 player is when I'm exercising...which is once every now and then (Apple please ignore that last part).

Anyways, the "IPod Workout Plan" track of the day is: Daft Punk's "Digital Love" from the Discovery album:




That's all for the week folks

CS

Monday, May 15, 2006

Songs For When You Are Not Feeling Well

Originally I was planning to only update this blog once a week. Yet when I get a spare moment, or if I'm home sick (as is the case today), I will post a few new videos. First up to bat today is...

The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Solider


buy

The Raconteurs debut album hits stores this week. This super-group from Detroit is comprised of the White Stripes' Jack White, Brendan Benson, Jake Lawerence and Patrick Keeler of the Greenhorns. From the few tracks I've heard via some other sites, it sounds like a fairly standard rock album. Although I will withhold my final verdict on the album until I receive my copy in the mail [I recently won a copy from the good people at I (Heart) Music]. Regardless, I am hoping that the album is a success for Benson's sake. Jack White is already huge in the music industry. The Greenhorns are a decent band but I was rather disappointed when I saw them open for The Dirtbombs. In all fairness, any opening act will pale in comparison to the great shows that The Dirtbombs put on. Yet singer-songwriter Brendan Benson is a perfect example of the saying "if it wasn't for bad luck, I would have no luck at all." Brendan has released three critically praised albums (One Mississippi, Lapco, and The Alternative to Love) but commercial success still eludes him. Which is a shame because I think Lapco is an album everyone should have in their collection.

Here is Brendan Benson's "Cold Hand (Warm Heart)" from The Alternative to Love:



Lupe Fiasco

As the June 27 release date of his debut album entitled Food & Liquor approaches, Lupe Fiasco is starting to get a lot more press in mainstream media. While many debut singles from rappers fall in to two categories (a party track or a tough street credibility track), yet Lupe did something very peculiar. For his first single he simply focused on the life of a skateboarder. Immediately you get the sense that Lupe's music will offer up something different. I first heard of Lupe when I came across his political charge song "Conflict Diamonds." The song was about the human rights issues surrounding the diamond trade in Sierra Leone. The song was easily better than the one Kanye West released shortly after. So it came as no surprise to see Lupe and Kanye join forces on West's "Touch The Sky" off of Kanye's Late Registration album. Let's hope the whole album is as good as the early reports are making it out to be.

Checkout Lupe Fiasco's first single "Kick Push":




The Roots - Phrenology


Buy

The Roots are coming to town in July and I still haven't ordered tickets yet. Considering they are one of the few bands that I love, but haven't seen live, I should have been first in line for tickets. So to motivate myself to get into action I have been pulling out some of their past albums (Do You Want More, Things Fall Apart, Phrenology, etc...). Now lets hope that tickets are still available as Toronto scalpers can be a pain to deal with.

The Roots and Cody Chestnutt joined forces to remake Chestnutt's original ditty "The Seed." Resulting in the much better "The Seed 2.0" off of the Phrenology, album:



Interpol - Antics


Buy

Lastly, I am currently compiling a list of songs to put on a mix cd for a friend's birthday. I figured that "Evil" by Interpol would be fitting for the first song off the cd. :) This album came out in 2004 and I am one of the few individuals who thought it was far better than Interpol's debut Turn On The Bright Lights.

Here is Interpol's cool, and oddly creepy, video for "Evil":

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Mother's Day Edition

As today is Mother's Day I would like to take a moment to thank all the mothers, grandmothers, those soon to be mothers, and those who have been like a mother to someone. Although we don't always show it your hard work and dedication is much appreciated. So in the spirit of the day I dedicate the following songs to all the mothers out there:

Boyz II Men's "Song for Mama" from the Soul Food soundtrack.



I would also like to send a special thanks to the mothers of Beyonce, Rihanna, and Shakira for producing such attractive...er...I mean talented daughters.

Checkout Beyonce's "Check On it" from the Pink Panther film.



I'm glad to see that Barbados' Rihanna will be more than a one hit wonder in the US. After her catchy hit "Pon De Replay" made her an overnight pop sensation, I feared that she would fall into obscurity (Lou Bega where are you now?). Her latest single S.O.S samples the beat from Soft Cell's "Tainted Love", and the result is one ridiculuosly catchy track. It's one of those great workout songs to play at the gym.

Here is Rihanna's "S.O.S" from her new album A Girl Like Me:




While I have never been a Shakira fan, I must admit that her latest single "Hips Don't Lie" from Oral Fixation Vol. 2 is a guilty pleasure of mine:




Happy Mother's Day

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Big Bang

This is the official launch of Big Thoughts From A Small Mind.

A blog where readers will be treated to insightful commentary on current events that are shaping the world. Okay, really it's just a site were I'll be posting songs that I'm currently listening to. There will be nothing deep, or noteworthy, on the site for me to get all pretentious over. Still, who knows what the blog may turn become in the future. It may just be a place to post pictures of Sumo Wrestlers and kittens...only time will tell. Anyways, until I figure out how to post audio files the good people at YouTube.com will be assisting me. If you have never heard of YouTube, it is a great place to find clips for just about anything. It is probably the most addictive site I have come across in the past year. Make sure you check their site out. Enough chatter, on to the good stuff.


Currently listing to:

Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere













Buy


Picked this album up last week and it has been in constant rotation. St. Elsewhere is a great mix of soul and 70’s funk with insanely catchy lyrics. This is one of the few albums that you will be hearing a lot about on both urban and indie stations. This collaboration between Cee-Lo (Goodie Mobb) and Danger Mouse (The Gorillaz, Danger Doom) has been hotly anticipated ever since the lead off track “Crazy” was leaked to the Internet a month ago. While "Crazy" is easily the strongest (and best) song of the album. There are plenty of other gems on this album that you will be listening to over and over. Currently there Violent Femme's cover Gone Daddy Gone is my a personal favorite. Overall Gnarls Barkley’s St.Elsewhere is a great album that is definitely worth the purchase.

Here is a live performance of "Gone Daddy Gone" at this year's Coachella Festival (amateur video/audio quality):



And here is the official video for "Crazy" :




Tokyo Police Club - A Lesson in Crime



Buy


Clocking in at a mere 17 minutes with only 7 tracks, Tokyo Police Club can truly be blamed for leaving them wanting more. Regardless, this is fantastic EP that shows a lot of promise from this up-and-coming Toronto band. Just listening to "Cheer It On", (click to listen) the lead off track on the album, you cannot help getting excited about this bands potential. The band recently received a slew of rave reviews for their live shows at this year’s North by Northeast festival. I am hoping to catch them soon while I can still see them for relatively cheap. If their debut LP is anything like the EP, I'm sure they will be selling out venues very quickly.

Listen to "Citizens of Tomorrow" and learn more about the band on Tokyo Police Club's myspace page


The Streets - The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living



Buy

I am the first to admit that The Streets is a rather acquired taste. Mike Skinner's spoken-word style flow rubs many people the wrong way. Frankly I love his music and think he is an entertaining storyteller. Very few artist can make the most mundane aspects of life seem interesting and amusing. I've been a huge fan of The Streets since I downloaded his first album Original Pirate Material shortly after it was released (quite fitting if you think about it). After that I was hooked and have bought every album he has released since. While this release does not top his masterful A Grand Don't Come For Free album, it deserves a lot more praise than it has been given by some critics. I think this is a result of the critics expecting another concept album like A Grand. This album is more of a cross between the previous two efforts. Yet unlike the first two albums, there is no immediate stand out track (e.g. Fit But You Know it, Weak Become Heroes, etc...) that define the album. The Hardest Way is the type of album that really grows on you after several spins. While not as strong as A Grand Don't Come For Free, The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living is another solid effort by The Streets.

Check out the lead off single "When You Wasn't Famous":




And as a special bonus "Fit But You Know It" from A Grand Don't Come For Free:





Cheers

CS

*this site will be updated once a week (I hope)