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a little bit of BK in VA

Posts made in July, 2010

CHIDDY BANG-Air Swell

Okay, so there’s rap/rock, funk/rap, indie rockers who ironically cover rap tunes, electrorap, pop-rap (which universally sucks), and now there’s Chiddy Bang. This rap crew has been getting growing exposure (even on MTV) because their beats are as intelligent as their lyrics.  It’s party rap that’s not stupid, demeaning, or demoralizing, withe beats relying on hooks (and extended samples) from songs by Ellie Goulding, Kate Nash, Gorillaz, La Roux and more.

And if you haven’t heard this Philly duo’s earlier project, Swelly Express, you should cop that too. It’s got Passion Pit and Black Thought from The Roots on it.

Have a taste of Breakfast with Kate Nash

http://player.groovebat.com/player.swf
Then order the whole plate, here.

And here‘s The Swelly Express.

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THE TOP 10 MINOR CHARACTERS IN COMICS

This week, I’m introducing a new feature of “top 10s” (or “Top 20s” or “Top 5s” as the case may be) for the comic world.  I hope to be publishing one a week, but I may be getting ahead of myself.

This week, my ten favorite non-powered bit players.  In other words, minor characters.  Aunt May?  Lois Lane?  Foggy Nelson?  Too major for this list.  They’ve got to be someone you might see a few times a year, or who might appear in a few pages every couple months, and who rarely if ever gets a full story.

Here’s my list; drop me a comment and tell me who I missed!

10.  Jeryn Hogarth (Marvel). The lawyer for Iron Fist made many appearances in the classic 1970s title, “Power Man and Iron Fist,” always trying to keep the boys in line and get them to go on actual paying gigs.  Sometimes, Hogarth was the only indicator that the duo was actually trying to run a business, not just be superheroes.  First appearance: Iron Fist #14.

9.  Terror the Dog (Dynamite). In Garth Ennis’ gritty and often pornographic series, The Boys, Terror can always be counted on for a laugh.  Especially when he’s sexually assaulting cats on rooftops and/or the legs of people that his master, Butcher, doesn’t like.  First appearance: The Boys #1.

8.  Bambi Arbogast (Marvel). Tony Stark’s heavy-set, no-nonsense executive assistant during the Bob Layton years.  She was like Moneypenny from James Bond, which helped establish the “secret agent” vibe that Layton brought to the series.  First appearance: Iron Man #118.

7.  Malcolm Powder (Marvel). That persistent “kid” who kept annoying Jessica Jones in the pages of Brian Michael Bendis’ brilliant Alias series.  Malcom’s groupie worship was the perfect foil for Jessica’s neurotic insecurity.  First appearance: Alias #6.

6.  Bertrand Crawley (Marvel). A homeless man who provides information to The Moon Knight, Crawley was great because he drank tea with his pinkie up and spoke with an affected air, while Bill Sienkiewicz always drew him with flies all around him.  First appearance: Marvel Spotlight #28.

5.  Space Cabbie (D.C.). He’s a dude with an old beat up spacecraft.  The idea is so stupid, it’s funny.  He appears in random books at random times, making him a bit player for an entire universe, not just a single title.  First appearance: Mystery in Space #21.

4.  Eugene “Flash” Thompson (Marvel). Flash was the bully who helped inspire Spider-Man.  My only qualm with this character is that recently they made him all sympathetic by showing him as a veteran with a double amputee.  We aren’t supposed to like this guy!  First appearance: Amazing Fantasy #15.

3.  Harvey Bullock (D.C.). Bullock might be considered a major player in some storylines, but mostly he’s just a rough, brutal, bribe-taking cop with a heart of gold.  His character is so interesting that he made it into Tim Burton’s film, and was a semi-major player in Gotham Central, where was revealed to be an alcoholic.

Turk even got an action figure!

2.  Fabian Stankowicz (Marvel). A good bit player should bring something new to the table, and Stanky, who won the lottery and built the “Mechano-Marauder” fit the bill.  In his first appearance, in Avengers #217, he stands between the heroes and the door to the mansion, and each character must “defeat” him to gain access.  But most simply ignore him and go around his unwieldy weapon, which eventually sinks under its own weight.  Hilarious.

1.  Turk Barrett (Marvel). The rat fink from the docks who’d sell out Kingpin just to avoid a beatdown from Daredevil was often the source of comic relief in a series that desperately needed it, being that the main character is constantly beset with ills and maladies.  A lot of folks may not realize it, but Turk dates back to 1970 when he first appeared in Daredevil #69!  Haven’t seen nearly enough of Turk lately.  Hey, Andy Diggle, bring Turk back!

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THE BLACK RABBITS-The Black Rabbits EP

The worst thing–and the only bad thing–about The Black Rabbits is their name.  It sounds so common, so plain, so much like so many other bands out there.  In fact, it sounds a lot like a band that The Black Rabbits sound a lot like: The White Rabbits.  It almost made me toss this EP out without even listening to it.

That would have been a mistake.

The Black Rabbits are from the rhythm and blues school of indie rock–think Spoon–that stresses funk and beat and hook.  It’s purist indie rock–no tinges of Americana or wildly experimental navel gazing–just straight-up solid songs designed for dancing and long drives and Zooey Deschannel movies.  The result is a kick-ass EP that sucks you in with “Hurry Hurry” and never lets go.  Lead singer/songwriter Jetson Black has just enough gravel and oomph to push every song past the ordinary baseline, and they’re well-supported by the pitch-perfect supporting vocals of keyboardist Kim Drake (think Emily Haines).  At least, I think that’s Ms. Drake–it could be bassist Natalie Smallish.  Whatever.  Ms. Smallish deserves a mention anyway, since her basslines and Skyler Black’s drumming are the engine that gives the band its turbo power.   Trying to figure out which song to tease you with is almost impossible, because they’re all perfect.  Yes, perfect.

This is a truly amazing debut.  I can’t wait to hear what comes next.

For fans of: Spoon, The White Rabbits, The Pixies, The Raconteurs.

Hurry Hurry
http://player.groovebat.com/player.swf

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DEAD HEART BLOOM-Strange Waves

Dead Heart Bloom are understated. That’s their biggest problem. Their songs, almost all of them, start with a slow quiet roll, burst into chorus, and then roll back. It’s the format pioneered by the Pixies, but without the punk energy. Instead, the choruses are poppy, almost sunny. Almost. There’s an undercurrent of sadness that permeates all of the band’s latest full length, Strange Waves.

Why is this a problem? Because it’s misleading. There’s elements of The Beatles, Roxy Music, and other classic rockers here, and there’s a lot of depth and detail to their work. But it’s also tempting to write them off as depressing, artsy, derrivative indie rockers at first listen. You have to stick with them. Trust me. There’s a big payoff. Strange Waves is quite good.

Strange Waves is coming at you on August 31.  You can actually download it for free on their public relations’ team site, which is odd and unusual.

Meet Me (from Strange Waves)
http://player.groovebat.com/player.swf

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