Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Showing Their Roots

All of this weeks random songs were inspired by The Roots concert.

Random Song 1: Bob Dylan - Masters of War
Random Song 2: The Roots - Game Theory

The Roots @ Kool Haus (24/3/07)

This was probably the most unconventional, and easily the best, concert I have ever been to. The Roots played enthusiastically for two and a half hours straight. The funny thing is, it felt like they only played 45 to 60 minutes worth of album material. What did they do with the remaining time? They took the audience through a musical history lesson that was simply stunning. The night started with the band, along with a phenomenal brass section, playing percussion instruments in the crowd as they made their way to the stage. I was lucky enough to be in the same section that they were walking through. There is something oddly mesmerizing about seeing a band unexpectedly start jamming right in front of you…but I digress. The group jammed a little more on stage before proceeding into tracks from their various albums. Now most bands usually stick closely to their material; maybe adding one or two covers. The Roots completely through that concept out of the window; and seem to have tons of fun doing so. While The Roots pretty much played tracks from all of their albums, there were long stretches where they had extended jam sessions. This was a risky move as I’m sure many came expecting a straightforward hip-hop show. Yet the move seemed to payoff as the crowd devoured the mix of Funk, Rock, Jazz, Pop, Soul, and Hip-hop. Some of the highlights included:

· A great 20 minute collage of songs were The Roots played everything from Biz Markie to Nas to Justin Timberlake to the Sugar Hill Gang to ODB, etc. They even made current radio hits from Rich Boy and Mims, sound far better than they really are. The crowd went crowd went crazy. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw so many people dancing at a concert.
· Every member had their own solo set, where they basically did anything they wanted. The standout was by far bassist L. Hub, who cranked out some amazing scat style jazz before venturing into Hendrix style rock.
· The brass backing band, along with ?uestlove paid tribute to James Brown by doing instrumental version of several of hits.
· Guitarist Capt. Kirk, drummer ?uestlove, and one of the brass players (who they kept referring to as Tuba Gooding Jr.) did an epic interpretation of Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War”. It reminded me of the Decemberist’s “The Tain” in length; but the content, due to the subject matter, was far more scathing. They even went as far as playing the first verse to the tune of the U.S. national anthem.
· For the encore, they did stirring rendition of their hit, The Seed 2.0 and a few other classic Roots songs. As well as lively covers of The Police’s “Roxanne” and Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”

The opening act was Canada’s own Zaki Ibrahim. I had never heard of her before Saturday but I’ll definitely keep an eye out for her album. Zaki put on a really good set that actually made me long for the days of Brand New Heavies. Her music is the perfect blend old school soul with a distinct hip-hop influence.

Below are some videos I found on Youtube from the show.

Random Song 3: The Police - Roxanne
Random Song 4: Sugar Hill Gang - Jump On It

Random Song 5: The Roots - In The Music
Random Song 6: Nas - Hip Hop Is Dead

Random Song 7: Biz Markie - Just A Friend
Random Song 8: Mims - This Is Why I'm Hot

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The China Syndrome

I added a new blog, Warren Piece, to the links section. Although the blog is still in its early stages, you should definitely keep an eye on it in the coming weeks. His CD mixes are the reason why I have developed such a wide musical taste. Plus, I have yet to meet anyone that can rival his musical knowledge.

Also, I would like to give a big thanks to Mike Lawless. He was gracious enough to give me permission to post some tracks from his great live album: One Piano, One Mike. Please be sure to give the songs a listen. For more info on Mr. Lawless check out his website and myspace page.

Random Song 1: Mike Lawless - Someone Else's Dream (buy)
Random Song 2: D' Angelo - Me And Those Dreamin' Eyes of Mine (buy)
Bonus: Amy Winehouse - F**K Me Pumps(buy)

Video: Christina Aguilera - Candyman (buy)

Random Song 3: Mike Lawless - The Other Ones(buy)
Random Song 4: Duran Duran - Hungry Like The Wolf (buy)
Bonus: Nas - Classic (Nike Remix ft. Kanye West, KRS-One, & Rakim)

Video: LCD Soundsystem - North American Scum (buy)

Random Song 5: Scissor Sisters - It' Cant Come Quickly Enough (buy)
Random Song 6: Beastie Boys - Brass Monkey (buy)
Bonus: The Roots - Why (What's Goin On?) + Hidden Track (w/Dave Chappelle) (buy)

Video: The Roots - What They Do (buy). I'll be seeing The Roots this coming Saturday at the Kool Haus.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

That Paddy Was A Saint

The World Cup of Cricket, March Madness, and St. Patrick's Day. This is quite possibly the greatest week ever! Although I am not Irish, I do support most excuses for drunken debauchery. Below is a mix of alcohol inspired songs for all the drunkards this weekend. Don't drink and drive kids!

St. Patrick’s Day Mix:

Yodacock – I Love My Pub
The New Pornographers - The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism (buy)
Nas - Drunk By Myself (buy)
The Fiery Furnaces - Rub-Alcohol Blues (buy)
The Rosebuds - Drunkards Worst Nightmare (buy)
Jimmy Buffett – Why Don't We Get Drunk (buy)
UB40 - Red, Red Wine (buy)
Something Corporate - Drunk Girl (buy)
Tom Heinl – IHOP (buy)
Toby Keith - Get Drunk and Be Somebody (buy)
Busta Rhymes - Pass the Courvoisier (ft. P Diddy & Pharrell) (buy)
Homer Simpson – It Was A Very Good Beer (buy)
Bright Eyes - Drunk Kid Catholic (buy)
The Streets - Too Much Brandy (buy)
A.C. Newman - Drink To Me, Babe, Then (buy)
Bran Van 3000 - Drinking In L.A. (buy)
Amy Winehouse – Rehab (Hot Chip Remix) Chances are good that some will be considering rehab when the Sunday morning hangover kicks in. I have raved about Ms. Winehouse in the past; and now those in the U.S. will finally get a chance to hear the album. Back to Black (buy) hits stores south of the border this week.

Video: Spirit of the West - Home For A Rest. (buy) Many consider this to be the quintessential Canadian drinking song. Unfortunately the argument against it usually gets fuzzy after the fifth round of drinks...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Black Snake Moan / Zodiac

Random Song 1: Feist - My Moon My Man (Myspace)
Random Song 2: The Game - Wouldn't Get Far (ft. Kanye West) (buy)

Black Snake Moan

The one word I did not expect to associate with Black Snake Moan is charming. Yet that is exactly what the film is, a very charming story about finding love through redemption. Granted the premise of an older black man chaining up a half-naked white woman, to cure her nymphomania, screams adult film in the making. The funny thing is, there is actually very little sex in the whole film. Sure there is phallic imagery galore, but they do not overshadow the central idea of people being unable to let go of the past. Although director Craig Brewer recycles some of the same themes found in his debut, Hustle & Flow; this film is more mature than its predecessor. You cannot help but get drawn into the world of these characters. I liked the way in which music was used throughout the film. Craig perfectly shows how blues music is filled with both the heart-wrenching sadness, and raw grimy sex appeal. Brewer should also be credited for getting such strong performances from his entire cast. Samuel L. Jackson, who has basically played Samuel L Jackson for the past couple of years, is great as a musician whose life is sadder than any blues song he sings. Seeing him back in that southern setting reminded me of how good he was in Eve’s Bayou. The chemistry between Jackson and Christina Ricci really helps to keep the film grounded and true. In regards to Ricci, I think she gives her best performance to date. She hasn’t been this interesting since The Opposite of Sex. She hits all the right emotional notes in the film. At the beginning her withering around “in heat” comes of comical, yet as the film progress she becomes the one person you end up rooting for the most. Justin Timberlake has a small role in the film and, to be honest, he is actually pretty decent. Yet his character was not really that essential to the story. Despite its ridiculous premise, Black Snake Moan is a surprisingly charming film that I enjoyed far more than I originally anticipated.

Random Song 3: Samuel L. Jackson - Stack-O-Lee (buy)
Random Song 4: Pearl Jam - Jeremy (buy)


David Fincher has brought a certain level of style to all his films (e.g. Seven, Fight Club, Panic Room, etc…); which makes his restraint in Zodiac so interesting. Knowing very little about the murders, I went into Zodiac expecting a highly stylistic take on the infamous Zodiac killer who terrorized San Francisco. Instead, Fincher delivers a slow burning thriller (maybe too slow in some parts) that really does maintain a nice level of tension throughout. Spanning over 14 years, the film focuses on a cartoonist (Jake Gyllenhaal), a journalist (Robert Downey Jr.), and a cop (Mark Ruffalo) as they all try to figure out who the Zodiac killer is. Fincher pretty much divides the film into three parts. We not only see how each man played a crucial role at different stages; but also how the case caused havoc in all of their professional and personal lives. Zodiac also documents the numerous conflicts that arose between police departments in different jurisdictions; especially in regards to the sharing, or lack thereof, of information. As a mentioned earlier, Zodiac is a film that takes its time to unfold. It plays more like All The Presidents Men, than it does CSI. This will probably make, or break, the film for a lot of people. Especially since the film feels much longer than its two and a half hour running time. Zodiac was even starting to test my patience in parts, but I was glad I stuck with it. By time you reach the end of the film; you understand, and appreciate, a lot of Fincher’s choices. Overall I recommend Zodiac; just do not go in expecting a fast paced film.

Video: Timbaland - Give It To Me (ft. Nelly Furtado & Justin Timberlake) (buy)

Random Song 5: Justin Timberlake - Losing My Way (buy)
Random Song 6: Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake - Dick In A Box