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Archive for April, 2009

Cannibal Ox’s brand of hip-hop is not for everyone. They did to West Coast Rap what Annie Lenox once did to pop music. Scare the living shit out of it. Their 2001debut album Cold Vein sounded quite unlike what the hip hop heads were accustomed to. A sound that bore some sort of resemblance to the darker moments of Wu-Tang, Dr Octagon and MF Doom. The simmering tension between their gritty beats and their cacophonist melodies added to the sense of claustrophobia and then there was this shooting pain on the left shoulder. Wait, that’s a cardiac arrest. What I meant was nobody in his or her right mind had any right capturing beauty from this sort of carnival-esque discordance. Mo’ power to the rappers Vordul Mega and Vast Aire for having dragged the bastard out, kicking and screaming.

cannibal_oxAs for the lyricism…well, thankfully they didn’t rap about poppin’ cristal and bustin’ caps, but they did indulge in a lot of abstract braggadocio . Songs like Pigeon (Eskimo metal got shit locked in oxygen shell / Words shot plated metal lungs which spun the kids’ carrousel) and Ox Out Of The Cage (I flow like arachnids on waterspouts / the circle is never seen and seldom heard about / now they put me in a cage and break me out) also have enough proof that these guys don’t share any particular stance on sunshine, rainbows, group hugs and bunnies. Even more power to them.

If you can manage to sit past the first 25 seconds of the epic B-Boy’s Alpha, you are in for a visceral aural experience. Never have I seen beauty so wonderfully abused in Hip-Hop. As fate would have it, Cannibal Ox haven’t released a studio album since their debut. Hip-Hop’s Blind Melon, I guess. Only they replaced the bee girl with, you know, actual talent.

Watch

Cannibal Ox –B Boy’s Alpha

Cannibal Ox – Iron Galaxy

Instead of a Blackberry, buy

This and this.

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archiebronsonoutfit2I once had much love for these songs. They used to haunt my Winamp playlist at home and the CD player in my car. Of course, familiarity can be bothersome and so can hummable melodies. I have been revisiting a few of them lately and well, nostalgia (random Iron Maiden fan screams ROCKS…BABY! and gets knocked out cold) is sometimes a good thing in distant proportions.

Watch

Archie Bronson Outfit – Dart For My Sweetheart

Archie Bronson sounds like the collective burp of Swedish indie pop bands after being force-fed the corpse of Hendrix. Did I mention cough syrup? Oh the cough syrup, my friends.

The White Stripes – The Hardest Button To Button

How I wish Jack White and Meg sang the blues. The alternative rock shtick, as tight as it was, grew a bit thin over the years. Thankfully its trail left us with this tight-as-a-stiff-lip Southern fried garage asskicker of a song.

A Perfect Circle – Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums

James Keenan Maynard is a strange mix of things that we previously thought only existed inside William Burroughs’ mind and Buddha’s left pocket. Any fan of APC or Tool will tell you that. This is probably the only APC song that I eventually grew tired of. And I still think it fucking rules.

Jose Gonzalez – Teardrop

I get violent when I see emo kids strum on hollow acoustic guitars, sitting on barstools and waxing poetic about life. Even worse are fellows who sing something about our bodies being amusement parks and shit. Mr Gonzalez is a rare exception with his pale white soul lamentations. Also, he has covered Massive Attack’s achingly pretty ballad – Teardrop. Woody Guthrie on antihistamines? Uh huh.

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Hi. I’m Christy’s lack of insensitivity. Two 5-year-old girls were raped over the past three days. One in Chennai. The other in New Delhi. Don’t bother looking too much into it. The India media barely gives a shit enough to stir a slight stench. I don’t see Renukha Choudhry rushing to the scene of the crime. I haven’t noticed any virtual social networking enthusiasts raising a hue and cry about this.

It’s so friggin quiet that I think I almost heard a tree fall on a social worker’s head in an empty forest.

But I guess I understand. It’s not as horrific as middle-class teenagers getting pushed around near city pubs. And well, stray dogs weren’t mercilessly killed. After all folks…it’s just a bunch of toddlers getting sexually violated. Pah. Forget it. Go back to channeling rage and creativity for far more grievous issues. I’m sure there’s a Gucci handbag somewhere in Rwanda that needs to be saved.

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I don’t watch Indian Premier League because its sycophantic glamour. It can be very off-putting for me. Also, it bothers me that this version of cricket triggers some sort of inconclusive chemical imbalance in people, which leads them into believing that they have understood the game enough to have an expert opinion on it.

“Hayden shouldn’t have played it on the front foot” … “I would have included two more spinners” …”Pepsi has a zanier taste than Coca Cola…”

Riiight. Watching fours hours of capsulated cricket, three hours of random camera zoom-ins of interracial women and two hours of Arun Lal desperately trying to channel his sporting acumen in vain. Great. Go ahead, quit your job and join the panel of experts at IPL. All you need is a penchant for buggery of the English language and the uncanny knack of getting facts wrong at least 60% of the time.

Of course, many just watch the game and enjoy the fuck out of it. Despite what the Rolling Stones might have had you believing, some people actually do always get what they want. And to be perfectly honest, the IPL does cater to those who were never really into the game but always wanted to know what the fuss was all about. I hear that people who suffer from lifelong acute Attention Deficit Disorder get a really good kick out of it, as well.

That’s alright, I guess. I mean, if the PGA had taken my suggestion and hid landmines in random spots on the course, hell, I’d be watching golf right now. Imagine if the boring-ass Snooker Champion league made it mandatory for the players to dress in trench coats and carry bamboo shoots with tiny rodents inside of them. They could crawl through to the other end, jump on the pool table and guide those little bio-bombs into those pockets…of DOOM! Oh yes…POCKETS OF DOOM with MIDGET TIGER SHARKS swimming in there! Hmm you get the picture. Traditions customized to induce mass clamouring. Perfectly understandable.

iplsucks1

In fact, my Zen-like level tolerance with the Twenty-20 shenanigans has led me to read a bit about this year’s IPL competition. The only thing worth mentioning are the swanky nicknames that the Fake IPL Blogger (source…Papa fuckin’ Bear) has come up with for an annoying runt of a fast bowler (Sreesanth) and a prissy actor (Shah Rukh Khan) who makes his livelihood by selling sub-par consumer products on TV, crying like Meryl Streep post-menopause during climax sequences and dancing like a monkey on crack at random weddings.

www.fakeiplplayer.blogspot.com

I know…I know…it’s only a matter of time before the Fake IPL Blogger becomes a marketing gimmick but what the hell, at least for now, this kid’s angst is a source of amusement. Also, I find it hilarious that some moron from Bollywood is lashing out against this renegade blogger in the name of cricketing ethics.

I’m sorry…what?

Did Ike call Tina Turner a sexist for not falling down fast enough when he slapped the shit out of her?

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charlie2_Charlie Bartlett: It takes fine craftsmanship to mask hideous stupidity for more than an hour. For 50-plus minutes, I waited for something interesting to happen in Charlie Bartlett. Achingly worn-out minutes that each took an hour to disappear forever. By the time the end credits rolled, it was pretty clear. Director John Poll had pulled a fast one on me. I had just sat through a friggin’ teen comedy. Emo clothes, stoner kids, ant-authoritarian behaviour, boys-to-men sexual escapades and a totally out-of-place performance by a talented actor (Robert Downey Jr.) as the school principal. But what made me give this a chance, you ask? Well, damm you Downey and Anton Yelchin.

So this kid – Charlie Bartlett (Anton) – gets kicked out of every private school in the local area. Then he shifts base to a public school where everyone rip Charlie a new one for his geektastic behaviour. Pretty soon social inactivity drives young Bartlett to start peddling Ritalin as the school’s unauthorized psychiatrist. And everyone’s all like, “Awww shucks let’s hug it out, brother”. Of course, he also falls in love with the principal’s daughter. Oh did I mention that the principal’s wife ran away with another man? Or that the Charlie’s mom is manic-depressive? Ahem…let me summarize.

Knock Knock Who’s there? Charlie Bartlett (shotgun blast)

Spike Lee’s When The Levees Broke: This one’s a four hour-long documentary on Hurricane Katrina and her unkind tirade against New Orleans. Amidst the ruins, Spike Lee searches for answers and in a sense, a bit of closure for the African American community. Issues regarding the American government’s lack of concern for its coloured children are discussed in length. In fact, the entire documentary pretty much focuses on the premise that the Bush administration, to quote Kanye West, “hates black people” and well, it sort of led my attention astray.

when_t13It seemed clear to me that the sadness that I felt while watching those images of destruction was based on little else than superficial empathy. With Terence Howard’s stunning original composition (which is almost worth the entire download or purchase) playing in the background, these visuals of hope, abandonment, pain and anger metamorphosed into almost meandering poetic musings, thus sucking dry any sense of humaneness. In hindsight, if it weren’t for the powerful score, it would have been just another news feed running on and on. Maybe that’s why I didn’t particularly share the outrage either. Matter of fact…why should I? I have watched both the Indian State and Central government schematically not give a fuck while 83 kids from a government school got roasted in an accidental fire, 42 lower-middle class folks were crushed to death during a food relief distribution and daily caste-related tragedies continue to vilify the lives of the underprivileged. So yeah, I didn’t understand what the hue and cry was all about.

While not utterly pointless and ridiculously banal as Michael Moore‘s Fahrenheit 9/11, When The Levees Broke is still quite the stretch. Now look…I’m not saying that Spike Lee has no business bitching about banal federal apathy. Not at all. There’s about 400 years of civil and social oppression that I, as a South Indian, don’t understand. Maybe it gave closure to all those nice folks who were actually affected by Katrina but there is precious little on display for an impartial observer who’s scouting for aesthetics in documentary film-making or just looking for a bit of entertainment. Everybody knows that government doesn’t give a fuck about the minorities. It’s a major problem, yes sir… it certainly is. But four hours of explaining how truly messed up up the problem really is? Not cool, man. Not cool.

the-gray-man-movie-posterThe Gray Man: Serial killers and sadomasochistic vermin are a trepid lot at first sight, aren’t they? Ted Bundy looked like a reject from the Brady Bunch. Jeffrey Dahmer looked like a future professional X-box gamer. And of course, Albert Fish, the graying old man who could have so easily been mistaken for being Christopher Lee’s cousin. Fittingly enough, the horror of crimes committed by each one of these men often lies in the inherent calmness with which they go through it. Albert Fish is certainly no exception. As a killer, he’s calm, composed and prone to violent fits of brutality only when it doesn’t hinder plans. As far as films about serial killers go, The Gray Man is tasty morsel of a thriller. Director Scott Flynn also deserves some sort of credit for not subjecting the viewers to graphically depicted brutality. Having said that, fans of mindfuck – fret not for there is some truly messed up shit about an hour into the film that describes in some sort of detail the heinous murders.

Belgian actor Patrick Bauchau does a neat job of playing the Werewolf of Wysteria a.k.a The Brooklyn Vampire.He’s got this cool Martin Landau meets Brian Cox meets Sean Connery vibe. The other central character is the disgraced (obviously) cop played by Jack Conley who, of course, lose his mind, wins everyone’s respect and saves the day when it’s too late. The predictability does wear a bit thin but then again, this is a biographical narration of events. Kinda funny, isn’t it? Even the most gruesome of real-life events are rendered mundane by the laws of redundancy. Hmmm I think I’ll go look up “funny” in the dictionary.

And a bunch of really short reviews…

lettherightonein_banLet The Right One In: Swedish director Tomas Alfredson has made an emo horror film that moves at a pace that would make Gus Vant Sant blush. Hell, I see a slight reference to Patrick McCabe’s very very awesome The Butcher Boy, as well. Very weird and extremely watchable…especially considering that it has the single GREATEST swimming pool scene EVER.

Notorious: Factually, I’d like to think that it was all messed up. I found it despicable, the way they portrayed Tupac Shakur as a paranoid, bat-shit crazy rapper. Just as much as I hated Christopher Wallace’s constant “mama told me there’d be days like this” expression throughout the second half of the film. But that’s just my inner black dude dealing with his fascination for West Coast’s Hip Hop legacy. Everything until the last 2 minutes were sort of alright, I guess.

Humboldt County: You have to know that Humboldt County in California is actually friggin “known for its cultural attributes associated with the cultivation and proliferation of high-grade marijuana”. Good. Now you can really enjoy this sleeper of an indie stoner film that forsakes most of the cinematic clichés associated with smoking pot. It’s not right up in-your-face with any “Hey Man The Government Is Like Uhhhh…Hey Man, Can You Get Me A Sandwich, Man” bullshit philosophy. Nobody gets shot and nobody gets pregnant either. Conversations began and end in Humboldt County, as do the epiphanies of a disillusioned medical student. And that’s about that.

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iGUESS

It’s only fair that I do this once in awhile. But nobody wins free tickets to see the four-eyed, tentacle-limbed baby…ok?

N-O-B-O-D-Y.

Yeah. Ok.

On why I don’t put mp3 files for download anymoreSupreet

Tata Indicom wireless connection at home refuses to move at a faster pace. I will try including download URLs as hyperlinks instead of youtube videos. And fret not…web firewalls at corporate offices everywhere suck a monstrous lemon.

On (for the 54,387 time) how to download mp3 files from youtubeSt. Day Glo, Aquila, J, Ramanan

Youtube downloader lives here, here and here. But I am not sure how efficient it is. I use Keepvid and random FLV converters. Works like a charm.

On the ‘About Me’ shiny photo thingySiddarth

Halo? No. That’s just the bright light from the camera. My pet Samurai took that photo while attempting a somersault handstand. I couldn’t afford a ninja…recession’s a bitch.

On favourite movies like everCheryl ‘Da Medusa’

The list seems to change every three months or so. At this very moment, it would have to be Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, The Wrath Of God and Woody Allen’s Crimes And Misdemeanors.

On the comments being inactivatedPeople

A bunch of folks have asked me why I block comments. Maybe it’s the temptation to pretend to be some sort of vaguely cool, socially detached online writer (bows down to Mr. Scholar) or whatever. But my money would be on the fact that it just bothers me; not the comments per say, but rather the intention behind having a space for comments.

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