EastBayExpress.com web traffic counters report there is a possibility that someone, somewhere noticed that the regular Ear Bud feature Sound By its Cover has been absent in recent weeks. This report is preliminary and has yet to be confirmed by company statisticians. While that work is being completed, Sound By Its Cover proudly resumes its weekly publication schedule with a discussion of the cover art for a new compilation called A Date With John Waters.
Who is John Waters? A 60-year-old screenwriter/director/producer based in Baltimore who has worked to break the boundaries of acceptable filmmaking. His movies, the most famous of which is 1988's Hairspray, all center on themes of filth and debauchery. So do his ideal Valentines Day activities, according to a sticker on the CD cover that reads, "May all your Valentines be kind, raunchy, beautifully alarming, and know how to reciprocate." We won't fault him on the incorrect parallel structure of that sentence, nor will we on the album's piercing cover art, which shows a young Waters making eyes with the camera. His dirty, upturned collar, raised knee, and pencil-thin 'stache have sex and repulsion written all over them. On the wall behind him, a seemingly unrelated colonial mural. But what do we know, we're not John Waters.
The compilation features 14 songs "hand picked by John Waters to set the mood for your romantic escapades," reads the ever-helpful sticker. Turn the CD over and find songs like "Tonight You Belong to Me" by Patience and Prudence, "Big Girls Don't Cry" by Edith Massey," and "If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked a Cake" by Eileen Barton with the New Yorkers. What an odd assortment. According to John Waters, it's the perfect soundtrack for February 14th. Take it from the man who made a movie called Pecker.
Looking to (re)discover some of the slickest and smartest hip-hop ever unleashed upon human ears? DJ Platurn, of the Oakland Faders, has teamed with local MC Wonway Posibul, of the Secluded Journalists, to remix a host of classic tracks by jazz-rap pioneers A Tribe Called Quest. Titled Best of A Tribe Called Quest Volume 1, the album -- at least in promo copy form -- doesn't provide any track names, and a search on the Net doesn't turn up any either. But our impressive Tribe knowledge informs us at the very least that the disc includes stellar mixes of "Award Tour" and "Sucka Nigga," both from the group's excellent 1993 album Midnight Marauders. Head to Amoeba Music to track this bad boy down.
If you don't already know who Queens-born-and-bred MC Pharoahe Monche is: you definitely will in 2007. He just released a preview of the single "Desire" on SRC off of his forthcoming album of the same name, and it has been blowing up on the hip-hop blogosphere. The track is produced by Alchemist of Dilated Peoples fame, and in a post-Dilla universe, it is quite obvious from the first notes -- razor-sharp strings coupled with heavy boom-bap breaks -- that Alchemist is paying homage to the deceased master. Pharoahe gets wicked with rhymes like New York City respects my game like Joe Namath/ And I protect my name like your anus/in prison and I am the poetical pastor/slave to my label but I still own my master's. Pharaohe's new sound is a departure from the tracks he was making on Rawkus, where you were sure to hear robotic breaks and squelching synthy bass via Def Jux Productions. On this new slab of wax the man is ditching the Roland Juno synths and bringing the Delfonics and the Godfather of Soul into the perspective. In an era of hip-hop oversaturated with crunk and hyphy and in light of J-Dilla and J-Brown's recent departures, now is a good time to bring the soul back into the mix.
Click here to stream Pharoahe -- Oscar Medina
As the date for the 79th annual Academy Awards approaches, many people wonder who will win and who won't. Last year's nominees included: Hustle and Flow's "It's Hard out Here for a Pimp"; Kathleen "Bird" York and Michael Becker's "In the Deep"; and Dolly Parton's "Traveling Thru." "Pimp" took the award home and left a whole lot of voters in shock. The unprecedented rap nab theoretically opened a door for other rappers that work on soundtracks for movies, or so that is what everyone thought.
This year's Oscar nominee list for "Best Original Song" includes songs from the films Dreamgirls, Cars, and An Inconvenient Truth, none of which would fall within the rap genre. As I looked over the nominees I wondered if rap artists were deliberately avoided this year, if it was just backlash from last year. Many movies released last year had rap soundtracks, but then again who deserves to win an Oscar? Personally I would have Jill Scott on my list.
She performed two tracks on the soundtrack for Dave Chappelle's Block Party, and other than being soulful and just being a good artist she deserves an Oscar just as she would deserve a Grammy. Next on my list would be Dead Prez who performed the song "Hip Hop" also featured on the soundtrack for Dave Chappelle's Block Party. Dead Prez goes on my list simply because they are exactly what you would find under the Oscar nominees for best song. Next on my list would go Take the Lead's "I got Rhythm" by Lena Horne with additional vocals performed by Q-Tip, simply because it showed that ballroom dancing music can be remixed and to make people actually want to dance. "Take the Lead" by Bone-Thugs-N-harmony, Wisin & Yandel, Fatman Scoop, and Melissa Jimenez also featured in the movie Take the Lead also goes on my list. Who would have thought that all of those artists would work together and actually make a song? None of them have the typical Oscar criteria, which is why they are on my list. Hopefully future genre-breakers will take more Oscar's, but until then all we can do is hope. - Hevanya Gardeen (Berkeley Youth Radio Correspondent)
Redman's raps are not exactly like, you know, moral. Yet he's revered in hip-hop for grounding his authenticity in his reality. Rappers often proclaim their love for the hood, but few share Redman's sense of rootedness, his visceral connection to the stuff he raps about, or his lovable, extremely convincing, low-class criminal persona (which evidently served as source material for Bay Area rapper Azeem).
Performing at San Francisco's Mezzanine club during a recent Rock the Bells Tour, Redman stole somebody's hat, asked if anybody had any weed, and then passed the mic to the so-called "dude" (presumably the same "cousin Sugar Bear" who was caught sleeping on his floor when Redman appeared on MTV's Cribs). In that famous Cribs episode (referenced in this week's More Fish Hearsay review), the emcee invited viewers to experience "de la casa" - a Staten Island bachelor pad with a George Foreman grill, Nintendo, the dollar box, and "gifts I ain't gived my godkids yet for Christmas." At the end he invited everyone to come back any time: "Next time y'all need to find me, just rub these two wires together for the doorbell. I know it don't work." Click here to watch the episode. -- Rachel Swan
The phrase doesn't apply in all situations, but keys have opened doors for the Clipse, a cocaine-oriented hip-hop duo that, by some alchemy, managed to combine every designer-drug-seller cliché in the book ...a nd still produce one of the most avant-garde albums of 2006. Lest you doubt the group's hipster appeal, look no further than the "best of" charts on Pitchfork, or the December 25 issue of The New Yorker Magazine, in which pop music critic Sasha Frere-Jones gave emcees Pusha-T and Malice a first-rate rim job. By combining romantic conceptions of punk music (lo-fi instrumentation, minimalist, garage-sounding beats, and videos that look like they were filmed in front of a green screen) with gangsta rap's fantasy of class ascent (Benjamins, Cavalli furs, a new Benz) the Clipse found favor with people on both sides of the tracks -- fickle fourteen-year-old radio-listeners and effete armchair critics who probably own all of the Stones Throw twelve inches. Click here to watch the video for this group's single "Mr. Me Too." - Rachel Swan
Brian Gorman and Lynne Angel have been toiling away as Tartufi since 2001, and the effects of such intimate labor have clearly had an impact on the way they communicate with each other, which consists of a series of inside jokes that leaves a plain-clothes outsider like a journalist pretty miffed. Still, their goofiness is endearing (see photo), if not somewhat necessary once the duo takes the stage and unleashes their epic, serious sound.
Last Friday night when Tartufi headlined the Uptown in Oakland, audience members were left jaws agape and wanting more even though the band appeared onstage well toward midnight. Their sound begins with simple guitar lines and vocals that Angel loops, then builds upon as Gorman unleashes his competent drum splashing, culminating in an Everest-size mountain of noise that rocks surprisingly hard. Look for more on Tartufi and their cooperative production company, Thread, in an upcoming issue of the Express. -- Kathleen Richards
One of the few live music venues east of the hills just opened under new management. But it looks like the new owner of Concord's Bourbon Street won't be booking nearly as many young bands as before. So far, the club has regularly scheduled classic rock, salsa, country, DJ ('80s music), and comedy nights. Clearly, the new owner is looking to attract older, professional types looking for a night away from the kids. Monetarily, it makes sense, but frankly, it makes us a little sad.
Coming up with an original band name is pretty difficult, so it's not surprising that some pretty horrific ones tend to surface (see title, above). But collectively, these bad band names can be damn funny. The Onion's A.V. Club posted a fairly extensive list of some of the Worst Band Names of 2006, divided by categories like emo bands, metal bands, and bands that use "fuck."
Contra Costa music writer slams Justin Timberlake's recent performance at the HP Pavillion. ... Bone Thugz N' Harmony are making a comeback. ... The Chronicle covers the recent death of musical widow extrordinaire Alice Coltrane. Interview with gospel diva Dionne Warwick reveals it's okay to make psychic infomercials. ... Article on the newly released music documentary that follows a Mexican guitarist and singer from his homeland to the Mission District. ... How Oakland indie band got on Good Morning, America with a YouTube video. Independent music stores have formed the NorCal Coalition and are fighting the man, the Tribune reports. -- Oscar Medina