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Invisible Man


El Posto Numero Uno Yo


Hello yo.  This is DJO aka El Beatardo from The Beatards. And this is my first blog post ever.  Since Charlie got me on this thing I feel it’s only right to dedicate the first one to the good Captain.  Also I’m looking at this thing as a kind of long spaced out mixtape and this song has a killer (short) intro. So… dedicated to the Captain…  

Blues Image : Ride-Captain-Ride
from Pay My Dues on Atlantic (1970)

  • icastico

    blogging cherry popped…how was it?

  • jonny

    haha awesome!! my buddy used to perform a cover of this in Hollywood at the Haunted Cabret when we were 14 back around 91/92.

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How to Play the Keytar without Irony


Kent Lambert started Roommate in 2002 after his roommate dared him to write a song. The result was RP (Forget the Metaphors,) a song about River Phoenix, which became a big hit in Belgium. So, Lambert turned Roommate into a full group with a rotating cast and released a few albums including the Celeb EP, Songs the Animals Taught Us, We Were Enchanted, and a few vinyl only releases on various labels. Roommate is currently recording their next album, but I thought I’d share some exerts from We Were Enchanted.

Lambert writes dark, apocalyptic songs with stark atmospheres, both lyrically and musically. Roommate’s songs rarely stray from a pop realm, but they stretch the form by bringing in unlikely sounds or almost disfiguring melodies. At times, he repeats an unsettling sound or disconcerting vocal line against a brighter or more mellifluous counterpoint. Much of Roommate’s sound is accomplished by combining acoustic and electronic sources. I really think they do it better than almost anyone else: 8-bit, coarse digital beeps and banjos sound like natural partners, and bassoons with swelling synthesizers never feel anachronistic. Lambert primarily plays the keytar, but he has included flutes, violas, Theremins, saws, vibraphones and strange analog machines along with traditional rock instruments. He has even featured instruments he invented. And yet, the arrangements never seem contrived or flamboyant. Lambert focuses every sound and every word into a singular, linear composition.

I’m having a hard time picking out three songs to feature here, but I recommend you check out Roommate further.  This is definitely music that should be heard on something better than mp3’s.  The top link has a lot of content, here’s their myspace and here is a link to a review by Coke Machine Glow.  Kent Lambert is also an accomplished video maker, although the video here is Kenny Reed and shot by Ben Popp.

Roommate – Day After, New Steam, Tea Leaves

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The Observer Gets His Dues


Niney the Observer, the Jamaican reggae singer and producer behind countless vintage dancehall hits, has never received quite as much shine as his contemporaries such as  Lee “Scratch” Perry. That is, until now. The good people over at 17 North Parade have put together a 2 disc compilation titled Roots with Quality spanning the past three decades of his output, with a strong focus on the classic tunes he cut at the height of his career in the mid-1970s. The artist roster reads like a who’s who of reggae royalty: Delroy Wilson, Ken Boothe, Slim Smith, Gregory Issacs and Jacob Miller are but a few of the stars included. 

Niney, nicknamed so after losing a thumb in a workshop accident,  got his start at age 14 working as a music engineer for KG Records and eventually producing and voicing his own tunes for them. Soon after, he began producing tunes for release on his own Destroyer imprint in partnership with Coxsone Dodd of Studio One. In 1968 he started producing for Joe Gibbs’ Amalgamated Records, taking the helm previously manned by none other than Lee “Scratch” Perry.  Perhaps Niney’s biggest hit as a singer, “Blood & Fire” was originally released on Destroyer with only 200 copies pressed. The tune was extremely well-recieved, and Niney re-released it on his new Observer label, selling over 30,000 copies internationally in the process. “Blood & Fire” reached cult status despite grumblings by Upsetters organist Glen Adams that Niney lifted the melody from a recently released Wailers tune, and was declared the Jamaican Record of the Year in 1971.

Throughout the rest of the 1970s Niney was a driving force behind the changing reggae sound of that decade. Dennis Brown, who himself was working towards becoming more of a producer at the time, recorded some of his best-known tunes with Niney, such as “Here I Come” which was originally released on Observer in 1977. Niney remained active in production through the early 80s, working with Freddie McGregor on tunes such as “Chant It Down” and Third World for this compilation’s title track “Roots with Quality.” Niney is still alive and well today and spends his time between Jamaica, where he recently completed work on a new studio facility, and New York City.

Continue reading…

  • Murphyslaw

    BALLANTINO to the RESCUE!!! Nice Niney. Seen. Sight.

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Office’s New Album and New Breakup

Office recorded “Mecca,” but released only in part online due to members leaving. Regardless, it’s still a fantastic pop album.


Office has been the brainchild of Scott Mason since 2000, (which predates the more famous British TV show) and has featured dozens of musicians but only Mason’s songs. Mason writes subversive pop gems with sarcastic and prosaic lyrics. About four years ago, Office added Tom Smith on guitar and Erica on drums, and along with a few other musicians, Office achieved its highest success. The band independently sold over 20,000 copies of Q & A, signed to James Iha’s Scratchie Records, released A Night at the Ritz, toured nationally, didn’t quite break into the next level and left Scratchie. When Office began work on Mecca, the group was frustrated with the music industry and decided release the album independently.

Mecca is distinct from previous Office albums (there are at least five depending on what you count as an album) both in that there are no electronic or synthetic instruments save a few uses of an 1970’s keyoboard, and it features a second songwriter in Tom Smith. Smith’s songs are more straightforward and offer a good foil to Mason’s approach. It’s hard to argue that songwriting is better or worse than on any other Office album, because Scott Mason consistently writes brilliant songs. Every person has a different favorite Office song. What “Mecca” does better than previous Office endevours lies in production and execution. This Office lineup is the best ever and simply rocks. Some people even claim they were too tight, but I find them emotive and provocative. Furthermore, the production is warm, subtle and balanced; layered but not heavy. On first listen, I naively thought it was so good, no amount of bad luck in the industry could keep the band from broader success and personal satisfaction.

Instead, everyone except Mason quit. One issue, in addition to typical band breakup reasons, was Mason wanted to release the album only online for free, and the other members wanted physical copies that could be sold. Office canceled its New Year’s Eve show and Scott released the album for free without Smith’s songs at lastfm. Then the mudslinging began in Chicagoist.com and gapersblock.com in the form of interviews, reviews and comments on the sites. All very silly. And so, unfortunately, very few people will hear Mecca, especially with Tom Smith’s songs. It is an old and sure to be repeated story.

Office – Nobody Knows You, Enter Me Exit You, Double Penetrate the Market from the album Mecca

Download the full album on sendspace or last.fm

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The Inkwell Mixtape


I met Chen Lo a few years ago when he came to work at an after school teen program called Crown Heights Live, where I was working at the time. It became apparent from the first conversation I had with him that he was the real deal, the most genuine combination of artist and community activist you could ever hope to meet. I watched a group of our teens, with his commanding inspiration, record a full-length album from start to finish. So many artists, due to cynicism or stubbornness, fall into the trap of either compromising message for music or music for message, and Chen has done neither. For real, I am proud to know him and call him my friend. If anyone I know deserves to make it, it’s this man right here. I helped work on this project (I mixed down a handful of tracks) and aside from giving you the full download link, I’m separately posting a single I produced, which is only available in snippet form on the mixtape. Enjoy! Continue reading…

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So High You Can’t Get Over It


I wish I could say that I grew up listening to hip-hop, but I didn’t. Back in San Francisco, I went to a small school where you had to listen to Pink Floyd and the Grateful Dead to fit in (don’t hate!). But when the spacey, meandering jam sessions and 11 minute guitar solos got, well, boring, it wasn’t long before my friends and I ventured into the universe of George Clinton. I can almost imagine myself hearing Atomic Dog for the first time in middle school and going, So THAT’s what a beat sounds like!

Fast forward a few years, during which I’m sleeping on every great hip-hop artist to come up in the Bay, and a Deadhead friend introduces me to George Clinton’s Greatest Funkin’ Hits. I remember very clearly listening to Flashlight and wondering who the hell that dude was with the crazy smoove and yet nasal voice. Did he have a cold or was that, like, his thing? Either way, I shamelessly began asking people my age if they knew who A Tribe Called Quest was and if they were any good. Hooked.

George Clinton was undoubtedly my bridge to hip-hop. I used to get so geeked every time I’d hear a sample, whether it was on The Chronic or Del’s more brazenly titled I Wish My Brother George Was Here (produced by none other than his cousin, Ice Cube). Might I even propose that the G in G-Funk doesn’t stand for Gangsta? Wow, I kill me. With that, I present to you a couple of George’s collaborations with four rap giants of the day. Continue reading…

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