cool hand bak

Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Believe Everything You Hear

Looks like Murs gets to be the first to make the leap from my favorites on the sidebar onto the main page. No doubt Murs 3:16 - The 9th Edition, the album he released earlier this year with beatsmith extraordinaire 9th Wonder, deserves the spotlight. Murs himself considers it his best work yet, and I concur wholeheartedly. It's an album that, along with Doom and Madlib's Madvillainy, reminds us that beautiful things happen when emcees turn over all production duties to a single producer. Murs 3:16 makes it abundantly clear why more and more hip-hop heads are turning to the underground for new, real shit: the artistry, the intelligence and the diversity of style and ideas are simply more pronounced where the sun don't shine. Sure, there's a select few still making magic in the mainstream (Nas' new double dropped today!), but mostly it's mo' money, mo' mediocrity. Luckily, as Murs'll tell you, independent hip-hop is only gonna get doper.

Murs - "The Pain"

This particular track is my favorite from Murs 3:16 and, indeed, one of my favorite songs of the year. 9th Wonder basically outdoes all contenders at crafting the beat around a sped-up classic soul sample in that way that's been all the rage since The Blueprint hit shelves. Here he uses a fantastic Percy Miracles vocal that brilliantly meshes with the tone and content of Murs' verses. Murs fills in the blanks with some of the most honest and, dare I say, vulnerable raps I've ever heard. And, of course, it's tremendously rewarding for me as another who's "more Coldplay than I am Ice-T" to hear Murs cut to the heart of the "nice-guy" dilemna. Simply put, I think it's stunning.

More info on Murs is available here: Murs' Website

Monday, November 29, 2004


Finally they let me back in. You see, I tried to post yesterday but for some reason Blogger was acting up and wouldn't let me in. So I apologize for them. Now back to business...

Last night I had the good fortune to see Neko Case and the Sadies at Neumo's Cystal Ballroom in Seattle. They sold the place out, drawing one of the rowdiest (read: most drunken) crowds at any show I've yet been to. Dexter Romweber opened up with a nice, albeit unremarkable, surf-rock/rockabilly combo, followed by the Sadies themselves. This was my first time seeing them and I have to say they weren't as dynamic in concert as I expected from their records. Nearly every song felt on the verge of a hoe-down, which meant that by the end of their set their songs felt so samey that they became one long blur. A fun blur though. At times I actually spaced out just watching Dallas Good chain smoke: I mean, the man plays guitar with a lit cigarette in his hand!

Of course, Neko was the star of the show and throughout her set she again and again made it clear why: from her commanding yet playful stage presence to her gorgeous voice she put on a show worthy of her relatively new standing as one of indie-rock's few household names. I recently read an article that placed Neko alongside Björk and Corin Tucker as today's most powerful female vocalists and that really sounds accurate to me. Her outstanding range in covers last night, including Buffy Sainte-Marie, Loretta Lynn and the Shangri-Las, and her work with the New Pornographers further solidifies that notion in my mind: Neko Case can sing just about anything...and well! Last night's show was all over the map, including a song or two from her tour-only Canadian Amp EP (which I was finally able to pick up last night!), the title track of this year's The Tigers Have Spoken, and quite a few songs she co-wrote with the Sadies that'll be on next year's studio album. Regrettably, she didn't play much from Furnace Room Lullaby or Blacklisted, which meant I didn't get to hear my favorite songs of hers, "Guided By Wire" or "I Wish I Was The Moon". Ah well, I didn't walk away disappointed.

Here's a song from Furnace Room Lullaby she did play last night, which she introduced as a song about killing your boyfriend. "Sometimes it has to be done", she observed. Indeed.

Neko Case - "Furnace Room Lullaby"

Neko's still on tour through mid-December, so visit her website to find out if she's kicking out the jams anywhere near you:

Neko Case's Website

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Isn't This It?

Another late post, perhaps the last one until Saturday if I leave for Vancouver tomorrow like I'm planning. The subject of tonight's post (or at least the main creative force behind the band, Annie Hardy) hails from Orange Country, California, but I won't hold that against them. At least not as long as they're making music this good.

They're called Giant Drag and, from what I can gather, they consist of Annie Hardy and whatever drummer she can snag - right now I think it's some guy named Eli Wood. They recently played a show in Los Angeles with "John fucking Cale" (her words) and have one EP (Lemona, which may or may not have been officially released already) to their name. However, Annie recently let it be known that the band is recording their debut full-length with "a revolving cast of LA's finest drug addicts/musicians" (again, her words).

They've earned a lot of comparisons to My Bloody Valentine and Mazzy Star. Another reference point is Kim Deal and the Breeders, in fact too much so: in one post to Giant Drag's (often hilarious) website Annie wrote a letter to England in which she threatened "i swear to god, if you don't stop saying that we sound like the breeders i am going to kick your ass". Other than the Bloody Valentinesque guitar fuzz, it's Annie's lyrics that have probably gained Giant Drag the most attention. Yes, Ms. Hardy appears to have a knack for the outrageous, between joking in Giant Drag's bio on their website about her love of abortions to titling a song an acronym that stands for "You Fuck Like My Dad" to penning lines like "I will fuck you while you cry". Time will tell whether Annie and Giant Drag need such attention-grabbing ploys or not, but my guess is you'll be hearing a lot more from them in the future. Until then, here's a couple songs from Lemona:

Giant Drag - "This Isn't It"

Giant Drag - "YFLMD"

And here's an extra little special bonus super treat: what I believe to be solo Annie Hardy covering Journey (can't believe I just typed that):

Annie Hardy - "Who's Crying Now"

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Tail-End Of Rock & Roll?

Sorry for the late post tonight, but I've got something special to make up for it. Tonight I make my first post concerning the artist nearest and dearest to my musical heart. Who could that be? The same genius that sits soundly atop my artist links. Although tonight, Bob Dylan sneaks in by way of a band that only has six shows left in their career...if you guessed Guided By Voices, you win nothing, but you rock!

This little recording is taken from the band's November 7th show in Houston, Texas. It begins with an awesome rant in which Mr. Pollard lets the audience know that indie rock sucks and rock & roll is almost dead, but the end of the world won't be happening any time soon. Thanks for clearing that up Robert. Now, I've never seen GBV live so I wouldn't know if this is Robert Pollard sober or drunk, but I do know that if he rants like this every night then it's entirely worth the price of admission, regardless of what the band plays (or even if the band plays). Enjoy:

Guided By Voices - "Mr. Tambourine Man [Live]"

For information about those final six shows or information about thee Voices in general, visit:

Guided By Voices' Website

P.S. Thanks so much to Eric (aka 20/20 Vision) for the audio.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Say What You Mean

Last year's More Parts Per Million was very good and had a few truly outstanding songs ("Back To Gray" and "Born Dead" chief among those), but this year the Thermals are even more passionate, more necessary and more better.

Fuckin A, the album they released in May, still stands as one of the strongest albums of the year, a half hour of power that feels more whole and complete than many albums twice its length. From "Our Trip", the mission statement that opens the record ("We're talking shit, our slate is clean, say what you mean...we're not listening"), to the sonic squeal that begins "Keep Time" and on to the final minute-long "Top Of The Earth", the Thermals offer no breathers. Hutch Harris' songwriting has improved since More Parts, where it was already fantastic, and his voice expertly conveys the urgency inherent in his writing. He's ready to rival Ted Leo as one of the most intelligent lyricists around, peep this from "A Stare Like Yours": "When you don't have control, you pretend...a stare like yours is hard to find, it's ultraviolet." Kathy Foster's drumming is phenomenal and producer Chris Walla cleans shit up just enough. Fucking A is right, listen to the Thermals:

The Thermals - "Remember Today"

Visit the Thermals:

The Thermals' Website

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Speaking Of Free...

I guess I'm having a country-rock week, because today I woke up wanting to post about Edith Frost. She's amazing, she's got three great albums on Drag City, the latest being 2001's Wonder Wonder. Earlier this year she did something so completely cool it still makes me happy: she released an album of demos of the songs on her three albums...on the internet...for free! Below are my two favorite songs from the album, appropriately titled Demos:

Edith Frost - "Wonder Wonder"

Edith Frost - "Look What Thoughts Will Do"

That's right, the second song is a cover of Lefty Frizzell's classic, which Edith handles brilliantly. If you want to hear the rest of Demos, you can download it from Comfort Stand, a super cool "community-driven label where all releases are free". In the past I've gotten albums from artists such as R. Stevie Moore and Joe Meek completely free from Comfort Stand, so spend some time browsing their catalog too.

And Edith is going on tour soon, all over the country, with some pretty outstanding supporting acts, so check out her hilarious website/blog, where she'll keep you up to date on, among other things, her roller-skating adventures:

Edith Frost's Website

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

All That You Have Ever Hoped For

Last night I read a review that Melissa Amos wrote for Splendid about a band named Sunday Velvet. I'm already a sucker for bands with the word velvet in their name (Velvet Underground, Velvet Teen, Some Velvet Sidewalk, but not Velvet Revolver), but on top of that Melissa's review was so good that I immediately googled Sunday Velvet and ended up at their website. On their site, their leader Bruno Bernard describes their music as "a project at the crossroads of rock and american folk music", and while that's definitely accurate it doesn't betray the gloom and sadness that characterizes the EP Melissa reviewed, All That God Only Knows. As she says in her review, the EP possesses an ache that will be familiar to anyone with more than a passing interest in the melancholy country-ish music made by artists like Will Oldham and Little Wings.

The best part of it all, though, is that the entire EP is available to download from Sunday Velvet's website, as is the majority of two earlier EPs. So, this is what I've been listening to all day: the perfect soundtrack for yet another rainy Washington afternoon. To begin your adventure with Sunday Velvet, just go here:

Sunday Velvet's Website

Or you can just sample my two favorite songs from All That God Only Knows:

Sunday Velvet - "Barbed Wire"

Sunday Velvet - "Let It Slide"

Besides all these free songs, the other thing that's remarkable about Sunday Velvet's website is the following quote: "Nevertheless, if you happen to enjoy thoses tracks, please let us know it. It is such a pleasure and it's our only reward." Who could deny such an honest request? Needless to say, Bernard has an email from me waiting in his inbox.

And oh yeah, thanks Melissa!

Monday, November 15, 2004

A Real Good Woman Nobody Knows

Get used to the name Tift Merritt because you're probably going to be hearing an awful lot about her around these parts. She is, quite simply, the finest young talent to hit my radar in the last couple years. Her debut album, Bramble Rose, is a masterpiece ("like the Rolling Stones fronted by Emmylou Harris") and definitely the perfect starting point if you've never heard of her. You probably haven't, but that's okay; that's what I'm here for.

Her sophomore album, Tambourine, finally arrived earlier this year and showed Tift taking a dramatic step forward, away from the more introspective country of her debut and into a full on Stax-revival. Yours truly, his bakness, recently had the opportunity to see her three nights in a row when she played Easy Street Records and the Moore Theatre in Seattle and the Roseland Theatre in Portland, and can testify that Tift is being 100% honest when she describes Tambourine as a better reflection of her more "rocking" live shows. The two albums together reveal two fully-developed sides to the same, extraordinarily talented artist. I think you should get them both, but I'm not gonna post a track from either. Instead, here's Tift performing an excellent cover of Lorretta Lynn's 1971 hit "Another Man Loved Me Last Night":

Tift Merritt - "Another Man Loved Me Last Night"

If that doesn't wet your appetite, I don't know what will. Maybe if you get a taste of Tift's personality, in a way that only she herself can provide. That's right, an interview! Here's the audio of a radio interview that Tift recently subjected herself to:

Tift Merritt - NPR Interview

Tift is still on tour, opening for Mindy Smith (boo!), with a few more dates in Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky. To find out if she's playing near you, or for more information about her in general, there's always her website:

Tift Merritt's Website

Sunday, November 14, 2004

I Can't Feel My Arms!

Here's a song that I haven't been able to get out of my head since I first heard it a couple weeks ago:

The Transmissionary Six - "Happy Landings"

Isn't that chorus fab? "Happy Landings" can be found on Get Down, T-Six's fourth album, which should be in stores Tuesday along with Rufus Wainwright's Want Two and MF Doom's MM...Food. That's quite a release day. For more information on the Transmissionary Six, be sure to check out their website, where you can order the new album directly if you like:

The Transmissionary Six's Website

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself...

It's here, motherfuckers! My name is bakinakwa and this is my mp3 blog. I intend to use this blog to share my love for many types of music: from folk to glam rock, from country to hip-hop, from mainstream to underground...and most everything in between. If you don't like what's being offered one day, check back the next because chances are it'll be at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. This first post serves the dual purpose of introducing my blog to the world and welcoming Eminem's fourth album, Encore, which hit stores yesterday. To celebrate, here's my favorite song from the album:

Eminem with Obie Trice, Stat Quo & 50 Cent - "Spend Some Time"

Gotta love that bewitching sample, which I'm pretty sure comes from Spooky Tooth's "Self Seeking Man", and the strange soft-rock chorus that shouldn't work, but does. Also, here's the video to another song on Encore, "Mosh", which even though it was unable to help get G-Dub out of office is still a remarkable piece of art:

Eminem - "Mosh [Video]"


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