Girl Unit's "Wut" Questions the Expansion of Dubstep

Don't pretend to be something I'm not. Don't go to clubs and know all that much about the electronic "scene." Beyond the rare Diplo show -- and those who surround him, I'm clueless. Looking over the content on Resident Advisor, I'm usually baffled, but blow away by their critical knowledge and comprehensiveness of the electronic music worldview. Pitchfork for higher level thinking perhaps? I do however, hole myself up and enjoy a lot of what I'm hearing in this sphere. Particularly dubstep, I'll even act like I do know something about that. Though I don't. It's splintered in so many directions and strains now, it seems impossible to stay afloat. Night Slugs is a label I adore. Everything that's come from that imprint has been in a steady rotation all year long. But is it dubstep? I hear it called UK Funky, but have no idea what that might be? I'll play completely stupid with Girl Unit, who's what is as incredibly dub, purple, and maximalist as I've heard this sound. Back in the half-decade, there was this thing called Space Disco -- this alienates the disco, goes deep space, and hovers over the dancefloor with chipmunk pop melodies.

Then again, it is one step away from Utah Saints.

Blog About Blog -- Pizza Slayer and the Pop Jew

I was very excited the other day when I discovered that the most reliable source for news and reviews on Columbus, Ohio pizza culture, had been renewed for a new season of hijinks. Those of you living here -- who have not explored the trials and tribs of the Pizza Slayer crew -- are missing out on this important sociological experiment. Believe me, our city may not be known for our pizza, but we have consistent quality all over town and there is a fierce debate on what's the best. This argument is constantly challenged in the pages of Pizza Slayer. Kind of wishing they branch off their expertise to bars and bistros, a hot dog flame war, or an investigative report on local food carts -- but there's surprisingly enough pizza to go around. Because of them I'm now a fan of the unassuming Northland gem, Terita's. Glad they called out the gladhanding of the Yellow Brick. Ugh.

Another bloggeratti I've been reading for some time, is now on a sociological experiment of a completely different ilk. Rachel Coleman, the author of the delightful Pop Jew in Brooklyn, is currently on the Pop Jew Bus Tour. Huffing it Greyhound style to cities on the mythical dive-bar trail - Detroit, Madison, Chicago, Minneapolis and beyond cross-country -- and reporting her findings of good record stores and better after-hours. She made her first stop in Columbus to witness the Skylab Lock-In (where the bands didn't start till 12 and ended at sunrise I suppose) with Unholy 2, Puffy Areolas (abbreviated), the Cheater Slicks (epic set), Funerals (out of place, but intriguingly dance-able and strange), Fey Gods (underrated electric-scum-rock kings), and Jewell/Burleson (whom I missed). She seems very mobile and complete in her brief visits -- something everyone at one-time or another dreams of doing, but doesn't. Cross-country wanderlust, coupled with PBR tallboys and gnarly music. A good read.

"Open Your Heart" Just Because

I always wanted to be the kid in this video. A Top Ten '80s pulse. Peter Rafelson, who wrote this, also wrote the previously mentioned Jane Wiedlin hit, "Rush Hour." So it all makes sense.

This is just because....the time is right.....entering the holiday corridor.


Is Willow Smith the Pre-Tween Rihanna?

Hard to believe I'm just about to vouch for the progeny of William Smith. For a moment, let's survey the career of William Smith. Of course, if I consider myself "old school," which I do (test me), at 12, He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper was a watershed. Though I knew it was comical rap, commercial rap, not nearly as lethal as LL or Kool Moe Dee, it was enjoyable to see "Parents Just Don't Understand" in the ubiquitous spotlight it took hold of. But really, that honeymoon was short-lived. "Summertime" may have been the twilight of the Fresh Prince's career. I'll admit to watching the sitcom -- it was mindless and starred the "rapper." But I think it was Six Degrees of Seperation (I'll give him some acting chops) where his ego may have taken control //// and see Ice Cube //// and his musical endeavors laid bare for all to see. A joke.

Big Willy beget Jayden. Now the Karate Kid and destined for some stroke of stardom. I guess his wife then beget Willow. Yes. Too young for the stage. For the Miley Cyrus cycle. Still "Whip My Hair" is respectable teen pop, and packed with enough beat and pizazz to consider, that if her handlers stay this cutting-edge (yes, a Willow Smith song is cutting-edge) she could become the next Rihanna -- in 10 years. Which, to me, is saying something. "Whip My Hair" is mindless, like her father, sort of confusing, sort of head banging for urban radio, sort of bigger than "Umbrella" at the moment. Just sweet enough though that it's veering closer to Disney Radio than the Top 40 (though as of press time, it's #11 on the charts). Who knows? It's a bit too catchy to actually admit to loving.

Autumnal Beer Review

Working behind a bar for years, and in an actual brewery, I get the jib from a lot of beer "geeks." More than beer "geeks," I get "hop-heads" these days. So much so I suppose I could call myself one, developing a taste of well-hopped beers -- IPAs and the like. But I'm not a beer "geek." Even though I'm supposed to talk like one. Those guys are like the overzealous weed rah-rahs, who partake in the "culture" of weed and all the tacky accoutrement that comes with it, but maybe even worse -- I'll take a coaster, visit a favorite brewery, but never worry about ABVs or whatevah the fuck. I'm fairly partial to the beer made about 50 feet behind me. Believe in Columbus Brewing Company's IPA -- a stiff competitor against DogfishHead 60 Minute. Of course I'm talking like one. So this won't be a lesson, or a take on notes or aromas, just a list -- since Autumn is the time of year the best beers seem to arrive.

Above is DogfishHead Bitch's Brew -- is this supposed to taste like Miles Davis? I'm not usually into stouts, but here you have a Porter brewed with honey and gesho root. Very intriguing.

Something I've never known about before are Fresh Hopped IPAs. The hometown brewery, Columbus Brewing Company used week old hops to develop Super Fresh H-O-P (now completely unavailable). Much like their IPA, yet mellower. I could probably drink this forever if I had too. I need something not as potent as the originator.

Another bottled brewery favorite has been Lakewood, New York's Southern Tier. They too have made a Harvest Ale, using fresh hops. This is a close second to the CBC, yet hard to find now. Alas.

Any of the Southern Tier catalog is well worth your monies. I'm not partial to Pumpkin Ales, but their Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale is a worthy beer. Not a cookie. Then along comes their 2XIPA. I think they want to rob me from Dogfish.

What I can recommend is below. Left Hand Twin Sister IPA tried a bit too hard. Never judge a beer by it's (name and) cover. Told 'ya I'm not a beer "geek."


I Saw Guided By Voices

I've seen Guided By Voices countless times, in countless settings, composed of countless members filling roles. But this was classic. The "band" that made the magic. That I'd seen in supper clubs, arenas, public parks, places as intimate as Canal St. Tavern and a post-office in Tipp City, OH, USA. This night, in 2010, in October, in Columbus, was not an ideal location -- but that is another sub-story, for another time. It couldn't dampen the atmosphere or the songs or the sense of community in the room (people I haven't seen in a decade). Of Bob Pollard's million-strong songbook, he's a master at whittling down a Top 30, a spotless laundry list from that classic era. This would be a setlist most bands from the "era" would kill for on the reunion circuit. Superchunk/Sonic Youth/not even Pavement could match what was heard on this Saturday night. This was a time capsule -- one that I'm content to unearth as frequently as they'd like...and Pollard can keep writing. I've been saying he's in another renaissance and hopefully in his '50s, a renaissance proportional to this classic line-up. I could go into Mitch and Toby (amazing medley there) and Demos and Fennell, but that would only repeat a sentiment I've extolled for years. This was the band.

Thanks again to Mike Sperry - the pro who caught this on tape for all to have. Download the whole show here.

Infinite Rewards of Dungen

It began to feel like Gustav Ejstes was just going through the motions. The same way those Caravan and Family (and eventually the Groundhogs) albums get progressively more predictable (i.e. worse) as they '70s went dimmer. It's probably because I just wasn't listening soft enough, I wanted skree and fuzz, endless solos and Polaroid resin. Skit I Allt has everything, including the progression, on one platter, and I'm disappointed in myself to cast it off at first listen, as just another Dungen album. With Reine Fiske weaving a heavy load of masterful guitar work, the more Ejstes furthers his compositions towards jazz fusion, the more implicitly psych his songs become.

"Ballor" is a particularly potent nugget. Fresh as morning dew from a fjord, the addition of Anna Jarvinen gives it a Curved Air mystique, a driving piece worthy of "Back Street Luv." There are elements of Soft Machine and Bitche's Brew all over the place. And it's "Soda" that proves they don't have to be "heavy" to be "heavy," as the vibes are sonic "heavy," vintage smoke and wine "heavy." As piano has gained a prominence, the virtuoso riffing comes on all fronts. Ejstes is still repping hip-hop and Aphex Twin, but I hear none of that. This is reel to reel free jam. That's especially true of "Hogdallstoppen," a rightly organic epic face-melter -- which edits in and out of mushroom clouds, flying laughs, and seismic choogle. This is the fantasy marriage of George Martin and Randy Holden.

Droop-E is a Piece of My Heart (Diamond Love)

Beyond the nostalgia/kitsch acquired in a mixtape full of '80s plastic-pop, there's no better way to connect with that nostalgia than through the blatant sampling of hip-hop. Think about the nostalgic burst in Bone Thugz using Phil Collins "Take Me Home" -- Phil's not exactly welcome at any moment, but in the context of a thuggish ruggish introspection, it's perfect, goosebump inducing. Perhaps why I enjoy Droop-E's Black Diamond Life so much, it that there's nothing as obvious as what Droop-E has crafted in this slender eight song mini-album -- made of exclusively Sade samples. When sampling a resource as liberally as Droop-E, it's close to a concept. Songs like "Cherish the Bay" and "Hungry" imagine a Bay Area street-life, taking a night off on the yacht, cruising champagne and blunts, sultry sax and relaxed bongos -- "Smooth Operator" wafting in the background.

While I can't say I've heard much of Droop-E besides Black Diamond Life (which you can download for free here), he's been around the block. As the son of E-40, hence the guest spot, he's appeared on various mixtapes and many of his father's cuts. It's very calculated and very wordquick, extremely similar to Curre$y (talked about previously) -- laconic and mellow. A welcomed foil to samples so blatant and so obvious. Hip-hop producers should do this more often, but for now, Sade is off the table. May I suggest -- The System?