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 +1Posted on Jan 30th | re: Big Sean - "Blessings" (Feat. Drake & Kanye West) (45 comments)

Nope, I think that you did a better job and became my best friend when you used “Who I Am” to analyze the way he raps around a beat. Honestly, that songs is when I went from hater to fan of Big Sean.

 +1Posted on Jan 30th | re: Big Sean - "Blessings" (Feat. Drake & Kanye West) (45 comments)

Kind of embarrassing but I started my defense of Big Sean a little after you but didn’t see yours until I reloaded the page. Dammit, you beat me to the punch, Parker. Now I’ll just have to go back to the shadows and become Venom…

 +4Posted on Jan 30th | re: Big Sean - "Blessings" (Feat. Drake & Kanye West) (45 comments)

The way Big Sean flows is actually my favorite part about him. When drumming (usually on a drum set), the way you play is usually described as being being behind, on-top-of, or ahead of the beat. At it’s most extreme, if you are playing behind the beat you run the risk of dragging, and if you are playing ahead of the beat you run the risk of rushing (both of which are portrayed in an abusive way in the phenomenal movie, Whiplash). Most percussionists (and rappers) get to a point where they are able to alter their feel when necessary for the music (for example when playing a variation of reggae it might make more sense to play slightly behind the beat then when playing dance music where you might stay slightly ahead to keep the energy going and not risk dropping tempo). Most dynamic performances teeter between the three but here, Big Sean is mostly right on top and inside of it (yep).

To my ears, what Big Sean is doing on this song is much more rhythmically-challenging than Drake (not in a bad way but might as well be on autopilot and ahead of the beat in moments) and Kanye (slightly behind the beat in a great way) combined. In the first verse, he has internalized the 12/8 feel and is actually rapping with the beat in straight triplets. The craziest part for me (that lets me know that he is completely in the zone) is the part you are talking about between 0:57 and 1:03 because he uses that part to break his triplets then continue again with them so that his turn of phrase about people talking behind his back and it all coming back to him arrives back on the beat. Very challenging stuff that is so precise that it couldn’t have happened on accident. Some percussionists get to a point where they aren’t able to describe what they are doing (not all pro’s make good teachers (which is true in most artistic/academic fields)) but they are able to do what they are doing because it has become second nature or “just feels right.”

Sure the second verse is less impressive than the first and he completely changed his feel at the end because he really wanted to get in that line about Shaq and Penny but I only needed to hear his first verse versus the first verses of Kanye and Drake to know who won this round. Big Sean also had the best moment on the disappointing “Detroit Vs. Everybody.” He has always had that annoying little brother charm since his “coming out party” on “Mercy” but dude seems to have a great work ethic because he has arguably stayed rapping his ass off ever since.

 +2Posted on Jan 28th | re: Album Of The Week: Natalie Prass Natalie Prass (84 comments)

February is almost here- come on man, fill up those (“semi to fully stellar”) vacancies!

00 D’Angelo (Yep…
01 Bjork (…you…)
02 Panda Bear (…fools…)
03 Viet Cong (…already…)
04 Sleater Kinney (…know)
05 Lupe Fiasco (Those 8+ minute tracks, holy shit! Also, the season interludes and increasing grit make me think of Requiem for a Dream (with opposite time effect)…*shudders*. You’re probably sleeping on Lu but WTFU and give T & Y at least one spin… or divide it into three EP’s to visit during morning, evening, and night)
06 Joey Bada$$ (Very impressive. NY is obviously in safe hands but mostly looking forward to him shaking its overwhelming historical influence)
07 The Dodos (Visiter is a classic for me and like others have said, Individ takes me back to those days. It has been on repeat quite a bit this weekend)
08 Mark Ronson (You Already Know: The Sequel)
09 Pond (This one will probably move up because Hobo Rocket did just that when it was released. I have only just listened to it today but they are progressing nicely as a band)
10 Belle & Sebastian (They weren’t a part of my musical upbringing or formative years like others here so their new release has been a good reintroduction for me)

(No, I haven’t had time to listen to (forget digest) all of the major releases of January yet, but who does when D’Angelo and Bjork deliberately (and accidentally) derail the train for those who plan in advance. I guess…f*** plans!?!)

(On the subject at hand) Natalie Prass is a damn good songwriter with cool arrangements backing her up but for me, her voice doesn’t quite gel with some of the material for maximum impact. I believe that the instrumentals which feature foreground brass are a bit too bombastic and busy and that she can’t quite match their power. I like the quirks in her voice but believe that if you substituted, for example, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes for the aforementioned songs, you have absolute fire on your hands. Prass sounds so much more natural and at home to me when she is singing over soaring instrumentals such as “Christy” and “It Is You” rather than competing over a groove. She just seems to have much more freedom and use of her range on those “Disney Songs (I would say Broadway Musical but Disney is perfect for “It Is You”).”

I guess it’s similar to the way that I felt about some of Girls’ material. That strained frail voice of Christopher Owens is fascinating with the lyrics that are coming out of it and the ju-xta-po-si-tion of the powerful arrangements surrounding it, but (especially when the gospel singers were added) I could never help but think what if Girls was just a songwriter project and songs were matched with the most stylistically appropriate singer (sort of the way Mark Ronson does it). However, I would guess that the intrigue of Owens’ background then falls…(to not quite steal a page from Mr. Breihan) to the background and Girls doesn’t work for people (primarily journalists) looking for more than the music.


Well damn, I stand corrected for not giving Wescott any credit above. I would buy a subscription if he released a collection of the previous year’s “top songs” in 8-bit arrangements every year. I for sure “Respect [his] motherfuckin’ craft.”

The tragedy of hearing the 8-bit beauty of “True Affection” is knowing that Tillman missed his true calling as an early 90′s RPG composer. Between this and Meow the Jewels, please god don’t let me like these bizzaro versions of great albums more than the originals!

 +1Posted on Jan 16th | re: Album Of The Week: Mark Ronson Uptown Special (56 comments)

Speaking of weddings, Get Lucky, Panda Bear, and now, the (completely surprising but appropriate) penultimate song of the playlist for the last wedding that I attended was “Doin’ It Right.” How do you like them apples! I loved them (as I do PBMTGR) and I pants off danced my ass off (and preceded to get arrested…but it’s cool, ’cause I met my future wife :).

 +1Posted on Jan 15th | re: Premature Evaluation: Sleater-Kinney No Cities To Love (125 comments)

My apologies to Queen Mary. I had a day off and didn’t make a year end list, so I decided to treat myself (and basically unleash an equivalent to public masturbation).

My list is definitely too east coast and personal but yeah, to the guys a few comments up, QOTSA takes the “rock cake.” I usually think of them as being an extension of Kyuss and having a much longer history but technically, everything besides their debut came out within the timeline I was using. Y’all (inthedeadofknight and cbishop) are correct in naming them the quintessential rock band, especially with Homme getting the torch pass from JPJ in Them Crooked Vultures.

I would like to one day edit my “strictly” rock credentials to include only bands that have guitar solos improvised or composed (Mr. Casablancas) in either 40% of their studio material or if it is a staple of the live show. Last but not least, I apologize to the solo princes (Gary Clark Jr., Kevin Parker and Ty Seagall) and princesses (Annie Clark and Matt Damon) of rollicking guitar rock.

 0Posted on Jan 13th | re: Premature Evaluation: Sleater-Kinney No Cities To Love (125 comments)

Sorry, that was a bit rude of me going off on a tangent. On my Kick-Ass ratings scale, No Cities to Love gets a rating of Bad (Ass) Mother F***er. I can’t wait to hear these songs live!

 +1Posted on Jan 13th | re: Premature Evaluation: Sleater-Kinney No Cities To Love (125 comments)

I can’t really do last twenty years (because I’m not old enough), but I will happily make a list (ordered by productivity (number of studio albums released) of thirtyy+ bands that have rock roots (or just identify as rock bands) and were established within the last fifteen years. *I included bands that released debut albums/material in 1999. My only other criteria was that the bands had to have at least three albums (and myself, the general public, and/or critics had to enjoy a majority of their discography (very loose)).

1. Animal Collective 9 (4 as a “rock band with drums and guitars”)
2. The Black Keys 8 (I would have omitted duos but oh well)
3. The Walkmen 7 (IMO, the most underrated)
4. Liars 7 (They might no longer be a rock band; probably will release an acoustic album next)
5. Dr. Dog 7 (Pretty low key and very hard working as well)
6. The White Stripes 6
7. My Morning Jacket 6 (Hard to beat their live show)
8. Deerhunter 6 (Probably my favorite discography with TVOTR, Liars, The Walkmen, and Arctic Monkeys 2,3, 4, & 5)
9. TV on the Radio 6
10. The New Pornographers 6 (I guess I’ll allow supergroups)
11. The National 6
12. The Mars Volta 6
13. The Hold Steady 6
14. Arctic Monkeys 5 (How did no one mention them?)
15. The Strokes 5
16. Interpol 5
17. Man Man 5 (They might be the only ones who can top MMJ’s live show)
18. Broken Social Scene 4
19. Yeah Yeah Yeahs 4
20. Franz Ferdinand 4
21. Arcade Fire 4
22. Bloc Party 4
23. Wild Beasts 4
24. The Horrors 4
25. Beach House 4
26. Grizzly Bear 3
27. Wolf Parade 3
28. LCD Soundsystem 3 (Of course, DFA live shows were from the past, present and future. The Prastuture)
29. The Rapture 3
30. Vampire Weekend 3
31. Titus Andronicus 3
32. The Dirty Projectors 3 (I know, just roll with me on this one)

If you put a gun to my head I could whittle the list down to ten that I believe might last forever: 1, 2, 6, 7, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21, and Coldplay…(Parachutes came out in 2000, and I’ve got a gun held against my head).