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On the 25th of August in the year 2001, Aaliyah and a few of her associates were killed in a plane leaving the Bahamas on its way back to the states.  At the time this news brought me sadness;  i had come to adore Aaliyah’s music and looks.  she was about 2 years older than me, and thirteen years of age i was infatuated with her and had many a fantasy involving her likeness and myself.  She was on MTV all the time with the “back and forth” video, which in my young opinion was probably one of my top3 songs that year/summer.

Her early work with R. Kelly would pale in comparison to her collaborations with Missy Elliot and Timbaland.  “If Your Girl Only Knew” was a good single, but it just a primer of sorts for the genre pushing sound of “one in a million.”  having been a fan of sum drum and bass music, i quickly took to Aaliyah’s new sound, and so did everyone else.  Soon many clones would arise but none came close to Aaliyah’s Minnie Ripperton-like honey dipped cool.  I would never dare say it was all about Aaliyah, bu once she passed it was clear Timbaland lost his muse.  It would take him to work with Nelly Furtado to regain some of himself back.

“are you that somebody” gave her a bigger audience.  her movie with Jet Li did the same, allowing her to do more of the same for the soundtrack (her “standards” were so far ahead of her so-called peers).  she released great music in her last days, “we need a resolution” is one of the underrated songs of the decade.

with all that said my favorite song of hers is still from her first album.  “At Your Best” is the the perfect teenage song.  A young girl cooing adult lyrics (no doubt written for her).  It is dramatic enough without taking itself too serious.  What a groove.

aaliyah-at-your-best.mp3

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there used to be a time when i was up on all the “latest” music news, used to know all the release dates, yadda yadda.  i’m not in college anymore, and that time has passed, and it’s a bit refreshing to be completely honest.

case in point: i had no idea The Futureheads have a new album coming out very soon, and they already released two videos for “Radio Heart” and “The Beginning of the Twist.”  You might say, it’s only two songs and it’s not like they just dropped 5 albums in the span of the month like Nine Inch Nails, and I would say tru-dat.  But 2 songs and 2 videos totally unexpected is like Xmas to me these days.  BTW i know there’s plenty of people out ther listening to all those NIN albums, but that level of Prolificness (probably not a word) is way too demanding for me; how does one take in that much music from ONE ARTIST in that very little time?  Amazing.  That’s like the rock version of the mixtape a-la when 50 Cent was flooding the market around 5-6 years ago.

definitely lookng forward to this.  going through a bit of music overload today.  I just boiught the Robyn album that came out like 3 years ago but is finally available here in the US of A (awesome album, i’m glad i didnt download it back then), the new Long Blondes album (very cool as well), and the Santogold album only to show my monetary support.  i’ve been listening to the copy have so much already it probably wont leave the shrinkwrap anytime soon. 

some were quick to judge and label Santogold aka Santi White an M.I.A. clone, and I suppose they were right – there is one song that absolutely has that M.I.A aesthetic (the song in calle “Creator”).  but that is to say M.I.A.’s sound is all her own and she absolutely DOES NOT where her influences on her sleeve (I love both her albums but let’s get real).  Santogold displays an unabashedly pop sound, complete with strumming guitars, chill basslines, and drums galore.  upon many first listens Santogold continues to impress, and i find myself listening in many moods and situations; gym, walking, driving, what have you.

“Lights Out” is without a doubt my favorite track.  it is a simple track that features synth lines on the breakdowns.  most importantly, it has bass lines like the ones Kim Deal plays in “Gigantic” or “Cannonball”, or like “Nirvana’s “Lithium”.  everything else in my world is secondary when such a bassline invades my eardrums.  It’s been a while since a song has had multiple playback moments.  can it be that it was all so simple.  so far definitely best album out there.

Last week’s announcement of this year’s Lollapaloozaline-up was met with a remarkably positive reception from the internet masses, a surprise to someone like me.  You see, when Perry Farrell resurrected the traveling show, most people who care for public opinion generally opposed the somewhat sugary lineup, complaining it was too commercial and lacked the raw energy from its original early-to-mid 90s talent.

Due to lack of sales and likely poor public opinion (for the record I liked the return of Lolla since I am huge Incubus and Queens of the Stone Age fan), Farrell decided to keep the Lollapalooza brand name alive by instead turning it into a stationary festival like the ones made popular by Reading, Glastonbury, and Coachella here in the U.S. in 2005.  Chicago was chosen as the city to host the event and has since remained the site for the festival.  While the logistics of the concert have been an issue, every year it has grown in popularity, and just by looking at this year’s lineup one can see why (Kanye West, Radiohead, Broken Social Scene, Rage, many, many others).  Simply put it stole all the thunder from Coachella and its organizers Goldenvoice, but only for a brief time.

Just two weeks before showtime, the folks at Coachella announced a major addition to their weekend, the purple one himself, Prince.  Last minute additions don’t get any bigger.  and while i for one second do no think that Prince was added to keep their brand name bigger than the resurrected Lollapalloza, it has to be said it was pretty perfect timing for Goldenvoice to show of their big swinging dicks and proclaim their status as king of the mountain. 

The question is why is it so important to be number one in this field?  it’s like sticking utilizing scientific and economic resources just to stick a flag on the moon.

In the midst of this new pathetic arms race, many (and i mean that in relative terms) are complaining in the All Points West message boardabout how Coachella and Lollapalooza and Bonaroo and whoever are putting this festval to shame.  I suppose it’s a reasonable concern.  The Goldenvoice organization has been quoted as saying there wont be any more additions.  It seems right now paople are paying $100 a day just to see Radiohead, and they want to see a gazillion bands play simultaniously instead of just about 40 over 3 days (i happen to like the lineup; i’m going myself, but i woldnt mind Broken Social Scene!).  and, of course, remains the question of Jack Johnson, but that remains a national controversy rather than just a NJ travesty.

I would say you should not to believe the “no more additions” rhetoric since about a 5-6 hour drive south, the Virgin Festival will take place on the same weekend, and they have already teased the buying public with their superstar headliners.

I typed all this nonsense to bring up my main brief point:  Lollapalooza was criticized for being softcore compared to their past, but now these megasize festivals are packing tons of acts under the guise of “indie” or “legendary.”  The majority of these acts are about as mainstream as it gets.  Having Rage at Lollapalooza is not innovative;  they toured their “rare” performances all last year.  many of the big acts can tour by themselves;  there isnt any room for small acts with large potential.

The appropriation of the word indie for capital gain is hurting these festivals a bit, but there is sure a lot of money to be made.  I do want a few more acts to be added to All Points West only to avoid seeing fans of only Radiohead.  It will be like last year’s poorly run Rock the Bell’s, by far the most pathetic turnout for a rap concert.  Hopefully organizers can learn from this display as soon as possible

i knew it was gonna be a big deal the day this album would finally arrive to the marketplace, but i never really thought of this album as a cultural event.  Lil’ Wayne evokes 2 other rap albums with babies in the front cover: The Notorious B.I.G. with Ready to Die and Nas with Illmatic.  Wayne has many albums and mixtapes under his championship belt, but he obviously sees his new album as a rebirth of sorts.

According to Amazon, Tha Carter III drops May 13, 2008.

in usher’s vision of himself and his surroundings, clubs are a solitary confinement.  Neatly designed lighting show off an otherworldlyness he may not see once steps out in the daylight;  it looks light a celebrity packed spaceship inside this room, and the rest of the patrons are no worry to him since he’s concerned with only one person.  and alas she’s a mystery.  it seems like he’s about to get it on with her, but she disappears, and he starts doing what he does best: dance.

it’s a awkward dance at first, and he doesnt show off any of his moves until around the 4:50 mark.  i call it his masturbation dance.  there’s nothing R rated about it, surprising for an artist that’s not shy about humping air and/or a fellow dancer.  the dance is over and her image is gone, leaving usher raymond mad again.

i think he’s full of shit, but i guess it’s one way to connect with your audience. 

 

  • the black keys’ new album.  don’t know what it’s called, but we’ve been hearing about this ad-nauseum because, aside from them being a good band already (I’ve only heard random songs here and there) the new album was produced by King Midas himself  DangerMouse.  Sadly, I do want to hear this, as if I’m going to point out DM’s intricate touches on the record.  the Black Key’s new album is being overshadowed by a person who’s not a member of the band, but i bet they’re happy sales for the record will increase five-fold.
  • the raconteur’s new album leaked earlier than expected on i-Tunes.  C’mon Steve Jobs, get your shit together!  you’re just trying to one-up the rest of the internet trash by getting the leak out before the rest of them.  I’m curious on two fronts:  just how many people purchased the album online while it was available, and how many people really want a new raconteurs album.  that’s one side project i cant get with.  you’d think Jack White with a bass player would kill, but it shows just how much White thrives on simplicity.  On a side-note, i used to buy albums all the time before the release date through mom and pop shops, so this was a feel good nostalgic story for me.
  • REM’s new album is their best in years, and Michael Stipe is gay.  Apparently everyone already speculated Stipe was gay to begin with, making indie/alternative rock media just another US Weekly.  I do want to hear the new album, Pitchfork says it’s their best since New Adventures in Hi-Fi.  My research skills tell me “What’s the Frequency Kenneth” wasn’t on this album (the last REM song i liked), so i have no idea what it sounded like.  and their new song sounds like Stipe is likely to die at any moment.  hopefully the next single is better.
  • Fluxblog likes one of the new Janet Jackson songs.  doesn’t surprise me at all.  i liked one of those Kanye produced songs from the last album that was unsuccessfully marketed for the 106 and Park crowd.  So I do agree that Janet sounds better when she’s “sweet” as opposed to Janet if she tried to convince me she would be my personal blow-up doll.  why is she pretending to be Mariah Carey?  MC is insane-crazy but it works for her at least (even though she wont sell many copies of her new album).  Janet just wont learn from the mistakes of Michael.

my future girlfriendMexican pop star Julieta Venegas will be performing  in Central Park this summer as part of the Summerstage series, according to the New York Times.  As of now, the Times says the show wont be part of the six paid/benefit concerts.  If I were a betting man, I would say this will be the closing concert of the Latin Alternative Music Conference, and I’d have to assume the show lands on July 12.

Last year, Cafe Tacuba headlined the event.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to see the show, even though I volunteered for the conference.  the line to Summerstage was huge!  I settled for listening to the show from outside like the many, many rest of us stragglers and Johnny-come-latelies.

but now I’m older and wiser and know to show up hours in advance.

in other Julieta news, she recently taped a performance for that old MTV relic program Unplugged.  According to MTV public relations, the show was “unforgettable. ”  But the somewhat cool news here is one of her collaborators for the set: La Mala Rodriguez, who provided a “strong hip hop infusion.”  Not my words.  Why can’t i get a job for MTV Tres/Latin America publicity?  I may not have ever taken any creative writing courses, but i can probably work a thesaurus better than the intern responsible for this copy.

But really, how cool would it be if my future girlfriend on the side La Mala were her opening act?  Horny “Latin alternative” boys will all pause for that concert.

i’ll always love the roots.  been a loyal consumer since Illadelph Halflife, and no doubt i will exercise my purchasing power on the new album. 

this artwork is on some WOW shit!  I’ve only heard “black’s reconstruction” (which you can find below this post) and “birthday girl”, two tracks that could not be any more different;  i enjoy both immensely, the latter however I have to admit i was not ready for at all.  It has the potential to be a summer banger and a frat/sorority house anthem for years to come.  I like it better than their prior exploration of pop rock landscape, “the seed 2.0” (which was never really their song to begin with).  Here’s a homemade video, the song features Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy.  Honestly, I would have never guessed it was him if it wasn’t for internet crybabies screaming out SELL OUT to a group that’s been grinding for more than a decade.

here are ?uestlove’s words regarding the artwork:

although im light years away from western civilization, i still keep up with what is going on and i have to say that its about time that SOMEBODY mentioned race that wasn’t black in this quest for pres-o-dent. (i like the sound of that) then i realized that “no experience” is the new “race card” in this primary (shhhhh dont tell them that)which then gave me a brilliant idea (c) (blair, facts of life) “let’s reveal the album cover!”why? its practically parallel with Geraldine Ferraro comment with “america being in love with a concept” (and im sorry….i dont believe the “concept” she speaks of is about his”hope will save the day” talk. i think the concept she is talking about is the unspoken issue that NOONE on fox news has yet to say.don’t make me say it.

matter of fact i won’t say it.
(
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNPeG-WtXt4 on the word “it”)but i will lead you to the subject matter of the cover.The Reconstruction period in American History.this drawing is entitled NEGRO RULE. and it pretty much sums up the feeling of the Confederate Union towards the newly freed slaves and the idea that if given power they would reek havoc and chaos on the country.

somehow in watching this election one can’t help but wonder if those unspoken feelings—– (btw…”if obama was a white man” is also the new nig—ok…im sorry….black)– reflect the looming figure of the old figureheads of washington now?

We are enjoying our tenure down here in southeast asia. even more amused at all of this birthday girl madness going on. the OFFICIAL video (meaning the one we pay for with our own dollars) will be mired in more controversy once you get wind of who we got to star in this bit. i just hope that this won’t tarnish the O campaign im associated with (i mean after all in two weeks we done kilted whitey, gave the finga to the innnaNET, and now eyeing all the 18 year olders in the house? sheeesh political indeed!

but im always one to give CLues
(http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=25svq7p&s=3 on clues)i know….im an ass!-El ?uesto”

On a slightly related note, i think i really like this unofficial roots video because the birthday girl in question bears a resemblence to Zooey Deschanel.  she’s so hot, i want to be on her (c) Ron Burgundy.  Props to FallOutG1rl4ever for posting that video. LMAO.

usher – love in the club.  incredible song.  pure bubble gum satisfaction. usher sings yet again about the club, particularly about hooking up with a girl (yet again).  played subject, but who cares when it sounds this good.  Jeezy turning in an awkward verse, i almost wish he was talking about cocaine in this ballad of sorts.  he’s not quite the sex symbol T.I. is.  this is the biggest of hit of the year so far.

missy elliot – ching a ling/shake it like a pom-pom  I’m a missy apologist.  i wasnt feeling the song the first go-aroung, but after a few listens it’s stuck on me.  her videos have become less interesting ove the years, a parallel to her music really.  but i’ll listen to anything from elliot; i even halfway enjoeyd that song that pimped the Stick It movie (i liked that movie as well).  the real treat here is Shake it Like A Pom-Pom.  Even the portion of the video for this brings a sense of resuscitation to her career.  she’s gonna need it to follow up her very disappointing last album.

ray j – sexy can i  i cant believe i like this song.  it might have something with the pretty ladies in the video.  or maybe it might have to do with this song playing at work like twice a day.  the only reason i even payed any attention is because he made quite possibly the worlds most boring sex tape ever with bonafide hot chick Kim Kardashian.  The Drama Queen Kay Slay makes an appearance, representing real hip hop by releasing a mixtape with Brandy’s brother.  He’s a true d-bag, that Kay Slay.  Seems I like the song for any reason beside the song itself.

the roots – 75 bars (black’s reconstruction)  the roots at their minimalist best:  black though tearing up the track, Questlove killing the kit, an ominous bassline in the backdrop.  Parallel to the song, the video also features some presumably killed.  It would be a pleasant surprise if this album is better than the excellent Game Theory; they’re off to a good start. 

gnarles barkley – run  seems to be going toard a cee-lo green direction than a gnarles project, and i like the sound of that.  i only liked a third of that overrated album anyway.  the video hurt my eyes a bit, but that’s probably because i’m getting older and i was toiling at reading a book with small print to begin with.  But MTV is catering to me by banning the video due to the possibilty of epileptic seizures.  c’mon MTV lighten up, dude!  kids are on drugs anyway!  they’d like it, but i’m assuming your target audience would prefer the flashy imagery of The Hills, coming soon!