Len, again

Gin Blossoms

I’ve posted about Len and their 1999 album, You Can’t Stop The Bum Rush once before, but in a different-ish context, so I’m calling it ok to repeat a little now. Even though it’s now 12 (holy crap) years old, that album still sounds fresh to me. Maybe because it doesn’t sound like the late-90s at all; it borrows and mixes tiny bits from all over music history and every genre, which gives it an oddly timeless quality.

Len was a Canadian band inspired by early hip-hop, gospel, skater-esque punk-pop … and Kraftwerk? “The Hard Disk Approach” is a surreal electro-pop jam, “Cheeky Bugger” would sit nicely next to Blink 182, and “Crazy ‘Cause I Believe (Early Morning Sunshine)” has a chorus that could’ve come from Stevie Wonder. But instead of feeling like a disconnected stream of references and influences, You Can’t Stop The Bum Rush is bursting with the pure love of music. You can hear it spilling out of the speakers – Len just loves it all. Now that I think about, that may be the thing that keeps me coming back to this album after so long, it’s infectious.

But even with a huge assortment of influences, Len clearly loves old-school hip-hop the most. Like, the oldest school – Kurtis Blow and Biz Markie make appearances here, though I’ll never know how they got those legendary guys to join up with these crazy Canadians. And they get it just right – I agree, old school is the best school, and on songs like “Cryptik Souls Crew”, Len pay homage with respect, not with mimicry or irony.

What a shame then that Len never really got it together properly again. Apparently Bum Rush was their third album and there was another after, but the reviews I’ve come across (I haven’t had the chance to hear any of these myself) haven’t been kind. There was an odd magic that came together for just one album, apparently, that was sadly not heard by many. “Steal My Sunshine” was a really fun single and Len will probably be remembered as a one-hit-wonder because of it, but they had a lot more to offer on Bum Rush.

Friday Favorite: Fat Boys

Fat Boys – Human Beat Box

Friday Favorite: Peter Fox

Peter Fox – Alles Neu

It’s been a long time, how you been?

It’s been a while, eh? Sorry about that, there was some real-life stuff going on that couldn’t be avoided. So to get back into the swing of things, I’m just going to throw down some recent tunes that I’m currently into. There’s no theme here really*, just some good stuff I like that maybe you’ll like, too.

Chiddy Bang ft MGMT – Opposite Of Adults (myspace, Amazon.co.uk)

The Drums – Best Friend (official site, Amazon.co.uk)

Allo Darlin’ – Dreaming (official site, emusic)

Beach House – Zebra (official site, emusic)

* No theme, these songs are totally random – but I will say that three of them are songs I first heard and loved on BBC 6music. You’ll probably know by now that this station is under threat, something we’ll be talking about around here very soon, so I just wanted to give credit where it’s due and all.

Do you want cake on your birthday?

Credit where it’s due, the Tamboosh dug up this hilarious little tune for our aDawgg’s big day today, and she done good. These is some seriously Funky Birthday Jamz.

Happy Birthday, Dawgg!

Flo Rida – Birthday

Guilty Pleasures: World Wrestling Entertainment

I’m 37-years-old, have a Masters Degree in International Relations, and am an IT systems test manager. And I’ve taken up watching World Wrestling Entertainment a lot in the past few months. So much so, in fact, I simply had to purchase and record the Pay-Per-View broadcast of WWE Summer Slam! yesterday. I’m saving Summer Slam! for an evening of professional wrestling enjoyment tomorrow, when I’ve got less to do and as part of the build-up for my week off to blob on my rear in Amsterdam with the Bean and Tamboosh.

I was big fan of the, then, WWF (now, WWE) and its competitor World Championship Wrestling in the mid-to-late 1980s and early-1990s. The era of Rowdy Roddy Piper, the Iron Shiek, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Andre The Giant, and the Road Warriors, among a huge pantheon of others. But, living in The Netherlands between 1994-2005, watching wrestling wasn’t really an option (terrible cable options). Since moving to the United Kingdom in 2006, however, I’ve rediscovered the over-the-top muscle-bound soap opera that is WWE. Now, the past few months I’ve been recording huge chunks of wrestling every week and watching it while engaging in other activities. I’m talking about Raw, Smackdown, both recaps, Vintage, Afterburn. Anything that starts with WWE on the channels in the satellite sports channels. And, this time around, I’m enjoying it on a whole new level, doing reading into the business, production, history, and the lexicon of wrestling. This stuff is both fun and fascinating.

I’m not really sure I can say I’ve got a favorite wrestler. I’m still getting up to speed with all the storylines and characters. Though I know I shouldn’t – he’s almost too corny – if pressed I’d have to say I’ve been enjoying former champion John Cena in the build up to his Summer Slam! title match against Randy Orton. I asked myself why and, to be honest, I think it has to be his entrance theme, “The Time Is Now”. I’ve got a thing for grand entrance anthems and this one flips all the right switches. For those unaware, Cena performs his theme himself and I think that makes it all the better.

You can’t see me!

John Cena Site @ WWE

John Cena – The Time Is Now

Backtrack: Everlast, “What It’s Like”

Everlast

1998-1999 was dominated by the The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill, a truly superb album. I first heard the Lauryn Hill album during a trip to New York City in 1998, the first time I’d traveled back to the States since moving to the Netherlands in 1994. Naturally, I was blown away. The album was about what I expected from one-third of the fabulous Fugees. However, it was another album I bought while in the Big Apple that really blew me away that year.

Whitey Ford Sings The Blues was the second solo album from Everlast. I had his first album, Forever Everlasting, an album I bought around the time it was released in 1990. Most of you out there have probably never heard of Forever Everlasting and for good reason. To say it sucked donkey balls would be a kindness. As a result, I ended up regreting the eight bucks I spent and it ended up gathering dust at the bottom of my tape collection. When “Jump Around” exploded on the scene in 1992, launching House of Pain and making all the white kids go crazy, I didn’t even make the connection to the Everlast in Forever Everlasting. That’s how little I listened to Erik Schrody’s solo debut.

When I heard the new-and-improved solo Everlast it was driving into upstate New York with the chick I was visiting and her best friend. Ends was playing on the radio and I was blown away in the back seat. The combination of guitar and flow was so different I couldn’t believe it was the House of Pain frontman, let alone the same guy who sucked so badly on Forever Everlasting. The entire album strikes a delicious balance between hip-hop and acoustic and electronic blues-pop-rock.

For the uninitiated, give the lead single from Whitey Ford Sings The Blues – “What It’s Like” – a spin to hear the less hip-hop-leaning side of the album. Learn how cool Everlast can be. Then give some thought to buying the album and checking into his later albums.

Everlast – What It’s Like