Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Rise of the Zombies

Ridiculously brilliant picture taken from http://www.modernmidiclassics.com/flatbush-zombies.html via Google Images
Just over a week ago I caught a Nardwuar interview with Flatbush Zombies (if you aren't familiar with Nardwuar the Human Serviette check him, his interviews are usually bob on), they piqued my interest so I went to see what they're all about. I am extremely glad that I did.

Hailing from the Flatbush area of Brooklyn, New York, Flatbush Zombies are made up of L.S. Darko, Juice, and Erick Arc Elliott. So far they have only put out a mix-tape called D.R.U.G.S. which can be downloaded for free at the other end of the following link:-


If I haven't lost you to the lure of free music or if you need a little more convincing other than the picture up top, let me explain why you and your stereo should check this shit out.

After I'd caught the Nardwuar interview I did the standard YouTube check to see what kind of stuff they put out. The first thing I saw was this video...

That's some nasty music right there, and I'm always on board with that. The production from Erick Arc Elliott is on point and the hook is catchy as hell and will burrow into your head and stay there for days. The thing I dig most about this though is the mental vibe they give off, they have a scary way about them but in quite a fun way, kinda like Sticky Fingaz but if he was on a bouncy castle (yeah I wrote that)!

That track was enough to convince me to download D.R.U.G.S. so I settled down to listen to it, I have barely stopped since. As is par for the course during my ramblings, I'll talk a little about some of the tracks that I have been enjoying the most and come up with more ridiculous ways of describing it all.

The opening track, rather cleverly named 'Intro', sets the left-field tone of everything perfectly. A theremin kicks in shortly after a beating heart and we are treated to Elias Koteas' "Have you ever noticed" speech from The Prophecy,if you start your mixtape with an Elias Koteas speech you've won me over for good. This gives way to a haunting, horror-core type beat for Juice and Darko to go over which they do with with great aplomb. Darko absolutely steals this track though, his flow is absolutely ridiculous. Here are the lyrics but you'd be doing yourself a disservice by not listening to his delivery of them.

In the land beyond living, all things are possible
It's insane to think this really all started from a molecule
Now I'm fucking unstoppable
My past it was hard to do, now my future's remarkable
Fuck fame n*gga, can't you see the bigger picture?
Sold your soul to the devil well at least you got three wishes
Young, witty, pompous, arrogant, malicious
Blowing kisses to the devil as I form a ladies vivid
Screen motion picture shit
While, I'm standing idle, fuck a title
Rather American Psycho than American Idol
Chop a clip, reload the clip, barrel hits
Like a vinyl the universe is my shit
Knew it since I was a zygote
This shit I'm spitting got your head spinning like an exorcism
When I was young I fought authority
And reject religion, learned to see from every angle
Never regret decisions, at times I feel like fuck religion
Because religion is division.

On 'Mary, Nothing Above Thee' the trio have crafted their ode to weed. Juice again kicks things off and is channeling a little Bone Thugs in his rap (I love that the Bone Thugs style is coming back a little now) and his voice sits perfectly over the laid back, drifty beats again provided by Arc. I have to give a little mention to the following Darko line too because I bloody love it, it's not particularly clever or deep but it's one of my favourites on the whole mix.

Well I'll be damned, I'll be damned, Aaliyah in her last movie.

'JupiterSound' featuring Kilo Kush is probably my favourite track on the mixtape probably because they're on that Bone Thugs N Harmony again. This track is tremendous, from the aforementioned Bone flow to Kilo's stunning voice on the hook, via a beat that sounds like it's underwater. Everyone involved is just bringing their best on this one, can't recommend this song enough.

On 'YBA' all three members pick up the mic (Arc doesn't get many verses on here but he holds his own when he gets from behind the boards), to be honest the music is fairly standard on this one but I think that helps the track as it puts more focus on what these guys are capable of on the mic. This track as a whole is probably the most accessible on here and could serve as a good intro to folk that might not necessarily listen to this type of thing on the regular. 
Over the course of D.R.U.G.S. and as the name suggests, you'll be treated to more odes to Weed or LSD but it would be unfair to write these guys off as being a bunch of weed rappers. It's clearly a massive part of who they are but it's not right to focus on that aspect. In way it's like how the Das Racist shit was (a group I think give a similar vibe to FZ), Das Racist were dope but everyone seemed to focus on the ethnicity like that was their appeal! They were much more than their ethnicity, sure it's a big part of who they are but it's not what you should be focusing on, fact is they made great Hip Hop. Flatbush Zombies make great Hip Hop, I don't do drugs and this music doesn't make me want to. This mixtape ain't about drugs to me, it's about a group of people from New York who happen to do that stuff making damn good music. 

Their is plenty more for you to discover on here, even some Houston style chopped and screwed tracks, and I would definitely advise you to follow the link up there and enjoy this for free. Free music without you having to be a pirate is always a good option!

Here is another song by Flatbush Zombies for you to enjoy and I'll also post the Nardwuar interview in case you were curious about that too. Go check it all and hopefully get into it.

Thanks for reading


Saturday, 30 March 2013

Another Track of The Moment

Life has unfortunately been a little shit lately and has done it's best to get in the way of things so I'm going to throw this up to start getting things going again, there are a few in progress blogs that'll be up soon but to tide things over, here is a a track that's I've rediscovered recently. Wrap your ears around this bad boy, it's been the track of my last couple of summers and given that the sun has decided to come and melt this snow away finally, it may just be time to get back on this one.

Seek it out if you enjoy it.


Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Kickstarter Plea - F.Stokes

Just a quick plea to ask everyone to go back the Kickstarter project on the following link:

There are some top rewards but more importantly you're helping something that is potentially brilliant get out there. There is more information about it on the end of that link so please check it out. Not much left to raise so get in whilst you can. If you are unfamiliar with F.Stokes here's a little video from YouTube that lets you see how raw this guy is.



If He's Not Your Homeboy Or Your Boyfriend, What Is Toussaint Morrison?

The last week or two my stereo has been dominated by two albums, Toussaint Morrison is Not My Boyfriend and Toussaint Morrison is Not My Homeboy. During this time I have come to the conclusion that Toussaint Morrison really deserves to be far better known than he is (unless he's actually really well known outside of Wales and we're just late to the party). He's one of those artists that I genuinely believe could be huge if given the right exposure, if people sat down and listened I've every confidence they'd discover something they'd like.

Now from checking out what this guy has out there I'm led to believe that he's been around for a moment, as a member of The Blend and Lazlo Supreme and releasing the afore mentioned albums (mixtapes actually) under his own name. He's also a 3-time national slam poet according to his Bandcamp so Toussaint's been putting in the work. 

Being from North Wales and not having many people I know that are into a lot of the music I'm into means it can be hard to discover new stuff in my preferred genres, don't get me wrong my mates have recommended a ton of great bands for me to check and without them I'd have no BRMC, Cooper Temple Clause, Raveonettes, etc in my life so it's not a shabby situation to be in. The problem is without my friends being into  my preferred genres, without any real music scene to really speak of round here, and without a music shop to go and discover things in within a reasonable distance from me, it can be very hard to be exposed to new music. There are essentially three ways I find new artists:-

1) I hit up websites like Rapreviews and randomly click on albums and see if I stumble across anything decent.

2) I see what customers on Amazon, iTunes and all of those type of places are picking up as well as whichever album I last purchased. For instance, when I was first put on to El-P's Fantastic Damage (which was a huge record for me in terms of me discovering shit) I checked and started discovering all of the Def Jux stuff, which in turn took me to things like Babbletron and then Cool Calm Pete.

3) I see what artists I like have been working on and who they've been working with, I check out bands I see them mention in interviews (which is why it forms a large part of the interviews I do on here), or see tweets of what they may be listening to. 

Once I find artists in any of the three ways I've touched on above I tend to jot the names down on scrap pieces of paper or enter them on my mobile and every so often I sit at the computer and have a listen to whatever snippets I can find online and if I get into it I'll order what I can get my hands on. This is how I found Toussaint Morrison. I think I initially saw his name on Rapreviews in a year end list (actually I googled it and now know I did) and so I put his name in the notepad on my phone along with a couple of others. A few weeks back I checked a couple of the acts and whilst searching for some songs of Toussaint's to hear, I was taken to his Bandcamp page. Two mixtapes on there, both as free downloads! Now as this guy is giving that shit away for free, rather than listen to a track or two on YouTube, I decided to give the downloads a try in their entirety. If it isn't costing me anything but my time then it's worth a go, especially as my time is so cheap. I am extremely glad I did because this dude has a little of everything going on.

The first thing that got me was that the man has a set of pipes on him, I've always got time for someone that can belt a track out so when I heard the opening to the following song I was well and truly sold.

As you will have noticed from that track he's not shabby in the rapping department either and to be perfectly honest that track is way off the standard his rapping tends to be at (don't get me wrong though, it's still dope on that track). The blend of the tremendous singing and tight rapping is great to hear and having it coming from just one dude makes it all the more enjoyable.

The other thing that I latched onto was the subject the dude spits about. Altered Beast, Street Fighter, Donnie Yen, X-Men, or Pro Wrestling are all fair game. That's something I can personally connect to. I've mentioned before that I'm quite far removed from the world most of my favourite musicians inhabit, I'm not exactly the intended audience for most of it (although Afrika did say that people should listen to music that isn't meant for them) and I guess aside from clever wordplay or raw beats, there is a voyeuristic pleasure in hearing things so different to my experiences. With Toussaint Morrison I can share some of the points of reference.

So no surprises this time fellas
Y'all get the guards I'm going in for Zelda
Go ahead, kiss ya cross, fight it through
But I'm risk it all and I put that on Hyrule.

I grew up on things like Zelda, I can actually relate to that and what's not to like about good music you can relate to? As these are mixtapes you will recognise some of the beats, I won't spoil everything for you but even Radiohead serve as a great backing track, there is a little of everything on display here.

I think these albums/mixtapes were actually funded by Kickstarter so kudos to all the heads that backed this and helped get it out there for people like me to enjoy, it's a shame that I was too late to the party to be able to have helped in some way!

My words don't often do justice to the things I talk about (I just spout about stuff I like and obviously am no kind of writer) so you can have another song which is much harder than the previously featured track, the beat is a wonderfully chopped up version of Franz Ferdinand that Toussaint flows over superbly.

If you're interested in downloading the two albums please follow the links below, it'll cost you nothing so why not? I could talk about them for plenty more paragraphs but why listen to me when you can listen to the albums without cost?



Check the guy out and follow him on Twitter @2santMorrison, it's worth the effort.

Thanks for Reading


Monday, 4 February 2013

It's The Return!!!

Always expect the unexpected at a Fingathing gig.

Saturday night saw the live return of Fingathing so Wena and I headed up to Manchester to take it in. The gig took place in 2022NQ, a club/gallery type of place up in the Northern Quarter just up from Forbidden Planet. It's the kind of venue that Manchester seems to have in such abundance, a dark, cramped, sweaty, and basement-esque (like The Roadhouse) joint that seems to be so well suited to hosting gigs. Personally I love a venue with sweat covered walls, cold stone floors, and crudely painted fixtures, that's tucked away down a back alley. At the risk of sounding all hipstery, there is a real no nonsense, all about the music vibe to it that just works for me. That said, at this venue I actually felt a bit out of place. We arrived shortly after the doors opened around ten and sat there listening to the DJ, trying to pass the two hours until Fingathing took to the stage. I'm not sure if it's because everyone there seemed to be in big groups and mingling or if it was because we just clearly are not big city folk (I mean we use terms like 'big city folk') but I did feel a tad uncomfortable there for a little while, I'm sure a more outgoing person would have been fine or if we were in a little group of folk, it would have been cool but in a room full of people that either looked something like Noel Gallagher deciding he's a b-boy or just straight up well dressed, well bearded, young folk, this guy just seemed out of place...

It was no place for a Norwegian tourist.
After a couple of slowly drunk, £4 a bottle, ciders and the filling up of the place it started to feel a bit more like it should and soon enough the DJ spun his last Tribe record and gave way for the return of Fingathing. It's been 6 or so years since they played a live show so the crowd was more than ready to go on the journey The 'Thing had in store for them. For those who aren't familiar with Fingathing or aren't fortunate enough to have caught them live I should explain a little about what sets them apart. Aside from the technical wizardy from Parker and the heavy bass lines from Sneaky, there is also the visual element provided by the band's artist Chris Drury. Drury had clearly been hard at work in preparation for this comeback gig because the visuals were down right incredible. All new artwork which was every bit as insane and dope as the music. Don't believe me? Check these shots Wena took...

Tremendous stuff

Some mental imagery up there which actually makes it hard to know where to look when Fingathing are on stage. Do you watch the incredible animation, mixed with close ups of Parker and Sneaky hammering their respective instruments? Do you focus on Sneaky shredding it on his upright bass? Or do you watch Parker bobbing up and down maniacally as he smashes his MPC or cuts records to shit? To be honest in the five or six times I have seen Fingathing I've found the best thing to do is just take a step back and just hope your eyes manage to catch as much of the experience as they possibly can.

Musically we were treated to mixture of old and new, we had the perfect for a live show Head to Head which is a great showcase of how this set up works, the live dueling between the turntable and the bass is, put simply, spectacular. Classic rawness like Ffathead gave way to some of my own personal Finga favourites such as Synergy and Cluster Buster (which I've given a fair bumming to in my Big Red Nebula Band review previously). The new tracks such as Hell Raiser and Bounce seemed to really get the crowd jumping too and Man Made Monster had everyone in attendance reaching for the ceiling. Exactly how it should be. There was a track they played, which due to me standing by the Sound Techs holding a set-list I could see was called Time, which was absolutely killer. There was something about that song that evoked Velvet Underground to me, just a huge track. There was a nice outing for Walk In Space too which is a truly  wonderful live experience and possibly my favourite moment of the night! The tangents that they go off on in that song is just mind blowing and was worth the price of admission alone. Here's an old video I ripped from YouTube that shows how good this track is live. Be warned that the audio is a little off and quality not amazing but it's an awful lot better than the phone videos I took at the gig!!!

There was plenty more to enjoy and in the hope that this gig was a precursor to a full blown tour I won't spoil anything further for you. If they do tour please make sure you pick up tickets for whichever gig is closest to you because Fingathing are unlike anything else you've ever seen and are still one of the best live acts I have ever witnessed.

Catch you down front at the next one.


Sunday, 20 January 2013

Almost a Decade Without Play

Someone broke his heart, thanks to whoever it was.
Today I'm going to gush a little about Beck's 2002 album Sea Change. I'll confess straight away that about 9 years ago I was borderline obsessed with this album! I was going to college at the time and as such had 2 hours of coach journeying to get through each day (add another 2 hours on to that if I left college early and relied on public buses), I always had my Discman for those journeys and for most of the day due to all the free periods my schedule had. For a good 5 months I only ever carried two albums, Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (should blog that at some point) and Beck - Sea Change. Those two albums were on an almost constant loop at that point in my life and I loved it that way. Over the last month or so Sea Change has been creeping it's way back in to a similar position with me, it's been getting a fair blast and if it wasn't for the ruck of music that's been arriving in my letterbox, it'd probably be getting a fair bit more.

Beck is an artist I'm usually giving a bit of play to all the time, partly because his shit spans so many genres that he fits into whatever I'm on to at any given time and partly because he's one of the few musicians that I actually own the majority of the music for (although not that book thing he put out). Sea Change is not one of the albums I have revisited though, I think in part because it is very much a soundtrack to the previously mentioned period of my life and it was a period that was largely uneventful too, it's the soundtrack to a time that I don't get nostalgic about. Recently I dug it out as I had been internally humming the album opener 'The Golden Age' in work, which in turn made me remember how fond I was of the album. I was eager to see if the 28 year old me agreed with the 19 year old version of me! It's safe to say that there isn't much common ground between Paul 2012 and Paul '03, for every Wu Tang or Beastie Boys song that that teenage me and approaching 30 me both nod to, there is a Reel Big Fish or Hed P.E that the grown up me is fully prepared to mock past Me for. With that in mind I wasn't sure if I'd still get the same kick out of the album.

The observant among you (Saw 4 flashback time: "Today I'm going to gush a little about Beck's 2002 album Sea Change") or the folks that know I only blog about stuff I like, will have realised that I needn't have worried. The album has held up and then some! The moment Beck's voice kicks in on 'The Golden Age'  I knew the album and me were going to be cool. For those who are familiar with Beck for albums like Odelay or Mellow Gold you'll probably find this album is somewhat of a departure for Beck. It's actually much closer in tone to his album Mutations yet it feels far more personal (possibly because it doesn't have any of the filler that Mutations seemed to be loaded with). It's a far more polished album than most of Beck's work up to that point and the lo-fi guitar noodlings, sample laden beats, and funky crowd pleasers have made way to lonelier, acoustically-driven, and dreamlike sound. The album is clearly made by a down in the dumps Beck and yet the gentleness of the strings and the subdued beats somehow make all the gloom quite nice. For an album dealing with such depressing subject matter it's actually pretty warm. For those unfamiliar with Beck it's still all of the above.

The album should really be enjoyed as a whole and I would encourage people checking it for the first time to enjoy it as such , but as is the norm on my posts I'm going to talk a little about some of my own favourite tracks on the album.

The Golden Age - The song that made me dig out the album again sets the tone of the album beautifully. Beck's haunting vocals, complimented by spaced out bleeps and whirrs, and the gentle, sometimes aching strum of Beck's guitar make for an astonishing song. This song gets better with every listen.

Lost Cause - This is my favourite track on the album and I'll admit to having used the skip button a few times in the car to make sure it's the last song I hear before I head off into work. It's a prime example of what I mean about the juxtaposition of the depressing subject and the warm niceness of the actual song. I've embedded it below because it deserves a listen.

Paper Tiger - The song that sounds a bit more like the better known Beck music. Beck sounds more like himself on this and less like the hurt grown up he sounds like on most of the album. A brilliantly subtle, slow builder that features some great orchestration. I believe that Beck's dad is actually responsible for the sweepingly dramatic strings on this song. I'm sure I read that somewhere once upon a time but there is every chance I've made that up. Enjoy it.

Already Dead - This is one of the most downbeat things Beck has recorded, it's a pretty depressing song to be honest but we need that kind of thing too. The man was clearly at a low point when he wrote this song and there's a brutal honesty to it. Just to give you a taste of it here is a sample of the lyrics...

Love looks away
In the harsh light of day
On the edge of nothing more
Days fade to black
In the light of what they lack
Nothing's measured by what it needs

Fuck that's grim. It's also incredible and I have always got time for music that can accurately show you the feeling of the songwriter.

There are only 12 songs on this album so I'll limit my rambling to just four of those tracks. As always I would ask people to buy the album if they get a kick out of the embedded youTube videos. I know Beck isn't short of cash and it'll probably end up with L.Ron's crew but dude still made this shit so deserves to have reimbursement for it.



Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Track of The Moment

I'm going to start throwing up a little post here and there to show a song that I'm digging at the moment. I'll let the songs speak for themselves and will only say who it is and encourage you to support it if you like it... So here is EMC - Leak It Out and if you like it go and look for more of their stuff and buy it.



Thursday, 3 January 2013

Albums List

So here is my list of what I believe to be the best albums of the year. Music is a completely subjective thing and I'm sure they'll be plenty of people that will disagree. If you do then please let me know in the comments section below, I'm always on the lookout for new stuff so any recommendations would be welcomed.

This year the list is dominated by Hip Hop because it's been a very good year for the genre with some real big releases. There are plenty of albums that I've missed and I don't exactly have my finger on the pulse so I'm sure there is a ruck of brilliant stuff I just don't know exists. I'll list a track to check for each album, if you have the time please do go and check them out and if you like it please go spend some money on it. Support good music!!!

Without further ado here is my top ten of the year in order.

Honourable Mentions

Mister Jason - Son of Frankensteez EP

Not a full album so not in but worth mentioning all the same. I've spent most of the year listening to Mister Jason Presents Frankensteez but it's release date was 2011 so I can't include it, worth a check though as is this great EP featuring a killer DJ Format remix.

Guilty Simpson & Apollo Brown - Dice Game

Top quality album but it doesn't quite make it because I haven't really been able to spend as much time with it as I would have liked. I only picked it up a month or so back and it hasn't had enough play for me to be familiar enough to Top 10 it. Still a great album and well worth a chunk of your hard earned.

Action Bronson & Alchemist - Rare Chandeliers

Similar to the above mentioned Guilty Simpson/Apollo Brown album I haven't played this enough to warrant it's inclusion. Top stuff and it's great start to finish I just haven't got off listening to Bronson's 2011 Dr. Lecter album. I'm sure it'll get a lot more love from me over the coming months.

Top Ten

10) Tim Fite - Ain't Ain't Ain't

I love Tim Fite, having seen him support Buck 65 a few years back in Manchester and being blown away by just how weird this guy was I've kept a close eye on his work. There has always been plenty of Mr. Fite's music to enjoy as he is one prolific itchy-legged gentleman, who also has a tendency to put his music up for free download on his site, good egg!

This album is Tim Fite's third full length studio album and follows Fair Ain't Fair and Gone Ain't Gone and it's a far more accessible album than some of his earlier work. Not one to be pigeonholed Tim Fite's album spans several genres from stripped down country to Beirutesque noodlings, the remarkable thing is how cohesive it remains throughout which is no small feat given the bases he touches on this record. The weirdness and sampling have definitely been dialled down from his previous offerings and I only hope this helps the dude get out to a bigger audience. Starting with you guys hopefully.

Track to Check = Hold Me All Night - Try not to sing along to this after a few listens or get carried away on those drums. I dare you.

9) Best Coast - The Only Place

This is a band I got into on the strength of an album cover 2010's Crazy for You here it is...

Top notch
The album was a pleasant surprise of lo-fi shoe-gazey surf rock (I can't believe I typed that either, sorry) and as such I discovered a new band to keep an eye on. This years follow up 'The Only Place' was duly picked up with expectations of more of the same, turns out that Best Coast don't dish up seconds and as such have served up a far more polished, alt-country album to be enjoyed. The album feels more clear and concise and singer Bethany Cosentino seems to be on some Neko Case shit, not a bad thing in my opinion. A very relaxing album as that despite the downbeat nature of most of it seems to have an extremely uplifting effect on me.

Track to Check = Up All Night - Great songwriting and should actually be huge. This will be used on some tween movie romantic scene soon and people are going to wake up to these guys over here.

8) P.O.S - We Don't Even Live Here

I'll be honest, I wasn't familiar with P.O.S or his group Doomtree but I saw this album mentioned round a lot of places online at it's time of release, a little check of a couple of the tracks and it was purchased.  This album is filled with big songs. The heaviness of the opener Bumper, complete with some of the best drums I've heard on a track this year (simple yet hard), was enough to have me reaching for my card. On the whole the album is filled with filthy, club ready tracks that again could be big over here in the UK but for whatever reason isn't, check it and start spreading the word.

Track to Check = Get Down ft. Mike Mictlan - This is the only song that gave Spaceship Earth a run for it's money in my Track of the Year thinking. This song is dripping with a filthy, sweaty swagger that is ideal for a packed club. Would love to see this spun in V2!

7) DZ Deathrays - Bloodstreams

Australian rock that is in your face, distorted, and extremely loud. I've previously reviewed DZ Deathrays' EP on here and it was nice to see what they were capable of over a full length release. They don't disappoint, it's every bit as brash and bold as the aforementioned EP. I was fortunate enough to catch them live this year and as such the album serves as fond reminder of a quite spectacular performance and that was always going to ensure it had a place on this list come the year end. Do yourselves a favour and stay out of my way when I'm pumping this album in the car as this shit makes me feel near invincible or at least not give a shit about the consequences.

Track to Check = Dinomight - Actually a bit more restrained than most of the album but fuck me this track is heavy when it lets go.

6) Abdominal & The Obliques - Sitting Music

Abdominal is back and dude has gone in a completely different direction. Sitting Music represents a real departure for Abs, this is stripped down Hip Hop. Abdominal is one of my favourite lyricists and THE rapper that has me hanging on his every word on a track. His mellow voice, ability to go at any pace, and the fact that he is one witty motherfunker firmly places him as one of my favourite rappers.

I picked this up for my girlfriend (what's better than buying a gift you yourself want?), on account of Abdominal and DJ Fase's Flowtation Device being the album I used to actually introduce Wen to Hip Hop and slowly get hooked. I ordered it as soon as I could, I'm a keeper, and was soon enough in possession of one of the most surprising releases of the year. As I said in the first paragraph this is bare bones Hip Hop, the beats and samples have been replaced with bluesy/folky guitar and soft drums. Abs is still rapping albeit in a slower, more considered way but he is also singing a few bars on this album.  It is definitely not the album I was expecting and I'm grateful to Abdominal and The Obliques for swerving my expectations. You want hear most rappers collaborating with their mothers but Abdominal isn't most rappers. Probably the most interesting album on this list.

Track to Check = Balance Both ft. Chali 2na - I wanted to pick one of the songs that had a bit more singing on it but this is such a brilliant track that I insist you have a listen.

5) Masta Ace & MF Doom - MA_Doom : Son of Yvonne

Masta Ace kicking it over some Doom beats?!? Sold, take my money and take it now. What's that? Big Daddy Kane is on the album? The album with Doom's production??? Take my bank card, here's my pin, take what you need.

Now the beats are recycled from Doom's other releases but I love Dooms other releases and could listen to, and have listened to, his music all day. Masta Ace is as sharp as ever and as per usual his storytelling is on another level.

Thank you to anyone and everyone that had anything to do with this album coming into existence.

Track to Check = Think I Am ft. Big Daddy Kane - It kind of had to be, check Doom's positive verse too, I always like to big up the pleasant side of this genre.

4) Blu & Exile - Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them

I don't really know much about these guys, I discovered Blu through that track he did with Edan and stumbled across this album on iTunes a couple of months back and seeing his name just blind purchased it. Sometimes it's nice to just have something I'm into that I don't know anything about. I deliberately have not looked up anything about Blu or Exile as I just want to enjoy the music for what it is much like the pre internet days when I had my Beastie Boys tape anfdfirst started getting into music properly.

This album is so chilled it's unreal, there is a Madlib vibe to the beats and the rapping is so laid back and effortless whilst clearly being extremely complex and sophisticated. If you know anything about these dudes please don't share it with me. Let me just have this one, that said if anyone can throw me a copy of the album with that Edan/Blu track Ronald Morgan on it (I think it's called No York), I certainly wouldn't say no.

Track to Check = Ease Your Mind - I can't wait for summer just so I can put this track on repeat and lounge in the sun.

3) El-P - Cancer for Cure

Put simply nobody else could make this album. Nobody. A beast of an album right from the off, probably the best opener on any of the albums on this list. El-P goes hard and isn't so much presenting you with new music more smacking you round the head with it. If you are unfamiliar with El's work then maybe check his other work first because I'm worried that if this is your first encounter with his sound you might actually get hurt.

My words probably won't do any of these albums justice and that is certainly the case with this album, I don't know how to describe it other than to swear a lot and use the word hard. Just listen to it.

Track to Check =  I should say The Full Retard but I have to go with the opening track Request Denied - Just wow.

2) Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music

Production by El-P, not a combo I expected to be listening to but I'm extremely grateful that it came to be. These two represent two different areas within the Hip Hop community and I didn't expect them to collide in this way. What a great fit these two are with each other, and they both seem to have raised each other's game. Personally I don't think Mike has ever sounded so good, don't get me wrong, I'm a big Killer Mike fan but on this album he's just an absolute monster! His rhymes are so technical and assured that I don't know if he will ever be able to top this.

El's production is as insane as it always is, and his style is all over it but he has clearly worked very hard to put together beats that have a Southern sensibility to them in order to really fit Mike the way they should. This album is an absolute animal and it's damn near perfect. I'm currently working on a full review of this album so I'll leave it at that for now.

Track to Check = Untitled ft. Scar - They know they've made a classic, they absolutely know it.

1) DJ Format - Statement of Intent

This is the album of the year for me. I've reviewed it previously on this blog so I won't go into too     much detail on it again. Put simply it's a great album that strikes up a brilliant balance of all that is good in Hip Hop, perfect instrumentals like 'Mayor of a Ghost Town' to old school Hip Hop vibes like 'Mr.DJ' via the future of Hip Hop 'Spaceship Earth', everything is covered. This is as perfect an album, as far as my tastes go, as is humanly possible and I thank Format for creating it. I will never ever tire of this and I'm sure most people would have a similar view if they gave it the chance it deserves.

Everyone has a right to disagree with another persons opinion, and I fully expect people to not agree with half the shit I say and musically there isn't really a  right or wrong, BUT if you disagree with me with regards to this album, I'm afraid you are most definitely wrong. They'll be Universities in Texas and other parts of the world that will carry out scientific studies proving me to be right on this occasion, which in turn will make you look very foolish indeed. Don't try to argue this one, just go out and get this album and then send me a thank you card.

Track to Check = Spaceship Earth ft. Edan - I could pick anything and you should listen to it all but for me this was the best song released all year so I'm obliged to pick this.

So that's my list and hopefully you've discovered some new music that you can enjoy, if so please go and buy the records. I appreciate that the internet is full of torrents and the like but these artists deserve to have their work paid for.

Thanks for reading


Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Film List

Here are the 10 best films, in my opinion, released in 2012. For me it's been a bit of a lean year for films but then again there is a lot that I haven't caught in the cinema  It should also be noted that I have not yet seen The Master and I'm sure that will walk into the top ten once I see it later this week.

Honourable Mentions

The Shining - Not making the top ten because it's a re-release but this year saw a UK cinema showing of the US version of The Shining, a whopping twenty odd minutes longer than the previously released UK version. To be honest I didn't really notice 20 minutes of extra stuff but who cares because I got to see The Shining on a big screen! I don't need to tell anyone how brilliant this film is.

John Carter - Came in for a lot of stick but I really enjoyed my trip to watch this. Obviously a lot of the story has been pillaged  by many other big sci-fi films that made it to the big screen first (Star Wars a prime example) so large parts of this felt familiar but it didn't dampen it for me personally. Shit looked pretty on a big ass screen too.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Mel Gibson is a horrible, racist c*nt but he does have a lot of great films on his CV. How I Spent... is an absolutely insane actioner set in a Mexican prison and featuring Gibson at his dickish best. An absurd movie that requires no thinking whatsoever, just good fun.

Top Ten

You can't not admire this man
10) Bill Cunningham, New York - As recommended by Paul Iannacchino on these here pages, this film is about an extremely likable 80-something fashion photographer for the New York Times.  It's an inspiring and heart-warming film that documents Bill's passion for what he does, a man who truly lives for his art.

His head is on fire!
9) Ghost Rider 2 -  I told you it was a lean year, not actually a great film but it was damn good fun. Nic Cage was yelling and his head kept going on fire there are times that I don't need much more than that. Not something I'm every likely to watch again but for the duration of the run-time I laughed and that can't be a bad thing.
Surprisingly heart-warming
8) Goon - Another movie that isn't exactly a classic but I've included it because of how unexpectedly good it was. My friend and I rented this on account of us having spent way too long in the video store without choosing something so we grabbed what was to hand. We were expecting a low key, gross out, not very funny comedy and yet we got a sweet, slapsticky, warm hearted tale of a stupid bouncer trying to find his place in the world. A very deceiving marketing campaign really didn't do this film any justice.
Got his Bruce Willis face on there
7) Looper - Sci-fi done well and with added Joseph Gordon Levitt and Bruce Willis. It doesn't get bogged down with explaining the how of the time travel in the film and just gets on with the actual story, which I appreciated. It's an interesting take on the future and whilst it isn't perfect it's nice to have an intelligently made film that is so unashamedly sci-fi.
Greatest poster ever
6) Manborg - From Astron 6, the creative geniuses behind the amazing Father's Day and the epically brilliant Lazer Ghosts 2: Return to Laser Cove comes the story of a dead soldier brought back to life as a cyborg to battle hell on Earth and to defeat the evil Draculon! Low budget film making at it's best what it lacks in production value it more than makes up for with laugh out loud funny, and straight up passion. Check the trailer below and buy the DVD these guys deserve all of your money.

A classic tale told well
5) Undefeated - I should point out that I love a good sports movie from We Are Marshall to Hard Ball and everything in between, I'll watch any of them. We all know how every single one of them ends but there is so much natural drama in sports that films about sport prove to be an easy watch it also helps that so often the films are so feel good. This documentary tells the standard story of an underfunded, underprivileged, perennial loser high school football team as they undergo a reversal of fortunes. Inspiring stuff and I'm not gonna lie the things that happen with Money damn near made me well up.
This man can do sinister
4) Killer Joe - Wickedly funny and extremely dark tale of son's attempt to have his mother offed by Matthew McConaughey's insane killer for hire. Contains one of the most disturbing scenes in recent history. It's nice to see McConaughey reminding everyone what he is capable of when he isn't picking up chick flick cheques. The rest of the cast is superb too and it's nice to see Billy Friedkin nailing it again.

3) The Imposter - Bart Layton's amazing documentary (I know that's three and I'm not trying to be all high brow it's just that this year was a good year for documentaries) about the disappearance of a 13 year old boy from Texas and his subsequent reappearance in Spain. Very cinematic for a documentary, it leaves you with questions in the same way Capturing The Friedmans did and really covers all angles in a truly astonishing story. I won't go into too much detail about it as much like the equally brilliant shockumentary Catfish it really needs to be seen to be believed.

"There, there Affleck we can't all have glorious white beards!"
2) Argo - God bless Affleck, talented son of a bitch that he is. See previous review for more info but know that this shit is incredible just like a hirsute Ben Affleck.
Does what it says on the poster
1) The Raid - This was the best film of the year for me, downright incredible. Police are going into an derelict apartment block in order to bring a ruthless criminal to justice unfortunately he lives on the top floor and all previous floors are occupied by nails criminals, living rent free, that protect the boss. 100 odd minutes of dudes getting smashed hard in the face and being smacked into walls.

Iko Uwais plays the rookie cop hero of the piece and that man knows how belt people around. I'd only previously seen Iko in the very entertaining Merantau Warrior (from the same director) but he's certainly one to watch as far as martial arts go. The film is so fast and action packed that you hardly get a break from the moment the police enter the building and the fight choreography is out of this world. Iko, as per Merantau Warrior, has such a painful looking style. He's a blur of elbows and knees and seems to revel in using the environment as a weapon. The real star of the show though is Yayan Ruhian as the big boss' loyal enforcer Mad Dog. His style is so rugged it's unreal, the rawness of him reminded me a lot of the nomad bad guy from Donnie Yen's Ip Man, every move he throws just looks brutal and like it would hurt an awful lot. The Mad Dog vs 2 fight in particular is absolutely astounding and the three styles from all involved are so contrasting and yet perfectly complementary to each other that I can only say thank to the director for filming it, I am forever in your debt sir.
Brutal, just brutal
The rest of the cast are superb too with a great turn from Ray Sahetapy as the boss Tama who plays his role perfectly with an unnerving laid-back, almost passive attitude for such a evil and ruthless individual. Joe Taslim who plays Jaka is worth mentioning too as his fighting style is so crisp and clean, almost effortless in his execution he's a damn good watch.

The other great thing about this film is that the director is Welsh! Now it would be my number one choice regardless of the director's nationality but the fact that a fellow countryman has gone out and made this brilliant film is the icing on the cake. We don't get too many chances to be proud of our country, hell not many know we're even here, but we can definitely be proud of Gareth Evans. All credit to him for opening up peoples eyes to Indonesian cinema and getting a subtitled film to be such a huge hit. No question about it, easily my film of the year.

Please go out and buy/rent these films and support the talented individuals that made them. The more you support the more these guys can make.

So those are my films of the years, just my opinion and that doesn't count for a great deal. If you agree or disagree then let me know in the comments section or feel free to tell me whatever I've missed out although I should mention that I did see Avengers and Dark Knight Rises and neither lived up to the hype for me so I wouldn't bother trying to change my mind on those two.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for my Albums of The Year that will be up at some point tomorrow evening.



Affleck is The Shit

So a little while back I went and caught Ben Affleck's latest film Argo. I had very high hopes as the first two films Affleck has directed, Gone Baby Gone and The Town, have been two of my favourite films of the last decade. Affleck, it turns out, does not like to disappoint.

Argo is awesome and not just because Rory Cochrane is in it looking like this.

"Ben, is it okay if I leave Tehran now? I'm gonna leave Tehran now?"
For those that don't know, Argo tells the story of Antonio Mendez (Played superbly by the non Antonio Mendezy Ben Affleck) on a mission to save six U.S. diplomats from Tehran, Iran. After the U.S embassy in Tehran is stormed in retaliation for the Americans taking in recently deposed Shah, the six diplomats slip away and hole up in the Canadian Ambassador's house. The American government must then try to get the diplomats out of the country before the Iranians realise that the embassy is six hostages short. The Americans, well Affleck, decide(s) the best way to save these citizens is to pretend they are part of a Canadian film crew scouting for locations for a Star Wars type film and then try and march them out through the Iranian's front door (or Airport). You'd be forgiven for thinking that sounds a tad far fetched and more than a little insane.

This film is based on a true story!!! Poking about on this here internets I've found that it is only loosely based on true events but that there is even the slightest bit of truth to this is mental. It's worth noting that the story is based on Antonio Mendez's account of events and therefore could and should be exaggerated, hell I wouldn't sell myself short if Affleck was making a movie about me.

High concept aside Argo is a pretty straightforward movie that is executed brilliantly, the plot unfolds naturally and is very uncomplicated. The early scenes of the mob outside the embassy in particular, look spectacular and are downright terrifying, more importantly though these scenes really give a good understanding of how the Iranian people felt and why they felt that way.

The main thing I absolutely love about this film is that it's for grown ups. It's a 70's film, I don't mean in setting (I think it was technically 1980/81), it's more the tone of it. For me 70's cinema was the shit, most of my favourite films tend to come from that era, and the reason I enjoy that period of film-making most is that not everything is spoon fed to you. The story tends to develop naturally and quite often at a slower pace than the cinema of today, there doesn't seem to be a need to hit beats/go through the motions and I prefer it that way. I appreciate I'm going a little off track here but if you could please allow me a moment longer to try and fully explain what I mean here. A large number of films made in the 70's (and the 60's) are the equivalent to how real albums are made. It's a piece of work that should be enjoyed start to finish and  in it's entirety. The films of the last decade or so, not all though as this film proves, are how flavour of the month pop albums are made, no one really cares a great deal how we get from A to B as long as there is a couple of singles on there. Argo slowly belts you in and takes you up the hill before dangling you over the edge and letting you see the roller coaster ride that's ahead of you, the suspense filled ending doesn't work without the slow build of the first 3/4 of the film and the viewer is therefore rewarded for handing themselves over to the film.

It's also nice to see a film that's comfortable with what it is, Argo is actually a pretty funny movie. It knows it's a bob on suspenseful thriller but that doesn't mean it can't poke a little fun at Hollywood and it doesn't mean it can't have a couple of goofy moments (Rory Cochrane in the market). Rather than being confined by the expectations of it's target audience, it's not afraid to straddle genres and it manages to do it without becoming disjointed or messy.

The acting in the film is tremendous and the supporting cast made up of Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Victor Garber, and Bryan Cranston and countless others joining the previously mentioned Ben Affleck and Rory Cochrane. There's a real subtlety to the performances on display and it's with good reason that this film is being mentioned an awful with regards to awards season.

All in all folks should check this film, it's one hell of a ride but more importantly you're witnessing one of the best directors this generation has to offer doing his thing and that is a real pleasure. If none of this has convinced you then at least watch it for Affleck's majestic beard work.

I'm done.