end run brought to you by ok soda
  January 26, 2005
How to design a record sleeve for your favorite hipster band

L-R, Tegan and Sara, So Jealous; Bright Eyes, Digital Ash in a Digital Urn

Hmmm...and you're still wondering what the next Bloc Party or Dears LP will look like?

Posted at 2:34 PM in a Shallow, Soundproof, Versus fashion.
  March 10, 2004
Our last-ever post on matters concerning the Grey Album, we promise


This, despite the fact that the latest Rolling Stone rehashes the EMI-versus-artistic freedom issue yet again. That's roughly three consecutive issues of America's most revered rock, er, lad, er, rock magazine that have documented DJ Danger Mouse's travails of late (isn't there some expression about "beating a dead mouse" or somesuch cliche?).

Nope, this particular post is for those obsessive souls who took their LPs of the Beatles' White Album and played John Lennon's incoherent utterances backwards, until they were able to discern that Paul was, in fact, dead.

Get out your copy of Danger Mouse's Grey Album or, if you downloaded it, work with the MP3 files directly. Acquire a freeware audio editor. Take the eleventh track, "Interlude," and reverse it. Sit back and pray as you listen to the track which follows, whose lyrics we've helpfully transcribed for you:

"6...6...6...Murder, murder Jesus...6...6...6...

Leave ni**as on death's door.

Murder, murder Jesus...6...6...6."

Of course, we all know that "asterisk" sounds awfully garbled when spoken either forward or in reverse, so you may want to substitute those asterisks mentioned above for the letter G. Just a su**estion.

Posted at 2:00 PM in a Shallow, Soundproof fashion.
  February 12, 2004
Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except EMI And My Monkey


From MTV.com:

"A representative for EMI Records served the cease-and-desist orders to Danger Mouse and stores such as Fat Beats and hiphopsite.com. EMI Records controls the sound recordings for the Beatles on behalf of Capitol Records Inc. The publishing side of the Beatles' catalog is owned by Sony Music/ ATV Publishing, a venture between Sony Music and Michael Jackson.

(Earlier thoughts on The Grey Album...)

Posted at 11:36 AM in a Shallow, Soundproof fashion.
  February 10, 2004
Checkout "Dropout", Pre-Sellout


When not busy geeking out to Pitchfork's coverage of all things indietronic, we're likely debating whether it was Hood or the Notwist who first inspired Radiohead's post-rock reinvention in 1999. Or maybe it's something along the lines of whether or not Basic Channel's music deserves a genre classification of its own, or the merits of declaring Philip Jeck as the ultimate electro-acoustic composer, or pronouncing L.A.'s Stones Throw to be the most underrated hip-hop label in operation today.

In other words, it's unlikely that we'd ever get behind a major-label record of any stripe. But here's some major-label-styled hype for you: it's only the second week of February, and already the leading contender for 2004's album of the year has been released. Available today on the racks of all sorts of record stores across the country, in outlets as diverse as Kim's and Amoeba to FYE and Sam Goody (and likely to sell just as well in each type of these aforementioned shops), Kanye West's College Dropout has been released on Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella imprint, home to such musical all-stars as Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek, and, ummm, Samantha Ronson.

This would be considered "staying in the family", since the 26-year-old West is heretofore best known as the producer of some of Jay-Z's biggest hits off of 2001's The Blueprint. Relatively invisible up to this point, he's also spent the past two years becoming one of pop music's most likely hit-makers, engineering the hooks and beats for a remix of Britney Spears' collaboration with Madonna, Ludacris' "Stand Up" and Alicia Keys' "You Don't Know My Name", as well as the definitive summer anthem for 2003, Talib Kweli's "Get By", which I most recently heard played out at a New Year's Eve party thrown by members of Silverlake's indie-guitar-and-electronics scenesters.

That means crossover appeal.

Continue reading...
Posted at 10:54 AM in a Shallow, Soundproof fashion.
  February 2, 2004
Grey on Grey


Enough, now. Whether you're a writer for Rolling Stone, or a producer at MTV.com, or some ad-agency employee in Detroit, or, ultimately, Ben Greenman writing for the New Yorker, you really have to calm down a bit regarding your anticipatory coverage of one particular underground hip-hop release.

I've been patiently biting my tongue for the past month, now, after having received a copy of Danger Mouse's supposed magnum opus (the oft-celebrated, though not-yet-released, Grey Album, his mashup of the Beatles' White Album with Jay-Z's 2003 Black Album) over the December holidays, but, finally, it was Greenman's most recent "Talk of the Town" piece that pushed me to write this. If, after all the incendiary hype documented above, you've been eagerly awaiting the album's unofficial bootleg release sometime in the coming weeks, trust me, don't.

While a significant portion of Greenman's material seems to have been culled from the same press release as was featured in this week's Rolling Stone, the New Yorker piece nonetheless does a reasonable job of detailing the record's handful of tracks that do, in fact, have any listenable value. Notably, this includes Jay-Z's "99 Problems" laid over the Beatles' "Helter Skelter," as well as Danger Mouse's reconstruction of the Beatles' “Mother Nature’s Son.” Also appearing on the album, however, are a number of strong reworkings, including the album's opener, featuring a mˇlange of Jay-Z's vocals and the Beatles' delicate psychedelia. There's also a blend of the backing track from "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" dubbed under Jay-Z's lyrics, as well as a tasteful reworking of "Encore," one of the better tracks off of the Black Album. Except all this hype misses the bigger picture, that is to say, well, Jay-Z sucks.

Do yourself a favor: temper your expectations a bit, download the Grey Album from your favorite RIAA-antagonistic file-sharing service, listen to it a few times, enjoy it, even, and then go out and purchase Danger Mouse's much better 2003 full length album, DM & Jemini - Ghetto Pop Life, out on the UK-based Lex Records imprint. While a number of British publications called Ghetto Pop Life last year's best hip-hop record, they might very well be right (despite the British musical press' contentions that the Strokes are, in fact, good). Featuring sharp, crystalline production (as opposed to the tinny, vinyl-sourced White Album material), ample hooks, and lyrics that manage to be sharp, clever and yet fun all at once, the album hearkens back to early-90s era Tribe Called Quest or De La Soul material. Better yet, you can preview full-length tracks at Bleep.com.

You want retro-oriented hip-hop? It's 1993 all over again.

Posted at 11:11 AM in a Shallow, Soundproof fashion.
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