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Life A little Lesser on The Foodchain
3 Out Of 5 Stars

Tonio K had the familiar catch 22 of any artist who cuts a brilliant meisterwerk on the first try; where do we go from here? His second album (on a second label, Columibia dumped him after the incredible "Life In The Foodchain" and Arista picked him up for this) is in the same chaotic, angry but sardonic style of the debut but without the shock and awe that the debut brought forth.

After all, when you've written perhaps the greatest all time Eff-Off song ("H-A-T-R-E-D") to close your debut, the closest match you have is the one here called "Go Away," well, the new one seems almost polite by comparison. The punk-frantic "One Big Happy Family" tries to see the ties that un-bind (and it's darn good at it), but the title song of "Foodchain" said it better and with more of a boogie attitude. The real kicker here is the dour but rocking "Trouble," complete with a police siren guitar riff and apocalypic lyrics.

Which is not to say that "Amerika" is a poor album. By any other standards, it's a barn burner. The ultimate in teenaged death songs is here by route of "The Night Fast Rodney Went Crazy," sending all others into pretenderland. Then there's "Merzsuite," a three part Dada-ispired collision where, as the liner notes said, Tonio was doing a take on a play where on the stage was an entire liferunning its course; nothing happens but ultimately everything happens, and then culminates with the everyone chanting 'futt futt futt' as the band spatters cacophony all around each other.

"Amerika" may have been subtitled "Cars Guitars and Teenaged Violence," and it lives up to that moniker. (The original title, "Too Cool To Be A Chistian" is rumoured to be what got him the boot from CBS, but is just as likely a title as "Amerika" would be.) Yet let's not confuse the titles with the facts. Tonio had a mild sophomore slump with this platter, but for an album originally released in 1980, it's got plenty of bite for a 32 year old.

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From the Huffington Post:

Editor's note: Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has voiced his support for a Maryland ballot initiative that would legalize same-sex marriage in the state. In response, Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns, Jr. (D-Baltimore) wrote a letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti urging him to "inhibit such expressions from your employee." In the open letter below, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe responds to Burns.

Dear Emmett C. Burns, Jr.,

I find it inconceivable that you are an elected official of the United States government. Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level. The views you espouse neglect to consider several fundamental key points, which I will outline in great detail:

1. As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very first amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom. By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents in order to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to argue that the Ravens should silence Brendon Ayanbadejo from voicing his support for same-sex marriage, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, but you come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain. What on Earth would possess you to say something so mind-boggingly stupid? It baffles me that a man such as yourself, a man who relies on that same First Amendment to pursue your own religious studies without fear of persecution from the state, could somehow justify stifling another person's right to free speech. To call that "hypocritical" would be to do a disservice to the word. "Mindfuckingly, obscenely hypocritical" starts to approach it a little bit.

2. You wrote, "Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment and excitement." Holy fucking shitballs. Did you seriously just say that, as someone who is, according to your Wikipedia page, "deeply involved in government task forces on the legacy of slavery in Maryland"? Have you not heard of Kenny Washington? Jackie Robinson? As recently as 1962 the NFL still had segregation, which was only done away with by brave athletes and coaches daring to speak their mind and do the right thing, and you're going to say that political views have "no place in a sport"? I can't even begin to fathom the cognitive dissonance that must be coursing through your rapidly addled mind right now; the mental gymnastics your brain has to tortuously contort itself through to make such a preposterous statement are surely worthy of an Olympic gold medal (the Russian judge gives you a 10 for "beautiful oppressionism").

3. This is more a personal quibble of mine, but why do you hate freedom? Why do you hate the fact that other people want a chance to live their lives and be happy, even though they may believe in something different from what you believe, or act differently from you? How does gay marriage affect your life in any way, shape, or form? Are you worried that if gay marriage became legal, all of a sudden you'd start thinking about penis? ("Oh shit. Gay marriage just passed. Gotta get me some of that hot dong action!") Will all your friends suddenly turn gay and refuse to come to your Sunday Ticket grill-outs? (Unlikely. Gay people enjoy watching football, too.)

I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won't come into your house and steal your children. They won't magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won't even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population, rights like Social Security benefits, childcare tax credits, family and medical leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA health care for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gay Americans? Full-fledged citizens, just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?

In closing, I would like to say that I hope this letter in some small way causes you to reflect upon the magnitude of the colossal foot-in-mouth clusterfuck you so brazenly unleashed on a man whose only crime was speaking out for something he believed in. Best of luck in the next election; I'm fairly certain you might need it.

Chris Kluwe

P.S. I've also been vocal as hell about the issue of gay marriage, so you can take your "I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing" and shove it in your closed-minded, totally-lacking-in-empathy pie hole.

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Maybe the best Musical Satire in History?
4 Out Of 5 Stars

In 1978, NBC foisted this special television event on America when they debuted "The Rutles' All You Need Is Cash" mockumentary. Parody documentaries were still in their infancy at the time, and The Rutles were the brainchild of one Python (Eric Idle) a Bonzo Dog (Neil Innes) and others not only spoofed the legacy of Beatles performances, they made impeccable variants on the Fab Four's music. There were inside jokes everywhere in the TV show, down to George Harrison playing a reporter, Mick Jagger and Paul Simon giving mock interviews, and assorted takes on the foibles the Beatles themsleves faced through their career.

But it's the music that matters on this CD. An expansion of the original LP (time constraints left some of the songs of the original album), every song here directly references multiple Beatles songs and the entire beat period (some of these could be lost Merseybeat singles from unknown bands, the quality is that high.) Some, like "Ouch's" take on "Help" or "Piggy In The Middle" copping "I Am The Walrus" are obvious, while others are just brilliant songs on their own, like the "Twist and Shout" contortion that becomes "Number One."

More to the point, Innes is a perfect Lennon imitator, while Rikki Fatar does Harrison's bits staggeringly well. Sometimes the bite is too deep ("Cheese and Onions" takes a poke at Yoko, while "Piggy In The Middle" has a potty joke that loses it's impact after repeated listenings), but all can be forgiving by the humor of "Ouch" or the impeccable takes on "Doubleback Alley" ("Penny lane/Strawberry Fields") and "Get Up And Go" ("Get Back"). Lorne Michaels oversaw the whole deal, and 30 plus years on, it can still elicit a smile. Bear in mind that it took another six years before anything even comparable entered the musical spoof world - aka Spinal Tap - and you get the idea just how effective Innes and Idle's Rutles work here was and remains.


This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
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I got mentioned on! (Or at least my book does.)
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Alpocalypse (Deluxe Version) [+Video] [+Digital Booklet]Pa-Pa-Polkaface
4 Out Of 5 Stars

Whenever Weird Al manages to capture the current pop zeitgeist, he can be counted on to make a brilliant song or two per album. When he tackled Michael Jackson at his best, he created two of the most incredible parodies of the 80's with "Eat It" and "Fat." Then there was "White and Nerdy." And now, thanks to Lady Gaga, he's back in a big way. From the goof on gath of the cover to the ever-present pop-polka medley, "Alpocalypse" shows once more why Weird Al Yankovic has remained the the eminent musical comedian/parodist of the last three decades.

The hits to duds ratio is about equal, and the standouts are gutbusters. Most importantly is the tackling of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" into "Perform This Way," which not only parodies the song but the artist (something Al rarely does). The video also neatly ties Al's timelines together, skewering Madonna (another frequent Al target) and Gaga at the same time. At the same time, Al reimagines Jim Morrison as an upset user of "Craigslist" and Charles Nelson Reilly as the topic of a Racountours/Jack White guitar crusher. Technology also takes it on the chin, as "Ringtone" evokes "my wife to smash my I-Phone with a brick...but I hate to waste a $1.99" over his obnoxious cell tones.

Another eason why Al is a genius is how the man can write a parody of almost any genre. He ricochets from Bruno Mars to Miley Cyrus to The Doors to Queen. Often the originals take on all at once. Of the originals, my favorite is the finale, "Stop Forwarding That Crap to Me," a tirade against stupid emails set to a gorgeous melody. Like one of those massively building Jim Steinman songs, Al begs and pleads...

I just can't believe you believe those urban legends.
But I have high hopes that someone will point you toward Snopes
And debunk that crazy junk you're spewing constantly.

On the smiley meter, 4 and a half teeth. This man deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of fame.

The Essential 3.0 Weird Al Yankovic  Straight Outta Lynwood The Weird Al Show - The Complete Series Weird Al Yankovic - The Ultimate Video Collection Off the Deep End Dare to Be Stupid
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Is it just me, or does Osama Bin Ladin's son look like Weird Al Yankovic, Circa 1999?

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The FameGonna Take a Ride on The Disco Schtick
5 Out of 5 Stars

When one makes machine-pop, where every song is made by the same batch of producers and writers, it is a mighty feat to make yourself stand above the crowd. Lady Gaga, who follows the long tradition of everyone from Yma Sumac to Madonna, elevates herself over the mundanities of popular music by sheer force of personality. Add that she's a prodigy and an expert musician, and you get a sense that "The Fame" is more than just a run-of-the-mill pop album.

It took me a considerable amount of time to warm up the Lady Gaga. The songs on the fame are all state of the moment dance music, and her flamboyance often overshadows just how good these songs are. As co-writer of all the songs here, Gaga is also a step up the creative ladder. She knows a good ear-worm when she pens one, which is why tricky lines in "Pokerface" or "Lovegame" just don't leave your head. Gaga also knows that titillation is just as good as the best hook, so a touch of naughty is as infallible as the best hook. That may be the best lesson she copped from Madonna, but "The Fame" holds its own musically after repeat listens.

She also has enough change-ups to knock aside thoughts that Gaga is nothing but a dance-diva. "Brown Eyes" is the kind of song Gwen Stefani wishes she could still write, and "Eh Eh, Nothing else I can Say" is genial pop. It's clear that Gaga is concerned about the craft of her work, but she also loves the spotlight. It's tough not to invoke Elton John or David Bowie, performers who reinvented their daily life as wild, over the top characters, but Gaga does so repeatedly in her music (of course, in her shows as well). She wants it all, both the fame and the cred, even as she approaches it from the outside in. "The Fame" is, like her or not, the birth of the decade's first serious pop-diva.

Born This Way  The Fame Monster Celebration Essential Cyndi Lauper Femme Fatale Loud
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Swiped from [info]theoctothorpe

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Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (Single-Disc Version)   Greatest Hits Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] (Amazon MP3 Exclusive Version)

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Friday night on ABC's 20/20, while doing a story about the typical psychotic people who murder that is their new stock-in-trade, they began to talk about a case in Texas. This was the sign they used as the "location shot":

Which begs the questions: Texas Dept of Highways; Really?
And ABC Network News: Were you trying to be ironic? Really?
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They may be laughing now, but wait until the body snatching starts.
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September 2015

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