Thursday, May 15, 2008

"Internationally known: Mel-1 and PK The Mixtape Maniacs"

Who we?


We’re both are O.G. New Yorkers by birth (Him-Harlem World, Her-Shaolin)
We both possess MA’s from overpriced private universities.
We both know what goes down in la banlieue
We are both are the oldest of four children.
We know all about the CRS and the Guardia Civil.

It’s pretty apparent that Mel-1 and myself live parallel lives. When we found out that we had both delivered very important mix tapes to people within one month of each other, we were like “Oh, word?” So in celebration of our efforts, we’ve decided to dissect and discuss each other’s mixes in a joint blog entry. Run on over to Melissa's blog, Public Witness Program, to read her thoughts on my mix., without further ado, an analysis of "Use With Caution" (May 2008)

Name of Mix: “Use with Caution”
Author: Melissa B. Friedman aka Mel-1
Nature of Origin: “Trying to impress someone. Cool, I know...”
Length: “56 minutes and some odd seconds if I remember correctly”
Most difficult challenge during compilation:
“It was hard for me to decide on the general mood I wanted to convey. I also had some difficulty in deciding the order of the last few songs. I felt like the mix CD turned into Lost in Translation Part II thus I tried hard to avoid duplicating an oeuvre that more or less already exists.”

Two favorite tracks:
“Tout n'est pas si facile” -NTM
“Windowlicker (demo)” - Aphex Twin

Full Tracklisting:
1. Machine Gun - Portishead
2. 5:55 (The Black Ghosts Remix) - Charlotte Gainsbourg
3. The Guns of Brixton - The Clash
4. Tout n'est pas si facile - NTM
5. Requiem pour un con - Serge Gainsbourg
6. Sexual Sportswear - Sebastian Tellier
7. Windowlicker (Original Demo) - Aphex Twin
8. Knife - Grizzly Bear
9. Sometimes - My Bloody Valentine
10. Ceremony (New Order cover) - Radiohead
11. After Class - Deer Hunter
12. Just Like Honey - The Jesus & Mary Chain

Colonel K's thoughts:
As long as I’ve known her, Melissa’s always had the most amazing taste in music. From her collection of obnoxious punk 7-inches back in high school (e.g. “John Wayne Was a Nazi” by MDC) to her more recent appreciation of all things French, it’s always been “class” with Mel-1. So when she told me was trying to impress someone, I just shrugged my shoulders and said “Well that shouldn’t be too difficult.” But I quickly realized that it was flippant for me to say that. Apparently the girl was really breaking a sweat over making this mix flow just right. The night before it was due, I received a frantic text that read “Should I put Fugazi on this Mix? I’m being so neurotic about impressing him.”

Having only seen the tracklisting, I can already tell that this compilation is dope. The main reason is the leadoff song, Portishead’s “Machine Gun.” I’d wanted to put this on a mix I made a few weeks ago, but I ended up cutting it because it was too jarring. I also like the fact that the first half of this mix is so menacing. The aforementioned “Machine Gun”, “Guns of Brixton”, and “Requiem Pour Un Con”, all these songs are badass.
The second half, on the other hand, is much more ethereal and kinda sweet. The sorta stuff that you’d want to listen to on a cloudy spring afternoon. And yes, I know that “Sometimes” and “Just Like Honey” were used poignantly in Lost in Translation. But just because a song was used in a Sophia Coppolla movie doesn’t make it any less beautiful.
Oh, word. Bonus points for including the demo version of “Windowlicker” and Radiohead’s cover of “Ceremony”: as much as I enjoy the originals, it shows a lot more depth to use a really good cover OR an alternate version of a well known track.
If I were the guy who received this CD, I’d probably be speechless. I mean, yeah, there are plenty of real chill girls who like good music. But it takes just as much thoughtfulness and talent to take those songs and sequence them.

Monday, May 12, 2008

"Rain Down, Rain Down": Radiohead at Nissan Pavilion. May 11th 2008

I’d become so accustomed to standing up in mud that every step on a solid surface sent a jarring shock to my ankles and knees.

The previous sentence was not lifted from an account of trench warfare during World War I. This was a description from last night’s Radiohead concert at Nissan Pavilion.

When I looked at the weather forecast, I knew that there was going to be rain. What I didn’t realize was that it was going to be a non-stop torrential downpour. Within minutes of handing in my ticket, I was soaked to the bone. My shoes were waterlogged, my thermal undershirt soggy, and my Lacoste rain jacket useless. When Liars took the stage at approximately 7:30pm, the rain had let up slightly, but a massive chill had come over my body. I was shivering so hard, I had to bite my tongue to keep my teeth from chattering.

When Thom Yorke and company finally took to the stage, I felt a tremendous sigh of relief. Not to say that Liars were no good. (On the contrary, they put up a pretty decent show, given the size of the crowd. Moreover, I loved their pre-show music. I believe it was North African, perhaps downloaded from Awesome Tapes from Africa?). But alas, I digress; I was here to see how Radiohead would pull off their songs live. I’ve been listening to this band since high school, and I’ve welcomed each new sonic direction they’ve taken. Seeing them live, however, has always proved elusive. Either I couldn’t get tickets or I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But listening to countless bootlegs and watching Grant Gee’s Meeting People is Easy, I knew that one day it would be totally worth it. And, if you ignore all the drama I described above, it was. Visually, this was one of the most well thought out shows I’d seen in a very long time. Even from the edge of the lawn, I could see the beautiful details of the hanging lights and video screens. As per the band’s performance. they were tremendous. They cherry picked songs from every album since The Bends and played the fuck out of them. When I concentrated hard enough, I actually forgot that I had lost nearly all feeling in my right foot.

SET LIST (Thanks to Chip from Brightest Young Things)
All I Need
Jigsaw Falling Into Place
15 Step
Pyramid Song
Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
Faust Arp
Paranoid Android
Everything In Its Right Place
Bangers + Mash

Like Spinning Plates
Karma Police (This is when we left)
Go Slowly
Planet Telex
Fake Plastic Trees
The National Anthem
House of Cards

When I finally got into the car and took off my soaked shirt. I was relieved, sort of. It would be nearly an hour before we left the Nissan parking lot, but at least we had HEAT. My experience certainly doesn’t make me think any less of Radiohead. But I will probably never attend another outdoor, festival style concert again. And my heart goes out to all the people who a) sat in traffic even longer than I did and b) those who didn’t even make it to the show due to washed out roads and horrendous traffic.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Guest List by Colonel K

While I no longer read Pitchfork for the reviews, I still read it every morning to catch up on industry gossip and read the interviews. Since the essay I had planned for this week is not yet ready, I decided to poach some questions from Pitchfork’s “Guest List” and interview, um, myself.


>> Favorite Songs of the Past Year
Kanye West “Flashing Lights”
I lost interest in Mr. West after Late Registration. I dunno, perhaps I grew tired of his incessant bragging and public temper tantrums. But personal criticisms aside, this is one of the standout tracks on Graduation. The video is hot, too.

Portishead “Machine Gun”
I know Portishead were working on “Third” for a really long time, but upon listening to a pre-release copy, I can see why they were under so much pressure. How do you beat “Dummy” and “Portishead”? I know a few people who are pretty disappointed with “Third,” but I think it’s wonderful reinvention of the group's sound. It's still depressing, but I like that they're using much more jarring

Chromatics “Hands in the Dark”
When I first heard “Hands In the Dark” in my friend Scott’s car, I asked what year it was released. To my surprise, he said “2007.” It’s one of the most beautiful and haunting dance songs I’ve heard in a while. It’s perfect for night drives, too.

>> Favorite Older Songs at the Moment
The Gist “Love at First Sight”
Not to be confused with the DC band, Gist. This was Stuart Moxham’s solo project after Young Marble Giants broke up in 1981. It reminds of the grey and dingy RER stations outside of Paris. And the synth line does sorta remind me of that weird deer in headlights look when you first make eye contact with someone you're attracted to.

Blur “You’re So Great” and “Death of a Party”
These songs are back to back on 1997’s “Blur,” and I really like them because they both deal with reexamining your personal and social life, respectively. “You’re So great” is Graham Coxon lamenting his alcoholism while proclaiming his love for an unknown person. “Death of Party” is Damon Albarn shrugging off Britpop as a lame party that no one should’ve attended in the first place.

>> Favorite Song Ever

“Loaded” by Primal Scream.
I think I was at a Britpop dance night when I first heard this over a full PA system.
It always reminds me of really amazing nights out.

“Red Sleeping Beauty” by McCarthy
First time I heard this song was sophomore year of college. I was so blown away by the intro, that I asked my friend to play it 2 more times.

>> Best Recent Concert
Ghostland Observatory at the 9:30 Club.
This show was so over the top, that I had no excuse to not enjoy myself. Strobe lights, smoke machines, lasers. The works.

>> Favorite New Band
Ringo Deathstarr. Ra Ra Rasputin opened for them back in February, and I was really impressed on two counts. First, their equipment and guitar tones. Second, the songs were all really good.
I tend to be dismissive of most shoegaze revival groups, but these guys had “it.” I ended up changing my listening habits because of them. I started listening to My Bloody Valentine and Ride again; something I hadn’t done in about a year and a half.

>> Last Great Film I Saw
Control by Anton Corbijn. Every shot in that movie is flawless. He did a fine job making the transition from music videos to the big screen.

>> Last Great Book I Read
The last book I really enjoyed was “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” The story was so moving, and the descriptions were so vivid. It’s incredible that the author was able to transmit all that information simply by blinking one eye. Then again he had no other choice. I’ve also been working my way through George Orwell’s “Homage to Catalonia.”

>> Favorite Piece of Musical Equipment
My Rickenbacker 360. I’d wanted a Ric for years, and during the summer after Freshman year of College, I got a job that paid really, really well. I found one for a reasonable price, and it’s been my main guitar ever since.

>> Favorite Record Shop

There are actually a lot of really good record stores in Washington DC, and they’re all located within walking distance of one another. But the one I spend the most time in is Red Onion Records & Books. I got two records that I never thought I’d see: David Bowie “Heroes/Heroes/Helden” 12” (with French, English and German versions of his 1977 classic) and the US version of Teardrop Explodes “Kilimanjaro.”

>> Best Purchases of the Past Year
1. A pair of Sperry Top Sider Boat shoes
2. A Univox 335 Custom Copy 12-string electric guitar.

The Sperrys are the most comfortable and versatile pair of shoes I own. It’s so great not having to wear socks. The only hang up is that I have to moisturize my feet so that they don’t look ashy.

The 12-string electric was something I picked up simply because it was a very good deal ($300 vs $1200+ for a Rickenbacker 12-string). It's taken some time to really get that "jingle-jangle" sound, but it's worth it.

>> Best Thing I Did This Year
Move myself to the top of my list of my priority list.

>> Favorite Venue
Black Cat. It’s close by and I’ve seen more good shows there than at any other venue I’ve frequented in the last eight years.

>> Favorite TV Show at the Moment
Well, since The Wire ended, I have no reason to watch TV anymore.

>> Favorite Video Game at the Moment

I was never into video games. We never had them when I was younger. I still can’t be bothered to play them.

>> Favorite Radio Show
I don’t listen to the radio anymore. Even though I have an AM/FM receiver, I never use it. It’s a real shame, you know?

>> My Ringtone
Beep once, then vibrate. A phone is just that, a phone.