The Minor Key: Kid Rock, Hip-High Hip Hop, And Underage Awesomeness


When I was 9, I took some pretty miserable piano lessons. They didn’t last long, partly because I couldn’t pay attention to anything for a full hour back then (let alone “Mary Had a Little Lamb”), and partly because I was scared shitless of my teacher. She was 70 years old, smelled like tartar sauce, and I swear the skin on her hands was almost clear. Like, spooky vein sushi. Bear in mind, though, this is a 15-year-old memory of Mrs. I Can Tell You Didn’t Practice Like I Told You To, so I can’t vouch completely for the accuracy. But I’d prefer to blame my early-exit on her spindly fingers, rather than, say, me wanting to play Duck Hunt every Tuesday and Thursday after school. Either way, I didn’t stick with it, didn’t pick much up, and, to this day, can only play “Chopsticks” and the Adams Family theme song on the keys. For shame. But when I fire up the Tube and see things like this, I realize it’s no big deal. I was already way past my prime. Washed up at 9. A never-was. A total loser.

Meanwhile, at 3 Years Old, Romanian pop sensation Cleopatra Stratan is the youngest tot to ever chart. Anywhere. In the world. Stratan’s dad is a musician, whose fingers probably don’t look like spooky vein sushi, and don’t scare her away from lessons. So her debut album, La Varsta De 3 Ani (At The Age Of Three), a surprisingly mature collection of auto-tune-adoring kiddie pop, birthed an international smash in the form of “Ghita,” a track about — I think — Stratan’s confusing ex boyfriend [reminder: she’s 3 Years Old]. The charm of the song is captured best by its video, which features an adorable Stratan lugging around a massive Suitcase For Grown Ups through city streets, and waiting on a train that never seems to come. You remember Jordy, the French baby who sang “Dur dur d’être bébé” (“It’s Tough to Be a Baby”)? Yeah, he was 4 and a half when that song broke. Geeeeeeezer!

Then there’s the middle schooler resting under the wing of B’more club maestro DJ Rod Lee. The 14-year-old DJ Lil Jay follows in an illustrius Lil queue of underage whipersnappers — Romeo, Bow Wow, et. al. But Jay is a different monster all together, eschewing the pregnant ego of mainstream hip hop for grooves dusted in Charm City dirt. About his album Operation Playtime, Seattle Weekly rightly rattles: “jackhammer beats, Eamon homages, dusty breaks, block politics, and synth-horn stabs played in the key of dance your ass off.” Saucy language to describe a kid’s record. But, uh, not one with a song called “F*** That,” right?

And what about every indie rocker’s favorite set of sororal 90’s babies? Smoosh — known to Mom and Dad as Asya and Chloe — have been writing keyboard and drum-led pop music since they were 6 and 8, respectively. Here’s the skinny: the fam was in line at a music shop, waiting to re-string a violin, when the girls wandered into the drum section and made friends with Death Cab For Cutie‘s kitman Jason McGerr. He offered to help out, and they did what any self-respecting 6/8 year olds would do. “Uh, sorry mister, death what for who?” But they stuck with McGerr and, as a result, have churned out some quality stuff — namely 2006’s Free to Stay — over the past 8 years. Nowadays, they’re practically dinosaurs — one of them can drive(!). A car(!). But, man, when they were in their prime…

So, the moral of the story? Strike while the iron is hot, people. You’ve got — max — eight years to make an impact. So get your kids in lessons. Ignore them if they complain about the tartar sauce smell. It’s for their own good.

I’ll Tell You What


There’s a band called J Roddy Walston & The Business. They’re just about the best band I’ve ever seen. Look at them, going bonkers at SXSW. (Thanks for the photo, Brendan.)

J Roddy runs the show, writes catchy songs, plays piano, jumps over piano. The Business is an all-star team, shredders. Together, they’re Baltimore, MD’s own version of The Faces. They play catchy anthemic DUDE ROCK that reminds me of Andrew WK and NRBQ. When Craig Finn says “bar bands,” I think “J Roddy Walston & The Business.”

Here’s the best part: If you’re in NYC this weekend, you can watch these hairy gents go apesh*t FOR FREE on Sunday, June 29. They’re opening for The (mighty) Hold Steady at JellyNYC’s first Pool Party of the 2008 season (2pm, McCarren Park Pool in Williamsburg, Brooklyn).

Get there early.

Dizzee With Laughter


If a new video from The Brighton Port Authority, David Byrne of the Talking Heads, and UK grime sensation Dizzee Rascal doesn’t grab attention in the first place, MAYBE the naked people will!?! “Toe Jam,” the latest slab Dizzee lends his rhyming skills to, definitely turns heads — including the talking kind! OH! Yeah, we couldn’t resist.

Musically speaking (as if that really matters, I mean c’mon — naked people?) it’s pretty catchy, and you’ll want to sing and rap along with David and Dizzee, respectively. Of course, the FCC would cringe at this one if it wasn’t for the best part of the clip, those handy dandy censor bars. Keep a look out for how the video uses them to form everything from smiley faces to the best 80s invention not called the Rubix Cube: that’s right, a game of PONG! Incredible, huh?

MP3: Dizzee Rascal – Where’s Da Gs

Au Revoir Simone Serenades Just Art ’08


Everyone’s favorite all-girl, all-key indie pop troupe Au Revoir Simone will grace the stage tonight (albeit for a DJ set) at Just Art ’08 , a combo art show and general shindig hosted by the New York Civil Liberties Union Young Professionals at the PowerHouse Arena in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Proceeds will help the NYCLU, you know, continue to defend and promote the fundamental principles embodied in the Bill of Rights, the U.S Constitution and the New York Constitution, including freedom of expression and religion, and the rights to privacy, equality and due process of the law.

Good cause. Good band. What more could you ask for? Details after the jump.

MP3 : Au Revoir Simone – A Violent Yet Flammable World

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Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: Dodos Extend Tour


As they say, travel broadens the mind. But San Francisco world-folk roaddogs The Dodos don’t have to make much effort in that department. After all, their exhilarating music has already been widely praised for its mind-broadening virtues. Still, that won’t keep them from traveling, as the duo recently added a slew of new shows to their already extensive Visiter tour. The new dates will lead drummer Logan Kroeber and guitarist/vocalist Meric Long throughout the US and Europe until October, with stops in England, Germany, and the Netherlands.

MP3: The Dodos – Fools

See all tour dates after the jump.
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