Wassup Rockers


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the hip-hop category.

Favorite Songs of 2009.

Or, the year I spent too much time watching MTV Tres.  Way to kiss off the decade, right?  Heh…

1) Lady Gaga – Paparazzi

2) Phoenix – 1901

3) Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind

4) Annie – Songs Remind Me of You

5) Bomba Estéreo – Fuego

Their recorded stuff doesn’t compare to the live shit, so initially I was disappointed by Blow Up.  But after a few spins I couldn’t stop listening… They did a MBE set just a while back, you can listen/watch here. I didn’t know how they would handle the interview portion because it’s very clear that they don’t know English well, but Simón handled it deftly.

6) Sean Kingston – Fire Burning

7) Bat For Lashes – Daniel

8) Alexis & Fido – Ojos que no ven

9) Daddy Yankee ft. Jowell & Randy – ¿Qué tengo que hacer? (Remix)

Which I’ve already mentioned like a million times, IDGAF!

10) Aventura – Su veneno

11) Gepe – Las piedras

Unfortunately, I find this Gepe video incredibly goofy. The song is really good though. His label, Quemasucabeza, has the Las piedras EP for free here, if you wanna hear a more polished version.

Some others, in no order:

Plastilina MoshPervert Pop Song
Gustavo CeratiDéjà vu
The GossipHeavy Cross
ShakiraLo hecho está hecho
Los Amigos InvisiblesMentiras


Calle 13, Bomba Estéreo + Eric Bobo @ Central Park SummerStage.

Yesterday I went to SummerStage to see Calle 13. It wasn’t as crazy as I expected in terms of the crowd. Maybe it’s because they played for free just a few years ago, but I feel like it took a while for the place to be packed with people. When I got there the doors weren’t even open, and I didn’t want to bum around for two hours in the sun, so I actually left the park and cooled off in a bookstore for a while.

When I returned, although the venue wasn’t packed, it was crowded enough that I didn’t want to push my way to the front. I decided to watch just a couple of yards away from the bleacher seats, right behind a barricade. This means I really couldn’t see anyone on stage, really.

The first act was Eric Bobo, son of Willie Bobo. He played percussion along with a DJ. It was okay. The DJ played pretty much all the famous old school breakbeats ever, except no one declared that there was no problem they couldn’t fix since they could do it in the mix. Eric Bobo performed well, but I thought the set was better suited for a club.

Bomba Estéreo fared better than Bobo, for a number of reasons. This is a band, so that there was more happening on stage. The music itself was better, too, more hooky, with more momentum, plus the arrangements were a lot more dynamic. Eric Bobo was limited to his percussion, and although he pulled out all his tricks, at the end of the day, I feel that it didn’t compare.

Bomba Estéreo played a similar set to the one at the Bowery, full of energy and great stage presence. They also go to try some more songs, since the Bowery set was pretty short. I wasn’t sure how well they’d sound in an outside, daytime show, but they were excellent again. I didn’t know how well the rest of the audience would respond, since I myself had no clue who they were just five days ago and I imagined most of the crowd was the same. But people really took to them. The band got the crowd’s attention and the crowd obliged them with plenty of attention, and I found that really impressive. Hope they make it big, whatever “big” means nowadays.

When Calle 13 took the stage, the audience was plenty hyped up. It was pretty overwhelming. I just don’t have enough people to talk to about this kind of music. Not in real life, anyway. It gets lonely. So it was incredible to see thousands of people roaring approvingly at the band. I was feeling the triskaidekaphilia, y’all, haha.

That’s what was really great, too, there was a huge band. Rhythm section, horns, the works. It made me realize how well the music lends itself to a live setting. The sounds just took over and my body could only respond by dancing. It was amazing.

Residente was pretty awesome, really funny and really appreciative of the audience, though with mad attitude, too. That’s one thing I gotta give him, I think his rhymes are kinda lame sometimes, but he’s a great performer. I couldn’t really see Visitante though at one point I saw him playing the accordion and I was just filled with glee. I’m sure René contributes, but I still consider the music to be Eduardo’s domain, and I’m constantly amazed by some of the sounds with which he comes up. (Sorry for switching in their real names; for some reason I don’t think of them by their stage names!)

Not gonna lie, one of the biggest thrills for me was hearing their little sister Ileana singing live, even if she looked like a pulguita from where I was standing. I just think she’s incredibly talented. Are you pumped for her solo stuff? Cos I am. I mean, I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that “Hormiga Brava” is my favorite Calle 13 song, but I didn’t expect them to play it because it was never a single or anything. They went through all their hits and I loved every moment. But then they DID play “Hormiga Brava” and I almost fainted from how beautiful it was. I felt like they were playing it just for me, you know? Sigh.

They finished the set with “Atrévete-te-te” and everyone went batshit crazy and the band left so everyone was clamoring “¡Otra! ¡Otra!” and obviously we were all being silly because the concert was planned so that there would be enough time for an encore but we all got into shouting for them to come back anyway and when they did we was all cheering so loud and then, and then, and then! I could kinda see them all lining up in a row together, and “Thriller” started playing and they started doing the zombie dance and everyone was like, “AHHH!!!!!” cos it was awesomesauce. They did play an encore (“Electro movimiento,” yeah!) but that MJ mini-tribute pretty much took the cake.

I think I can die a little bit happier now.


Aubele, Niña Dioz, Bomba Estéreo, RH+ y la Lafourcade @ Bowery Ballroom, 7/9.

Qué onda, I have to keep this short. Long story, but obviously don’t have a chance to do my usual let’s-make-the-post-as-long-as-possible thing.

Okay, last night I went to the Bowery for the LAMC showcase, mostly to see the most lovely Natalia Lafourcade. I actually sat at a table in the upstairs section for a bit, but I learned my lesson: the best way to go is to be out on the floor. I had a pretty sweet time. There were a lot of acts so here are a few words about each of them.

First off was Federico Aubele, hailing from Argentina, and I was surprised because I thought he had a bigger following. Unlike all the other artists (aside from Natalia) he was the only one with whom I was familiar. I hadn’t been impressed by the stuff I’d heard before, but I was pleasantly surprised by his brief set. I’m definitely going to revisit his recorded stuff.

Second was Monterrey’s Niña Dioz, and I swear to god, I was tickled by her presence. I just didn’t expect her and her sound… she mostly reminded me of Lady Sovereign, mostly cos she was tiny, too. Wow, I was just shocked that she was rapping for real, but I still couldn’t help that just last year (it was just last year, right??) La Mala Rodríguez was kicking LAMC ass. Niña Dioz was an oddity, but after two songs I got over it.

Next was Bomba Estéreo, from Colombia. By this point I saw the floor filling up and I decided to join in because I wanted to be right up front for Natalia. Bomba Estéreo were EXCELLENT. I knew nothing about them but the lead singer girl just comes out and she’s like, “¡¡CUUUUUMBIAAAAA!!” And you can imagine what came next. Or not! She wasn’t joking about their sound as “psychedelic cumbia.” The only thing that sucked is that they got too into their music, so that they would just draw out the psychedelic sounds to the point that it tested my patience and also felt kinda masturbatory in their part. Obviously it would have been fine if they’d been headlining but c’mon, son! If their music hadn’t rocked and if they hadn’t had such a punkass attitude I would have jumped on stage and punched them into silence.

I’m pretty sure Hector Buitrago was there!!! I love him. It’s too bad I missed him tonight at Celebrate Brooklyn. I saw him pop up at the venue when Bomba Estéreo came on.

After that was Chile’s RH+, who were okay. That’s all. Of all the musicians, I think they were the oldest, either late 20s or early 30s. (At least that was my perception.) I don’t know, man. I just couldn’t believe they came all the way from Chile when there are plenty of bands with their sound right here in the city. Underwhelming, though confident and well-rehearsed.

AND THEN: Natalia. And two band members, one who was on synth and xylophone and backup vocals, and also a drummer. Natalia was so beautiful and er, Lilliputian. Como una muñeca de porcelana, pero no como las extrañas que me dan heebie-jeebies. She was so full of joy, every statement she made was pretty much followed with a giggle. Her thank yous were so sincere and she genuinely seemed to want everyone to just love her new material.

I think bands like Grizzly Bear would just seethe with jealousy if they heard her music. They would go into a small room and weep to themselves, “Why didn’t I think of that melody first??” Her music is a refreshing pop delight, and I think I left the venue with cavities she was so damn sweet. I can’t fucking wait to hear the new album and I hope she comes back to the city real soon. The music was so uplifting.

I just want to say that her bandmates were right on. It wasn’t just that they were competent and focused in doing a good job, or that they were happy to be there. It was more like, they were so ecstatic to be with Natalia and when she played a couple of songs alone, they would bop their heads and mouth along to the lyrics–they clearly LOVE the new songs. It was so great. Especially the drummer, I loved him so much! He was this flaco who looked like a mouse and you could tell that he’s one of those dudes who drums because he can’t mofuckin’ sit still. Even during the songs when he wasn’t drumming his ass off, he was just swaying along happily.

After their set was one more artist, León Polar. Unfortunately, it was already past 1 am by the time Natalia finished, so I couldn’t stay. (In fact, I got home at around 2:40.) As Natalia and her buds cleared their way, I waved to her drummer “¡OYE!” and when he noticed me I asked, “¿Me puedes dar el setlist?” He was kind enough to do so, and even though I said gracias, I kinda didn’t get to say it loudly enough, and there were other concertgoers behind me clamoring for a setlist, too, so he was distracted and didn’t hear me. I wish I’d had a chance to ask him his name, so I could thank him appropriately. Oh wells.

I don’t have a scanner or whatever unfortch, but here is what the setlist says:

Bowery Ballroom
Natalia L

Cursis Melodías
Ella es Bonita
No Viniste
Hu Hu Hu
Azul
-o-
Casa

I will say, however, I don’t think they followed the order quite as it was. They definitely did NOT play “Casa,” probably because they were running out of time and they were too nice to be like, “I don’t care, I’ma do what I want!” Ah well. La próxima vez, right?

BTW! I thought I saw Jon Pareles at the show, but it was from a distance so I wasn’t sure. Turns out I was right! Do I get points for being geeky enough to recognize him? No? Boo.

Jesus, my post still turned out in epic length. I’m so sorry.


I’m Not Ready to Give Up.

Um, it’s Independence Day and I’m home. My parents are already asleep. They both worked today. I have my window open and I can hear people in a nearby house partying. I’m six floors up, but it’s impressive how well I can hear them. If I looked out I could probably see them, even. Well, in recent days I’ve been bumming around reading blogs and there’s been a lot of (fabricated) buzz about how reggaetón is dead. I don’t know about that. The people partying were just blasting “Lo que pasó pasó,” and I found myself singing along to it–and hilariously enough, I could hear people trying to shout along to Daddy Yankee. I could even hear them tripping along to the lyrics, since Daddy Yankee has that rat-tat-tat delivery style. Sure, it’s an older song, but the enthusiasm for the track is still there.

Ooh, they’re listening to a remix of “Qué tengo que hacer” now.

Anyway, I wouldn’t be so worried about reggaetón being dead. I don’t get where this is coming from, or why we’re worrying so much about it agora. It’s true that the sound of reggaetón has changed, it’s even more club ready, yeah? More synth-happy, less reliant on the dembow beat, and so on. But it’s like, don’t you want your favorite genres to grow and develop? I sure as hell don’t want my favorite musicians to get lazy and for their music to become stagnant. Like, I can’t wait to see 10 years from now how much the genre has changed. This is a great time for reggaetón: the novelty is over for the masses, but that is just invitation for innovation, don’t you think?

I think the weird thing, too, is that calling a music genre “dead” just invites nostalgia. See, the problem with nostalgia is that a set of people will grab onto this genre and proclaim that it can only sound “pure” if musicians stick to a set of rules. If people make reggaetón-by-the-numbers (FruityLoops, anyone?), it barely leaves room for creativity. And maybe less brave musicians will settle for this, probably at the suggestion of their label peeps or whatever, but you know that only the ones who expand on the sound will really shine.

Anyway, I guess this is my quite unfortunate semi-response to the following folks: W&W, Unfashionably Late, Marisol LeBrón, Raquel Rivera, and Racialicious. Clearly these posts dwell on all sorts of aspects in regard to the demise of reggaetón, and I haven’t really responded adequately to any of them in any sort of timely manner (then again, no one asked me to). But I do recommend that y’all read these posts if you haven’t already. Really thought-provoking, and I feel like they bring up questions relevant to all genres of popular music, not just reggaetón.

Aw, the music is being drowned out by all the (illegal) firecrackers. Okay, off to my continued non-celebration of my nation. Hope y’all have a good weekend.


Let’s Leave the Past Behind.

Since we got cable in our TV my dad has flip-flopped several times on which programming package we want, though I think we’ve finally settled on a Spanish-language + fútbol dealio. This means that I got MTV, MTV2 AND VH1 taken away, but now I have MTVTres and mun2, which are pretty much identical in their content. I’m pretty ecstatic about it. I didn’t realize how much English-language material was included in these channels, but I like that I can get both the “best” of US American pop while getting the “best” of Spanish-language pop.

Anyway, back in those final days of having MTV (so long ago!) the video I used to wait for was Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face,” but these days I wait around a lot more for Daddy Yankee’s “¿Qué tengo que hacer?” The remix for the song with Jowell & Randy has been making the rounds, and the results are pretty spectacular.

I have a love/hate thing for Daddy Yankee, but right now it’s more on the love side of the spectrum. I like that his best wasn’t “Gasolina,” and that he’s kept things interesting.

Daddy Yankee’s not the only one to keep releasing quality shit. Don Omar has been a lot more ambitious in his latest incarnation as some sort of futuristic electro-freak, which kinda makes me wanna LOL but mostly makes me want to track him down so I can shake hands with him for having the balls to change his image so drastically. But the more things change, the more they remain the same! What he’s doing now really suits his over-the-top, melodramatic persona. His current single is called “Virtual Diva,” and has an awesome hook. “¡Chequea como se menea!” he exclaims in his usual booming voice. I’d definitely put it in the running for Song of the Summer. You can catch the ridiculous video ici.

My favorite part is at the end, when he leaves some final remarks:

¡Sencillo! Estamos trabajando encima de sus expectativas… de eso se trata. Algunos años luz antes que ustedes. Siempre voy a vivir ahí–no miren pa’ mi galaxia.

Loose translation: “It’s simple! We’re working beyond your expectations… that’s what it’s all about. Some light years ahead of you. I’ll always live there–don’t check out my galaxy.” Haha. Oh my god, Don Omar is da bomb.


Things That Are Not Okay.

There are countless things that are NOT okay in this world, too many to catalog all of them on this blog, so here is the one thing that is ticking me off at the very moment.

This video is NOT okay…

(1) … because of the usage of the “N” word.
(2) … because of the sexism.
(3) … because of that embarrassingly wack track.

And maybe he’ll counter and say, “Isn’t this what American hip-hop is all about? ‘Nigga this nigga that and how about them bitches and hos’?” I can’t explain how infuriating I find this video to be. To me, this video makes it clear that this rapper doesn’t give a shit about hip-hop, he’s only looking at the surface, at what’s mainstream and just imitating it. Honestly, the least he could do is show some love and respect to the music, but it’s just nonsense bullshit that was probably slapped together in a matter of 20 minutes. The lyrics are offensive AND lazy as hell.

Actually, I hate that everything this rapper learned came from actual mainstream hip-hop music videos what with the swagger and whatever. Whoever fucking says that the media doesn’t have an effect in our world view, well there you go. Think about all the money that’s thrown at mainstream hip-hoppers, courtesy of the major labels who dictate how these hip-hoppers should sound, because they got so much riding on the success of these “musicians” and since they think “Well geez, sex and aggression and so on sells so let’s just make every track ooze with that bullshit,” the result is that people from the outside see videos full of yo no sé qué, video hos y lo que sea, and they think it’s TOTALLY okay to emulate what they see. In fact, they think it’s fucking COOL to emulate, no innovation involved, no respect paid to the history of this music. Here is a Korean rapper thinking it’s okay to just throw around the “N” word, and the only reason he’s doing it is because he thinks he’s tough shit, no consideration to what he’s really saying, no consideration to who’s going to hear it, no consideration no consideration no consideration.

If you’ll excuse me, I need to go and listen to some Cool Calm Pete and calm the fuck down. At least Pete makes me feel proud to be a Korean. Not to mention he’s a total QT3.14.

Thanks to BicoastalBitchin’ for bringing this video to my attention.


NIMBY.

I forgot to mention that recently I went to see Danny Hoch‘s new play, Taking Over. Danny basically tackles the issue of gentrification in New York by portraying a series of diverse characters. I think the show is worth seeing, but it didn’t live up to my expectations. Before I went to see the play, I read all these articles about it, all of which followed the angle of “Danny Hoch makes upper-class New Yorkers uncomfortable for ruining NYC.” So I got like, really really excited about it, right? Cos I thought he was just gonna tear the audience a new one, you know? I thought he was gonna be really… mean. One of his characters shout out to the audience, at one point, “GET THE FUCK OUT!” which is something that I’ve literally said to at least one person I know.

Needless to say, he wasn’t as vicious as I expected. He was really good at humanizing all the characters, so that even the annoying gentrifiers had some good points about the development of the neighborhood. I thought that, in terms of meanness, this was gonna be like a walkin’, talkin’ version of “We Use Words like Mackadocious,” which is one of the most unforgiving essays I’ve ever read in my life. Though I should clarify that “Mackadocious” is not about gentrification, it’s about… wiggers. And it’s hilarious. You can learn a bit more about it here, if you’re not familiar with it already. Just track down Bomb the Suburbs, I love it that book to pieces.

But back to Taking Over. Even though it didn’t satisfy my schadenfreude craving (I can’t believe I know how to spell that word correctly) by having Danny yell at the rest of the audience in a variety of accents, I did enjoy the play a lot. Oddly enough, my favorite character was the former NYU student selling her DIY wares on the street. The manner of speech was so exaggerated, like every statement was drawn out and said in the sweetest way. It was overdone and yet, it felt just right. It was spooky because I could actually think of at least one girl of whom I was reminded as I watched this segment of the play. And although the girl Danny portrays is supposed to be one of the ~*EVIL GENTRIFIERS*~, she was so sincere you couldn’t hate on her for her ignorance. At least, you couldn’t hate on her too much.

The show ends on December 14, so if you have even an inkling to see the play, you totally should! If anything, it will send your mind reeling on the issue of urban development and class differences.

Also, who the fuck knew that Danny could speak Spanish like a fucking native! Well, I dunno if a real Dominican would be like, “Yeah, he sounds bona fide,” but to me it sounded spotless. God damn!

EDIT: Just got an email telling me the play has been extended to December 21.


Don’t Shush Me.

Déjenme ver:

First, if you’re in NYC this month, check out I Kiffe NY, a cultural festival organized by the French Institute Alliance Française which will take place starting tomorrow, October 6 until October 28. Basically, it focuses on urban culture in France, so they’re highlighting awesome shit like music, film, visual art, and dance performances, along with the requisite scholarly panels for those of you (like me!) who like that shit. A lot of the panels are free! Just make sure to check if they’re in French or English. The dance performances seem really fun, but they’re a bit more expensive, $25. It’s not Broadway prices, but still… you could buy a lot of falafels with $25. They’re organizing a CMJ showcase, too!

Second, I was just on Racialicious and found this post from a week or two ago on an ad that Daddy Yankee did to encourage voting… o algo así. The problem is that the slogan is, to say the least, confusing. “Vota o quédate callado.” I mean, that doesn’t sound like my vote is important or necessary or crucial in influencing anything. Well, the Racialicious folk and Raquel Rivera sum up the ridiculousness of this slogan way better than I could, definitely check out what they have to say.

So let’s talk about the song this guy SieteNueve giving Daddy Yankee shit for his politics. The Racialicious contributor says SieteNueve is a reggaetonero, but from the sound of the song… sooooo not. Which, to me, makes the message of this video even louder. No es solo una batalla entre demócrata contra republicano o lo que sea, también es como una batalla entre rap y reggaetón. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it? Either way, I’m digging the song a lot!

The reason I’m mentioning this even though it was posted a while back is that I haven’t heard much hollering about it. And, well, I love me some drama so I thought I would add fuel to the fire. Besides, I don’t think it’s a song that should be… er, shushed and forgotten.

Another thing: it may be because I’m listening to lightweight shit like “Especially For You” all the time (shut up shut up it’s an awesome song), but this dis track is like, the meanest shit I’ve heard in a while. It might be even meaner than Chandra’s “Kate.”

Haha, no no no. Chandra’s “Kate” takes the cake on mean.


Strike a Pose.

Oh word?  I was chillin’ at Racialicious and the video above was posted on there.  I just don’t expect this sort of stuff posted on Racialicious.  Usually I go to the site when I wanna feel enraged about all the injustices of the world.  (LOL, just playin’. )

The video’s so-so, which is lamentable porque ni es la primera versión del video.  If you’re gonna redo a video, it’s gotta be sooooo much more fly than it used to be.  (Oof, if only Robyn would read that previous sentence and take it to heart.)  Yo digo demasiado Daddy Yankee, not enough Jabbawockeez!  Haha.  I’m really glad that, at least, the group is getting a lot of work.

Al menos la canción está buena.  That’s the reason I’m reposting the video, even though I’m sure everyone has heard the track already.  I first heard it on this post on W&W.  It’s a really interesting post, worth checking out.

But back to the Racialicious post.  What a tease!  The post said they’d be doing another post in the future about hip-hop and reggaetón.  Can’t wait to hear what they have to say, mostly because the critiques I tend to hear or read about reggaetón are usually by music writers.  It should be cool to hear the Racialicious crew–which is mostly female!–speak up on this genre of music.  Even if their post sucks, I hope there will be a lot of juicy comments that will make me think.

Damn, I can’t believe this song was released last year, I wish I could put it in my 2008 singles list.


We Now Return To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming.

Get ready for a longass post. I know that in the blogosphere, timeliness is next to godliness, but y’all gotta understand my modem died in the ass on the 23rd and it took me a while to get back on track. Believe you me, I was überpissed that my modem died only after two months.

But part of me is really glad, because on the 23rd I went to a free panel for the NYILFF on this movie that, until the day of the panel, was titled Humboldt Park. Now it’s called… something really generic and forgettable with the word “holidays” in the title. I really enjoyed myself at the panel, mind you; the cast members present were Freddy Rodríguez, Luis Guzmán (!!), Melonie Diaz and Vanessa Ferlito. They were all really nice, and the cool thing about the footage was that they really did seem like this big, fun family which warmed my crooked little heart. Half the panel focused on the making of the film and the other half was a Q&A that veered a lot more into Latinos & the film industry in general. But I felt funny listening to the filmmakers. I’m not trynna sound like some punkass kid who’s all “FUCK THE SYSTEM,” but I felt like they were pandering too much to what the studios want. The filmmakers seemed really eager to please a wide audience (por ejemplo, the title change was, apparently, because Humboldt Park “wasn’t testing well”) and although that’s a noble pursuit, you can’t be all things to all people, so I wasn’t sure how to receive this information. More than anything, I ended up feeling worried.

The whole conversation was kinda getting me down, PERO. Then they talked about an upcoming project that I pray will not end up in some sort of development hell. The words “Puerto Rican City of God” actually escaped their lips a number of times. Holy shit. It’s gonna be based on that Tego song, “Julito Maraña.” They said the script was a beautiful mess of 160 mofuckin’ pages. That’s a shitload of pages, y’all. It’s actually gonna be filmed in the Puerto Rican ghetto, too. I don’t know where this area is but I inferred that it’s an area headed by a drug lord, and he actually gave his blessing for this movie to be filmed. They haven’t started filming though, they’re probably still working out all the pre-production shit.

I know we should be moving away from the sort of movie that makes it seem like Latin America is nothing but a destitute shithole filled with violence and pain and corruption, but I dunno… if it’s done well (I fucking hope it’s done well) and there’s true artistry involved, I think this sort of story is worth being seen.

On the 24, I went to the Public Theater to see a new play called Tío Pepe, which was part of the Public’s Summer Play Festival. I knew it was going to be a modest affair, but I had no idea that all the tickets for the play’s week-long run were already sold out. They told me I could get on a waitlist for the matinee, and since I didn’t have other plans, I told them I was game. I was the fourth person on the list and some of the people were requesting multiple tickets, but I totally lucked out and got a ticket!

I’m so glad I got in, because the play totally exceeded my expectations. Just goes to show that, even though this work is by an up-and-coming playwright, Matthew Lopez, the Public definitely produces quality shit. It had a cast of five and, although I don’t claim to be an expert, they were all really wonderful except that a couple of them had really really terrible accents. I mean that it was very obvious they’d grown up here or had lived here since infancy and that they mainly spoke English. But that’s okay, generally their delivery was really good and believable and fun.

The script was pretty good, too, lots of laughs and it was really a great way to deal with issues of escapism and self-delusion, among other things. When I found out the reason for the play’s title, I was like, “Ooh, this is really juicy info.” The other thing is that it was totally sincere about its appreciation of old school musicals. The matriarch of the family, played by April Ortiz, got to sing a bit and she had a great, booming voice. I hope this play can move up to longer runs or bigger venues. It would be a pity to just let it die.

Oh my god, and the actor playing Alejandro, the son who wasted all of his potential, was sooo fiiiiine. He’s some dude named Nathaniel Mendez, and his bio was short as hell–he doesn’t even have a Law & Order credit (yet). What is this kid doing with himself? Okay, maybe it’s because he’s not a New Yorker or something? I was shocked by the short bio, to be frank, because he was so good in the play. Hope he gets more work.

That same evening I went to see Estilo Hip Hop. Last year, I went to a screening of Raquel Cepeda‘s Bling: A Planet Rock, and they showed a preview of Estilo Hip Hop. At that point the filmmakers, Vee Bravo and Loira Limbal, were still seeking financing and were working on their footage. They showed us like 15 minutes, and I’m telling you, that after seeing the final product on the 24th, only two or three of those minutes made it into the 1-hour movie. I do remember them last year expressing their ambition to do a far more extensive project with exposure to more countries, but in the final product they focused on rappers from three countries, Brasil, Chile, and Cuba.

The screening was fucking rowdy as hell. The doc was awesome, I wish it hadn’t been just an hour. The doc doesn’t just focus on hip-hop in Latin America, it also focuses on the real activism that hip-hop has inspired, which I thought was fucking rad. The music was great, too. As ex-Prisionero (and current Updater) Jorge González said in an interview about Chilean hip-hop: “Chile es un extraño caso en el que el hip hop no pasa por los Beastie Boys, sino por De La Soul.” Loosely, “Chile’s a strange case in that hip-hop is influenced not by the Beastie Boys, but by De La Soul.” Don’t worry if you missed out on Estilo Hip Hop in Nueva York, though! Vee and Loira said the movie’s gonna air on PBS in Spring 2009.

As I noted in my overly emotional way last Friday the 25, I had wack first time at the Quad, what with the screening of Stellet Licht (Luz silenciosa) fucking up and all. As luck would have it, El Guincho cancelled all his US shows (visa issues?), which meant he couldn’t do his show at the Seaport. So Friday was just filled with disappointment. The bigger slap in the face is that they were replaced by some Brooklyn indie band. C’mon, those are a dime a dozen. I mean, yeah, the band was okay, but what makes them stand out? I was pleasantly surprised, however, to hear Atlas Sound for the first time. The tourists and other passersby didn’t give a shit, but I thought the music was good. Pop-y just the way I like it, and kinda ethereal in certain parts, too. I wonder what Deerhunter sound like.

On Saturday the 26 I went to see Malta con huevo, which isn’t ~*QUALITY*~ shit, but it still made me giggle. There were like ten of us in this hugeass auditorium, which in itself was totally hilarious. I think my favorite thing about it is the tone and how it changes from the first half to the second, but I also dig the structure of the story.

This past week I wasn’t up to much. I’m still getting used to having cable for the first time since, um, 1995. And that was cable in fucking Chile, too. I’m totally fascinated in how useless it is. (We got the service so my parents could watch Korean-language channels.) We don’t get any of the expensive channels but I was still shocked that there’s really no profanity allowed on cable. I think the bestest thing about having cable is that they show Law & Order all the time, and I’m totally addicted to the entire franchise, it’s true.

I found the Criterion Collection DVD of La haine at the library (thank heavens, cos I didn’t want to spend the money on it without seeing what was in it) and I have decided that Mathieu Kassovitz is the most handsome director in France. Also, fashion aside, the themes in the movie are still remarkably relevant. It was weird hearing the director’s commentary, though, because it was done before Sarkozy was elected, and Kassovitz is very vocal about not being a fan of the dude. But I’m still glad I listened to it, because I did get a better sense of how these kids’ lives are turned upside down in a mere 24 hours. It was cool because he also mentioned that he was on Charlie Rose, so I tracked down the interview and it was great!  It was a relief to see that Kassovitz hasn’t always had a great accent in English–when I heard how well he spoke English on the DVD, I was kinda shocked and wondered if this man was perfect.  I’m glad to see that he is human after all, and that he had to learn not to sound like the stereotypical French person speaking English. You can see the interview here. I also loved hearing on the commentary that Jodie Foster sent a copy of the movie to fucking Scorsese, imagine how Vincent Cassel felt about this? He musta pissed his pants…

I also watched American Psycho and it was pretty fucked up but I couldn’t stop laughing. It’s just that when a part was funny, it was really fucking funny. Like that whole sequence with all those interchangeable yuppies comparing their business cards… it was delightful to watch. It was exciting to find out that it was directed by a woman, just because there aren’t enough female movie directors anyway. I’m glad I heard the director’s commentary for this movie, too, just because it helped me understand and interpret Patrick Bateman a little better.

I’ve been reading a bit, too, if you would call it that. I read Agota Kristof‘s The Notebook, which had its share of disturbing moments, but the narration was incredibly and consistently well-done and the story culminated to a satisfyingly fucked up ending. In addition, I finished The Left Bank Gang and The Living And The Dead by the Norwegian comic book wonderboy that is Jason. I was pretty “meh” about The Living And The Dead, but I thought The Left Bank Gang was fucking awesome. I finally read The Rabbi’s Cat, too. Damn, I totally forgot that Joann Sfar is a dude, so you can imagine my surprise when I read the “about the author” bit in the inside cover of the book. I read Sfar’s The Professor’s Daughter which I thought was too brief and not substantial enough, but thankfully The Rabbi’s Cat did not disappoint. The story was lovely, especially because I don’t know much about the Jewish culture in North Africa, and I also loved Sfar’s artwork. Can’t wait to read the second part.

I also read a couple of essays from this book called Beyond Babar, which is about children’s literature in Europe. The only reason I picked it up at the library is because one of the essays was about Christine Nöstlinger‘s Konrad, which was one of my faves as a kid. There was also one on The Neverending Story and how it’s ~*TOTALLY META*~ in a way that the films could never capture. (Would have been cool to read an in-depth discussion on Michael Ende‘s Momo, too.) It was a cool book with a lot of discussion on translation.

I’m excited about this month. I’m gonna go see Janelle Monáe and Jamie Lidell at Central Park mañana (¡¡es gratis!!), and I’m gonna spend a lot of time at MoMA watching Coen Bros movies. They’re having a marathon! Also, next week, the Fordham University Theater peeps are staging a version of The Martian Chronicles with mofucking puppets, and the tickets are pretty cheap, too, so I’m gonna try and check out the production. Good shit all around.


Julieta Venegas, Plastilina Mosh + DJ Bitman @ Central Park SummerStage.

Went to Central Park today to see DJ Bitman, Plastilina Mosh, and Julieta Venegas. I got there 30 minutes before the show started, which was stupid of me. I mean, it’s not like I wasn’t gonna get in, but I woulda had a better spot if I hadn’t had issues with the trains. Thirty minutes before a SummerStage show is cutting it too close, especially when it’s a big fucking deal like Julieta Venegas, y’know? La próxima vez tendré más cuidado.

Can I tell you something hilarious? I totally forgot that DJ Raff was gonna play with DJ Bitman. I was so stoked to see him on stage, for real. Big step for him and for Bitman, and I’m so happy for them. I don’t know Bitman’s material too well but it was cool to hear him spinnin’, especially cos they did Raff’s “Latin ’n’ Proud.”

Weird, on the hard copy version of the SummerStage program, it says, “Chilean musical veteran DJ Bitman a.k.a. Jose Antonio Bravo (of legendary group Los Tres)…” I heard a huge record scratch sound in my head, y’know? I was like, HOLD UP. Los Tres?? I don’t know what the source for this bio was (the one on the SummerStage website is accurate), but it’s like, if he had really been in Los Tres, I sure woulda heard about it. And I probably would have paid more attention to him, because Los Tres are fucking awesome. I’ve checked out some other sources and none of them even mention that.

Anyway, it was a good set, very hip-hop heavy. They had a rapper with them, he seemed really nice, had a decent flow but mostly a chill vibe. Oh, and for one of the songs, this pale little flaquita with the shortest mini-skirt evz came out and I was confused and realized that it was Francisca Valenzuela. She did her thing and immediately disappeared. I can’t even remember what she sang, I had my earplugs on (and thank the lord cos shit was mad loud) and on top of that, her fucking mic was too low. Actually, during Bitman’s set there were major mic issues. Like sometimes Bitman would wanna say some stuff to hype up the crowd or say thanks, and they wouldn’t turn on the mic for him. Goddamn. The sound people should pay closer attention!! That’s actually why I didn’t catch the rapper’s name, but I think someone said he was venezolano? Will have to verify.

Plastilina Mosh were a surprise for me. I’m not too familiar with them and I expected them to be not unlike Bitman and Raff, just a lot of electronic stuff, so imagine how I felt when a full-on band showed up on stage. Yes, there was a keyboardist and a laptop DJ, but also two fellas mainly on guitar, a main vocalist/guitarist, a bassist, and a drummer. The drummer was a woman! That was fucking exciting, you don’t see many female drummer bumming around, you know? She was really good, too. For some reason they were all dressed as if they were in different bands, which made me LOL a little. They had great energy and it was actually really cool to see that they were muy rocanrol.

They did, however, lose me around the time they did their “we don’t really know how to reggae but here’s our attempt at reggae” song, mostly cos in my less-than-knowledgeable ears, it didn’t sound very reggae and even worse, it was kind of too slow to be playing during a hot summer day. And this slump dragged on for like three songs before the good vibes picked up again. They covered “Viva Las Vegas.” They also did this really catchy song that they dedicated to all the ladies, which was really great until they started going “Me so horny/love me long time,” which are phrases that just make me really uncomfortable.

Y qué digo sobre Julieta. Let’s start with the superficial stuff: I think she’s better-looking in person, which is incredible because whenever I’ve seen pics or video footage of her, I’ve always been captivated by how pretty she is.

I know I must sound demanding but her set was a mixed bag for me. It was way too short, for one thing, and that made me wish Plastilina hadn’t gone on for so long. Second, it was very heavy on newer material, like from the past year or so. Now, I absolutely LOVED “Primer día” and “Eres para mí,” but I’m not that big a fan of Limón y sal. I mean, I sang along to “Me voy” and “Limón y sal,” but c’mon… they’re pretty weak pop songs by Julieta standards. Also, she did the rap part to “Eres para mí,” and I almost fainted from the shock, just cos I’m so used to Anita Tijoux rockin’ the mic at that point. This live version was fierce though!! The songs included “Lento,” “Algo está cambiando” and “Andar conmigo,” which I’m not complaining about. It just would have been nice to hear some of the lesser known stuff, like “A tu lado.” ALSO! She did “De mis pasos” which is such a badass song and the live arrangement for it was awesome. Seriously, one of the best pieces she’s ever written and I’m glad she still keeps it in her repertoire.

Julieta was backed by fourteen other musicians! There was a string quartet, a 4-person horn section, and some percussionists, as well as a regular band. They were supercool, plus they all seemed to be having fun which made me happy. And she played on guitar, keys, and (the crowd favorite!!) her accordion, though half the time I think she just sang.

I think the best thing about this lineup was that they’re all acts that have been around a while. They were all very polished and professional and got through the minor technical difficulties that appeared on occasion with a smile. Not only that, the fact that these acts have been doing their thing for a “long” time meant that they were all comfortable and had a great connection which really helped the vibe. I will say that this wasn’t my best experience at the LAMC show for SummerStage but I definitely enjoyed it for what it was. In part I was a bit upset with some of the crowd, but I don’t wanna get into it because I don’t have the energy to get mad. I dealt with it as I could. And believe me, when the announcer peeps came up and mentioned how many people had to be turned away, I was definitely grateful that I got a chance to see all these musicians.


Short shorts.

(1) This dude re-did “American Boy” into “Caribbean Girl” which is painfully forced and uncreative (some would say faithful). Even worse, just a few changes in the words changes the entire context of the song. It’s more about ~*O HEY MAMI CAN I MACK ON YOU*~ and less of a fun, escapist, ephemeral summer jam, which is how I viewed “American Boy”. Una tragedia, yo digo. I got the sense that this dude is totally in love with his own voice, cos he sure likes to show off how suave he sounds.


If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!!

(2) Finished reading Las películas de mi vida. The idea was interesting but Fuguet didn’t follow through as effectively as in his other stories. I have to say, however, a lot of times he catches me off guard and I’m hit with some massive emotional punch.

(3) I was having issues with Soulseek–that is, I was too impatient to wait for Soulseekers to stop banning me for not sharing–so I went out and bought the Amandititita album. It was cheaper than most CDs. Yay for being on a major, huh? The album kinda lags in the second half, but it’s still kinda fabulous.

(4) New York mag asked a number of people–including RZA, Kim Gordon, and Albert Hammond, Jr.–to contribute summer playlists, which were turned into muxtapes. One of the Pistolera members participated and filled the muxtape with some great tracks. Here is the link to the muxtape. Speaking of which, I updated my muxtape.

(5) Albums I really really wanna check out:

Julieta Venegas’s MTV Unplugged, which features fucking Marisa Monte (!!!) as well as La Mala Rodríguez. You can check out the version of “Eres para mí” with La Mala at La Onda Tropical. (BTW, congrats to La Onda on their 3rd anniversary and on their mention on Latina.) I love this new version but I absolutely love the rap in the original that Anita Tijoux does. Anita’s lines flow beautifully with the rest of the song and include my favorite lines in the entire song: “el corazón es un músculo/si no late, revienta.” Besides, if I hadn’t heard this song I never would have known about Makiza which is one of my favorite hip-hop groups. Pero bueno, nothing like reinterpretation… right?

I’m also seriously jonesing for Håkan Hellström’s latest album, För Sent för Edelweiss. I don’t know what it is about him, he’s seriously one of the funnest pop musicians I’ve heard. And I’m glad he’s not a Swede who sings in English, obviously living in an English-speaking country, most of the Swedes who come our way tend to perform their music in English, and I’m sure it’s the reason Hellström isn’t well-known here. But his music’s solid! It’s unfair that he shouldn’t get the same exposure.

(6) I’ve been trying the beta version of the new Last.fm and I think it’s swell. Accessible, easy-to-navigate, fast, and easy on the eyes. Seriously, a pretty layout is crucial. It almost makes me wanna pay for a subscription.

(7) Rewatched Dogfight for the first time in years and had a good cry.  Good movie.


The Wackness and The Dopeness.

Okay, so this review might spoil things mildly? But like the spoilers don’t matter cos if you go see it, it’s really for Josh Peck’s performance?

Just came back from a screening of The Wackness, now in limited release. I think the studio has a lot of faith in the movie cos the ads have been everywhere, even on the D train I like stared at the ad for like 50 minutes on my commute to work. I’m not really sure it’s gonna work because, for a movie that’s getting a lot of push, the movie theater wasn’t even like half full. I think that the movie’s gonna expand regardless and the studio is probably gonna hype it up as a movie with some sort of “cult” or “word-of-mouth” following. I use quotations because come on, it’s so fabricated. I do agree that the premise of the movie is a bit narrow so that it might be received as cult, but even from the film style you can tell it’s just a straight up normal movie. Wow, I seriously wish I could be more eloquent about this last point because that wasn’t clear at all. Well, we’ll see what the numbers are by the end of the holiday weekend.

So what should I talk about, the wackness or the dopeness of this movie?

The movie’s cute. If it comes out and the Virgin reduces the price to $10 I’ll probably buy it and watch it at least 5 times out of boredom. I’ll probably learn all the funnier lines by heart. But does it resonate? Not as much as I would have liked. It’s definitely a good try, but I get the feeling that even in a year, this movie will not have aged well.

There were a lot of funny moments at the strength of Josh Peck’s performance, which I seriously loved (and boy, is he adorable or what). Like there are certain moments or facial expressions when you think he’s being for real and you forget he’s some actor spitting out lines. It was awesome. He carried the movie well, I feel. As a coming of age story, it’s done pretty well–the whole deflowering sequence was actually great, and I like the emotional arc between the boy and the girl.

Ben Kingsley, as Dr. Squires, on the other hand, was a little too joke-y in his delivery. Seriously, I was so tired of him that at the climactic point of the movie, where Peck’s Luke is trynna save Dr. Squires’s ass, I was like, “Nah, Luke, just let the old fucker go, he don’t know what he’s talking about.”

That’s another weird thing, I wasn’t even sure if the climactic scene between Luke and Dr. Squires really happened, or if it was some sort of metaphorical fantasy sequence, because in the beginning part of the movie there are a couple of daydream sequences which established that we weren’t completely anchored onto reality. So this whole sequence happens where you think Dr. Squires might be in danger but he turns out okay. I was like, “Did Luke imagine this?” Okay, maybe I should stop reading and watching to much shit that blends reality with fantasy, but really, why can’t these works establish the rules of their fictional worlds a little more clearly? I like to think I’m not asking for too much.

I thought Olivia Thirlby, as Stephanie, was super pretty in the movie, and she played her part well, but her character was underwritten. I never really understood her character’s relationship with Dr. Squires. I mean, she was the stepdaughter, but I wasn’t sure whether they had a positive relationship or a negative relationship or an indifferent relationship. It was even less clear how Stephanie and her mother related to each other.

The one part in the storyline that fails, for me, is that I didn’t get a sense of Luke’s change. Stephanie pulls a Phoebe Caulfield and points to Luke that he’s gotta stop being so mopey (er, that’s the gist, anyway). At the end, I don’t know if he really changes, if that lesson really hits home. I get the feeling that Luke goes off to college and continues moping.

The Wackness is presented as a period piece, and I did appreciate the attention to details in the movie. 1994, the year in which this story is set, was before my time–I moved to the US in 1996. So it was cool to see one version of how people experienced the city at that point. There was a shot of the Twin Towers, quién sabe por qué, and also of the fountain at Washington Square… a reminder of how the landscape of this city is constantly in flux. There was plenty of bitching about Giuliani, good times. My favorite detail: the $20 bills looked different! The “datedness” attempts to take centerstage in the music choices, except that in the age when music never dies (thx, internets!), there’s no real nostalgia, just some seriously banging tracks to accompany Luke’s first kiss, etc. Of course, there were the requisite Biggie and Cobain references, including one point when Dr. Squires declares that he is “ready to die.” Speaking of the dialogue, it was hilarious because sometimes I, as well as many others out there, still use expressions that were used in the movie, like the overusage of “mad” as an adverb instead of as an adjective.

One thing that I seriously hated: this movie, like that other Olivia Thirlby-starring movie, uses the Mott the Hoople version of “All the Young Dudes.” C’mon! Now I’m never gonna be able to separate Thirlby from that song! It wasn’t used in The Wackness in the most crucial scene, but it was still a poignant one, and one of the last bits of the movie too.

By the way. I’d like to see Mary-Kate play a role where the character actually bathes. I mean, dude.

EDIT the day after, con más spoilers!:

You know, I totally take back what I said about how Josh Peck’s character hardly exhibited a change and continued moping. Thinking about it, Olivia Thirlby’s character says that shit because her life is unchangingly aight. I mean Stephanie’s family has issues too, but in the end she’s still living it up in her fucking penthouse (at least until she goes off to school) and still has friends. And where does Luke end up? His narrative arc takes a serious downturn, so all things considered, I guess he turned out aight and he’s really not as mopey as he should be. And that’s nice. So yeah, I was totally unfair.

Finally, I also want to point out there’s some condom-less action involved. I was like, “Ew you pendejos! You’re the reason 1 in 4 adult New Yorkers have herpes!!!” And let’s not even think about the HIV/AIDS rates in NYC. Harsh? Perhaps. But remember kids, love is not forever, but herpes is!

EDIT July 5: An interesting piece on the way the film treats hip-hop and race.  It does bring up some good points though honestly, I didn’t question Luke’s relation to hip-hop as much as I was disappointed by the lack of interesting POC in the movie.  See, with Luke it was more of an “I’ll take what I can get” attitude.  Honestly, if you’ve seen trash like Can’t Hardly Wait, Luke seems infinitely more complex in his relationship to hip-hop.  I got a sense that hip-hop really meant something to him, like as little as he may interact with POC, at least he has a desire to learn about this stuff and he’s not, like, running away scared every time he sees a black person or whatevs.  And he even points out that for other kids, hip-hop is some sort of trendy shit, but for him it’s ~*POR VIDA*~.

The presence of POC was another thing altogether.  Like there was Method Man playing Luke’s supplier, and then there was the dickhead popular guy played by Aaron Yoo.  That was pretty much it.  Not even a sassy-ass Boricua in sight…  I was really excited to see Aaron’s name and then in the movie he plays this really popular guy who pretty much dicks over Josh Peck’s character whenever he can, so I was like HAHA SUCKA WHO’S EMASCULATED NOW.

But ultimately Aaron and Method Man had minor roles.  They’re not defined as whole people, just as people who help define Luke’s character.  It’s cool, I guess, the story is about Luke.  The only part that really bothered me was seeing Method Man’s posse being all paranoid with big guns and shit about guarding their supplies.  Totally played for laughs.  I don’t know how historically accurate it was but it made me feel a li’l bit uncomfortable.

One last word about race: Dr. Squires gives some last words of advice to Luke that I found totally awkward and rude.  I don’t wanna give it away, but I was like, “Is he for real?!?!”


I Blame It On Avenue D.

Recently there was a post on Palms Out Sounds featuring this band called Gameboy/Gamegirl, and it included a video to a song of theirs titled “Sweaty Wet/Dirty Damp”. I understand that some might find this group appealing–if I was at a club I’d totally go crazy over this shit–but I fail to see what’s so distinctive about them. Even worse, the video was… really low-budget. And by low-budget, I just mean shitty. It’s an awful video, don’t watch it. It’s all about the music anyway, right?? This one POS commenter was brave enough to point out it’s a terrible video, and he said (I totally sic this): “everyone in it is probably an asshole and all deserve nothing short of slow painful death just like everyone else in williamsburg.” Ouch! Of course another commenter pointed out that the group is from Melbourne, but in defense of the Debbie Downer Commenter, I want to say that I couldn’t tell either. I seriously thought it was just one of those awful electropop groups right outta Brooklyn who try to be all edgy but end up looking ~*MAD AWKWARD*~. It’s like, okay, you got a derivative music style AND a really tragic fashion sense? Even the sass they display can’t save us from an awful video.

Dissing aside, in some ways this song makes me happy because it feels like the recently-defunct Avenue D left a legacy! Hahaha. I was just kidding about the title of this post; I actually dig Avenue D in all their crass glory. Though I guess thematically this song is like one step away from Fannypack‘s “Cameltoe,” right? Or am I totally off? I can’t tell cos I’m really bad with understanding lyrics.

In other, really pathetic news, my friend organized a party at some bar so for the first time ever, I entered a bar. I even ordered a drink, though I was getting it for my friend and I had no idea what to say. On top of that, I totally didn’t tip because I didn’t know it was common courtesy to tip. I still feel bad about it, the bartender must have thought I was such a twat! Sigh. That’s what happens when you don’t drink alcohol. The party was bangin’ though, my token hip-hop friend decided to do a strictly 90s DJ set and he included gems like Biggie‘s “Juicy.”

RIP!


Versus.

It’s the battle of the cheap-lookin’ music videos!

WHO WILL WIN?

WILL IT BE MATHANGI “MAYA” ARULPRAGASAM?

WILL IT BE JAVIERA “OCHENTERA” MENA?

Shit, I think they both lose! The videos do not live up to the songs!


Disappointments.

Shit, I am such a sucker. I just downloaded the new Radiohead. I just couldn’t handle everyone going crazy over it, I got curious so there you go. I downloaded the album. I didn’t pay anything, but I did give up my personal information to the official site. We’ll see if they use my name and address for malicious reasons. You never know with Radiohead, what with Thom Yorke’s “malocchio” and all.

Okay, obviously I’m just being melodramatic. Well, I’m listening to the album and I’m happy to verify that I will never be a Radiohead fan. I do like some of their songs, and I did think some of the Thom Yorke solo was cool, but they’re just NEVER gonna be THAT BAND that ROCKS MY MO’FUCKIN’ WORLD. So I guess it’s good that I paid $0 for the album. I hear they’re cooler live, but obviously I’ll never get a chance to see them live, nor do I think it would be fair of me to snatch up a ticket that could go to a real hardcore fan. Oh, well.

I got a copy of the new Buck 65, Situation. It’s disappointing. I mean I didn’t finish listening to it, but it’s like, I’ve gotten past 10 tracks out of 17 and none of them really grabbed me immediately. I would still sleep with him if I had the chance, but the most recent stuff isn’t that memorable, sry2say. I do feel like some of the tracks will grow on me, but I dunno. If you’re already a fan you might dig it, but if you’ve never listened to him, this is NOT the right introductory album. The US-released This Right Here… isn’t a good introduction either, though I think it’s meant to be. Just go listen to Talkin’ Honky Blues, just cos it’s some weird shit, even now I get the heebie-jeebies when I hear the “Riverbed” bits.

Okay, enough ranting. My friend at Sup magazine is hosting a CMJ partay, sounds really fun. Y’all should go to it and get (responsibly) drunk. BTW, that link to the Disconap blog? Holy shit, I had no idea that Kylie Minogue had a new song out. I gotta tell you, it’s no “Step Back in Time,” but whatevs, I love her to pieces. SHE’S A SURVIVOR Y’ALL.

Oh, and here’s the vid to Calle 13’s “Pal norte” which features Orishas.

Can I just say, PG-13 (the singer girl in Calle 13) is incredibly talented. I love her! She’s so young, I can totally see her going off and doing her own solo shit. In the video below she is singing in my most favorite Calle 13 song ever, “Hormiga Brava.” Though I think it’s too bad that the vocals are so high cos you can’t hear all the intricacies of the song arrangement.


Needy.

Some things I want:

(1) Last night I went on a frantic search for M.I.A.’s Kala, but now I’m not so sure I even want the entire thing. What changed my mind? Her most recent Morning Becomes Eclectic set. What was I thinking? A few weeks ago I downloaded a .zip folder with 30 second, and I deleted it because it was just aight and not as tight as I expected. The only song I really have fond memories of is “Jimmy.” Hehe. I guess I do want to listen to the album but I’m not desperate anymore. The album, I guess, will be good but not really my thing. In her MBE set she’s backed by Cherry, and I think they worked really well together. I didn’t care much for Cherry the last time Maya did a set for MBE, so that was a pleasant surprise. Not a particularly great set, but not a disaster. I don’t know, I really do like Maya’s music but she herself irks me. It’s annoying and taints my opinion of the music at times and it bothers me because I’m aware of my biases. Damn! So much inner conflict!

(2) That muthafuckin’ Junot Díaz! Goddamn! I saw someone with a copy of it today on the train, a paperback copy, which fucking baffles my mind–the book hasn’t been released yet! I want to know where this woman got the book and where can I fucking find a copy?!?! GAHHH!!!

(3) SODA STEREO EN NUEVA YORK.  I need the fucking date for when it’s happening, I need the fucking venue, I NEED A TICKET!

Here’s a couple of songs about wanting…

The Germs – Lexicon Devil

Bikini Kill – I Like Fucking


Totes Random.

Well, I just sent these songs to myself (from my desktop PC to my laptop), but I think it’s a waste to be the only one to download these ~*HOT JAMZZZ*~ so I’ll share.

(1) The first is that song that plays in a loop on the Amores Perros DVD menu that you’d think would drive you crazy but it’s so damn good and fierce and aggro and if there’s one song that truly represents the movie, it’s probably “Sí señor.” It’s not “Me van a matar,” which is more of a “Hey, Julieta Venegas sorta had cred back in the days (lol)” song; it’s not “Aviéntame,” which is more of a “Yay, Meme gets to sing” song. Oh wait, I guess “De perros amores” is the most representative song, cos it has the Control Machete grit in contrast to Ely Guerra’s vulnerability. But it’s like, these three songs I just mentioned aren’t in the movie actually. “Sí señor” is, and used in a fantastic way.

(2) The other song is just a cover of “Whip It.” En español. By Los Prisioneros. Doesn’t that sound awesome? To be honest, it’s mostly awesome because it’s faithful to the original.

Control Machete – Sí señor

Los Prisioneros – Azota


Zoé, The Pinker Tones + Cuarto Poder @ Prospect Park (Celebrate Brooklyn).

I guess I missed the announcement, if there was any, but Chetes was a no show last night. This was even more puzzling because his bio in the program says he’s moved to Brooklyn. So I really don’t know what happened.

I got there around 7:15 but the music had already started! And then I was really shocked because there were seats! Most of them were empty, but by the time Zoé came on there were probably a few thousand people. There was also a grassy area in the back where a lot of people were chillin’ and picnic-in’. I didn’t dig the set up too much, because there was a huge press pit, which stayed fairly empty because VIP people have no gratitude for having ~*SUPER SPECIAL WRISTBANDS*~.

Cuarto Poder subbed for the pop singer-songwriter, and you know what? Ultimately, this was a much better lineup. There were hundreds of empty seats at that point but Cuarto Poder, who hail from Venezuela, gave a really good show. At first I was like, “Oh yeah, I’m totally missing the Calle 13 show right now, boohoohoo,” but Cuarto Poder won me over! They were totally cute. I’m sure as hip-hoppers they’ll be a little offended by my use of the word “cute,” but I swear I mean it in the best sense possible. Their songs were fun, energetic, and they worked hard to engage the audience. They had two guys dancers, too. I’m surprised they didn’t have scantily-clad women as dancers, but shoot, I’m not complaining, the dudes were good-looking and they had obviously practiced a lot. The whole group seemed focused and professional and I appreciated that. Oh, and the DJ was really cool, he also played bass and I think guitar and he sang a bit too. Good times.

The Pinker Tones (from Spain) were okay. I was surprised because I kept thinking they were a duo, but then three of them showed up, hahaha. I was actually really tired by that point and since they’re pretty much a DJ group, they mixed their songs so that the entire set felt like one looooong song. Even worse, I have a short attention span, so having them play one looooong song was brutal to sit through. No, I wasn’t dancing. The music was fun, I guess. I just… it was goofy to just watch. They seemed to be having a lot of fun, but they were dancing and jumping around like they were still pimply 17-year-olds in their rooms dancing awkwardly to their favorite techno records. At the same time, I found them a lot more fun live than what I’d heard on record. I do think they tried. I mean, they know that being a DJ standing behind turntables isn’t the most engaging thing in the world, so they had this really elaborate video setup. There was animation, some sort of weird collage work that reminded me of the Manú Chao website (hehe), live action stuff too. They didn’t take themselves too seriously which made them much more likable. It was really funny, they were all wearing jackets and at one point they all decided to take them off, so they threw the jackets behind them, but one of the dude’s jackets hit one of the other DJs right in the face. Overall, I kinda wish I’d just seen them doing a set in some crappy club instead of seeing them in broad daylight, outside.

What can I say about Zoé? They’ve obviously been around for a very long time. The show went pretty flawlessly. My one disappointment: I really wanted to hear “No me destruyas” but I think my expectations were too high… I ended up being underwhelmed. At the same time, most songs sounded fantastic live. Never been a big fan of “Vía lactea” but it was compelling to hear last night! And I didn’t think “Paula” would translate well onto the stage but it was great! It was moving! I wished I hadn’t gone alone and I had someone to hug as I listened to the song!

The singer dude seemed a little out of it. It was as if he really wanted to be THERE but he just needed some substances first. I feel he felt better once he lit a cigarette. He sounded “japi” to be in “Bruclin”. He’s not just flaquito, he’s really gangly. It was fun to watch him moving around the stage. I feel like the band was really enjoying their time here and the singer dude was upset about the press pit (¡yo también, hombre!). He mentioned it was kinda hard when most everyone was so far away, and he was like asking the festival people if the kids couldn’t just jump the barricade and come into the pit. I thought that was really sweet. And eventually for the last song they did allow us reg’lar folk into the pit (I stayed put, I was happy where I was).

Well, the last song was “Love” and I… I don’t know why that song is so addictive. I did think my heart was going to explode, which I didn’t expect at all. Everyone was so happy to hear the song, and people were climbing onto the stage, and the security was busy tackling all the kids, and I think the security were rougher with the guys, but the singer dude was still upset that security was being so lame, and it was even worse because he kept singing about “love, love, love” and here we were with security taking their jobs too seriously. Honestly, I think people who climb the stage and run to the singer and dry hump the singer are totally embarrassing. But the singer dude sounded pretty annoyed and it almost ruined the awesomeness of the song.

What a great night!

And today… Café Tacuba! Gemelos! And a house party, too!


Four for the Fourth.

Brilliant. I got sick right on time for Independence Day. I woke up at 7, felt awful and then woke up again past noon. Damn. So much lost time, though I guess I would have spent it online watching YouTube vids. But I hope everyone (in the US) is enjoying a fine hot dog or three.

The video above is Javiera Mena being interviewed on some Mexican cable show called Konec-TV (they’re on the same channel as In-D).

Here’s a few songs that have nothing to do with the fourth of July, but they’re still made by fairly indie artists. A li’l bit of rock, a li’l bit of rap, some pop and… some dub. Today is a U.S. holiday, but these artists aren’t necessarily from the U.S.

Los Abandoned – Van Nuys es Very Nice
Edan (featuring Insight) – The Science of the Two
Javiera Mena – Sol de invierno
Tabby Cat Kelly – Don’t Call Us Immigrants

This last song is so beautiful. I love it to pieces. The way the song is manipulated (with whatever magical studio tricks) is pretty awesome, too.


Me Verás Caer.

I read some terrible news over at the Onion AV Club: Punk Planet is dead.  Isn’t that so sad?  I understand that there’s a lot of folks who don’t even buy magazines any more and all they do is go on Hype Machine, which is okay, I guess, but it’s sad because Punk Planet stayed independent for so so long.  Their view of punk, too, is incredibly broad, which I really appreciate.  Then again, this is also extra incentive for me to go out and buy We Owe You Nothing.  I recommend you do the same, the people included are super interesting.  Also, I think they are still going to keep their book imprint so maybe you can buy some of their novels and the like.  Es una verdadera pena.

In other news, I’m terribly conflicted.  I just found out that Calle 13 are playing the same night as Zoé + The Pinker Tones + Chetes.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to the Zoé since it’s free but it still kinda pains me to think about, and I sort of really do want to see Residente + Visitante + PG-13.  Damn.  Yeah, yeah, I know, you wish your life was as difficult as mine.  Haha.

Also, I was a li’l miffed in my previous post about this Soda Stereo reunion shit, but honestly I think if they came to the US I’d go.  I’m just, y’know, perfectly aware that they’re viejitos and that they hate each other and that they’re probably just doing it to feed their families.  Hard to believe they did get back together.  They must be getting so much dinero!

Soda Stereo – Danza rota

Soda Stereo – Ella usó mi cabeza como un revólver


¿Qué Más Quieres, Quieres Más?

This has to be the nicest, most interesting post I’ve read in a while. It’s got some weird shit (the Hector “El Father” item), some ridiculously cool shit (like that awesome Senator Obama reggaetón song), and also some bullshit (SODA STEREO REUNITING?!?!). OMG I can’t believe it’s true!

But bullshit aside the folks at La Onda Tropical make a good point: the new Manú Chao ain’t all that. You really have to wonder about Manú Chao’s work. Clandestino is amazing, and it still holds up. I also think that Mano Negra were really cool. But the post-Clandestino material has been kinda same ol’, lame ol’.

And, hey, check out the new M.I.A. vid for her first single, “Boyz”:

Hm, I love talking shit about her, but honestly I do like her music. I think I’ll forgive her for unleashing “Bird Flu” on us. That song was wack. The only problem with the “Boyz” vid is all the graphics, I can understand it’s part of her whole image but they’re way too distracting. It would have been pretty cool just watching everyone dance! Actually, here’s the “Making Of” vid, it’s easier to tolerate:


Appy Polly Loggies.

WOW I HAD VANILLA COKE AND I’M SO EXCITED IT’S BACK ON THE MARKET YEAHHH!!!!!

Ahem. Back to the music.

Let’s see, I was at Super 45* and this album review fascinated me so I hunted down the album and I have to say I’m impressed. Y’see, I’ve heard some of Gepe‘s stuff and I thought it was good but not my thing. I found him too much of a boring singer-songwriter at times. But it’s like I can’t deny him anymore, I really like Hungría! So to the dude in Gepe: my bad.

Another person who deserves an apology from me is Ely Guerra. I feel bad, I know part of it had to do with the fact that she’s ~*SO DAMN PRETTY*~. I dismissed her as a lightweight and I admit she doesn’t ROCK OUT like some people, but what the hell, she still writes solid material. And from what I can tell, she’s a pretty good performer too. Too bad she’s had trouble finding her audience.

In addition, I’ve been listening to this dude named DJ Raff, who has pretty much worked with all the people who matter in Chilean hip-hop. Really nice stuff, he’s more of a studio mastermind I think.

Gepe – Hebra prima

Ely Guerra – Bésame

DJ Raff – Break it Like U 1

*You should also check out Super 45’s recent “New Sounds of 2007” feature, though part of me can’t believe they chose Valentina Fel as one of their winners. It’s weird, I love that cheapass funk carioca sound but for some reason I’m not down with her stuff.


Nowhere to Run.

Once again I am late to the party, but I really have to say this: Dizzee Rascal‘s video for “Sirens” is awesome. Of Dizzee Rascal’s previous music videos, I’ve seen “Fix Up, Look Sharp,” “I Luv U,” and “Dream,” the latter of which is one of the weirdest videos I’ve seen and definitely one of my favorites. But “Sirens” is really amazing, too. The cinematography is crazy—it almost makes me feel like music videos still get decent budgets to make quality work, not just rush jobs.

Anyway, I love the idea of Dizzee being pursued by these posh people on horses. It actually feels intense, and the ending was gross. There’s this whole shit about tradition and modernity. (Well, on Antville people argued that it was more about class and race, which is probably a more valid interpretation.) Damn. The images are beautiful. Honestly, you shouldn’t watch the YouTube vid (below), you should go to the Antville post and download it in higher quality.

Oh, and the song ain’t half-bad, neither. Why didn’t nü-metal ever sound like this?!?! J/K!!

This definitely feels like grime translated into video. Like the previous Dizzee videos I’ve seen had bounce and attitude and all that, but this video looks like such a dark urban dystopia. Great shit, especially when I was thinking about what a disappointment grime has turned out to be (what up, Sov?). And I love me Kano but he’s very polished and radio-friendly, far more so than Dizzee, right? At least that’s what I think.

Unrelated: I’ve updated my LAMC list a bit. Someone reliable told me Café Tacuba are playing Central Park, which I expected anyway. (I mean, if last year Gustavo Cerati played, and the year before it was Aterciopelados, I’m not surprised that such a big band would play Central Park.) The Celebrate Brooklyn line-up is up on their website; Zoé are headlining with Chetes and The Pinker Tones are opening. I’m surprised that Chetes got the shit billing. Also, I’m not such a big fan of The Pinker Tones, so I’m a bit grumpy that they’re playing between Chetes and Zoé. Oh well, they better blow me away live, that’s all I’m saying.

Someone heard my pleas for help in updating my list! NYRemezcla are planning summer show guide which they’ll have ready by Memorial Day weekend, I think. Should be awesome, so if you’re in the city you should be on the lookout for it.


LAMC 2007 Bands + Upcoming Shows

Edited July 8: I added some in-store sets happening at the Apple Store (Soho). You can also go to the official LAMC site for full show + panel details – click the “schedule” tab.

I was at the LAMC site and they have a graphic that gives the acts that have confirmed for the conference. This includes Café muthafuckin Tacuba! Me voy a desmayar!!!!! I can’t figure out the details for when they’re playing—in fact, I can’t find the details for a lot of the bands. But here is what I’ve figured out so far. I’m sure these details are bound to change, since the conference is still a couple of months away. Also, I got no clue which shows are open to reg’lar folks and which are just for badge-holders and GMI’s (Gente Muy Importante). I would appreciate it if anyone could help me out in fleshing out this list. I’m just praying to god los Tacubos play at Central Park for free.

Austin TV
Wed 11 July – 8 pm – Mercury Lounge
Thurs 12 July – 8 pm – SOB’s

Bengala
Wed 11 July – 8 pm – Mercury Lounge
Thurs 12 July – 8 pm – SOB’s

B Side Players
Wed 11 July – 8 pm – Mercury Lounge

Café Tacuba
Sat 14 July – 3 pm – Central Park SummerStage – GRATIS
(+ Joselo is participating in a panel, but you probably need a badge for that)

Ceci Bastida
Thurs 12 July – 8 pm – SOB’s

Chetes
Thurs 12 July – 6 pm – SOB’s
Fri 13 July – 7:30 pm – Celebrate Brooklyn (Prospect Park) – GRATIS

Circo
Thurs 12 July – 8 pm – Museo del Barrio – GRATIS

Cuarto Poder
Wed 11 July – 8 pm – Mercury Lounge
Thurs 12 July – 6 pm – SOB’s
Sat 14 July – 8 pm – Not sure of venue, but it’s for the LAMC closing night party

Federico Aubele
Tues 10 July – 7 pm – Central Park SummerStage – GRATIS

Gustavo Laureano

Gonzalo Yañez – couldn’t find a link!
Thurs 12 July – 6 pm – SOB’s

La Mala Rodríguez
Wed 11 July – 12 am (?) – SOB’s
Thurs 12 July – 9 pm – Bowery Ballroom

La Sista
Sat 14 July – 3 pm – Central Park Summerstage – GRATIS

Liquits
Wed 11 July – 8 pm – Mercury Lounge
Thurs 12 July – 8 pm – SOB’s

Los Rumbers
10 July to 13 July – 8 pm – Bowery Ballroom

Nicole
Thurs 12 July – 6 pm – SOB’s

Pacha Massive
Thurs 12 July – 2 pm – Apple Store (Soho) – GRATIS
Thurs 12 July – 6 pm – SOB’s
Sat 14 July – 3 pm – Central Park SummerStage – GRATIS

Pambo
Thurs 12 July – 9 pm – Bowery Ballroom

Panda
Thurs 12 July – 9 pm – Bowery Ballroom

Pinker Tones
Fri 13 July – 2 pm – Apple Store (Soho) – GRATIS
Fri 13 July – 7:30 pm – Celebrate Brooklyn (Prospect Park) – GRATIS

Spigga
Thurs 12 July – 6 pm – SOB’S
Thurs 12 July – 9 pm – Sputnik
Fri 13 July – 2 pm – MisRolas.com booth (?)
Fri 13 July – 10 pm – Baggot Inn
(FYI: I’m not sure if these are all LAMC events)

The DEY
Thurs 12 July – 9 pm – Bowery Ballroom

Upground
Tues 10 July – no venue
Wed 11 July – 8 pm – Mercury Lounge
Thurs 12 July – no venue
Fri 13 July – 11 pm – Baggot Inn

Volumen Cero
Thurs 12 July – 4 pm – SOB’s
Sat 14 July – 8 pm – La Oveja Negra

Zoé
Wed 11 July – 2 pm – Apple Store (Soho) – GRATIS
Fri 13 July – 7:30 pm – Celebrate Brooklyn (Prospect Park) – GRATIS

A note to most of these bands: your MySpace pages are disgusting. They’re cluttered, poorly laid out, completely impossible to navigate. These pages are supposed to have pertinent info for crying out loud, especially if you don’t have a real website! So get your shit together and make it a little less offensive to your visitors’ eyes.

ALSO KEEP IN MIND…

Los Amigos Invisibles are playing at the Bowery Ballroom this Saturday (May 12); Todosantos are opening!! Venezuela’s best, though apparently Todosantos moved to NYC!

Balún are playing at Pianos May 22 and at Crash Mansion. I actually like Arturo en el Barco, which is the solo project of one of the band members in Balún. Her name is Angélica. I guess she’s more busy with Balún though.

And don’t forget Manú Chao is playing at Prospect Park on June 26 and June 27. Not a free show though.