Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gorillaz, the imaginary/animated group created by Damon Albarn of Blur fame and comic book artist Jamie Hewlett (Tank Girl co-creator), released their third album, "Plastic Beach" this month. My official opinion of this new effort is "eh." I don't like it much. The first single, "Stylo," featuring Mos Def and Bobby Womack, is bad as hell and so is the video. Bruce Willis stars in the video and he makes almost everything better, except maybe those two movies he did with Matthew Perry. And it's in 3D, which seems to be all the rage with the young kids. But the rest of the album is pretty boring. I tried to listen to it during a meeting with my co-writer and we fast forwarded through most of the tracks.

Now I know you might say we should give it another listen, maybe listen more carefully. And you're right, we might do that. But that wasn't a necessity with "Demon Days," Gorillaz' second effort. That record grabbed you right away and kept your interest. Same thing with the self-titled first record, especially the singles. Now Gorillaz is one of those bands that features tons of guest stars, but that's not the problem here. Mos Def is on a couple of tracks (so is Bobby Womack) but only one is good. Other guest stars include De La Soul, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Lou Reed, Mick Jones and Snoop Dogg. De La Soul had a great track on "Demon Days" called "Feel Good, Inc." that I still listen to. Del tha Funky Homosapien has guested on some of their best tracks, and members of The Pharcyde have done some great work with Gorillaz. The difference this time might be in the production. Dan "The Automator" Nakamura did the first album and Danger Mouse did the second. "Plastic Beach" was produced primarily by Damon Albarn, and this proves the old adage that you shouldn't produce or edit yourself. Let us know what you think. If you really love this record, we'll give it another listen. Maybe.

Gorillaz - Stylo

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ganessa James

Ganessa James is a songwriter, guitarist, keyboardist, bassist, producer, and all-around music lover. We first checked her out about 6 years ago when she performed with Onliest, her band with her twin sister, Tiffany "Zelle" James. Ganessa's music includes irresistible earnest delivery, harmonies, and lyrics that implore you to listen and be moved. Her beautiful music and positive spirit make everyone love her: parents, wives, husbands, friends, babies, you name it. Ganessa is a self-taught singer with influences that include Take 6, En Vogue, Boyz II Men, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and Joan Armatrading. She has performed at venues all over New York City both as a solo artist, and with other artists such as Onliest, the Soulfolk Experience, Me'Shell Ndegeocello and Shelley Nicole's Blakbushe. She has also performed at The Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. She's performing in the Bronx next month and at a few local festivals over the summer.


Illard Scott

This post is about a young MC out of Queens we've been following for a minute. His name is Illard Scott, and this cat definitely combines old-school flow with some hard-hitting DJ Premier-style beats. His content is on the conscious side, but he can flow about NYC, love, God, and MC'ing in general. Illard Scott has performed all over New York: at the Nuyorican Poetry Club, End of the Weak, last year's Forest Park International Music Festival, the Metro Hope Lounge in Harlem, and his own open mics in Mavi Lounge in Queens. You should check out his videos on Youtube. Dude has serious production skills and works with some of the best: DJ G-Biz and Mark Carrenceja (also known for working with the Roots). If you're tired of the same old crap in today's hip-hop, you're reading the right blog and you should give this cat a listen.
Myspace Page
Guidon Records Website

Monday, March 22, 2010

Them Crooked Vultures

This group debuted a couple months ago, but when I heard about them, I immediately thought, "Why didn't I hear about this sooner?" It was kinda like that Chappelle Show skit where Arsenio Hall punches a guy in the face at a wine and cheese party and goes, "Why didn't you tell me this cheese was so good, motherf***er?" Them Crooked Vultures consists of three greats in hard rock music, all famous with their own bands, all known for collaborating a lot. Josh Homme is the main songwriter, singer, guitairst for Queens of the Stone Age. He got his start with Kyuss and also releases semi-regular albums called the Desert Sessions that can include just about anyone he's friends with in music. John Paul Jones is best known as the bass player/organist/mandolin player for Led Zeppelin. I always wondered why he got kinda ignored in that band, but I think the answer to that question is Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Bonham. Jones has also played and produced with tons of people all over (I saw a clip on Questlove's Myspace page once with Jones, Questlove and Ben Harper playing "Dazed and Confused." Ridiculous.) And Dave Grohl is best known for playing drums for this little band called Nirvana, as well as fronting the Foo Fighters. Grohl has also played drums on my favorite QOTSA album, "Songs for the Deaf," drummed for Probot along with Lemmy from Motorhead, and a couple other projects I haven't heard.
Them Crooked Vultures' self-titled debut has some great tracks on it, but it's not perfect. There are a couple clunkers, but highlights include "Dead End Friends," which sounds like the best of QOTSA and has some really sad lyrics (I had to look them up). "Bandoliers" and "Elephants" are also good, with great instrumental breakdowns. "Scumbag Blues" has a melody and falsetto singing by Homme that remind me of "Strange Brew" by Cream, but that's not a bad thing. If you're gonna be in a hard rock supergroup trio, you might as well reference the best. Vultures' live show has been described by a friend of mine as "loud." You can stream a full concert by Them Crooked Vultures from Austin City Limits on

Devlin Miles

We came across Devlin Miles a couple years ago and we really dig her sound. It's a combination of melody-driven pop, rock and country, with influences like Sheryl Crow and Pat Benatar (not the kind of stuff we listen to all the time), but Devlin makes it work. Devlin puts on a great live show and we've seen her perform in NYC a bunch of times, most recently in December at the Bitter End where she released her CD, "Autumn's Fires." She also composed a song to benefit suicide prevention called "The Extra Mile" and performed it for National Survivor Day on November 21. Anyone reading this blog in Massachusetts is likely to see her up there over the summer.
Her Myspace,
and CDbaby

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Clipse feat. Cam'ron - "Popular Demand"

This song is tight. I used to listen to the Clipse when their 1st album came out but not so much now. I dont know why cuz they're pretty consistent. I never stopped likin them. I just didnt check for them that much. But I came across this and like I said, they're consistent. This bangs just like their old stuff. Even though the beat sounds a bit like Nas "On the Real", I'm not gonna knock it. It's dope regardless. Plus Pharell tends to show respect to the great producers before him so it's all good. Listen to both and you be the judge. Clipse do put it down, plus the videos in Bk.

We are the World 25- Why, Lord, Why?

I haven't listened to the remake of "We are the World" and I probably won't. Here's why: they brought together over 30 singers and songwriters to do this. Why couldn't they write a new song? I saw Natalie Cole and Lionel Richie and Justin Bieber on Extra or Access Hollywood or one of those shows (whichever one has the dude from Saved by the Bell) talking about how excited they were about this. Natalie Cole said she was honored to sing Michael Jackson's part. Justin Bieber and Lionel Richie talked about how Bieber sang Richie's part. I respect Natalie Cole and Lionel Richie; I have nothing to say about Justin Bieber. But why not write a new song? MJ and Lionel came up with "We are the World" on the spot in the studio with Quincy Jones. Do you mean that no one currently making music is talented enough to do that? (Maybe not.)
The funny thing is that "We are the World" was not the only time that a bunch of artists got together to sing a song for a good cause. It happened a lot in the 80s, less so later on. There was that "Do They Know It's Christmas" song with a bunch of British pop singers. There was "Sun City" that protested apartheid in South Africa. KRS-One put together "Self Destruction" with the best MC's of his time to talk about gun violence. Even Michael Jackson ripped off his own song later on and wrote "Heal the World" But so few people do anything original anymore. Does anyone remember when they remade "What's Going On?" a couple years ago and had Fred Durst singing? I'm trying my best to forget it. I'm also trying to forget Fred Durst and his red Yankee cap. General consensus on Facebook, at least in my circle of friends, is that "We are the World 25" was made for a great cause (helping Haiti) but that didn't mean anyone wanted to hear Wyclef warble all over it. (Sorry, Wyclef. Loved "The Carnival," by the way.)