Sunday, December 24, 2006

Spank Rock, Sweatheart, and Shodekeh at Talking Head

Last night, went again to one of the last few shows at the Talking Head Club in Baltimore.
This evening was a concert featuring underground hip hop artist Spank Rock and the DJs known as the Baltimore Bass Connection.
First up was Sodekeh, member of the International Beatbox Association, with his beatbox partner Max G.
They were pretty cool. I liked it when they recreated the Clipse's "Grindin'" beat. I think he was also using circular breathing in some parts.
The second act was a group from South Philly called Sweatheart. The band had Amanda Blank who also raps with Spank Rock. They were rock-electro-pop band that had hilarious songs about finger banging and diarrhea. All the members of the band had on oversized t-shirts and tights.
By the time Spank Rock hit the stage, the Talking Head was packed and hot. This has been quite a year for this regional hip hop artist.
Needless to say, it was an incredibly high energy set. They let audience members dance up on stage with them. It got pretty chaotic, but it was fun, reminding more of a house party than a concert.
Amanda Blank joined Spank Rock on a few songs. A South Philly girl who raps filthy lyrics - hot!
I was kitty cornered stage right near the speaker, and I was lucky to shoot some great closeup pictures of the night.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Year End Lists - My Top 10 Records of 2006

This is going to be tough. I don't know if I can subscribe to ranking these albums this way, but what the heck.
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1. Joanna Newsom - Ys
-gotta admit, I love her voice and her pretentiously long songs - so bleah to all you haters

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2. Scott Walker - The Drift
-"that's a swanky suit" - another difficult listen for the normals, but when did I ever say I was normal.

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3. Beirut - Gulag Orkestar
-his voice is like a straight man's Rufus Wainwright with backing by A Hawk and a Hacksaw, one of my favorite bands.

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4. Cat Power - The Greatest
-I love Chan's voice, and the pairing with the Memphis Rhythm Band is great.

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5. Peter Bjorn and John - Writer's Block
-Swedish pop- it's all for the kids!

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6. Destroyer - Destroyer's Rubies
-I am glad more people are listening to Dan Bejar, but he does fall into the acquired taste music I fawn over.

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7. Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
-They carry the twee torch that Belle & Sebastian are slowly moving away from.

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8. Girl Talk - Night Ripper
-Philly has Diplo and now Girl Talk - DJs I actually care about.

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9. The Knife - Silent Shout
-More Swedes that the kids are crazy over. You just gotta dance!

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10. Susanna & The Magic Orchestra - Melody Mountain
-Better than Nouvelle Vague and weirder covers - KISS, Leonard Cohen, AC/DC

Noted reissues:
Karen Dalton - It's So Hard to Tell Who's Going to Love You the Best
Hermine - The World on My Plates
The Orchids reissues
Josef K - Entomology
This Heat - Out of Cold Storage
White Mice - s/t
Rita Lee - Hoje é o Primero Dia do Resto de Sua Vida

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Year End Lists: My Top 10 TV Moments of 2006

1. The Wire
What an amazing 4th season for The Wire- it seemed to be finally getting the critical hype it deserves this year, too.
Gotta love the moment when Omar, in his bathrobe, walks the streets of Baltimore terrifying the corner kids and even scoring a package.

2. Battlestar Galactica
This year saw the end of season 2 as well as half of season 3 - some less consistent episodes recently, but it's still damn good sci-fi. I loved the episode liberating New Caprica with the Galactica in the atmosphere, and the final battles of the Pegasus.

3. Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
The best food-travel show ever. My favorite episode was Quebec. It inspire me on a trip to Au Pied De Cochon for foie gras poutine. However the best moment was when he shared a raw seal carcass with an eskimo family. The old ladies laughing with blood on their faces was priceless. He ate the eye!

4. The Office
This show is definitely a distinct item from it's UK inspiration. I loved "The Merger" episode, particularly Ed Helms' Andy vs. Dwight.

5. How I Met Your Mother
What can I say - Robin Sparkles!
"Let's Go to the Mall!"

6. The Colbert Report
This was Colbert's year- I think it really came to light at the White House Correspondant's Dinner, but gosh darn, my nerd side loved the Green Screen challenge. It even brought Lucas out!
And with last night's Decemberist's shredding challenge, Colbert's da man!

7. Deadwood
Dan Dority vs. the Captain!

8. South Park
"Make Love, Not Warcraft" - a fitting tribute to our friends lost to the World of Warcraft. I know someone I have not seen or heard from in 2 years because of this game.

9. The Headbutt
Just because of how the Italian team were so obnoxious taking dives during the World Cup final, I think we all wanted to headbutt them on their asses like the great Zidane did. Even though he didn't win the match, we all won.

10. Tyler & Roeper
With Ebert out for his illness, this show has had a series of guest critics with Richard Roeper. You got to finally figure out if A. O. Scott actually liked or disliked a movie.
However, the best part was discovering Aisha Tyler is kind of nerdy. Her video picks one week were Ong Bak and Old Boy!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Diplo at The Talking Head Club

So, unfortunately, at the end of the year, Baltimore's Talking Head Club (formerly The Ottobar) is shutting down for good because of the building being sold.
It's the club where I've seen a lot of "Freak Folk" acts like Vetiver, Espers, Josephine Foster, and Six Organs of Admittance as well as great smaller indie groups like The Ponys, Jason Forrest, and JOMF.
They have a pretty interesting lineup for their last couple weeks of shows.
Tonight, was the final night for Taxlo's Taxidermy Lodge- it's put on by a local group of DJs, but the highlight was an appearance by Diplo from Philly.
He was pretty awesome - he did a lot of his mixes with Baile Funk as well as Dancehall, but he also included a lot of great 80's classics. He also knew when to leave a song alone and to let some of them just play. Such was the case with "Gigantic" and "Under Pressure"
Things I learned about dance music tonight:
1. Daft Punk is such a force of current dance music, it's not funny.
2. The 80's ruled! - I knew this already I guess
3. Baltimore dance parties are pretty damn awesome because of the diversity of people attending.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Year End Lists : My Top 10 Concerts of 2006

I went to a heckuva lot of shows this year- seeing some acts multiple times. Here are my favorites:
1. The Touch & Go 25th Anniversary Festival - in particular Killdozer and Big Black - a great lineup of bands from my young adulthood that I also got to see with a bunch of my Midwestern mates.
2. Joanna Newsom at Black Cat - I know it's love her or hate her- I loved her show!
3. The Walkmen at Johnny Brenda's - hands down, they are the most promising, solid new rock band, and yes, this was just yesterday.
4. Art Brut at the Ottobar - I love Eddie Argos with the mustache- They were hilarious live- best sing-along act.
5. Beirut at Warehouse Next Door - a really nice show I felt lucky to have gotten into considering all the hype in the blogosphere.
6. Camera Obscura at Black Cat - They released a great record this year, and gosh darn it, I love that scottish twee sound.
7. Belle & Sebastian at Merriweather Post Pavillion - despite seeing them 3 times this year- this was my favorite of their shows mainly cause I could sit on my ass and eat a brat during the show.
8. The Concretes at 9:30 club - a show where there were maybe 30 people there. the band then cancelled their US tour early and then broke up. they were great.
9. Jose Gonzalez, Juana Molina & Psapp at Black Cat - another packed show thanks to the Pitchfork effect, and I managed to block the view of some short prick
10. Espers & Brightblack Morning Light at Talking Head - I really like the freak folk!

Runnerups include seeing the goofy sober Cat Power with the Memphis Rhythm Band, The reunited Pogues, and Scritti Politti on his first US tour.

The Walkmen at Johnny Brenda's

I went up to Philly yesterday for a friend's Christmas party, but I managed to also get tickets to a special holiday show put on by one of my favorite bands, The Walkmen, at a small club called Johnny Brenda's in Fishtown.
Opening up was a local Pa. musician, Brother JT. He had a blues rock sound and his voice reminded me of a less hoarse M. Ward. It was ok - a lot of energy, but the guitar playing in the solos was kind of sloppy.

As ever, The Walkmen were pretty amazing live. The venue was really nice and intimate, and the crowd was really feeling the love for the band. I saw them play in Philly in May at TLA, but last night's show was way better. The sound was also much improved from the other venue. This show was apparently set up by the now disbanded Mazarin, who are friends with The Walkmen.
The band played a great set of songs from their last couple records (no Pussycats stuff though) and I think some new tunes that sounded nice. This time, they had 3 ladies on horns through several songs (instead of just "Louisiana").
I was also really happy they played their holiday single, "Christmas Party" with one of the guys from Mazarin reading the spoken part of the song off paper plates. They also did a rocked out version of "White Christmas".

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Ex with DJ Rupture and Low Moda at the Ottobar

Monday night, I went to the Ottobar to see art punk rockers, The Ex play.
Opening up was Baltimore's Low Moda. This local post-punk band just released a record on their own label, Creative Capitalism, called Gospel Store Front. It's worth checking out.
They definitely are tighter and tighter each time I see them play.
Next up was DJ Rupture. I have a few of his mixes, some of which can be really interesting listening to. Live, as with most DJs, he was kind of boring to watch cuing up records and adjusting levels. I was also disappointed that he had to appeal to the crowd and played "Sexy Back" and "Crazy" to "pump up" the audience. Zzzz.
I saw headliners, The Ex, play at the Touch & Go Anniversary festival in the late summer. At that show, the guitarist bled all over his guitar.
At the Ottobar, they rocked!
Even sans bassist, they sounded loud and driving. It was also pretty awesome that the Ottobar audience were really into the band.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Why Pitchfork is Stupid, Pt. 4,352

So Pitchfork, in their esteemed wisdom reviewed the reissue of Vince Guaraldi's Charlie Brown Christmas album, and what do you know, it got an 8.3!?!

Good grief - how can this timeless classic album be rated lower than albums by The Pipettes, Chavez, and The Hold Steady.

Incidentally, I was talking to a booker for one of DC's venues, and she said that the so-called "pitchfork effect" was making it harder for the booking of bands because internet virtual hype inflated the prices of touring bands - even with acts who had no prior tour experience. I do worry when a select few become tastemakers for the public - the new payola is online.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Wire 4.13 - Final Grades

Whew, what a season - The Wire finished it's fourth season last night with a fantastic episode filled with a lot of heartbreak sprinkled with a teeny-tiny bit of hope.
The stories of the four boys all came to an end with very mixed results.
I loved seeing McNulty giving another shot at real police work. I also liked seeing the reappearance of the Greek's man with Prop Joe. Poor poor Bubs.
The parallels of Carcetti's political career with that of our future Governor and outgoing Mayor O'Malley are really interesting.
My favorite scene was with Bodie and McNulty in the park and how the sunlight seemed to darken for a moment- it was beautiful and sad.
I wonder when they'll start filming in town for the new season. . .

Monday, December 04, 2006

Why I Want a Wii

The Wire 4.12 - That's Got His Own

The most recent Wire episode was probably one of the darkest episodes of the series for me. Because of the storylines this year following the kids, all the events that occured on the episode were especially sad because of what all the events hold for their futures. Sadly, now, all of them have lost their parents - from Dukie leaving Prez for high school to Randy's tragedy.
For those who don't know Baltimore well, the stable where Bubbles gets advice is for the horses that are used to draw fruit and vegetable carts around this city. Yes, Baltimore still has these fruit carts - one comes around my neighborhood in the late afternoons.

David Lynch's Inland Empire

I had the opportunity to see David Lynch and his newest film Inland Empire this weekend in New York.
I loved the movie- it was scary and emotional. The byline says the film is about "a woman in trouble." David Lynch came out before the film and introduced a trumpeter who opened the film with a short piece. Afterwards, Laura Dern and Justin Theroux joined Mr. Lynch onstage for a Q&A.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Fun Montreal Signage

Sorry for the paucity of posts recently. Holidays, home-closings, and road trips.
Here are some signs from Montreal.

Couche Tard- basically 7-11 for Quebec- also a good mix tape by Spank Rock and The BBC guys.

No ice cream or cameras!?!

The Wire 4.11 - A New Day

Damn, a great episode of the Wire this week. Omar's power play was brilliant- he's the Lester Freamon of the street. It was also awesome to see Lester back at Major Crimes with his subpoenas back in play.
My favorite scene was when McNulty and Bodie were eating together- it really hearkened back to seasons 1 to 3- nice moment.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Montreal's Ballet

I was in Montreal this past weekend. While most of the big things were my meals there (see the food blog), I could not resist the wonderful "Danse Contact" clubs. This was my favorite, hands down.