Sunday, December 28, 2008

MMA: UFC 92: Two New Champions Crowned, The Ax Murderer Is Dead

UFC 92 was the second straight fantastic pay per view event from the UFC. The main event saw Rashad Evans win the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship of the World from Forrest Griffin. Rashad Evans took Forrest down in the third and was raining down punches on Forrest with great vengeance and furious anger. Forrest was able to tie Evans up in his guard momentarily before Evans was able to rise up and land a series of brutal uppercuts which caused Forrest's head to bounce off the canvas and the referee stopped it at 2:46 of round three. Rashad Evans is still undefeated, he still has not attempted a single submission in the UFC, and he is now world champion in the deepest pool of talent in any MMA division in the universe.

For those of you counting at home Rashad Evans has now defeated two Ultimate Fighter winners. Last night he defeated season 1 winner Forrest Griffin and last November at UFC 78 he defeated Ultimate Fighter season 3 winner Michael "The Count" Bisping. Maybe recent winner Ryan Bader won't completely suck and Rashad Evans can knock him out too.

In the fight for the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship Frank Mir completely decimated Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira. Mir's standup game looked better than it ever has and he knocked down Nogueira twice in the first round. At the conclusion of that round both announcers were calling it a 10-8 round for Mir. I wouldn't have scored it that way but I wouldn't have a problem if the judges did(In fact only one of the judges scored it a 10-8 round). The second round was more of the same as Mir dropped him with punches and then became the first fighter to ever finish Nogeuiera. Mir smiled, walked over to the side of the cage where Brock Lesnar was sitting, pointed and said, "You have my belt."

Mir went on to cut a great promo. He said that you can do anything, and that he is proof of that. He said that even he didn't believe that he could beat Nogueira. When Joe Rogan asked him about the Brock Lesnar fight Mir called it inevitable, and he began to talk shit about Lesnar ending with, "We'll see if you can get out of the first round this time." Oh my god, I want to see this fight right now!

Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
found redemption by knocking "The Ax Murderer" Wanderlei Silva the fuck out and earning himself a $60,000 bonus for knock out of the night honors. During the pre-fight staredown the referee said, "If you would like to touch gloves do it now." Neither man moved. I told Brookie, "They didn't touch gloves!" And she responded with, "Someone is going to die!" At 3:21 of round 1 that just about happened. Rampage ducked under a 1-2 combo from Wanderlei and countered with a left hook right on the jaw and Wanderlei Silva was asleep before he hit the mat. Sleep safe tonight everyone, Rampage is in a pleasant mood. It's possible that he will get the next shot at Rashad Evans title.

The rest of the show was excellent with a series of knockouts and referee stoppages almost all coming early in the fights.

Cheick Kongo
looked stellar as he dominated Mostapha Al Turk. Kongo will probably be next in line for a heavyweight title shot after the Lesnar-Mir match in the spring.

CB Dolloway
looked very good though he is still nowhere near ready for a match with Middleweight Champ Anderson Silva.

UFC 94 takes place on January 31, 2009 with a huge main event between UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre and UFC Lightweight Champion BJ Penn in a rematch from UFC 58. This should be an epic battle.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

MMA: UFC 92 Preview

UFC 92
has one of the most stacked cards in MMA history. The show features two title fights as well as the first UFC match between two legends of the sport.

The Ultimate Fighter season 1 winner Forrest Griffin makes his first defense of the Light Heavyweight Championship when he defends his title against the Ultimate Fighter season 2 winner "Sugar" Rashad Evans.

Rashad Evans comes into tonight's fight with an unbeaten record of 12-0-1. He showed in his last fight against Chuck Liddell that he has definite knockout power. That alone makes him a very dangerous fighter.

We last saw Forrest Griffin on July 5th when he defeated then champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson by unanimous decision. Since his last loss, which happened almost 2 years ago, Forrest has turned himself into an excellent all around fighter who can really pick apart an opponent without putting himself in grave danger. In the 2nd round against Rampage he also showed an improved ground game. Forrest does everything extremely well. Some fighters you look at and say, "Oh he's a great stand up fighter," or, "He's a submission expert." Forrest Griffin on the other hand is just a great great fighter.

I expect Forrest to dominate and win this fight fairly easily and give Rashad Evans his first ever MMA loss. I say, Forrest by unanimous decision 50-45.

The Ultimate Fighter theme continues as the two coaches from the 8th season go head to head as Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira defends the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship against former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir. Mir is a submission specialist, but he's not as good as the Brazilian Noguiera. At this point in time Mir is best known for beating the current UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar in Lesnar's UFC debut. He won that fight due to a questionable stand up and point deduction by referee Steve Mazagatti. One could argue, and I certainly do, that the fight should have been stopped before then and that Mir was being destroyed and he was not intelligently defending himself.

The winner of this fight will face Brock Lesnar sometime in the Spring in a match to unify the two different versions of the UFC Heavyweight Championship. The best case scenario is for Frank Mir to beat Nogueira tonight in order to set up the rematch with Lesnar. Lesnar vs the one man who has beaten him in his career in a battle to unify the world heavyweight titles! That is a huge money fight right there!

Unfortunately for us Nogueira is so much better than Frank Mir and I expect Noguiera to win via submission in the 2nd round.

Probably the most intriguing fight on UFC 92 is Quinton "Rampage" Jackson vs Wanderlei Silva. This is of course the first match for Rampage since he lost his belt to Forrest and went on his well, extended rampage. These two men have fought twice previously in Japan for the former Pride organization. Both of those fights ended with two of the most vicious knockouts you have ever seen and with Wanderlei Silva victorious. After the first fight Rampage flipped out and ended up becoming a born again Christian. Shortly after the second loss Rampage fired his coaches and trainers and hired Juanito Ibarra to train and manage his career. After his loss to Forrest, Rampage went on his rampage and then fired Ibarra.

If Wanderlei wins this fight I am afraid of what Quinton "Rampage" Jackson will do. In all of his UFC fights Rampage has showed a propensity for standing and exchanging punches. That is a very dangerous tactic when your opponent is the man known as The Axe Murderer.

I predict that the Axe Murderer will knockout Rampage in the second round. And if that happens, you should probably lock your door.

The only other match scheduled to air live on the PPV is the Ultimate Fighter 7 runner up CB Dollaway against Mike Massenzio. I have no idea who that guy is.

CB Dollaway will win via submission- Peruvian Necktie- in the first round. The peruvian necktie is his favorite submission hold, and he actually tapped out Rampage with it when Rampage was his coach on the Ultimate Fighter.

Overall this should be an amazing show with three huge matches all of which could headline a UFC pay-per-view event.

As is my preference, I will be watching the show at King Cobra in Seattle again tonight. I highly recommend the sweet potato fries.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Music: Top Albums of 2008: Number 9

If you haven't heard yet, there is this awesome Canadian band called Wolf Parade. Their first album come out in 2005 on Sub-Pop and it should be a part of everyone's music collection.

In 2008 the band released At Mount Zoomer which has one of the worst album covers of the year(though it is much less obnoxious on the vinyl version).

In early press the band said that there would be no singles. That it's an album, and should be listened to and treated as such. It is certainly not the most cohesive singular artistic ideal spread across an album that will appear on this best of list. In fact, there are several down tempo passable songs, but the ones that stand out....boy do they ever stand out! The first three tracks in particular are one of the best 1-2-3 opening combos on an album this year culminating with Dan Boeckner singing on Language City.

For some reason this album is doing much better on the reader lists than on the critics lists this year. Don't let this one pass you by.

#10- Okkervil River/The Stand Ins
#11- Los Compesinos!/Hold On Now Youngster...
#12- The Fiery Furnaces/Remember
#13- Margot and the Nuclear So and So's: Animal!/Not Animal
#14- Deerhoof: Offend Maggie
#15- Man Plus: The Hungarian Suicide Songbook

Music: Top Albums of 2008: Number 10

This fall Austin's Okkervil River released a sequel, yes a sequel, to their 2007 album The Stage Names. That album was originally conceived as an epic double album, but for some reason it was released as a single disc with The Stand Ins coming out this past September. If you put the albums next to each other the covers create a single image.

If you want to hear one of the best lyricists in indie-rock today, and you want his backing band to, you know, rock the fuck out, then this album is certainly worth your hard earned economically depressed cash. Lead singer Will Sheff will make you forget about your bank account and you will feel better about your life by experiencing his heart breaking view of the world.

#11- Los Compesinos!/Hold On Now Youngster...
#12- The Fiery Furnaces/Remember
#13- Margot and the Nuclear So and So's: Animal!/Not Animal
#14- Deerhoof: Offend Maggie
#15- Man Plus: The Hungarian Suicide Songbook

Friday, December 19, 2008

Music: Top Albums of 2008: Number 11

Welsh 7 piece Los Compesinos! clocks in at #11 with their debut album Hold On Now Youngster...
An exclamation point at the end of the band's name expresses the excitement found in their sound. The standout track on the album includes three exclamation points, You! Me! Dancing!

Los Compesinos! perform some of the best booty shaking, introspective indie rock all served up dripping in a heaping helping of Welsh wit!

This is the best thing to come out of Wales since Sir Tom Jones first asked, What's New Pussycat?

I did not get a chance to see Los Compesinos! perform live this year, and it's the one concert that I skipped that I wished I had made it to.

#12- The Fiery Furnaces/Remember
#13- Margot and the Nuclear So and So's: Animal!/Not Animal
#14- Deerhoof: Offend Maggie
#15- Man Plus: The Hungarian Suicide Songbook

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Music: Top Albums of 2008: Number 12

The most avant-garde release to make the top 15 albums of the year list comes from Brooklyn's(by way of Chicago) brother-sister duoThe Fiery Furnaces with their epic live release Remember. In August of this year the band released a 2 CD set(and 3 disc vinyl) of live material recorded since 2005. The Fiery Furnaces live show is known for a frenetic pace and new interpretations of the band's songs. If any current band's live show demanded a release it would be The Fiery Furnaces.
The album has 51 tracks that cover the band's entire career up to this point and is split up into 6 suites:
1. Old HK
2. Waiting at the Lobby at 665 1/2 Frontage Road
3. In a House Once Owned by the Princes of Mataran
4. Drinking by the Des Plaines River
5. Black Death Bottle
6. A Special Commission of Navajo Basketball Coaches and Blonde Ladies

It's not completely chronological and some of the live tracks are cut with other live versions of the same song. There is a real precision to the way that those tracks in particular are cut together, and the average listener won't even notice the cuts on first listen. The highlights of the album are the multi-song medleys, which are delicately strung together and reinvented.

This is one of the best live releases in years.

#13- Margot and the Nuclear So and So's: Animal!/Not Animal
#14- Deerhoof: Offend Maggie
#15- Man Plus: The Hungarian Suicide Songbook

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Music: Top Albums of 2008: Number 13

Coming in at lucky #13 we have not one but two albums from the Indianapolis based chamber-pop 8 piece Margot and the Nuclear So and So's- Animal! and also Not Animal.

The band recorded so much usable music during their rehearsal and recording session for their new album that the record label and the band couldn't agree on which songs to include. Instead of putting out an album and an EP, or a deluxe version of the album both the band and the label put together their own version of the album. In total there are 21 unique tracks over two albums with 3 tracks making it on to both versions.

Animal! is the version that the band put out, and I like it slightly more than the label's version. You should definitely pick up the band's vision of the album, if not both.

Did I mention that the band is named after Margot Tenenbaum?

#14- Deerhoof: Offend Maggie
#15- Man Plus: The Hungarian Suicide Songbook

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Music: Top Albums of 2008: Number 14

To get from 15 to 14 we have to travel all the way south from Seattle to a magical fairy land. It's in this place known to locals as San Francisco where we find our next band, Deerhoof- Offend Maggie.

The cover is a black and white pencil sketch done by Japanese artist Tomoo Gokita. To me, it looks like a headless luchador. It's almost like it's a luchador posing for a formal portrait and then the artist chose to erase his face to protect his identity.

That's actually where this album falls into the canon of Deerhoof. When the vocals hit in the first song you immediately recognize Satomi Matsuzaki's voice. You immediately know that it is Deerhoof that you are listening to. But as the album progresses there are a lot more crunchy guitars and a real lack of electronica compared to previous Deerhoof releases.

That being said, I think that this album is probably their best release to date. There is a sense of something huge bubbling just below the surface waiting to come out. Let's hope that Deerhoof finds a way to let that music apocalypse happen on their next release.

#15- Man Plus: The Hungarian Suicide Songbook

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Music: Top Albums of 2008: Number 15

The top albums of 2008 countdown begins right now!

At number 15 we have the Seattle bred post-apocalyptic dance-pop group Man Plus with their album, The Hungarian Suicide Songbook.

There are not many albums that were released this year that can boast as a fact that every single one of their tracks has been played on a popular radio station. Man Plus can make that claim with not only their full length album but also with the remixes that they have freely made available online throughout the last half of the year.

Billie Holliday allusions aside, this album is Manat's danceable beats and Jared Mills sexy growl of such lyrics as, "What I like about funeral roses, buy them once and you'll never grow older," and "Do you like how you look? Cause you look like a whore!"

I would tell you to check out their live show in the near future, but the band is currently overseas in Japan recording their follow up to this year's hit album. Once they return to the states do remember that Man Plus put on a can't miss live show.

Music: This Week's New Releases

Cat Power- Dark End of the Street EP
Charlie Louvin- Sings Murder Ballads & Disaster Songs

Cat Power releases the leftovers from her 2008 covers collection, Jukebox. It's a cool double vinyl release. One time I saw Cat Power perform solo. I was front row, and on this night the recovering alcoholic Cat Power chose to drink, and she completely flipped the fuck out. Despite her craziness the show went on for 3 and a half hours. It was mesmerizing, and I will never forget that show.

Charlie Louvin is an 81 year old gospel and blue grass living legend. I saw him perform with Neko Case once, it was pretty awesome! He looks like a munchkin, an old singin' dancin' munchkin.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Music: This Week's New Releases

This week begins the slow period of new releases that happens every holiday season.

Britney Spears
has a so-called comeback album out this week. Which is odd, because she put out an album last year as well. An album that sold 3.1 million copies. Some comeback.

The Decemberists finish up their Always the Bridesmaid: A Singles Series this week. That means I should receive mine in the mail soon, and then I'll be able to talk about it on here.

Oh, you probably shouldn't buy the Britney.