Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Idol Threat's Top 20 Albums of 2014

It's time once again for Idol Threat's Top 20 Albums of the year!  2014 was a great year for music, even in the 'mainstream,' the area which we rarely cover.  Death From Above 1979 - The Physical World was one of our favorites reaching #3 on the Canadian Billboards.  Mastodon once again succeeded in impressing us with their Billboard Top 10 release Once More 'Round The Sun, and the 2014 Mercury Prize winners Young Fathers' album 'Dead' stayed in heavy rotation with us as well.  

But this blog has always been about the under-appreciated so forget those chart-toppers (although Snoop Dogg DID show up in our list TWICE somehow!)  Our list comes later than last year's but we hope we've made up for it by making it one of our longest written yet!  So without further ado, here are our Top 20 Albums of 2014 in no particular order (and as always, click on the "jump" to see the rest of the list):

DJ QBert– Extraterrestria

DJ QBert is a legend amongst DJs and turntablists. Besides winning many competitions and creating countless scratch techniques, both alone and with his crew the Invisibl Skratch Piklz, QBert also released the 1998 classic Wave Twisters (which was turned into an animated movie in 2001.) The highly innovative, all-scratch produced album was a huge change from the mixtapes and scratch practice sessions he has made before and after. Wavetwisters provided a structure and narrative to the turntable acrobatics while the scratch tapes he released merely featured DJs scratching for hours over bare drum and bass heavy beats. Extraterrestria lies somewhere in the middle of all that, falling short of perfection yet providing the composition and mass appeal that his scratch tapes lacked.

The world of scratching has had many greats discussed and argued about, but inevitably the conversation always leads to D-styles and QBert. Stylistically, Q has pretty much been John Coltrane to D’s Miles Davis. The scratching on this album has been less frenetic and shown more finesse than what can be found on Wave Twisters, proving how much influence the two has on each other much like Davis and Coltrane. The Trane comparison doesn’t just end there however, as there is a strong Indian influence that can be found throughout most of the samples (Coltrane was heavily influenced by Indian music towards the end of his career, and sought out tutelage from the famed musician Ravi Shankar before he died.)  It is apparent that Q shares Trane's relentless desire for exploration and self-improvement.

Qbert’s latest is more diverse yet less lush than his previous effort, but heavier, concise and more composed than his marathon-like bass & drum scratch tapes. Extraterrestria combines the worlds of scratching, Hip Hop and instrumental electronic music with the spirit of Jazz making something not quite as ground-breaking as its 16-year predecessor, but unique nonetheless.

Conan – Blood Eagle

A trio of victorious Vikings drags their fallen foe through the muddy battlefield, the long dredge punctuating the doom ahead. Set to his knees atop a sacrificial hill the one time messiah is anointed with a crown of talons, bloody and wrenched from birds of prey. Helpless the leader. The begotten savior's heart pumps faster as he imagines what is to come. The heathen followers of the trio rise and encircle them, their hoarse shouting echoing in reverb - “DO WHAT MUST BE DONE!” The total conquest of the fallen blankets grief upon the land.

In the distance the three's fellow Torche-bearers can be heard on horseback, the steady plod of the steeds slowly rumble the battlefield Floor as they approach. The victim's heart races to match the oncoming horde, his dread only interrupted by pain as a blade pierces his skin at the spine. The blood eagle begins. The disowned king is cut by the blade of the blackened, a feat more brutal and bludgeoning than surgical or precise. Once through, the three torturers rip him asunder and break his ribs outward one by one from the backbone down to his loins, taking care to move sluggishly lest they hasten his ending too soon.

Blood pumps steadfast and heavily from the great chasm in his back as the warriors nod their heads in unison to match their goading chants. Lungs are pulled out from within and set upon his back, existing only in pain he wishes to be dead at all costs. The unending spite of his newfound primitive masters refuses him a swift death. The now forgotten messiah's descent into the endless Sleep is prolonged as they salt the wounds, until his spirit finally escapes fast leaving his body upon an altar of grief.

Tobacco-Ultima II Massage

The year is 2069. Android pornpopstar Fec 2.0 grows weary of the stale future music scene. Calculating an algorithm to take him back in time, he travels 100 years into the past to 1969 to sculpt what would become porno groove into his own twisted genre. Creating a synth-sleaze masterpiece, he buries the recorded tape in mounds of dirt in an undisclosed location before escaping back to the future to avoid the Time Police. Decades pass until the tape is uncovered in present day Pittsburgh with the words “Ultima II Massage” scrawled upon it…

If Thomas Fec’s Black Moth Super Rainbow group is a folktronic, vocoder-filled tribute to the 60s, then Tobacco is Fec’s foray into the next decade with Ultima II Massage being his latest solo tribute. It incorporates elements of porn soundtrack funk, psychedelic tones and shades of Hip Hop blending them into experimental synthpop sludge. This album is about filth and decay, covered with digitized heavy breathing and sweetly dirty synth notes. This is the sound of over worn cassette burn, or the dance musical equivalent of that one really great scene in a VHS porno flick that has been rewound way too much.

Ultima is a weapon and spell in the Final Fantasy franchise, a popular role-playing video game created in the late 80s. It is considered to be Black Magic and so it’s a fitting subject to be used as a title to this album; which shares similarities to the melodies found in old 8-bit video games. Tobacco definitely delivers the goods with this record, and you can bet this magic massage will give you a happy ending.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Marvel Announces more details for Secret Wars 2015 at Live Event in Midtown Comics

Marvel held a live event at Midtown Comics in Manhattan this past Thursday, and clarified many questions people had about their upcoming crossover event. As previously announced, the eight-issue series Secret Wars by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic will come out in May of this year.

It has now been revealed that Secret Wars will mark the culmination of the incursion story that Hickman began at the outset of Marvel NOW with Avengers #1 and New Avengers #1 way back in 2012, and will brings together multiple continuities and alternative universes in a single “Battleworld.” What has also been confirmed at the live event is that this series will reshape the Marvel Universe as we know it. Marvel Universe’s main Earth — designated Earth 616 — will collide with the Earth of the Ultimate Universe. The result will be a melting pot of different universes that will forge the new Marvel Universe.  This will be the end of both the Marvel Universe and Ultimate Universe.

We originally thought this would happen last year when Earth 616’s Galactus invaded the Ultimate universe, but he only wreaked havoc on Earth leaving the rest of the Ultimate universe intact. This storyline is also reminiscent of DC’s famous 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover which also resulted in the combination of multiple earths and realities.

Secret Wars will kick off with a #0 issue on Free Comic Book Day May 3rd, which will also contain the first part of Marvel’s Attack On Titan manga crossover story. You can watch the announcement on YouTube, above (just fast forward through the first 13 minutes of technical difficulties.)

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Caught in the Middle Magazine: Issue 1 & 2 [FREE]

In 1994 underground Hip Hop educator-activist Kevin Beacham started Chicago-based hip-hop magazine "Caught in the Middle" after a stint as a writer for another Chicago based zine Fly Paper, as well as contributing to a variety of websites and Hip Hop magazines such as, Urb Magazine and 312 Magazine. Unfortunately it didn’t last long, releasing only 2 issues in its brief career.

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, founder Kevin Beacham is giving away digital copies of both issues of CITM! The magazines includes content from and about legendary Chicago rapper Common (Sense), The Nonce, The B.U.M.S, Funkytown Pros, Stedy Serv, Ang13, Art of Origin (Chino XL), Pink House, JUICE, JP Chill, Boogie Boy, Cash Money Brothers, J Bird, Elements of Nature, Twista, Cage, Company Flow, Beat Terrorists, Kool Keith, Godfather Don, Lumba Of Rubberoom and more! The mag published great interviews and unique articles, including a Hobo Junction VS Hieroglyphics lyrical analysis and a Redman Lyrical Analysis!

As long as we’re on the subject of Chicago Hip Hop, there is also currently a Chicago hip-hop documentary film project in production involving Kevin Beacham titled "Midway: The Story of Chicago Hip-Hop." The documentary will be directed by Ryan Brockmeier and is written by Ryan Brockmeier, Kevin Beacham and Maisy Draper. Expect that project to come out sometime in 2016.  You can find Dropbox links to download the issues below, as well as a link to the documentary website.

Download Issue 1: Caught in the Middle Issue 1

Download Issue 2: Caught in the Middle Issue 2

Midway: The Story of Chicago Hip-Hop