November 12, 2007

Sweating Honey = Tasty Persperation

Posted in Entertainment tagged , at 11:41 am by Cruthers

Sweating HoneyIf your in Fairbanks Alaska and over 21 and haven’t heard of the band Sweating Honey, man are you missing out.

“Sweating Honey’s music is a melting pot of genres, ranging from Reggae to Latin, Hip-Hop to Country Rock, and R&B to Bluegrass: New-Americana sounds spliced with socially conscious lyrics and a powerful train wreck of energy to create an epic and original”

Sweating Honey’s sound may be undefinable but their stage charisma and energy certainly isn’t; it’s elemental. You can see it pass through a crowd as girls and guys alike naturally gravitate towards the dance floor to participate in what is know as “Hippy dancing.” Hippy dancing roughly defined is the act of dancing with no discernible style, egotism or taste. Basically you get out on the dance floor and let loose with a barrage of swing dancing, Russian folk dancing, Michael Jackson’s Thriller (you know the zombie one), jumping in place and anything else you can think of to your feet’s delight.

To hear a sample of their work, check out their MySpace page (Hide and Seek is quite popular but it’s much better live) or their website in which you can download their entire EP album for free. For a chance to see them live they are known to tour the northwest during the summer including; Alaska, Canada, Washington, Oregon, Northern California and Colorado.

Their regular haunts are The Marlin and the University Pub among other bars and taverns around Fairbanks. So if you see they’re playing; gather up your friends, dress comfortable, have a few drinks and hippy dance till last call, you won’t be disappointed.

November 5, 2007

JT, The New King of Pop?

Posted in Critique, Entertainment tagged , , at 1:03 pm by Cruthers

FutureSexLoveSounds The new Justin Timberlake album, FutureSex/LoveSounds is one of the best sounding pop albums since Michael Jackson’s Thriller was pressed onto vinyl oh so long ago (Thriller music video). While MJ got it right on his sixth attempt, JT appears to be vying for the crown as king of pop by dropping a monster of an album on only his second try. Thanks are largely due to producer Timbaland who has recently put out a plethora of amazingly catchy material. Timbaland adds heavy beats, lots of synth effects, a wide variety of urban talent (i.e. Three 6 Mafia, T.I., will.i.am), solid production and the ability to mold and cook JT’s voice like a piece of raw dough. However JT must be given a large amount of credit in his fore-site to see that in order to become a true pop-star sometimes you have to take risk. And FutureSex/LoveSounds was one heck of a risk.

The album you can tell is going to be different from his previous works by the way it starts out. FutureSex/LoveSounds the song, is an odd mix of futuristic synth, groovy guitar and whispery pressing lyrics. This trend continues with the first single Sexyback, albeit the sound changes to an aggressive driving beat, heavy voice distortion and somewhat annoying repetitious lyrics. The next song of real interest is My Love, simply an amazing song that’s so cool it doesn’t need to be told it’s cool to be cool, it just is. My Love, while a bit long in the tooth for a pop song (4min 36secs), features rap solos that can only be described as nailing it. LoveStoned/I Think She Knows (Interlude) is another song that can be described as amazing however for completely different reasons. More poppy and upbeat than My Love the preceding song, LoveStoned replaces cool with fun and offers interesting contrast with a somewhat melancholy ending in I Think She Knows (Interlude). What Goes Around…/…Comes Around is a song that everyone can understand. Love has been lost but seemingly to causes outside of ones control and there is nothing left to do but to move on. Its anger and disgust is palpable, we hear JT voice our emotion and directly relate asking him to sing it again , which he does for a full five minutes.

There are other hits on the album including the heavy rap song Chop Me Up (featuring Three 6 Mafia), the throwback song Summer Love and the surprisingly soulful song Losing My Way (which is ironic because what does a Mouseketeer know about crack?). The album on a whole shows off JT’s wide range of talent and the assortment of different hats he can wear. From playful teen pop star, soul singer, techno beat guy to bad boy, Mr. Timberlake succeeds wildly at each. The only question remaining is what will he do to top his already impressive music carrier? Hopefully something as new, dynamic and solid as what he’s making today. Big order, but the king of pop is a big title and won’t go to those not worthy of wearing its illustrious crown.

To hear a shortened podcast version of this review which includes several examples from the album, please click this link to download an mp3 or click the play button below to play the file in your browser.

October 22, 2007

The Stack Up – II

Posted in Entertainment, The Stack Up tagged , , at 4:19 pm by Cruthers

Well I couldn’t resist, The Stack Up is a fun and easy blog item to do, so here is a second The Stack Up in the same week.

This weeks additional The Stack Up; music singles by Kayne West and The Fruit Guys.

Kanye West - Stronger single coverThe Kayne West – 50 Cent battle that ensued when both artists released their album on the same day, September 11, 2007, appears to have a clear monetary and reviewed victor, Mr. Kayne West. His single, Stronger, samples from the already popular Daft Punk song, Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger, and does something pretty telling about the music industry. Kayne West takes the song, slows it down, chops it up as a chorus and underlying beat, poorly raps to it and yet sells millions of more copies than Daft Punk could ever dream of. The song is worth listening to, it’s pretty catchy; however it just makes me want to listen to the original sample even more once it’s done.

Recommendation: Listen to it on the radio and then go buy a Daft Punk album.

The Fruit Guys - BlueIf you’ve never heard of The Fruit Guys don’t feel bad, they don’t really exist as a band in the traditional sense. The Fruit Guys are part of a marketing campaign by the Fruit of The Loom company comprised of four guys dressed as different fruits playing instruments and singing about cotton undergarments. Normally I try not to pay attention to advertising jingles in the hopes of warding off the Pavlov’s dog effect. However in the case of The Fruit Guys song/jingle Blue, I can’t help but take notice. It’s so well done that I could have easily mistaken it as a new Coldplay single on the radio, if not for the subtle differences in the singer’s voices. The music video is as incredibly well done as the song, using a variety of backwards photography, slow motion and selective blue shading for the world that surrounds the band members. In a word, wow, if only all advertising could be this creative.

Recommendation: Add to your “mellow” playlist and see how many people you can convince that you have the new Coldplay single

The Stack Up – I

Posted in Entertainment, The Stack Up tagged , , at 3:33 pm by Cruthers

So to try something different this week I’ve decided to introduce a continuing article entitled, The Stack Up. In this article I will select and review several items of entertainment culture and submit a recommendation.

This weeks The Stack Up is; music singles by 50 Cent and The Foo Fighters

50 Cent - Ayo Technology single coverFirst up is 50 Cents first single, Ayo Technology(aka She Wants It) off his new 2007 album, Curtis. In the song, 50 Cent discuss’ the main attraction of strippers, sex appeal very much akin to T-Pains 2006 single I’m N Luv (Wit a Stripper) (interesting enough both songs peaked out a #5 on the Top 100 Billboard). However we’re not looking for lyrical depth in a 50 Cent pop song, no instead we want a good hook, catchy beat and a chorus you can sing in the shower. Of these traits Ayo Technology succeeds on all accounts. However we knew it had too good as it was produced by mega producer Timbaland and guest stars the golden goose Justin Timberlake (If you don’t own FutureSex /LoveSounds, find money and buy it, best pop album since Michael Jackson’s Thriller).

Recommendation: Bump it in your car and at parties with a futuristic urban flair.

Foo Fighters - The Pretender single coverNext up is another first single, The Foo Fighters – The Pretender. Simply a fantastic alternative rock song. It’s quite melodic intro draws you into the song making you strain to hear the words and just as you’ve adjusted, the song slams into a driving beat and you smile as you realize that yes indeed this is the post-grudge band The Foo Fighters. Lyrically it’s just another rebellion song.

What if I say I’m not like the others?
What if I say I’m not just another one of your plays?
You’re the pretender
What if I say that I’ll never surrender?

The video enforces this concept drawing imagery of post-apocalyptic throngs of faceless law enforcers (i.e. V for Vendetta, Escape from L.A. or THX-1138). However the songs merit lies in it’s supreme delivery and raw emotion (much like the grudge style it roots from).

Recommendation: Turn it up while working out or while plotting to overthrow the government

October 1, 2007

Dirty South Meets Meaningful Lyrics

Posted in Critique, Entertainment tagged , , at 2:46 pm by Cruthers

Chamillionaire - Ultimate VictoryStill floating high from the massive hit that was the 2006 Riddin’, Chamillionaire (or Hakeem Seriki) could have went the way of many of his hip-hop compatriots and let the gravy train roll in while producing increasingly inferior albums. However thankfully I believe that Ultimate Victory proves that while Chamillionaire’s southern style of “snap rap” is subject to simple beats and non-sense lyrics, he attempts to rise above the stereotype and do his own thing in a creative and thoughtful manner.

I have thoroughly enjoyed Ultimate Victory for the past couple of weeks, listening to it between classes and in my car with the bass turned up. What I think really hooked me in was seeing the music video on BET and later searching for the long version of Hip-Hop Police/The Evening News on youtube.com. In the video and in a fair percentage of Chamillionaire’s rhymes, Chamillionaire criticizes the modern media and the lack of balance present today. As a journalist this speaks to me. The discontent present reverberates throughout the album and through a good pair of speakers. However I don’t agree with all of his accusations such as that 9/11 was a timed attack and that white kids anticipating rap albums is a degrading thing (white people make up around 75 percent of the US market, get over it). But I do agree that “Bill O’Reilly somewhere is hating” and ironic lyrics like,

No time to trip don’t be confused, cause this type of news depends on interviews
Got no time for no interviews (got-got no time for no interviews)

Sadly and somewhat expectantly, the album has faults with a few duds such as Rock Star, which features the simply awful rapper Lil Wayne who seems to be inexplicably popular and featured as a guest on many top albums these days. Also the track, The Ultimate Vacation feels too mellow and out of place.

Thankfully the majority of the album is great and thus the bad aspects are more forgivable. Starting with the media and government critical track The Morning News, you know that this isn’t just another party disc but that Chamillionaire actually has something going on upstairs. Followed by the albums single, Hip-Hop Police is a story of injustice and misdirected blame on the rap community for all the worlds’ woes. Next up is Won’t Let You Down, a slow mournful track with great bass. Industry Groupie’s 80’s sport movie music sample is fun though the track is no more than an elongated shout out. Possibly the best track on the album is Bill Collecta featuring Krayzie Bone from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. The song subject matter doesn’t break ground but the preceding skit and the raspy whispery voice of Krayzie Bone simply nails it and will make you fear the “bill collecta”. For a song with more interesting subject matter and a contender for best track turn to I Think I Love You in which Chamillionaire anthropomorphizes money as a woman, musing about the joy and seemingly fated heartache she causes. The Evening News repeats the first tracks message and style but is different enough to still enjoy. Now while Stuck in The Ghetto may be labeled a skit, I personally think it’s strong enough to be labeled an actual song if it was longer. When I first heard the track I knew I had to learn how to play it, so eventually I came across this video of Tony Henry playing it live and copied the chord progression from watching him. Great song. Finally we come to Chamillionaire’s outro The Ultimate Victory in which he thanks everyone for helping him to achieve all that he has and hopefully will keep achieving.

If it seems like I just listed the entire album, you’re close to the truth. The album is chocked full of hits, great production and refreshing attitude that begs to be bumped at parties and in cars. If you like southern rap or good hip-hop in general, go buy this album I assure you won’t regret it.