Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Jam Time = Phish Time

It's summer, and the #1 band of that portion in my life when I saw most of you folk on a daily basis is doing their thing. That's right - let's talk Phish.

Because of the changes in mobile technology during their absence, the new Phish is a whole lot more accessible than ever before. Gone are the days of waiting for tapes - I know have pretty much all of the summer tour. And while I often am against this kind of relentless hoarding, which I think leads to collecting music, not listening to it, I have to say that I am indeed listening to an awful lot of Phish.

I won't get too into details, except to say that they are absolutely, 100% back, and sounding as good as they ever had. Some highlights for you:

An absolute destruction of Zep's "The Rover" that makes me wonder why they never covered this before:

Bizarrely, a cover of "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea." Weird, and didn't do a ton for me, but thought it might be of interest:

"2001" played on the anniversary of Michael Jackson's death, and man is it a blast (I sacrificed video quality for sound quality on this one):

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hip Hop Hooray!

It's summer! And I finally have enough free time to be excited about new music again!

If you didn't already know, it's shaping up to be an great summer for hip hop:

To start with, The Roots just released a new album. I've only had a chance to listen to it a few times so far, but I definitely like it a lot. Maybe not as much as their last couple of albums...but then again, those two albums were both major growers, so I suspect that the true greatness of this new one may only gradually reveal itself.

Also, these guys are probably the only compelling reason to go see a Jimmy Fallon taping. They're really incredible in their role as house band, and when I went we were also treated to a pre-show performance of "The Seed 2.0".

And, Big Boi's new album is apparently actually for-reals coming out in a couple of weeks!! This may be the only album in a long time I'd describe myself as "eagerly anticipating", and there's every reason to hope that it's going to be very, very good.

Big Boi may just prove himself to be the underestimated Jeff Tweedy of the Outkast songwriting team.

I also have to say that from what I've heard of his stuff, that Drake kid actually appears to be pretty good. He's been mentored by Lil Wayne, raps about himself with the like-ability of Kanye West circa 2004, and is as Canadian as Neil Young! I haven't actually purchased any of his music...something about him makes me feel old. Maybe it's the fact that I've more than once had Drake lyrics shouted at me by defiant middle schoolers in Harlem, as if to say to me "this artist raps how I feel, and you couldn't understand, old man". But whether I actually end up trying to get into his album or not, you can't deny his talent. (Also, one could make an argument that Drake is greatly helping Kanye's 808's and Heartbreak production aesthetic seep further into the mainstream...which could be good or bad depending on your perspective.)

Hell, even Eminem appears to have released a solid new album! Now all we need is for Lil Wayne to give up on his dream of being a cross-over rock sensation. (Lupe Fiasco recently fared slightly better than Wayne, turning in a rap/rock song that's only mediocre. Maybe if Lupe were able to wed a radio-rock hook to his usual lyrical complexity, he could put something together that wasn't even half bad, but probably the New Moon soundtrack isn't the place to expect him to pull that off.)

Finally, on two not-entirely-related notes:

If you haven't seen it yet, check out this highly readable evisceration of M.I.A. by the New York Times.

Also, let me be the first to say on this blog: despite how much I'd like to resist this idea, Lady Gaga is addictively entertaining.