Archived entries for What I’m Listening To

ShezCrafti on Nerd Lunch Podcast #64 – Ninja Day!

I’m honored to have been a guest on the always awesome Nerd Lunch Podcast, especially for Episode #64 where we observed and celebrated that which is the most beloved and important day of the holiday season, NINJA DAY.

In this Ninja-tastic episode of Nerd Lunch, we watch and review Ninja III: The Domination starring Lucinda Dickey (of Breakin’ and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo fame) as an aerobics instructor who gets possessed by the spirit of an avenging ninja and goes on an epic killing rampage. Why the Oscars passed on this one, I will never understand.

Ninja III: The Domination

Join me, CT, Jeeg, and Pax for awkward discussions about ninjas doing awesome ninja-y things, playing arcade games while wearing leotards, how V8 Juice is better than sex, freakishly excessive body hair, and why Ninja IV: The Prosecution needs to happen. I hope you like Vanilla Ice.

Listen here:

Nerd Lunch Podcast #64 – Ninja Day

The Cult Film Club is here to rescue you from boring movies.

The cat’s sort of already out of the bag about this, but a few posts ago I hinted at my involvement in a new podcast project, and now I can officially announce it:

Cult Film Club

I, along with hosts Paxton Holley of Cavalcade of Awesome and Shawn Robare of Branded in the 80s, have combined our powers of awesome to bring you Cult Film Club, a monthly podcast and blog about MOVIES WE LOVE TO DEATH–the weirder, more obscure, or awesomely bad, the better. We’ll be covering movies from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond, with a good mix of action, martial arts, exploitation, comedy, westerns, drama and probably even some that we’ll be at a loss to properly categorize because they’re just that ridiculous.  We’ll also be rotating host duties and movie selection every episode, so you’ll get to experience the full breadth of our amazing and/or terrible taste in movies. And trust me, the movies will be amazing and/or terrible.

Listen to our promo:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

I am DYING to tell you what movie we’ll be covering in our first episode, but you’ll just have to wait until this Wednesday, December 5th to find out since that’s when our first episode drops. But here’s a hint–it stars someone really famous who loves hookers and blow. I know, there’s SO MANY PEOPLE IT COULD BE.

Couple of other things I wanted to mention real quick:

Oh, one more thing — please help us out by subscribing to us on iTunes. (You can just lie to us and say you listen regularly, we won’t check up on it. But I hope you’ll listen anyway!)

 

 

This insane Dubstep + Christmas Lights display is not recommended for people with epilepsy.

The Cadger family’s Christmas lights display should come with one of those seizure warnings that precede video games. But since it does not, consider yourself warned–both for epilepsy, and that you’re about to hear Skrillex. Even if you’re not into dubstep, you gotta admit this is still insanely cool. I do believe it would make Clark Griswold proud.

Now I can’t decide if I like the dubstep Christmas house better than the Gangnam Style Halloween house.

Album Art Porn: DJ Fresh – Kryptonite

I seem to be overly infatuated with skulls lately, as this is now the second time one is making an appearance in Album Art Porn, and I’m also completely in love with the skull-centric logo Shawn of Branded in the 80s recently designed for an awesome new podcast project I’m 1/3 a part of (I’ll be revealing what that is within a few days). I found this album by browsing Spotify’s Related Artist tab for Skrillex (who I was just talking about the other day), because I was hoping to find some new music to add to my dubstep playlist. Like a laser-guided missile, my eyes homed in on THIS:

DJ Fresh - Kryptonite (2010)

Also like a missile, my mind exploded on impact. Skull? Check. Neon? Check. Graphic design that looks like it was lifted from a bottle of L.A. Looks hair gel (or Caboodles, I can’t decide which)? Check. This has me written all over it. I like the simplistic use of shapes here. It never really occurred to me that triangles are perfect for representing noses AND teeth. You’d think I’d have learned something from years of pumpkin carving experience. But I do have to wonder where the kryptonite comes into play. Is this what ultimately happens to Superman if he’s exposed for too long? Does he transform into a radioactive decayed skull with an innate appreciation for 80′s fashion? If so, I don’t get what the big deal is with kryptonite.

But what does it sound like?

Well…not like Skrillex, surprisingly, which is what I was kind of hoping for expecting. This seems to be more drum & bass vs. dubstep, but to be quite honest, some days I have trouble understanding the difference between both of these genres–maybe one of you hardcore dubstep and/or drum & bass fans can set me straight? Anyway, I quite enjoyed this even if it wasn’t exactly what I was seeking, but it’s certainly dubsteppy enough. DJ Fresh is a UK-based artist who’s resume includes remixing tracks for Pet Shop Boys, so there’s another 80′s connection. I really like the way he blends sounds and beats, especially on the title track. I like too how each track is unique-sounding enough not to all blend together into one big ear-orgy, as a lot of this type of music tends to do. “Chacruna” is a great, chill track that I probably listened to more than all the others. (In fact I’m still listening to it right now.) Overall I like this album enough to want to check out more stuff from DJ Fresh’s discography. He’s got a new album out this year called Nextlevelism that also features MORE NEON AND TRIANGLES on the cover, so that’s a good sign that I’ll probably like it.

ShezCrafti’s Rating:

7 out of 10 stars.

                           

What is Album Art Porn?

A recur­ring fea­ture in which I ran­domly pick an album I’ve never heard of to lis­ten to and review based solely on its cover art. It could turn out to be the most amaz­ing thing I’ve ever heard…or com­pletely suck.

The Legend of Zelda + Skrillex = Skrillexquest

Skrillex + Zelda

Jason Oda, the same guy who designed the AWESOME AS BALLS Perfect Strangers game I’ve posted about here and here, is back with an even more awesome game, as if that were possible. But there are two prerequisites:

  1. You must love Zelda
  2. You must be able to tolerate Skrillex

[Sidebar: Skrillex may be the punchline to every joke about bad musical taste (as well as jokes about bad awesome haircuts), but he's always welcome on ShezCrafti's playlists--especially the emergency one I made that just loops "Bangarang" to infinity. It's amazing how much more enjoyable my morning commute's been since discovering that song. So fuck all ya'll Skrillex haters.]

Now what the hell was I talking about? Oh right, this awesome game. The premise is that a piece of dust has gotten into a Zelda cartridge and corrupted the game. No, blowing the cartridge won’t work this time! You must take on the role of Link and battle it out with glitches inside the game world, ridding the kingdom of corruption as Skrillex provides the music. It’s pretty great, actually. The warbled, bendy sounds of Skrillex’s dubstep is the perfect soundtrack for a game about corrupt circuitry. It’s as if “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” was MADE for this.

Check out these screenshots, then do yourself a favor and play the game:

Skrillexquest

Skrillexquest

Skrillexquest

[via Joystiq]

The day I discovered Ninja Sex Party.

Ninja Sex Party

Sometimes the fabric of the universe shifts and folds in such a way that serendipity bestows its wonders upon us, and mere coincidences become life-changing discoveries. Yesterday was such a day for me.

While prepping for my fourth chair guest spot on Nerd Lunch, for which the theme was Ninja Day (I’ll post the link once the episode drops), I was listening to Spotify as I went about my business when an artist called Ninja Sex Party popped up in my stream. I KNOW, I’ve never heard a more awesome name either. The first song I listened to–which became the first of EVERY song, since I made it my immediate “Nerd To-Do” to listen to everything Ninja Sex Party has ever recorded–was “Dinosaur Laser Fight.” From that title alone, I’m sure you can imagine the elation I felt when I discovered the song also has an accompanying video:

Upon further research, I learned Ninja Sex Party is actually a comedy duo whose work has been featured on sites like Funny Or Die and College Humor (thanks Wikipedia), which makes me feel pretty uncool for not having heard of them already. That’s all right, though, because I’m writing about them now, I tweeted about them last night, and I mentioned them on Nerd Lunch (in fact I think my exact words were “Stan Bush meets Tenacious D”), so already I feel slightly more awesome, as if my free publicity is some kind of atonement.

They’re a friendly couple of guys, too.

[tweet https://twitter.com/ninjasexparty/status/273716391536885760]

Now I just need to figure out which one I want to have sex with first.

Animated 8-Bit Pixel Art Celebrates the History of Music

So there’s this awesome guy named Josh who has this awesome Tumblr, Music History in GIFs, filled with his awesome animated pixel art that celebrates music’s most awesome moments in history. I know, I’m using the world “awesome” a lot, but in this case it’s well-deserved. Each 8-bit animated GIF also comes with a side of musical trivia so you can brush up on those all-important pop culture facts, like knowing that MC Hammer introduced parachute pants to the world in 1990, and there was much rejoicing.

Here are some of my favorites, for obvious reasons:

1990 - MC Hammer Scores a ridiculously popular hit, and popularizes parachute pants!

1993 - Prince changes his name to an unpronounceable symbol, later dubbed Love Symbol #2

1987 - Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" goes #1, RickRolling is born.

1991 - Nirvana releases Nevermind. Grunge is in full swing.

1983 - Michael Jackson debuts the moonwalk on Mo Town 25 during Billie Jean.

1980 - The Cure releases their US Debut, Boys Don’t Cry,

[via BuzzFeed by way of The Curious Brain]

Album Art Porn: Greenskeepers – Live Like You Wanna Live

To piggyback off my last post in which I discovered a Chicago-based band–very possibly one of my new favorites–called Greenskeepers, I went digging further into their discography because any band with 80s musical sensibilities that puts out a song inspired by Silence of the Lambs is GUARANTEED to get my attention. I just had a feeling I’d find something even more awesome if I looked into their back catalog, and low and behold I was right.

Scanning album covers, this is the one I knew I had to listen to right away:

Greenskeepers - Live Like You Wanna Live (2010)

I’m still trying to figure out what this little black puffball with horns-looking guy is supposed to be, but one thing’s for sure: he’s a hell of a dresser. Look at all that STYLE! I mean, he has lightning bolts on his fucking shoes. See, back in the 80s it was cool–necessary, even–to dress like you were ready to work out even if you had zero intention of ever doing so. I was certainly guilty of following the trend at one point, or so my collection of barely-used Get In Shape Girl! toys leads me to believe. I’m also going to pretend that’s a pink Casio SK-1 keyboard he’s toting around because I used to have one just like it. And that blue ribbon bearing the band’s name? That’s a well-deserved award for such a rad album cover.

But what does it sound like?

Like a cross between Ween, Talking Heads, and…something else I can’t quite put my Ring Pop-wearing finger on. There’s lots of bass-y hooks, synth-y jabs of melody, computerish bleeps & bloops and even some off-the-wall elements like slide flutes. The male vocals are simple and a little blah, but the beats are so damn catchy it doesn’t matter. I think my favorite song is the instrumental track “Pulstar,” followed by “Creatures of the Night.” The title track is pretty great, too. I have no doubt I’ll be listening to this album many times over, so once again my attraction to cool-looking album art has led to finding great new music. I think I’m starting to develop a real knack for this.

If you have Spotify, you can listen along with me:

ShezCrafti’s Rating:

8 out of 10 stars.

                          

What is Album Art Porn?

A recur­ring fea­ture in which I ran­domly pick an album I’ve never heard of to lis­ten to and review based solely on its cover art. It could turn out to be the most amaz­ing thing I’ve ever heard…or com­pletely suck.

It puts the ‘Lotion’ in the basket.

You know what the world needs? More songs inspired by Silence of the Lambs.

I am currently rocking out to one called “Lotion” by Greenskeepers, by far and away my greatest musical discovery of the week.  A Level 90 Rogue in my boyfriend’s WoW guild (Jesus Christ I felt so nerdy typing that) recommended it. Well actually, he asked if we’d ever heard “that Silence of the Lambs song” and I instantly assumed he was talking about my favorite prance-around-naked-in-your-basement anthem “Goodbye Horses” but no, he meant THIS:

The night is very cold
I’m feeling kind of weak
I think I’ll make myself a cap from your right buttock’s cheek
And then I will go walking with my little dog
And then I’ll bury you underneath a log

With lyrics like that, my immediate plans now include looking up everything else this band has ever done.

Kudos to whoever edited this shit, too. Dare I say–it is precious.

I’m in a good Dubmood today.

I know this is a lame update, but I had a good day. So good, in fact, I’ve had zero time to even think about coming up with something better to post, so instead you’re getting this: one of my favorite chiptunes albums by Dubmood, which is a “Best Of” compilation of his crackscene music–the kind of stuff you often hear when using keygens and installing pirated software. Not that I would know anything about that.

It’s relevant since both this music and the good news I got today = #WINNING. More on that situation as it develops.

Dubmood - Best of Crackscene Music 2004-2007

 

 

Using your private parts as piranha bait and other ‘Dumb Ways to Die’

Cute little song called “Dumb Ways to Die” by Tangerine Kitty and animated video that shows adorable little creatures dying horrific deaths (but none of them include dressing up as Sasquatch to fake a Sasquatch sighting only to get run over by two cars and die.) I’ll probably be the one who sells both kidneys on the internet because I’m so broke right now, so I’m putting this on my funeral playlist. Just in case.

Whatever. I guess the moral here is that if you’re too adorable for your own good you will inevitably do stupid things and die. Nobody’s allowed to be that cute AND smart, right? Oh also — be safe around trains, ya’ll.

[via The Curious Brain]

This week I learned what folk punk is.

This past week I was introduced to the musical stylings of a folk punk band called Andrew Jackson Jihad (I know, it’s a fabulous name) thanks to my internet friend Wes, who sent me a playlist to cheer me up and get me out of my funk. It worked.

Here’s a random picture of them I stole from Google Images, which I chose because shotguns and beer. Yeah.

Andrew Jackson Jihad

(Image credit: PunkNews.org)

AJJ is certainly not the type of music I typically listen to. Probably the closest thing I could compare them to from my nebula of familiar bands is Violent Femmes. Or perhaps Flogging Molly if Flogging Molly wasn’t Celtic. But as I told Wes, I do consider my musical tastes pretty diverse and I’m always willing to try something new, so I was pretty pleased to find their discography on Spotify.

I started with the handful of songs Wes recommended: “Candle in the Wind (Ben’s Song)”, “People II: The Reckoning”, “Principito”, “People”, “Evil”, and “Rejoice.” From there I then moved on to Knife Man, an album the band released in 2011, which I’d like to point out has a song on it called “The Michael Jordan of Drunk Driving.” I feel this is important for you to know. There’s also a song on there called “Zombie By the Cranberries By Andrew Jackson Jihad” which is actually nothing like Zombie by The Cranberries. That both confused and disappointed me.

Anyway, my point is, I listened to a fairly diverse selection of AJJ’s music and got myself acquainted with this whole folk punk thing. When I think of punk, I think of punk rock like The Clash, The Ramones, or even The Revillos (one of my faves). I’m not used to this stripped-down, acoustic flavor of punk and I’m not sure if it’s something I could listen to all the time, but I do know this: I felt a lot better after listening to it.

AJJ’s style seems pretty lax and down to earth, even silly. They’re not great singers–pretty terrible, actually–but the lyrics are clever and at the same time right-to-the-point and completely relatable. It’s not like a good singing voice matters much with this type of music anyway when the point is to distill the world’s problems into an entertaining few minutes of melodic whining and imparted wisdom that everyone can relate to. Sometimes it’s pretty catchy, too. I can see myself knocking back a few beers with these guys, drowning my problems as I attempt to sing along in a drunken, disorderly fashion before one of my friends takes my keys away. It would be a good night.

ShezCrafti on Saturday Morning Central Podcast #1 – Blame It On The Kraang

SMC #1 - Blame It On the Kraang

Between my crappy week (well month, really), Hurricane Sandy, and Halloween, I totally dropped the ball on posting this. A few weeks ago I was a guest on the inaugural episode of Saturday Morning Central, a great new podcast from Tommy Day; he’s a blogging friend of mine, fellow Leaguer, and the geek behind one of my favorite sites, Top Hat Sasquatch.

The first episode is all about Nickelodeon’s new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show, a subject near and dear to my heart. I join Tommy along with Shawn Robare of Branded in the 80s (another favorite site) in geeking out over the new show and waxing nostalgic about TMNT in general. And somehow Milli Vanilli got in there, too.

Blame it on The Kraang

Head on over to Top Hat Sasquatch to listen to this episode.

The Kraang is blaming it on the rain.

ShezCrafti’s Halloween Mixtape Volume 1 – 80s Halloween Dance Party

Welcome to your soundtrack for the rest of October.  It’s an all-80s mixtape that’s a little bit Thriller, a little bit Ghostbusters, a little bit Teen Wolf, a little bit Karate Kid, several parts Nightmare On Elm Street, a whole lot of songs you’ve probably forgotten about, and 100% dance-able.

ShezCrafti’s Halloween Mixtape Volume 1:
80s Halloween Dance Party

Side A – “Let’s Get Trick or Freaky”

Side B – “Ghostbust a Move”

Listen to the tracks individually or jump ahead to the complete track list.

Side A - Let's Get Trick or Freaky

“The Freaks Come Out at Night” – Whodini (1984)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLYC7ltxOrk

“Thriller” – Michael Jackson (1982)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEHsIcsjtdI

“Talking In Your Sleep” – The Romantics (1983)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6f_ANMxjUQ

“Pet Sematary” – The Ramones (1989)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3J0iwwsq-w

“Fright Night” – J. Geils Band (1985)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iN5TIVFPdnM

“A Nightmare On My Street” – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince (1988)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-vkHZ5TfoY

“Somebody’s Watching Me” – Rockwell (1984)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YvAYIJSSZY

“Monster” – Fred Schneider and the Shake Society (1984)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUnO4gK_56g

“Dead Man’s Party” – Oingo Boingo

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iypUpv9xelg

“I Want Candy” – Bow Wow Wow (1982)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMICD3aMZpw

“No Shelter” – Broken Edge (1984)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbr3i55OdzE

Side B - Ghostbust a Move

“Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker, Jr. (1984)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqIidDuOuZQ

“Amityville (House On The Hill)” – Lovebug Starsky (1986)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHotPZDGxx8

“Everyday is Halloween” – Ministry (1984)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXtX9u7_6F8

“Big Bad Wolf” – Bunny and the Wolf Sisters (1985)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YMPt31C1y0

“Terror In My Heart” – The Reds (1985)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8KNTfi3MuE

“I Eat Cannibals” – Toto Coleo (1982)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4O1A-mmBWw

“Halloween” – Japan (1979)

(Okay, so I’m cheating just a tiny bit here.)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiZyy11oS9M

“Rev Up” – The Revillos (1980)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHV46BPImr4

“Get Dead” – Shari Belafonte (1985)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ty-N4AMf1-c

“Are You Ready for Freddy?” – The Fat Boys (1988)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDUl5Ke5jbM

“Whisper to a Scream” – Bobby Orlando (1986)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nk2pdXYD0AM

Full Track Listing

Side A – “Let’s Get Trick or Freaky”

  1. “The Freaks Come Out at Night” – Whodini (1984)
  2. “Thriller” – Michael Jackson (1982)
  3. “Talking In Your Sleep” – The Romantics (1983)
  4. “Pet Sematary” – The Ramones (1989)
  5. “Fright Night” – J. Geils Band (1985)
  6. “A Nightmare On My Street” – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince (1988)
  7. “Somebody’s Watching Me” – Rockwell (1984)
  8. “Monster” – Fred Schneider and the Shake Society (1984)
  9. “Dead Man’s Party” – Oingo Boingo
  10. “I Want Candy” – Bow Wow Wow (1982)
  11. “No Shelter” – Broken Edge (1984)

Side B – “Ghostbust a Move”

  1. “Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker, Jr. (1984)
  2. “Amityville (House On The Hill)” – Lovebug Starsky (1986)
  3. “Everyday is Halloween” – Ministry (1984)
  4. “Big Bad Wolf” – Bunny and the Wolf Sisters (1985)
  5. “Terror In My Heart” – The Reds (1985)
  6. “I Eat Cannibals” – Toto Coleo (1982)
  7. “Halloween” – Japan (1979)
  8. “Rev Up” – The Revillos (1980)
  9. “Get Dead” – Shari Belafonte (1985)
  10. “Are You Ready for Freddy?” – The Fat Boys (1988)
  11. “Whisper to a Scream” – Bobby Orlando (1986)

 

 

 

Album Art Porn: Bubblegum Graveyard

The Crypt KeeperHello, boys and ghouls! I’m back with another sin-tillating slice of Album Art Porn, and today’s random musical discovery is simply to die for. We’re now in the midst of the Halloween Countdown, which means my regular recurring features like Album Art Porn will all take on a Halloween theme (and also I will sometimes inexplicably talk like the Crypt Keeper–because who doesn’t love making bad horror puns?)

I’m gravely serious when I say I want to give today’s album 10 stars for the sheer awesome-factor of its artwork alone. Try to maintain decomposure as you feast your eyes on this grimtastic treat:

Apache Dropout - Bubblegum Graveyard

Yup, that’s Death in the middle of a candy graveyard chewing on some bubblegum. He’s (awesomely) using his scythe to mix up a rather goopy-looking concoction of miscellaneous confectionery that includes gummy worms and candy canes, attracting a hungry horde of undead. (Sidebar: What kind of gum do you think Death enjoys? I bet he’s fond of Juicy Fruit–that taste can move anybody.) He also appears to be wearing what looks like a Black Power pin on his lapel; I’m not sure what that’s all about. For a guy who’s chewing gum while making candy ghoulash, or whatever the hell he’s supposed to be making, Death doesn’t seem all that excited. In fact he looks downright bored as he casually blows a bubble while surrounded by tombstones of dead candymakers.  For some reason I think I love this album cover even more because of that.

I also love that the style is reminiscent of those old horror comics (like Tales from the Crypt!) and the neon minimalism of the psychedelic 60′s color palette. The entire presentation is frightfully fun and it appeals to my inner pulp sensibilities.

But what does it sound like?

I was pleased to discover the album art isn’t the only thing retro about this album. Though it was released in 2012, Apache Dropout’s Bubblegum Graveyard sounds like it could be from the early 60′s during the era of weird rock & roll–and that’s not a bad thing. The band’s Facebook page offers the following: “a fuzz-drenched sonic assult – shocking lost souls into a Frenzied Lysergic Boogie!” I have absolutely no idea what that means, but I like it.

I must admit, this is not the type of music I typically listen to, but during the Halloween season my ears are wide open to new listening experiences. This is not a Halloween album per se (or at least I don’t think it’s meant to be), but it contains plenty of low-fi nods to the season on tracks like “Candy Bar,” “Ghost Stories,” and “Lady Blood.” Singer and guitarist Sonny Alexander howls and yowls over jangle-pop melodies and rhythmic guitar riffs. I’m still having trouble believing this album was made in 2012. I can easily picture a couple of bored teenagers on some Halloween night long ago getting completely stoned and spacing out to this, pondering over lyrics like “Archie’s army is marching, marching–sugar, sugar, how we need you now! Undead Jughead, rise!” and trying to apply some deeper, hidden meaning in between bong hits . That sounds like my kind of Halloween pastime.

If you have Spotify, you can listen along with me. Death brought enough bubblegum for everyone.

ShezCrafti’s Rating:

6 out of 10 stars.

                            

What is Album Art Porn?

A recur­ring fea­ture in which I ran­domly pick an album I’ve never heard of to lis­ten to and review based solely on its cover art. It could turn out to be the most amaz­ing thing I’ve ever heard…or com­pletely suck.

Album Art Porn: Glass Candy – Beatbox

As it turns out, randomly picking albums I’ve never heard of to listen to based 100% on cover art I find attractive is proving to be a viable method of discovering good new music. So far my Album Art Porn project has yielded three new-to-me albums with at least a 7/10 rating, and today it produced another winner.  I’m 4 and 0.

Today’s discovery came about during a highly scientific process in which I typed a bunch of words into Google Image Search and skimmed through the results. The words I input were “candy,” “electric,” “feverish,” and “album.” This is the image I was most compelled to click on:

Glass Candy - Beatbox

If I were a more attractive, fashion-conscientious kind of girl (and dropped about 20 pounds) and like a thousand times more narcissistic, I would totally have a Warholesque self-portrait like this hanging in my living room. I would even glue jewels to my face, or whatever those are supposed to be on her left cheek. It’s hip, it’s glamorous, it says, “I went crazy with the fuchsia eye shadow by smearing it all over my head and look at all the fucks I give!”

I must have an affinity for those shocking shades of hot pink and electric blue, because that’s the same color combination that drew me to The Electric Punanny Mixtapes which ended up being unimaginably awesome. The above album is called Beatbox. It was released in 2007 and is the second studio album of the electronic outfit Glass Candy, who Wikipedia describes as being a blend of No Wave, glam rock and Italo Disco–so far so good.

But what does it sound like?

The first track was an awkward but intriguing introduction. It starts off like an 80s aerobics class with the instructor encouraging everyone to “work that body!” over a simplistic beat, and then vocalist Ida No gives something of a cheesy pseudo-lesson in metaphysics: “Our world, our lives, our bodies, they are constantly changing. But there’s a rhythm that runs through it all and that’s where we’ll find our true selves. We live in a universe of transformations, but the heavenly beat is a constant. So keep on dancing!” OK, space lady!

The rest of the tracks are pure gold. Some of them, like “Last Night I Met a Costume,” could be part of the score for Beyond the Black Rainbow. Breathy, sensual female vocals over heavy synth waves, chill, low-frequency bass lines and simple electrical beats with frequent square and sawtooth leads. (At times like these, when I’m trying to describe the subtle differences in electronic music styles, I wish my musical knowledge was more expansive.) None of it is very melodic, but it all sounds so very avant-garde and 1984-ish, much like that Rise of the Obsidian Interstellar chiptunes album I reviewed a while back. I thoroughly enjoyed all 9 tracks of this Beatbox album and fully plan on further delving into Glass Candy’s other synth-tastic musical offerings.

ShezCrafti’s Rating:

8 out of 10 stars.

                                      

What is Album Art Porn?

A recur­ring fea­ture in which I ran­domly pick an album I’ve never heard of to lis­ten to and review based solely on its cover art. It could turn out to be the most amaz­ing thing I’ve ever heard…or com­pletely suck.

Going ‘Back to School’ with TMNT & Fifth Platoon

Today I’m going back to school…by kickin’ it old school.

The first thing that popped into my head when I read this week’s rather vague but simple League topic of “Back to School” was this song by the short-lived, early 90s hip hop group, Fifth Platoon (who are evidently so obscure they don’t even have a Wikipedia page–somebody needs to get on that):

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWsyyk26iHc

TMNT fans should recognize it from the soundtrack to the 1991 sequel film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. It has hokey lyrics like “Back to school, ’cause it’s cool–don’t be no fool!” and talks about Trapper Keepers and video games. Basically everything that was important to me in fifth grade, which is when this movie came out.

Raph & Keno

I’ve always been fascinated by the reasons behind why songs get chosen for movie soundtracks and how they’re used in the film. “Back to School” can be heard briefly during the part where Raph and Keno stake out the Foot Clan’s hideout, which I always thought was kind of funny in the context of the scene. After a sarcastic exchange with Raph in which he acts like he knows everything, Keno infiltrates The Foot in an attempt to let himself get recruited, but panics during the bell test–something he couldn’t have passed without Raph’s help, of course–so I always took it to mean that Raph had “schooled” him; or at least that’s my own silly interpretation of why this song is on the soundtrack.

The real reason is probably much simpler: the song is kid-friendly hip hop with a positive message, and I’m guessing it was super cheap to get the rights to. Whatever the actual reason, I do like this song quite a bit and couldn’t imagine The Secret of the Ooze soundtrack without it. It’s a shame Fifth Platoon fizzled as a hip hop group because I really dig their old school sound and the whole party vibe they had going on, which can also be heard on their moderately successful but still pretty obscure single “Partyline” and its even rarer but bangin’ b-side, “Hallelujah The Fifth is Here.”

I had both Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie soundtracks on cassette tape and played them so much I destroyed the tapes. The perforated, fold-out inserts were also a wreck as I used to spread them out on my bed and read along with the lyrics and look at the photos as I listened to the album. In fact, I still listen to both of these soundtracks on a regular basis (and to a much lesser extent, the TMNT III soundtrack, which sucks and is full of filler) only now I stream them from Google Music.

The technology has changed, but my love for cheesy movie soundtracks lives on.

I’ll trade you my Fruit By the Foot for your Turtle Pie…

Wondering what this is all about? This week, The League of Extraordinary Bloggers is going back to school, interpreting the topic however we wish! Here’s who I’m giving extra credit to:

 

Album Art Porn: The Darkness – Hot Cakes

I was idly browsing the “What’s New” section of Spotify last night when, like a moth to a flame, my eyes were drawn to the warm, goldeny brown of syrup-covered pancakes. To me, pancakes are what I imagine crack cocaine must have been like to Whitney Houston–the greatest love of all (sorry, too soon?). Once I get pancakes on the brain, I won’t be satisfied until I’m shoveling forkfuls of buttery, sticky-sweet dough cakes down my gullet. Denny’s? 3:00 AM? Grand Slam? Yeah…I do that.

Looking a little closer, I find these pancakes are actually Hot Cakes, the new album by The Darkness. (By the way, do you call ‘em “pancakes” or “hot cakes?” Or are you one of those weird “flapjacks” people?) And not only do these pancakes look delicious, they’re topped with hot, half-naked women dripping with scrumptious maple syrup!

The Darkness - Hot Cakes

I don’t know about you, but sex and pancakes is one of the most awesome combinations I can think of. On the other hand, pubic hair and syrup is one of the most horrific combinations I can think of. Ouch. Still, though I give this album art top marks for aiming high in concept, even if its practical applications are not grounded in reality.

But what does it sound like?

When I first saw this was an album by The Darkness, it took me a moment to remember that they were a band I haven’t really heard from since 2003, when they came out rocking with their first single, “I Believe in a Thing Called Love.” It was memorable for lead singer Justin Hawkin’s ball-grabbing falsetto vocals and bitchin’ guitar riffs that sounded like a throwback to late 70s rock. Hard to believe that was almost ten years ago. Remember how awesome that song was? Well that’s what the entire album of Hot Cakes sounds like.

This album rocks HARD. It kind of sounds like something out of Detroit Rock City, without the lameness of being K.I.S.S. From the first track, “Every Inch of You,” which drops a hearty “SUCK MY COOOOOOOCK!” scream on you, I knew I was in for a good time. From start to finish, it’s one bangin’ glam rock song after the next. Hawkins’ vocals are just as high-pitched as you might remember, but a little more refined and controlled (read: less annoying). I give The Darkness a lot of credit for being the throwbacks that they are and having the balls to put out an album like this in 2012. It really does sound like something from the 70s, and quite different from the banal, unlistenable “modern rock” bullshit of their peers. You just don’t hear music like this anymore. Which is a shame, really, because it fucking rocks. \m/

ShezCrafti’s Rating:

9 out of 10 stars.

                    

What is Album Art Porn?

A recur­ring fea­ture in which I ran­domly pick an album I’ve never heard of to lis­ten to and review based solely on its cover art. It could turn out to be the most amaz­ing thing I’ve ever heard…or com­pletely suck.

The Class of ’99 Mixtape

This week everyone in The League is making a high school mixtape! We were asked, “what songs were forever being looped on your car’s stereo back in high school?” Thankfully Brian, our fearless leader, had the good sense to put a limit of 12 songs on it, otherwise this post could have easily turned into a black hole of every embarrassing music phase I ever went through in high school, in which you’d hear all about my short-lived ICP fandom (yes, in 10th grade ShezCrafti was down with the clown), my Ace of Base obsession, and every Jock Jams and MTV Party to Go album I ever owned. I will spare you that fate.

Instead, I’d like to dedicate this mixtape to my graduating class. Hope you’ve prepared for Y2K and are ready to get jiggy wit it, because in this post I’m literally going to party like it’s 1999.

But first, come with me on a little journey back in time…

ShezCrafti: The High School Years

Class of 99

Can you spot me in this group of 99′ers?

1999 was the year I graduated from Fallston High School. By senior year, I just wanted to get the hell out of high school and was doing the absolute bare minimum to slide by. It’s not that I didn’t like school, I just felt I wasn’t learning anything of real importance and I was eager for my life to start. I was also supremely lazy and often went to school in pajamas and flip-flops. I think I cleaned up pretty well for my senior yearbook picture, though:

Senior Photo

And this was my senior quote:

“A toll is a toll. And a roll is a roll. If we don’t get no tolls, then we don’t eat no rolls.”

As you can see, I took my future very seriously.

Speaking of the future…

Cassette tapes were already long-since obsolete and pretty unpopular in 1999, thanks to CDs and the relatively new (at the time) MP3 format.  I, however, drove a red 1991 Plymouth Laser, a hand-me-down from my mom, which only had a cassette player.

If I wanted to play CDs in my car, I had to give shotgun to my Sony Discman and hook it up to my car stereo with one of these things:

Cassette Car Adapter

So uncool. Not to mention the discs would skip unless I drove like a grandma and obeyed all posted speed limits (yeah right). So despite the advancements in technology toward the end of the last millennium, I was still rocking mixtapes on my car stereo in 1999. LIKE A BOSS.

The Class of ’99 Mixtape

As one of the youngest members of The League, the music on my mixtape will probably be the most current. My process for putting this together was a bit like graduation itself: bittersweet. From my worry-free days of napping in art class and underage drinking, to the more  serious milestones like prom and Senior trip when it began to sink in that it was all coming to an end, there are songs that remind me of the good times, there are songs that remind me of the better times, to borrow a few lyrics from Chumbawumba.

When I look back at my high school days, particularly the year I graduated, these are the tunes that stand out the most:

Side A:

1999 Mixtape - Side A

 “1999″ – Prince

In 1999 you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing this song, especially if you were a Senior at my high school. Naturally it was the de facto theme song for pretty much every Class of ’99 related event. It’s as if Prince future-proofed his own music when he penned this song in 1983. “They’ll forget all about this album for a few years,” I imagine The Purple One saying to his posse, “but just you wait until the year 1999 rolls around and it will rule the airwaves again eheeheeheeheeheehee!”

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSWcMNEeeAU

“Intergalactic” – The Beastie Boys

I couldn’t very well make a personal mixtape about my high school days without paying homage to The Beastie Boys, to whom I owe this blog’s namesake. They’re one of my favorite groups, and when Hello Nasty dropped in 1998 it completely rocked my world. I remember hearing “Intergalactic” at every major school sporting event, at every dance, blasting out of everyone’s cars on the way home from school, but most of all, blaring from the ghetto blaster in my bedroom.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qORYO0atB6g

“…Baby One More Time” – Britney Spears

My life has had a lot of strange parallels with Britney’s. We were both born in 1981, we both have (natural) brown hair and brown eyes, we both got married in 2004, we both filed for divorce in 2006, and are both international superstars–oh wait. When this song–Britney’s first #1 single–came out in 1999 it was HUGE, and I’m not ashamed to admit I played the shit out of it.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-u5WLJ9Yk4

“Too Close” – Next

If there was ever a song I would call “my jam,” this is it. This is the song that made all the teachers and chaperons uncomfortable at our school dances. I can’t really blame them with lyrics like, “I wonder if she can tell I’m hard right now?” It is the ultimate sexed-up, slow-grindin’ dirty dancing song. Whoever danced with me to this song was probably going to get some that night.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwEZRPkAAu8

“What is Love?” – Haddaway

Though recorded in 1993, thanks to those damn SNL skits and The Night at the Roxbury, this was another song that was EVERYWHERE in my junior and senior days of high school. And just like Austin Powers, everyone thought it was hilarious to imitate these guys at every opportunity. (It wasn’t.) I do love the song, though.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVmbhYKDKfU

“Semi-Charmed Life” – Third Eye Blind

I’m closing out Side A with an upbeat tune that was one of the most popular songs of the 90′s and also featured prominently at the end of American Pie, the definitive high school movie of my generation, which also happens to be about the Class of ’99. The song may be about drugs, but the chorus is vague and relatable enough to have turned this song into the “good times” anthem that it was. “I want something else, to get me through this semi-charmed kinda life, baby.” Don’t we all?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oc_gXYOuNL4

Side B:

1999 Mixtape - Side B

“It’s All Been Done” – Barenaked Ladies

A humbling song that reminds us no matter what we do and how amazing, genius or awesome we think we are for doing it, someone else has done it before. Perfect life advice for the Class of ’99.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zs3xXlXSOKk

“The Verve” – Bittersweet Symphony

Speaking of life advice…here’s some from The Verve, whose career, like my high school days, didn’t last very long:

Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony, this life
Try to make ends meet
Try to find some money then you die

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lyu1KKwC74

After this one major hit, the band broke up in 1999.

“With or Without You” – U2

This was our Senior prom theme, and every time I hear it I’m transported right back to that night. The song is a pretty heavy one about the pain of loving someone so much you can’t live with or without them…or something. Either way, it didn’t really apply to my boyfriend at the time, but we still had an amazing time at prom.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmSdTa9kaiQ

“Changes” – 2Pac

As a big 2Pac fan in the 90s, the rapper’s “death” was one of the first celebrity deaths that really affected me. (I put it in quotes because whether you’re a believer or not, it’s fun to perpetuate the 2Pac is still alive rumors, which is by far my favorite conspiracy theory.) Anyway, the remix of his song “Changes” was released at the start of my senior year and it’s like a perfect time capsule of all the world’s problems at the time. If only 2Pac were “alive” today, he’d have lived to see the first black president of the United States, an unrealistic possibility he raps about in the song.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXvBjCO19QY

“Graduation (Friends Forever)” – Vitamin C

Destined to become a graduation anthem for years to come, Vitamin C unleashed this cryfest of a song on the world in 1999. It was the soundtrack to countless photo memory slideshows and yearbook signings during my senior year.

Funfact: Vitamin C, whose real name is Coleen Fitzpatrick, plays the role of megabitch Amber, opposite Ricki Lake in John Waters’ cult classic, Hairspray.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8trQAQRSlds

“Good Riddance” – Greenday

This song came out toward the end of 1997 and seemed to mirror a lot of the things I was feeling at the time. It perfectly captures the uncertainty and anxiety we all feel when our lives are at a major turning point, not knowing what lay ahead and hoping we’ve made the right choices.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnQ8N1KacJc

What did my fellow Leaguers listen to in high school?

Wondering what this is all about? This week’s assignment from The League of Extraordinary Bloggers was to create a 12-song mixtape from the music we listened to in high school.

Flashlights Are Something to Eat still had one of his old mixtapes laying around!
Goodwill Hunting 4 Geeks had well-rounded musical tastes in high school.
Cool and Collected makes me jealous that hair bands weren’t cool anymore by the time I got to high school.
Cavalcade of Awesome shares my love of rap and hip-hop.

‘Turtle Power’ vs. ‘Ninja Rap’

TMNT Rap Song Poll Results

In last month’s poll I asked which cheesy TMNT rap song is superior: “Turtle Power” by Partners in Kryme, or “Ninja Rap” by Vanilla Ice.

Here’s what you said:

  • 78% stand for what you believe in and find the strength to do what’s right
  • 22% would rather rock & roll the place with the power of the Ninja Turtle bass

Winner: Turtle Power!

Even though it has stupid lyrics and falsely claims Raphael is the leader, I’ve always maintained “Turtle Power” is the better song. Turtle Power has the phat beats, the awesome robot voice, and like, an actual inspirational message. Whereas “Ninja Rap” is more pro-Vanilla Ice than it is anything else and has weak-ass rhymes like:

Cause in this life there’s only one winner
You better aim straight so you can hit the center

Besides, there’s only so much GO NINJA GO NINJA GO-ing I can take.

And finally, I’d like to also point out the video for “Turtle Power” is also far superior to the video for “Ninja Rap.” I mean, where else do you get to see Foot Soldiers busting a move and cheerleaders wearing Turtle Power panties? This is how you make a movie tie-in music video, people.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFsTr0kGAqU

What we don’t need to see is four minutes of Vanilla Ice prancing around in slow motion, plus a monologue where he tells us how “ice” he is. YOU’RE VANILLA ICE, WE GET IT! Jesus. And as if this didn’t suck enough, the Turtles are only in this video for a grand total of about 10 seconds.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFLGRidfFo4