Sunday, March 29, 2009

1. The Roots - Rising Down

When I first started this 'project' -- which is exactly what it has become -- three months ago, I mentioned that I initially couldn't think of many albums that I had that came out in 2008. There was one album, though, that immediately came to my mind: "Rising Down" by The Roots.

I'd be so full of cred if I could honestly say that I had been anticipating this album for a long time, and that I had been thirsting for new Roots music since the release of "Game Theory" in 2006. Truth is, though, a song from this album is what convinced me to start a friendship with ?uestlove and Black Thought. I had heard a little bit of them, mostly just clips on VH1 specials about hip-hop, and didn't quite 'get it'. So, they play their own beats and have a drummer with a nice hairdo. Good for them.

A few months before Rising Down was released, a friend of mine connected me to a video of 'Get Busy' on Youtube, and I was hooked. I must have watched it five or six times in a row. I immediately confessed my sins and asked him how to start my repentence process. I was directed towards "Things Fall Apart", and before long, I was born again. I had accepted The Roots as my hip-hop savior. I now had faith, and purchasing Rising Down only a few days after it fell showed that I also had the works (hip-hop without Roots is dead).

Besides ?uestlove's drumming, one of the great things about a Roots album is the frequent presence of three of the world's best: Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Common. Their appearances often overshadow that The Roots have one of the best rappers alive in Black Thought. ?uestlove being the face of The Roots and Mos Def, Kweli and Common (along with others like Wale and Dice Raw) lending their voices unfortunately pushes Black Thought to the background. He has to be the most underrated rapper on earth. Just watch the clip on the blog below this one of The Roots and Public Enemy performing 'Bring The Noise', and you'll see that he deserves as much proper respect as any other rapper.

'Get Busy' is my favorite track, but 'I Can't Help It' provides my favorite verse of the album. I believe it is spat by the unfortunately-named rapper, Porn, who makes a few solid contributions to "Rising Down". His verse in 'I Can't Help It' goes:

I never said I'm ready to die, but I accept it
Never said I'm ready for war, but I'm protected
I don't even know when it's comin', but I expect it
Lost all semblance of hope, so now I'm left with
Nervous conditions, addictions, in addition
to vixens that mixed in with the wrong crowd
My life is on a flight that's goin' down
My mother had an abortion for the wrong child
With the time I felt love, that's gone now
Been replaced by purple rains and some storm clouds
Misery love misery
So why make friends? Let's make some enemies
And now I got a habit that wasn't meant for me
Now I'm in a marriage that wasn't meant to be
One more reason to change identity
The cars, the crime, K's, penalties

I first fell for this verse early in the morning on my birthday last year as I was driving to meet up with Lisa. I had to keep rewinding it and replaying just this part. It is so incredible. But don't take my word for it....

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Noise: brought

Public Enemy with The Roots on Jimmy Fallon:

My woman text messaged me about it and said, "It's almost too much awesomeness on one stage."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Gary Shuffield

Sometimes a fellow needs to put his Pod on shuffle to be reminded to be thankful for what he's got, and that there's more to life than The Mr. T Experience and Chixdiggit.
Here's how it went (band/song):

1) Jurassic 5 - Action Satisfaction
2) Old 97's - Color Of A Lonely Heart Is Blue
3) Old 97's - Murder (Or A Heart Attack)
4) Okkervil River - Last Love Song For Now
5) The Ramones - No Go
6) Alkaline Trio - Emma
7) Run-D.M.C. - Peter Piper
8) Billy Joel - The Longest Time
9) Pavement - Chesley's Little Wrists
10) Parasites - Never Giving Up On You
11) !!! - The King's Weed
12) I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody's Business - The Kindler Burns
13) The Ramones - Pinhead
14) Caribou - Sundialing
15) Yo La Tengo - Sugarcube

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

2. Say Hi - The Wishes and the Glitch

Alright, let's finish this. I bet these are so annoying to everyone besides me.

Two questions an intellect might ask:
1) Say Hi? Never heard of them. I've heard of Say Hi To Your Mom, what gives?
2) Hey, wait a second, didn't this technically come out in 2007?

Answers, from another intellect:
1) Same band, my friend. Say Hi To Your Mom decided to shorten their name in hopes of sounds less lame, I guess. While I will admit that the name was initially a turn off (listening to the beautiful tunes will change anybody's mind), I think they were too far in with the "to your mom" part to change it, so I still call them Say Hi To Your Mom.
2) No. Technically, it came out in 2008, but it was available through the bands website in October of 2007. I guess, really, it depends on your definition of "technically" in regard to when the album "came out". Was it when it was available, or when it "dropped". I'm going with when it dropped.

Have you heard Say Hi To Your Mom yet? I know many have, but I worry that many more have not. They are one of two bands that I want to see play every time they come to Salt Lake City (Yo La Tengo is the other), which is saying a lot as I am not in love with live music. It takes a lot of coolness to get me to go once, let alone numerous times. There's plenty of opportunities to see Say Hi To Your Mom in the SLC too, as they(/he, as Eric Ellbogen is the only consistent member) have made Kilby Court a regular stop on their tours. It seems like every fall and spring brings a visit. Say Hi To Your Mom is probably the only band who, when their set ends, I think to myself, "You know, I could have taken in two more songs." They have mastered the skill of leaving a man wanting more.

Kilby Court might not be big enough soon, and my worries about those who haven't heard Say Hi To Your Mom might be deterred as they have joined Barsuk records instead of releasing albums on their own label. In fact, their first Barsuk album, 'Oohs and Aahs' came out just last week.

On to 'The Wishes and the Glitch". It is great. Really great. Even as it is perhaps my least favorite Say Hi To Your Mom album (excluding the thus far un-heard the new release), it is still awesome. It starts with the song that might be meant to announce their move from New Jersey to Seattle, "Northwestern Girls," which, along with "Oboes Bleat And Triangles Tink", is one of the bands greatest tracks in existence. The album also features other wonderful pieces of tune like, "Back Before We Were Brittle", "Zero to Love", "Magic Beans And Truth Machines", and the best song ever written about Pac-Man, "Bluetime". From start to finish, "The Wishes and the Glitch" is a masterpiece. But don't take my word for it.....

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Adventure Day 2/28

On Friday, as I was about to leave work, Bryton sent me a text message asking if I was interested in going on an adventure the next day (which was yesterday [Saturday]). With my last Adventure Day being such a great success, I would be a fool to decline the offer. We didn't know where to go, but Scotty has been talking about Price a lot lately, so we decided to head down the deadly Highway 6 towards the mining town. Oddly enough, we never really made it to Price, but we got close. Close enough.

It is not meet that men should adventure without food in their stomachs, so we left my house and went to Burger King. Often, a fast food establishment will make a person wait for their food, like so:

Highway 6 has a reputation as a bit of a bad road. Some folks are attracted to bad roads, and our threesome was no different. We know that a bad road can't be changed, but they can also be survived if a person knows how to do it. The most important technique is to find some tough-looking people -- preferably on motorcycles -- and follow them into the danger. It didn't take us long to find these folks:

In their wake, we saw this:

Once the danger was passed, we pulled over at the first historical marker that we came to. Turns out, back in 1987, this stretch that we felt safe on was loaded with danger.

That's not all, either. In 1924, an infamous mine disaster happened nearby. The evolution of time has brought about a devolution of danger. Thank you, technology. Now, one can enjoy the beauty like that found in the following two photos without constantly having to look over their back.

Across the dangerous highway was coal -- "black fuel", to some. Scotty crossed. I crossed. B, though, couldn't stop thinking about the danger of Highway 6. He was scared, and contemplated not crossing.

But, in the spirit of adventure, he faced his fears and bolted across the asphault killer.

We were so proud. On to the search for coal.

Thanks, Scotty.

Want to see a rotting town? Go to Helper. These were the two good things. Sorry, Helper, I'm not trying to start a feud or anything, I just hated being within your limits.

On our way outta Helper, we stopped to use the restroom (how many Helper gas stations does one need stop at to find a restroom? Two, at least), and found and paid for these treasures:

They disappointed. Part of me wonders if we had purchased them in a different town, the treats would have been the gold they touted themselves to be.
Some adventure, so far, right? We weren't even started yet. We ended up in Wellington, at the mouth of Nine Mile Canyon. Don't let the name fool you, this canyon is actually 40 miles long. Not only that, the road through the canyon wasn't asphault. It was dirt. And you thought Highway 6 was trouble. Motorcycles don't go on dirt roads. Navigated this canyon would be in our own hands.
Should we? We all asked? Yeah, we all replied.
Besides provisions, we needed two things: a game face

(Bryton looks like a hardened criminal here. Good job, Bryton)

and some information:

What did we get ourselves into?

Things don't last in Nine Mile Canyon.

The road:

A lot of people have written their names or tried to be an artist on the walls of Nine Mile Canyon.

The sights:

Bryton's car should be celebrated for driving us through the wretched terrain. Bryton said his car can rest later, it's going where we go.

Scotty said that if he can look in it, his arm can go in it.

Four hours later, we exited the canyon

Game face off, survivor face on:

The journey wasn't quite over, though. We had to go through oil-land first.

This included a stop what we thought was a historical marker, but it was just an information site about the animals that used to live in the dry land and those that still did. For instance, prairie dogs that are either violent or amorous:

About 38 miles later, we made it to the main highway, and it couldn't have come a minute too soon. We drove into the night, victors and heroes.