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The 5 Worst Songs of 2011

December 21st, 2011 by

It’s a list. You like lists.

Theoretically, there shouldn’t have been too many horrible songs this year. Ke$ha didn’t make an album, for one, and mavens of mediocrity Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and Carrie Underwood all mercifully declined to release new music this year. But like evolution and gravity, this is just a theory. (more…)

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Why Dr. Dre’s Long Awaited "Detox" Album Will Be the Flop of the Decade

April 8th, 2011 by

By Chuck Salter, BEAST Music Correspondent

Dr. Dre’s mega-hyped final solo album, “Detox,” is going to piss off a lot of people, record executives and hip-hop illiterati not being one of them. Trust me, my opinion matters here, because I’ve been following the rumors and news of this album since Dre started talking about it over ten years ago. I also spent a good five years of my life exclusively listening to Dr. Dre and G-Funk music and talking shit on west coast rap message boards.

In middle school, I used to come home and blast West Coast gangsta rap like the world was ending. I didn’t even know what weed was then, but it was the album that brought the hood straight into the living rooms of White America. The Chronic was everything grown ups wanted to shelter their kids from: Violence, black people, weed, gangsters, LA riots, and the television news, all wrapped up and delivered with a fat pot leaf on the CD.

When Dr. Dre 2001 came out in 1999, I don’t think there was an album at the time that I ever anticipated as much. This was before albums used to “leak” onto the Internet. It was everything I could expect and more: forward sounding, cleaner, still West coast but totally reinventing all of what hip-hop sounded like to me. I actually had my CD taken away from me in middle school because it too had a pot leaf on it and I brought it everywhere.

Then Dre began name dropping Detox, the final album to his solo trilogy. The one album to end all albums. Originally Dre said he was recording it specifically in 5.1 surround sound, with slated releases that fell through every year last decade. Nothing.

Now it seems to be that we have an April 19 drop date — a full day for pot smokers across the world to prepare for their Holy Day on 4/20. Not only do I smoke a lot of weed now, I can fully appreciate the lyrics way more than when I was a pre-pubescent kid who rocked a Kobe Bryant jersey and bragged to my friends that I had “been to Cali.”

But I’m here to tell you Detox is going to be a flop. I hope I am wrong, because I have thought about this — a lot, to the point of near insanity. I repeat: Dr. Dre’s infamous Detox album will be a FLIPPITY FLOP. And I say this without using record numbers to gauge the quality of an album. Dre will prolly sell a shit ton. The album is just going to be disappointing, period.

My worst fears were confirmed when I heard “Kush,” a so-so song with Akon, someone who is a horrible rapper. Then I saw “I Need a Doctor,” along with its music video, an overly-bloated cinematic sequence where Dre is brought back from the dead. Not only is the song a complete rip-off of Eminem’s single “Love the Way You Lie,” but Dre just sounds WEIRD and the singles don’t sound revolutionary like “Still DRE” and “Forgot About Dre.” I can’t put my finger on it. I know he doesn’t write his own raps and uses ghost writers, but he just sounds forced and out of place with his flow.

But I listen to Dre because he is the best producer in maybe all of music. He brought in NWA, Snoop, Nate Dogg (RIP) and Eminem and the Game and stuck with 50 when he was still good, but these first two singles are wack as hell. Avid West coast lovers are gonna hate the shit out of Detox. People who love Lil Wayne are gonna love it, and that freaks me out.

I mean, the way it seems now, the album is going to come with that neutral-sounding, steril club banger feel with lots of white bitches on hooks. And even though I am cool with this album not being strictly West coast, I don’t want it to be filled with Jay-Z/Beyonce duets and songs that aren’t any different from all the other garbage that is littering the radio today. But that’s what’s going to happen. Dre’s bringing in a whole colony of rappers and co-producing it. Hopefully Scott Storch laid down a lot of shit for it, cause he wrote a lot of songs on 2001.

I just came across this song that might make the album. Definitely better than the first two singles. Check it here.

Maybe I’m way too baked, but between Dre’s shitty cyborg commercials where he’s from the future and the absolute banality of his first two songs, I say Detox is a total fail.

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Chuck Salter writes for The DEBASER, a hyper local bitch-smacking machine about Connecticut politics. When he’s not unemployed, he works as a reporter or as a stock boy at your local Harry & David.


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Waxy BEAST

March 24th, 2011 by

MUSIC REVIEW by Steven Gordon

Rebecca Black – “Friday” (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
waxy2-5

A few weeks ago, friend of mine told me I HAD to see this one Youtube video. Let’s get one thing straight right now: no one ever HAS to see a Youtube video. You’re hanging out with friends having some nice conversation; everyone is having a good time. Somebody suddenly decides that everyone HAS to see this one hilarious thing their friend showed them. The rest of the room then has to begrudgingly crowd around a laptop; the Youtube Dictator spends an agonizing amount of time tracking the video down and nervously reiterating how “fucking hilarious this shit is” while the clip slowly buffers into being. (more…)

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Everybody Was in the French Resistance…Now!

June 8th, 2010 by

Comic book rock at the El Mocambo, Toronto May 8, 2010
BY ANDREW BLAKE

I was backstage at Johnny Brenda’s, an East Side Philadelphia watering hole, when the most un-rock and roll conversation of the weekend was escalating, fast. The night before I was bellied up to the same bar with a stranger, exchanging shots of cheap swill for his cocaine-riddled tales about his escapades with Jane’s Addiction in the 90s. The ZZ Top from the jukebox made his drunken proclamations almost inaudible, and, hours earlier on the other side of the Delaware River, I was front row for one of the last Nine Inch Nails performances, ever.

Argos, at left, and the ghost of Mama Cass -- photo by A. Blake

Argos, at left, and the ghost of Mama Cass -- photo by A. Blake

And now, upstairs in the green room, Eddie Argos was ruining all of it. “No, no, no, it’s not that one.” Argos, lead singer of British rock group Art Brut, was trying to pin down the mid-90s Aerosmith song coming out of the nearby radio before his group went on stage. It was something from the Alicia Silverstone-era and he seemed all too eager to figure out if it was “Amazing” or “Crazy” before the tune hit the chorus. And then came the comic books.

“I’m not joking when I say I like comic books,” said Argos. “I really, really like comic books. Let me show you.” The teeth-rotted, late-20s songster grabbed a backpack and plopped it over his pudgy beer gut. “You see? Comic books!” He wasn’t lying. On stage that night he changed the words to one of his group’s more popular numbers to reflect his love. “DC Comics Makes Me Want to Rock Out” showed up near the end of the set and had a pretty good response. I could hear The Downward Spiral skipping mercilessly in the CD player in my brain as Argos debased the grit and gloom of every drug-fueled angry-at-the-ennui moment since Alan Freed coined the phrased as he seemingly never ceased about his comic books. Argos was on the cover of Rolling Stone overseas last year, and now he was telling me about his personal tour of the DC Comics headquarters from earlier in the week while Steven Tyler bawled at me in crackly stereo. If rock and roll hadn’t died yet, it was happening right in front of my eyes and ears, as Argos, the singer of one of my favorite bands if this decade, exploded his inner nerd all over the room in just the same way dozens of angst-filled teenagers blew apart their skulls to the manifestations of Trent Reznor’s goth rock poetry since the late 80s.

Argos gets squinty -- photo by Blake

Argos gets squinty -- photo by A. Blake

It’s nearly a year later, and with a performance in Toronto this week of his new side project, Everybody Was in the French Resistance…Now!, he somehow managed to elaborate even further on the so-not-rock-and-roll that it is rock-and-roll concept. Each of the group’s songs are penned as a response to a hit of yesteryear. Why did Frank Sinatra have to do it his way? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to call up his friends and ask around first? And what happens to Martha Reeves when Jimmy Mack finally does come back? Let’s just say the guy was angry.

Only 30 seconds into their set at Toronto’s historic El Mocambo, Argos was on his knees in the crowd of merley two dozen, singing about Nazis. The first song of the set, “Creque Allies,” explains the formation of the French patriots assembled to resist the Nazi invasion during World War 2. It reads like a Wikipedia entry, ripe with references to Jean Roulin and Colonel Pierre-Georges Fabien. And yeah, it’s a response to the Mamas and the Papa’s “Creque Alley.” That’ right—the iconic folk-pop hit of 1967 detailing the formation of the late 60s flower power scene becomes as laughable as the whole ham-sandwich myth when it, somehow, is translated to a tale of Nazi repression. Everybody was getting fat with Mama Cass? No! Everybody was in the French Resistance…Now! Rock and roll? I’m still not sure.

After a lackluster round of applause, appropriately coming from a lackluster crowd, Argos didn’t seem all too concerned. “If you think it’s unusual for a band to be playing historically accurate songs at half empty venues in Toronto, try doing it across Europe for a month and a half.”

Even if the premise behind the whole group is a joke and a novelty that could not have been possible without the success of the earlier acts he’s lampooning, it is still pulled off pretty well live. Argos prefaced each number with an introduction explaining the original number and the necessity for a follow up. “No one wrote a song for Jimmy Mack and I felt bad for Jimmy Mack. I was Jimmy Mack,” he preached in a little pre-song banter. Dyan Valdes, keyboardist and co-singer of the group led out a flourish of notes and Argos stepped back up to the mic:

“Hey, it’s Jimmy Mack. Yeah, I heard your track. And if that’s your attitude, I’m never coming back. I haven’t been gone that long—it definitely doesn’t deserve a song.”

Valdes played Motown style keyboards and adds a little girl-group flair with backing vocals. Does it sound anything like the Martha and the Vandellas version? Of course not! But these aren’t meant to be parodies—just responses. The bulk of the songs relied on Valdes pushing buttons on a sequencer and cue-ing up backup tracks, and while her keyboard accompaniment and “press play” gameplan might not fill a half empty concert hall in Toronto with the same punch Argos’ more successful group might, it still gets the point across. Argos relies on banter and more knee crawls across the floor to get his point across. And his point? Let the other guy have his say.

Before launching into a response to Dylan’s “Don’t think Twice (It’s Alright),” Argos explained the need for a response. “Bob Dylan is really good at breaking up with people. I am not. It’s pretty much the only difference between us.”

“I think you wanted clean cut and goodbye, well I fucked that up when I started to cry… Think, and think again, before you say it’s too late for us. Think and think again, I don’t think your mind is totally made up”

Argos destroyed his manhood for three verses before leading his girlfriend and their guitarist into a rousing rendition of “With or Without You.” “If you can’t break up with someone, I recommend you scream U2 lyrics at them,” he said.

It was just after midnight when I stepped back and looked at the chubby Brit in a red vest on his knees in front of me and tried to decide if this was actually something that warranted driving 90 minutes across international lines for or if there was something horribly wrong with me. Live, the music came off a bit weak, the set was short, but the attitude? Full of it. I’d much rather hear Argos and Company tear into “Coal miner” than see Kanye do “Gold digger.” And though Everybody Was in the French Resistance…Now! might lack the balls of Kanye West, they out swarm him by tenfold.

French Resistance spent less than an hour on stage at the El Mocambo and still managed to reprimand Michael Jackson for his wildish ways with “Billie’s Genes” (message: the kid is yours) and even threw in a legitimate cover for good measure: “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,” a minor 1979 hit for the Rubinoos. The song reclaimed success when Avril Lavigne ripped off the chorus for her tune “Girlfriend” a few years back, and, of course, Everybody Was in the French Resistance…Now! Had their own version earlier in the set. Maybe when you rip-off a rip-off, only then does it become rock and roll?

In that case, someone better start churning out parodies to “Eat It” and “Fat” and hope “Weird Al” doesn’t take charge.

Everybody Was in the French Resistance…Now! Is currently on tour across North America. Don’t be fooled—it might be ridiculous and ungodly nerdy of a premise, but it does, somehow, still rock. Even after all the comic books there still might be hope after all.

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