9.5 Beastie Boys: Make Some Noise

Yes I am a Beastie Boys fanboy. As Johnny Cash said so well, “until you know my shame you really don’t know me”. I grew up on New Jersey playgrounds, cursing (not “cussing”, that’s what rednecks in FL did) my head off since I was ten. To me, my brother’s actual name was jerk-off. I just didn’t know any better. I hit punk right on the mark around the age of 12 – I remember my dad walking into my room and hearing someone on my favorite NY radio station say something rude and what in the world was I listening to and me replying “I don’t listen to the words, just the music”. New wave was next and swept us all up, smashing molds and bringing sweet melodies and new sonic fabrics. And then came hip hop in the form of Run DMC and Beastie Boys and Public Enemy, and it was loud and strong, and continued to rip the fabric of everything that came before it – literally in this case. The industrial music of Ministry and Meat Beat Manifesto was the last great one for me. From then on, everything else was just recycling – Grunge, Shoegaze, LoFi, whatever – I’d heard it all before.

I guess this is the definition of being old. I have become one of those “classic rock” fanatics that I never understood during my youth. But when we were young, each of those early changes meant something to us, ripping off the lid on something brand new and knocking us to the floor, winded.

And I could feel my roots when I turned up the Beastie Boys. They are smart-ass New Yorkers with ADD. Like FAMILY. :P

If your sophomoric sense of humor remains intact, you may continue to enjoy their craft. This album went through extra refinement (due to MCA’s cancer battle, keep on good man) like a fine wine. Peace out to life-lovin’ cancer-fightin’ vegan-tryin’ Yauch, who directed this joint… WARNING: EXPLICIT CONTENT, this is not for women or children or anyone else with any sense or maturity whatsoever. Self-parody at its finest. And check the crew they brought for this one, stellar.

8.5 Rise Against: Endgame

I didn’t think I could ever warm up to this kind of over-produced hard rock.

Even if it is labelled punk rock. PUNK?? What the… cmon this is NOT PUNK. This is fast-paced arena rock. It has NOTHING TO DO WITH PUNK ROCK. Thin Lizzy was writing this stuff years before the Clash existed.

But something about it caught my attention. Lyrical strenth. So i wikied the band. And discovered truth. Straight-edge vegan truth. Rockin! So I opened up and listened. And the lyrics don’t get any stronger. The videos are inspiring. And once I got that far, it became most excellent running music – I ran the hardest few miles of my life on this stuff yesterday.

So I guess I have to let it be lumped in with other dispensers of truth – like my favorites, Consolidated, who have spun into outer orbit. Oh yeah! Truth comes in many strange forms. :>

10.0 Jack Johnson “To The Sea” concert, one total pearl jam

This was such a kickin’ good time in so many ways.

An entire green village was available pre-show for us to explore. We got a nice little booklet explaining all the green steps taken by Jack on the tour. He donates 100% of profits to charities – YES 100%!! and he did the same on the last tour!!  Think about that for a minute.  Beautiful.

The booklet had a section of stamps to collect for doing green things:

  • visiting a non-profit booth in the village, groups included:
    • reduce plastic usage
    • beaver preserve – Found out about an excellent beaver preserve right in downtown Durham.  Chatted with the people running the four related preserves.  Turns out Jack had found and contacted them personally and asked them to set up an exhibit.  They are working on an interconnected set of preserves to make an entire greenway belt, awesome.  Got two stamps from them, for visiting and donating, and they gave me a nice refillable water bottle which i used to earn another stamp! wahoo!  I wore my “Bummer” shirt (w pic of Hummer), the lady at the booth got mad cause she thought it said Hummer, and we had a good laugh.
    • CO2 offset purchasing
  • donating
  • buying a CO2 offset right at the concert
  • getting a picture in the picture booth signifying “i commit to reduce plastic usage”
  • refillable water stations – They proactively encouraged water refill usage, you got a stamp for filling up!  Sponsored by brita filters, this was unbelievable that they got permission for this, as the pavillion charges $4.50 for disposable bottles.

During the pre-show, they played back time-lapse photos of the stage as it filled up.  They also showed all the pictures from the photo booth, awesome, the girls right in front of us popped up on the big screen and laughed at themselves.

The show itself was a total pearl jam.  They got the party started on a high with “you and your heart” – the BEST.  Jack is truly a great guy, and he brought out LOTS of friends he’s made along the way:

  • Paula Fuga, a Hawaiian woman playing ukelele to a couple of her excellent songs (country road,…)
  • the awesome slide guitarist from Animal Liberation Orchestra
  • G Love jamming on harmonica (I heard he helped Jack get started by playing some of Jack’s songs)
  • the band’s keyboard player (Zack Gill, also from ALO) jammed on an ACCORDIAN for a while oh yeah – this guy was just so much fun, riffed on the piano like it was part of his body.
  • the bassist kicked out a wicked rap

LOTS of jammmmmming ensued!  Jack also worked in some cars lyrics into “sitting waiting wishing”, perfect mashup… once he remembered the lyrics, haha, he made fun of himself… “i dont mind you comin here, and wasting all my time…”  They also played a full version of steve miller’s the joker, perfect.  And just about every great song he’s written… which is to say, A LOT OF UNBELIEVABLY GOOD MUSIC!!  :P

Thank you Jack!

9.5 Massive Attack – Paradise Circus (Breakage’s Tight Rope remix)

I didn’t pick up on this song until TapTapRevenge gave it away for free, and I realized I already had it on my iPhone. 10 years ago, my friend Zac didn’t appreciate the subtleties of Massive Attack, instead preferring more-direct bands like slipknot and Powerman 5000 that got right to the point. I could understand this – 15 years before I was Ministry’s single biggest fan. But Massive Attack is to ultraviolent music as thrillers are to action movies – it’s a matter of suspense and minimalism. Minimalism is hard to do right. Anyone can create music in moments (and it seems like everyone has) by cutting and pasting measures repeatedly, resulting in mind-numbing banality. Simple is beautiful, but it’s so easy to slide into simplicity. Bands like Massive Attack and Depeche Mode realized that you can easily lay down 50 tracks of sonic wall but when the user slips on the headphones they only hear one sound. That one sound is essential.

A couple other recent selections that get the minimalist thing pretty well are Bassnectar’s CozzaFrenzy, GetDarker presents “This is Dubstep” and The Crystal Method’s Legion of Boom.

This post brought to you by Dragon Naturally Speaking on the iPhone – sure beats typing on that stupid “auto-correcting” (sic) thing!

Owl City live at the DAR Convention Hall, Washington, DC

Wren and I have been looking forward to this for months, and last Thursday it happened. It was absolutely perfect. We were far up and above the left side of the stage for the first half, then moved down to a few rows back from the stage on the right. Sounded great, the stage lights were great, and Adam kept us jumping and singing and shouting all night, playing keyboard solos, flinging a guitar around, and generally dancing about. Woohoo! Wrenny and I had to wait outside for Ma and Rei to get out of the emergency room (!) after, and we spent the time outside the tour bus, waiting to spot Adam, but we were denied a third sighting. :>

9.5 Julian Casablancas – Phrazes for the Young

I’ve always enjoyed bands that obviously put their time in composing their music.   It’s especially fun when the sound can be converted to something that sounds more live.  Bands like The Strokes and Collective Soul and The The sound like guitar bands,  but they are so tight and orchestrated that you know there’s more going on below the surface.  These guys can handle sequencers as well as Mark Mothersbaugh.

Here, Julian skips the conversion of his compositions to shiny homogenized guitar strumming, and this time it’s all the better for it.  All kinds of sonic textures to enjoy.