Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Fiery Furnaces- I'm Going Away (2009)

I think Brooklyn duo The Fiery Furnaces was the first ‘indie’ band I saw live, back in 2007. The Fiery Furnaces is the moniker of brother and sister duo Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger. If you ask me, Matthew Friedberger is one of the most talented songwriters of our time; brother Friedberger writes all of the Furnaces’ music, records most of the instruments and writes the lyrics, which are in turn sung mostly by his sister. Whether it be the sprawling 10 minute, mind melting tracks found on 2004’s Blueberry Boat or the concise, complex pop of 2009’s I’m Going Away, Friedberger’s ambitious songwriting abilities are evident in all facets of their music. Blueberry Boat, while being one of the most critical acclaimed albums of the year, can be an admittedly difficult and tedious album to appreciate. But what the Fiery Furnaces managed to do on Blueberry Boat was strike the perfect balance between their zainy, schizophrenic songwriting and their pop song sensibilities. Think about what it would sound like if Girl Talk had been the fifth Beatle. Matthew Friedberger’s love for abrupt switches and off-tempo interludes makes their music paradoxically both cohesive and spastic. Their efforts since Blueberry Boat have found mixed success in finding that balance. 2006’s Bitter Tea is overbearing and tough to get through and while 2007’s Widow City lacks a distinct flow, it contains some of the band’s technically impressive material. The band’s live show is one of the most incredible I have ever witnessed, with Matthew leading onstage instrumentalists through seamless transitions from song to song and tempo to tempo, while jumping back and forth between two keyboards and singing.

What’s interesting is how polarizing the band’s signature musical dynamics have managed to be.
Their ADHD styled compositions have been lauded by some, but called “toe-curlingly unlistenable” by NME magazine. Not to mention their love for doing weird shit like writing concept albums with and about their grandmother (check out 2005’s Rehearsing My Choir if you want to hear Grandma Friedberger do spoken word, seriously) or hiding secret messages in backwards vocals will surely turn a lot of people off. That’s why I think that The Fiery Furnaces’ 2009 album I’m Going Away will both please fans of old and perhaps convince some people originally turned off to the group’s wild antics. I’m Going Away finally finds a band focused and content with writing concise, traditional alternative pop songs. The result is a strong, refreshing and catchy album that retains the complex subtleties that have gotten the band this far while embracing a more manageable approach to songwriting. Album opener “I’m Going Away” has the signature driving dynamics that we saw on Widow City: sliding bass, bouncy piano, intense percussion and Eleanor’s frantic lyrical onslaught. Much of the album’s songs find their strength in their use of catchy piano and guitar lines that mirror Eleanor’s subdued vocals, namely the gripping “The End Is Near,” the lighthearted “Even In The Rain” and the brooding “Keep Me In The Dark.” Equally as rewarding is how well the album’s longer tracks work when placed next to the rest of shorter tracks. “Lost At Sea,” the album’s standout, features one of Eleanor’s most riveting and emotional vocal performances paired with dramatic chord changes and a revolving guitar line. And despite its six and a half minute length, album closer “Take Me Round Again” is one of the most captivating, with Matthew and Eleanor repeating a rousing chorus backed by jangling piano keys.

Unlike Blueberry Boat, there’s no 10 minute title track to be found on I’m Going Away. Instead, we find shorter but equally as ambitious stabs at eclectic alternative pop. And while I’m sure some fans will find call it a ‘lazier’ or ‘dumbed down’ version of the band, I think I’m Going Away is the strongest thing the band has done in years. In a musical year full of surprising comebacks (It’s Blitz!), the Fiery Furnaces have earned a spot on the list of the year’s most interesting albums and have certainly reassured me that they are still capable of captivating and reinventing. And don’t worry, the band hasn’t lost any of their craziness, as is exhibited through their recent release of Take Me Round Again, for which they both recorded their own interpretations of songs from I’m Going Away. Right on.

Click the album artwork to sample I’m Going Away and I have also included a little bonus: The Fiery Furnaces’ awesome cover of The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” from the Rubber Soul tribute album This Bird Has Flown.

mp3: The Fiery Furnaces- Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) from This Bird Has Flown: A 40th Anniversary Tribute To The Beatles' Rubber Soul

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Brightblack Morning Light- Motion To Rejoin (2008)

One album I thought went largely unnoticed in 2008 was Brightblack Morning Light’s Motion To Rejoin. Brightblack Morning Light is primarily the work of Nathan Shineywater and Rachael Hughes who specialize in jazzy psychedelic folk. After being discovered by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy (with whom the band did a split record with in 2004), Shineywater and Hughes apparently abandoned civilization to live in tents in northern California. Not weird enough for you? Brightblack Morning Light also encourages their fans to bring crystals to their live shows. At its core, Motion To Rejoin (which was recorded using solar energy) is Shineywater on guitar and vocals and Hughes on keyboards, though the record boasts contributions from instrumentalists
who have played with TV On The Radio and Bob Dylan.

Motion To Rejoin
is about as psychedelic and engulfing as the four feathers and vast ocean featured on its album art. “Introduction” starts off the record with a few sparse bursts of organ before moving into the album’s first track, “Hologram Buffalo.” “Hologram Buffalo” is a mix of snaking guitar lines, thunderous blasts of horns and bass, twinkling organ and Shineywater’s signature wispy vocals, this time significantly fortified by robust female backing vocals. The album sounds more jazzy than it does folky, with its use of repetitive song structure and smooth horn section. The record always seems to have a different effect on me. On one hand, it’s a bombastic, slow moving glacier of an album, with each shrill blare of trumpet or cryptic lyric giving it a more apocalyptic, haunting aura. On the other hand, Motion To Rejoin is a beautifully eclectic album that, despite the fact that the tracks are indistinguishable from one another, captures the listener’s attention from start to finish. What’s even better though, is that there is a message behind all the weirdness. “Nobody wants oppression, we don’t need oppression,” moans Shineywater over “Oppressions Each,” the band’s most concise track and best starting point. Shineywater explains the motives behind Motion To Rejoin on the Matador website:

“Previous to this recording, while BBML toured Europe, singer Naybob Shineywater sang each show with an arrowhead in his mouth. Why? To let his own sung words & breathe touch this stone before european ears could hear them. "I was not singing for war, but to engage the spirit of the maker of the arrowhead itself, to offer up Peace, that his warrior effort find a new respect, and to help my own warrior spirit sing in Peace," reveals Naybob. After returning from the european tour a chance to move in to an adobe on a secluded enchanted mesa came to Naybob. With only 4 solar panels, it matched his desire to live in a meager way while making the 2nd BBML LP. "Motion To Rejoin" is anti nuclear & coal, but also aligned with the phases of the sun. "With only 4 solar panels you are entirley dependent upon how much the sun is shining," informs Naybob.

Marijuana is a native herb from North America & a progressive society should include it's legalization, this debate can only be renewed when lies about it have been answered with truths, by now we know that most responsible pot smokers are not criminal, to the contrary, they actually care about Peace & Unity in ways that help define true Freedom!"

Dude’s got the right idea. Check out Brightblack Morning Light on myspace or click the album artwork to sample Motion To Rejoin.

Recommended if you like:
Six Organs Of Admittance- Luminous Night, Pocahaunted- Island Diamonds, Beach House- Devotion

Monday, December 7, 2009

Wale + AZ's Chillin'

So D.C.'s self-proclaimed hip-hop king Wale performed at my school on Saturday and despite not expecting much, I was pleasantly surprised. Wale was backed by local go-go band UCB, which made for a much more engaging and interesting live show than I would have expected. In case you don't know what go-go music is, it's a style of funk that originated in D.C. in the 1970s. Admittedly I'm no expert, but I like what I've heard and Wikipedia tells me I should check out Chuck Brown. Anyway, Wale ran through classics both new and old, including his remix of Justice's "D.A.N.C.E.," "W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E.," as well as "Mirrors," "90210," and "Pretty Girls" from his new album Attention Deficit. Luckily, after a set filled with some always necessary "I'm the greatest" stage banter and a brief jam of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Wale ended with his claim to fame and one of the best singles of the year, "Chillin'." Overall, the performance was one of the better school sponsored events that I've seen and despite the fact that Wale continuously berated the crowd for not knowing the words as well as U.V.A., he managed to get everyone's hands in the air and entertain.

Speaking of "Chillin'," though I always knew Wale had a penchant for borrowing lines from his hip-hop influences, but I never realized the hook to "Chillin'" is in fact an homage to Brooklyn rapper and Nas collaborator AZ's track "AZ's Chillin'" from his album A.W.O.L. Hearing the track yesterday served as a kind of "why the fuck haven't you looked into AZ?" moment for me, so I'm definitely gonna have to check out more of his stuff.

I just got Wale's Attention Deficit and I'm really digging it so far, there might be a post about it on the way. Until then, enjoy some of the tunes I linked for you guys.

Wale- W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E. from 100 Miles & Running

Wale- Chillin' (The Knocks Remix)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Girl Talk- Bone Hard Zaggin' (2006)

Girl Talk- Bone Hard Zaggin'

Inspired by mashup DJ Gregg Gillis’, aka Girl Talk, performance at Atlantic City’s House Of Blues on Saturday night, I thought I would do a little write up on Gillis’ rarely heard Bone Hard Zaggin’.

Bone Hard Zaggin’ is a 7” single released in 2006 by 333 recordings, shortly after the release of Girl Talk’s breakout LP Night Ripper. Despite only featuring two tracks, both tracks have a distinct, fresh sound and are amongst Girl Talk’s best. Gillis’ mashup techniques are much more frenetic than those used on Feed The Animals. Side one’s “Pure Magic” has Gillis’ mashing up classics such as Genesis’ “In Too Deep,” Birdman’s “What Happened To That Boy,” Kanye’s “Jesus Walks” and Hall & Oates’ “Rich Girl.” In a somewhat recent article, Gillis mentioned that for his next album he is going to experiment with recurring themes and even verse-chorus structure, like Feed Your Animals' use of “International Players Anthem (I Choose You) ” as an opening and closing theme, but on a much smaller, song by song scale. “Pure Magic” may be the most pertinent of example of what that might sound like. In addition to the use of repetition, Gillis’ mash-up work is much more overdriven and glitchy sounding, unlike the smooth layering of Feed The Animals. Both of the aforementioned techniques make “Pure Magic” one of Girl Talk’s most interesting tracks. Side B’s “LC and Lo” continues in the same manner, with Gillis’ dropping instantly recognizable tracks like Snoop Dogg’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Maps.” The track has the similar uncharacteristic, chopped up style of “Pure Magic” and also succeeds at being one of Gillis’ exciting tracks.

Despite it’s short length, Bone Hard Zaggin’ is a must for any fan of Girl Talk, especially those who enjoyed the more complex style of mashup of Night Ripper. If Gillis really does expand upon the concepts of song structure and repetition, Bone Hard Zaggin' must just be the best example of what we might be in for.

Click the album artwork to sample Bone Hard Zaggin’ and make sure you don’t miss Girl Talk next time he stops by your area, his live show is one of the best I’ve seen.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Animal Collective- Fall Be Kind (2009)

Animal Collective- Fall Be Kind (2009)

I think I can speak for Mike here also when I say reviewing Animal Collective is tough. Of course, reviewing a favorite band or album is always a difficult task. I always find myself rewriting sentences, attempting to make them more elaborate or grandiose to mirror the way I feel about the piece of music I’m reviewing. But, I feel that it is this certain intangibility and incomprehensibility that makes these albums such masterpieces.

My relationship with Animal Collective is a particularly strenuous one. My freshmen year of college, I became more or less obsessed with 2007’s Strawberry Jam, in my opinion, the band’s crowning achievement and one of my favorite albums of all time. From there, I explored the band’s prolific back catalogue and found myself being blown away with every new song/album I listened to. My familiarization with the band was a fast paced, high intensity one and within months (weeks?), I was listing them as one of my favorite bands. For me, the band opened hundreds of musical doorways through their delicate combination of twisted folk and psychedelic pop, constantly flirting with the line between abstract and concrete, melody and cacophony, sane and insane. On Feels and Strawberry Jam, the band had seemed to find the balance that they had been searching for on their early releases. Although they represented valiant forays into the gray area between drone, folk, noise and pop, album’s like Danse Manatee and Here Comes The Indian often got lost in their indulgence in abrasive noise or endless loops. But in present day, the band seems to have succeeded in converting their love for sampling, loops and strange psychedelia into a digestible, compelling brand of alternative pop.

That being said, the band’s 2009 effort Merriweather Post Pavilion was simultaneously a huge success and minor disappointment for me. When compared to Strawberry Jam, Merriweather Post Pavilion wholeheartedly succeeds in creating a distinct flow and concise sound. Whereas Strawberry Jam jumped seemingly from genre to genre, with songs like the sunny “Derek” and the terrifying, droning “For Reverend Green,” Merriweather Post Pavilion experiments within a distinct bass-heavy, bubbly tropical pop not much different than the aforementioned “Derek.” The result is a smooth, easy to listen to album that is both engaging and soothing. “My Girls” is undoubtedly the group’s crowning achievement. “My Girls” is by far the band’s 'best' track, simply because it succeeds at doing what all the other tracks are attempting to do in the best and most catchy way, that is, utilization of loops, heavy percussion and bass, and melodic, catchy vocals. It is undoubtedly the quintessential Animal Collective track, the perfect execution of the concepts and ideas they have been building their music around for a decade now.

Strawberry Jam showcased Avey’s vocals, with him handling primary vocal duties on almost every track. Merriweather Post Pavilion was a beautiful display of what Panda Bear and Avey could achieve when they combined their contrasting voices. I feel like these are the things most commonly cited in the glowing reviews that the album has received. However, though admittedly I was enchanted with the album when it was first released, its appeal has worn off thoroughly. Celebrated for its cohesive flow, I think that the attempt to stick within a more specific genre/niche leaves the album feeling tedious, particularly once you get past its spectacular and superior first half. Strawberry Jam is such an exciting, adrenaline packed album that keeps you guessing what will come next. It establishes a clear flow, direction and sound while varying within that theme. Avey’s lyrics are finally up front where they deserve to be, considering some of the brilliantly vivid pictures he paints in songs like “Fireworks” and “Peacebone.” His delivery ranges from schizophrenic ranting to hair-raising screams. On their new LP, much of this is sacrificed for a much more traditional singing style, mirroring Panda Bear’s hazy moans and syllabic repetition.

Perhaps its all just personal preference, but I can’t help but stick by my feeling that Strawberry Jam is the best executed and most dynamic of the band’s albums. Merriweather Post Pavilion is ambitious but there’s a sense of claustrophobia, that perhaps the band is backing into a corner as they self-indulge in their newfound sense of direction and success. And for a band that I fell in love with because of their bold genre experimentation and ability to continually reinvent and push the boundaries, this simply can’t be a good thing. There was a point to that lengthy introduction though. You wanted to know about Animal Collective’s new EP Fall Be Kind, which is available today on iTunes and physically on December 15th.

The album begins on a quirky note, with the formidable track “Graze.” After Avey and Panda Bear’s echoing vocals swim their way through warm piano lines reminiscent of Feels, the song moves into its second movement, certainly one of the album’s most interesting moments. A magical pan flute lines unfolds and is soon joined by Geologists thunderous blasts of bass and some nice harmony work between the two vocalists. I still really haven’t made up my mind about the pan flute bit; I enjoy the ambition of the group but it does come of sounding a little gimmicky. The strong vocal work and catchy percussion save the track though. Following “Graze” is “What Would I Want? Sky,” the album’s far and away best track. After a fast paced first movement of vocal loops and heavy percussion, the song moves into its second part, a delightful, poppy jam based around a clever sample of the Grateful Dead (the first ever licensed). Again, as much as I dig the strange time signatures and the band’s ability to craft an infectious beat out of the sample, Avey’s vocal melodies are pretty stale, at some points flirting with a corny semi-rap delivery, the melodies something that wouldn’t be out of place on the radio. But again, despite its shortcomings, the song is engaging and finds success in the same way “My Girls” does, juxtaposing poppy vocal work with dancey loops and percussion.

The last three songs are equally confusing paradoxes where despite some small saving grace, they feel weak, flat and only half thought out. “Bleed” finds merit in its similarities to Panda Bear’s barely heard yet awesome b-side “Bonfire Of The Vanities,” with its psychedelic vocal overlaps and call and response theme. However, the song’s basis around two dark organ chords seem a bit simplistic, even for Panda Bear who excels at combining minimalism with delicate layering. While cool sounding, the song never evolves or goes anywhere, especially when compared to its predecessors “Graze” and “What Would I Want? Sky.” “On A Highway” is one of my least favorite compositions the band has ever done. Avey sputters and whines over 4 and a half minutes of echoing chords. “I Think I Can” manages to end the album on somewhat of a good note. Panda Bear’s repetition of words and fast-paced but poppy vocal lines succeed in engaging the listener, though unlike “Bleed” which never develops, “I Think I Can” accomplishes in 7 minutes what could have easily be done in 4 or 5.

So looking at the album as a whole, what can I surmise? At times, it seems as if the band is becoming a parody of themselves. The compositions just don’t seem as strongly written. Part of me tends to connect this with a trend that I see with almost all of Animal Collective’s EPs. Water Curses, while featuring some novel ideas and memorable moments, ultimately felt like leftovers. Tracks like “Bleed” and “On A Highway” definitely have a similar feel; an idea is presented but never really expanded upon. “Graze” and “What Would I Want? Sky,” whilst being examples of the band’s incredible knack for crafting psychedelic pop and neat transitions, simply feel like they are employing the same old tricks they used on Merriweather Post Pavilion. I simply don’t see any progressive movement here. And that worries me.

The EP feels confused at best, contrived at worst. Perhaps I am being too critical of the band, but the songs do not strike me even in the way that “Summertime Clothes” still does. Besides, when I love a band this much and have such a deep respect for their decade-long back catalogue of genre-bending masterpieces, isn’t it fair to be more critical? Fall Be Kind feels as stagnant and out of focus as its murky, brown cover art. I’m interested to see where the band heads next.

Click on the album artwork to sample Fall Be Kind but make sure to buy it on iTunes or when it comes out next month! Also, stay tuned for Mike's view on the album.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Happy Halloween! I thought I'd take a break from listening to The Misfits to bring you some treats.

Check out this little short my good friend Adam Bogus (yes, that's his real name, I'm jealous too), a film major at Carnegie Mellon, did called 'Peaches.' It's only about two minutes and as I know from years of talking about our mutual favorite show Seinfeld, Bogus has a great sense of humor .

Also, some new music from two fantastic up and coming bands. Yeasayer recently announced that they will be releasing their second album, entitled Odd Blood, on Secretly Canadian early next year. I'm a big fan of 2007's All Hour Cymbals, though the album's first three tracks far out shined the rest of them. Hopefully the band can reach their full potential on next year's Odd Blood. But they have released the first single, called 'Ambling Alps, via their website. All you have to do is enter your email and you get a free download. Easy enough.

Brooklyn's Dirty Projectors have also released a song off of their upcoming EP Temecula Sunrise called "Ascending Melody." Check it out on Hype Machine.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Kyp Malone vs. Jean Kambanda

In no way do I mean to trivialize the absolutely horrific events of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, but while watching PBS' terrific documentary Ghosts Of Rwanda today in class, I couldn't help but notice the eerie similarity between TV On The Radio guitarist/vocalist Kyp Malone and Prime Minister Jean Kambanda.

Luckily, Kambanda is behind bars for life, so I think we can successfully rule out any possibility that they are one in the same. While we're on the subject of Malone, my two favorite tracks off of his debut solo album, 2009's Rain Machine, are up on Rain Machine's myspace. Check them out here.

October 28th, 2009

Not really much of a theme to today's post, just thought I'd share a couple things I've been digging today. We finished this great movie today in my French class today called L'Auberge Espagnole (The Spanish Apartment). The film follows Xavier, a young French man enrolled in a post-college educational program called Erasmus, which puts him in a cramped apartment in Barcelona with other students enrolled the program. Each of his roommates hail from a different country, and while the characters interact in a mix of Spanish and English, Xavier narrates his life in French. The movie succeeds in the excellent chemistry between the members of the apartment as they each learn more and more about each other and themselves through their romantic involvements, past and present, and experiences in the city of Barcelona. In addition to its humor, the movie tackles many deep emotional and psychological questions and the lessons we learn. I highly recommend it, the beautiful shots of Barcelona, strong performances and interplay between languages all add to the films artistic merit. Not to mention it also features the always stunning Audrey Tatou. Oh yeah, and the only two songs used throughout the film are Radiohead's "No Surprises" and Daft Punk's "Aerodynamic." Pretty awesome.

I've also been reading this interesting book for my environmental class called The End Of The Wild by Stephen M. Meyer. It's pretty depressing but you can't argue with the stark facts that Meyer's present about the state of the world around us. Current conversation ethics focus too much on economics or human resourcefulness, he says. We have accelerated species extinction at an alarming rate and we have reached the point where our lifestyles and the way we assess environmental problems will not allow us to prevent the further marginalization of nearly all species. I tend to be an optimist when it comes to the future of the environment but Meyer's is perhaps not far off in his prediction. Whether we can reverse or damage or not, the situation calls for dire action.

Good news from the world of DOOM! Producer Madlib and presiding hip hop king DOOM (formerly MF DOOM, also known as King Geedorah, Viktor Vaughn, Metal Fingers, etc.), assuming the alias Madvillain, have announced that they are working on a follow up to 2004's Madvillainy, in my opinion, one of the greatest collaborations and rap albums of all time. The album will feature guest work from Dave Sitek(!) of TV On The Radio and Mos Def. Above you can hear some new early sketches from the forthcoming album, premiered by DJ JROCC. The delightful surprise of this year's Only Built For Cuban Linx... Pt. II has convinced me that records with ridiculous anticipation and hype can follow through, so my hopes are high.

I had the extreme misfortune of sitting through the track "Can't Stop Partying" from washed up, indie rock nerds Weezer's upcoming LP Raditude. The song, which uses the exact same corny, overbearing chord progression in MGMT's "Kids," also features the always annoying Mr. Carter, aka Lil' Wayne. And guess what! The Weezy/Weezer collaboration is about as terrible as you can get. If you're still curious enough to check out this abomination, you can hear it here, but take it from me, its a waste of your time.

That's all for today. Hopefully we'll have some album reviews coming your way soon. Until next time.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Some Cool Photography

I've always really dug photography. Growing up my dad would always carry his Canon SLR with him, taking particularly beautiful snapshots of natural beauty, whether it be the trees turning during fall or a colorful sunset from our backyard. Last year, my good friend got a Nikon Digital SLR and the first semester of school I went totally overboard with it. We must have put 1200 pictures on that camera. But I've always really wanted to take a photography class and learn the logistics of photography, so I could I could call myself a 'photographer.' Anyway, I wanted to direct your attention to a couple photographers and pieces of work that I think are awesome.

My friend turned me on to the Boston Globe's photo blog called "The Big Picture." Every few days they present a new series of photo's focusing on a current event or common theme. Particularly compelling is the recent collection on the 2009 UN World Drug Report. The pictures are sobering to say the least, highlighting drug related violence in Mexico and drug production and addiction in the Middle East and South America. Here are a few shots I think are amazing, but definitely check out the whole series and the Big Picture's other entries.

Also, check out the work of my friend who I mentioned early in the post Pat White. In addition to being a sick dj and all around heady chiller, he is sick at photography. Check out his photo blog.

Here's some other cool work from an acquaintance from back home. Here a couple ones I enjoyed from his blog.

And while we're on the subject, I've taken a couple photos over the years I like to think are pretty sweet.

Definitely check the Big Picture weekly, the work they feature is always fantastic. I'll probably be doing a separate posting about the work of Ralph Eugene Meatyard, another amazing photographer. Until then, check out the prolific back catalogue by the photographers listed above.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Nas- "Doo Rags"

While me and Mike are still putting the finishing touches on our first legitimate, well though out posts for Woosamonsa Road, I thought I'd go ahead and give you a preview of what kind of music composes the wide array of material we label as 'good shit.' Exhibit A: Nas' undeniably smooth styling on "Doo Rags," the first track off of 2002's The Lost Tapes. While the album, composed mostly of outtakes from the I Am... and Stillmatic recording sessions, was underwhelming overall, 'Doo Rags' is Nas simultaneously at his illest and corniest. But honestly, the immediately recognizable bouncy piano line and catchy beat that follows never fail to get me swaying back and forth.

The doo rags are back, fitted hats, snorkels and furs
Riker's Island buses still packed, what's the word?
The drinkers stay drinkin, or puffin they herb
And I'm, still enjoyin life's ride; one mo' time
The doo rags are back, fitted hats, snorkels and furs
Riker's Island buses still packed, what's the word?
The drinkers stay drinkin, or puffin they herb
And I'm, still enjoyin life's ride; right?
Nasty's nostalgic verses and choruses about everyday life invoke the same lyrical depth of his 1994 classic Illmatic, albeit presented in an entirely different sonic context beat-wise. Even in the current hip-hop climate, where the introspective/body-moving piano line is entirely overused and often executed improperly, "Doo Rags" manages to present Nas in top notch lyrical form while remaining unique, even from anything on Stillmatic. It's a shame that the other 12 tracks on The Lost Tapes are such a disappointment (okay, I can tolerate "Poppa Was A Playa" every once and a while). So put down that cognac, ash your blunt and take a moment to reminisce with the help of "Doo Rags."

Monday, October 19, 2009


First, let me begin with a short intro for Woosamonsa Road.

My name is Chris. Mike and I decided to start this blog, Woosamonsa Road, because we share nearly identical musical tastes. Woosamonsa Road is a road that me and Mike used to drive on throughout high school. We would usually get real high and proceed to blast whatever hip-hop we were listening to at the time through the speakers of our friends' A6. Years later, I would find that Mike and I had managed to neglect any further discussion of music past the mandatory high school soundtrack of Nas, 2pac, and Big L. When we finally did breach the subject, we found that our tastes were eerily similar. So eventually, after spending literally hours on end talking, swapping opinions on the artists and the albums we dug, recommending music to each other, we decided, 'hey, why not be semi-productive and put our opinions on the internet!' Thus, Woosamonsa Road was born.

When we were discussing the name, we both pretty quickly came to the conclusion of the title that you see above. To be honest, to me it was always just a road with a funny ass name and some funny ass memories attached to it. But without trying to sound cheesy or pretentious, I think that Woosamonsa Road, like almost everything else from our collective adolescence, holds a deeper meaning. The road is dark, winding, surrounded by trees, filled with creatures of the night. Driving through with your brights on, you're lucky if you see one other car pass you by. Lamp posts occasionally pop up, usually signaling the presence of some decrepit, spooky farmhouse on the side of the road. Hell, there's even one spot of the road where you can put your car in neutral and watch it roll uphill (a 'gravity hill,' for the paranormally-inclined)! Everyone believes what the want to believe, but there's no denying this road is a force to be reckoned with.

And though the picture you see above of Woosamonsa Road doesn't really offer any vivid portrait of what I am describing above, it does show the other side of Woosamonsa. During the day, and especially in autumn, the drive through the woods on the road is absolutely breathtaking. One of my favorite things about Woosamonsa, and the area of New Jersey we both grew up in, is the ability for one to escape the ugly industrial realities of cities like Trenton. Woosamonsa Road cuts through the dense woods that surround Hopewell Township, but other than the pavement itself, nature mainly remains untouched. As I said before, only a few quaint houses and farms pepper the scenic drive through the woods. A definite duality exists. At night, the menacing road that will seemingly swallow up your car in the middle of the next hairpin turn. During the day, a beautiful scenic drive that reminds all those who travel it the beauty of nature.

I remember my freshmen year of college, over winter break I became more or less obsessed with the album Strawberry Jam by Animal Collective, an album that would probably grace the number 1 spot on both me and Mike's all-time lists. A few days before Christmas, Mike, me and a few other friends drove around all night under the influence of some decidedly psychedelic substances. The album was the soundtrack of our adventure, an adventure that took us down Woosamonsa at least once that night. I remember the sheer sense of childish awe and wonder I had as I looked out at the dark woods around me being transformed by chaotic, powerful pieces of music like "For Reverend Green" and "Chores." It was definitely one of the more memorable trips on Woosamonsa, though all of them certainly fall under the category of 'memorable.'

Again, without trying to sound contrived, I feel like perhaps Woosamonsa had more of a lasting effect on me that I have ever previously considered. Even when I create goofy electronic tracks out of Garageband loops on my Macbook, I use the alias DJ Woosa. The road itself has taken on a deeper meaning for me. Woosamonsa is the unknown but also the beautiful. And that's how I'd describe all the music that I consider to be my favorite. Music that rejects the confining yellow parallel lines of conventionality and ventures into the dark forests of the unknown. The result is something inherently beautiful. So I hope you will join both Mike and I on one of our forays on the twisting road that although we have ventured down so many times before, remains mysterious and unknown. Hopefully, you will enjoy what you hear/see/feel.

Above all, Woosamonsa Road is a vessel for Mike and I to channel what we find artistically worthwhile in this world. Whether it be music, video, text, etc., we hope that you will see the common thread that runs through the material we feature on here. If you like what you see, come back again. That's all we can really ask. Thank you.