Disco D and Fred Armisen DVDs

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Hustle Harder XXL
Thanks to its production tutorials and record-industry advice, the Disco D-centered DVD Hustle Harder XXL (Kagi Media; $99) is worth its weight in gold. As a documentary, however, don’t expect it to win too many awards. The first half of the DVD concerns itself with the right and wrong ways to “hustle” in a cutthroat music industry. As the late Disco D takes us through the pros and cons of self-management, the beauty of MySpace networking, and why kindness toward interns is always beneficial, it becomes evident that the real entertainment value in this documentary is Disco D himself. Known for his confident, intense personality, the perpetually stoned, fast-talking Disco D is full of hilarious sound bites and is a complete pleasure to watch. Moving into tech terrain, the DVD’s second half includes detailed production lessons covering sampling and MPC beat-making, tracking, mixing, and mastering, all with helpful pop-up, user’s eye-view screenshots of D’s work flow. One just wishes that the same technical effort were put into editing the video’s b-roll.

Ross Holland

Complicated Drumming Technique
If your formative musical years included watching Vanilla Fudge drummer Carmine Appice’s Power Rock! or Eric Johnson’s Total Electric Guitar, you’re plenty familiar with the cottage industry of embarrassingly lame music-instruction DVDs. In response, Fred Armisen–the Saturday Night Live actor and erstwhile drummer for Chicago indie rockers Trenchmouth–offers up Complicated Drumming Technique: Jens Hannemann (Drag City; $14.98), a short-but-sweet parody of the genre. No, you’re not going to glean any useable tips from the disc, but you’ll get a glimpse into Armisen’s hilarious psyche as he portrays Jens Hannemann (a typical long-haired, muscle-shirt-wearing Euro metal drummer) and instructor Victor Benedetto (who provides the DVD’s stick-control “tips”). You’ll also get 30 minutes of Hannemann’s live drumming, recorded at the Tampa School of Music, where Armisen shows off not just his comedic genius (playing two hi-hats at once–only) but his actual musical skill as well.

Ken Taylor