Arts and Entertainment
Set It Off EP (Kitty-Yo)
Take Me to Broadway EP (Kitty-Yo)
It doesn't take a brainiac to understand why Peaches, Berlin's booty-beat mistress and premier pottymouth, won over even Madonna with her electro-minimalist masterpiece The Teaches of Peaches. Like the Material Girl, the self-proclaimed "only peach with the whole in the middle" helped make a name for herself by pushing buttons and boundaries with her in-your-face sexuality and porny put-ons. But while Maddy has since lost her grip on our collective pop culture psyche, Peaches has stepped up to capture our attention with pro-sex provocation and a fuck-all lack of self-consciousness equaled today only by 'Lil Kim.
For the follow-up to that stellar debut, she's given her handiwork to a trio of well-known knob noodlers, and the resulting Set It Off remix EP is pure exhilaration. DJ Assault's retooling of the title track is sped up and tweaked, with Peaches's zonked-out recitation turned into a demented chipmunk chirp; Tobi Neumann's rubber-band beats go even deeper on its radio mix. Kid 606 steals the show, however, transforming Peaches's "Fuck the Pain Away" into the greasy-slick, bump 'n' grind rock disco it always should've been. Surprisingly, while most remixes have dismal odds, Set It Off is a whirlwind 13 minutes of hump 'n' bump beats that manages to one-up the originals.
Set It Off works infinitely better than Take Me to Broadway, the latest EP by Peaches's onstage tag-team partner, Gonzales. Adolescent and sloppy, the rap-prankster's goofy lounge loops and karaoke-like freestylin' sound like a horny frat boy heard License to Ill, then crashed open-mic night to try out his wanna-be controversial rhymes. Besides, an egomaniac male singing about testicles and coming just ain't as interesting as Peaches's sick-shit shtick: his shock-schlock plays into typical male-rock convention; hers subverts it. It's hardly surprising, then, that Gonzales's three tracks come off as passé, impotent. He shouldn't feel too bad, though, 'cause these days even Madonna can't keep up with his partner. (Jimmy Draper)
A new Brainbombs record celebration is in order for sure, but how to celebrate? What is the appropriate manner? Certainly not something I'm allowed to describe in the Bay Guardian, but you can bet your ass I tried to in my first draft. The Austrian- or Swedish- or whatever-accented gods of sub-Stooge murdercore drop their pants and squeeze out four new songs, all of which sound like they were recorded behind somebody's closet and have yet (after five or six listenings) to yield anything as skull-fuckingly wonderful as "Driving thru Leeds" from a couple years ago's Urge to Kill.
For some reason there's a remix of "Burning Hell" (from their first record) courtesy of digicore cool guy Alec Empire, which is kind of dumb. Still, the first song, "Freak Accident," chugs along on another of their patented incredible, simple, insane guitar riffs, and the record also has a song, "Birthday Baby," that I'm actually afraid to listen too closely to. Can't they leave the babies out of it? Anyway, if you've never been introduced to the Brainbombs' particular sense of humor, you may find their music a little, uh, challenging, maybe, or as some of those threatened by the overt violence toward humanity (especially women, God help me) in the lyrics do downright inexcusable. And rightly so in a way. This music is way beyond the general irresponsibility of so much death, black, and whatever else metal because of the simple fact that you can understand every word they say. The violence and imagery of most so-called dangerous metal comes in barely intelligible bursts of wraith-screech or cookie monsterisms. With the Brainbombs the vocals are way up front and delivered in an accent you can't not listen to or miss a word of. This clarity makes them more dangerous than any metal band, or any band for that matter.
In the end what they are doing is a very complex and taste barrier-pushing joke; for some the joke isn't funny. Why it's funny to me (and to other Brainbombs fans) is tough to explain. Maybe it's a joke you're never supposed to laugh at. Or maybe it's because Daddy beat me. Who knows. I think it has more to do with taking things to the extreme, like snowboarding, which is way X-treme. To say the Brainbombs are "testing the boundaries" of what we consider decent is putting too much thought into what's going on. Making fun of what we fear is what's happening here if you think that's funny, is there a valid reason to have to defend yourself? Screw it, the Brainbombs are the greatest rock and roll band in the world. (Mike McGuirk)
KRS-One and the Temple of Hip-Hop Spiritual Minded (Koch)
"So you want to be a conscious rapper?" KRS-One asks on his 10th album, Spiritual Minded. "Can you rock for the love of the art / Can you drop hit after hit after hit and still don't chart?" It's true: Go to any hip-hop club in San Francisco and watch how the crowd responds when the DJ drops "Sound of da Police," "My Philosophy," or any number of underground classics Kris Parker has recorded over the past 15 years. Yet despite being one of the greatest MCs to touch the microphone, he never achieved popular success and has slowly descended into neglect, ignored by mainstream enthusiasts and written off as passé by his former fans.
Spiritual Minded probably won't change anyone's mind about KRS-One's relevancy in today's hip-hop market, but it proves he's still a great lyricist. "Let me tell you about God and the way he works / I mean the way she works / I mean the way we work," he opens on "Trust," proceeding to explain how God is a manifestation of inner strength and resolve against worldly desires. He admits he has a tendency to overintellectualize things: "Not that the intellect is wrong / It's just the beginning, it might be time to move on." Then on "Tears" he responds to the Sept. 11 World Trade Center bombings by paraphrasing Matthew 5:44 from the Bible: "What I say unto you / Love your enemies / Bless them that curse you / To bring to them that hate you / And pray for them that would spitefully use you / And persecute you / This goes for them terrorists, too."
While Spiritual Minded's production by KRS-One and a handful of others won't win any Source magazine awards, it has a certain grace that makes his words palatable to the ear. But is anyone listening? We spare rock musicians who are no longer fresh and innovative from Brian Wilson to Bob Dylan from harsh criticism, granting them an audience solely because of their past achievements; the wisdom they impart; and the talent, no matter how tired or formulaic, they still possess. If any hip-hop artist is worthy of such an exception, it is KRS-One. (Mosi Reeves)