Video: MF Doom – “Beef Rapp” (Live)

MF Doom will release Expektoration this September, a live document of his early and late work. Here’s a little sample video of him performing “Beef Rapp” live. No, it’s not great, but it’s a lot better than a lot of live hip-hop performances.

MP3: Estelle – “Keep It Like It Is”

Something new from Estelle off of her mixtape, I Almost Made It. Listen here for some old-school reggae.

DVD: Ghost Hunters International Season One: Part 1

I used to watch Ghost Hunters on the Syfy Channel. I used to be completely entertained by the blue-collar, average-Joe investigators, New England accents, and healthy dose of skepticism that the show brought to the world of paranormal investigations. True, they never seemed to actually catch anything that they supposedly “saw” on camera, although they enthusiastically told the audience that they felt and noticed various things, from actual apparitions to chilly feelings. Still, Grant and Jason brought an authenticity and veracity to their methods.

Then I watched the South Park episode that brutally mocked the show. Thirty minutes later, my world was shattered. Ghost Hunters is actually a pretty boring show which gives you, if you are at all interested in ghosts, very little proof as to whether hauntings actually exist. Yes, their main point is to disprove, or debunk as the like to say, not prove. But when they do encounter something they consider to be paranormal, I need more than hearing some bro say he feels icky to go on.

Ghost Hunters International began a few years ago as an offshoot of Ghost Hunters. Basically, several members of the original Ghost Hunters team and a few newbies head out to various European haunt spots, using the same infrared cameras, EVP recorders, and electro-magnetic readers that Grant and Jason use on the mother show. And what do they find? Not a whole lot. That is to say, they tell us they see, hear, and feel a bunch of different phenomenon (“I could have sworn I heard…” “Did you just see that?” No.), but we, the viewers somehow manage to not share any of those experiences. Maybe the cameramen are to blame, but I doubt it.

Robb Demarest leads the team, with his scary-intense eyes bugging out of his head as he performs the initial walk-throughs of castles in Scotland, Germany, and Italy. Barry Fitzgerald, an Irishman, is his sort of second-in-command, another self-serious believer. Donna La Croix is way more charming, a recognizable face from the early years of Ghost Hunters. The most entertaining investigator, though, is probably Brian Harnois, a complete bonehead with even less courage than intelligence.

I’m not doubting the existence of ghosts, necessarily, although I think 99.9 percent of paranormal experiences are hoaxes or mistakes. But both Ghost Hunters and GHI do little to prove (and only slightly more to disprove) the existence of the paranormal. I’m still waiting for a good ghost show, but unfortunately this ain’t it.

Ghost Hunters International Season One: Part 1 is out now on DVD from Image Entertainment.

MP3: The Books – “A Cold Freezin’ Night”

Off their new album, The Way Out, The Books have leaked some new niceness – skittering beats and little kids’ vocal samples about killing and ripping off hair and balls. Download here.

MP3: Diskjokke – “1987”

Diskjokke’s new song, “1987,” sure is sunny for a Norwegian. His new album, En Fin Tid, comes out tomorrow, but download the song here and a new “beach” mix here.

Review: Indian Jewelry – Totaled (We Are Free)

Indian Jewelry’s weird new psyche-punk album has some very accessible moments. Read why here or below.

If you listen to Indian Jewelry a few times, then don’t listen for a few months, then prepare to listen again, chances are that you will imagine you are about to embark upon something much weirder, much more esoteric than you actually are. This is a compliment to the band, though, not an insult. The thing about this Houston-based group is that its music alternates between formless and throbbing, as on the new album’s two opening tracks – the kick-drum-pounding, shoegazer “Moonlight” and the droning, tribal “Touching the Roof of the Sun.”

But throughout this supposed dichotomy of sound lie some binding ties; namely, effects ridden keys, guitars, vocals, and bass, and a propensity to meander without ever latching onto a melody. Again, compliment. “Tono Bungay” actually rides upon something close to an electro beat, around which slink simplistic guitar lines reminiscent of early Cure or Movement New Order. At times, the palpitations can be hard to listen to, as is the case on the evil “Parlous Siege and Chapel,” a track that practically spits out lyrics over a sub-bass quivering. Before you reach your breaking point, however, the band embarks upon “Oceans,” their version of pop, another song that recalls early Cure, this time maybe something from Pornography.

If this is the direction all music was heading in, the future would be very dour indeed. But bands like Indian Jewelry peppering the landscape with their experimental and dystopian visions of melody (or lack thereof) is a welcome break from all the rest.

Review: Amp Live – Murder At the Discotek (Om/Child’s Play)

Zion I’s Amp Live has a new album out. Read my review for Blurt.

You may have first come across producer Amp Live over a decade ago as one half of the Bay Area hip-hop duo Zion I. At the time, there were certainly indications that he wasn’t content to craft traditional hip-hop beats. Instead, at times he tricked out Zumbi’s rhymes with a smooth background of LTJ  Bukem-style drum and bass. It was clear this producer had club and dance music stylings on his mind as much as hip-hop boom-bap.

Now, on his new solo album Murder At The Dicotek, Amp Live has fully realized those leanings. Although guest MCs including Yak Ballz, Myka Nyne, and The Grouch put in appearances,  the through-line here is slinky club beats and techno and electro sequencing. Tracks like “Blast Off” and “About to Blow” are certified electro-pop anthems, while “Chick Pop” breathes life into dance music via programmed beats and chunky guitar lines. “Hot Right Now” is a classic posse cut, with rappers like Eligh,  Dude Royal, and Fashawn letting loose over a minimal electro beat that would  feel right at home on a Cool Kids record.

Even when Amp Live is staying close to his hip-hop roots, he is pushing the boundaries of the genre and forging his own path. It wouldn’t be surprising if this album causes many a forward-thinking MC to come calling for some new beats.