Last night I was flipping through the channels when I heard one of my favorite tracks of 2009, “All In” by The Grouch & Eligh (with a little help from my oft-mentioned favorite LA underground rapper, Pigeon John, as well as Flynn Adam). No, this wasn’t on MTV, BET, or FUSE. Instead the song (very appropriately) soundtracked a montage on ESPN’s World Series of Poker coverage, which you can watch at the bottom of this post. I haven’t been religiously following this year’s World Series of Poker, but I am intrigued by the story of amateur Steven Begleiter, a Bear Stearns financial analyst that has worked his way into the November 9.

Killer tracks like “All In” prove that these Living Legends members still are on top of their game. A laid-back jam with some great subtle synth lines, “All In” also benefits greatly from Pigeon John’s smooth vocal stylings on the chorus. While I’ve been pretty disappointed with the hip hop scene over the past decade, it’s great to know that there are still talented musicians laying down jams like this.

The Grouch & Eligh on MySpace

Pigeon John on MySpace

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Video game licensing has come a long way. It seems as if the days are gone (or at least going away) where games were filled with only garbage from the likes of The Ataris, Puddle of Mudd, and wannabe-Nickelbacks. This is a rather recent development, which I enjoy a lot – especially in my favorite type of game, sports games. Something about the right music puts you in the adrenaline-filled mood to play a good sports game, and this past week I picked up Need For Speed Shift and NHL ’10, and am thrilled with the gameplay and soundtracks for both. I’ll leave the gameplay review to the experts, but both are getting near unanimous praise -definitely worth picking up.

I’ll start with NHL ’10 and its use of Earl Greyhound’s “Oye Vaya.” While the game does feature some lame artists (Papa Roach, Nickelback) the surprise selection of Earl Greyhound just about makes up for it. For those unfamiliar, Earl Greyhound makes hard-hitting, straight-up rock n’ roll, the likes of which has been missing in the mainstream for a LONG time. No gimmicks, no unnecessary tricks. Just rock. I first discovered Earl Greyhound thanks to My Old Kentucky Blog’s Laundromatinee sessions, and you can check out the rad performance of that song below, as well as some NHL ’10 gameplay :

Earl Greyhound on MySpace

I’ve been playing the Need For Speed series since about 1997 – in fact, Need For Speed was the first game I owned on the original Playstation. Now that we’re in a Blu-Ray, HD, PS3 world, it’s obvious that the game has come a long way. This is the first Need For Speed on a next-gen system I’ve played, and the physics and graphics are off the hook…compliment that with the great track “Under Control” by Rootbeer (which features previous blog favorites, Pigeon John) and I couldn’t be happier. Check out this great fan-captured live performance of this ultra-smooth song below:

Rootbeer on MySpace

Every summer, I cancel HBO and the other premium channels, because face it – when sports aren’t in season, there’s not much reason to have these channels (after all, we are in the Netflix era). However, once August rolls around and football season begins, it’s time to bring HBO (specifically Hard Knocks) back into my house, which I did last weekend. This year’s Hard Knocks features the Cincinnati Bengals, and they have plenty of intriguing storylines – as always Chad Ochocinco and his antics, hold-out doughboy rookie Andre Smith, Carson Palmer’s return from injury…I wonder who the longshot rookies they follow will be. Part of me is disappointed that I won’t get to watch the trainwreck that was the Cowboys last year, but the other part of me is excited to just watch an interesting team on Hard Knocks – the last time I enjoyed following this was when the had the Jaguars on, and that was back in 2004.

The other advantage of having HBO back is of course the TV shows. I have yet to be converted into a True Blood fan, but I have enough friends (and a roommate) who swear by the show that I might have to take the plunge this season. I know I’ll be starting off in the middle of a season, but that didn’t stop me from loving Dexter when I discovered that in the middle of season 2, so we’ll see how this goes. The promo for the upcoming episode, “I Will Rise Up” looks interesting enough, the only thing I have to decide is whether I use Wikipedia to catch myself up, or just dive straight in and go back and watch the old episodes later.

Looks like HBO has a pretty decent lineup of movies and shows coming up this fall, judging on the tv spot below, which also features a great tune, “Brand New Day” by Pigeon John. Pigeon John has been a favorite here in his native LA since he first hit the scene in 2002, and as an Angeleno (transplant, that is) I am happy to see him getting the exposure that we all know he deserves. The rare hip-hop artist who always seems to have a genuine smile on his face, “Brand New Day” perfectly exemplifies the breezy, laid back cool style that has been his calling card.

Pigeon John on MySpace