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April 15, 2006

RBI Video Update

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Jeff Passan from Yahoo Sports interviewed me the other day, and it is published here. Jeff is undoubtedly the man, he once challenged his friend to a seven game series RBI Championship of the World, and despite the setback of losing Game 1, he came back to win the series with backbreaking slaughter rule victories in Games 3 & 5.

Friday Charts - 4/15/06

Here's the latest entry in the Friday Charts, looking at the most seeded albums at a file sharing community. Links take you somewhere related to the artist or album.

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Gnarls Barkley = Worthy

1. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere
2. The Streets - The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living
3. Built To Spill - You In Reverse
4. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Show Your Bones
5. Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers
6. Ghostface Killah - Fishscale
7. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Dani California (Single)
8. Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
9. Tool - Vicarious (CD Single)
10. Tapes 'n Tapes - The Loon

Several new additions since I last updated this list. Notably two Singles have made it onto the list, which is undoubtedly a good sign for how the albums by the Chili Peppers and Tool will fare. The Chili Peppers song, however, "Dani California" sounds about as phoned in as you can get. It sounds like the equivilent of one of those fanmade trailers that people made before the new Star Wars movies came out, where they would piece together old Star Wars movie footage and put a new narration over it to make a "new" trailer, except this time they did it with the old, bad Chili Peppers radio hits. Dani California has the generic bouncy rapped verse that the Chili Peppers have been passing off as "Funky" for the past eight years, and then a surprising transition to a heavier, sung chorus that later segues into an guitar solo that makes you think that John Frusicante may have been better off if he had stuck to the Hillel Slovak route he appeared to be on before Californication came out.

Also, the Gnarls Barkley song "Crazy", which I just heard for the first time recently, is one of those songs that the first time you hear it, you can fast forward in your mind to how you're still going to be hearing it 8 months later, as you think to yourself "Jesus, they're still playing this song?" but it doesn't really irritate you because it's that catchy. The Raconteurs have yet to make a solid impression on me, but I'm leaving the door open to be blown away at some point in time. I still don't really understand its designation as a Super Group. Maybe that is all the work of the agent for the guy who isn't Jack White, but em>was in another band, so I guess technically people might have heard of him.

I am dismayed by the Streets popularity.

April 14, 2006

4/20 Songs and DVD Contest!

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4/20 Time

Since National High Five Day falls on the Third Thursday in April, which this year happens to be 4/20, we have received a good deal of emails alerting us to this coincidence. Most are related to the presence of the word "high" in our holiday's name, but many fail to even reach a level of comprehensibility to achieve that most basic and obvious realization. Well in yet another instance of giving the masses what they want, I think I'm going to attempt to break down the topic of weed music here on the blog. To make it even more interesting, this will also mark the first CONTEST that I've ever had on this blog. For details on the CONTEST you can go ahead and skip down to the end of the entry.

The influence of drugs, and namely marijuana has had on music is incalculable. It is depressing to imagine what music woudl sound like if be like if Coltrane hadn't had his smack, Syd hadn't taken all that 'cid, Bob Marley never toked the sweet sweet ganj and Johnny Cash hadn't taken whatever those nameless painkillers he was out of his gourd on for 70% of Walk The Line. But out of all of them, weed is probably given the most credit regarding promoting creativity and artistic achievement, (maybe credit is legitimately due, but it could just be because it doesn't make you end up penniless on the street, or make you kill yourself in a torrent of angst driven despair.)

So let's break down the influence of weed on the music world:

Dr. Dre - The Chronic CD
The Chronic


-Most obviously, we have Weed Rap. Exemplifed by Dr. Dre's The Chronic and Cypress Hill's Temples of Boom, this is pure glorification of the drug. Blatantly made for the masses, this rap doesn't pretend to establish any sort of facade regarding its intent to project a thuggish, outlaw image by endorsing a widely consumed partially decriminalized drug. In short, it is awesome. Note: This genre also includes Bob Marley and stuff like Sublime's "Smoke Two Joints because they're really obvious as well. Great Example: Cypress Hill - Hits From The Bong

-Then there is insane electronic music. Designed ostensibly to make people dance, but more often consumed in a dorm room with your MP3 players visualization in full gear, it's the rare track from this genre that is actually tolerable without the influence of drugs. Genre Definer: Josh Wink - Higher State Of Consciousness

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The Flaming Lips On-stage Posse

-We also have wierd rock, designed to make noises that freak you out. Utilizing every production trick in the book, especially layering sounds, surround sound pans, vocal effects and in general just freaky shit, Pink Floyd would fit in here, so would latter day Radiohead or Wilco circa YHF. Nowadays, the term "Psychedelic" is used to describe lengthy, aimless, boring songs by bands who can't write anything catchy, but The Flaming Lips, with releases like The Soft Bulletin, Yoshimi and the almighty four stereo necessitating Zaireeka, not to mention the greatest stage show of all time, have claimed sole ownership of the weird rock crown. Best Song To Freak You Out With Headphones: The Flaming Lips - Race For The Prize

-There's Stoner Rock, with bands like Kyuss, but I don't know anybody who actually listens to this genre of music

-Crazy improvisational music is an obvious favorite of the stoners, but its rare that these songs can prove tolerable to people on the outside. If a song has a catchy hook, different movements, and most importantly builds towards an amazing climactic conclusion, it will undoubtedly be touted as "The greatest thing I've ever heard." I think that Santana's performance of "Soul Sacrifice" at Woodstock, especially when seen with the accompanying video, featuring scenes of naked men holding sheep, is a wonderful example of a crazy jam that everyone can agree on.

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Ever really heard Automatic For The People?


-But songs need not have crazy builds or be laden down with fancy studio effects to prove enjoyable to the slack jawed couch dweller. Though those types of songs may prove to sync up better with a TV playing the Cartoon Network on mute, there are also songs that weren't written with the average pothead in mind, but that are good enough that they can prove revelatory when heard under the right circumstances. This is stuff like Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska, or "Automatic For The People," or "The Bends," music whose true beauty was hidden behind a thick wall of acousticness, until you heard it again for the first time one night. Crown jewel: Ryan Adams - Cannonball Days

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So that brings us to the first ever San Diego Serenade contest! In celebration of 4/20, I'm going to be giving away a copy of "Reefer Madness" on DVD, courtesy of San Diego's own Legend Films! Legend Films has restored Reefer Madness for DVD and has colorized it for the first time ever. If you've never seen it before, it's a ridiculous example of unintentional comedy from the 1930's, and it benefits greatly in the visuals department from the colorization. For example each character has their own color of smoke as they engage in their dreadful illicit activities. To top it off, exclusively on this DVD, Michael Nelson of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 fame has recorded an audio commentary for the film MST3K style, pointing out all the hilarious comments that you'll undoubtedly be rendered far too incoherent to make yourself.

To win a copy of the DVD, as well as a nice "Got Reefer?" shirt, just post a comment detailing your ideal 4/20 song, or your best related experience. I'll pick one at random and send the winner the DVD and the shirt, hopefully in time for Thursday's festivities. The Contest will end at 3 PM California time on Tuesday the 18th.

April 13, 2006

Hey Hey, It's Michael Nesmith!!

Michael Nesmith

If you ask me what the first concert I ever went to was, the answer you will get is Green Day, Dookie Tour '94. I have the t shirt. But it's not entirely true. Before that I attended a Billy Joel/Elton John extravaganza with my parents, (yes, they played Piano Man) and WAY before that I saw The Monkees at Wolf Trap when I was like in second grade. Yes, The Monkees for some reason played a big part in my childhood, and nothing makes me happier than to see that members of The Monkees are still kind of revered non-ironically in our modern society.

This Wired interview with Michael Nesmith (the one with the hat) popped up in my Gmail news feeds today, and is very interesting. Nesmith is famously the Monkee who objected the most to the role the band was forced into by the nameless, faceless executives of either television or the music biz. He wanted the band to take advantage of their popularity and write their own songs and play their own music on the records. Post-Monkees, he has gone on to produce one of the greatest movies of all time, "Repo Man", and generally kick back and savor his reputation as The Monkee Who Kept It Real.

Nesmith's desire to inject authenticity into the Monkees in my mind makes him sort of a tragic figure. One can't help but listen to him sing "Listen To The Band" and hear a voice that truly yearned to and deserved to be heard. The plea of the song, (a song that evidently meant enough to Nesmith to name one of his Greatest Hits compilations after it), takes on added significance, at least to yours truly, when heard inthe context of Nesmith's conflicted position as a talented musician in a band universally accepted as a joke. Videos of the band interacting with Johnny Cash and Frank Zappa as well as projects such as the Monkees bizarre psychedelic movie Head , wherein the band plays one scene as flakes of dandruffs in someones head, also serve to show the promise the group truly had that for the most part, remained unseized.

Nesmith evidently remains active in the music and arts scene. I will review his new album, "Rays" as soon as I can. Until then, check out the Monkees MP3s and videos I have below. The videos are of "What Am I Doin' Hangin' Round," Nesmith's hat wearin', heart rendin' country ballad, and "Goin' Down," my dad's favorite Monkees song, that is sung by Mickey Dolenz, builds like "Keep The Customer Satisfied" and has a video that trully must be seen to be believed. After that, download the MP3 of "Goin' Down" so you can show your friends how much ass the Monkees indeed kicked, and finally, the MP3 of "Listen to the Band", for you to put on repeat as you finish your last three beers of the evening.


What Am I Doin' Hangin' Round


Goin' Down

MP3s:

The Monkees - Goin' Down
The Monkees - Listen To The Band

Monkees Season One DVDs
Monkees Greatest Hits
Monkees Head DVD

April 12, 2006

Jay Wasco's Rocket Man-ia

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Rocketman on the Egotar

I'm not gonna lie, having a bunch of people visiting your site is pretty sweet. The bad thing about the RBI Baseball video I made is being 97% sure that I will never top it. To have peaked at 24....

But the good thing is that I've gotten in touch with a bunch of interesting people because of it! Many of these people just want to say they liked the video, a small percentage of joyless dicks have complained about the strikeout numbers being not accurate (because there always has to be something), and then there are readers like Jay Wasco who saw my wacky video and correctly thought I would be the kind of guy who appreciates a one man band rendition of Rocketman played on a homemade, self invented instrument.

Rocketman has been given the once over by a couple of big names, most famously Shatner and Stewie. But neither of those videos featured the Swiss Army Bass or the Egotar. These are hybrid instruments constructed by Wasco, who sings on top of the super-coordination requiring instruments. I thought that recording the movements of the Red Sox outfielders and the Mets batters at the same time was difficult, but it doesn't compare to playing an entire bands worth of sound while doing a damn good version of Rocketman. Wasco also tackles Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" and a few other songs with his home made instruments. I think they're awesome, and you should definitely check them out.

http://www.jaysmuseum.com/vidlobby.htm

April 11, 2006

Support The PB Street Fair/Block Party

Support the PB Street Fair


Some San Diego-centric news, regarding the PB Street Fair/Block Party. Still looks like it's not happening on the previously scheduled date of April 22nd, but the Pacific Beach Foundation is working on obtaining an appeal hearing to try and see if rescheduling the block party for a later date this summer is a possibility, or at least ressurecting the festival for next year. Here is an excerpt from the email they sent me, they are soliciting emails from PB residents that support the block party. Just tell them about who you are, and what your situation in PB is. That way the town council can hear the voice of the PB residents who might not own property or make it out to local government meetings, but who probably form a strong percentage of PB residents:

At this time, we do need to ask each of you to send us some very basic information, as the city has stated that although they have received over 2800 emails in support of this event, there is no way to determine how many are from people that live or work in PB, have business or employment in PB, or even who live in surrounding communities. If you could each spend a moment and email us at contact@pbfoundation.org with your name and the street name where you live or work, plus a simple statement connecting you to Pacific Beach, it would be a huge help to us at the appeal hearing. We are expecting to proceed with our appeal hearing very soon, and we do need to be as prepared as possible.

Just on principle, whether you drink yourself into a stupor at the Block Party or not, I think it is important to not let the un-representative PB Town Council decide what is going to happen in your neighborhood. It's a sad reality that the typical 20 something PB-goer or PB resident doesn't decide to spend their nice San Diego evenings cooped up in town council meetings. That shouldn't cause their viewpoints to completely disregarded. (That sounds ridiculous and ignorant, saying that the population that doesn't care enough about the issues to go to meetings and support them deserves to be heard, but seriously.) Maybe the above method of making your voice heard will prove easier for most people.

And, because it's so very obvious, here's an MP3 to make you feel more guilty if you don't send the email, kind of like how the Nielsen Ratings people send you a dollar bill with your ratings form to make you more likely to fill it out.

Bloc Party - Helicopter

April 10, 2006

Gilly Leads The Way

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Gilly Leads

I've never been to Lestat's in Normal Heights, and usually I like to spend my birthday at a favorite restaurant/booze dispensary. However, I think that come April 23rd this year, I will have to make an exception and travel to Lestat's to check out Gilly Leads. He's an artist from Los Angeles who you've probably never heard of, but who you shouldn't miss the opportunity to check out in a week's time. I find it difficult not to hear shades of David Bowie in the two songs by Leads that I've heard, not so much in his voice, but in the style of music. Fire Escape has lurching, piano driven march verses that give way to the more plaintive, melodic chorus. People Know is more energetic and features some cool harmonizing the likes of which TV On the Radio recently recruited Bowie for for their latest single "Providence." Of course, whether or not I would be making these comparisons if I didn't know that Mike Garson, who played on keys on all of Bowie's great albums was part of Gilly Lead's band, but that power of suggestion...it's a damn strong power.

Leads plays at Lestat's on Sunday, April 23rd with The Bo Dukes and The Shambles

Check out some MP3s:

-Fire Escape
-People Know

April 09, 2006

1986 World Series Game 6 Re-Enacted in RBI Baseball

So last week had the first day since I've been keeping the blog that I missed an entry. I felt bad about this lack of discipline, and no doubt you were upset as well. I wanted to post the little project that I was working on that diverted my attention from posting about music. I decided that I wanted to enter this YouTube Cybersmack contest and win $25,000 for creating the best internet viral video, so I decided to re-enact Game Six of the 1986 World Series in RBI Baseball, my favorite video game of all time. Game Six is one of the most surreal, unbelievable displays of sports in history, and hopefully now that the Sox have emerged victorious in the World Series, it can be seen more as an utterly stupifying comeback, and less of a devastating choke job.

So this took a long time, and I heard more of the RBI theme music in those hours than a man ever should. But I also learned a good deal about the game. Namely these two things:

-Vin Scully is a great announcer. During the 20 minute plus bottom of the tenth, the other "color man" in the booth chimes in for about 3 different comments, one of them just being "Golly!" The difference between a run of the mill broadcaster and a hall of famer is very apparent, but I cut most of the color guy out because of time constraints.

-Secondly, the blame that Bill Buckner has taken for this loss over the years is just shockingly high compared to the Red Sox pitching staff. They are the true people who choked the game away. Obviously Buckner made a terrible error, but they put the Red Sox in an unbelievable position, one that you can't imagine any of today's modern super-closers ever ending up in.

Without further ado, here is the video: The 1986 World Series Game 6 Re-Enacted in RBI Baseball. Unfortunately it is about 6 minutes longer than the three minute YouTube contest limit, but I hope that people enjoy the video even if it doesn't result in a major cash payday for yours truly.

UPDATE: Well this has proven far more popular than I imagined. I'm glad that everyone liked it. Looks like I would have had a good shot in that stupid YouTube contest if not for the 3 minute maximum rule that I didn't notice until after I had completed the video. Damnation. Well if you'd like, you can download a smaller version of the video here.

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