Thursday, October 29, 2009

Julian Casablancas' "Phrazes for the Young"

Rating: 4/5

So I don’t know about you, but I miss The Strokes.
After the brilliant one-two punch of their landmark debut “Is This It?” followed by its (slightly better, imo) sequel, “Room on Fire”, fans were thrown for a loop with 2006’s “First Impressions of Earth”. Taking risks is a great thing for any band, but when the bat and ball don’t connect like they should, that’s called a strike, plain and simple.

And then there was collective silence from The Strokes, with individual side projects undertaken, and vague and increasingly pessimistic-sounding status updates coming down the pipe every once in a while. And now, three years since their last record, lead singer/chief songwriter Julian Casablancas releases “Phrazes for the Young,” his first solo album. And to be honest, I don’t think many people are expecting much from this record, such is the power of The Strokes as a band; Casablancas successfully going solo just can’t be a good thing for a band in which he writes basically all of the material. And one listen to Phrazes for the Young makes it very clear that those fears may actually be justified.

The most shocking thing about Phrazes for the Young is how truly fresh it is; it’s not a rehash of The Strokes material, and it’s not some ill-conceived, cringe-worthy image and sound overhaul either (*cough*...Chris Cornell?). First track “Out of the Blue” and “River of Brakelights” are about as close as the record gets to anything truly reminiscent of The Strokes’ material, beyond Casablancas’ wonderful, trademark croon, which is as infectious and haunting as ever. But even those songs lean far more to the future than the past, with the incredible “River of Brakelights” beginning with glitchy, stuttering drum programming and reaching its climax with an epic, industrial-tinged chorus. Elsewhere, the soulful “4 Chords of the Apocalypse” is a definite stand out, sounding like Aretha Franklin’s “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” produced by Trent Reznor. In other words, this is genuinely intriguing music.

Celebratory synths and a funky drum beat drive the endlessly fun and surprisingly danceable first single “11th Dimension”, and “Ludlow St”, Casablancas’ ode to the Lower East Side, may be the album’s craziest and most compelling moment, adopting a just-a-little-kooky-but-not-dumb country swagger over which the tribute is funny, fun and quite touching, actually. Later, “Glass”, anchored initially by a twitchy breakbeat and a lush bed of synths, opens up into a stunning chorus that is among the most melodic and cathartic moments on the album.

And inevitably that is precisely where Casablancas’ strength as always been; the incredible melodies. That was the backbone of The Strokes’ addictive garage-pop sound, and it is absolutely the bread and butter of this stellar solo outing.

Lil Wayne's "No Ceilings" Leaks!

Somewhere along the way, did you forget how Lil Wayne became Lil Wayne?

Did all the autotune, shitty guitar solos, and Rebirth release date pushbacks cloud your memory of the essense of what made Lil Wayne compelling in the first place?

Well consider Wayne's latest mixtape "No Ceilings" your official reminder. As with previous classics like "Dedication 2" and "Da Drought 3", Wayne hops on hot beat after hot beat (everything from "Swag Surfin" to "Make Her Say"), and takes ownership of every single one of them, astounding every step of the way with his now legendary wit and uncanny ability to make truly bizarre connections.

I won't say much more. But this is why you loved Lil Wayne in the first place.

And you can download the whole thing at, after the jump...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mos Def, Black Thought & Eminem: Does it get any better?

This is what Hip Hop is all about.

Tonight BET aired their annual Hip Hop Awards Show, and it basically sucked...except for an incredible cypher straight out of any Hip Hop fan's dreams.

Mos Def. Black Thought. Eminem.

Check it out!

MGMT Annouce 2010 Release For New Album

Earlier this week, MGMT announced the release and title of their upcoming new album.

Entitled "Congratulations," the outing is tentatively set for a release sometime in 2010. According to, the band is looking to take things into a darker direction, focusing significantly on the pressure and strain their newfound fame has brought them.

The duo, comprised of Vocalist Andrew VanWyngarden, and songwriting partner Ben Goldwasser, have apparently been working out of a home studio in Malibu, putting the final touches on the album with Pete "Sonic Boom" Kember producing the sessions.

Check out their live performance of the awesome "Time to Pretend" from their appearance on David Letterman below.

Rihanna's "Rated R" Album Cover

The official album cover for Rihanna's highly anticipated new album, Rated R, was released today, and its quite an image.

Black and white, Head in hand, a sexy-yet-sorrowful glare, a jagged "R" that looks like it was scorched into the upper-right hand corner of the image...

I cannot wait for this album!

"Rated R" is scheduled to be released on November 23rd, and anticipation is at an all time high. And if you've yet to hear the first single, "Russian Roulette", do yourself a favor and check it out after the jump...

Monday, October 26, 2009

15 Essential HardRock/Metal Albums of the 2000s! (Part III)

No beating around the bush this time. This is the real deal. If you could only hear five Hard Rock albums from these tumultuous past ten years, these are the ones.

Many tried, but no one did it better.

These are the Top 5 Hard Rock/Metal Albums of the 2000s.

Show some respect!

5. Deftones “White Pony”
Easily the most underrated hard rock band since Faith No More, Deftones achieved near perfection with their third album, White Pony. After helping to establish the template for the infamous Nu-metal genre (along with Korn, of course), Deftones basically tore that template apart with White Pony, looking to bands like Radiohead and My Bloody Valentine for inspiration, while still retaining their heavy, alt-metal sound. The music on White Pony is ambient and sexy, yet razor fucking sharp when it needs to be. The transition between “Digital Bath” and “Elite,” for example, is so jarring that it’s almost comical. “Elite” is vicious, showcasing Chino Moreno’s terrifyingly serrated, high pitched shriek, while the band provides a truly evil backdrop, with angular riffs and relentlessly tight percussion. “Digital Bath,” meanwhile, is absolutely gorgeous. Atmospheric, sultry, and just a little bit sinister, “Digital Bath” may be the finest moment of Deftones’ career. There are so many great moments on White Pony, from the menacing “Street Carp” to the epic, moshpit-friendly “Korea.” They may not have achieved the kind of success that the countless bands they’ve influenced have, but very few of those bands have an album in their discography that even comes close to equaling White Pony.

4. At The Drive-In “Relationship of Command”
To be sure, The Mars Volta is a phenomenal band, “Frances The Mute” blew my mind when it came out, and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez is an incredibly talented musician all by his lonesome. But nothing compares to At The Drive-In’s 3rd and final full-length album, “Relationship of Command.” Hailed as an instant classic by fans and critics alike upon its initial release, Relationship of Command was supposed to revolutionize and “save” hard rock with its jaw-dropping mixture of hardcore punk, dub, progressive rock and even salsa. “One Armed Scissor,” the band’s one and only hit single, is brilliant, but there are countless truly astounding moments on this album. The mammoth, hair-raising climax of “Invalid Litter Dept,” the righteous anger and scorching sonic onslaught of “Arcarsenal,” and even the ingenious cameo from Iggy Pop at the opening of “Rolodex Propaganda” are just a few examples. Of course, Relationship of Command stands as At The Drive-In’s final album before their “indefinite hiatus” was announced in 2001. What could have been? We’ll never know. But for what it is, Relationship of Command is a hell of a way to go out.

3. System of a Down “Toxicity”
Who could forget the release of the single “Chop Suey” during the summer of 2001. Arguably the best and most unique rock single released this decade, “Chop Suey” is heavy, disorienting and beautiful, battering the listener with its stuttering verses before it captivates with its sublime chorus. Debuting at number one on September 11th 2001, Toxicity can be described just like that unforgettable single; heavy, disorienting and beautiful. The percussion is frantic and bruising throughout, as is the chunky, relentlessly inventive guitar work. But the true genius of Toxicity lies in the band’s injection of big, infectious melodies into their previously abrasive and largely inaccessible sound. Songs like “Forest" and “Toxicity” come equipped with soaring, absolutely beautiful melodies and choruses that are undeniably catchy. The band’s secret weapon in achieving this is lead vocalist Serj Tankian. Like his likeminded predecessors (Mike Patton, Jello Biafra, and H.R., to name a few), Tankian has a truly unpredictable, distinctive vocal style; and he has unmatched control over his instrument, utilizing its many dazzling qualities at exactly the right moments for maximum impact. Certainly the best album released from the late 90’s alt/nu-metal scene, System of a Down’s Toxicity is must for anyone interested in combustible, genre-smashing rock.

2. Mastodon “Leviathan”
From the flaming relentlessness of 2002’s “Remission" and the claustrophobic odyssey that was 2006’s “Blood Mountain,” to the glorious expanse of their most recent masterwork “Crack the Skye,” Mastodon are the definitive metal band of the 2000s. Not one song, video or album released from this band has been anything less than perfect. And it is 2004’s “Leviathan” that remains their crowning achievement. Inspired by Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick, Leviathan’s clever lyrical content and striking cover art are not the only way in which the band pays tribute to the legendary tale. The guitar work on this album is beyond impressive, with riffs that seem to glide and cascade across the frenetic, jazzy, impossibly precise percussion like massive waves; at times they seem to rise and crash all around the listener in truly epic fashion. Mastodon are incredibly successful in how they’ve constructed a perfect musical backdrop for their conceptual ambitions, injecting just the right amounts of melancholic, Kurt Cobain-inspired melody into their fiery metal assault to perfectly conjure the mysterious, ominous and lonely expanse of the ocean. In other words, Mastodon’s Leviathan is an endlessly entertaining and musically challenging listen, and it’s undoubtedly one the greatest metal albums ever made.

1. Queens of the Stone Age “Songs for the Deaf”

By taking the Stoner Rock-meets Classic Rock-meets Punk Rock maelstrom that made 1999’s “Rated R" so addictive, and adding more complicated, nuanced arrangements and an album concept that actually enhances the listening experience, QOTSA found their masterpiece with 2000’s “Songs for the Deaf.” Conceptualized as a search for some good tunes on the radio while taking a lonely trip through the desert (and finding only QOTSA songs), the album truly does feel like a lonesome, late night drive through the desert, with just cigarettes and music, memories and regrets for company. The sadly short-lived creative alliance between Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri reached its zenith here, with just the right amount of each man’s unique yet complimentary personality on display to keep things joyously chaotic and unpredictable, as if the songs were actually being found at random with a radio dial. Add in the haunting, gritty vocals of friend and frequent collaborator Mark Lanegan, and fantastic drumming from Dave Grohl (yes...that Dave Grohl) and you’ve got one rollercoaster of a listening experience.

The Oliveri-led tracks are the sonic equivalent of what must be going on in the mind of a desperate, frenzied junkie, high on meth, as he knocks off a convenience store. “Six Shooter,” for example, opens with a muffled guitar riff and blood-curdling screams before exploding into pure punk-metal chaos, with Oliveri snarling “Fuck this road/Well, fuck you too!/I’ll fucking kill your best friend/What the fuck you gonna do?!” It’s both hilarious and frightening all at once, and yet transitions perfectly into “Hangin’ Tree,” a frantic, sweeping hard rock number, sung gorgeously by Lanegan. At the center of the storm however is Josh Homme, whose sexy, whisky-smooth crooning acts as a stabilizing force throughout the record. And the standout on an album filled with them is “The Sky Is Fallin’,” with churning, stuttering guitar work that perfectly complements Homme’s plaintive, aloof vocals. And there are many more highlights, from the dirty, funk-inflected “Songs for the Dead” to the hushed lullaby-turned-horn-led death march that is “Mosquito Song,” the album’s grand finale.

Songs for the Deaf should have changed the landscape of popular music, setting the stage for a whole new chapter in Hard Rock; here was fresh, rebellious, earnest and (most importantly) fun music that both gives quite a few nods to the past, while still pointing ahead at an intriguing future. Their call to arms was never answered, however. And I guess that’s just the way it was meant to be. I mean, isn’t being ahead of your time sort of like making songs for the deaf?

Everybody seems to see what you’re doing…but they damn sure can’t hear it.

Don't Fuck With A Tranny On Her Birthday....


I usually don't post this kind of stuff, but I don't even feel like I have a choice in the matter at this point.

Could this be the craziest video ever posted to the internet?

Does it get any more bizarre than what looks to be a 6'5, 230 lb Tranny macing a loudmouth Mom and her asshole kids for talking shit?

On a relatively crowded Los Angeles subway?

I doubt it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

It's Official. Lil Wayne Is A Genius.

Goddamn Wayne!

I mean...he swears up and down that he's the best rapper alive, and most people just kinda grin and nod without truly agreeing with him. But listening to these three leaked tracks from Weezy's upcoming mixtape, No Ceilings, begs the question....

Is anybody better than Lil Wayne right now?

You tell me....


"Run This Town Freestyle"

"Swag Surfin Freestyle"

Ummm yeah...I'm thinking the answer is no.