Telling You What's Good

Archive for August, 2012

DC Gets a Proper Teahouse: Abu Nawas

This sign made me do a double take

The post I just made about Iraqi tea was a necessary precedent for something I’m very excited to share with you.  There is now an IRAQI TEAHOUSE (Chaikhana) IN THE DC AREA. Abu Nawas Tea Gourmet, in Fairfax. OK, so it’s in Fairfax, but everything good and ethnic in DC is in the suburbs for the most part (case in point, it’s in the same shopping center as Bon Chon, home of the best fried chicken in the universe, no arguments allowed).

Read on to see why it’s so special:

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Tea: Chai, the Iraqi Way

Quick quiz, loyal readers (why by now ought to ball quite hard indeed): what was the first proper We Ball Harder post?

It was Tea: an Introduction.  Now, nearly a year later, it’s time to get specific, to talk about the most badass, caffeine-straight-to-the-veins, hard-wired psycho-strength tea out there: Iraqi style tea, chai, as found on the streets of Baghdad and in Iraqi restaurants, cafes, and households worldwide.

A steaming glass of awesome

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NEW MUSE SONG – MADNESS – Released Today

One of the greatest currently active bands, Muse, those West Country wizards, have released a new single from their forthcoming album, 2nd Law, due October 2. It’s called “Madness” and it’s an entirely new sound for the band…almost like a 21st century minimal electro classic George Michael vibe, in a very good way. Sparse beats and an even sparser guitar solo for lead singer/guitarist/pianist Matt Bellamy, with some cool atmospheric synths and electronic melodies thrown in. Give it a listen:


The WBH Guide to Jamaican Music, part 2: The Golden Age – Rocksteady and Early Reggae

Toots and the Maytals [src: National Geographic]

For part 1: Ska, click here

Ska, which had completely dominated Jamaican music from the early 60s, couldn’t last forever. By mid-1966, a new sound was emerging, one that permanently changed Jamaican music forever: rocksteady, which lasted a mere month and a half or so before morphing into the earliest form of reggae, the name that has persisted till the present.  These two forms together only lasted about six years, and while rocksteady is widely acclaimed as the golden age of Jamaican music, the official WBH opinion is that early reggae belongs in that era as well. In full disclosure, rocksteady and reggae up till about 1972/3 – stylistically very close to rocksteady – is arguably my favorite genre of music, leaning slightly more to the reggae side.

Following is the absolute best of the best that the island has produced, and dozens of brilliant tracks.

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London 2012 Olympics Music Balls Harder

A proper WBH recap of the marvelous London Olympics is forthcoming, but before that, I want to address something that some may have overlooked: the FANTASTIC music of the Games, from the opening ceremony to the events straight through to the closing ceremony. Of course the opening and closing ceremonies featured the Best of British Music for the Last Fifty Years, and for the most part, did a pretty good job, with tons of classic rock from the Beatles, the Who, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, and more. Hell, British electronic legends Underworld were chosen as musical directors of the OC. But the choonage wasn’t limited to the start and finish: if you listened at quiet moments in the various stadiums, arenas, and other venues, there was a pretty banging soundtrack there too. Also, the official song of the olympics was a sick choice: “Survival” by Muse, currently the most talented and biggest band in Britain, and a song officially released the day it was chosen as the official song, not even a month before the Games opened:

For other great songs featured in the Games, follow the jump

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Keep Celebrating: The WBH Guide to Jamaican Music, Part 1: Ska

Golden Beast, Golden Bolt

It’s official – he wanted to be a legend, and he is. Usain Bolt just won the world’s first Olympic running triple-triple (or is it double triple?), part of the mighty Team Jamaica – Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Yohan “The Beast” Blake, and Usain “Lightning” Bolt – that won the 4x100m relay today, setting a new, smashing world record of 36.84 seconds, a mere two days after Bolt became the first ever to get a double-double by winning the 200m. But this time, he had help from the rest of Team Jamaica, overall the fastest sprinters in the world. What an irie first week of Jamaica’s 50th independent year! It’s only fitting to keep the party going, so get out your Red Stripe, Ting, curry goat, and whatever else you want and have a good time!

Yohan the Beast and the Lightning Bolt

Michael Frater, Yohan Blake, Usain Bolt, Nesta Carter: Gold Medalists

It’s also the 50th anniversary, more or less, of Jamaica’s explosion onto the global music arena, and the two are no coincidence. What will be presented over several installments is a rough guide to the many styles that have gone on to influence musicians, rebels, and parties everywhere in the world since then – ska and the sound systems, rock steady, toasting (arguably the roots of rap) reggae in all its forms, dub, and dancehall, to be selective. You’ll get some brief history and description, but most imporantly, tons of fantastic music.

Let’s begin.

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John Holt Like Usain Bolt: Celebrating Jamaica

Parliament loves Usain Bolt too! (src: Bleacher Report)

“Won Number One! And, critics: SSHHH!” (src: Getty/Yahoo)

Big up for a big week in Jamaica.  August 5: Fastest Man in the World Usain “I Am Actually Lightning” Bolt destroys the Olympic record in the 100m dash, setting a new one in 9.63 seconds.  August 6: 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence (much Ting, Wray & Nephew overproof rum, and jerk chicken consumed, all highly recommended).  August 9: Usain Bolt, in all of 19.32 seconds, becomes the first person ever to double-double in the 100m and 200m sprint – winning them both in Beijing and London, nearing peak speeds of 30mph in the process. He would be pulled over for speeding in residential neighborhoods and much of Washington, DC. Oh, he also celebrated by doing five pushups for his five golds shortly after crossing the line. BEAST! August 11: Jamaica wins the men’s 4x100m relay, with Bolt and Blake on the team, repeating the gold from Beijing, giving Bolt an unprecedented triple-triple! On the women’s side, here’s a shout out to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who on August 4  repeated her Beijing 100m gold with another one in London. And let’s not overlook Yohan Blake, another wickedly fast Jamaican sprinter, who got silver in the men’s 100 and 200, and whose personal 200 record is second only to Bolt’s in the world, and Warren Weir, who won bronze today, giving Jamaica a clean sweep of the men’s 200m.

Yohan Blake, Usain Bolt, Warren Weir

“Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright” – Wm. Blake. Now: Yohan Blake and his best tiger impression on the podium

(more on Bolt, Jamaica, and 9 fantastic songs after the jump)

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