Friday, September 21, 2018

LOVE THE WAY I LIE

One of my favorite things to do when life gets difficult, or something is taking a long time, is to lie down. I'm not trying to fall asleep, necessarily--although that happens a lot--but I am trying to space out and not talk to anybody, as if I were asleep. Lying down helps me focus on my plans, free from the distractions of the vertical world: Work. Decision making. The peanut gallery. None of these things can bother me when I'm alone in a room with the door locked, lying down.
Unfortunately, not everyone is supportive of my passion. My roommate often makes fun of me for lying down. My parents tell me to "seize the day"--as if I couldnt seize the day lying down! And my grandfather, who was a big fan of manual labor, used to say that lying down was for lazy people, like me. Maybe he had a point there. But look at my grandfather now: he's dead. Thats the ultimate lie down. And here I am, sitting up.
But not for long.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: BEHIND THE PAINT by Violent J and Hobey Echlin
















Do YOU know how magnets work, shithead? That's how I feel about people who make fun of Insane Clown Posse. Like bros, vegans and DJ's, ICP has become a go-to target for people for unfunny people who think they're funny.  Even Troma movies make fun of them, and Troma fans (pointing at myself) are some of the most contrarian, unfuckable people on the planet.

I don't listen to ICP (except Chicken Huntin', I Want My Shit, Thy Unveiling, and The Neden Game. And Bitches) but I often find myself drunkenly defending them to people at bonfires. Their music might be grating, and they might make too many sex puns, but at the end of the day ICP is funnier and more interesting than 95% of the people making fun of them--and they have better taste in music, too is the gist of my arguement. It's rare for me to take the "anti-hater" position like that, but for some reason I always felt strongly about it. This book, given to me by Nyquil after he lost my copy of SWEET JONES: PIMP C'S TRILL LIFE STORY, proves that these feelings are valid. 

Raised on the sultry nocturnal sounds of Esham, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Geto Boys and Awesome Dre, The Insane Clowns are wiggers of the most endearing sort. They're wiggers from a time before the internet, when kids were beat up and socially alienated for being wiggers. It was a lot harder to copy black culture then. You couldn't just buy a Cam'ron shower curtain and start saying lit. As an unpopular person and obscure regional rap afficionado myself, I found this "early years" section of this book--usually the most tedious part of an autobiography--to be fascinating.

One problem with the book, which I'm remembering as this review gets longer and longer, is that it's too long. If you include the annotated discography, and the "what Psychopathic records means to me" section at the end (by everyone on the Psychopathic records roster), it's 596 pages. I suspect that the book wasn't "written" so much as dictated by Violent J, while he was high, and this technique makes for hilarious reading ("I was like, 'Whoa, this is the shit! Slash likes my song! The chick he fucks likes it, too.'") but 600 pages of reminiscince is a lot from any man. If I was the editor, I'd probably cut some of the wrestling stuff. And give it a better cover.

Ratings-wise, I have no choice but to give this 1/1 stars. BEHIND THE PAINT was funny, inspirational and full of rap gossip, and how much more can you demand from a book? You want it to have a neden?

FINAL SCORE: 1/1
COVER
: 0/1

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

NEWS

-DIAL B FOR BIRDER is on iTunes now, and also SoundCloud and "Stitcher." Tell your friends, if you ever make any.
-In case you're not savvy enough to know yet, the Nyquil510.tumblr.com comment section is home to one of the most vibrant fan communities online.
- Follow Thomas on twitter.

-Sorry To Bother You is dope, the new Byron Crawford book is dope, and the new episode of Tarantula is dope. Music is still mostly bad.

-This crazy crow lady's blog post about crow necrophilia has gotten a lot of attention lately. How can I get a picture of a crow doing something even more fucked up? Sound off in the comments... 
-Speaking of hot news stories, I've been running into a lot of news coverage of these so-called "bird scooters" recently. Are you guys up on this? I'm not. I've heard of the bird Scoter before, but this sounds different.
-According to an article in The New Republic that came out last year, white people living in rural areas of the South make up the highest percentage of birdwatchers in America. Yeah--too bad they're watching em through the scopes of their AK-47s.
-You know, I've been thinking about it, and maybe Ben Franklin was right: Maybe the bald eagle shouldn't be America's National Bird. Maybe America's National Bird should change, based on who the president is. For Lincoln, it it's an owl. For LBJ, it's a rooster. And for Donald Trump? Scrooge McDuck. (UPDATE: Shit, Penn Jillette beat me to this comparison.) Maybe a cuckoo bird.
-Q: Who's the worst reggae singer to buy weed from? 
A: Shwaggy!

Monday, August 6, 2018

CELEBRITY GUEST POST: "RAP MUSIC THAT I LIKE A LOT RIGHT NOW THAT JESSE WILL FEEL INDIFFERENT TOWARDS PT. 2" BY THOMAS

Ok hello again! What's new with you?



Ok so you are going to hate this and I think I hate this too, but it's super interesting and worth talking about! The song starts out with a solid verse from our friend Wicca Phase Springs Eternal and then it hits: probably the weirdest delivery I have ever heard. It sounds like this guy is actively crying and also cannot touch his lips together. This got me thinking about how people make music today and its effect on the music that is created. Can you imagine if this guy existed in the 90s? Chances are he would never record music and if he wanted to he'd have to rent studio time and there would be an engineer or producer of some type there that would tell him "No! Stop doing that with your voice! That's bad!" But instead this guy can just do weird stuff with his voice in his room on his laptop and release it to the world. The result is A LOT more music out there and a lot of it is boring or bad, but there is a greater opportunity now for truly unique and different sounds to emerge. The internet is pretty rad IMO.


Drippin So Pretty

Drippin So Pretty is a new to me rapper that writes songs almost exclusively about being in love and shooting heroin (take a min to process that please).


SHORT SONGS ARE DOPE. This beat is really insane, there is so much going on here. When the bass drops at :25 it's so good! When I first heard this song I got super stoked on it and emailed it to Jesse and he replied by saying he "hopped off the rap train at mumble station", which made me think he might secretly be 48 years old. 
I can't quite figure out what he is saying for the hook, either "I don't fuck with lil shorty, she ain't right for me" or "I don't fuck with lil shorty, she don't ride for me." The more I listen to it the more I think it's the latter, but I'm going to go with the former because it makes the song 100X more endearing. 



SHORT SONGS. SHORT SONGS. SHORT SONGS. I legit get upset when I see songs within this genre that are like 3:30 plus. Real rude of the artist to assume a high-powered businessman such as myself has that kind of time to waste.
Controversial opinion: I like the cheesy tire screech sound effect in this song. Anyways, I like the melody and soul in this song. 


Section Where I Talk About Bladee A Lot 

I've already written extensively about Bladee and he is probably my favorite artist active right now. Since the last time I wrote about him in Fall of 2017 he's released a ton of great music. It's actually pretty crazy how prolific he has become in the last couple years. It seems like random new songs of his are constantly dropping on top of random albums and mixtapes that seem to come out of nowhere. Heck, he even dropped a Christmas song last December that contained an A+ catchy hook

Ok so new songs:



My Lord this beat is amazing. Bladee just sort of floats over this beat with his melodic voice getting chopped up by the autotune.
This song also produced one of the most endearing YouTube comments I've seen in a while:


Haha I just want to give that guy a hug and scruff up his hair.

Bladee came out with a new album recently and I like it a lot! It is not on the same level as Eversince, which is probably my favorite rap album of the last 5 years, but it is a very engaging listen. Once again, the production drives things, with beats that don't sound like anything else out there. 





The production of this song is so warm and soft, it feels like my ears are getting a big hug. Also this beat is so layered, I keep picking up on different elements, like the subtle guitar strumming that comes in @ :56. There's a lot of song here in around two and a half minutes. I appreciate that Bladee utilizes his autotune to do something interesting for the chorus. For most of his songs the autotune sounds like it is just there to distance him from real life, because I think he legit has a good singing voice. 


This is the "lead single" off the latest album and it took me a while to get into, maybe because I was distracted by the music video? I highly recommend people listen to songs for the first time without the visuals, to get an actual opinion of the music before watching the video. There is nothing worse than sending a video of a song to your friend and they come back at you with "wow, what a silly hat he has on!" Or maybe I should just accept the importance of visual aesthetics in music and how they are forever intertwined. IDK. 


Hella Sketchy

Jesse has accused me of only liking depressing rap and he is only 90% correct. Here is part of the 10%:



IMPORTANT WARNING: don't watch this music video! Forget everything I wrote above and don't let your eyeballs taint this song. Hella Sketchy is a rapper that makes extremely light and catchy rap songs. He also looks like a 15 year old kid that I instinctively want to stuff in a locker. But dang this song is so catchy!!! Also it is that rare breed of song that is super poppy, but does not wear thin immediately. I have been listening to this song for over a year and still think it is tight. 



Don't watch this music video either! It is chopped up clips from the "Spent a Check" music video. This beat is great though. I was talking to Jesse in person about this one, trying to figure out what the production sounds like. I think we settled on a Nintendo tropical paradise.  


More Lil Peep

Do you remember last post where I was talking about how Lil Peep released so much music before his death and I'm amazed how I keep discovering new songs of his? Well just since writing that last post I have discovered two more songs that I absolutely love:



The vibe of this song is so sick. It sounds like I am listening to something real important. I feel bad for the feature, because this beat is huge and Peep always layered the shit out of his vocals, so Wulf's verse sounds oh so meak. Hellboy is such an interesting album and I have come to really enjoy it after being initially turned off by some of its cringey moments. Peep's angst is going to sound bad to some listeners, but there is a lot of interesting moments, and wonderful expressions of his emerging pop sensibility. 



Hey speaking of pop sensibility, this song is super catchy! Very enjoyable 2 minute plus track that always leaves me in a good mood. I have a lot to say about the feature, Yung Bruh/Lil Tracy, but we'll save that for next post. 

Ok that's all for now. Remember, you get what you give in this life, so don't walk around being a selfish shithead.

Life can be a beautiful thing if you let it be.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

DIAL B FOR BIRDER, EPISODE 4

Hi fans, hope you're having an ecstatic, passion-filled summer. I don't know about you, but for me, summer is one of the very best seasons we have, after fall (school supplies!), winter (candy canes!) and possibly spring (daylight savings time! Plus everyone's favorite holiday, May Day). Sometimes, though, it's important to take a break from all the hot summer action, and take the bus to work while you listen to a podcast. It can be hard sometimes, because there are only 6 good podcasts (Hollywood Handbook, The Great Debates, Pushermania's Playlist, Bookworm with Michael Silverblatt, So Many Shrimp Radio and this one...and some Jesse Thorn stuff, if the interviewee isn't an actor or comedian), and most of them have erractic release schedules. This podcast is one of those. But today, at least, your thirst will be quenched.

For this episode, Thomas and I went to "The Point" in Stinson Beach, CA (you might remember it from an old, since-deleted blog post I wrote called "BIRDERS AT THE POINT"), to look for a Bald Eagle family that recently moved into town. Then we went to Audubon Canyon Ranch, off of Highway 1, to splash around in the newt pond.




Photos, videos, and other relevant  bird media---including Thomas' scary Shoebill Stork video--after the jump.

Friday, July 6, 2018

CELEBRITY GUEST POST: "RAP MUSIC THAT I LIKE A LOT RIGHT NOW THAT JESSE WILL FEEL INDIFFERENT TOWARDS PT. 1" BY THOMAS

Hello friends! How are things with you? Hey so I would like to talk to you about rap music that I like now. I used to exclusively like Bay Area Gangster rap, but those days have passed. All of the rap I listen to now is kind of in the same subgenre of some type of emo rap/cloud rap. Idk. I don't think there is a great term for what is going on here. Lil Peep is probably the central figure to this scene, but a lot of this precedes him and doesn't have much to do with him. There is definitely a distinctive scene for this music that has emerged in recent years and it has REALLY connected with me lately. Ok no more genre analysis, I just want to talk about songs that I like a lot that I know Jesse will feel indifferent towards lol. 

Lil Peep



Ok let's start with the biggest name first. Very sad that he has died and it's been crazy to see how much his music has grown in popularity since his death this past November. I remember one of the top comments for one of his songs being something like 'thumbs up if you were one of the TRUE fans and knew his music before he died' one month after he died! So yeah his popularity has significantly increased in 2018. I do believe he could have been a legit popular artist if he hadn't died because A.) girls thought he was cute B.) he made really good melodies/hooks and had a good ear for beats. The truly crazy thing was how much music he released before dying at 21. I have been continuously discovering more songs of his that are genuinely great. 




Ok first of all, the producer MysticPhonk's tag at the beginning of songs always scares the shit out of me. This is some unreleased verse that surfaced after his death, so I guess it is not meant to be a standalone song? Idk, it really works for me. It also serves as further proof that Lil Peep was really reaching the end in terms of his drug use. Very dark vibes: "Crack a smile while I cut myself" 😬😬😬




This is my favorite Lil Peep song and probably one of my favorite songs in the last year or two. I've gotten very emotional listening to this song several times, because I am soft as fuck on the inside. I love when Wicca Phase just howls at 2:00 before Lil Peep comes in and Lil Peep's melody towards the end, starting with "Lay me down, it's not that easy" gets me every time.

Who is this Wicca dude at the beginning of the song, you ask? Ok let's talk about him next:


Wicca Phase Springs Eternal


Ok so that name is a lot to take in, I understand. Wicca Phase used to be in a really popular band called Tiger's Jaw (this is song is a str8 classic) and then left the band to become a rapper. I remember people thinking he lost his mind when they first heard his rap music, which was totally justified, because it was fucking weird. Look see here is one of his earlier songs:




People thought he was fucking joking and the first time I heard this song my brain instinctively told me "BAD." But guess what? I really like this song now! If you listen to it without the visuals you can start to understand how it is just a continuation of his emo/indie music. Ok anyways, I REALLY want to talk about this:




This song is from a duo EP Wicca Phase did with a guy named Døves and boy is it something. Probably one of the messiest and emotionally draining albums I've heard in a while. For example, ves sounds like he is on his death bed on the second verse here and most songs sound like what you would hear in your head moments before a heroin overdose. I highly recommend checking it out.





This is another Døves-produced track, I think his dense beats fit Wicca's style really well. At 3:10 when the synth wave and drums come back in it feels like I am being swept away with a wave of emotions. This is totally a weird song though, the chorus is a voice chopped and screwed beyond recognition over melodramatic anime dialogue. I just reread the previous sentence and my head is still spinning. Anyways, Wicca Phase is dope. His voice is not for everyone and his lyrics are mostly just abstract expressions of unrequited love, but he's got a really unique style that clicks with me.


Horse Head

Oh man Horse Head is a very mixed bag, but let's just focus on these two quality songs:



I strongly recommend not watching this music video, because it is just grainy footage of Horse Head walking around his apartment complex looking sad and something about it acutely bums me out :(((((((
Oh but I REALLY like the acoustic guitar melody, it sounds very crisp and clean. I wonder if it is a sample or original? Either way it is very dope. Oh and the hook for this song is so catchy! This song feels way ahead of its time, being released over 3 years ago now.



IMO music historians will look back at this song and write 5,000 word essays about its importance. This song came out in 2014 and really feels like the template for so much of the alternative rap that has emerged and caught fire in the last year or two. 
The formula for this beat is something that I hear a lot of within this music scene: a simple melancholy guitar loop over a drum beat, plus a song length under 2:30. Seems super simple, but this formula works very well. Props to the producer Nedarb's dance moves in the background that do not fit the vibe of the song at all lol.

Ok dang this is long already. Let's stop now. Part 2 coming soon. Thank you for reading this, I love you all.

-THOMAS

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

MORNING IN THE YARD


The sun, it shines magestically
like jewels on a crown.
A mighty sense of harmony
Pervades this sleepy town.
A lizard stops to sun itself
upon a quiet rock.
A butterfly sits down nearby,
as if to stop and talk.
I'm getting very close now
but they do not seem to see.
The scene is like a painting
painted well, and in 3-D.
It touches something deep in me
that mends my shattered pride,
and makes me feel less angry
that I locked myself outside.