Monday, October 31, 2011

Saleem & The Music Lovers - "Live Free or Die Trying"

On the most recent outing by Baltimore emcee Saleem and his band, things done changed. Saleem has, since his debut LP, done the following which cannot be denied: cut his hair, collaborated with Caleb Stine, and changed the spelling of his name. On Live Free or Die Trying, he and his band have done the following (which is a matter of opinion): taken the sound a bit down-tempo, almost jazzy; and settled into their own by showing comfort and confidence.

Live Free dials in at about 29:00, opening with a morsel called "What the Fans Want" to whet the fans' appetite, delivering the six-track meal steak first. Saleem himself spits like he has something to prove; which he does. Maryland on the whole continues to spend too little time attending to its finer emcees, instead looking to DC and unfortunate representatives of DMV like Wale.

Casual fans of hip hop tend to spend too much time focusing on the beats. For those fans, Live Free or Die Trying will not instantly strike a note. The second cut, Overqualified, has that down-tempo feel that lets more hardcore hip hop fans to look to the verses of Saleem and Topix. A song with that title is going to have a touch of humble bragging (see Twitter meme @humblebrag). The message on Overqualified isn't about bragging, however; the point strikes as more of an analysis of what is killing the major-label music industry: stifling talent with heavily label-biased contracts and looking less for the next big thing than the next big thing-for-the-moment.
The fifth cut, "5-2-2011", speaks straight to the death of Osama bin Laden. New listeners will get a full taste of what Saleem's philosophy of rap is by focusing on the lyrics. Those who look for political and moral analysis in their rap will feel their brain tickled along with their ears. The first verse bursts forth with a fired cadence that Saleem would be well-advised to maintain. Along with the closing song, "SHHH!", his passion is felt most on this over all the cuts on the EP. The band as a whole is inspired by social commentary and a desire to impart values through the vehicle of hip hop, encouraging the hip hop culture to open its eyes past the surface of what we see in music videos and to think about what goes on in the world and how it impacts us here at home, not to mention each of us individually.

If hip hop, like most of the music business, has been turned on its ear these years post-Napster, Saleem & The Music Lovers are on a quest to pick it back up, dust it off, and give it a path to longevity. You can't fight for the title if you don't box your way to the top of the ranks. Opening for talent like KRS-One, Talib Kweli, Wu-Tang Clan and so many others is indicative of the fact that this group can hold its own with the heavyweights. Live Free or Die Trying is a return to what made this writer a fan in the first place (see the review of Saleem's debut LP here:

Friday, November 02, 2007

Any Given Tuesday Finds New Home

Beginning today, Any Given Tuesday has a new home at! Both sides are very happy about the shift and are confident that readers will be the ones who benefit from regularly published content on a slick-looking website that offers content about all aspects of Baltimore's entertainment, music, and nightlife scenes.

You can check out the first post, a review of Avec's Lines, here.

So from now on, visit AGT at Or, just go to, click "blogs" on the top toolbar, then "any given tuesday."

**UPDATE 11/7/07: The RSS feed address below has been fixed and is fully subscribable in your browser or feedreader**

The RSS feed will remain so you can subscribe in your browser or feedreader.

Dillinger Escape Plan Streaming Ire Works In Its Entirety

Like progressive metal? Like bands with singers from Baltimore? Then get with the program: Dillinger Escape Plan's new album, Ire Works, is streaming on the Dillinger MySpace page.

The official release is November 13 on Relapse Records. Click the album art to pre-order!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

PJ Harvey - White Chalk

The unique snowflake that is PJ Harvey released White Chalk just over a month ago, a piano-oriented (Harvey had no piano experience prior to White Chalk) and ethereal effort unlike anything she's released prior. Fitting for Harvey, whose persona shifts shape and styles from one album to the next with, seemingly, no rhyme or reason. Whatever her muse, PJ Harvey manages to mesmerize and break new ground with each release.

The strangely pleasant opener, "The Devil", introduces this higher register PJ Harvey, singing on the outer edges of her vocal range, perhaps as a complement to the piano that sparely drives the album. Only on "Grow Grow Grow" does the more baritone, deep-seated roar of classic PJ Harvey rear its head, and it does so over dancing piano and deceitfully limited percussion. But a strangely pleasant opening becomes quickly discordant with what follows.

The album's first (and possibly only) single, "When Under Ether", says it all. Apparently about the effect of ether on a woman bearing child ("waist down undressed . . . something's inside me, unborn and unblessed), the track is dark, gloomy, and nearly claustrophobic in its constraint and chamber music. Subject matter on the album includes the historical residents of Harvey's home and her blood ancestors ("White Chalk") as well as the brutally killed ("The Piano"). The bleak ambience of this album fits undeniably well with the chill of winter, shorter days and longer nights.

Using many non-conventional instruments (cig fiddle, wine glass, the kitschy and doomed Optigan, broken harp on the apropos "Broken Harp"), White Chalk emits a spartan vibe of rigging whatever is available to make music. Perhaps this is exactly what the ancestral subjects of "White Chalk" did, possessing Harvey to do the same on her eighth studio album. Eschewing the garage punk of Uh Huh Her and electing to adopt a bone chilling sound that gets inside the listener like a spirit or demon takes over its victim, White Chalk compels its listener to heed its rustic sound.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Harmonix' Rock Band Songs Announced

Harmonix Rock Band

If you're like me and have been geeking out to Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80's or Guitar Hero in any of its incarnations, you're ready for Rock Band, the next generation of rock and roll video games, featuring drums, guitar, and singing all in the same package. The game features (primarily) master recordings of the songs, unlike prior generations of Guitar Hero which used cover versions. There will also be thirteen unlockable songs from up-and-comers.

Some tracks are Guitar Hero favorites, but I am so stoked to play "Epic", "Say It Ain't So", and "Enter Sandman." Some of the songs are surprisingly boring choices (Jet? Really?), but the game will make for lots of fun with friends.


Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter”

Aerosmith “Train Kept a Rollin’”*
The Who “Won’t Get Fooled Again”
Boston “Foreplay/Long Time”
Mountain “Mississippi Queen”*
The Police “Next to You”
David Bowie “Suffragette City”
Black Sabbath “Paranoid”*
Blue Oyster Cult “Don’t Fear the Reaper”
The Ramones “Blitzkrieg Bop”
Deep Purple “Highway Star”
KISS “Detroit Rock City”
Molly Hatchet “Flirtin’ With Disaster”
The Outlaws “Green Grass & High Tides”*
Sweet “Ballroom Blitz”*

Rush “Tom Sawyer”*
Bon Jovi “Wanted Dead or Alive”
The Clash “Should I Stay or Should I Go”
Faith No More “Epic”
R.E.M. “Orange Crush”
Iron Maiden “Run to the Hills”*

Foo Fighters “Learn to Fly”
Metallica “Enter Sandman”
Nirvana “In Bloom”
Stone Temple Pilots “Vasoline”
Weezer “Say It Ain’t So”
Smashing Pumpkins “Cherub Rock”
Radiohead “Creep”
Beastie Boys “Sabotage”
Hole “Celebrity Skin”
Garbage “I Think I’m Paranoid”
Soundgarden “Black Hole Sun”

The Hives “Main Offender”
Queens of the Stone Age “Go With the Flow”
The Strokes “Reptilia”
Jet “Are You Gonna Be My Girl”
OK Go “Here It Goes Again”
Nine Inch Nails “The Hand That Feeds”
Pixies “Wave of Mutilation”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Maps”
Red Hot Chili Peppers “Dani California”
Coheed & Cambria “Welcome Home”
Fall Out Boy “Dead on Arrival”
The Killers “When You Were Young”
New Pornographers “Electric Version”

Songs with an asterisk ("*") are covers.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Any Given Tuesday Episode 11: The GO

THE GO: Howl On the Haunted Beat You Ride

Detroit's The GO recently released Howl On The Haunted Beat You Ride (read Any Given Tuesday's review here), the best classic rock album of 2007. With masterful production and an ear for a rock and roll sound that changed the future of music, The Go have moved beyond their early days with Jack White from The White Stripes and the garage sound of Detroit and reinterpreted the '60s rock sound to make an album that should have been released forty years ago. Better late than never!

Remember that you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes and call in to leave a message for the show at (443) 955-5382.

Click the cover art to buy the album, and click below to listen to Episode 11 of Any Given Tuesday, featuring several tracks from the album.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Domain Issues (Part II)

So I've been informed (thanks, Laura) of domain issues with For now, both and (without the www) are working just fine.

The good news is that I have a new development coming: a new look (without surgery) and a new home (without increased rent) for Any Given Tuesday. So, suffer the URL problems just a bit longer, and we'll be back in action soon!

Bruce Springsteen - Magic

On October 2, 2007, Bruce Springsteen marked his return to recording with the E Street Band with the release of Magic. Aptly named, because this album is fantastic evidence of the magic that Bruce and the Band can make together (oh how we've missed you, Clarence Clemons). Magic pulls no punches and is no holds barred in its metaphorical criticisms of the current political climate, the Iraq war, rock radio, and humanity in general.

Perhaps a bit of a backpedal from the post-World Trade Center The Rising, on which Bruce and the E Street Band bled blue for a country unified around a tragedy, Magic is the song of a country divided between that tragedy and a regime that has lied to its people and taken many sons and daughters to their deaths overseas. When Springsteen belts "Who will be the last to die for a mistake?" on "Last To Die," folks from all political camps can't help but wish there was an answer in sight. Optimism steps aside and makes way for criticism and suspicion.

The production of Brendan O'Brien on the album can come off as an affront to those who have been with Bruce since Born to Run. O'Brien's ham-handed production is too big and tries to put an already large band front and center, all at once, so that too much is going on at any given time to enjoy a brilliant lead or solo. However, Clarence Clemons' saxophone always gets its time in the sun, as heard on the standout "Livin' In The Future", probably the most classic Springsteen track on the album and one of the best Springsteen tunes since "Lucky Town".

That a man in his late 50s can write songs that cross generation gaps like "Radio Nowhere" and still stay faithful to the sound that made him famous ("Livin' In The Future", "Girls In Their Summer Clothes") is honorable in itself, but that Bruce can write glass-half-full nostalgia songs and blue-collar anthems as well as wistful burners that have relevance to Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Y is a testament to his knack as a lyricist and a songwriter. Not only are the songs on Magic of quality, they're catchier than anything Bruce has done since the 80s.

Springsteen's lyrics can border on the repetitive: "I just want to feel/hear your rhythm" incessantly repeats on "Radio Nowhere", "None of this has happened yet" is the mantra of "Livin' In The Future", and so on, ad nauseum, throughout his career. As far back as 1975 on "Backstreets", Bruce was repeating "Hiding on the backstreets" like it was going out of style. But it has not gone out of style. The key element of pop music is repetition, and it continues to work for this guy. Whereas detractors may harp on this element of Springsteen's lyrics, the critical mind beholds the unclear, often nebulous double meanings of his lyrics.

When Bruce says "The girls in their summer clothes pass me by" on "Girls In Their Summer Clothes", is he lamenting about getting older? And on "Gypsy Biker", does "Now I'm countin' white lines and getting stoned" mean lines of cocaine or dotted lines on a long desert highway? And it's entirely possible that "Radio Nowhere" is as much critical of rock radio as it is of an apathetic society.

Magic is a somber album. It is almost the antithesis of Born in the U.S.A.. But it is case-in-point proof of the Boss' ability to speak for an entire class of Americans. Where patriotism swelled into blind allegiance six years ago, it has given way to a patriotism that questions motives and is bridled with trepidation. Where Springsteen twenty years ago enjoyed youth and vitality, he approaches 60 with a cognizance of mortality (the hidden track, "Terry's Song", is about Terry Magovern, part of the Springsteen camp for 23 years, who passed away in July).

This album doesn't break new ground; rather, it is more of Springsteen at his finest. And where it succeeds, it truly is magic.