Thursday, February 22, 2007

Dream Team? Not Quite.

By the time the Dana Carvey Show first aired, the Kids in the Hall had pretty much wrapped up and I really couldn't see how a SNL alum could top it. Thus, I never saw any of the 6 episodes that aired, and by the time my curiosity piqued, the show was canceled.

When the Dana Carvey Show topped the Onion's list of the Top "14 neglected TV shows that deserve a DVD release," nostalgia rang anew. With a crew of writers that boasted Steve Carrell, Steven Colbert, Charlie Kaufman, Robert Smigel AND Dave Chappelle, I thought it'd be an undiscovered goldmine. How could this show not be great?

After watching an episode, the answer to that question is obvious: Dana Carvey. The show's largely composed of his various impressions, which, even when they originally aired, would've been a little dated already. Carvey had already finished his tenure at SNL, but still opted to ape the Ross Perot jokes. 2/3 of the gags were of the 'old folks' variety, timid at best, weak even for SNL standards. By the end, the only amusing points were picking out young Steve Carrell and Steven Colbert, a novelty that might get you through 2 episodes, but certainly not 6.

Don't believe me? Here's the worst of the skits (featuring both Carrell and Colbert), which can be easily summed as Carrell doing brown face and Carvey doing ching-chong jokes:

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Belated Weekly Post: a Compendium

I've been slow to update this on a more frequent basis, with no valid excuse other than being lazy. Thus, I'll try a bit harder to make each post a little more involved so as to make up for the huge gaps in-between them. After reading O-Dub's tip to DivShare, I figured it was an easy way to appease without turning this into a more full-fledged MP3 blog (which I clearly don't have either the (i) time or (ii) taste for). This RJD2 song seemed like a good start:

Which leads easily into posting the second of the reject record reviews that the local paper didn't run (would probably help if I could remember if it was the Sun or the Province), of RJD2's Third Hand. This also coincides nicely with the fact that the album comes out in the near future (March 6), and to counter, in my opinion, the wave of unfair reviews that have already been posted about it. The only fair review I've seen thus far was in Exclaim, which went along the lines of "RJD2 is a great hip hop producer, but only a good pop musician." Fair enough. I probably gushed a bit more than I should've, but here you go:

RJD2 spent much of his first album being accused of being DJ Shadow-lite, and, much like Shadow, spent his second album chasing after rock over hip hop. With Third Hand, the pattern repeats itself, as the album will undoubtedly stun many, much as DJ Shadow’s recent hyphy album The Outsider was panned as the worst of his career.

Third Hand sees RJD2 largely abandon the beats for indie-pop, and it fortunately works. A producer that’s proven so adept with constructing songs from samples has clearly got an ear for composition, and the short little pop songs that comprise Third Hand are unsurprisingly succinct. The most successful of the songs build on his past catalog, marrying samples with 60s British pop know-how, both rewarding in its immediacy and in its subtleties. While Third Hand will assuredly turn away many (people, it’s been 11 years since Endtroducing!), those with a open mind should find Third Hand more than appealing.
The one thing I have been busy is noticing the ever-increasing amount of unkempt beards that seem to populate Main Street here in Vancouver. If little dogs are a trademark accessory amongst the various suburbanite ladies that populate our city, uncontrolled facial hair are a suitable analogy for the urban hipster set (Colin Meloy second-hand suits being a close second). In honor of said gents, I would've posted a new track off the LCD Soundsystem album, but as their label seems particularly vigilant in going after the various MP3 blogs that have already done so, here's a Giorgio Moroder track instead ("If You Weren't Afraid"):

Thursday, February 15, 2007


My friend Denise was telling me how, when she was in her very early 20s, she and her friends picked songs that represented themselves. Not favorite songs, but songs that fit their lives thematically. She picked Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again."


It's funny what gets dumped from Youtube nowadays. I can understand the various concerns of having someone post a new episode of "The Office" or something, but not entirely sure why Viacom would demand all the Whitesnake videos be removed. You'd think Whitesnake would do well to have a little more publicity.

What's more odd are the various homages to "Here I Go Again." I'm all for recognizing the subjectivity in musical tastes, but I think we can all objectively say it's one of the worst songs of all time. Apparently there's differing opinions on the matter.

(1) From what I can tell, this cover band is playing (i) "Here I Go Again" (ii) on a flat bed truck (iii) in a parking lot, at (iv) a show sponsored by a bank or credit union of some sort. There's 4 things already somewhat curious about that observation.

(2)There seems to be alot of self-recorded guitar solos on Youtube, but I wouldn't have chosen this song as a likely candidate. There's infinitely more that I haven't posted, but this guy seems the most personable, but in that I-don't-necessarily-ever-want-to-meet-you-but-I'm-sure-you're-nice kind of way. I can understand the Guitar Player magazine fans that this sort of thing would attract, but the comments hint at a niche-community I never knew existed: "You rock that was almost perfect. very impressed. but i do agree that you need some bending vibrato: my suggestion is just practice bending and just wiggle it up and down slowly and then gradually speed it up. bending vibratos are hard, but they are essential to help express emotion. btw can I get the tab for this?"
Rock is a pretty sexless thing nowadays, I guess.

(3)Given the rest of this band, it's odd that the drummer should choose to play without a shirt.

(4)You combine two odd fascinations - (1) Whitesnake, (2) Final Fantasy - and it becomes a third one.

(5)Perhaps the most minimalist of the bunch, this is just the song with an email address to reply to. Who is Jack Private? Not sure I want to know.


Complete aside: how awesomely self-conscious was this video?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Lazy Sunday Posting

1. Have always been a huge fan of Eddie Harris and Les McCann's version of Eugene McDaniel's "Compared to What".
2. Saw Les McCann at the Calgary Jazz Fest with Marco (who has a new Dilla tribute posted) two or three years back, a quiet smooth-jazz affair. Didn't think too much of it.
3. Partner at work lent me a copy of the re-issued Invitation to Openness, from around 1971. Features, amongst other tracks, "The Lovers". Interest in Les McCann revived.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Reject Reviews

(Context: I originally wrote a variety of record reviews for the local paper because one of their staff wanted 'hipper' music picks, but they didn't have the budget to bring in another freelancer. On Tuesday, they reviewed the new Belinda Carlisle and Jann Arden albums, and a wire piece on Fall Out Boy. In any case, I didn't figure I should let this LCD Soundsystem review go to waste, but remember the audience I was pitching it for.)

lcd As one-half of the production duo DFA, LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy is one of the most influential producers of the past five years, firmly entrenched in the NYC-hip and popularizing dance music for all those blazer boys with tongues-in-cheek. Murphy’s output under both DFA and LCD is fashionably cold without being overly bloodless, and has done more to usher in the current New Wave nostalgia than any other, misguided or not.

With that said, “it” trends are necessarily short-lived, particularly when they lack any evolution. It’s surprising, then, that Sound of Silver is so firmly entrenched in a sound so, ugh, 2004, when any indie-hipster worth his salt would have moved onto something newer and shinier. While, in recent months, LCD Soundsystem’s Nike-commissioned piece 45:33 piqued interest in terms of its audacious duration (the piece is named after its length, forty-five minutes and thirty-three seconds, and patterned against one’s heartbeat during a workout of same length), Sound of Silver backs away completely from anything quite so different. That’s not necessarily a problem – Murphy has cemented the sound with little in way of competition (the Rapture’s weak follow-up gives proof) – but for a man that trades so heavily in currency, it may prove to be disappointing.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Roots, Live and Direct

Both of us having come down with a cold, it was a little dubious as to whether we'd make it to see the Roots. It took me forever to wake up from the Nyquil, but I'd been waiting for this show for months, having always heard that the Roots are one of the best live shows around, hands down.

From reading Questo's blog, it sounded a little dubious as to whether they'd make it too: "i just took these chlorzoxazon pills and its like cliff huxtable telling claire about when he was training for his relay race that a bear was behind the bleechers and made him carry a big ass ice box."

Thus, I was a little trepidatious about the show. I've seen shitty live shows of artists I love before, and it can ruin a good thing. When the lights dimmed and the Roots did their marching band entrance, it was clear it wouldn't be the case.

I'll spare you from reading a live review - I always thought it sucked to read live reviews of great shows I missed out on. But I will say that Questlove, Kirk Franklin and the tuba player do this incredible, 20 minute version of "Masters of War" that's very powerful to watch, and Black Thought came into his own during the Motown-extended version of "The Seed v2.0" and covered (I think) the Commodores' "Sweet Love."

(It's quite odd watching a group wherein the drummer is the de facto leader, particularly for hip hop acts. For the most part, Black Thought doesn't stick out as a clear front man, mostly because there's so much going on to watch. But he did capture it during this encore, hinting at how soulful he could be, as a rapper or as a singer, if he'd cut loose even more - probably the most widespread criticism I've read of the man or of the Roots.)

There's an interesting phenomena of people recording live shows on their cellphones. I can't imagine it would end up being anything more than noisy audio and shaky-cam. That said, I've never been too into watching live shows recorded. To counter, here's Questo's vid-blog wherein he recounts his Tokyo purchases (how many live shows of Chicago could one possibly watch?):