Sunday, January 25, 2004

Currently listening to: Subliminal Souls, Corey Parker

Corey Parker is one of the best musical surprises I've had lately. I knew that Maceo Parker lives here in North Carolina, but I had no idea that his son has his own R&B/hip hop trio over in Durham. His CD, "Subliminal Souls," is smooth and jazzy, yet 100 percent funky. Corey plays keyboards, but his real strength is his deep, soulful voice and easy lyrical flow. His drummer brother, Damon, offers further proof that the whole Parker family is steeped in musical talent. When I saw him play in December at The Pour House, his band featured a jaw-droppingly great bass player who, unfortunately, isn't credited on the Web site or the CD liner notes. Imagine Flea's funkiness crossed with Geddy Lee's precision, and cover it in soul, and you get a close approximation. Even bass-snob Mr. X was blown away.

On Friday I went to my first drum 'n' bass party at The Office here in Raleigh. A guy I know has his own company, NC Fathom , and he puts on these shows about once a month. This guy is, in a lot of ways, like a kid brother: half the time we laugh and joke around, and the other half I want to strangle him, which just fills him with glee. Imagine my surprise when I get to the club and find out that, rather than shivering in line with at least 100 other losers, I can just mention this guy's name and be escorted right on past the velvet rope. I had to admire the skill with which he used his cachet to get drunk sexy girls throughout the party to pose for pictures. I guess now I'll have to treat him with a little more respect.

The place was packed, so there wasn't much room to dance (and, truthfully, I've never figured out exactly how to dance to dnb anyway). Out in the "tent" area, another DJ spun house music, while a couple of local breakdance teams engaged in an impromptu contest -- that is, before one of the aforementioned drunk sexy girls, apparently not making the connection as to what was going on, bumped and grinded her way out onto the floor and nearly got kicked in the head by some kid doing a headspin.

Dieselboy was the headliner along with MC J-Messinian, whose incessant yelling got the crowd, and eventually my nerves, worked up. My knowledge of drum 'n' bass is severely limited, shaped mostly by what I hear on BBC's 1Xtra , but even I could tell that Dieselboy's set wasn't as varied or smoothly executed as that of the guy before him, a local DJ named Jade. From what I understand, Jade has a show on WKNC and promotes his own events, but I wasn't able to confirm that before writing this. He even threw in a little garage, a sort of techno-dancehall hybrid that, until then, I hadn't really been able to conceptualize. Whereas Dieselboy's set was heavy and pounding, Jade seemed to flow through a variety of tempos, instrumentation and beats from heavy to trancelike. Basically, he managed to make my inexperienced ears hear the distinct differences in songs and styles throughout the set. Dieselboy only really caught my ear when he played the break from Slayer's "Angel of Death," which, if he wanted to throw in a little Slayer, wasn't the most original tune he could have used.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

I realize I'm a bit late on the draw on this, but I just had to say something about John Lydon going on a reality TV series. Unlike "aging punks everywhere," I'm not really surprised. Considering that he's reformed the Sex Pistols twice, it's not as if he has much credibility left to shred. But I have to say, at this point, it's just about the most punk rock thing he could do. Whether or not they want to admit it, the aging punks who used to listen to songs about fighting The Establishment have now become The Establishment. They have careers and mortgages and kids whose musical tastes they don't understand -- just like their parents before them. Lydon is as much of a sacred cow to these folks as the Queen or JFK were to their parents. He seems to understand this, and is as willing to skewer himself as he was to skewer the Queen. The fact that he's going to get some attention, and maybe some cash, out of this thing is just icing on the cake.

According to the latest Vanity Fair, metal heads are out, which is a relief because now people won't assume I'm just trying to be cool when I listen to Iron Maiden. Lately I've been listening to a lot of The Darkness, whom I love simply because they remind me of the summer of 1978, when I was 11 years old and just starting to get into music. I read somewhere that they're like "a gay AC/DC crossed with a straight Queen." Personally, I think they sound like Foreigner, whom I like a lot more than I really should admit. There's nothing intellectually redeeming about them: Their lyrics are juvenile, and their cock-rock posturing puts David Coverdale to shame. But I've always felt that there are really only two kinds of music: music for thinking and music for getting laid. You can't think too much about The Darkness.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Currently listening to: Master of Puppets, Metallica

You know, I'd forgotten how much I loved Metallica, back when they actually rocked and weren't hell-bent on suing their fans. Lars Ulrich is quoted in the new Rolling Stone as saying, " I can't say that it bothers me anymore," regarding illegal downloading. If that's the case, then I congratulate him, and I hope that he will now use his spare time helping to develop and promote easy, inexpensive ways to legally download music from the Internet.

Speaking of downloads, I FINALLY got Windows XP and iTunes to work together on my computer. But now I find that I use iTunes the same way I used to use Napster and KaZaa: If I have a song stuck in my head, or want to check out a band I've heard about but haven't heard, I just listen to the free music snippets. Usually that's enough to satisfy my curiosity. I've yet to actually purchase anything, but lately I've been on a Chic kick, so I'll probably start with them. Mr. X is convinced I can learn to play funk guitar, and Nile Rodgers is one of my favorite guitarists.

I'm posting again because I made a new year's resolution to actually do something with this thing. At various times I've wanted it to be a guide to local (North Carolina) music, a place to ramble about music in general and a place to showcase some of my published articles in hopes of getting more freelance assignments. (BTW, here's the latest thing I did for the News & Observer.) I've been frustrated with Blogger's service; apparently they are no longer offering upgrades to Blogger Pro, and there's no way to upload photos on the free service. Supposedly they're going to offer some of the Blogger Pro features for free, but there seems to be no time table for when they're going to do this, and I really don't feel like waiting. I'm currently thinking about going to LiveJournal, going to Happy Robot, or simply buying my own domain name and putting up my own site, which I can do, but I'm not sure I want to do that much upkeep. Regardless, I'll make an effort to write more.