"I am my own god. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us"- Charles Bukowski
If you haven’t already heard the 2011 Coachella line-up has been announced seemingly to the disappointment of many since Daft Punk, who was thought to be a “for sure” act, did not make the set list. There has also been a bit of disappointment in the overall artist selection. The 2010 line-up included heavy hitters like Jay-Z, Gorillaz, Muse, Phoenix, Kaskade, Miike Snow, MGMT, Tiesto and DeadMau5. And lets be honest it was going to be tough to beat that. In my opinion this year sounds promising. There are a lot of big name acts including: Kanye West, Arcade Fire, The Strokes, The Black Keys, Interpol, Animal Collective, Wiz Khalifa, Nas, Damien Marley and Kings of Leon. This also appears to be a great year for Electro with: 12th Planet, SKRILLEX, Jack Beats, Caspa and the Bloody Beetroots all on the roster. On the downside this year will include what appears to be a medley of obscure hipster bands, many of which were at FYF Fest, I won’t name names. However, what I find the most exciting are the many throw back artists such as: Ms. Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, She Wants Revenge, The Aquabats, Flogging Molly, Jimmy Eat World, Bright Eyes and Duran Duran. It’s an interesting choice but I think that it will work. One of the best parts about Coachella is seeing all the bands and artists you love but another great part about it is discovering new music or perhaps in this case re-discovering.
I’ll leave you with my favorite Animal Collective song.
Saturday’s convergence of hipsters, really made me wonder what the hell is happening to music. After the ethereal experience that was Rock the Bells, my faith that had been steadily declining, was restored to its near original state. Needless to say I was pumped for FYF, I wasn’t really into any of the bands playing but I was hoping I would find some that I might like. However, upon my arrival I realized that I was about to experience something deplorable. The chain link fences, that encased everyone in the venue like some terrible American Apparel prison, were littered with chained up road bikes. The air smelled like cigarettes and drunken pre-teens dressed in expensive clothes. It became very apparent fairly quickly what kind of concert this was going to be. FYF boiled down to a bunch of yuppy pseudo fashionista wannabes who pride themselves on being “ahead of the fashion curve” all meeting up in one place to listen to the bands no one else has heard of (quite frankly because none of them were any good) and to hate on/talk shit on the other hipsters who were there for the same reason. The crowd was eclectic (meaning there was a wide variety of hipsters), the venue was thrown together and disorganized, the bands were utterly forgettable, and don’t even get me started on the food (who the fuck sells udon and vegan food?). Overall I wasted $30 and a couple hours of my life that I will never get back.
The name Lauryn Hill was synonymous with greatness, this simply cannot be denied. Her music was a part of all of our lives, or at least those of us old enough and lucky enough to remember her intense, short-lived fiery burst of fame. Her 1998 solo debut album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was a smash hit and was subsequently what rocketed her into super stardom. Looking back, I realize that she could have been a mogul, she could have had an empire and sold us all shit with her name on it like most artists do but instead she faded out of the spot light and into obscurity. Yesterday I saw her perform for the first time in my life, it was unreal. She sang the same songs I remembered from so long ago but her arrangements had changed, I stared in awe of the hypnotic caress of her commanding and powerful voice. She spit each word out with conviction as though it were a sermon and I am pretty sure that was the closest thing to a religious experience I have ever had. Her songs seemed to be aware of the time that’s passed, they have changed but still remained the same, just like all of us have grown and evolved over the last 10 or so years since she’s been gone. Yet the timelessness of Lauryn Hill lies in the relevance of her lyrics. Her songs are about things that we as humans all share, like falling in love, or falling out of love, having a child, or moving away from the past and into the future. They maintained their essence but still evoked a new sentiment, they reminded me of the past and made me aware of the present; it’s been a journey for everyone. Yesterday as I watched her float like a Goddess from one side of the stage to the other, I realized how time has ravaged me, how different I am today than I was when I first heard her songs and looking around at the crowd… I realized I wasn’t the only one.
The influx of Electro music in the main stream has influenced nearly every other genre. It is nearly impossible to turn on your radio or television without hearing it. Unfortunately a lot of it is pure garbage, put some bass, some synth and a fast tempo and call it music. Personally I am very particular about what type of electro I will let flow through my head phones. For those of you who have not yet hopped on the bandwagon, or for those who have been put off by the repetitive droning you hear in the clubs I have made a playlist of some hip hop friendly songs that I think are pretty damn good.
Hundreds of artists have contributed to the expansion of Hip Hop since its inception in the late 70’s and early 80’s, but a fine line has developed between the real quote on quote hip hop artist, and those who just fall into the stereotypes of pop culture and gangsta rap. The South African rap group Die Antwoord might be both. When I first encountered their video “Zef Side” I thought it was a joke, the groups members Ninja, Yo-Landi dance like twelve year olds on acid while Dj Hi-Tek stands idly by. As I slowly realized that they were a real group I couldn’t help wondering how on earth these people take themselves so seriously. The rapper of the group Ninja, looks like a cross between Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer and Will Smith circa Fresh Prince of Bel Air. He sports two gold teeth, gold chains, watches and rings all the notable symbols of wealth and success. However, taken out of the context of American culture and placed into the slums of South Africa, it just looks a bit ridiculous. Die Antwoord is a nebulous mixture of American pop culture, stereotypical Gangsta Rap imagery and South African culture. But at the same time they might be what Hip Hop is really about: self representation. In an interview Ninja said, “[Die] Antwoord represents the common man, the man in the street, the bottom of the fucking level”. So maybe a little cultural relativism is needed, because even though they look a little silly the scary thing is their beats are actually kind of good. Ninja’s rhymes can be pretty clever at times and all of their lyrics incorporate Afrikaans (one of the official languages in South Africa) and English… So I guess it is up to the listener to decide.
I always hear people wondering out loud why so many of the best music artists have come from the UK, fortunately Ellie Goulding is no exception. Coming out of a small town near Hereford England, this girl is the next big thing. Ellie’s voice is distinct and her songs are original and remix ready. She will be a thriving addition to the steadily growing Electronic market. Check out the Jakwob remix of her song “Starry Eyed” from her debut studio album Lights.
If you have ever in your life heard the phrase “Amazeballs”, you’ve been reading Perez Hilton and you should feel extremely ashamed of yourself. Just kidding. However, you might be surprised where this term originated, and although Perez takes the credit its not a word he created. “Amazeballs” is the love child of West Hollywood’s two favorite hot messes, “Jessica and Hunter” who have been creating quite a buzz on Youtube with their hilarious impersonations of the real life celeb obsessed WeHo club rats. “Amazeballs” is the best way to describe their videos, as they are funny, crass and borderline offensive. Either way they totally deserve four minutes of your time. I bet money you will fall in “Lurrrrv” with them and want to be “BFF besties”, ready for your next guilty pleasure?
The truth hurts is an understatement with this one. With a fiery tongue that only a real life bad ass bitch could offer, Dear Coke Talk addresses the real life issues everyday people are dying to get her take on, like: how long after a nose job should you wait before doing coke? How do you know if my vaginal lips are normal looking? What do you think about Miley Cyrus? All very good questions, all answered quasi-truthfully and with painstaking attention to diction, spelling, punctuation and any underlying bullshit the questioner is trying to omit. With only a picture of the great Dolly Parton as the face of what is otherwise complete anonymity, Dear Coke Talk only reveals that she is a woman who lives in LA, who has a regular job, loves cocaine, and “grew up ugly and poor in the dirty south [and is now] cute as a fucking button on the west side of paradise”. Personally I love this unapologetic self-proclaimed “raging bitch”, her advice appears to stem from personal experience, her attention to detail is remarkable and for the most part the solutions she offers her readers seem pretty logical. See for yourself. You be the judge, does Dear Coke Talk speak to you? http://www.dearcoketalk.com/
It seems that we have come a long way from the days when mixed cassettes were viable means of music distribution, although many of the biggest artists of our time were discovered thanks to this dead technology; unfortunately it is no longer relevant. Even homemade CD’s are on their way out of favor, but on the ground level of music distribution there will always be new artists hustling their own stuff by whatever means necessary. For up and coming artists of any genre, professional exposure is a crucial component when trying to get noticed and taken seriously as an artist. Of course, there is no substitute for raw talent, but let’s be real, in this day and age it’s all about the packaging. More and more, artists are being picked up for their “look” as opposed to their sound and artistic integrity. Shit wrapped up in gold is still shit, but it has become increasingly clear that even shit has mass appeal. For talented artists who would rather be “the shit” as opposed to the latter, being wrapped in gold might just be enough to get them noticed thus creating the launching pad that could catapult them into a very lucrative industry.
So you might be asking yourself, “what are some ways new artists can proverbially wrap themselves in gold?” I think that for artists who want to represent themselves authentically, the quality of their music must be represented by the appearance of their product. Which for the most part means paying for professional CD replication and packaging. Unfortunately, proper CD replication can be expensive and is often not a viable choice for new artists. Nevertheless, the saying “you have to spend big to win big” can occasionally hold true outside of sin city since many artists have to put every cent they make into their careers before they hit it big. Saying that it’s a gamble is definitely an understatement, so much so that gaining an edge on the competition could mean the difference between reaching the top and becoming another bump in the road to stardom.
For those who are willing to spend the money (around 1000+ bucks for what is generally the minimum order of 1000 discs depending on your choice of replicator, casing, and if you choose to re-master) high quality CD replication gives a whole new sound to any kind of music content that is defiantly on par with playing the part of a serious musician. Although there are many DVD, CD and Blu-Ray replicators in the area, I have found that Disc Works out of Baldwin Park CA has the most competitive prices (smallest packages starting at around $800) and have high quality DPI printing with soy ink as well as other eco-friendly options. They’ve worked with Sony BMG, Universal, and Virgin Records, check them out @ Discworks.com maybe they’ll be your ticket into the big leagues?