Lucas’ Presentation from SF MusicTech

Lucas!

As anyone following my Twitter stream knows, I flew in/out of SF on Monday for the SF MusicTech event. It was great, actually, I wish I’d had a little more time to hang out. Saw lots of smart folks and friends including Rob, Ethan, and Daniel from Songbird, Jeremy from Project Playlist, David Gratton from Project Opus, Brian Dear from Eventful, Marc Canter, Ted Cohen, Derek from CD Baby, etc etc.

Lucas took the stage for a few minutes just before Michael Robertson to show the new, Web-based Yahoo! Media Player. His presentation was great, and scratched the surface of the philosophy behind the player. Namely:

  • It’s simple to use for both bloggers and blog readers
  • It’s browser-centric
  • It treats audio (and eventually video) as equals of text on a Web page (finally)

But that’s the Reader’s Digest version, go consume Lucas’ full presentation here (presentation navigation is in the bottom right of the page). Tis succinct and pointed. Lucas, will you be presenting this at BarCamp this weekend?!

In closing I’d like to celebrate Lucas’ genius with a link to a page of his spirited guitar playing using the “play this page” feature of the brilliant media player he masterminded:

Lucas Gonze, guitar hero

Ella Waltz is my fave, though I like Amy Waltz a lot, too. Three cheers for the Web media John Fahey!

ian

How to Make Pink Milk (a la Charlie and Lola)

Charlie and his pink milkLola and her pink milk

We’ve never seen the TV show, but stopping over in Heathrow a few weeks back I picked up a couple “Charlie and Lola” books for Lucinda and we’ve been reading them daily ever since. As any reader of the book knows, Lola loves pink milk. Lucinda has never had pink milk. Until today.

No, I didn’t break out the Strawberry Quik like I grew up with. Lucinda came down with a runny nose Monday morning and we’ve been trying to go easy on the dairy. So instead of her regular whole milk, we’ve been offering rice milk, which she eats all the time on cereal but isn’t into in the cup. So this morning I pinked it up a bit, like so:

6 oz rice milk
two spoonfuls yogurt (you could use any kind, I used goat yogurt, soy yogurt would be better if you really wanted to cut out the dairy completely)
two spoonfuls frozen raspberries

Blend.

Voila. Pink milk she enjoyed while we read Charlie and Lola, again.

ian

M.O.P. Still Underrated and Changing Labels Yet Again

M.O.P. St. Marxmen

Speaking of M.O.P., what’s going on over there? They started out on Relativity, then went to Loud, Loud went under, M.O.P. moved to Rock-a-fella, released a greatest hits, then went to G-Unit and just left G-Unit without ever releasing a record? Huh? And what is Laze talking about between 50 and Fame? 50 was hatin’ on Fame? Does 50 not know what he’s talking about or is Fame falling off? Enquiring minds want to know.

I’m not hip hop gossip guy but I love M.O.P. and think it sad they’ve never gotten their due because they’ve never stayed in one place long enough to build anything. But thanks to 50 if he cleared their debts and they can start fresh. You’d be on my label if I had one.

And for those unfamiliar with the mighty M.O.P.: they’re a hip hop duo from Brooklyn who will kick your ass. They’ve put out consistently great, always heavy, never predictable stuff despite changing names and labels every year or so (search M.O.P., Marxmen, and M.O.P. First Family to find a few things on Amazon).

Here’s the song you’ve heard before:

M.O.P-ante up

[via FoxyTunes / M.O.P.]

But here are some choice cuts you haven’t…

When they were between labels they released a greatest hits of sorts under the name The Marxmen. I think I’ve seen three versions of this record, the version you can buy from Amazon, a two-disc version I bought from Sandbox Automatic once upon a time, and the original advance copy I was given. Unfortunately only the advance has this amazing “duet” with Sade, a clever and hilarious mashup of sorts. I suppose Sade never cleared the use for sale.

The Marxmen - Marxmen CinemaM.O.P. – The Marxmen vs. Sade

Not since Antrax’s “I’m The Man” have I liked a rap/rock band. I’m not a Rage fan and hated the whole Limp Biz/311 nonsense. Hell, I didn’t even like Body Count or the Judgement Night soundtrack. I do like hip hop, and I do like metal, it’s just that every one of those bands sounded like someone who wasn’t any good at either trying both. Wack Sabbath. But a few years back, M.O.P. tried their hand and the results worked for me for the first time ever. Turns out M.O.P. often sounds better over a Slayer riff than a sampled beat. I wish they’d have kept this up. Promoted to the right crowd this could have been big. I get the feeling it was pushed by a label that didn’t really know what the hell to do with it and it fell pretty short of its potential. If you ever liked the rap/rock combo, or like me like hip hop and metal but think all the meathead rap/rock bullshit fell short, take a listen to the album and let me know what you think.

Mash Out PosseMash Out Posse – Ground Zero
Buy MP3s @ Amazon

And finally, from the Marxmen Cinema record, a straight-up gangsta track, classic M.O.P.:

M.O.P. – Bloody Murdah
Buy MP3s @ Amazon

Skills and a sense of humor win me over every time. But my favorite M.O.P. story comes when I called the number in one of the skits on the Marxmen Cinema record and actually GOT A CALL BACK. I was in a meeting at work and didn’t pick up but they’d left a message and a number on my voicemail. I called back and we had a decent conversation about tour, the record, etc. Guess I should call back and see what the hell is up with the label change…

Enjoy and support the M.O.P., where ever they land.

ian

Brendan Benson – Lapalco

Brendan Benson - Lapalco

The other day I asked Zoe if she wanted to take some random CD I had handy with her for the car. “No thanks,” she said, “I’ve been listening to Lapalco.” Then later that same day I walked into the house from work and Julie was listening to the same old Brendan Benson album. Odd, considering the album is from 2002. Something in the air, I suppose.

As I listened to the last half of the record while giving Lucinda a bath, I sang along to every song and remembered just how amazing this album is. Though none of his records suck by any means, Lapalco (partially co-written by Jason Falkner) is by far Brendan’s best IMHO. The band, The Wellfed Boys, is tremendous. I saw them play a couple times on this tour and the guitar player slayed in a Robert Quine on The Blue Mask (or Girlfriend for that matter) sort of way. If you like rock music with melodies and you haven’t heard this record, well, I wish I was you, because discovering this album for the first time is a fucking joy. Buy it. Every track is great. Remarkably, the second half of the record is better than the first, but you won’t realize that until the 100th listen. It’s one of those. The best, right?

Brendan Benson - LapalcoBrendan Benson – Eventually
Buy MP3s on Amazon

Enjoy,
ian

Mr. Dope America, the Tattoo

MDA

I received an email from Paranorm tonight, subject line: “i have really seen it all now”. The body of the email was one simple link, to this MySpace page, where apparently a woman has inked a Mr. Dope America tattoo. That’s a lot of love for a hip hop superhero with one album. Not that he doesn’t deserve it. He does.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s the whole story.

Paranorm and Tyrone are friends of mine from Indiana. They moved out here about ten years ago when I was pushing to get Paranorm and Strictnine a 12″ on Grand Royal. Eventually (as in “after many months”) they stopped sleeping in front of the sliding glass door in my living room and found a place on Fountain off of Sunset (where Paranorm still lives and pays the same rent as ten years ago).

As you’d expect when a beat-maker/MC (Paranorm) and DJ (Tyrone) are roommates, 40s are downed and music gets made. Somehow, one of these late nights, billions of particles floating around in space collided and created the Mr. Dope America character, a sensitive, 80s music-loving, singing superhero who will kick your ass. Paranorm took MIDI songs off the Internet, added a few beats here and there, and Tyrone became MDA, Mr. Dope America, singing karaoke-style over the top, with no lyric sheet, sometimes singing the right words and sometimes making them up. The made up words were often about The Fat Boys and Rite-Aid (”they used to call it Thrifty”). Thankfully, the 4-track was rolling.

Initially there were two GENIUS songs, Come On Aileen and Toto’s Africa:

Mr. Dope America – Come On Aileen
Mr. Dope America – Africa

I couldn’t get enough. These tracks were pretty much the funniest thing I’d ever heard. The juxtaposition of 80s pop, lyrics about hip hop (”EPMD made some dope beats” at the end of Come On Aileen?!), and MDA’s actual ability to deliver a tune made these two songs about my favorite thing, ever. I was, without question, MDA’s biggest fan.

So imagine how touched I was when Paranorm and MDA delivered my wedding present in 2002, a FULL LENGTH MDA ALBUM entitled (what else) “Genuine Leather Uppers”. The sheer amount of late nights and beer that went into my gift was staggering. I was brought to tears. The whole album is amazing and available for download from Paranorm’s now-ancient download page. A couple of choice cuts (”Baberaham Lincoln”, Magic Man into Sucka MCs?!) are right here:

Mr. Dope America – Babe
Mr. Dope America – Magic Man

It’s better than Weird Al. But only for a select few of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s on MTV and underground hip hop, I suppose. If you don’t get it, move on. If you get it, you know. You are now hooked on the power of MDA.

This album still ranks among my favorites, ever, and I still considered myself MDA’s biggest fan…until tonight. I do not have an MDA tattoo. This girl does:

MDA Tattoo
MDA Tattoo

I don’t know who she is or why she would do such a thing, but I gotta give her props for getting the joke. Or losing the bet. Whatever it was. Go ‘head, girl. MDA4LIFE!

MDA went on to be the DJ for Scapegoat Wax and the subsequent project with Z-Man, One Block Radius. The One Block record is great. Listen to it here or buy it here. One Block Radius interviewed by Mr. Dope America:

That’s Tyrone in the red. On the right. And in the mask.

Enjoy,
ian

Ryan Adams and The Cardinals, Live in Santa Cruz

Ryan Adams and The Cardinals
[photo from the Aquarium Drunkard review of the LA show]

I biked all over Santa Monica yesterday dropping off dry cleaning, picking up a few groceries, and watching Zoe get fitted for her prom dress, mostly listening to this Ryan Adams show from two weeks back, live in Santa Cruz. It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten into one of Ryan’s records (since Gold, to be specific, though the new one was definitely ok and Zoe spun the hell out of it), but I’ve got nothing but respect for the guy. He’s a talented, thinking, feeling human who pours his soul into the world via music on a daily basis. And the band is AMAZING, killing it out there night after night, as you hear if you listen to this whole show. We need more Ryans in this world. Haters need to stop criticizing the dude and let him do what he does.

It’s hard not to admire his love of his job. Three hour shows with an intermission? When he was at Yahoo! someone asked about being frighteningly prolific and he said something like, “I don’t have another job. If I can’t get up every morning and write songs and play music for four hours, what good am I?” I wish more of my favorite artists had this sort of work ethic. I get up and work every day, I’d be stoked if they did, too.

My unsolicited and 100% ignored advice to his manager was that he stop releasing “albums” and just put it *all* out there on the Web. I’d subscribe to that. Then you can package up the best as “albums” every now and then if you need something to sell at Starbucks. I’m not a huge fan of this idea for most artists, but I think it could work for Ryan.

Anyway, check out the show and enjoy some rock.

Download the whole show from Archive.org
Ryan Adams and The CardinalsRyan Adams & The Cardinals – Peaceful Valley
Ryan Adams and The CardinalsRyan Adams & The Cardinals – Bartering Lines
Ryan Adams and The CardinalsRyan Adams & The Cardinals – I See Monsters
Ryan Adams and The CardinalsRyan Adams & The Cardinals – Magnolia Mountain

Oh one last thing: don’t miss this performance on Hank Rollins show. Mind-bending.

ian