Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Wild (2014)


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day (May You Stay Forever Young)


Written as a lullaby for his eldest son Jesse, born in 1966, Dylan's song relates a father's hopes that his child will remain strong and happy. It opens with the lines, "May God bless and keep you always / May your wishes all come true", echoing the Old Testament's Book of Numbers, which has lines that begin: "May the Lord bless you and guard you / May the Lord make His face shed light upon you." Not wishing to sound "too sentimental", Dylan included two versions of the song on the Planet Waves album, one a lullaby and the other more rock oriented.

In notes on "Forever Young" written for the 2007 album Dylan, Bill Flanagan writes that Dylan and the Band "got together and quickly knocked off an album, Planet Waves, that featured two versions of a blessing from a parent to a child. In the years he was away from stage Dylan had become a father. He had that in common with a good chunk of the audience. The song reflected it. Memorably recited on American TV by Howard Cosell when Muhammad Ali won the heavyweight crown for the third time."

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Alphabetical Assassins of Hip-Hop

"Alphabet Aerobics"
Producer: Cut Chemist
A2G (1999)

"Alphabet Soup"
Masta Ace
Producer: Domingo
Disposable Arts (2001)

"Alphabetical Slaughter"
Producer: DJ Kay Slay
Streetsweeper, Vol. 2: The Pain from the Game Mixtape (2004)

"Alphabet Assassin"
Lowkey & Faith SFX
Producer: Nutty P
Dear Listener (2008)

"Alphabetical Slaughter Part II / Z to A"
Producer: StreetRunner, DJ Kay Slay
The Nacirema Dream (2013)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Tokyo Police Club

The TOKYO POLICE CLUB with special guests WE WERE PROMISED JETPACKS performance originally scheduled for June 7, 2016, at the Gothic Theatre has been moved to the Bluebird Theater.

Nothing gold can stay, but radness is forever.

So say Tokyo Police Club, who are set to release their first batch of new music since the enterprising and vaulting 2014 LP Forcefield. Now ten years on from their 2006 debut EP, the Toronto four-piece are looking back to the energy and spirit of that formative era while keeping an eye on the future. And with the two-part and self-released Melon Collie and the Infinite Radness EP's being let loose on both ends of 2016, lead singer/bass player and principal songwriter Dave Monks, drummer Greg Alsop, keyboardist/guitarist Graham Wright, and guitarist Josh Hook have harnessed that primal and instinctual joy to make Tokyo Police Club's tightest, brightest, and certainly raddest batch of songs to date.

When you start a band as a group of teenage best friends in your small Canadian hometown, it's hard to imagine that a decade later you will not only still be together and making music but also touring the world, playing shows to legions of fans, and putting out a steady stream of acclaimed albums. As the years have worn on, Tokyo Police Club continue to defy the odds, having pushed themselves and their art to the limit. Having completed their grandest statement in the form of their fourth and most time-intensive album to date, the boys took a little time away from each other. Monks moved to New York City and put out a solo record, while Alsop returned west to Los Angeles, Wright bunkered down in Toronto to work on a film, and Hook settled in rural Ontario on a patch of land. Enjoying their time apart to recover, experiment, explore, and evolve as people and not just as a band, the foursome reunited for the lengthy Forcefield tour, and during a brief break in the cycle at the end of 2014 they took what Monks refers to as a "New York vacation" together to record two new songs he had written earlier in the year.

"We knew we didn't want to work like we did on Forcefield, which was two-and-a-half years solidly writing and rehearsing while holed up in a studio in Toronto," says Alsop. "And we all live in different places now, so that week in New York was our first attempt at experimenting with what happens if we all fly in to be in the same place and decide to work on music together." Says Monks, it was "more just capturing the moment and being ourselves. It was this spontaneous feeling of, 'These songs are rad, let's put them out.'"

That pair of songs, "Ocean" and "Please Don't Let Me Down," recaptured the urgency and attitude of their earliest material, all the way back to the A Lesson In Crime EP and 2008's full-length debut Elephant Shell. It inspired the band to find more downtime breaks during which to reconvene and record in brief bursts of creativity and cohesion, and they were super-charged by the efforts. "There was something about the energy when we knew we only had two or three days together at most," says Alsop, "and we had to get a couple songs done each time, just making the most of it, and trusting our gut and each other. What we were creating was exciting us in the moment."

During one such break in the winter, the band recorded "PCH" with their old engineer Jon Drew, one of their earliest collaborators, in Canada. The song had been written by Monks months earlier in Los Angeles. "I was at this studio that ran on solar power in the middle of a canyon in Malibu," says Monks. "There was no one around, and I was singing over a drum beat and looking out at this canyon and the water, and these really big melodies came out. And that's the feeling of 'PCH,' like you're singing it into a mountain range. It's got an LA vibe. It was so funny to be recording that song later on in the winter with Jon." They would eventually work on sessions with two more former crew members, Rob Schnapf and Doug Boehm, and the existing rapport made the band feel even more at home. "It was great going back to trusted sources who knew who we were and how we work," says Alsop.

That shorthand language and inherent trust only amplified the static energy and the frequency of creative electricity sought by all bands when recording music. But perhaps most of all, it was simply the reality and pace of adult life that most informed and inspired these Tokyo sessions, in a world where their best friends and bandmates weren't necessarily down the hall nor in the bunk next door

"We're sort of in a new spot and we're redefining how we work creatively and as a band," says Monks. "And with this EP we're exploring that, and what it's like to be different places and to work together as adults and with a time limit, and how that makes things more exciting, and lighter, or more stressful. It brought a new energy and there was a creative time limit to it; we're more firing it off and trying to capture lightning in a bottle. The band has stayed so flexible and elastic that it keeps going; it's evolved. But if people hear 'Not My Girl' and feel like they were meeting an old friend again-like it was taking them back a decade-that would make me happy."

If Tokyo Police Club's past is represented here, then it must be said that their present and future selves are as well. In these songs is the familiar, upbeat charm and wry, earnest likeability that endeared them to fans a decade ago, but with a tighter sense of rhythm, changes, and tempo, as well as an updated subject matter. The bookends of "Not My Girl" and "Please Don't Let Me Down" usher the feverish TPC sound in and out, leaving the listener breathless and, naturally, wanting more. Ever present is the band's good-natured sense of humor, perhaps nowhere more clearly than in the EP's title itself. But it's more than just a pun or an overt nod to a formative album; it's a reminder that Tokyo Police Club's moment-their vitality, their radness-extends far beyond the now.

So dawn goes down to day; long live the radness.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Muhammad Ali (1942-2016)

"Spirituality is recognizing the divine light that is within us all.
It doesn't belong to any particular religion; it belongs to everyone."
The 74-year-old boxer and civil rights champion died Friday from respiratory complications after a three-decade battle with Parkinson's disease.

After he missed 3 1/2 years of his prime, his sentence for opposing the Vietnam War and refusing to sign up for battle, Ali returned to the ring and jump-started a golden age for boxing. By this point, his reputation and persona went full-blown international, and the depth his popularity was demonstrated when he and George Foreman fought in Zaire in 1974. The heavyweight championship was a first for Africa, and the developing country and continent were abuzz. The attendance was 60,000, a staggering number considering it was held at 4 a.m. local time to appease American TV.

Ali was a uniter, a man of peace. And he was also a man of the people. He could walk the streets of South Central LA and the shops in Beverley Hills the same day. He shook hands with poor Latinos and rubbed shoulders with the well-heeled from Wall Street. He embraced the media and never had a PR person standing by like a sentry and shouting, "last question." He was the first to be surrounded by an entourage but never used it to shield him from the public. The superstar athletes today either cannot match that or will not, and their fame is only a fraction of Ali's. There are a billion stories circulating today about Ali because he met a billion people. The common man could touch him.

Daily Beast:
After boxing legend, cultural icon, and civil-rights activist Muhammad Ali passed away late Friday evening at the age of 74, the rest of the boxing world collectively mourned. In a statement, George Foreman, Ali's opponent in the famed "Rumble in the Jungle" match, described the late boxer as "one of the greatest human beings I have ever met." He said: "No doubt he was one of the best people to have lived in this day and age. To put him as a boxer is an injustice." Alongside a picture of his younger self seated with Ali, Mike Tyson tweeted: "God came for his champion. So long great one." Oscar de la Hoya, a fellow ex-world champion, remembered Ali as "a legend who transcended sport and was a true champion for all." "He stood for something that he really believed in," five-time champion Evander Holyfield said. Famed fight promoter Don King lamented, "It's a sad day for life, man." Manny Pacquiao tweeted a dramatic photo of Ali, with the caption: "We lost a giant today. You will always be [greatest of all-time]." Frank Bruno called Ali a "mentor, friend and earthly god of humanity", while Lennox Lewis said: "A giant among men, Ali displayed a greatness in talent, courage & conviction, that most of us will EVER be able to truly comprehend." Floyd Mayweather Jr. told Fox News there will never be another Muhammad Ali: "The black community all around the world, black people all around the world, needed him. He was the voice for us. He's the voice for me to be where I'm at today."

NBC News:
The New York Times described Ali as a "Titan of Boxing and the 20th Century."

President Barack Obama held the champion prizefighter up as a man of integrity and said in his private study he keeps a pair of Ali's gloves on display just under an iconic photograph of when he beat Sonny Liston in 1965.

"Muhammad Ali was The Greatest. Period," Obama said in a statement Saturday. "If you just asked him, he'd tell you. He'd tell you he was the double greatest; that he'd 'handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder into jail.' But what made The Champ the greatest — what truly separated him from everyone else — is that everyone else would tell you pretty much the same thing," the president added.

A photo posted by Questlove Gomez (@questlove) on

A photo posted by Robert Griffin III (@rgiii) on

A photo posted by signalnoise (@signalnoise) on

More information:
» Newsweek: "Key Fights in Muhammad Ali's Legendary Career"
» NPR: "Muhammad Ali, The Boxing Poet Who Inspired Liquid Prose"
» Chicago Tribune: "Muhammad Ali's exile years in Chicago: 'Learning about life'"
» Washington Post: "President Obama remembers Muhammad Ali as a man who ‘shook up the world’"
» Slate: "The Time Muhammad Ali Stopped a Man From Leaping to His Death"
» Cleveland.com: "Remembering Cleveland's Muhammad Ali Summit, 45 years later"