Monday, May 25, 2009
Hearing about former Wilco member Jay Bennett's death on Sunday May 24th at age 45 this Memorial Day morning brought great sadness to an otherwise beautiful day. While it is not exactly clear what the cause of death might have been, we here at IRT mourn the loss of this amazing and tragic figure in 21st century rock.
For those of you who haven't done so already, check out Rock Proper for a free download of Bennett's most recent solo album, Whatever Happened I Apologize, a stark, sad folk opus from a man whose star was snuffed out far too soon in life.
Also, to read more about the death of Jay Bennett, make sure to visit critic Jim DeRogatis' blog on The Chicago Sun Times website and read his touching tribute to this great American rocker.
Wilco's publicist released this staatement from Jeff Tweedy, whom Bennett was fixing to sue a couple of weeks back and who unceremoniously fired Bennett from the band he helped construct the sound for on film in director Sam Jones' 2002 Wilco documentary I Am Trying To Break Your Heart:
"We are all deeply saddened by this tragedy. We will miss Jay as we remember him -- as a truly unique and gifted human being and one who made welcome and significant contributions to the band's songs and evolution. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends in this very difficult time."
Make sure to revisit Tweedy and Bennett during happier times by checking out this amazing recording of the duo playing acoustic back in July of 1999.
2. James Alley Blues
3. She's a Jar
4. New Madrid
5. Blood of the Lamb
6. Down in the Willow Garden
7. Auld Triangle
8. Another Man's Done Gone
9. Hesitating Beauty
10. Via Chicago
11. Sugar Baby
12. I Got You
13. Forget the Flowers
14. I'm Always in Love
15. The Lonely One
17. Pecan Pie
18. True Love Will Find You in the End
19. Casino Queen
20. Encore Break
21. California Stars
22. Hoodoo Voodoo
Rest in peace, Mr. Bennett. You will be missed, and we are truly sorry we will never have the chance to sit and chat with you as we have been planning to in IRT. -Ed.
Wilco performing "Misunderstood" with Jay Bennett:
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Right here, son.
The long-awaited relase of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II comes out August 11 on the Wu-Tang Clan's master chef's own EMI-distributed imprint, ICE H2O, and will feature beats from the likes of RZA, J. Dilla, Dr. Dre, Marley Marl, Pete Rock, Scram Jones, DJ Scratch and Erick Sermon. Should be something to look forward to, and, at the very least, better than that garbage Immobilarity album.
"New Wu" Video:
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Wow, MTV is actually doing something cool for a change by promoting the new single of longtime IRT favorite Cage, whose new album, Depart From Me, is due out later this summer on Definitive Jux.
Here's some information regarding the MTV promotion from Cage's publicity team, including the link to cop the free EP:
"I Never Knew You", the brand new video from Definitive Jux artist Cage premiered this Monday, May 18th on MTV2's Unleashed airing hourly all day. The directorial debut for actor Shia LaBeouf, who also appears in the video, "I Never Knew You" narrates the powerful story of Cage's debut single from the forthcoming album Depart From Me. Filmed this February at various locations in downtown Los Angeles, the video simultaneously portrays a performance by Cage, a characteristically intense experience, while the story of "I Never Knew You" unfolds. The video also featuring cameo appearances from fellow labelmates and collaborators El-P, Aesop Rock, Yak Ballz, F. Sean Martin, and Alex Pardee.
Also happening on the 18th, MTV2.com will release Cage's I Never Knew You EP as a free download. The release marks the first time that MTV has offered a full EP for download, only having released individual tracks in the past. The five song EP features the title track as well as 4 exclusive songs not included on the forthcoming album Depart From Me (out July 7th on Definitive Jux).
Cage and Shia LaBeouf will be hosting an episode of MTV2's Subterranean on Thursday May 28th. The Subterranean blog will feature multiple exclusive video interviews from the two as well, look out for that here.
Watch "I Never Knew You" here: (link)
Download the I Never Knew You EP here: (link)
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Billy Joel fans: Click here if you are interested in an amazing soundboard of the Piano Man killing it at the Nassau Coliseum. Act fast, though!
Nassau Coliseum 1977 [no label, 2CD]
Live at Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, New York, December 11, 1977. An excellent soundboard/ pre-FM recording. This is not a copy of the FM broadcast but the pre-FM tape.
Most loyal Billy Joel fans fumed when the 30th anniversary boxset of The Stranger came out in 2007. The bonus CD of the Carnegie Hall concert from 1977, the year The Stranger was released, was an incomplete show. Another grievous omission was the extra bonus CD available at Best Buy outlets was just five tracks from the Nassau Coliseum show of December ‘77.
Several of Joel’s shows were recorded in full. This show at the Nassau Coliseum was broadcast to promote The Stranger. Listening to the full show, I can only guess either Joel or Columbia, his record label, may have felt it wasn’t quite so magnetic. There are moments when the energy dissipates and the concert crawls along. Still, perhaps some deft editing would have solved that.
All of Joel’s strengths are in full view here. His easy lyrics and catchy melodies and that distinct vocal style of a New York sharpie. It’s a joy to hear a young Joel sing She’s Always A Woman To Me or The Stranger or Piano Man. There are many highlights in this show including the best of The Stranger - Movin’ Out and Scenes From An Italian Restaurant.
This show was part of a 54-date U.S. tour to promote The Stranger. It was recorded and broadcast on American radio. We’ve had to omit all the five tracks that have been officially released on the Best Buy CD.
Amazing sound quality with distinct stereophonic image and centered vocals. Just listen to the drums. Great. - The Little Chicken
"The Stranger" Live 1977:
As the world waits to see if Eminem's five-years-in-the-making fifth album Relapse was worth the wait, website www.thisis50.com is currently offering Slim's long-out-of-print 1996 debut Infinite available for free.
To cop that shizwald, click here.
Relapse drops on May 19. Cop that shit, holmes!
Video for "3 AM":
Monday, May 11, 2009
Pretty cool, huh? However, I'm still a little sketched out about the title of this new one. Braggadocio does not wear well on Wilco.
Wilco (The Album) comes out on June 30 via Nonesuch Records. However, you can stream the entire album free by clicking here!
For more information, visit the band's website at www.wilcoweb.com.
Wilco performing "Wilco (The Song)" at a rally for Barack Obama at Union Theater in Madison, Wisconsin on November 1, 2008:
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
As an actor who I grew up watching in my early childhood, I feel as though I have lost a favorite uncle today. So many of my favorite comedies--The Cannonball Run, Wholly Moses, Blazing Saddles, History Of The World, Part 1, Silent Movie, just to name a few--featured the jumbo-hearted joviality of Dom DeLuise. In honor of his passing, please enjoy this clip from what many consider to be his singular masterpiece in acting, 1980's Fatso. Risposa in pace, Dom. You will be missed. -Ed.
Talking Shop With One of the Most Gifted and Underrated Beatmakers in Underground Hip-Hop
Story: Ron Hart
It is indeed true that all good things come to those who wait. IRT sent some email questions to Brooklyn-based beatminer DJ Signify back in February in lieu of the release of his amazing new album, Of Cities. Well, it took him a hot minute to get back to us, but we are happy to present you with the results of our e-conversation. Of Cities, yet another display of Signify's post-RZA science on the old SP-1200 that features some stellar cameo work from Aesop Rock on a couple of tracks, is available at better record shops in your area and on iTunes.
IRT: Where is that gas station on the cover of Of Cities and what is it about that particular station that inspired you to make it your cover?
Signify: The gas station is in Seattle, but it looks like it could be anywhere and that's part of why I picked it. It also gives off a particular loneliness and a kind of late-night dread that I felt fit perfectly with what I was going for with this record.
IRT: How did you first break into DJing? What was your first gig like?
Signify: When I was a freshman at Hobart College, one of the first things I did was apply (and get) a radio show. Being six hours upstate of NYC, I made it my mission to play all the undergound joints just like NY radio favorites Stretch and Bobbito, Underground Railroad and Red Alert to name a few. Back then (mid-late '80's/ early '90s) NYC radio was incredible, especially for hip-hop. Anyway, while I did that show, I started getting all this free vinyl. In my sophomore year I became music director of the station as well, and the free vinyl doubled. Naturally I had to do something with all those records.My first gig is something I'll never forget because I had no idea what I was doing. Do you know those huge, heavy rubber mats that come with Technique turntables? Well, I didn't even know I was supposed to take those off. It was a party at Hobart and I was nervous--and although there were some skips and some horrific transitions, the party turned out alright. In particular, I remember I learned a very early, very valuable DJ lesson--once you get play Dance Hall--stay with it for a long time, cause women love it, it's easy to mix, and it's arguably the best club music ever.
IRT: Where are you from in New York? Brooklyn? What are your thoughts of the changing landscape of both NYC and BK?
Signify: I am from Brooklyn (Parkside & Flatbush also Bronx 236th street---parents divorced at age of 6). As far as the "changing landscape" - in general New York is a lot safer, which is a good thing, but it's had to sacrifice a lot of its personality to get there.
IRT: Second part to question 3, is there any particular shuttered club that you miss the most? Which one and why?
Signify: Back in the late 90's, I used to do a weekly at this bar in the east village (I forget the name--I'm sorry but I'm terrible with names). The spot was intimate and people were generally open minded. I remember I got a chance to mix a lot of underground unknown shit with classics. I miss that club but moreover I miss that era. I also gotta say, I played a few (but saw way more) shows at the Knitting Factory, and it's shocking that that club is gone.
IRT: Is there any particular record shop that closed down that you miss the most?
Signify: There were some small record stores in both Manhatten and Brooklyn that are long gone but for the life of me I can't remember their names. I miss them cause they were "my" secret spots where you could find dope shit cheap. By the way, I've gotta mention my favorite record store in New York---- hands down---Academy Records---I highly recommend their Brooklyn store.
IRT: As a DJ, what are your thoughts on the future of little record shops? Doomed for extinction or they'll stay alive as long as guys like us are still walking the earth?
Signify: I think there is always going to be a future for used records--one could even argue that they are even more important in this age. But small record shops selling new music--that's proving to be tough.
IRT: Tell me about Bully Records. Is this your label? How much flexibility do you have in terms of creating and releasing music on Bully?
Signify: Bully Records is not my label, but I have A&R'd a couple of records for it. It's a small Canadian independent label run by a friend of mine, Marco. I have released a bunch of records with him over the years and he's proven to be really open about releasing music of mine.
IRT: Why the long wait between the LEX album, Sleep No More, and Of Cities? Were you creating music during that period?
Signify: Yes, I did release a bunch of 7's, mixes, tour only CD's, and collaborations. But the real reason for the wait was I lost my record in a Pro-Tools nightmare and basically had to start from scratch and re-make it. By that point, my taste had changed so much that I mostly scraped the whole thing and made an entirely new album.
IRT: How is the website coming along? Will you be using the website as a means of getting more music out there to your fans a la Deerhunter's blog? Music that is exclusive to people who visit your website?
Signify: To be honest, at one point I had big plans for my website, but it somehow got fucked and I ended up putting it on hold. I have to admit, I kinda resent the whole notion that artists somehow owe the public free music when most everyone is stealing it anyway... but I'm not beyond doing it. I probably should.
IRT: As a big fan of your Teach the Children mixtape, do you still make mixes? If so, is there a place where you make them available? You have a lot of great artists tagged on your MySpace page: Sun Ra, Television, Suicide, Pole, Modern Lovers, etc. Have you ever made a non-hip-hop or beat-oriented mix?
Signify: I love mixtapes. The first mixes I sold were beat-oriented and early on I put out two mix tapes called Signifyn' Breaks and Mixed Messages (both composed completely of old vinyl) . They really got this whole music shit started for me. At that time ('96-2000) I was obsessed with mixtapes but slowly, especially as I got into production and that wack mashup fad started going down, I lost interest in putting them out. I still make mixes (mostly non-hip-hop) for myself all the time, though.
IRT: How did you first meet Aesop Rock? You guys seem to have such a great chemistry. Has there ever been talk about doing a full album together?
Signify: Thanks. I met Aesop opening for him on tour with Blockhead. As far as a full length, no, we never talked about it.
IRT: Please tell me more about Nobody's Smiling, your project with Blockhead. Will there be a full-length coming soon from you guys?
Signify: I've been touring with Blockhead for something like six years now. When we did the "Nobody Smiling" record it was right before a long tour, and even though we sold that 45 in stores we made it mainly to sell as a merch item. We worked quickly but I really liked the way it came out, that's why I re-EQ'ed the two songs and put them on Of Cities. I don't know about a full length but Blockhead and I are working on a new project right now.
IRT: What are your thoughts on the state of NY underground hip-hop? Is there any young cats coming up that give you hope for a brighter tomorrow?
Signify: No--------------but you never know.
IRT: Do you play any instruments? If so, how much live instrumentation to youincorporate into your compositions and are there plans for such work in future releases?
Signify: I'm in no way formally trained whatsoever, but I've been messin' around with my ol' Korg ms20 keyboard and I've been integrating that more and more lately.
IRT: What's the most annoying thing about NYC to you these days and why?
Signify: Annoying---------ummm---------the MTA's really annoying me at the moment. It seems weird that they're about to increase the price (which is already really high) and at the same time cutback service which is getting noticeably slower. The Knicks still stink, which for some ungodly reason I still deeply care about------- oh, and the overall high cost of living---that's a little annoying as well. I'll go with that.
Video for "Migrane" from DJ Signify's Sleep No More album: