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Archive for the ‘Snoop Dog’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS 3 (1997).

Sarah had this album on cassette, so I recently upgraded it to CD for her.  There are some good songs on here, but the end kind of degenerates into unpleasantness.  Looking at the track listing of the rest of the Very Special Christmas releases I can;t imagine ever getting (or even listening to) another one.

STING-“I Saw Three Ships”
Sting is back.  Compared to the previous song, this is a delightfully spare version of this song.  And it’s quite nice (and short).

THE SMASHING PUMPKINS-“Christmastime”
I’ve recently realized how much I dislike Corgan’s voice, but I do like his arranging.  This song is quite pretty and his voice is kind of submerged a bit so that’s good, too.

NATALIE MERCHANT-“Children Go Where I Send Thee”
O good Lord.  Sarah and I both like Natalie, but jeez this song is so repetitive and so freaking long.  One verse would have been fine.  But five? Hold crap.  I do like the “one for the little bitty baby” line, though.

REV RUN & THE CHRISTMAS ALL STARS FEATURING MASE, PUFF DADDY, SNOOP DOGGY DOGG, SALT-N-PEPA, ONYX & KEITH MURRAY-“Santa Baby” [NSFC]
Oh boy is this terrible.  A horrible update to a horrible song.  The original is kind of funny, but this is just excessive greed.  At least it mentions a ’98 benz so it is so dated that no one plays it anymore.

NO DOUBT-“Oi to the World”
Gotta say that I love this song.  It’s funny and fun and I would totally put this on a Christmas playlist.  This is back when I used to like Gwen Steafani.

SHERYL CROW-“Blue Christmas”
I don’t like this song and I’m mixed on Sheryl Crow, but this version works pretty well somehow.

BLUES TRAVELER-“Christmas”
I only know Blues Traveler from that one song with the long harmonica solo (I hate that harmonica sound).  But I love this song.  It actually reminds me a ton of Tenacious D (can t you just hear Jack Black singing this?)  It’s fun and really catchy.  I wonder if I need to listen to other Blues Traveler songs.

ENYA-“Oíche Chiún (Silent Night)”
This song is very pretty and I have the single for it.

HOOTIE & THE BLOWFISH-“The Christmas Song”
Darius Rucker does have a good voice, but what the hell is going on in this cheesy phoned-in version?

CHRIS CORNELL WITH ELEVEN-“Ave Maria”
This is a nice (if not over the top–but is any version not over the top?).  But for heaven’s sake why is it 6 minutes long?

MARY J. BLIGE FEATURING ANGIE MARTINEZ-“Christmas in the City”
This is pretty much everything I hate in one Christmas song.  Cheesy beats, rambling verses, whiny choruses.

JONNY LANG-“Santa Claus Is Back in Town”
This is pretty close to everything else I hate in one Christmas song.  A blues song that feels like it goes on for 6 minutes.  Good grief.

DAVE MATTHEWS & TIM REYNOLDS-“Christmas Song”
This live version sounds better than the studio version I have elsewhere, but it’s still way too slow and mumbly and way way too long.

STEVE WINWOOD-“Christmas Is Now Drawing Near at Hand”
No one knows this “traditional” song, I’m sure.  It’s a slow English ballad, with no real melody.  I thought it was Peter Gabriel.  I kind of like it.

TRACY CHAPMAN-“O Holy Night”
This is an enjoyable version, understated and kind of weary-sounding.

PATTI SMITH-“We Three Kings”
My daughter rightly said that this version was very weird.  Patti is at her most Patti.  There’s  aton of mumbled spoken word competing with the song.  Even the chorus, which is so wonderfully catchy, is played like a dirge.  And like everything else bad on this record, it goes on for nearly 6 minutes.  CDs were bad for allowing people to sing for too long.

[READ: December 24, 2017] “Tripping Sunny Chaudhry”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection.

This story actually takes place on Christmas Eve!

The narrator and her husband head back to New Jersey for the holidays.  Back when she was younger, all the kids would head out to the woods for beers and a bonfire.

(more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THUNDERCAT-Tiny Desk Concert #660 (October 18, 2017).

I had never heard of Thundercat.  Except I probably have:

Thundercat, born Stephen Bruner, is willing and able to shape-shift to fit into just about any box you show him — he just won’t stay in there for long. Whether fusing his talent for jazz while a bassist with punk legacy act Suicidal Tendencies or as a member of Snoop Dogg’s band — maybe running a little too far with a solo here and there — the focus seems to eventually drift his way.

After releasing two brilliant solo albums, he was plucked to work on what eventually became one of the most important works of art released this decade: Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. Capitalizing off of the new exposure, he quickly released the EP The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam. That was followed about two years later by Drunk, his most solid project to date.

I didn’t know what to expect in the days leading to the performance, but I was hoping to get what I thought a Thundercat experience would be like. All boxes ended up checked: He arrived wearing a neon pink hoodie with his signature logo plastered about, kickboxing shorts, white chancletas, playing a Nintendo portable gaming console. He and his bandmates Dennis Hamm (keys) Justin Brown (drums) and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (violin), all master musicians in their own right, polished off some bacon croissant sandwiches and proceeded to give us three of the best of what Drunk has to offer.

Overall, Bruner sings with gentle falsetto.  Most of the lyrics are pretty funny, with some pointed lyrics.  But the really impressive thing is that he is playing a six string bass and getting all kinds of great sounds out of it.

I love love love the bass sound that he gets on all of the songs.  And I love that he throws in some fascinating solo moments where he does these incredible runs up and down the fretboard.

The bass is sort of watery on the first track “Lava Lamp.”  It opens with him picking out the melody on chords and some delightful backing ooohs.  The violin is electric and plays these really trippy synthy sounds.

The second song “Friend Zone” opens with watery rubbery chords from the bass and then a great funky bass line while the keys play.  The lyrics are really quite funny:

I’m your biggest fan but I guess that’s just not good enough /
is it because i wear my hair weird or because I like to play Diablo

The next time you call me / I’m just gonna sit and stare at the screen /waiting for the call to end.

If you’re not bringing tacos / you should just turn and walk away.

There’s some really cool squeaking violin notes that add a wonderful texture to overall piece.  And of course, there’s some great fat bass riffs

The chorus goes: “no one wants to be in the friend zone.”  As the song ends, he chuckles.

The final song “Them Changes” has even cooler sounds from the bass.  There’s echo and flange and it sounds like three people playing.  It’s really great, particularly the amazing bass runs.  The violin also has a really trippy echo on it.

Bruner’s bass is tremendous.  And I’m really curious to check out more from this guy.  (In fact, just listening to a few songs from the album, it’s pretty wild).

[READ: January 27, 2017] “‘Borat’: The Memo”

George Saunders is not afraid to attack injustice.  Sometimes he does it with humor.  Sometimes he does it very subtly.  And sometimes he does it in an incredibly unsubtle fashion (but still with humor).

It is clear that Saunders was completely offended by the movie Borat (this is not a timely posting about this piece I know).  But he wasn’t upset simply because Sasha Baron Cohen did rude things or was a little offensive.  He was offended at the very essence of what this movie did.

Disclosure: Sarah and I think the scene where Borat asks a stock boy what this is and the answer is “Cheese” over and over is absolutely hilarious.

So, how does Saunders deal with this movie?  By offering some suggestions for the DVD extras. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: LONELY ISLAND-Turtleneck & Chain (2011).

I liked “Lazy Sunday” quite a lot, but I didn’t feel compelled to get the album.  Then, when I heard Samberg on NPR, it made quite a compelling case for this second album.  So I decided to check it out.

Most comedy albums are juvenile, so let’s get that out of the way.  This is juvenile.  And, as with most SNL-derived humor, it’s a one note joke that gets stretched out.  The good news is that very few of the songs stretch too long (only one is more than three minutes) and the music itself is quite good–which allows for repeatedly listens.

The opening, “We’re Back!” is really quite funny.  It’s all about how the three guys have really tiny penises.  Ha ha, but it’s delivered with such great gangsta rap style that it is very, very funny.  “Mama” is a wonderful tribute to the singers’ Moms.  The song is interrupted by said mother over and over.  On this one, the joke might go on too much, but overall, it’s very funny.

The longest song is “Jack Sparrow” and it is one of the best ones on the disc.  It features Michael Bolton (!) singing his heart out about his love for the Pirates of the Caribbean movies–which is funny enough, but the guys are rapping behind him about something else entirely.  They keep trying to stop Bolton from hijacking the song.  It’s very well done (and man, say what you will, Bolton can belt out a song).

“Attracted to Us” goes on a bit too long (and at less than 2 minutes that’s a bad sign) and “Rocky” in which one of the dorky guys talks about fighting Rocky (ala The Fresh Prince) is a super long SNL skit (which is not a compliment).

“Turtleneck & Chain” features Snoop Dog and is just fantastic–I love hearing Snoop Dog rap this geek shit.  “Shy Ronnie 2: Ronnie & Clyde” also works very well with Rihanna on vocals.  The song itself is catchy and the joke, when it finally comes, is really good.

“Motherlover” is a sequel to “Dick in a Box” (“this is the second best idea we ever had”) and Justin Timberlake continues to impress me in his new role as a funny guy.  This is a gross song but it’s really crazy catchy (Timberlake must have written the chorus).

One of my favorite songs on the disc is “Threw It on the Ground.”  Musically, I think it’s fantastic and lyrically it is pretty funny.  I wish that they had had some better examples of things to throw on the ground (the cell phone joke is lame and they get kind of lazy by the end), but I get this song stuck in my head a lot.  Another song guaranteed to stay in your head forever is “I Just Had Sex,” a childish and silly song that is outrageously catchy.  And if it’s in your head it won’t leave.  (And yes it’s funny).

“Japan” is a crazy and funny look at Japanese culture while “After Party” is a bit one note.  “No Homo” on the other hand brings in a full circle hardcore joke that is at once offensive and hilarious. 

“The Creep” is pretty unsuccessful even with the help of Nicki Minaj–the video helps a little, but not enough.  As with most rap albums, the skits are the weakest link.  Without a song behind them the skits are good for one or two listens and some not even that (“Falcor vs Atreyu”?  “My Mic”? these wouldn’t even be funny if they were improvised, and yet they seem very deliberately planned–boy I hope there wasn’t more than one take).

Overall, this is a funny rap parody/tribute album.  It’s obvious that the guys love rap and they are quite successful in their stylings.  None of it works as well as “Weird Al”‘s “White and Nerdy” but honestly whatever could?  But “Weird Al” is PG, and Lonely Island fills in as the adult pranksters.

[READ: October 28, 2011] Chew: Volume One

Sarah gave me this book after reading the recommendation on The Hub.  She said it was really good but it was really gross.  And that’s quite an accurate assessment.

One thing that I liked about this book was that it had not one but two really cool ideas that run through the series.  Either one would be a compelling-enough premise, but putting them together makes for an excellent story with lots of possibilities.

The story is about Tony Chu, who is a policeman.  He is also cibopathic, which means that when he eats anything (except beets for some reason), he instantly knows the history of that food: eating fruits and vegetables shows him the tree it grew on and how it was harvested;  eating meat, well, just let your imagination go on that one.  That’s a pretty great premise.  But when he gets a murderer’s blood on his lips and he instantly knows the names and locations of all of his victims, well, that ups the intensity (and the grossness).

The second great premise is that the government has outlawed chicken because of the avian flu.  Millions of people died from the flu and now only chicken-substitutes are used.  There is now a black market for real chicken, including speakeasys, and the FDA is hot on the heels of all traffickers.  And yet, there is a small group of rebels who believe that the whole avian flu thing is a sham (including Tony’s brother Chow).  They don’t postulate why the sham was created, but they are out to set the record straight. 

Put these two ideas together and you get a hell of a story. (more…)

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