Archive for June, 2008

Atmosphere’s new album – Definitely not a lemon

Saturday, June 28th, 2008 | Reviews | 1 Comment
Atmosphere's new album - Definitely not a lemon

There are few artists who gain my highest honour; the ‘buy before try’ scenario. Minneapolis based duo Atmosphere is one such example and their latest offering ‘When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold,’ easily returns my faith.

Since ‘You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having,’ Slug and Ant have been consistently drip-feeding fans with a string of 5-song EP’s and the awesome ‘Strictly Leakage.’ Such releases have been hit and miss for me and it is great to have another full-length album that feels cohesive and obviously benefits from greater time spent on writing and production. If you are expecting the jump around beats of classics such as ‘Get Fly’ and ‘Pour Me Another’ beware, ‘Lemons’ moves into darker territory both lyrically and sonically. Ant’s flawless production has moved away from hooky grooves to a more acoustic sound with live instruments; flutes, piano and guitar, these compliment Slug’s sometimes preachy, but always poetic flow. That’s not to say the album doesn’t retain that top-down, cadillac-country feel, especially on tracks such as ‘You’ and ‘Can’t Break.’

It never fails to amaze me that Slug can deliver a poignant and I think, ultimately optimistic message (just look at the title), using such grimy subject matter as pimps, cigarettes and dry heaves, all layered above Ants swelling, hand-clapping beats. Sure he shows moments of despair, for example ‘The Skinny,’ about the hold cigarettes can have over someones life, but this is off-set by glimpses of hope such as my favourite track ‘Wild, Wild Horses,’ ‘go ahead and chase your dreams and your freedom, run run wild wild horses, you can’t tame these horses.’ Apparently god loves a trier. It is his realistic never afraid to call a dick a dick, attitude that tears Slug and his brand of introspective hip hop away from the diamond encrusted wannabes of mainstream hip hop, so much so they barely deserve to be categorised in the same genre. “All of us cut from the same damn cloth, some of us never cut the price tags off.”

Atmosphere
Trying to find a balance

If you were in any doubt that Slug is a bonafide wordsmith, the deluxe edition comes with a 40 page childrens story written and illustrated by the pair, a nice touch for big kid fans like myself. Ultimately, this album is a step-up from previous releases and I’ll definitely part with my cash with the same reckless abandon next time around. Surprise, surprise, another lady loves Slug (and Ant.)
Alesha

You can check out more from Atmosphere at:
www.rhymesayers.com
www.myspace.com/atmosphere

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Flight of the Conchords

Friday, June 27th, 2008 | News | No Comments
Flight of the Conchords


New Zealand is known around the world for a few things, Lord of the Rings, Team New Zealand , Sir Edmund Hillary, and now… Flight of the Conchords.

From their humble beginnings in the NZ television and music industries, New Zealand’s fourth most popular folk parody duo, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, now have their own American HBO comedy series. Scoring their American contract after doing an HBO comedy special, they are now moving on to a second series making them the first New Zealand comedians to do so.

‘Part time model’ from Flight of the Conchords HBO series

Receiving a string of highly celebrated awards around the world for their performances, television show, and albums, the 2008 Grammy award for ‘best comedy album’ means Jemaine and Bret have now become New Zealands ambassadors to the world. Not many people realise that Bret a.k.a. Video Kid is also a member of New Zealand dub reggae group The Black Seeds


The Black Seeds – So True

It’s really no surprises that Jemaine also has his own side projects, recently releasing Eagle VS Shark, a downbeat comedy portraying the blossoming relationship of two nerds while Jemaine’s character ‘Jarrodd’ returns to his hometown to seek revenge on his old high school bully…

Jemaine Clement in Eagle Vs Shark

You can check out more from Flight of the Conchords at:

www.conchords.co.nz

…bs

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Here come the Dino 5!

Thursday, June 26th, 2008 | Reviews | No Comments
Here come the Dino 5!

Fresh new all-star hip hop release, for kids!!

Prince Paul, the super-producer behind classic De La Soul albums 3 Feet High and Rising and De La Soul is Dead, has formed a new supergroup to release Baby Loves Hip Hop, a hip hop album for kids. Named The Dino 5, the group consists of Prince Paul, Chali 2na from Jurassic 5, Scratch from The Roots, Wordsworth from EMC, and Lady Bug Mecca from Digable Planets. Their album is a concept hip hop album for children, and in typical Prince Paul fashion, the album tells a story. A group of Dino kids (Rahzel as Teo Pterodactyl, Wordsworth as Billy Brontosaurus, Lady Bug Mecca as Tracey Triceratops, and Prince Paul as DJ Stegosaurus) encounter a very scary T-rex (Chali 2na as MC T-Rex) on the playground. Naturally they are terrified, and treat him poorly because of this. However, MC T-rex turns out to actually be a misunderstood giant, who only wants to play with other Dino kids. In the end, they reconcile, and get together to form the Dino 5 group to perform in the “Dino-school” talent show.

The album is full of positive messages and morals, and is a fantastic idea at a time when hip hop gets a bad name more often than it deserves. I myself am proof that the album can be enjoyed by hip hop fans young and old, with the storyline approach (narrated by grammy winning poet Ursula Rucker) and catchy songs being a huge hit with kids, and typical Prince Paul banging beats keeping the older more accomplished hip hop fans satisfied. At times the beats leave you wishing they weren’t wasted on a kids album. Although, He’s being doing it for so long now that you can be sure it won’t be the last you hear from him. The lyrics and storyline on the album are enjoyable, and 2nafish and the crew are as tight as ever on the mic. However, due to the kiddie-focus, it probably won’t rate highly on the replay scale. Unless you have kids, that is, who will want to hear it endlessly no doubt.

Check out the interactive website at www.dino5.com for more info, and keep your eyes (or your kids’ eyes) peeled for a possible cartoon series too!

You can watch the video for the group’s theme song, The Dino 5 Theme, below.

The Unified Tour

Monday, June 23rd, 2008 | News | No Comments
The Unified Tour

The night started with a rather adventure-like ride across the city, courtesy of True Live manager, Penny. I say adventure-like, where it was more an epic tour of Melbourne’s outer suburbs, as we fumbled our way through the Melways and missed numerous turnoffs. This resulted in the classic fashionably late entrance, which no one really seemed to notice anyway. The Winnie Coopers were thrashing out their own brand of Aussie hiphop when we got to the gig, voices hoarse from the energy they obviously put into their live shows. They got a great response from the crowd of students, who were particularly boozed for a Tuesday night fairly close to exam-time.

The Winnie Coopers

Next to hit the stage were the Funkoars, who again were well received by everyone involved. Having listened to their album “Greatest Hits” prior to the gig, I was well aware of what they would bring to the stage, and enjoyed hearing live versions of standout tracks such as Blackout and The Greatest Hit. Next up was True Live; the real reason we were there. Don’t get me wrong, I love hip hop, and Aussie hip hop has some real talents (and as a Kiwi I actually enjoy most Aussie Hip hop more than NZ hip hop). But the style brought to the table by acts that simply incorporate MC’s and a DJ playing a beat, often leaves me unfulfilled; especially if the sound system isn’t up to the challenge. I knew this wouldn’t be the case with True Live, however. Consisting of MC Rhyno, Thomas Butt (double bass), Tamil Rogeon (violin), Jesse Martin (cello), Joel Mammone (drums) and Thai Matus (keys); they dominated the stage from the minute they arrived. Their opening tracks impressed with intense intros building and building until they dropped into funky riffs and banging hip hop beats. Led by the fast flowing, smooth rhyming MC RHyno; the band were amazingly tight. RHyNO interacted well with the crowd hyping them up and getting the room bouncing in no time. At one stage he even had everyone sitting on the ground!

True Live with audience sitting on the ground (excuse the poor quality image, but it’s worth seeing right?)

The Crowd were treated to an exhibition of older classic’s like TV, Question This, and Keep Myself Awake, as well as a selection of new material being released on their new album due this year. Each of the artists performed outstanding solo’s on numerous occasions, with newest member Tim on Cello having time on stage by himself to display his amazing talent on a classical instrument adapted to fit comfortably within the jazz hip hop culture. Seeing True Live really reminded me of why I love hip hop and how quality makes a difference. Quality for True Live comes in the form of all of the artists being classically trained in their respective instruments; something that really shines through in the way they perform and gel together on stage.

Bliss n Eso

By the time they had finished their set i was ready to head home, confident that Sydney hip hop group Bliss n Eso (a group i knew little about) had no chance of up-staging them. After watching their opening few tracks the crowd loved them and really got into it, however, indicating that perhaps i need to listen to a bit more of their material.

All up a great evening of artists, with special mention going out to True Live for adding to Australia’s list of artists to keep an eye on in coming months and years. So we hit the road again and managed to find our way back without missing any turnoffs for a change. A particularly enjoyable evening thanks to True Live, and i’m sure there will be many more as I will be lining up as soon as their next gig is announced. Many thanks to Penny for taking care of us for the night, for more information on True Live head to their myspace

… Crack

Floetry … Damn

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008 | News | 1 Comment
Floetry ... Damn

Having only recently heard of this amazing duet, we know little about them. What we know is that people need to hear this. So check out some of their appearances below…

Floetry – Everybody Heard

Meeting originally through their mutual love for basketball, Marsha and Natalie both studied at the Brit School for Performing Arts & Technology. Natalie came to attention in the music industry as a founding member of the performance poetry group “3 Plus 1″ which was making plenty of noise around London, Birmingham, and Manchester. After inviting Marsha to join her on stage to perform at a spoken word night, together they cemented their signature style in a piece they had created called “Fantasize” (below). Seamlessly combining their talents for singing and spoken word, they deliver a powerful performance unlike anything in the world of poetry or hip hop today…

Fantasize – Floetry

Damn…

If your still reading this, then I can assume you like what you see here. Def Poetry Jam has been a source of inspiration for many people as well as artists we know. Well worth a look at, perhaps best introducing yourself through the appearances posted on www.youtube.com

Another breathtaking poet featured throughout Def Jam Poetry worth checking out is Black Ice seen below:

Damn

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