Tuesday, March 30, 2004

So long, farewell, Auf Weidersehen, goodbye.
Catch you on the other side of the Mason/Dixon line.

Speed round:

In shocking news, Guns 'N Roses has cancelled an upcoming concert appearance and - whaddaya know? - is still recording. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Axl Rose, the new century's Howard Hughes.

Read this article carefully: Edwyn Collins is gonna have a song on the Girls Gone Wild album?! I mean, even though I assume it'll be "A Girl Like You"... Edwyn Collins???

Betcha CMT is already uncontrollably drooling, and scheduling a Loretta Lynn weekend around the release of her new album.

The governor and attorney general of Massachusetts are squaring off on gay weddings, in advance of 2006: A Gubernatorial Electoral Odyssey.

While I still wish he'd support gay marriage, John Kerry certainly seems to be hitting on all of the other gay-rights cylinders.

Precedent? We don't need no stinkin' precendent!

From this week's Village Voice, Richard Goldstein on Love (Courtney, that is).

We'll know for certain tomorrow, but based on the numbers coming in at HITS Daily Double (fairly unobtrusive reg. required), it now looks like Usher's gonna clear 1 million in the first week of Confessions. Wowza. And a note to the many Googlers looking for info on the crown prince of R&B: just because Ludacris pronounces it "Ursh*r," there is not a second "r" in his name, mmmkay?

It's official: new episodes of Family Guy in early 2005! Hooray! [Link courtesy of the pretty fab Planet Family Guy.]

Here they go again: Bush's Treasury Secretary says outsourcing is good. That'll put food on the table if you lose your job to someone in India being paid a fourth of your wage, right?

Single file:

The reigning king of the lyrical non-sequitur, hip-hop division, returns as Ghostface Killah teams with Missy Elliott on "Tush," which is decidedly not a ZZ Top cover. Backed by a crazy disco-funk track (anyone know what that sample's from?), Ghost and Missy trade verses about, well, gettin' up in her tush, tush, tush (which rhymes with "bush," "push," and "shush," by the way) and just generally do their thing. Musically, "Tush" is a lot less hard than most of Ghost's catalog - though he's never been afraid to ride a limb - which works to its advantage here. "Tush" (titled "Push" in its radio edit) sounds like little else out there at the moment; it deserves to be a huge springtime smash. Radio's never seemed to cotton to Ghost before, so hopefully the addition of Ms. Elliott will break down some barriers. A-

Praise be, Teena Marie is back! And perhaps more importantly, she's not trying to do anything she shouldn't on her comeback single, "Still In Love" (apart, possibly, from bizarrely signing with Cash Money Records - whaaat?!). This is classic Teena, sultry and sexy without being smutty, with an old-soul kinda backing and no guest stars. It's all about Teena Marie. As it should be. B+

Aerosmith's blues record, Honkin' On Bobo, finally surfaces (in stores) today. It's led by their cover of the Big Joe Williams standard "Baby Please Don't Go" - and don't be afraid of the fact that this is allegedly "blues." More like blooze, this is Boston's finest taking on some of their favorites and doing them in decidedly Aerostyle, all messy and nasty, with Joe Perry wailing away on his guitar as Steven Perry does the same on the mic. There's no reverence to be found here, but a whole lotta love nonetheless. If you're mainly familiar with the Them version of "Baby," you ain't heard nothin'. This is a superb move by Aerosmith - one they should've made years ago, perhaps? A-

After three albums' worth of decent-to-good uptempo tunes and soppy ballads (such as his last single, the fairly insulting "Little Things"), Brad Paisley has finely come out with a ballad befitting his considerable trad-country strengths. "Whiskey Lullaby," a duet with (who else?) Alison Krauss, is a sad, sad song about those eternal country subjects, lost love and the bottle. Its instrumentation is suitably understated, allowing the song's lyric (and its singer's voices) to take center stage, which they do in sterling fashion. Country radio probably won't latch on to this one, seeing it as too much of a "downer," which is (as usual) a shame. "Lullaby" is a frontrunner for the best country single of 2004. A

Before I pack up the computer and ship it on its way to New Hampshire, how about a few new downloads via a trip into the wayback machine?

Lidell Townsell was in the right place at the right time: that place being Chicago, and that time being the late '80s and early '90s, when house music from there was exploding in a big way - and making a dent on the pop charts. In the early '90s (it seems so long ago), before radio was quite as sliced-and-diced-formatted as it is now, dance records actually got played on Top 40 radio. Townsell's "Nu Nu" was one of those records, creeping into the lower reaches of Billboard's top 40 in 1992. It's a nearly perfect house/pop crossover record, sacrificing none of its jump-up Chi-town house flavor while still fitting into a trad 4-minute pop song structure. I apologize for the awkward way the song cuts off (it was taken from a mix disc), but not for the fine quality of "Nu Nu."

Anyone else remember Rock Over London? It was a nationally syndicated Westwood One program in the '80s which brought U.K. imports to American audiences months before they reached these shores. From The Alarm to UB40 and Smiths singles, they covered it all - even Enya! But there may be no artist I discovered via ROL who was more of a find than Tanita Tikaram. A 19-year-old singer-songwriter who was doing it a full decade before the Lilith explosion (and without all the pretense; she was naturally serious), Tikaram was akin to, say, Dido with talent (and without the dance background). With songwriting comparable at its best to Joan Armatrading, and blessed with a smoky, seriously jazz-club voice (I'd love to hear her do Billie Holiday), Tikaram was a can't-miss, who didn't miss in the U.K. and Europe. In the U.S., however, she was criminally undernoticed (if not underrated). "Twist In My Sobriety" so impressed no less a pop authority as the Pet Shop Boys that they had Liza - yes, that Liza - cover it on Results, the album they masterminded for her the following year. Her version, however, isn't even close to a patch on the original. I mean, Tikaram's "Sobriety" features a cor anglais!

Monday, March 29, 2004

Thanks to a tip by Matt in a post over at The Freelance Mentalists, I checked out two current country singles by women recently, and boy am I glad I did.

The first is "Redneck Woman" by newcomer Gretchen Wilson, and it's everything you'd either hope (if you're so inclined) or fear (if you're not) based solely on its title. Put it this way: Tanya Tucker'd be proud (and one might assume she is, as she returns Wilson's favor of referencing her in the lyrics by appearing in the single's video, which you can watch here [registration required, but worth it]). "Redneck" is a proud shit-kickin' anthem sure to get a "Hell yeah!" from all the "redneck girls" across the U.S. Its instrumentation is pure country, full of roadhouse piano and hot guitar licks. This is a reaction record; you'll know what you think after one listen, much like, say, Tim McGraw's "Indian Outlaw" without the cheese factor. I know what I think: A-

To my ears, Sara Evans has always been one of those perfectly nice, perfectly bland female pop-country singers. Nothing offensive about her (hell, she even turned Edwin fucking McCain's "I Could Not Ask For More" into a halfway decent record), but nothing really to recommend; just there, very white bread. But - and I really didn't intend those puns in the previous sentence - her new single "Perfect" seems to have a bit of a spark to it, for once in her career. [Okay, twice, including "Born to Fly," which was fairly transcendent.] It won't change the world. It likely won't even change your world. But it's awfully nice, especially lyrically. B

It ain't about Steriogram, or their single "Walkie Talkie Man" (ersatz garage rock, Strokes-via-Vines kinda thing). It's about the video, directed by the genius that is Michel Gondry. Wow. If the record was as good as its vidclip... but don't let me scare you off; watch the video anyway. The man is back. [Thanks to Stumpy for the heads-up.]

Speed round:

Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Mozzer, the Lips, Sonic Youth? 2 days?! Oh my God.

Updated both my top 100 tracks and top xx albums lists this morning; while doing so, moved 424 Sound Monster's Blazin' Blip Blop and Blar & Blee to the album list, as it clocks in at about an hour.

I watched part of the 60 Minutes interview with Condi Rice last night, until I just got sick of her bullshit excuses. She can pop on every network defending her case, and the administration's failures re: terrorism, but she can't testift before the 9/11 Commission? Why? Because "there is an important principle involved here: It is a long-standing principle that sitting national security advisers do not testify before the Congress." I'm sure that makes the families of those killed on 9/11 feel better, sweetheart. Now the Bush admin has principles? Interesting. Even GOoPers are declaring that this is a huge blunder.

R.I.P., Sir Peter Ustinov. He was a great actor and, possibly, an even better humanitarian.

The John McMullen Show on Sirius OutQ radio is a superb mix of opinion, talk, and ideas, politics and entertainment. He talks about the Iraq war, but also interviews the likes of Daniel, "the gay guy" from the WB's delicious reality show High School Reunion. Bravo! Oh, and since it's satellite radio, there's swearing for everyone!

Well, I went 3-1 in my revised Final Four picks - and how 'bout the ACC, which could have two teams meeting for all the marbles? I don't expect it to happen, mind you; I still stick with UConn topping OK State in the championship.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

The L.A. Times has a superb, and superbly heartbreaking, story in today's editions, on the effects of outsourcing call-center jobs on the economies in Appalachia. Keep in mind that John Kerry has said he'll tax U.S. corporations which continue sending jobs overseas. Meanwhile, the Bush administration continues to insist that jobs moving from the U.S. to other countries is a "positive development."

[Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images/File/Mark Wilson.]

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Fearlessly, I'll continue making predix regardless of my horrendous record thus far.
My new Final Four (since all four of my original picks are out): UConn, Oklahoma State, Kansas (how impressive were they last night?), and Duke (since you've gotta have a top seed in there, right?). UConn over OK St. for the title (though I'd love to see Eddie Sutton cutting down the nets).

So much for my prognosticative powers; I picked one of Friday night's games correctly. Thanks, GA Tech!

Friday, March 26, 2004

Well, I went 2-2 in last night's predix, with Pitt and 'Cuse letting me down. So, what of tonight's games, as we finish paring the Sweet 16 down to an Elite Eight?

(3) Texas vs. (7) Xavier, 727pm: The X-men are certainly streaking at just the right time, winners of 15 of their last 16 (including an upset of St. Joe's in the A-10 quarters, and an upset of Mississippi St. in the round of 32 last Sunday). But can they hang with the oh-so-deep 11-man rotation of the Longhorns? I think the tandem of Royal Ivey and Brandon Mouton will be just a little too much for the Musketeers, though I doubt Texas will rout.

(1) Duke vs. (5) Illinois, 957pm: Ooh, this is why we love this game. The regular-season best from the ACC and Big Ten square off in a major matchup. Illinois pounded a good Cincy team in the second round, while Duke's yet to be challenged. They'll be challenged tonight, for sure. The Illini are playing as well as anyone right now, and Duke, while tough, can be beaten. If Dee Brown can turn this into an up-and-down-the-court contest, you've gotta favor IL. I think he will, so I do. Upset.

St. Louis
(4) Kansas vs. (9) Alabama-Birmingham, 710pm: With the top two seeds in this region (Kentucky and Gonzaga) both out, it seems a lot of folks are picking the Jayhawks to sweep into San Antonio. Not so fast, my friend. UAB's pressure defense - and guard Mo Finley specifically - could give KS fits. And remember, this is not your Dad's rock, chalk, Jayhawk team: they lost to Richmond at home this season (nothing against the Spiders, mind you). They'll have a definite advantage playing so close to home, but UAB won't be ruffled. Kansas may be ready for 39 Minutes of Hell, but not 40. Glass slippers for everyone!

(3) Georgia Tech vs. (10) Nevada, 940pm: ...and then there's this year's ultimate Cinderella (did anyone pick them this far in their brackets?!). Can the Wolf Pack keep the clock from chiming midnight once more? I'd love to see it, but I think that GA Tech's defense will manage to keep a lid on NV guard Kirk Snyder. It'll be closer than you think, but the Yellow Jackets move on to Sunday.

At this point, I don't think it matters so much, however, as I expect OK St. and UConn to be playing for all the marbles on April 5th. But that doesn't mean I won't be watching - shut yo' mouth!

OMG, OMG, OMG! I hate to start a post with such AIM-speak, but the new Morrissey single warrants it. "Irish Blood, English Heart" (from You Are the Quarry, coming out in mid-May) shows Mozzer in amazing form, backed by a particularly sturdy rock band and sounding so strong. It's such a delight to hear Morrissey returning like this, 'cause let's be honest - some of his solo work hasn't been the best, or even up to his prodigious abilities. And not only does he sound great vocally, but the lyrics bite; he's got a political fire burning under him again, and we should all be grateful. The lyrics of "Blood" are pointed (chiefly against the U.K. political system) and provide an extra sense of urgency to his singing. As fine as the advance word on Quarry is, I'm now really, really excited. The Queen may be dead, but it's about time the King returned!

No offense to Sammy Hagar, but Van Halen without David Lee Roth ain't Van Halen. You can bet I won't be lining up for tickets to this tour.

Had the opportunity to IM with James Asal, the creator of the stellar gay comic strip Adam and Andy, today. He's a charming fellow, just as I'd expected, and we had a great conversation. James also he alerted me to the fact that Sirius OutQ radio (with which he just did an interview this week) is free to listen to online! It's mostly queer talk, and has some good, incisive talk and comment (and they take calls!). Recommended.

And they've got some woofy hosts, too...

Translation: we want to "clear up" issues which came up in testimony before the 9/11 commission, but only under our terms. Backpedaling, anyone?

It's official: I leave VA 3/31, about 130pm. Now that it's just 5 days away, it seems very surreal that a nearly 4-year chapter of my life is coming to a close as a new one starts. But it's happening, and (I'm pretty sure that) I'm ready.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Generally, I agree with Matthew idea about not posting "big name" artist/really current mp3s. There's no need to ask for trouble, now, is there? However, this one needs to be heard: KoRn's new single from Take A Look In the Mirror is the industry-hatin' "Y'All Want A Single." Not surprisingly, it's finding resistance at ClearChannel-dominated radio - and, surprisingly, their former champ MTV. Unlikely free-speech posterboy Howard Stern, however, has taken such a shining to "Single" that he's essentially made it his unofficial theme song. Which led KoRn to do a "remix" of it, adding in clips from Stern's on-air comments ripping the FCC, the Bush administration, and the media conglomerates. They posted it on their website. And as fast as that, it's been pulled. Whatcha wanna bet their corporate parent Epic (part of Sony) made them take it down? Musically, "Single" is just so-so, but politically/culturally, it needs to be heard. So get to it. And get to Stern's website while you listen; it's become a free-speech/FCC-bashing mecca well worth visiting.

Hey, y'all, a new URL goes nicely with a new home, don't you think? Effective immediately, I have, basically, a mirror site: http://submeat.notempo.com. It's almost like having my own domain. Almost. :) Either that URL or the usual http://www.notempo.com/submeat will get you here, so take your pick. [And for those wondering, the "new home" part of the equation will be effective on the 31st. New Hampshire, here I come!]

Say it ain't so, Gene! No!

Stop press: ESPN hoops guru Andy Katz is saying now that he spoke with Gene Keady this afternoon, and it's "50/50." Watch this space...

More: here's the official statement released at 7pm EST by Morgan Burke, the Purdue AD.

Banned Music: spread the word, spread the music, fuck the RIAA.

Bannedmusic.org is a peer-to-peer collaboration that makes it impossible for the major record labels to ban or censor musical works. When record labels send legal threats to musicians, record stores, or websites, we will post the music here for download and publicize the censorship attempt. There is a clear fair use right to distribute this music, and for the public to decide whether current copyright law is serving musicians and the public, they need to be able to hear what's being suppressed. Read more.

Thanks to Paul for the link.

In doing the last bit of sorting today (am oh-so-close to being done with packing all but a few last-minute items - and who knew it would be so difficult to pack those last few oddly-shaped items, like a trophy or a boombox?), I discovered a Myers-Briggs test I took in college. To the surprise of likely no one (least of all myself), I'm an INFP. In case you were wondering.

"I did not interject myself into this tournament and never have."

That's a laugh. Billy Packer, especially as he gets older, totally sees himself as bigger than the game which has brought him fame and fortune. As opposed to Dick Vitale, who for all his loudmouthing completely gets that he takes a backseat to the kids on the courts, Packer seems to think, especially when doing color with Jim Nantz on CBS game broadcasts, that he's the star. Of course, that doesn't mean I won't be watching, after I get home from the last dinner with the gang (*sniff*) - it's the Madness, baby!

Tonight, 1/4 of the Sweet 16 goes home. Here are the games and my picks.

East Rutherford
(2) Oklahoma State vs (3) Pittsburgh, 727pm: Pitt. It's time for Jamie Dixon's boys to ramp it up a notch. They didn't look particularly impressive in either of their first two tournament games. If they play the same way, OSU will roll - but I don't expect that to happen. This game could be an instant classic, but I give the Big East the edge over the Big 12 tonight. Pitt's my only remaining Final Four pick still Dancing, and I don't think they'll let me down.

(1) St. Joseph's vs (4) Wake Forest, 957pm: St. Joe's. This is the only region where the top 4 seeds advanced, and Wake did so on the back of their frosh stud Chris Paul. If he can penetrate SJU and make his shots, they've got a shot, but I think St. Joe's is just too damn good. Plus, frankly, they've got Jameer Nelson, and Wake doesn't. Now, in 2005? WF could be world-beaters.

(2) Connecticut vs (6) Vanderbilt, 710pm: UConn. These Huskies are firing on all cylinders just when you want a team to do so. If Okafor's hurting, he's not showing it. And Ben Gordon's not hurting a bit. Vandy's playing great ball right now, but lightning won't strike twice. You've gotta think that UConn's the prohibitive favorite to cut down the nets in SA now that Kentucky and Stanford are watching at home.

(5) Syracuse vs (8) Alabama, 940pm: Syracuse. The toughest game of the night to pick, in my opinion. Last year's champs are playing energized, behind the superb tandem of Hakim Warrick and Gerry McNamara - but Alabama beat Stanford, and will have all the confidence they need coming in to this game. As long as 'Cuse can score, though, I think they'll just run down 'Bama over the course of 40 minutes; they can play that run-and-gun game.

And we've still got a pair of "Cinderella seeds" yet to play tomorrow night! I love this game.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Single file:

Upon a tip from Andy, I sought out "Throwback," a Just Blaze production for Usher, on his brand-spankin'-new Confessions (early word now says it'll top 900K+, first week - that's big). And as is generally the case, Andy's so right. Working a funky, fuzzed-out late-era Motown sample to perfection - and with Usher showing his usual, well-advised restraint as he bends those fine pipes he's got (one of the things that puts Usher over and is never mentioned, to my frustration, is the fact that he doesn't overdo his singing. He knows he's got a voice, and so do you, so he doesn't feel the need to show off) - this rocks the mid-tempo house. His ballads (and ballad-ishs) often tend towards the drippy and reheated, but this one, by going in an unconventional direction (i.e. Just Blaze behind the boards), succeeds greatly. And Andy's also right in saying that this needs to be the third, post-"Burn" single. It could rule Summer '04 with ease. A

Twista's "Overnight Celebrity," coming on the heels of the nation-conquering "Slow Jamz" - and featuring, again, the involvment of the man of the moment, Kanye West - is a guaranteed smash. And I've yet to tire of Kanye's julienned-femme vocal trick. But it seems to missing a palpable something; it's good-not-great. Better is the deliciously slithery groove of the R. Kelly-assisted "So Sexy." I mean, either you like hearing Twista spit at 140mph, or you don't, so ultimately, his appeal comes down to his tracks and collaborators. And right now, the world is his oyster, so the hits will likely keep on comin'. Even Robert's refrain about "the girls that be ridin' the 'D'" doesn't detract from "Sexy"'s - duh, sexiness. [And an aside: does R. Kelly ever sleep? It's only late March, and it already seems like he's working at making the Neptunes look like the ultimate slackers.] "Celebrity": B+, "Sexy": A-

"You're Fit But You Know It" is another single by Mike Skinner, a/k/a The Streets, talking about annoying people. But the appeal of his previous singles is missing, I think 'cause he's working a circa-1980 postpunk guitar groove instead of stutter-stop electronic bumps. It's not working. C

What with the Donnie Darko-utilised cover of "Mad World" topping charts worldwide (albeit a couple years late), the time is ripe for a splashy return by Tears For Fears. So why is "Closest Thing to Heaven" so ready-for-A/C limp? The melody's there, Roland's vocals are same as they ever were, but it all sounds pretty paint-by-numbers snoozy. Shame, really. B-

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Disgusting. Not at all surprising, but disgusting nonetheless. Also disgusting: Log Cabin Republicans, the true Uncle Toms of queer America. How can these sadly misguided idiots see through their GOP blinders?!

I think Shandi is going to be named America's Next Top Model. We'll know in an hour...

Update: Nope, it was Yoanna. I'm shocked, and think the judges made the wrong choice - of the final two, it should've been Mercedes.

Oh, wow. If you love pop in all of its many shapes and forms, you will likely love Bubblegum Machine (and yes, it's another mp3... well, website. It's not really a blog, I don't think. But regardless, we're everywhere!). Thanks to Eppy for the jump-off. [That phrasing isn't really correct, but I thought he'd appreciate being thanked for "the jump-off." Now, can he make a Sprite can disappear with his mouth?]

It's easy to take Go Home Productions for granted. Mark's been creating such amazing booties and mashups and sharing them with the world for what seems like years now (actually, it's been almost 2 years, since May '02) - and now he's releasing them legit, with the Pistol Whipped EP in shops now in the UK (and available online through Half Inch Recordings). So, occasionally, one has to be reminded of the magic of GHP. My most recent reminder came via Strictly Kev's "Raiding the 20th Century - A History of the Cutup" mix (which you can download here), in which, amongst many other varied and sundry pieces of sound, he included GHP's "Turn Out the Light Slave! And Gimme Some Rhythm," an expertly mind-blowing mashup combining Nelly Furtado and Grace Jones. After getting permission from the man himself, I'll occasionally be reposting tracks he's made which he's had to take off his site (chiefly out of bandwidth considerations, I believe), so enjoy "Turn Out the Light Slave!"

Mm-mm-good! A certain Mr. Mould (he's just Bob to you and me), under his ever-expanding and pulsating LoudBomb guise, has done a marvelous splice-and-dice filter job on the Whispers' "And the Beat Goes On" (which I took on a while back, over here, and not nicely either). He's improved the song by legions, and I highly recommend it. It's known in this incarnation as "And the Beat Goes On v2," credited to LoudBomb v Whispers. Download and love it. Dee-lish.

"He took the stuff I had 'P'd on, and then he 'P'd on it, and it was spectacular."

George Clinton: the return? With Prince, OutKast, and a myriad of others in tow? Wow. Let's hope he can stay out of jail and make it happen.

JC Chasez's Schizophrenic is a bit of a mixed bag - some ballads better than they've any right, some of the uptempo oddly not - but it's got a couple of tracks on it that are just utterly ace. "Some Girls (Dance with Women)" you should already know, very sleek and streamlined and surprisingly sexy (music not lyrics, especially the verses, though the lyrics aren't as bad as you have a right to anticipate) - go for the version with the addition of Dirt McGirt, a/k/a The Artist Formerly Known as Ol' Dirty Bastard, 'cause he makes all things better with even more aplomb than the Fab 5. [Dirty in "I like touchin' buck-naked skin" shocker!] However, JC, you are not Keith Richards on a C&W bender, so don't even try "Something Special," 'cause it ain't happenin'. "Shake It," meanwhile, I knew was produced and written by Basement Jaxx without even looking at the credits; it's got that vaguely reggae-ish carnival-organ-on-acieeed feel that just screams Jaxx, even if it doesn't actually sound like anything they've (yet) done. But it sounds like it's trying a little too hard. What with Chasez and Jaxx's twin Prince obsessions - and the stunner of Kish Kash's "Plug It In" - this should be more exciting, shouldn't it? "100 Ways" and some other songs try too hard in a different way, which All Music's inimitable Stephen Thomas Erlewine nails in his review:

[Chasez] tries harder to distinguish himself, particularly by shedding his boy background preening as a sexually charged yet sex-starved loverman. Problem is, JC is hardly convincing as a sex machine. It's partially because his voice is a little thin, partially because he resorts to schoolyard slogans like "All Day Long I Dream About Sex," but mostly because his words play like somebody who is trying to be sexy instead of simply being sexy. There's a reason why sex-obsessed singers from Prince to Diamond David Lee Roth haven't sung lines like Chasez's "'Cause when I'm all alone/I lie awake and masturbate" ? it doesn't sound like seduction, it sounds desperate, lonely, and needy. And that's just the most quotable of the dozens of weirdly worded, panting come-ons on Schizophrenic ? there's also the cheerfully banal "so much fun being naughty," the exhortation that his lover is "such a sexy dame," his desire to "sleaze you girl," and his confession that he has to "adjust the button fly on my Levis when you walk into the door," which suggests that Chasez is a sucker for clumsy dames.

What he said, reinforced by the unfortunate lyrics of "All Day Long" (which, as it would happen, has a very appealling, chunky groove, especially in its faux-electro mid-song breakdown).

But if it sounds like I'm praising Schizophrenic with faint damning, wait. "Lose Myself" - not an Eminem reworking - is a sensitive-without-schlock ballad, pretty without pretense, complete with a gorgeous arrangement which appropriately lets Chasez breathe (and multitrack his supple voice into an army of backing singers). A blatantly fake-sounding piano anchors "Build My World"'s midtempo sentiments, and Chasez sounds so relaxed, it works. "Everything You Want" has got a synthetic reggae groove more convincing than any Sean Paul record (now, that's damning with faint praise). And then there's "She Got Me."

If "She Got Me" had been stowed away to be the first single from the next will-they-or-won't-they *NSync album, it woulda knocked the proceedings outta the park. But frankly, I'm glad Chasez kept it for himself (as well he should have, since apart from the Jaxx contribution, he gets a songwriting credit for every track on the album - what Justin can do, JC can do, too?). This standout song features no superstar producers or writers, just Chasez and his collaborators (mostly guitarist Gregg Arreguin and coproducer Robb Boldt) working a simple and so effective pop-rock groove based around a deliciously strummy acoustic riff and some ridiculous "whoop whoop" chanting. "She Got Me" is one of those pop songs that's so easy and obvious you wonder why you didn't write/record it. This deserves to be a massive summer smash. It probably won't even be released as a single, to my (and, likely, Chasez's) chagrin.

Frustratingly, Schizophrenic is exactly as advertised, too much so. Much of the music on this album is just great. The lyrics, however, aren't. And Chasez never seems to lock into a comfort zone of a groove, (too) gleefully jumping from one to the next, with no adhesion present. This should be a better album than it is; relish the highs and hope for more the next time. Hell, hope there is a next time. B

Today's Boondocks (which you can read every day at uComics) is an instant classic. [Granted, most of 'em are, but this one especially so.]

And interestingly, the same day, the bipartisan panel looking into the roots of 9/11 (as it were) has stated that preliminary findings show that both the Clinton and Bush administrations could have done a lot more to stop al-Qaida. Whatcha wanna bet Condi spins this as "look what the Dems didn't do!"/"This is clearly politically motivated," or at least tries?

Staying with the terror-threat thread,

A government source said security officials would try screening technologies this spring to see what works best and would initially limit the program to one station.

This from an Reuters piece regarding U.S. rail security. Now, as someone who's taken (and loves) Amtrak quite a bit, I can speak firsthand to the fact that there is NO security, nor screening, for rail travel in the U.S. And it's clearly needed. But isn't this taking things a wee bit slowly? Not only did it take the horrible bombings in Spain to drive us to action, but we'll start testing the "technologies" at one station?! Could Tom Ridge, I ask you, be any more useless?

"Is he retarded?" You must must must hear one of the worst radio interviews ever done with a superstar - I sincerely doubt it was ever broadcast - in this case, the goddess Kylie. Masterton's got the leaked mp3 (in his 3/17/04 post).

Speaking of Kylie, "Red Blooded Woman"'s a bit of a grower, innit? I still find Body Language underwhelming, but it may well be worthy of a re-evaluation. [Also, "Red" makes a nice segue with "Toxic."]

In doing the sorting'n'packing shuffle, I've come across some old issues of CMJ New Music Report. Not the crappy monthly mag-with-a-CD they publish, but the weekly trade publication for college/community radio. Back in the day, I spent 2 years as MD of my college station, WBKE (North Manchester, IN), and we reported and subscribed to CMJ every week. I kept a handful of issues - some with particularly special playlists I'd reported (the first and last, for example), and the year-end issues. And just this morning, I came across something very interesting, written by their New World columnist, Cliff Furnald, for the 12.23.96 year-end wrap issue. Consider, when reading this, that Napster was unknown (if not uninvented) at the time. Yet the record industry was still bitching and moaning. Every generation of record execs comes up with a new scapegoat.

...the music industry has made itself even more unlikeable than usual. A recent New York Times cover article displayed the depravity of things beautifully, in a mournful piece on the slump in profits. Here's an industry that grew from about four billion dollars a decade ago to almost 12 billion today (man, where's MY piece of that!). OK, so "growth" has slowed from 20% per year to merely keeping up with inflation. Why? Executives, who spoke under "condition of anonymity," etc etc etc., were complaining kids weren't buying enough records, that there were no new "stars" and that the yuppies who spent the last six years re-buying "Sgt. Pepper's Stairway to Heaven" had gotten their fill. What they were really saying was "the stooges who used to buy whatever we told them to" have grown tired of Bootie And The Blowboys and endless "alternative" rock bands that haven't had an alternative idea since the first Nirvana record back in the Herbaceous Age.

Here's the news, boys. The music world is changing, and it may not take you along for the ride. People are going back to small venues where they can spend 10 bucks on a good show by a band that actually likes to play. Consumers are being critical. They don't need six Pearl Jam records that all sound alike, or endless collections of "Women Of The Planet," "Didgeridoos Of Space" or "Barry Manilow's Questionable Hits." They are looking elsewhere for their music, and there's a whole world of it out there. WalMart may refuse to sell Sheryl Crow and John Whatever-his-name-is-this-week, but hell, they never sold Dexter Gordon, Salif Keita, Ani DiFranco (boy, imagine them censoring THAT woman!) and
The Greatest Hits Of 1960's Benga. These records are being sold by dedicated folks who understand a small profit under their own control is a good, if somewhat uncertain, way to live. Add the Internet to the mix, with its proliferation of small, niche oriented "shops" specializing in folk, world music, techno and a thousand other genres the big labels have never even heard of, and you see a trend that will take that 12 billion dollar pie and spread it neatly around. Yum.

Discrimination knows no color (as if we didn't know that already).

Monday, March 22, 2004

I love happy accidents. In working on the "#1 R&B Singles of the 1970s" project today, I came across a song by a group who were signed to Stax/Volt in their last days, Sons of Slum. Endless Googling - and even the All Music Guide, usually an invaluable resource - haven't helped me learn a thing about 'em, so all I've got to go on is a long-out-of-print single, "The Push and Pull." It certainly sounds like late-period Stax, all dirty and fonky, heavy on the horns and heavy on the sauce. Lots of tambourine, too. Excellent stuff, so you know I had to share the joy. And if anyone has any info on Sons of Slum, please share it with us all, won't you?

Addendum: the ever-helpful Geoffrey alerted me to the fact that there've been problems with downloading the mp3s I've posted lately. Whoops. Problem rectified, download away!

Since "Happy People" is essentially "Step in the Name of Love (Remix)," only even better (though, regrettably, shorter), I've traded one R. Kelly single (from 2003) for another (from 2004, natch) on my submeat's top 100 tracks of 2004 list (which is up to, well, 42 tracks). Oh, and for those who care about this kind of thing, there's a new #1 for the first time since I started keeping the list back in January; it's guaranteed to piss off many.

What a superb idea: Stylus, one of the web's best sites for rockcrit, has compiled their Top 101-200 Favorite Albums Ever. And they did it by lying to those polled. Pretty great list, too. Certainly more entertaining than seeing yet another Pet Sounds celebration.

Speed round:

Boy, did everyone's brackets blow up this weekend, or what? I've already lost three of my Final Four teams. Ah, well - I'd much rather have exciting games and big upsets in the NCAAs than have my brackets break correctly, and that much we've certainly gotten... [Jeffy and Albert are currently leading my pool.]

After seeing his performance at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony (last night on VH-1), I am more determined than ever to see Prince on his Musicology tour - which he says is the last time he'll be performing most of his greatest hits, and which he's doing in the round. 8/17/04 at the FleetCenter, provided I have the cash and can get a day off by then. Who's in?

This just in: White House rebuts claim by someone who was in Bush's administration - in this case, Bush's then-top anti-terror advisor, Richard Clarke - that the Prez ignored terror warnings to go after Hussein. Wait, that already happened? This is the second time? Hmm. Makes you think, doesn't it?

It looks like the next mainline Christian denomination to tackle the issues of gays as clergy will be my home denomination (and that in which my Dad is a Pastor), the United Methodist Church. The UMC's every-four-years General Conference comes (next month) hot on the heels of a UMC jury acquitting an openly lesbian pastor of breaking the rules, as it were.

*Yawn.* Remember when news of a Madonna tour was exciting news? After the debacle that was the Drowned World tour, however (I recall watching a live concert from it on cable), you can bet I won't be lining up for tickets for this one.

Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash I can potentially see, and certainly accept. Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash, though, I have a somewhat harder time with. But I'll certainly give I Walk the Line a shot whenever it hits theatres.

MTVnews.com has a fascinating article on the potential impact Howard Stern - yes, Howard Stern - could have on the presidential election. And his fans are apparently paying attention.

Also from MTVnews.com comes this blurb, proving that a lot of people, including some you might not expect, are excited about getting the vote out on 11/2/04:

In what has to be the most unlikely drive to register voters, Trick Daddy, Trina and Luke Campbell will be gearing up for Election 2004: The Movement Tour. Kicking off March 27 in Miami, the artists will perform at 11 events around the state of Florida with the aim of registering 40,000 new voters and raising awareness about issues that affect the hip-hop community. One reason the tour is limited to Florida is because Trick Daddy is still on supervised probation stemming from a drug charge last September.

You are Schroeder!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

No surprise at all. Via Albert (love the new color scheme!).

The overheating/whining fan motor problem seems to have been solved, thanks to the prudent advice of Jenn, yay! Thanks, sweetie.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

My computer's been overheating - I think one of the exhaust fans has burnt out - so I'm not able to keep it on for longer than about 20 minutes at a stretch. Ergo, no blogging yesterday. Not much to say, anyway: lots more sorting and boxing, lots of basketball, loving the new R. Kelly single, and was reminded yesterday just how much I love the Jennifer Lopez/Marc Anthony duet "No Me Ames" (yes, it's in Spanish) - the best single either of them has ever recorded. And how's your weekend going?

Friday, March 19, 2004

So, I've decided (to the inevitable chagrin of Matos - I would if I could, man) that the followup to Rock Me Tonight, possibly even a concurrent blog, will be my review of every single to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart (as it was called then) in the 1970s. Mainly 'cause not only do I have the most important resource at my disposal (which is Joel Whitburn's Top R&B Singles 1942-1995 [my edition isn't the most current, but it works]), but because the '70s were such a ridiculously fascinating decade for music in general, and R&B in particular. In the course of just 10 years, things went from trad Motown and Stax through uncut funk (i.e. JB, Eddie Kendrick - no, really!), Philly soul, disco, new-school funk (i.e. Rick James), and, well, Prince. That's one hell of a 10-year stretch, ain't it? And you know what's most struck me, as I've worked during halftimes and downtimes of NCAA games these last two days? There were some weird records topping the R&B chart in the '70s. Joe Tex's 1972 hit "I Gotcha" is a case in point; is this a stalker's theme song? [Not to mention that the sound of it, what with all of his screeches scattered throughout the song's 2:28, is just plain odd.] Hear for yourself - there's an mp3 posted for your pleasure.

I experienced an Elvis Costello album title today. But you probably don't wanna know which one.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

R.I.P. to one of the original Fab Five. J.J. Jackson has died at the age of 62.

Speed round:

Here's today's schedule for the Madness. Here's tomorrow's.

There's an mp3 of Loose Ends' supersweet "Hangin' On A String" up over at Rock Me Tonight, which I'm trying to get more consistent in updating regularly. Am thinking that, once I'm done with the '80s, I'll move on to the '70s (classic soul balladry and disco-funk). Or the '90s (hip-hop explodes). Any thoughts?

In the "nothing's shocking" department, Scalia won't recuse himself, and Courtney's arrested. Again.

A Will & Grace "soundtrack"? Oh, good God. Stop the insanity. [As it happens, it sounds dreadful, to boot.]

I so heart Dollar Tree.

I've entered 4 bracket contests online (ESPN.com, Outsports, CBSSportsline, Yahoo!), and for each one, I've entered a slightly different bracket. But this is what counts; this is for pride. Here's my final picks for the 2004 NCAA Men's D-I Basketball Tournament (underway in less than 4 hours!). Winners play on, losers go home, baby.

St. Louis regional
1st round winners:
Kentucky, UAB, Providence, Kansas, Boston College, GA Tech, Nevada, Gonzaga.
Sweet 16:
Kentucky, Providence, BC, Gonzaga.
Elite Eight:
Kentucky and Gonzaga.
Final Four:
The 'Zags make Spokane proud by heading to their first-ever Final Four.

East Rutherford regional
1st round:
St. Joe's, TX Tech, Manhattan, Wake Forest, Wisconsin, Pitt, Memphis, OK State.
Sweet 16:
SJU, Manhattan, Pitt, OK St.
Elite Eight:
SJU and Pitt.
Final Four:
Pitt makes everyone pay for dropping them to a #3 seed by heading to San Antonio.

Atlanta regional
1st round:
Duke, Arizona, Illinois, East Tennesse State, Air Force, Texas, Xavier, Mississippi State.
Sweet 16:
Duke, IL, Air Force, MS St.
Elite Eight:
IL and MS St.
Final Four:
Proving that those three losses by a combined 9 points were no fluke, Mississippi State heads west.

Phoenix regional
1st round:
Stanford, Southern Illinois, BYU, Maryland, Western Michigan, NC State, DePaul, Connecticut.
Sweet 16:
Stanford, BYU, Western MI, UConn.
Elite Eight:
Stanford and UConn.
Final Four:
The last #1 standing, the Cardinal prepare to show and prove.

National semifinals:
Pitt tops the 'Zags in a gutty defensive battle, while Stanford and MS St. engage in a high-energy contest with both teams scoring over 80; Stanford wins.

National Championship:
Too much of a true team to be denied: Pittsburgh 84, Stanford 75.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

I've got 4 brackets in so far for submeat's 2004 tournament challenge. There's still time to get yours in; the deadline is Thursday, March 18 at noon EST. And there's prizes! And it's free!

I'll be posting my final do-or-die bracket tomorrow morning.

I've already done a C700 Go! on 'em, so it only makes sense that I do...

The Rough Guide to Hall & Oates
1. Abandoned Luncheonette
2. She's Gone
3. Wait For Me
4. Kiss on My List
5. Private Eyes
6. I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)
7. Your Imagination (Extended Remix)
8. One on One
9. Italian Girls
10. Say It Isn't So
11. Adult Education
12. Dance on Your Knees/Out of Touch
13. A Nite at the Apollo Live! (single edit) (with David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks)
14. Don't Hold Back Your Love
15. Downtown Life
16. Romeo Is Bleeding
17. Do It For Love

I guess I am an unrepentant popist, aren't I?
Time: 78:05

Speed round:

Y'know, I like N*E*R*D quite a bit - Crystal Method not so much - but those whores will play anywhere, with any collective of shitty bands (and this is quite a collective, lemme tell ya), won't they?

Does the fact that Norah kept the Bad Boy's 10th Anniversary: The Hits comp from #1 say more about her popularity, or the declining popularity of P. Diddy's once-thriving label? And who the hell bought the new Tesla album?! I mean, really.

Why do drivers get so damned cranky when you're abiding the speed limit? If it says 25mph, f'instance, I'm not going more than 30mph, no matter how much you honk your horn. [This is a mostly hypothetical question; it has not (yet) happened to me, though I've frankly expected it.]

There are many easy jokes to be made regarding this non-shocking news (and they're being made), but I'll resist. Really, it's just sad. Come back to the five and dime, Whitney Houston, Whitney Houston...

When unions stop being polite, and start getting real.

This just in: the rest of the world doesn't particularly trust the U.S. Shocking, really. Yet another good reason to support Kerry.

I know, it's totally gay of me to say so, but there's no way I'll miss the special 2-hour episode of Inside the Actors Studio this Sunday night with La Streisand And as if the thought of hearing her reflect on her background and craft for two hours isn't enough,
Streisand also reveals the answer to the mystery of what happened to the third "A" when "Barbara" became "Barbra."
I am so there.

I'm listening to my playlist of the '80s #1 R&B singles when something strikes me: why did I never realize before now that Timex Social Club's "Rumors" is pretty damned great?

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Not again! Maybe God's not a Catamounts fan, or something.

From the ILM "Rough Guide" thread...

The Rough Guide to Mariah Carey
1. Vision of Love
2. Can't Let Go
3. Make It Happen
4. Anytime You Need A Friend
5. Dreamlover (Def Club Mix)
6. All I Want For Christmas Is You
7. Fantasy (Remix featuring Ol' Dirty Bastard)
8. Always Be My Baby (Mr. Dupri Mix featuring Da Brat and Xscape)
9. Honey
10. Fly Away (Butterfly Reprise) (Fly Away Club Mix)
11. Breakdown (featuring Bone Thugs-N-Harmony)
12. Heartbreaker (Remix featuring Da Brat and Missy Elliot)
13. Loverboy (Remix featuring Ludacris, Shawna, Da Brat and 22)
14. Through the Rain (Maurice Joshua Club Mix)

I can't believe I did this, but no one had, and it had to be done.
Time: 78:43

[The premise, for those unfamiliar, is to make a single CD akin to the World Music Label's series of Rough Guide to discs, such as The Rough Guide to Ska, et.al. The thread started with genres only, and very quickly moved to anything and everything, including single-artist guides. Ergo...]

Dubscrape is dead, long live 123 No Gravity, Andy Kellman's new not-blog.

Billboard has gotten a sneak preview of Morrissey's You Are the Quarry (May 18, Attack/Sanctuary). And the advance word is very, very good. Also, set those TiVos, Mozzer fans: he'll be appearing every night the week of May 24th on The Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn.

I've decided to do my own NCAA men's bracket pool-slash-contest this year: I present to you submeat's 2004 tournament challenge! Email me your winners in each round, along with the final score of the national championship game, no later than Thursday 3/18 at 12 noon. The winner will get a selection of homemade CDs, including the C700 Go! Prince, Vol. 1 and 2001 discs, along with a copy of my top 100 of 2003, and a fourth disc tailor-made-to-order. Gentlemen (and ladies, though I don't think I have many female readers), start your brackets! And did I mention it's free? [Please make sure the email you send your picks from is one you check regularly, in case I have any questions/clarifications which need to be addressed before the tournament starts.]

Monday, March 15, 2004

We're off and running with our second topic at The Noise of Art, and it concerns the musical canon: how long until something can be/is considered canonical? And what since 1990 is part of the canon already? [We are so ILMish sometimes; welcome to our world.]

Speed round:

CBS is putting a 10-second delay on the Final Four. Apparently they're afraid of more wardrobe malfunctions: "Oh, my God, it's Gerry McNamara's nipple!"

Which is more sad: the fact that Geffen felt the need to beat the dead Guns N' Roses horse some more and release a "greatest hits" record, or the fact that Axl, Slash, and Duff are suing to prevent its release?

Speaking of sad... Chubby, you were a hack who came up with a couple of strike-while-the-iron-is-hot dance crazes in the early '60s, and you're a hack now. Get over it.

Bush's Brain? Now, that's a movie I'd pay to see.

I think there's something ironic in that a film about Jesus is on the verge of becoming the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time. Oh, and watch the numbers on your movie tickets... (funny, funny, funny).

The Pablo Flores Extended Club Mix of J-Lo's "If You Had My Love" never fails to bring sunshine into my world.

First of all, it brings back a gorgeous memory: It was August, 1999, and I was in St. Joseph, Michigan for a week's vacation - and to meet a potential love interest, a woofy faux-cowboy (his nick on whatever chat site I'd met him on was something like "StetsonCub") whose name, sadly, I can't even remember. Within 6 hours of arriving, he burst my balloon (that is not a metaphor, people), telling me that he was getting back together with his ex. What great timing... Anyway, that first night, a Saturday, we drove up to Saugatuck - which, even though their "official" website doesn't seem to make mention of it, is essentially the Provincetown of the midwest: a big, gay, artsy, waterfront town. So we went up there, about an hour's drive, to hit the big gay dance palace. [Don't remember its name, either.] It was gorgeous, half of it open to the stars (including one dancefloor), lots of wood, huge, a piano/drag bar part of what was really a complex, too. But most important to me were the two dancefloors, the superb DJs, and all of the sexy men present. My host ran into his ex, or someone he knew - I can't rightly recall - and I was left to fend for myself, which at the time was a bit harder than it would be these days. [I didn't have the self-confidence I do now, simply put.] So I meandered around, had a couple of drinks, scoped some hot guys but was too shy to talk with them... and then I was lurking on the edges of the club's big, indoor dancefloor. And the DJ started spinning a song with so much energy, so much sexiness and sensuality, so much sheer joy, that I nearly found myself overwhelmed right there. I had to hit the dancefloor, my hips and feet were telling me that much. I did so. And the song was, of course, Flores's remix of "If You Had My Love." And everything was right in my world.

Which brings me to the second reason this song is so stupendous: this is why dancefloors exist. This remix is sexy beyond belief without being or feeling dirty (or stupid - cf. any big gay club hit with "fuck" repeated ad nauseum in its lyrics). It requires you to move your hips (Flores, in his best work, has got the Latin house thing down). And it works entirely too well with Lopez's vocals, and the song's lyrics; in its original form, "Love" is a pretty limp slab of hiphop-pop. But here, Jennifer sounds free, soaring (as much as her admittedly fair-to-middling pipes will let her), taking flight wherever Flores takes her. And us. Commercial vocal house needn't be an oxymoron, nor a defunct concept. This is all the proof anyone should need. Glorious. A

By the way, I'm proud to be a schlomo. I'm just sayin'.

Speed round, all-music edition:

Some blokes named 424 Sound Monster have made the must-hear mix of the year (so far). They've taken the acapellas of a slew of R&B and hiphop hits and laid them over these songs' own ringtones. You've assuredly never heard "Crazy In Love" or "WOO-HAH!! Got You All In Check" quite this way; it sounds like the likes of Missy and Wu-Tang are rapping over Casio presets! It's titled "Blazin' Blip Blop and Blar & Blee," and the downloads are over at Boom Selection.

Depending on your perspective, Jamie Cullum is either the savior or devil of UK music right about now. Think Harry Connick, Jr. without the smarm factor (and younger), or Michael Bublé without the Sinatra factor. His album Twentysomething has been locked into the top 10 of the UK album chart for, seemingly, months now, and now he's released his first single. It's a live cover of Pharrell's "Frontin'," and I find it sublime. He sounds so cool, so self-assured, and he's nearly a decade my junior! Bastard.

My favorites radio station, period, is only online (or on digital radio, if you're in the UK). It's BBC's 1Xtra, a station representing - and I mean truly repping - the entire diaspora of black music(s), from hiphop to drum'n'bass to gospel to garage to reggae to house to soca to R&B. 1Xtra is absolutely slamming, nailing it in every genre. I'm especially fond of Aaron Ross's Soulful House show (just what the name implies), and Panjabi Hit Squad's Desi Beats (bhangra-tastic!).

I've yet to address Courtney Love's solo debut, America's Sweetheart, mainly because I've not figured out exactly what I want to say about it. I can tell you this much: to my ears, it's the best album yet of 2004. It rocks and roars and Courtney is on point - and surprisingly, the songs written by and with Linda Perry (a/k/a the "hip" Diane Warren) are pretty good. "Julian, I'm A Little Bit Older Than You" and "All the Drugs" are my current faves.

311 have released the first good single of their career - so go figure, it's a cover. They've taken on the Cure chestnut "Love Song" for the soundtrack to 50 First Dates, and succeed, largely because they play it straight, being very faithful and respectful to the original. It won't change the world, but it's a decent listen.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Basketball overload... too... much... hoops...

Needed a break; did some (fiction) reading, and watched the premiere of High School Reunion (entertaining, if somewhat predictable - and the gay guy is hot). Another driving lesson tomorrow morning, along with (hopefully) a trip to the post office to ship the first batch of boxes. Will likely share some thoughts on the bracket tomorrow as well.

Asked on CNN's "Late Edition" if the war was worth the lives of the 564 U.S. soldiers killed, Rumsfeld said, "Oh, my goodness, yes. There's just no question... ."

Am I the only one who finds this statement by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld offensive and disgusting? Why don't you ask the families of those 564 U.S. soldiers what they think, Rummy?

I picked 63 of the 65 teams correctly, missing only Richmond and UTEP. I'm livid that Utah State was left out. More later.

Lehigh's Dancin' for the first time in 16 years, after winning a very hard-fought back-and-forth battle with American for the Patriot League championship this afternoon. Gotta feel a little sorry for American, though, who've lost three consecutive Patriot title games - and have never made it to the NCAAs. The final score was 59-57.

There should now be no question that Kentucky deserves a #1 seed, after the way they steamrolled through the SEC tournament. It culminated in a truly dominant 89-73 victory over Florida today - and it wasn't even really that close; at one point midway through the second half, the 'Kats led by 25. If Duke falls to Maryland in the ACC final (they're in OT in a thrilling game for the ages), KY will make a case for the overall #1 seed.

Stunning. Maryland beat, on successive days, the #3, #2, and #1 seeds to win their first ACC tourney title in 20 years, defeating Duke 95-87 in OT. One week ago, MD was probably in the field of 65; now, I think, they could end up as high as a #6 seed in the Dance. Just like yesterday (they were down 21 to NC State early in the second half), they had to come from behind to do it (Duke had them down 12 midway through the second half today). Is this a team of destiny? 'Cause right now, they don't look like a first-round out, they look like (at least) a Sweet 16 team. [Maryland, by the way, is the only team to get an automatic NCAA bid with a losing conference record.]

The last pair of automatic bids have been handed out: Oklahoma State and Wisconsin each had very convincing victories in the Big 12 and Big Ten, respectively, over Texas 65-49, and Illinois 70-53 (again, respectively).

So, who's out and who's in? We'll know for certain in less than 6 hours, as the brackets are revealed. Here's what I think.

We know that 31 teams will get automatic bids: the 26 to your right, plus the champs of the Patriot League (Lehigh or American), the ACC (Duke or Maryland), SEC (Kentucky or Florida), Big 12 (Oklahoma State or Texas), and the Big Ten (Wisconsin or Illinois). That leaves 34 at-large spots.

My locks, alphabetical by conference:
1. Duke/Maryland loser
2. North Carolina State
3. North Carolina
4. Georgia Tech
5. Wake Forest
6. St. Joe's
7. Dayton - finishing second in the A-10 to SJU and making it into the A-10 final is enough
8. Pittsburgh
9. Providence
10. Syracuse
11. Seton Hall
12. Boston College
13. Oklahoma State/Texas loser
14. Kansas
15. Texas Tech
16. Wisconsin/Illinois loser
17. Michigan State
18. Utah State - 25-3 overall and 17-1 Big West? They're not on the bubble
19. Louisville
20. Depaul
21. Charlotte
22. Alabama-Birmingham
23. Memphis
24. Southern Illinois - the other mid-major who's a stone-cold lock (see 20 above)
25. Arizona
26. Washington
27. Kentucky/Florida loser
28. Mississippi State
29. South Carolina
30. Vanderbilt
31. Alabama

That leaves only three teams, as I see it, to get in off the bubble. Here's who's not:
Florida State couldn't win away from home, going 0-8 ACC on the road - and lost a must-win neutral-court game in the ACC tournament. Richmond, simply, didn't do enough in a fair-to-middling A-10. Colorado's 18-10 mark might mean more in a better Big 12 year, and their 56 RPI/65 SOS doesn't help. Missouri* went 2-9 vs. the RPI top 50, and closed losing 3 of their last 4 (plus, they're 16-13, a record much more befitting a low-major winning an automatic bid). LSU went 1-6 after losing Jamie Lloreda - the committee can't ignore that, and he's done for the year. UTEP's SOS is 122, and 2 of their 24 wins are over non-D-I teams.

Here's who's in:
32. Air Force - 22-6, regular-season MWC champs by 2 full games, their RPI (70) could hurt them
33. BYU - yes, the MWC gets three - a great RPI of 30, and one of their 21 wins was over a likely #2 seed, Oklahoma State
34. Georgia - 16-13 is risky, but their SOS is 10, which can't be ignored
*Missouri could knock any of these three (most likely BYU or GA) out, because alongside their negatives is an SOS of 8; their position is almost identical to Georgia's

If memory serves me correctly, I believe I got 63 of the 65 right last year. By 630pm (EST), we'll all know how I did in 2004.

Update: Joe Lunardi's final bracket agrees with mine except that he's got Richmond in instead of Georgia. Same with the bracket of Andy Katz. Also, I neglected to address the matter of #1 seeds: Duke, Stanford, St. Joe's, and Kentucky. [SJU benefitted greatly from the losses by MSU and Pitt.] However, UConn's performance last night, beating Pitt in the Big East final, makes them both #2s, along with Mississippi State and Oklahoma State (unless OSU gets spanked by Texas in the Big 12 championship today). Which means, unfortunately, that Gonzaga falls to a #3. Whatever - the Zags could still be a Final Four team.

I really, really, really fucking hate Black Eyed Peas. Do they have any redeeming qualities? [The answer would be "no" - I mean, forfuckssake, their female "rapper" used to be in some crap all-girl faux-Exposé trio!]

Oops. I missed a tournament championship yesterday in putting together my weekend preview. The Hornets of Alabama State will Dance from the Southwestern Athletic (a/k/a SWAC); they were triumphant over Alabama A&M 63-58 to wear the SWAC crown into the NCAAs.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Lunchtime poll: I'm thinking of doing another C700 Go! before moving in two-and-a-half weeks, and have pretty much narrowed down the possible years to 1990 (Fear of a Black Planet!), 1995 (Maxinquaye!), or 1996 (Odelay!). Which year would you most want to see my musical take on? And, perhaps, why? This is why I've got Comments, folks.

Let's Dance!

Cincinnati certainly didn't need the automatic bid from C-USA, but they got it anyway in winning a 55-50 defensive battle with DePaul (who didn't need the automatic bid, either, frankly).

You think Vermont's glad that their star Taylor Coppenrath is back? After slumping through their last seven regular-season games while their leading scorer was out injured, he led VT to the America East title today, scoring a tournament-record 43 points in their 72-53 win over Maine.

The MEAC has been decided, and with it comes not only a huge upset winner, but a team with the dubious distinction of being the only Dance partners with a losing record. Florida A&M will take their 14-16 record to the NCAAs (and likely to Tuesday's play-in game) after getting past Coppin State 58-51. FAMU beat the top two teams in the MEAC to take the title.

The Stanford Cardinal wouldn't get fooled again by Washington - and will have a #1 seed when the brackets are announced tomorrow, after topping the Huskies 77-66 for their first ever Pac-10 tournament championship.

In the A-10, Xavier, decidedly on the bubble four days ago, won four games in four days, capping the string by taking the tourney title over Dayton on the Flyers' home court, 58-49, to punch their ticket into the dance.

Those teams still on the bubble can breathe a little easier tonight, as Western Michigan won't need an at-large bid to Dance. That's a result of their winning the MAC, defeating Kent State (who'll be NIT-bound) 77-66.

Surprise, surprise: having Emeka Okafor back in the lineup was a huge mental boost for Connecticut, even if it was Ben Gordon who did most of the heavy lifting. UConn (nominally) upset Pittsburgh 61-58 to take the Big East title, likely ensuring #2 seeds for both squads.

Nevada won't have to hold their breath waiting for the brackets, as they're in the NCAAs for the first time since 1985, courtesy of their 66-60 win over UTEP in the WAC.

Can the MWC actually send three teams to the Dance? Air Force and BYU can make very strong cases as at-large teams; #3 seed Utah doesn't have to do so. They're MWC champs after topping UNLV 73-70.

Undoubtedly, the Big West will have two teams in the field of 65. Utah State may have been knocked out of their tourney by Cal State-Northridge, but Pacific wasn't, beating CSN 75-73 to be awarded with their first Dance card since '97.

And that was just Saturday.

Speed round:

VCR alert (albeit a little late, sorry): for those not interested in hoops today, VH-1 is running (about time!) a Bands Reunited marathon until 9pm EST tonight. Hooray!

More reasons that Clear Channel sucks, as if they're needed.

Things are different at traditionally black colleges and universities and, of course, in the Dirty South. Combine the two, and you get this, to wit: during the MEAC championship game today, the Florida A&M (or, if you prefer - and I do - FAMU) pep band was heard playing T.I.'s "Rubber Band Man" during a time out.

I love Bode Miller (he's a phenomenal skiier and ridiculously hot), so this is sad news.

More evidence that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is an asshole, as if it's needed.

Self-promotion: new posts up at Rock Me Tonight, including a treatise of sorts on the Freddie Jackson single which gives the blog its name (along with a download of samesaid song). And if I may say so myself, the "Toxic" conversation over at The Noise of Art has been pretty entertaining. Matthew's joined the mix there as well; his first posting should (hopefully) come Monday or so.

What a wild season of basketball: I can't think of a year in recent memory when so many #1 seeds in the NCAAs were still up for grabs the day before Selection Sunday . Mississippi State lost theirs by virtue of a 74-70 OT loss to Vandy last night (do you see all the links below, people? Find the recap for yourself), and the consensus seems to be that St. Joe's #1 went the way of their play against Xavier in the A-10 quarters. Kentucky looks mighty solid, especially now that the path, as it were, has been cleared for them to win yet another SEC tourney title - and their SOS and RPI are fairly impeccable. Duke is a lock, even if they were to lose today in the ACC semis. You might think Stanford's a lock as well, but if they lose to Washington for the second time in 7 days today, I expect their top seed would be in jeopardy, especially considering how "down" the Pac-10 is this season. Fair or not, Pittsburgh has got to beat UConn in the Big East final tonight, which I think they will. 30 wins in a power conference certainly warrants a #1 seed. Oklahoma State's still got their eye on a top seed as well (watch out for Texas Tech in their Big 12 semi, though - the Red Raiders seem to be gelling all over again, and OSU doesn't have their tournament won just yet), but I'm penciling in Stanford; I don't think they'll let U-Dub get 'em again (especially on a neutral court). OSU, Gonzaga, St. Joe's and ___________ (MS St.? UConn? Anyone else?) will probably be the #2s.

Something else to ponder: unless Michigan does the improbable and wins the Big Ten tourney (which I don't think they'll do), the Big Ten and Pac-10 will have the same numbers of teams dancing, combined, as C-USA: 6. How's that for a weird college hoops season?

It's crunch time in Championship Week, as we're down to the last two days of action. A whopping 15 Dance cards get punched in the next 32 hours - 10 today, the final 5 tomorrow - as conferences crown their tournament champs ahead of the announcement of the brackets Sunday night at 6pm (CBS - regarding whose selection show, USA Today's Rudy Martzke has some fine ideas). Here's the rundown, in chronological order for your viewing pleasure (conference tournament seedings in parentheses):

Saturday March 13
+Conference USA (a/k/a C-USA, (1) DePaul vs. (3) Cincinnati, 1130am, CBS)
+America East ((2) Vermont vs. (4) Maine, 1130am, ESPN)
+Mid-Eastern Athletic (a/k/a MEAC, (2) Coppin State vs. (5) Florida A&M, 12 noon, ESPN2)
+Pac-10 ((1) Stanford vs. (2) Washington, 6pm, CBS)
+Atlantic 10 (a/k/a A-10, (W1) Dayton vs. (W4) Xavier, 6pm, ESPN)
+Mid-American (a/k/a MAC, (1) Western Michigan vs. (2) Kent State, 7pm, ESPN2)
+Big East ((1) Pittsburgh vs. (2) Connecticut, 8pm, ESPN)
+Western Athletic (a/k/a WAC, (1) Nevada vs. (2) Texas-El Paso, 9pm, ESPN2)
+Mountain West (a/k/a MWC, (3) Utah vs. (4) UNLV, 10pm, ESPN)
+Big West ((2) Pacific vs. (6) Cal State-Northridge, 12 midnight, ESPN)

Sunday, March 14
+Patriot League ((1) Lehigh vs. (2) American, 12 noon, ESPN2)
+Southeastern (a/k/a SEC, Kentucky/South Carolina vs. Florida/Vanderbilt, 1pm, CBS)
+Atlantic Coast (a/k/a ACC, Duke/Georgia Tech vs. North Carolina State/Maryland, 1pm, ESPN)
+Big 12 (Oklahoma State/Texas Tech vs. Texas/Kansas, 3pm, ESPN)
And as always, the last one (and how prophetic that sounds after this season) is
+Big Ten (Illinois/Michigan vs. Wisconsin/Michigan State, 330pm, CBS)

It's called one-stop tournament championship shopping, folks. Enjoy the games. Updates... you know the deal.

Remember back in '96, when NYC hiphop was all plush and loaded with keybs from '70s jazz fusion records? You're damned right I do, and you'd be best off if you did, too. So let's reminisce together (mp3s are to your right, under "downloads"), starting with a spin of The Jay Dee Other Shit Remix of Busta Rhymes' classic solo debut, "WOO-HAH!! Got You All In Check." "Other Shit" is right; this, musically, isn't even in the same ballpark as hardcore, or what mainstream hiphop sounded like at the time - though its sound immediately pegs it as New York. The way Jay Dee offsets Busta's utterly individual flow and syntax with this spaced-out, moody accompaniment is superb. And fuck, I love that minor-key keyboard sound. It always, contextually, takes me to mid-'90s hiphop from NYC - which was hard to beat in its day.

Along the same lines is "Faith," from Lords of the Underground. This self-produced track from their '96 full-length Keepers of the Funk samples Deniece Williams's "Free" so heavily they actually gave her a "featured" credit; it's a very good thing. Besides the fact that "Faith" was a bit of an anamoly of its time, an underground cut with both street cred and a ridiculously positive message ("I place all my faith in God/'cause God'll never leave me, He won't deceive me/Believe me"), it's so wondrously produced as to fit in with nothing much from '96. Which is likely why it never broke out of said underground, apart from a few spins on NYC's Hot 97 (which, back then, truly represented).

From the same epoch, but with a slightly different sound, was Redman's "Funkorama." My all-time fave Red cut, this single was taken from Insomnia: The Erick Sermon Compilation, and never received the promo love it deserved from Sermon's then-new label, Interscope. That's a shame and a half, 'cause this shit is deep. It's got some of the classic EPMD sound to it, especially in the jacked-up snare alongside its deep bassline. But there's also the au courant-for-its-time keyb chord progression - the sound of late nights with Frankie Crocker rockin' the quiet storm on WBLS in the early '80s - which results in "Funkorama" having a much more entirely relaxed feel than anything Red's done before or since.

Friday, March 12, 2004

I stand corrected; there is a Dance card to be punched today, in the Southland conference. Two upsetters will battle for their conference crown, as #3 seed Texas-San Antonio takes on #4 seed Stephen F. Austin (430pm on ESPN2).

Also, in honor of the fact that we're only 2 days (more accurately, about 56 hours) away from Selection Sunday, I've posted an mp3 of the "CBS NCAA Basketball Theme," which we'll be hearing a lot of over the next 3 weeks. [Sorry about the poor sound quality, but it's the best I could do.]

Update: 1988. 1999. 2004. Those are the years in which Texas-San Antonio has gone Dancin', the most recent a result of their 74-70 victory over Stephen F. Austin (who, God bless 'em, have never been to the NCAAs). UTSA will likely be a #16 seed. [Joe Lunardi has them in the play-in game in his latest edition of Bracketology.]

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Paul, Erik (late of Erik's Trip, R.I.P.), and I have started a new collaborative blog, The Noise of Art. There, the plan is that we'll have ongoing discussions, discourse, and (I'm sure) occasionally, arguments about music of all kinds. There's not much there just yet, but keep an eye on the space; I think this could be a lot of fun. Topic 1 is Britney's "Toxic."

Wow. This thing's damned near as complete as anything along these lines possibly can be - and pretty much every important artist is represented ('cept perhaps the Dirty Southerners, like OutKast and Ludacris).


About time Kerry started showing some balls. Unfortunately, the Dems are going to have to go mano a mano with the dirty, nasty GOP of Karl Rove and company for the next 6+ months, whether we like it or not.

Best line in the story, however, comes from Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX):
"[The Democrats] haven't produced anything but hate and that's what is disturbing."
This from one of the leaders of a party which wants to codify discrimination into the Constitution. And wasn't he at the '92 GOP convention when Pat Robertson gave his memorable hate speech? That's fucking rich, Tom, really nice.

Shocker in Gloomtown: ...and then there were none. Or, as the headline at ESPN.com reads, "Nobody's Perfect," as St. Joe's not only lost, but got blown out by Xavier in the A-10 quarters today, 87-67. A loss wouldn't have necessarily knocked SJU out of a #1 seed in the Dance, but a humiliation like this, I think, might. Xavier's "W" puts them at 21-10 on the year - and more importantly, they're winning at the right time, having won 11 of their last 12 games (much akin to Washington, no less). They're off the bubble and in the NCAAs. As for St. Joe's, not only did they lose badly at precisely the wrong time, but with Stanford and Duke likely having locked up top seeds (unless the Cardinal has an equally bad loss in the Pac-10 tournament; with Duke's RPI and sterling schedule, they're a #1 regardless of what transpires in the ACC tourney), Pittsburgh now at 28 wins and counting heading into the Big East semis, Mississippi State and Kentucky possibly heading towards an SEC championship showdown, and Oklahoma State roaring into the Big 12 tourney - and don't forget Gonzaga - I'm in "agreeance" with ESPN's Fran Fraschilla that the Hawks probably get bumped to a #2.

And in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament this afternoon, Indiana likely played themselves into the NIT by reaching .500 (at 14-14) with a 83-69 win over Ohio State. This will be the first year since 1985 when the Hoosiers haven't Danced.

Update: Joe Lunardi, Bracketologist Extraordinaire, on what the numbers say re: SJU. All five of ESPN's college hoops gurus have weighed in, as well.

And don't even talk to me about the Boilers. I still love 'em, and will still root, root, root for 'em in the NIT, but I mean, sheesh: the NIT?! Talk about a Feb/March collapse. Grrr.

My buddy Ben Kreider, whose writing can be seen here (he does CD reviews and longer multi-subject music columns for All Access, an offshoot of Muncie, Indiana's Star Press newspaper), sent me a marvelous "care package" yesterday, including his 3CD "best of 2003" set, and the Cold Mountain soundtrack. This album, like its big brother O Brother Where Art Thou?, was put together with care by T-Bone Burnett - and while it's gotten reams less press, it may actually be better. As opposed to O Brother's harkening back to the 1930s, Cold Mountain, obviously enough, takes on the music of the Civil War era, and does so in fine fashion. Jack White turns in some of his best work ever on five tracks, attacking traditional songs such as "Wayfaring Stranger" and "Sittin' on Top of the World" with gusto and in great voice (hearing White backed by acoustic instruments, he reminds me quite a bit of Beck, actually). If you watched the Oscars, you heard golden-voiced Alison Krauss's two contributions, nominated songs written by Sting, and Elvis Costello and Burnett. Sting's "You Will Be My Ain True Love" is easily the best song he's written in over a decade, a truly haunting, almost beyond-the-grave song sung in the voice of the film's Ada to her love Inman, as he journeys back to her after deserting the Confederacy in the war. Sting's vocal assist to Krauss on this song is note-perfect, too, never overshadowing Krauss's delicate yet sturdy tones. [And between her songs here and on O Brother, how badly I'd love to hear an entire Krauss record produced by Burnett!]

Burnett apparently took many of his cues for this soundtrack from hearing the Sacred Harp Singers, a phenomenal group of vocalists whom I find reminiscent of Tuvan throat singers (cf. Huun-Huur-Tu). They're this amazing conglomeration of southern singers who chiefly sing traditional Southern Gospel standards, and do so with such perfect pitch and in such glorious harmony as to nearly be alarming. This is, if you'll allow me the stretch, the music of heavenly choirs. The contributions of unsung artists such as Cassie Franklin (whose "Lady Margaret" is this album's "O Death" - not only a cappella, but a bit unsettling lyrically), Stuart Duncan, and Tim Erisken help round out the disc, along with four selections from (Oscar-nommed) Gabriel Yared's magical, more-evocative-than-words score. Released in December of last year, this late-breaker may end up with a place on my year-end album list for 2004. A

Just had my first driving lesson today. Yes, I'm 33 and don't hold (and never have held) a driver's license - but it's time. It was, well, exciting - I didn't expect to immediately be thrown behind the wheel and be driving down major roads in Norfolk, Chespeake, and Virginia Beach (all of which I drove through this morning). I was very nervous initially, but that subsided as I got more comfortable in the driver's seat. [Warning: have a pop-up blocker on before hitting that link.] I'm taking my first, and hopefully only, 5 lessons on successive weekdays, so that what I learn takes hold. Within a month, hopefully, I'll be the holder of a New Hampshire driver's license. Wowza.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that I'm starting to get Championship Week fatigue, so it's definitely for best that I get two days off from conference finals. On the plus side, however, being parked in front of the tube gives me plenty of time to sort through and box CDs and cassettes for moving. Clouds, silver linings, et cetera, you know. [But damn if my eyes aren't starting to hurt.]

For the third time in school history, Monmouth will be Dancing as the representatives of the Northeast conference. They beat Central Connecticut State 67-55 to earn their first entry in four years to the NCAAs. [Playing at home by virtue of being the top seed in the NEC tournament, their fans were heard chanting "We want Duke!" throughout the game. Careful what you wish for, kids...]

This is what makes Championship Week so magical: for the first time in school history, Eastern Washington is NCAA-bound. 71-59 victors over Northern Arizona in the Big Sky title game, EWU only made their first trip to the postseason as a D-I school last year, in the NIT. This year, they're in the Big Dance.

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