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The Ill Communication

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Tribute

May 4, 2017 | 22:45 | Written by: snake911

Hard to believe it's already been five years since we lost the great Adam Yauch, MCA of the Beastie Boys, to cancer.

Being my favorite hip hop group of all, the Beastie Boys were able to weave in and out of many genres of music, but keeping that hip hop vibe all along the way.  It's interesting to note that they are probably the only rap group to be played on rock stations on a regular basis, which shows just how well respected they are.  Now I love the group as a whole, but if you were to tell me which one of the group I gravitated to towards the most, I'd have to say MCA would be the one.

Why?  I dunno.  All three spit out great lyrics, but of the three, MCA had the most distinct voice due to his being the deepest and somewhat raspy, so it's easier to pick his voice out from the trio.  That, and when he does radio interviews, I like his personality.  His calm, laid back, and funny attitude combined with his slower than average speech gives a comforting appeal about him.

But it's not only him being a musical artist that impressed me, it's how he expanded into media in general, going into video production by founding Oscilloscope Laboratories, a film company helping bring indie films to a larger audience.  In addition, he directed a number of music videos under the hilarious pseudonym of "Nathanial Hörnblowér," and directed a movie called Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That! which involved handing out a number of camcorders to fans at a Beastie Boys concert to film their experience at the event.  And also Gunnin' for That No. 1 Spot which showcases high schoolers with the potential for joining the NBA.  Pretty cool stuff.

Then there's his personal life, displaying a strong contrast to his early years from Licensed to Ill by showing how much he'd grown up by helping out with global affairs.  Acting as a human rights activist, he fought for Tibetan's freedom and respect for women.  Following the Buddhist religion mellowed him out, and got married and had a child.  Overall he was a well-balanced individual where he seemed like he had his priorities straight.

For a more somber sounding track, here's one from Check Your Head called "Something's Got To Give."  Included is a music video and lyrics that call out for peace and understanding.  This is echoed from the 1998 MTV Music Video Awards when he got on the podium and used his time on the mic to explain how the US should use alternative, non-aggressive responses to issues in other parts of the globe.

So while others are celebrating Star Wars with the "May the fourth be with you" tagline, I'm going to be quietly celebrating Adam Yauch over here by listening to a few Beastie Boy albums.  And as a cool tribute, someone on YouTube made a neat-o video splicing together the first line MCA speaks from every Beastie Boys song from every album!  You gotta check this one out.

RIP Yauch

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Migration

March 9, 2017 | 21:47 | Written by: snake911

I've been listening to Bonobo's latest album Migration.  With it comes a new list of tracks that chill the senses in a tranquil state as you listen to electronica music with his signature technique of weaving everyday sounds into each track.

Even though the album from start to finish is a treasure of songs, there are a few that stand out above the rest.  The first time I listened to the album was out of order.  I normally don't do this, but since I didn't detect any linear path like if it was trying to tell a story, so I figured it was ok.  The first song I heard titled "Kerala" -- which is one with a suspenseful tone -- is the biggest hit for the album.  It has a quick beat and with strings taking center stage from I'm guessing is a harp, but then makes way for repeating lyrics of the latter half.  The music video for it evokes an unsettling nervousness while watching a woman in an eerie situation running through a city.  It's intriguing so you'll watch it to its end to see how the story unfolds even if you don't care for the track.  Unfortunately for me the editing for the video with its quick cuts make it difficult to watch as it tends to strain my eyeballs.

Song 7, "Bambro Koyo Ganda," has a dance club vibe to it with Arabic lyrics on top.  And even though I don't understand what is being said, the flow of the music, lyrics, and hand clapping make it a pretty catchy song.  Then there's "Ontario" with its big beats that go in line with something I would have heard from Amon Tobin.  The slow and sloppy drums are what my ears focus on the most with this one, and the horns make is sound like this could be picked to be part of a soundtrack for a motion picture.

Visually the album's cover art is striking, giving me a similar appreciation for it like from his 2010 album Black Sands.  When glancing at it for the first time, I quickly though of Riven, a video game set in a world with a similar design with human structures surrounded all around by nature, but to my surprise it's a photo taken from the Mojave Desert, which is about an hour's drive from me (and very familiar having family living there).  Without context it's all very alien looking with thought-provoking scenes of rock formations, reflective blue skies, and fire spewing upward in the middle of the shot.  There's a fantastic article about the album art alone, interviewing the photographer and the reasons for their visual theme surrounding Migration.

As a runner's up list, "7th Sevens" and "Outlier" are great, but nowhere as good as the three mentioned above.  Overall Bonobo continues making fantastic music and Migration proves that with these 12 new tracks.  If you want a more relaxed, unwind, and tune out the day kind of music that comes from the electronic music scene, I don't think there's anyone better than Bonobo who can do this.

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Oldies

January 17, 2017 | 23:20 | Written by: snake911

All weekend from Friday to today, KROQ's been playing nothing but ‘90s alternative music with Roq of the 90s Weekend.  So far, it's been what I've been mainly listening to over these last few days.

Not that they've never done this before, but it's been a while since I've heard a lot of ‘90s music in a concentrated amount of time; and it's been awesome.  Why?  Because since there is a lot of time to fill for the station, they've been playing not only the big hits, but also minor hits that I've completely forgotten about like Bush's "Comedown" and King Missile's "Detachable Penis."

I guess tomorrow we go back to the new stuff again.  Now old man me wishes there was an KROQ HD3 station that only played ‘90s music similar to KROQ HD2 that only plays ‘80s music with Roq of the 80s.  But maybe too much of a good thing is bad.

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Upstart blues

July 25, 2016 | 21:02 | Written by: snake911

Another treasure discovered during that excursion for Genesis boxes mentioned from the previous blog post unearthed something else I’ve been looking for off and on for the last few years, but not game related this time as this one is a music album.

The album Rubber Money from musical group Jo Gray is definitely a rarity as I think they may have been a band which failed to ignite a spark into the American music scene.  Makes sense though as I saw them during a school rally while in middle school and has been the only time I ever known of their existence.  If they were charted for success, they wouldn’t have played for free for a bunch of dumb 11-13 year old kids at the school’s cafeteria that also operated as the school’s theatre.

This had to have been early 1997 as I remember being in the eighth grade when they performed for us.  Although they had an album to tour with, interestingly enough they didn’t perform any of their songs.  I can, though, remember them acting more as a cover band as they played a ton of songs from varying artists that jumped between rock, rap, and R&B.  The most memorable moment for me was when they played Metallica’s "Enter Sandman."  During that part, the singer put on a longhaired wig and started began banging whilst the strobe lighting was in full effect.  Being basically the only kid who liked rock music at my middle school, it looked like I was the only one without a puzzled look on my face when they played that song.

After the performance I was impressed enough to where I wanted to buy their album.  During lunch they were selling CDs which I remember being $10, cassette tapes which were $5, and drumsticks for $3.  I bought the cassette version and later when I got home played it I was met with extreme disappointment as I thought it would have included all of the cover songs they played.  I wanted it to be a sort of mix tape of popular songs from around the time covered by them and not original songs.  I quickly discarded the tape and it sunk to the bottom of my music collection.

Years later I must have purged my audio cassette collection to my brother as I found it in one of his storage tubs.  Considering its age and exposed to outside temperatures, I’m surprised how well it survived.  Fortunately I saved one portable cassette player in case I ever wanted to listen to a cassette tape (thanks past me), so I do have the means to listen to it.  The verdict of the me today: not bad at all.  The album has a few really good songs worth listening to.  It has that mid ‘90s pop sound with hint of ‘80s pop which must have been influential for the band.

Since this seems to be the only existence of this album with no signs of it on the Internet, I’ve been thinking about archiving it by making a digital copy, and possibly sharing it?  Though I’m not currently sure on the latter as it’s a copy from an analogue source so it’s probably going to sound crappy, but we’ll see.  Anyways, looking forward to listening to the digital version of this album without the hassles of looking for a track by means of tedious fast-forwarding and rewinding sessions.

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Musica! Musica! Musica!

May 21, 2016 | 09:24 | Written by: snake911

Man, a lot of good songs have been coming out within the last few weeks, but not from new artists --I’m increasingly not caring about new bands as I’m old and stuck to what I liked when I was in my teens and early twenties. All these bands I’m about to discuss are all rock, all roll, all soul.

First there was the new Blink 182 track that I mentioned a few posts back, but around the same time Garbage debut the first single from their new album slated to come out in June. "Empty" is a great song that includes some of that familiar guitar and synths I know the band for from their hits and the meaning behind the lyrics stay in line of someone with insecurities with themselves. If this one track is a representation for the rest of the album, we’re in for a treat in June when it’s released.

Then there’s RHCP with the album The Getaway that’s also scheduled to come out in June. The first single for it is a song titled “Dark Necessities.” It begins with a great intro with a heavy bass and guitar, slowly building momentum as they play together. A piano enter and creeps into the foreground and then smack, it’s just the bass with an awesome funk sound to it that leads us into the vocals of the song. I could go on about “Dark Necessities” but this take my word that all 5 minutes of it is good from start to finish.

It’s really shaping up to be a great summer of music for 2016, and it’s all in early summer! Come on, August. Don’t let us down.

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Looking back while going forward

May 6, 2016 | 23:27 | Written by: snake911

Back before their breakup, I loved listening to Blink 182, but weirdly enough I never bought any of their albums. I referred to these types of banks like Blink as “radio bands” -- bands with songs I love to listen to on the radio, but not enough for me to buy an album. The same can be said for Sublime, along with a few others.

Back last year in early 2015 I was surprised to hear the news that Mark and Travis booted Tom out of the band. That was kind of surreal for me because this meant there is only one original member of the band that’s left. While it is a bummer that Tom is now out of the group, I don’t really feel too bad as he seemed to be the one blocking the group from making another new album (based on what Travis said during a radio interview). On top of that, Tom apparently phoned in his part while they made their 2011 comeback album, Neighborhoods (which I noticed right away as that album was NOT good at all).

Last week is when the group dropped their first single of their new album California, which I feel is a perfect name to an album from a band that started in the golden state. To me it’s a sign that they are looking back and seeing what made Blink, Blink. And to show that, the first single titled “Bored To Death” reflects this well by having the song sound like something that could have came out from them around 15 years ago. Mark does a great job with the lyrics and Travis does what he does best by banging on the drums and giving the track a fast, high energy feel. Then add in what Matt Skiba is doing with the guitar and adding harmony vocals to the song and you have something that Blink fans should love to hear again and again.

Sure, the song is serious and that is what Blink is half known for, but the other is their dumb, ridiculous side that gives songs goofy titles or lyrics to a track. Well, to contrast “Bored To Death,” they also released another song from California called “Built This Pool.” I don’t want to spoil it, so listed to it with your own ears to see what I mean. ;-)

All of this Blink news had me go back and research how the band was like back in the ‘90s when they were still relatively unknown back during their Cheshire Cat days. There’s a photo of them playing in Corona, CA at the Showcase Theater, a small venue where bands both big and small played for many years until it got shut down in 2008. In it you can see the scene was bursting with punk vibes and looked like fun time to be in the club listening to them rock out. But in examining the photo I noticed something interesting. Let’s zoom in on what I’m talking about.

Holy crap! That’s a cup from Del Taco! Don’t know whose drink it is, but seeing that it’s near Mark I’d have to assume it’s his. If that’s the case, then the dude has good taste in food as well, adding some bonus points for himself.

Everything appears to be lining up for this to be a great album as it harkens back to their old stuff, has the familiar two faced appearance to their song crafting, a feel good album name, and is going to drop on July 1, 2016 -- the 182nd day of the year. Clever.

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