Leave it to a former teacher to base a song/video on a literary classic. Phoenix rapper Random (aka MegaRan) left the classroom behind to make the full-time jump into music, but he can’t quite seem to shake the teaching, uh, bug.
And that’s the album that brought us “Buggin’ (The Metamorphosis),” inspired by the Franz Kafka novella. The new video (directed by Max Isaacson) finds Ran playing the role of Gregor, waking up to find himself transformed into a vermin. High school English class was never this fun.
And while you’re catching up with Language Arts: Volume One, Random went ahead and dropped Volume Two today. A harder-working rapper would be impossible to find. That said, our TeacherRapperHero is returning home from tour and throwing a show on Saturday at Hidden House.
I think I speak for Reubens Accomplice fans everywhere when I say this: Finally.
A new album by the beloved Phoenix band, which would be its first since 2004’s The Bull, the Balloon, and the Family, has become a bit like our very own sasquatch – often discussed but never seen. We’ve been teased, agonizingly so at times. I had my own sighting (false, as it turns out), in 2006, of a possible album that even had a title, Mammal Music. Let me put 2006 in perspective for you: I gleaned this information from the band’s Live Journal, which is just a rung below MySpace in the social media wasteland.
Speaking of MySpace, that might be where I first saw news, in 2009, that the band had released an EP and was taking pre-orders for the new album, titled Sons of Men. Three years later, there was something to it: Sons of Men actually is the name of the album, and it will be available this August. No, really. A mural was painted in downtown Phoenix to promote the album with the words: “Available August 2012.” I saw it with my own two eyes. That’s about as close to etched in stone as there is. No turning back now, dudes.
But seriously: I tease because I love. Life tends to get in the way of these things. I don’t have the faintest idea of what Chris Corak and Jeff Bufano – the band’s two principal members – had to go through to get to this point. But I hope to find out more in the coming weeks. I can tell you that Grammy-winning producer/engineer/mixer Chris Testa, who has worked with several locals in the past (Jimmy Eat World, Source Victoria, Kinch, Courtney Marie Andrews), is adding this one to his extensive credits.
Corak also kindly (and quickly) responded to an email to give me some other tidbits, including the track listing (below) and that guest musicians on the record include pedal-steel king Jon Rauhouse (a member of Neko Case’s band), Matt Maher and Promise Ring/Maritime singer Davey von Bohlen, who sings the choruses on “I Love You, But I’m Tired.”
What we also know is this: Sons of Men (that’s the cover art above; click to expand) will be available in August, with a show at Crescent Ballroom on Aug. 10 serving as the album release party. (They are playing shows on Aug. 11 and 12 in California with the Promise Ring.) “Field Science” is the leadoff track on the album, and it’s featured here in the time-lapse video that shows the creation of the aforementioned mural.
Getting the feeling this is going to be worth the wait.
Sons of Men track listing:
1. Field Science
2. This Desert
3. I Love You, but I’m Tired
4. I’m Leaving
5. The Losing Curse
6. Sons of Men
7. Memory Works
8. No Motion
10. Less Pain Forever
That’s one of my favorite lines from “Ain’t It So,” the leadoff track from A Good Woman is Hard to Find, the debut EP by PAPA (previously raved about here). But breaking down Darren Weiss’ lyrics is a tough chore – you have to get past the insanely catchy hooks first to even want to do that.
Weiss told Nylon magazine of “Ain’t It So”: “Well, it’s a song about letting go of someone I feel like I probably should’ve married instead. It’s a real honest song about that feeling.”
Seems straightforward enough, though I’m not sure I have the interpretive intuition to make sense of the song’s new video, in which Weiss, clad in a pink suit, is driven around (along with an oversized teddy bear) by PAPA bassist/cabbie Daniel Presant. Along the circuitous route, Weiss stops to pick up a dog and tries to play catch with some Little Leaguers, but nobody seems to be paying attention to him. Maybe we’re riding shotgun, looking at a man taking inventory on his life. Or maybe not …
PAPA was scheduled to record new material last month, so there could be a release by the end of the year. In the meantime, you should really pick up that EP.
If the original members of Quicksand can perform together for the first time in 13 years, then I figure it’s not too much to ask to publish my first blog post in nearly a week.
I’m not that into the recent surge of reunions – I hate the idea of selling out my cherished memories for one last go-round that likely will leave me disappointed anyway – but this re-emergence of Quicksand, well, I’ll make an exception for that. The band’s 1993 full-length debut, Slip, is an airtight classic that is just begging for some sort of deluxe reissue treatment – and what better time than its 20th anniversary (!) next year? (The band’s second, and last, album, Manic Compression is also not to be overlooked.)
Any thought of a full-blown reunion appears to be just speculation at this point, but Walter Schreifels and Co. were the surprise guests at the Revelation Records 25th anniversary show on June 10 at the Glass House in Pomona, Calif. They played five songs – four from Slip and a Smiths cover of “How Soon Is Now?” that they released as a B-side in ’93. Someone recorded the set from what appears to be the side of the stage, a great angle that really lets you see people freaking out over this (and protecting themselves from stage divers).
Quicksand is scheduled to perform at the FYF Fest in Los Angeles in September – reason enough to start planning a road trip. Before the final song at the Glass House, Schreifels seems to leave open the possibility that these aren’t just one-off shows: “I don’t know where this is all gonna lead … ”
Here’s hoping for more dates. In the meantime, I’ll have to see if I still have my ticket stub from that Quicksand/Rage Against the Machine show from back in the day.
Setlist from the Pomona reunion show:
4. Dine Alone
5. How Soon Is Now? (Smiths cover)
Sometimes, I really want Japandroids to play live with a bassist. Or another guitarist. Or another two guitarists. Or a bassist and another two guitarists.
And then sometimes I realize it doesn’t matter all that much. The punk aesthetic of the two-man band is alive, and all that matters is how they’ve tapped into my utter weakness of nostalgia and passing youth. Friends are moving on, moving up. Memories endure, but despite our best efforts, we grow old and we grow apart. Technology makes it impossible to lose touch (right?), but no text message could possibly replace this: “Remember saying things like ‘we’ll sleep when we’re dead’ / And thinking this feeling was never going to end.”
Hopefully you’ve already heard the band’s 2009 album Post-Nothing. Last week they released Celebration Rock, a 35-minute collection of songs that make me want to air drum and hug all my friends at the same time.
The band “Fire’s Highway” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last week:
These days, it’s easy to criticize Arizona, but it takes balls to stand up for it.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not gonna sit here and say I’m not embarrassed by the ever-growing list of controversial headlines my home state seems to be making. But when every Tom, Dick and Harry with a Twitter account or website – who have probably never set foot in Arizona – start taking potshots, I start to feel a little defensive.
This is my home, and has been for 25 years. There’s too many people doing amazing work to push Arizona in a new direction – from politics to art to music and everything in between – to let anyone make us feel inferior.
That’s why this new video from local emcee Mouse Powell, for the song “Holding Home,” has struck a chord with me. Arizona needed an anthem for our sweaty summer nights, and this is it. Like the way People Under the Stairs rep L.A. in their own laid-back way, Mouse Powell gives Arizonans something to celebrate.
Anchored to a sample of Simply Red’s “Holding Back the Years,” the song takes the listener on a tour of our Arizona – Four Peaks, Roosevelt, Revolver Records, Blunt Club. (Did we mention the sunshine and pretty girls?) When I’m riding around town this summer with my windows down and A/C blasting (because that’s how we do it), I know what I’ll be listening to. Stand up, Arizona.
In keeping with the theme of the last post, here’s some more Licensed to Ill-era goodness from the Beastie Boys.
A non-album track, “She’s On It” was originally released on the soundtrack for the 1985 flick Krush Groove. (And here’s a party icebreaker for ya: Krush Groove was written by Ralph Farquhar, father of quick-lipped L.A. rapper Busdriver, born Regan Farquhar.)
I own this track on a 7-inch, the flip side to a “Fight for Your Right” single, which makes sense because the songs are close siblings, infused with the crunchy Rick Rubin-inspired guitar riffs that probably helped ease the Beasties’ transition from punk band to hip-hop heads. (And I think that’s a VERY young Rubin making a cameo in this video.)
It’s seriously difficult to not sing the “Fight for Your Right” lyrics to this song. I think they’re interchangeable, which might be part of Rubin’s genius. But hey, at least there’s some hot ’80s beach bods to distract you.
I was overwhelmed Monday by very kind and unbelievably flattering feedback on my post about MCA, which probably speaks more to the legacy and impact of the Beastie Boys than anything. I heard from so many people from various corners of my life who were all recalling their best Beasties stories or mourning MCA’s death in their own ways. Maybe it’s not Buddy Holly and the day the music died, but it feels like a defining moment for a certain generation of music fans.
So it didn’t seem right to let it end on just one post. This isn’t news that should be shoved aside so quickly. Besides, there’s a wealth of content out there, so much of which I’m seeing/hearing for the first time.
Take this clip from 1987, when the Beastie Boys stormed Joan Rivers’ talk show to play two songs (“Fight for Your Right” and “Time to Get Ill”) and chat with Rivers during the promotion run for Licensed to Ill (“That’s a stupid name for an album,” she says, laughing, when introducing the band). This was a time of the Beasties at their brashest – bratty personas that, with the luxury of hindsight, almost feel like a put-on.
It’s hard to believe, but this year marks the 20th anniversary of the release of the Gin Blossoms’ hugely successful album New Miserable Experience.
I am and forever will be curious about how time treats this album and its well of pop hits, especially because the band is from my home state. The whole thing gave me pause when my wife and I were in Henderson, Nev., a few months ago and randomly flipped around the local FM stations in the car — and what should pop up on the radio but a Gin Blossoms song. It really offered a bit of perspective and got me thinking about how the Gin Blossoms are viewed outside of my sometimes insular take on the Phoenix/Tempe music scene. How many times a day in countless other cities, big and small, will you hear Gin Blossoms on the radio?
It’s interesting to consider, and this cover of “Hey Jealousy” for the Onion’s A.V. Undercover series by a “one-off supergroup” made up of members of Cursive and Cymbals Eat Guitars sort of speaks to the general sentiment of the Gin Blossoms. As Jason Woodbury pointed out at New Times, you’ve got Cursive frontman Tim Kasher offering the elitist indie vibe: “I love that you guys put these types of songs on this list … I’m the kind of person who pounces on that brand of humor.” Then there’s Cymbals Eat Guitars’ Joseph D’Agostino, who says: “If Teenage Fanclub played it, it would be like ‘Oh, it’s a classic.'”
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure?
Friend of the site Scott Hessel left his gig as drummer for Source Victoria to tour with Gin Blossoms, so I’ll have to check with him to see if the band has any thoughts on this deconstructed cover.
There’s rap songs, and then there are rap songs that make you wanna learn every word – the cadence, the flow, the rhythm. The songs that you wanna bump in your crappy car factory stereo system and pound your steering wheel to (and who cares if you end a sentence in a preposition?). There’s rap songs so good you don’t even need a proper chorus – just some mean-mug humming. That’s Homeboy Sandman’s “Mine All Mine.”
The Queens, N.Y.-based MC dropped his Chimera EP via Stones Throw on Tuesday, but “Mine All Mine” came out earlier in the year on the Subject: Matter EP.
Homeboy Sandman uses his two-plus minutes on “Mine All Mine” to rap about (per the EP cover) “the things that belong to me that rappers never rap about when they rap about things that belong to them. This song is not about my chain, or my money, or my car, or my skills, or my girls. It’s about my socks, and my toothpaste, and my lotion, and my favorite television programs.”
If lines like “My insurance is WebMD” don’t sell you on his everyman approach, then seeing Homeboy Sandman rock this track with his family (and his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles notebook) surely should do the trick.