Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Albums of the Week 10-17 February 2017

For some reason, 2017 hasn't gotten out of second gear yet. We've had big name drops from Lupe Fiasco, Wyclef Jean, Cloud Nothings, Japandroids, the xx. and Brian Eno, but nothing has really stuck out. This week was more of the same, with some decent underground albums mixed with some tepid mainstream records.

Here's what I streamed this week:

Lupe Fiasco - DROGAS Light


It'd be difficult to call Lupe underrated, despite his slow march out of the mainstream and into the hardcore hip-hop handbook. However you expected him to follow up his opus Tetsuo & Youth, a trap album with one eye open and one eye constantly winking probably wasn't on your radar. Lupe, Lil Wayne, and T.I. are the most diverse mainstream rappers on the planet, so it should be no surprise he delivers wisdom over beats designed to slap in car speaker systems. He may have done himself a disservice by not throwing caution to the wind and laying down the cash for Metro Boomin', Sonny Digital, Southside, Zaytoven, or Mike WiLL Made It, as the only real disappointment is the second-tier production. If you can make it past his slight elitism, there's gem's aplenty on DROGAS Light. It does away with the lyrical spiritual miracle individual rhymes of his last album and settles in to a more relaxed, accessible stance.

Jacquees & Dej Loaf - Fuck A Friend Zone


The world is desperate for Dej Loaf to fulfil her potential. Her last project, All Jokes Aside, was a mix of rapping and singing that didn't do her unique flow and sense of timing justice. Her canvas was too crowded, and she hasn't yet perfected the Nicki Minaj palate cleanser, like "Marilyn Monroe", that allows her listeners to reboot and gather their thoughts. Jacquees provides that blank canvas, a straight-laced R&B hearthrob, complete with rippling abdominal muscles, who can drag the listener back to equilibrium when Loaf gets too tricky. And tricky she gets, bending her instantly recognisable voice around pockets and holes in the beat, crooning and cursing, and lifting the veil of secrecy on tracks like "Deeper" and "Want Your Sex". While they both spurt platitudes at every opportunity, it's at least refreshing to hear pop-like lyrics in a on a free-reign project. Loaf remains the most interesting rapper/singer in the game, and this is just another step in her development. 

Sinkane - Life & Livin' It


Coming critically acclaimed, and with enough genre's to stage his own Coachella festival, Sinkane's new record falls short of the waterline he's worked so hard to set. It's got all the polish of a Jamie Woon or The Weeknd album, with none of the lyrical nous or emotional upheaval. He needs to attend a day or two of the Twin Shadow School of Ego, and inject some venom into proceedings. Yes, this is a very professional sounding album, but how do you manage to combine 12 genre's and still sound slightly derivative? Each beach Sinkane parks his party boat at has footprints all over the sand already, which is fine, but it doesn't warrant too many repeat listens. There's not a lot of new material here. 

Carsten Jost - Perishable Tactics


It takes exactly 6 minutes and 58 seconds for this record to hit its stride, and by the end of second track "Ambush" a wonderful, yet controlled, vista has opened up. An undercurrent of doom adds a tinge of danger to every song, no more disquieting than the dystopian night-out that is "Atlantis", a seemingly innocuous mental ride through the midnight hours on a sultry Saturday night. Everywhere you turn, things are slightly out of place, slightly off-beat, handled by an out of tune synthesizer and stretched bass that straddles over the Jazz standard and into full-blown Miles Davis-mode. This is the beauty of the record, a mastery of mood that never feels settled or complete, as if you're being watched as you listen to the album. Scary? Yeah, but heaps of fun too!

Jansport J - p h a r a o h


Dilla-type projects have sporadically touched the ears of the masses since Donuts in 2006. MF DOOM experienced a resurgent interest in his Special Herbs project in 2011. L'Orange has kept us laced with sample-based beat snippets, most notably in 2012 with The Mad Writer. And we'll always have Madlib. While each of these artists brings a unique vibe and method to this narrow genre, Jansport J is the only one to make it sound truly effortless. p h a r a o h sounds like a Just Blaze and 9th Wonder bounce session, or the opening scenes of Jay Z's Fade to Black when he's laid back in his chair listening to beat after beat. 

Jansport J didn't just drop out of the sky. If the recent Pitchfork review of this record is the thus-far pinnacle of the producer's media coverage, the age old adage "it takes ten years to become an overnight success" might be applicable. Rewind 8 years to The 2AM Tape, a slightly less exuberant mix of slightly more dangerous samples (The Beatles? The Avalanches want to know how you snuck that through!). None of the subtlety or ear for what goes where that exists on p h a r a o h was present in 2009. Fast forward to "Peace Pipe (BDB)" from 2012, a descriptive title but a repetitive and joyless piece that feels shoe-horned into the project based on the relationship between title and sound. 

p h a r o a h is Jansport J fully realised. The song titles are playful and basically spot on ("Soulful!", "Long Distance", "Crenshaw", "RIP Harambe"), and the drums!!! Kanye always said until Yeezus he never quite nailed his drums, but Jansport J knocks houses down with this slap. The vocal samples also give this a more "album" feel, rather than a throwaway beat tape for Prodigy to pick up and spit grime over. This is a record for the car stereo, or that expensive pair of headphones you bought for Christmas that feel like overkill when you're listening to anything but DS2

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Reality TV show's fans confused after contestants stop repeating the rules every 8 seconds

Fans of popular show Survivor Australia were plunged into darkness this week as the contestants seemed to be forcibly restraining themselves from reminding viewers the rules of the game every time the camera lands on them. Phrases like "It's a numbers game," "If we lose this challenge we're facing elimination," "The tribes could merge tomorrow, or the next day, or even the day after that we don't know," and "Someone will be going home tonight" were noticeably absent, to the chagrin of some.

"Is it still a numbers game? I don't get it. Is there still an elimination at every tribal council? This is a ridiculous way to treat loyal viewers, it's resembling a season of Lost right now," said loyal fan Betty.

This may be the reason for the lowish ratings the show has been receiving. When compared to 2016's My Kitchen Rules, Survivor's numbers are poor, just over half. Experts say this could have to do with MKR's dedication to mentioning the rules at least once every 8 seconds.

"You'll notice every episode of MKR, every contestant is basically reading from a prompter," Jack Davis, veteran reality TV show blogger said. "'If we screw this up we're going home tonight.' 'This is the semi-finals.' Notice the simplicity, it's a safe haven for fans who come home from work and don't want to have to think about rules, complications, and what I basically call the 'fine print' of a TV show."

If the numbers keep sliding, producers will have little choice but to encourage their contestants to return to normal dialogue.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Man makes it all the way to car holding six-pack by just the cardboard

A Lithgow man told of how incredibly lucky he was over the weekend, when he picked up a six pack of Hahn SuperDry and made it all the way from the counter to his car carrying it by just the two holes in the top of the cardboard packaging.

Josh Hastings was shopping at the LiquorLand in Valley Plaza late Saturday afternoon, when he picked out a six pack, and, mind wandering, made the roughly 80 metre walk through the car park to his ute.

"I wasn't even thinking about it. Normally I'd buy a case and carry it on my shoulder, but I had work Sunday morning, and my brother drinks SuperDry. It was even slightly wet too, from condensation. I carried it back and didn't realise until I was in the car how lucky I'd been."

Some bottle shops have taken to posting signs informing customers the responsibility lies with the purchaser if they carry a cardboard six pack and it tears, resulting in shattered beer and a shattered afternoon. 

"Just last month I was packing the groceries in the car, and I saw a young bloke walk out with one finger in the hole. His six pack fell and shattered. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. It really hammers home how fortunate I was." 

It's advised you either cradle your six pack, or ask the person on the register to double bag it, ensuring maximum security. Never carry a six pack by the neck of one bottle, unless you're feeling particularly fortuitous. 

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Lamington crowned the most iconic Australian afternoon tea snack

In an exhaustive survey conducted over a 3 year period, 20,000 Australian's of all demographic groups have unanimously voted the Lamington as the most iconic afternoon tea sweet treat. Beating off a lacklustre challenge from the Tim Tam, and a non-start from both the finger bun and the neenish tart, Lamington gained a whopping 80% of the vote, with some pundits claiming that a perceived lack of availability makes it all the more special.

"Baker's Delight, Breadtop, Pie Face... None of these establishments regularly stock a Lamington. When someone whips one out at arvo tea, you know they've made the effort to visit Woolworth's and pick up a 20 pack for 8 bucks." said Joe, a Sydney bakery owner.

"We've been stocking Lamingtons since we stole them from New Zealand. We even have a gluten-free version. We sell it with a small paper plate because it's got the consistency of sand, but customers seem to love it."

The Lamington remains largely untouched by zeitgeist food trends of the Instagram generation, with only cursory attempts made at a Lamington Cronut (nicknamed the Cramington, and as ugly as its name), although Lamington Gelato has snuck onto the radar.

However, one burning question this study hasn't managed to answer is this: fill with cream or leave it be?

Friday, 12 August 2016

Office worker "throws coffee mug through monitor" after accidentally closing browser window with 15 tabs open

Jack Horton was fired from his job on Thursday after allegedly losing his temper when he accidentally clicked the "x" button on his browser, with 15 important and information-filled tabs open. He was so incensed he threw a half full mug of coffee at the monitor, which crashed through the other side and burnt a fellow employee on the arm.

Asked why he opted out of the "warn me when I attempt to close multiple tabs" feature on the Chrome browser, he said:

"Because it bloody well pops up all the time. I was reckless, I figured if I am clicking to close the window I know I want to close it, why should I have to confirm my decision?"

Horton was inputting data into one of the tabs, and using the others to research via the internet. In attempting to click the drop down menu on the right, he missed and hit the close button.

"Devastated, and in a blind rage I hurled the coffee mug. When I explained it to the co-worker I injured he agreed not to press charges out of solidarity, but my boss had no choice but to pull the plug. I fear I am un-hirable, who is going to hire a data processor who keeps closing windows accidentally?"

Horton's co-worker, Andy, who was the unlucky bystander during the event, said it could happen to anyone.

"We've all done it, and Lord knows if there was a hot beverage near me the last time I mis-clicked I'd be out on the street too. There's no hard feelings, but it serves as a sobering reminder to re-employ that little warning box. It may be irritating, but it could save your career."

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Woman experiences brutal FOMO after filling Census form out the night before "Census Night."

A Greystanes woman presented to a local medical centre today after she was struck down by the condition "fear of missing out," or FOMO. After being inundated by friends' Facebook statuses maligning the Australian Bureau of Statistics and their handling of "Census night," Jackie Williamson awoke on Wednesday morning to an avalanche of memes she felt no connection to.

After fighting through an hour of work, she was tipped over the edge by water cooler talk about whether non-compliance with the initiative would result in fines to her coworkers.

"I knew I'd be out to dinner on Tuesday night, so I used my log-in and completed my census Monday. No-one was even talking about it until I got home on Tuesday night, and at least 6 friends were commenting on each other's Facebook pages about how the website had crashed and they were all unable to submit their forms."

A NSW Ambulance spokesperson was contacted for comment, and explained the phenomenon is nowhere near as rare as you might think.

"It's not common, but it does happen. In July we had a spike thanks to Pokemon Go, mainly from baby boomers without children who had never encountered the game before. Patients typically present with a drained smartphone battery, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and a sense of loss. It's difficult to treat."

As for Jackie, she's taken steps to ensure this doesn't happen again.

"I've followed the @SBSComedy Twitter account and am notified every time they send out a Tweet. I've also made 'The Shovel' my homepage, so every time my computer starts I'll be connected to the latest."

Australian man banned from office boadroom after admitting he hasn't watched a single Rio Olympic event

Parramatta man Adam Brian revealed via his Twitter account on Tuesday that he's been banned from attending office meetings, after his work mates discovered he had yet to see a single Rio Olympic event.

"I just don't trust him" superior Joe Walsh said. "Anyone who doesn't support our Aussie boys and girls, at least in the pool, doesn't have a place in the cut-throat world of business."

In his defence, Adam Brian of Parramatta said that the events were on when he was either at work, or looking after his kids.

"The time difference makes it difficult, I am always busy when the best events are on, like the swimming. Every time I come home from work they're replaying the water polo or the archery. I'm as Australian as the next guy, but I really can't get enthused about a bunch of guys splashing after a ball for half an hour."

He also blames some of the exclusion on his name.

"Everyone keeps saying 'never trust a man with two first names.' I think that plays into it, because Kevin Perkins in accounts has never seen an Olympic event in his life, and he's still welcome in board meetings." 

It's unclear if Brian will seek the help of the Fair Work Ombudsman, or if he even has a case.