Monday, December 31, 2007

Last-minute party plans

Posted by on Mon, Dec 31, 2007 at 6:34 PM

Ah, the pressure of New Year's Eve. If you don't do anything, you risk the superstitious result of having a lame 2008. Or maybe you use the "it's amateur night" excuse to escape making plans. "Everything is too expensive," is another good, albeit true, one. If you'd like to go out, but want to avoid the above scenarios, here are three worthwhile options:

Funk at the Five Spot. $20. 8 p.m. 1123 Euclid Ave. 404-223-1100. 18 and over. CL readers voted Entropy Atlanta's Best Local R&B/Soul Act in 2006, and the Athens-to-East Atlanta group just gets better every year. That's even more true for this show, as members of the P-Funk crew are scheduled to join the band. DJ Rock Most and the Danceformers will also be on hand. The Five Spot is an art-filled, no-frills neighborhood joint, so no worries about the posers who tend to flock to the big bashes. With ladies free before 9 p.m., $3 Terrapin, and $5 Jäger bombs, you can spend your cash on drinks and the Spot's better-than-average quesadillas and sandwiches while you get funked up.

Drum and bass at the Mark. $15. 9 p.m. 79 Poplar St. 678-904-0050. 21 and over. 180 Degrees and Abstract Logic Recordings bring a bunch of Renegade Hardware DJs to the Mark for NYE 07/08. The main room — with probably the best sound for venues still hosting dnb parties, even if you have to throw 'bows for dancing room — features Vicious Circle, Nocturnal, Tetradin, Atlanta's Ideal and MCs Race One and Kakarot on the mic. Catch your breath — maybe, but at least some breathing room — in the lounge with Sunz of Mecha, REL-1, Eric Zbd, Viirus, Lee Stokes, and Wes'ed. All for the low, low price of $15 — less than most non-holiday dnb parties.

Hip-hop at Lenny's. $5. 8 p.m. 486 Decatur St. 404-577-7721. 21 and over. Dropbombz.com serves your NYE needs with 5 Dollar Holla, a party on the cheap ($5 all night, ladies free before 10 p.m.), where you can also drink cheap ($5 Jäger bombs), but the quality of hip-hop is high. Ishues, Dres Tha Beatnik, Dropbombz, Rising Sons, Mr. SOS and Technolojesus are sure to show you a good time without feeling like you need bottle service to belong.

Whatever you end up doing, happy New Year's!

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Friday, December 28, 2007

2007: I'm so over (and under) the year in music

Posted by on Fri, Dec 28, 2007 at 11:38 PM

Dear Andisheh,

My heart goes out to you. And my ears. Though I didn't suffer from sinusitis, I did buy an iPod for the first time in '07 and, yeah, it did kinda freak around with the way I listen to music.

In some ways that was a good thing. But whatever the iPod and downloadable music has done to my listening experience, I'm just glad it hasn't deterred artists from making (or attempting to make) real albums — rather than random songs strung together on one CD. Of course, some succeeded while others sucked.

Here are some of the overrated, underrated and old albums I dug and dismissed in '07. Maybe some of these will help you get over your 'year in music' blues:

1. Best and most slept-on album (I think): Saul Williams, The Inevitable Rise and Fall of NiggyTardust — I'm starting with the big category first because, as you revealed, the iPod has your attention-span all jacked up and I know I could lose you quick. So you know the story with Radiohead, Prince, the Eagles — they all dropped nontraditional releases (online, Wal-Mart, etc.). Well, Saul Williams did, too. But instead of limiting his boldness to his method of distribution, he actually hooked up with Trent Reznor who produced the album. Need I say more? Actually, I will. You can download it for free, with liner notes and artwork included, or you can pay $5. Who does that? The reason why I "think" it was the most slept-on is because I just haven't heard much buzz about it. But it was better than his first two albums, and it was free. Uh, I mean $5. (Think I just told on myself.)

2. Most disappointing album: Wu-Tang Clan, 8 Diagrams — Turned out all the talk leaking out of the Wu camp was semi-correct. RZA produced a pretty uneven album, shifting between that "ooh baby I like it raw" Wu fans have come to expect and some borderline campy stuff. Not necessarily commercial, but compromising (the joint with George Clinton is straight corny). I was surprised. If anything, I expected the complaints from his crew about his beats meant he was leaning too far to the left. Guess it's hard to score Hollywood flicks and keep it grimy simulaneously. Oddly, RZA sounds better rapping over his own beats than he ever has.

3. Most over-hyped album: Kanye West, Graduation — Yep, there were a lot of Kanye West dick-riders in '08. And honestly, I don't blame them. It's hard out here for a mainstream critic. A lot of disposable music rises to the top. And I think that's because, like the industry, a lot of music writers are still depending on the old label system for the bulk of their music. But I digress. Kanye West put out another damn good album; I can't hate. But it was a minor triumph next to Late Registration. It makes sense that he thinks Graduation is his best ever, as he spouts in every interview. He accomplished what he sought out to: achieve stadium-status by making an album full of big, bombastic songs. You can't compete with "Can't Tell Me Nothing"; it's the song of the year — not "Stronger" as Spin magazine proclaimed. And the ode to his tenuous relationship with Jay-Z, "Big Brother," is probably one of the most honest sentiments expressed in a rap song since Scarface said "day by day it's more impossible to cope/I feel like I'm the one that's doing dope." I could go on, but the point is Kanye made some of the best songs of his career. Just not the best album.

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2007: My year in music

Posted by on Fri, Dec 28, 2007 at 6:04 PM

Dear Rodney-

I used to love making year-end, top 10 lists of the music I listen to, but this year I can't.

Here's a list of reasons why.

1. The iPod has destroyed my ability to listen patiently — When I listened to music on vinyl, cassettes and CDs, I used to listen to albums from beginning to end. Now I skip around like mad. Even if I'm enjoying a song, I'll skip to the next one halfway through. I'm an impatient person and iPods enable my impatience. I listen to music constantly, but I don't think I've listened to 10 albums from beginning to end this year.

2. A lot of musicians I adore put out lousy records this year — Since about 1973, Bryan Ferry has been peppering his solo albums with great Bob Dylan covers. This year, he put out an entire album of Dylan covers, and it sucked. Seriously fucking awful. Brett Anderson (formerly of Suede), Crowded House and Björk all disappointed me as well.

3. My sinuses have been bugging me — For the past six months, I've been fighting a war of attrition against a sinus infection. Being in smoky bars, the kind where music is often performed, makes it hard for me to breathe. I'm a civil libertarian and don't think Atlanta should outlaw smoking in bars. If the city did, however, I'd certainly see more live shows.

4. My ears have been bugging me. I photographed Deerhunter at the Earl last summer for CL and forgot to bring earplugs. My right ear has been ringing ever since. The ringing gets worse if I'm exposed to loud noises for extended periods of time.

5. I live in a townhouse now — After six years of living in single-family, detached homes, my fiancee and I moved to a townhouse in Decatur. I've got a decent stereo, but I'm reluctant to play music too loudly because I don't want to annoy my neighbors. The result is that a lot of the music I listen to lately is just background music.

6. I have a loud car — I own a 1973 Mercedes-Benz 220D. It's a lovely car, but there are two things wrong with it. Thing 1: The transmission is stuck in third gear, which means I can't drive it right now. Thing 2: When I can drive it, it's so damn loud that music cannot be heard over the car's tiny, single dashboard-mounted speaker.

7. Instrumental music — Since I started working at CL full-time in March, I've started listening to instrumental jazz and ambient music on my iPod. I can't make a list of it, though, because I'm not really sure what I'm listening to. Without lyrics, I have trouble remembering names of songs.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

North Mississippi Allstars slice it down the middle

Posted by on Thu, Dec 27, 2007 at 11:12 PM

The North Mississippi Allstars play the Fox Theatre’s New Year's Eve bash as part of the Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi Soul Stew Revival. $35-$45. 9 p.m.

Written by Grant Britt

“We’ve never been a blues band,” North Mississippi Allstars' bassist Chris Chew says. “People have tried to make us one, but rock will eventually come out.” For their latest, Hernando, named after the bandmembers’ hometown, you get the best of both worlds.

That’s largely due to the guiding hand of Allstars patriarch Jim Dickinson, legendary producer of a genre-straddling array of artists from Ry Cooder to the Replacements. Dickinson has guided the recorded product of sons Luther on guitar and Cody on drums along with Chew on bass since the band’s ’01 sophomore effort 51 Phantom.

Left to its own devices, the band takes a scattergun approach to recording, writing lyrics on the bus and working out the songs during sound check. But for the latest effort, the elder Dickinson demanded that the band do demos of all the songs they wanted to record before he’d let them in his Memphis, Tenn.-based Ardent Studios. “We had all kinds of songs demo’d up, man,” Luther said recently by phone from his Senatobia, Miss., home. “But he kept me on track [by saying], ‘Naw, we’re gonna make a blues rock record.'”

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Remembering Ben Eberbaugh (1980-2002) five years later...

Posted by on Thu, Dec 27, 2007 at 8:52 PM

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BABY LIPS: Ben Eberbaugh (from left), Joe Bradley, Jared Swilley and Cole Alexander

As December 2007 draws to a close, it has been brought to my attention that this month marks the five-year anniversary of Ben Eberbaugh's death. Hard to believe that it has been so long. Ben was one of the earliest and most substantial guitar players and vocalists for the Black Lips; he played a key role in getting the ball rolling for the group. His death came as a shock to everyone.

I knew him well. We worked together at an "alternative boutique"/clothing store in Little Five Points, called Junkman's Daughter. Indeed, those were dark days for both of us.

At some point, I quit. Ben was later fired for missing too many shifts, or something like that, and went on to get a job at the Majestic diner on Ponce. We stayed in touch. He was the first person to tell me that the Black Lips were in talks with Greg Show from Bomp!, which later culminated in the release of the group's first self-titled record.

Ben was also the one who always sought me out to coax me into writing something about their next show.

I found out about his death in a pretty harsh way. I had gone home to visit my friends and family in Iowa and Nebraska. It was a pre-holiday trip to avoid the chaos of traveling closer to Christmas. When I came home, there was a message on my voicemail from a Fox 5 reporter. It said to call him back, so I did. I assumed it was about some writing job I had applied for somewhere down the line. I don't remember his name.

I called the guy back and he says, "Radford... Radford... Oh yeah! I was calling you about the Black Lips and Ben Eberbaugh." So I say, "Yes, I know them well. What do you need to know?" Without missing a beat the guy says "Oh, you must not know yet. Ben died in a car accident. Hate to break the news to you. Gotta go!" Click...

That was pretty hardcore. I remember thinking that he must have been drunk, or that it was the result of some sort of negligence on his part. But it wasn't. He was hit by some woman who was driving the wrong way down Ga. 400.

There is no way to know for sure, but at the time people were speculating that she was going the wrong way down the highway to avoid paying the 75-cents toll. But who knows.

Here is a story that I wrote about the accident just a few days later for Creative Loafing.

Read the rest of this entry >>

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Lil Jon, Internet-savvy comedian

Posted by on Wed, Dec 26, 2007 at 9:09 PM

While the world waits for Lil Jon's long-delayed Crunk Rock, the dreadlocked producer/barker has seemingly embarked on a career as a comedian. Several days ago, I told you about a claymation cartoon that featured his distinctively crusty voice. Now he has a cartoon series, "Lil Jon's A'Town," that debuts New Year's Eve on Funnyordie.com, a comedy site produced by Gary Sanchez Productions, a company owned by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Chris Henchy. "Lil Jon's A'Town"? I'm laughing already.

According to a post on Wooohah.com, the show will be posted on both Funnyordie.com and, in case you don't feel like wading through dozens of skits featuring Judd Apatow and Ted Danson, Lil Jon's MySpace page. For a preview, check out "Terminal Bling," a skit he recently made for the site.

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T.I. wishes you a merry X-mas

Posted by on Wed, Dec 26, 2007 at 7:27 PM

Well, it's the day after Christmas, and I hope you got all the presents you wanted. Certainly everyone got one nice surprise yesterday -- a new video missive from T.I.

As the world knows, T.I.'s first public statements after his arrest came in the form of a video message posted Nov. 13 on Streetcred.com, an Atlanta-based multimedia and social-networking site he reportedly owns, according to an MTV.com story. In the new message, which was posted Monday, Dec. 24, he thanks his fans for their support as he stands by a massive Christmas tree. "Stay focused on what you got to do. Don't worry about me, man. Find something else to worry about, Holmes. God got me covered." He also talks about his kids, the new album Paper Trail -- which he says is 30 percent done -- and rumors surrounding his Grand Hustle family.

T.I. ends by saying, "Merry Christmas. Happy holidays. Have a safe New Year's, on behalf of the king himself and Grand Hustle. Keep it pimpin'."

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/kZOc0B7ZRDA" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Buffie the Body's booty won't 'shit on the industry'

Posted by on Sat, Dec 22, 2007 at 12:02 AM

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If you aren't familiar with Buffie the Body, you're about to get an eyeful. And an earful.

In a recent issue, contributing writer Ben Westhoff wrote about the former video chick whose claim to fame is her 45-inch ass.

Of course, it comes as no surprise that she's gained plenty of critics who believe she's made an ass of herself by making a career off of it. The Athens native isn't new news, but in a year when the negativity in hip-hop has been harped on incessantly, it's worth rehashing.

And Westhoff does a fine job of it. To read his full piece, click here.

Just be sure you come back to listen to part one and two of Westhoff's podcast with her, which he recorded in Athens.

In part one, she defends her career choice and the industry using some choice words. You can click here to listen.

Part two offers a rare glimpse into the life of a high-paid "video ho" (the term most often associated with women like Buffie who choose such a career path). While obviously sitting among her family, she explains the difference between her three cell phones and how the status of her relationship with someone can be determined by what phone number they have. For part two, click here to listen.

No doubt, Buffie; we've got your number.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

DJ Drama's dramatic Billboard drop

Posted by on Fri, Dec 21, 2007 at 11:24 PM

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DJ Drama's Gangsta Grillz: The Album (released on Atlantic) may help legitimize the mixtape king in the industry's eyes, but it means nothing if the streets ain't buying it.

After debuting at No. 26 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, Drama's CD dropped all the way to No. 91 in week two. In a recent New York Times article, he blames the drop in over-the-counter CD sales on the industry's mixtape crackdown that started with his January '07 raid and arrest:

“Look at the last four or five years of hip-hop, and those who’ve really built names for themselves in the game, the majority of it comes from mixtapes, period. Without that, you don’t have any movements.”

To read the full story, click here.

In Drama's case, he may also be suffering from lack of buzz, since he failed to capitalize on all the unintended publicity his arrest garnered with a quicker release date.

You can read what DJ Drama had to say about that and plenty more in Mosi Reeves' interview with him by clicking here.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tacuba, sí

Posted by on Wed, Dec 19, 2007 at 9:44 PM

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CAFÉ TACUBA LAST THURSDAY AT MASQUERADE: One of the band’s less-enthusiastic fans

(photo by Joeff Davis)

Even by the Masquerade’s high standards, the audience at Mexican quartet Café Tacuba’s one-night stand last Thursday was wildly enthusiastic. From dancing and cheering loudly for more than two hours, to rushing the stage, grabbing the microphone and shouting out lyrics while lead singer Ruben Ortega smiled approvingly, the band’s audience proved its devotion for all things Tacuba.

The Mexican quartet didn’t disappoint, either, offering up a poptastic mash embracing alternative rock, ska and punk, while referencing Depeche Mode’s “Policy of Truth” and the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows.” The band’s only misstep: not setting up a merchandise table so fans could buy T-shirts and copies of its new CD, Sino. It would have made a killing that night.

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