by: Michael Shields
Coming on the heels of Kanye West storming off the stage in Tampa mid-show, we discuss the glorious absurdity that is the Yeezus tour…..
Egomaniacs make for some of the best entertainers. They have within themselves a certain something that the rest of us simply do not. They need the spotlight, the attention, the love and admiration of their fans. But more importantly, they desire the respect they presume to deserve. In their attempts to steer all eyes their way, they realize the need to produce a spectacular. To attain that required limelight egomaniacs need to perform at a level, consistently, that demands it. These narcissistic individuals have one gear: They are all in. Whatever it takes is their credo, their battle cry. Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Mayweather Jr., Christian Bale, Lady Gaga, Tom Cruise, Muhammad Ali – all consistently remind you how great they are, and in reality they are indeed gifted, but due no doubt to their incessant need to fuel their own fire. These are people who take themselves far too seriously, and thank all that is good for that, as their artistry makes the world a more exciting place to live.
Possibly the person who reigns sovereign in the field of egotism is Mr. Kanye West. His antics have been well documented, and he is the first one to tell you how impressive a specimen he is. But, the fact that he is incredibly talented is indisputable. His catalog of music is proof positive of his capabilities, and his peers (of which, I assume, he believes he has few to none) will also vouch for his abilities. But Kanye West is also undoubtedly insufferable. The touting of his excellence can wear down even his most ardent of supporters, detracting from this genius he speaks of. So often the butt of jokes, Kanye lashes back at even the slightest hint of criticism, something that is, in a word, off-putting. The point here being the he makes it tough to love him, but he doesn’t really give a fuck.
by: Michael Shields and Chris Thompson
We remember Boardwalk Empire’s Richard Harrow, a tragic character who met a beautiful end….
The ocean waves crash upon the shore, delicately caressing the soft morsels of sand. A train whistle beckons, whisking us away with the blink of an eye to a vacant set of railroad tracks. Surrounding us is the fragile chirp of forest birds as our minds are set at ease. The tracks, and the sunlit train that follows them, take us on a journey to a timeworn farmhouse with a broad front porch harboring those held dear. A glimpse into one man’s heaven. Here, in the warmth that surrounds him, previously blemished flesh is restored, replaced with a smile and the comfort of knowing that he has finally arrived at that one place that he cherished most, home.
by: Chris Thompson
Oftentimes it is only at the extremes of our emotions where we find out what’s truly important in life….
It’s a Monday morning, mid-June, and my mother’s been calling for me from the bottom of the stairs for a while now. I can hear her just fine, but I haven’t responded to her yet because that’s what you do when you’re a teenager. I’m fifteen years old and school’s been out for almost a week, but the dull, tedious aura of classes and exams still hangs heavy in the air, concealing summer’s arrival.
From my perch in bed I glance over to my desk and notice my book bag hanging from my chair, utterly ignored since the last day of school. It’s a colorful fabric cornucopia, trimmed in reflective grey and filled with the ephemera of my cleaned-out locker. Assorted notebooks and papers, my old scuffed gym shoes, a half-full bottle of anti-frizz spray, the pot I threw in art class that droops heavily to one side that I can’t bring myself to throw away. It all swims within the cramped confines of my bag, pressing out to bulge its weathered sides as if probing the fabric for escape. My hand rises to rub my shoulder, the one that it slung from all year long and the phantom press of its weight still lingers. “Stay” I say pointing to my bag, as if relinquishing it of its duties, and in my mind I see it slacken and relax.
by: Michael Shields
2014′s NBA draft class has the potential to be one of the most prolific of all time. We take an in depth look at the future of the league…
Although the NBA season has only just begun, it is not too early to start fawning over this year’s draft class. And the reason for this is simple – it’s flat out incredible. We haven’t seen a yield of talent like this since Lebron, Melo, Bosh and Wade entered the league in 03’. It’s a draft class stacked with players who are assuredly going to make an immediate impact in the league. Although Coach K cannot even “fathom” that teams would tank their season for a shot at the kids atop this draft class, it’s happening. And you can begin to understand why when you lay eyes on this crop of athletes that compose this electrifying band of athletes.
by: Michael Shields
Plunged into a late-night conversation between a naysayer and an enlightened optimist, several truths of life are explored….
“Hey man, whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” Bill said halfheartedly. The ultimate cop out I thought, a throw away. You could tell immediately he didn’t even buy into what he was saying.
“That’s bullshit,” I offered, angered by the dodgy response. It’s not that I didn’t believe the struggles that you go through in life shape you in some way, and often build character. It’s just that I was looking for more of a response from my dear friend huddled up to the bar beside me. Tonight I was in the mood for some good old-fashioned back and forth.
“Of course it’s bull-ssshit,” Bill jumped in with an inkling of a slur. The hour was getting late, and the drinks had been steadily flowing. “Whatever doesn’t kill you – breaks you down. It compounds with all the burdens and heartbreaks of life and eventually what didn’t kill you – does!”
by: Chris Thompson
Dinner, served-up with an uneasy dose of the future…
“Here’s your bacon cheeseburger, cooked-medium rare with a side of fries, and your Sam Adams Octoberfest. Can I get you anything else sir?” The blonde-haired waitress with the jovial smile asked as she placed the items before me.
Shocked, I looked up promptly from my menu, slightly annoyed at her intrusion. “But I haven’t even ordered yet. I just sat down here like two minutes ago. This must be someone else’s.”
“No…I’m sure it’s yours,” the waitress replied confidently. “Let me know if you want any extra ketchup for those french fries. My names Kimmie.”
Smiling widely once again she turned on her heel, all the grace of a ballerina existing within her for that singular moment, and was gone, off to assist an elderly couple by the window struggling to cut their prime rib.
What the hell? I thought. I definitely didn’t order this. Looking around the restaurant I spotted the manager making his way over to the bar. Catching his eye I waved to him animatedly, determined to get to the bottom of this misunderstanding.
by: Michael Shields
Action Bronson and Party Supplies reunite for a sequel to their highly-acclaimed mixtape, Blue Chips…..
The initial Blue Chips is an absolute classic. When I am pushing the lyrical styling’s of Action Bronson on anyone, an easy task usually, I am happy to share with them the independently released Dr. Lecter or Well Done. I could easily gift them with a link to a series of impressive mixtapes such as Bon Appétit….Bitch, The Program EP, or Rare Chandeliers. I could even go hand to hand with the recently released Saaab Stories, a stunning but altogether much too short EP created in collaboration with the accomplished producer Harry Fraud. But, to start them off right, I am going to steer them directly to Blue Chips, easily for me 2012’s mixtape of the year which teamed Action Bronson with Party Supplies (born Justin Nealis), endowing us with Bam Bam’s most prolific and inspired works to date.
Blue Chips (1) featured producer Party Supplies crafting a light-hearted and frolicsome backdrop for Bronson to work with. Sourcing samples from YouTube and melding them with familiar breakbeats, Cyrus Neville, the Flamingos, and Frank Zappa samples, Party Supplies created a tonally perfect yet unusual patchwork of sound that works so perfectly with Action Bronson’s comical sensibilities. Blue Chips was a rousing success, and luckily with the just released Blue Chips 2 they don’t monkey with the formula. They stick to what works to splendid success, and Blue Chips 2 is a sequel almost as good as its predecessor.
by: Chris Thompson and Michael Shields
Arcade Fire’s latest album, Reflektor, finds the Canadian indie rock band opening themselves up to a brand new influence — Haitian rara music…..
When Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler joined his multi-instrumentalist wife Régine Chassagne on a trip to her family’s home country of Haiti, in his mind he had the majority of his musical influences set in stone. But the time spent exploring the vibrant musical culture and traditions that permeate Haiti taught Butler that he had much more to learn in the ways of music. It was Haitian Rara music that had caught his ear, a sort of festival music used for street processions and focusing on a set of cylindrical bamboo trumpets called vaksen, and its influence on the bands fourth album, Reflektor, is widely apparent.
Co-produced by LCD Soundsystem’s former frontman James Murphy, it’s hard to ignore his influence on the albums stylings, especially the way in which the albums rhythm section so confidently carries the sound. Recorded primarily in Jamaica in an abandoned castle called Trident, Reflektor finds its musical power in the plentitude of genre’s flowing throughout the lush, tropical lands of the Caribbean. When asked about his desire to collaborate with James Murphy, Butler replied “LCD Soundsystem to me is like New Order and the B-52′s and we deeply share a lot of those influences, and we did completely different things with it. Régine is kind of the person who dances. At any given minute, if you can get Régine to dance, you’re kind of on the right track, so I think we just wanted to make a record that Régine could dance to.” From the very first note on the albums opening track, “Reflektor”, one is overcame by the notion that this is a truly danceable album. That it’s catchy hooks and dull-thumping bass beats interspersed with the rolling, confidently leading keyboards and marching drums could easily move one’s feet to motion, sweeping the listener up into its musical arms as the humid breezes of the Caribbean’s nighttime winds swirl dreamily around.
by: Christopher Rockwell
In breaking with one of Rock and Roll’s greatest traditions, Phish’s Halloween spectacular comes up short…
Bucking what was perhaps the greatest tradition in all of Rock and Roll, Phish arrived to their Halloween concert this year sans their highly anticipated musical costume. Instead, they took the opportunity to “play an album from the future,” debuting a “bunch of material from their new album” which they will be heading off to the studio to record following a three-day run in Atlantic City, NJ which concluded November 2nd. It was an interesting choice to forgo a cover album this Halloween, and one that left many of their fans in shock, including yours truly.
For anyone who’s an admirer of the incredible feat of musical strength that is Phish performing a classic album on Halloween, then you are more than likely as disillusioned and disappointed as I am with they way the show unfolded. But if, just if, you are an admirer of a particular brand of Phish live; a concert where the energy and atmosphere of the performance dissolves into a lively social affair, where the people surrounding you become disengaged, angry even, and succumb to conversation over drinks while the band – who lost the audience the moment they struck their first note – gives their new material a test run…Well, then this was the night for you!
by: Douglas Grant
To celebrate All Hallows’ Eve we remember one of fright night’s most infamous sons……
Halloween (1978): On Halloween night, 1963, in Haddonfield, Illinois, six year old Michael Myers perused the kitchen for a large butcher knife as his sister, Judith, was having carnal relations with her boyfriend upstairs. Waiting until Judith’s boyfriend has satisfied himself and then stolen off into the night, young Michael donned the clown mask of his Halloween costume, and then crept upstairs and walked into Judith’s bedroom to repeatedly stab his sister until she bled to death. Perhaps he’d been upset that she’d chosen sex over taking him trick-or-treating. Regardless, this act of savagery placed him on his chosen career path of psychotic serial killer. After killing Judith, he unapologetically waits on the front porch for his parents to arrive home from their relaxing evening out.
Fifteen years later, a fully grown Michael—who hasn’t uttered a word since his fratricide—escapes from the psychiatric ward he’s called home for the last decade and a half. He finds his way back to Haddonfield, killing a trucker for his blue coveralls and inexplicably stealing a Halloween mask from a costume shop while en route, and then proceeds to stalk high school student Laurie Strode, a shy and demure girl of seventeen. Laurie first notices Michael watching her outside of her classroom at school, and then later in the backyard of her house. Her friends think she’d being silly, and Michael seems to have an uncanny knack for disappearing like Batman whenever Laurie gives him a double take.