Initial Musings on Ozzy's Scream

At this stage in the game, what can one truly expect from Ozzy? The man has conquered mountains. He was the mouthpiece of Black Sabbath, and like, let's say Madonna, has continually re-invented himself to fit with the times, even when he was the one who inspired these (metal) times. (We'll forget the reality television and the hair metal aesthetics of The Ultimate Sin). He is the blueprint. There's really no need for Ozzy to make records anymore, to audition new guitarists, or launch another summer of Ozzfest speculations --- but like all great artists there's no compromise, there's no time to sit and wait to die, even when we don't honestly need another mediocre Ozzy record we should feel honored that Ozzy continues to thrive (survive) amidst changing trends and old-old-age.

I normally would be comfortable in just knowing that there was a new Ozzy record for the masses to consume (but are they buying it?). I would already know what it sounded like, I just enjoyed the security of the fact that it exists. It's an exercise I've likely committed to since No More Tears. There's no reason to own anything that came between then and now, it was all really the same -- especially if you've heard a Zakk Wylde solo or two.

Scream arrives, Gus G. (Greek Guitar God I hear?), formerly of Firewind, plays Ozzy's latest foil, and "Let Me Hear You Scream" starts dominating rock radio. It's summer, It's Ozzy, and there's really nothing better than speeding down State Route 202 with something of this ilk blaring. Of course it's nostalgia fueling my love for Scream right now, and who knows what that verdict will be come September, but there is plenty here that twists Ozzy's perspective towards a different light. A common theme on Scream seems to be in Ozzy becoming comfortable with death and not wasting the precious "Time" he has left -- plenty of Jesus reference, but just as much evil in the vocals. What's incredible is the epic nature of each song. This is not just filler, there are some truly massive songs here, accented by the new direction provided by Gus G. Just take a listen to "Diggin' Me Down," a six-minute suite that combines Randy Rhodes-esque nods to classical acoustic madrigals, subterranean doom-riffs, and technical ecstasy befitting a Malmsteen wankfest. Maybe it's Gus that steals the show? Maybe it's the songwriting team that bolsters our faithful leader into a fantastic new, yet '80s flooded, path in his career? The aforementioned and lighter-waiting ballad "Time" is evidence of this push -- a song that may have well been penned by Linda Perry and produced by George Martin. This could be bigger than "Mama I'm Coming Home," it has that power. Armed with an orchestra, pseudo-Beatles/Beach Boys melody, and the slickest solo put on an Ozzy record in years, "Time" is the hook that has me listening to Scream much more than any hyped-hipster-runoff in the last few weeks. Could just be my hankering for nostalgia, or old-age, or I'd rather like to think it's Ozzy being a better Ozzy for all of us to savor.


Poolside with New Edition (HOF)

If you read here enough, you'd know that New Edition are Hall of Famers in the Poolside annals. They shaped a ton of my childhood -- and for a brief time, the only person I wanted to be was Bobby Brown. I have no preference for pre or post New Edition, as lately I've been just as much in love with the Johnny Gill-led, Jam & Lewis produced Heart Break as I am with Candy Girl -- in fact I'm starting to lean towards the latter. It's pretty epic from beginning to end. "If It Isn't Love" -- could just be the greatest song of the late '80s when it's all said and done.

Little did I know about "Once in a Lifetime Groove" though. Released in 1986 as the group's second Bobby-less single, the first being the cover of "Earth Angel" for all of you purists and part of the (now cult classic and Micheal McDonald dominated) soundtrack to the Billy Crystal/Gregory Hines driven vehicle, Running Scared. Remember? The movie that used "Sweet Freedom" prominently.

"Once in a Lifetime Groove" was of course a departure from the band's sugary sweet and completely immediate radio pop of yore. Not that the synths don't still trill and whirl with the same neon and bubblegum, here it's maturing, "grooving" if you will. A group effort that would become a precursor to the excellent, darker, steelier mix provided on their following album. I don't remember one note from this song in my youth, so I'm retroactively placing it into my past history. It did not crack the pop charts, but was a staple on the coasts and a "chill" diversion in the clubs I hear. Speaking of "chill" -- don't you think this is a direct influence on the chillwave posturers? Slow it down, melt it up, and you've got a Washed Out track.

Option this Movie

From the author of the always informative and entertaining Victrola Cola, comes another monster entirely -- Option this Movie -- the place to watch your wildest dreams come true. I knew all those warped tapes from the Video Ventures yard sale would come in handy one day.

Sample Entry:

Raise the Spoof

A fading Hollywood screenwriter who thinks he is being sent to India in order to write a comedic send up of Bollywood films slowly realizes that the film studio that hired him plans instead to make a deeply depressing documentary about fading Hollywood screenwriters.

Keenan Ivory Wayans

Defining Grebo

What is Grebo exactly? I'm writing this post in hopes of conducting a sociological survey, not in expounding what I know on the subject. Hoping I get some comments here to school me on what it was like in early '90s midland U.K. or more particularly Leicester, where the "genre" or "subculture" or "fad" was officially born. I don't know much about the Gay Bikers on Acid, but I do know that Pop Will Eat Itself was a horrid, insufferable, figurehead for this movement. Not sure why I'm so intrigued when there really much to get worked up about, I suppose I'm more interested in the signifiers surrounding the craze. It was pre-Britpop and pre-Grunge and in a number of ways seemed to mirror the ugly punk-funk phenomenon that the Red Hot Chili Peppers were raping in our country -- only combining basic alternative rock tropes to house music and dayglo, Doc Martens and white dreads, soapbox rapping and Hypercolour t-shirts.

There was some good out of it -- if you count Ned's Atomic Dustbin as a contributor. God Fodder is classic '90s listening for myself. The Wonder Stuff and Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine were associated and marginally enjoyable -- but most of the stuff is simply cut-out bin material, incapable of surviving past the millennial switch. By example, Jesus Jones is considered quintessential "sell-out" Grebo, but I have to admit to being a sucker for "International Bright Young Thing". Then there was EMF who brought Grebo and the popularization of extacy to our shores. I believe it was their much overlooked and underrated flop of a sophomore album Stigma that killed the kids clean. So please. If you know a tried and true Grebo, let's hear the best of the bunch. I need pictures. I need proof that it was something to believe in.

Or else I swear I'll start Fiddlin' on ROMO. Don't make me do it.


Comfest 2010 - Nothing to Get Hung About....

Expect a full report of my Saturday at Comfest, sometime early next week. I don't want to get into the problems with Comfest because then I'll just sound like a jaded cynic who is well past his prime (that I am, but oh well) and I know a lot of hardworking people that make this magic happen every year, for them we should be grateful. But yeah, some serious problems this year. Let's just say I'm only psyched to see three bands this weekend -- Flu Faker (above), Shin Tower Music (my pick from last year) and the Shazzbots (below). Maybe I'll find a new love (doubtful). Happy Comfest.

Heaps and Heaps of Nothing

Goodness. Had no fucking clue how amazing Naked on the Vague has become in the course of one album. First I was into the Blood Pressure Sessions a bit -- not something you put on for casual listening pleasure. Then I was converted live, but it was still a grating scene. Now, I finally got around to hearing Heaps of Nothing, wherein they've added a full band. Christchurch, this is glorious noise and anthemic all the same. I compared 'em to a Jefferson Airplane screwed and chopped over at the Agit-Reader today, and I can't possibly shovel on enough praise for the duo. Go check out their Kickstarter project, where they plan to make the film Twelve Dark Noons. Donate and you get an extremely limited record come autumn. No joke -- this stuff is brutally gorgeous.

Put a Donk On It

I've never been to Liverpool, or Bolton, or Wiggins for that matter. Always thought the only thing to see outside of London was Stonehenge and Tintern Abbey. I know I'm wrong, that's just a generalization, of course I'd love to see Manchester and Cardiff, maybe even the Midlands, just to see what it's like to exist in the Britain's Midwest equivalent. I know they have Juggalos and Crowley-obsessed metal-heads, probably all got good record collections and great pubs 'round the corner. Little did I know about the craze known as Donk -- which was spawned in Bolton (here referred to as a miniature Detroit). I suppose you could parallel the genre with Southern Bounce or Baltimore Booty or Baile Funk -- but with a Jersey Shore element involved. Notice all the chaps choosing steroids as the drug of choice. Really I don't think the Donk scene is ever catching on here (maybe in Alabama) cause all it is underneath is bad house/hardcore music and kids who missed the rave scene the first time around. Love the Donk beat though and being an observer of the people and the culture that makes up this landscape is completely fascinating film. Again, Vice and VBS.tv do it proper. Please watch. Serious entertainment.

Triumvirat - Dancer's Delight

I was getting all nostalgic in the complete absence of posts over at my bro's blog, Population Doug. When Blonee was on fire, them was good times. But alas, there's been no updates since Interpol were relevant. That's a long time. The synapse that started all of this boo-hoo-ing came when I was 'membering our brief stint as DJs down at the Treehouse (which has now turned into a all-frock all-the-time watering hole), the stoic middle sibling used to spin a 7" he was fortunate enough to dig out in an East Berlin thrift store back when we toured Europe for two weeks. It was by a band called Triumvirat. Haven't heard of 'em? Understandable. Their probably best known for their dollar-bin debut album's cover, of a white mouse emerging from a cracked egg -- than they are for their music. See that description on their page? "German '70s art-rock band a la Focus." Being referred to as an alternative to Focus isn't all that flattering, and taking a quick survey over their catalog reveals they weren't nearly as "good" as Focus. Purely pretentious proggish wankering with a penchant for overwrought synthesizers. Not worth your time.

"Dancer's Delight" was a separate piece of their crowded jigsaw. It was the first piece -- an a-side single that never appeared on an album. Actually the first thing the band ever released. Not exactly sure how this one didn't propel them to international super-stardom, but this style of pop-metal-boogie was quickly abandoned by Triumvirat in favor of those bloated "art-rock" exercises. There are some hints at their future in the very analog synths surrounding the chorus and the dexterity and speed in their playing -- perhaps biker gang prog for primitive computer programmers. All I know is I've always wished I was the one who found this record, as it's nearly impossible to find (even on the internets). So, going against my normal procedure I offer you the only spot on that webs where I could find this. Enjoy.



BIG SHOW MONDAY. Yes, it's a Monday but Cave is in town. I just reviewed their latest EP, Pure Moods and was pleasantly stoned immaculate. Psychedelic bliss -- fer sure.

World Cup Fever....

I fully admit my bandwagonesque nature when it comes to my futbol fandom. I only get excited every four years or when chilling with a Brahma watching Brazil league games with the father-in-law. For me, that's the only time it gets interesting. Plus, by proxy, I get to root for the greatest team on the globe during World Cup time. I'm not exactly sure why my interest wanes once it's all said and done? Watching Columbus Crew games is like pulling teeth. I think maybe it's just the drama, the spectacle, and the overall talent on the field during one match.

This year has been no different for me. The 2010 World Cup has me enthralled, watching every match, every goal, and getting giddy with stats. As the Reds begin their June Swoon (hopefully not a freefall) and the Lebron-less finals come to a close, this is the best reality show on TV. Initial thoughts:

-- I'm not as perturbed about the vuvuzela blare as most are. It's become a nice meditative buzz that keeps the level of electricity at a constant.

-- After this morning the Argentinians have me scared -- though the hat trick was only a result of S. Korea basically giving up. Maradonna is a primadonna and a punk. Portugal and Spain shall choke.

-- Brazil's first win should be celebrated as a easing in to the finals -- after all, the cup is a marathon, not a sprint. Funny how even allowing a goal to N. Korea is considered failure for my wife.

-- I'm fully in the corner of S. America for this cup (excluding Argentina of course, but they are so damn fun to watch) -- Paraguay, Chile, and my dark horse to win it all, Uruguay (don't tell my Brazilian relatives). I think I was Uruguayan in another life.

Thanks to Steve for reminding me of all the bad music made in support of the Cup every four years.

But, there is a diamond in that rough. Namely Air Miami's wonderfully breezy "World Cup Fever." Someone please sell me back everything Mark Robinson has ever done.

Have a good Cup folks. After all, this is the "joga bonita."

Poolside with Peter Godwin

"Cult" usually translates to "not all that popular, but eventually dug" for most artists deigned with the tag. I think for Peter Godwin, after stints playing among the late '70s glam-disco of Metro and early '80s proto-electro of Public Zone, it was the name, whence gone solo, that did him in (really? that's all he could come up with?). It certainly wasn't his debut single "Images of Heaven," which as you can see here was a pioneering piece of Poolside pleasuredom. This has the perfectly musty scent of a New Romantic timepiece, with loads of dark verve and echo -- his voice a slightly, only slightly, misanthropic downer (with hope). But here it's the synths that go off the charts, as they never get too chirpy, gimmicky, or lite, instead it's pure Blade Runner/Autobahn/Neon, "the future is in factories" vibe. This would have fit nicely on any Hughes' soundtrack, 'specially in scenes wherein Molly Ringwald's heart is ripped from its casing under pale moonlight. Or when the hero gets his girl. You decide. Regardless, this is classic Poolside fodder. My first mix is coming soon, so put in your requests for the ultimate Endless Summer jam.

Dominic Young Unique's Domination Mixtape

I've been clamoring about Tampa upstart Dominique Young Unique for ages, and it seems just now the world is catching up. In the absence of a proper album from Rye Rye, or a proper showing from once hopefuls Yo Majesty, Dominique is coming full force as a legitimate contender and not just some bootleg princess from a place that never really makes dreams come true (perhaps for death metal bands and evangelists). From "Music Time" to the relentless "War Talk" and onwards to "Blaster" (so far my favorite) -- she seems to making all of the right choices, engaging a sound that nearly spits pure neon and bubblegum from the speakers with the wit and flow of a seasoned champ. Think MC Lyte on 45 repping in Kid Sister's wardrobe and nails. Truth is, once Dominique hits her plateau (though it would be hard to get a hit with songs like "Pussy Poppin") she'll annihilate any of the lukewarm competition. I mean, where's Lil' Mama these days -- not much time left to be Lil'. Still, this comes across as a regional things, beats and synths and glowing fritters too fast and obnoxious to really enter the zeitgeist quite yet. A trailblazer if you will. In anticipation of a full-length Dominique just dropped the Domination Mixtape. Essential listening and it's all DYU all the time. Which puts serious question as to if she even needs an album now?

Kynodontas = Dogtooth

I seem to remember a time when my imagination, and subsequent creative writing projects, were at full tilt. I think I was around 15 when I wrote a short story about a boy who was subject to live in a basement, with absolutely no contact with the outside world. It was very Kasper Hauser, way before I'd discovered Herzog. I named it "In the Box" and would gladly give anyone an obscene amount of money if they could rescue this manuscript from whatever landfill it now calls home. The idea of the isolated child, developing in a vacuum of stringent definitions and ideals, is really nothing new, it's just impossible to accurately portray -- seeing as very few of us have experienced such. Well, here's Dogtooth. A Greek film that follows the daily life of three teens growing up inside a compound of surrealism, never to escape into reality and discover it's not all that appropriate to imitate a dog, cats aren't the evil monsters mom and dad say they are, and the word "zombie" does not mean "little yellow flower." Yes, this is the world these parents have given their children. There's so much absurd, yet very believable, detail to this film that it's extremely difficult to express here. All I can say is seek it out. It's like I found Herzog and Haneke bickering at the bottom of a cup of Fage yogurt. It's that good.


Go to Minimum Tillage Farming

......Collect Booty of Local Treasures.

As a member of the Local Music Community, I feel I have a comfortable grasp of the last fifteen years of so of Columbus Music History. It takes up a lot of space in my basement, a lot of time in my conversations, and a lot of my hard-earned cash. Yet, at the same time, I know absolutely nothing. I have absolutely nothing. I depend on guys like the dude who runs the currently brilliant Minimum Tillage Farming blog to keep me afloat on all that I have missed through those years. Sure there's stuff I could care less about, but it's a history lesson, and a scouring of his vaults, posting up every tape and single he feels worthy of a second life. Pictured above is the latest offering -- a tape by Skull Bank (released by Mike Rep's Old Age/No Age), who is from what I can gather, another off-shoot for the late Jim Shepard during his prime. Essential stuff the "forever lowman" can't touch. Equally intriguing is the mixtape made by Shep that came previously. Put this blog in your reader -- pronto.

Tree of Snakes -- The Crown Jewel of Columbus

How exactly is someone knighted in Columbus? If there is such a process I’m sure it involves drum sticks and PBR swill, lots more kneeling and a lot less swordplay and royalty. Once someone figures that out, I’m thinking the first Sir, would be Sir Jeff Fernengel. While we’re at it, we should probably knight all members of the Tree of Snakes – Anderson included. Though the drummer was missing last Saturday night (replaced by Dave “Sugar Bear” Treneff), the Snakes showed why, even in this reunion configuration, are an asset to the Columbus music community. We had our own Ramones when they played the circuit, now we have nothing close. Again, the slump is upon us. When searching for bands to fill an early July show, I’m tapped for suggestions. There are the usual suspects – but nothing new. Cruise through the latest “alt” weaklies for coverage on our local scene (and while I can’t complain all that much about the national coverage) and you’ll see that those “writers” have absolutely nothing to work with. Local mercy applause – fluff pieces. Super Desserts notwithstanding, but they aren’t exactly fit for late night debauchery, not quite “rock.”

At least, if the Snakes were still around, they would be a go-to band to fill a party bus, soundtrack a barbecue, weddings and birthday parties. We would look forward to the fortnight regularity of seeing Fern and his buds get “dicey” with the Beverly Hills Cop theme, tell jokes about the Browns, and retard the imagination with colorful stories of alligator dentists and trusty swordfish. This “reunion” at the Carabar last weekend was so enjoyable -- it was if it was choreographed the night before. They even had their own Flavor Flav in the form of JDub, prancing about in his underwear. The hits just kept on coming and new songs (which I imagine you can see on the reg with Fern acoustically) poured out as easy as the swill was handed out before the set. Never have a watched a band have so much fun on the stage, that fun just oozes over, perma-smile all the while. So I’m not sure where this post will take us? To beg for them to return? To beg CDR to beg the Snakes to release another record? Hell, I’m tempted to organize a Kickstarter to get the Ottoman Empire Strikes Back pressed on vinyl. Would you donate?

Chili Quest Vol. 2 - Gold Star

I know what you're saying....Vol. 2 of the Chili Quest and I'm already hitting up major chain stores. Hold on a minute. Though Gold Star Chili has quite a few stores in the Tri-State area, they are overwhelmingly deigned as the underdog in Cincinnati -- yet their tagline is "The Flavor of Cincinnati." So it's Skyline who are the evil empire? Crushing dreams of chili entrepreneurs on a daily basis. There's a Skyline literally 100 yards from where I sit and type this. Gold Star has no chance. Well, I'm certainly a fan of both, but I can easily see, after my first trip to Gold Star (this particular store was on the river in Covington, KY, much to the dismay of my bro), why it's the taste Cincinnatians prefer. Skyline has the stock flavor, the stock consistency of Cincy chili -- yet it is mass produced, likely comes from cans or bags before it is three-way or splatter upon a cheese coney. You can taste that mass-production, and compared to Gold Star, Skyline is gruel. If you're looking for the authentic experience of Cincinnati chili, but can't exactly make it to one of the originals, this is your option.

Texturally, Gold Star is a tad thicker, meatier, and visibly fresher. The chain prides itself on making their chili from scratch in each store -- not sure if that's the god's honest truth, but it sure tasted as such. As for it's adherence to what I feel is "real" Cincy chili flavor, that was slightly off -- less chocolate, clove, and cinnamon, but more of the kick of chili powder and the juiciness of the beef balance that lack. Overall a superior chili to the big brother smothering their business. I vividly remember a Gold Star somewhere on High Street back in the day and wish my time-machined self would've kept the place afloat. But alas, you're not going to find a Gold Star within 100 miles of downtown Cincinnati. And that I prefer. If we're recapping though, make the hike to Camp Washington -- until of course my quest takes me to the holy grail of this stuff.


Poolside with Sky Ferreira's "One"

Constantly documenting the emerging teen pop stars of today frequently reminds me of Wooderson’s timeless quote from Dazed and Confused – “I get older, they stay the same age.” Not that Sky Ferreira’s 17-year-old perspective scares me for the future of our youth, quite the contrary. When a single as ebullient and catchy as “One” finally dominates and wins one for team, I actually feel some hope for the next generation as I wither away, secretly obsessing over a pop song so laced in ephemeral euphoria, I’m amazed when it stays in the playlist past June. But it is June. The official beginning of W.O.W.’s Endless Summer and it’s high time I give y’all a perfect mix to soundtrack your barbecues and late-night reefer cruises through city streets.

Judging how many times I’ve listened to “One” since discovering it 48 hours ago, there’s really no better way to start the Poolside Class of 2010. The past few months I was hoping English tart, Ellie Goulding, would have raided American shores by now, but to no avail. I even suggested to her in November (if she was reading), that she should be aping Kate Bush if she wants to get ahead on the trends likely to make the rounds for pop singers of her ilk in this young decade. Can’t understand why she hasn’t caught on? Maybe the accent, the movement, the stateliness, is a bit to sharp for teens in the States?

Sky, on the other hand, has hooked up with a producer here (Bloodshy and Avant) who seem to know exactly what they’re doing with the artist – even injecting the first twenty seconds of “One” with what sounds exactly like the twilight of Bush’s “Running Up That Hill.” Of course, American audiences couldn’t get with the esoteric kings-und-queens lace in Bush’s songwriting, so “One” quickly moves to a hyphy-electro track which takes cues from both Cut Copy and any number of chillwave aesthetes who don’t possibly have this range of equipment to produce themselves saliency in the mainstream. Big budget pop stars will prevail, as long as they do it right. This song has everything built in for Sky – the faux-DJ-glitchy repetition in her verses, the rapidly ascending neon synths, and the skittered beat rubik’s-cubing beneath it all. Then there’s the image. They already got her covering Stevie Nicks, looking heroin-chic yet plastered as if a Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper exploded on her face. She’s got the style of a ‘70s air-conditioned, crystal-worshipping, expensive-coke-snorting diva and the innocence of watermelon-flavored Hubba Bubba.

Kids, this is POP at its absolute apex. We've come a long way from Debbie Gibson. Ke$ha be warned, your days are numbered.


The above is the "tentative" cover for the debut album of a lil' trio I'm part of -- we go by the name Connections. While I won't go into detail too much describing a project that I'm a shareholder in -- other than to say, we're Eno meets Mellencamp -- I will direct you towards our Soundcloud page, where there are a few songs for your play. Be sure to share. If you think we are simply slipping them out as they come, you are wrong. There are nearly two albums complete -- Connections - Connections and Connections - Rafferty -- with an EP shortly after. We are free agents. Be sure to share that as well. No live shows in the current, but be paying attention to this and these spaces should any come up. Onward Merchants.

Fey Gods Companion Piece

 Today on the Agit-Reader I interview local heros/cretins/genuinely nice people Fey Gods in celebration of the release of their Hozac Records single. In our correspondence I've been privy to all of the in-progress work the duo has been cooking up on the Beach and encourage all of you to get them on the stage more often than not. Someone's bound to put out this full-length when it's complete.

Below -- a cinematic representation of what Fey Gods likely do on a nightly basis in their basement. Which is to make caustic industrial/grinding walls of noise and underbelly it all with a stoic sense of darkness.


Goodbye to Ken Griffey Jr.

This baseball card is wholly representative of my idyllic childhood. Nothing was hotter than a fresh Beckett and a pack of mint condition Upper Deck when I was 12. I had the pleasure of meeting “The Kid” with his dad at a card show the summer before he became a Seattle Mariner. Since that time, besides Charlie Hustle, Ken Griffey Jr. was my favorite player. And for good reason, now that he’s retired it’s time to start lining him up against the entire history of baseball. He obviously ruled the ‘90s and among HR hitters and centerfielders there is no one in the modern era --- let’s go post-Big Red Machine – that compares. But in all honesty, Junior retired a while ago. We Reds fans had the pleasure of welcoming him home for 8 ½ seasons, although with diminishing returns in that time. Still, those were 8 summers in which I got to almost always see a Junior home-run and arguably the greatest “swing” of all-time. Of course injuries, which I have always attributed to his pure approach to “the game” (i.e. no steroids), were the bane of his time in Cincinnati. That and he was never really “welcomed” by the fickle citizens of the Tri-State because he never brought home the desired championship he was “destined” to give the Reds. He did have some wonderful seasons in our uniform though (check 2000 or 2005), but after a few hamstrings keeping him hamstrung, the twilight of his career had been reached. Retreating to the White Sox and then “returning” to the womb in Seattle was just fodder for the media and maybe a bit of ego-tripping.

Regardless of all that – this is a tribute and a caps off to an instant legend, a first-time hall-o-famer, Simpson's character, commercial icon and namesake of one of the more rare chocolate candy bars known to man.

Let us not forget part-time rapper.

Who Knew MES Had a Heart?

I just started reading The Fallen, wherein a British journalist attempts to track down every past member of the Fall. Would be interesting to see this done with former Guided By Voices members. Anyways, the first quote of the book comes from the master himself, Mr. Mark E. Smith, wherein he compares his band to that of a football (soccer) team, claiming you don’t keep the same midfielders forever….So, to give MES the benefit of the doubt, we must now think of him as a weathered coach, always (not quite always) able to put his best team on the field. I can live with that. Besides, how interesting would the Fall remain over three decades if it were the same ol’ crusty Manchurians in the backline? It all makes sense now. Keep it fresh and keep yourself fitter.

MES is a huge football freak --- you can even find him reading scores on UK television (this one’s a treat). In anticipation of the FIFA World Cup (the fever is everywhere, even here in the States it seems), MES has made an official song for the British team called “England’s Heartbeat.” It’s played with a band called Shuttleworth (whom I’ve never heard before this), but the real star of the show is the curmudgeon ol’ Smith, who actually sounds like the cowardly lion here, already with a heart, and hoping for the best for his country. This might just be the most warming moment MES has ever been a part of. Can you imagine him as your grandpa?

Oh yeah, about that World Cup. If you want to watch the final – Brazil vs. ???? – on July 11th at my house, the caipirinhas and feijoada will be plentiful enough for everyone. Just saying.

A Day of Yawning at GABP

Sunday at the ballpark wasn’t much to be desired. We were psyched to see Mike Leake pitch for the first time – and he did all that was asked of him, not giving up a run in 7 innings of play. The defense showed why they possess a prowess now not seen in many seasons. Wish I had some video of Brandon Phillips masterful double play ball. Then Mike Lincoln came in to stink the whole thing up – giving up two runs in the top of the 10th, which the Reds could not overcome when it came to be their turn at the plate. There were bad vibes on this Sunday. Not getting into it. I did get the picture above though to illustrate the outright class of Cincinnati fans. Don’t leave in the 9th inning people, the game was TIED.

Initial Musings on Xtina's Bionic

I’ve never made a point of caring all that much about the career arc of Christina Aguilera – she’s really been nothing more than radio fodder. I will admit to liking her voice opposed to many of her peers (Allmusic calls her the “Rolling Stones to Britney’s Beatles” – brilliant) over the years though her frequent shifts in style have been suspect. Remember the desperate attempt at getting “Dirrtty.” It’s always seemed like an uphill battle for her, even if she’s sold millions of records and is considerably more diva-esque than the bubblegum crop from which she was harvested. I am a frequenter of the pop charts, still to this day, and all I can assess from Christina’s latest “comeback” album, Bionic, is that she’s taking some risky, albeit safe in my sphere of influence, maneuvers to wriggle and croon her way back into a top spot.

So what’s so risky/safe? I can’t admit to ever listening to an Xtina album from front to back, but have enjoyed a number of her singles, but now can, as I was intrigued about every puzzle piece that (finally) made Bionic a reality. She enlisted every hot producer and world-class female ingĂ©nue on board to give her globe-trotting, future-disco cred – name ‘em, she got ‘em – M.I.A., Santigold, Switch, Tricky, Polow da Don, Sia, Ladytron. Then there’s the really strange addition of Le Tigre on “I Hate Boys” and the completely softball combination of a raging voice like hers and a Linda Perry penned ballad, as “Lift Me Up” is assured to be a gigantic hit. In fact, after giving Bionic a few spins already today, I’m loving the sultry, soul, numbers here – check “Sex for Breakfast,” my instant favorite – more than Xtina’s stabs at becoming current, a leader of the pack. She’s not capable of that. Whether she knows it or not, M.I.A. is giving her leftovers in “Elastic Love” and whatever contribution was concocted by Kathleen Hanna is barely noticeable. I will give her an A for effort though. Songs like “Glam” and “Woohoo” are filled with expletives, sexually suggestive rhetoric, and excellent beats (remixes please?), something, when done correctly, I can’t get enough of no matter who’s singing. Then again, Aguilera, who’s barely 30 years old, sounds completely out of touch for most of this ride. She’s a mommy, not a rebel. She’s not changing the face of anything.