Six Minutes…

One whole month since the last post from yours truly- maybe you’ve been wondering where I went, what I’ve been doing, calling me a slacker, etc. August was pretty much a hip-hop month for me, basically I dusted off some old data discs and mined my external hard drive for all the stuff I haven’t been listening to; prompted by me wanting to see exactly how many dope beats I had in there (and being a completist, what I needed), coupled with the re-burgeoning affinity for hip-hop that I haven’t experienced since early on in high school when Yo! MTV Raps was on five days a week and I used to run home to watch that shit everyday. Then it went to just Friday nights, then MTV stopped playing videos, and sadly, my interest waned as well. Anyway; my love for the genre has roared back and lest anyone think I was just slacking by listening to all the classics as well as albums I missed; I’ve been writing a retrospective on hip-hop as an artform, so stay tuned for that in the coming months. Here’s some record reviews in the mean time:

Throw Me The Statue – Purpleface EP (Secretly Canadian; 2/17)

I can’t figure out why this band’s 2007 debpurplefaceut Moonbeams was critically lauded as a lo-fi bedroom indie pop masterpiece, because it ain’t all that. Let’s jump forward to this EP, released all the way back in February (which is actually like 1998 in internet years)- it’s basically the same stuff, but somewhat more downcast in tone and affectation, maybe we can drop the “lo-fi” tag since the label is totally behind these guys. Again, it ain’t all that grand to be even writing about- tired Casio-esque beats give way to real drums, some synth washes here and there; the whole “I’m super sad since you left” vibe- a reworking of a previously released tune Written In Heart Signs, Faintly is a big miss; I’d say the original has an immediacy and sparseness to it that’s completely destroyed with piano and faux-break beat here. Good thing this was only an EP, 5 or 6 more tracks like this and I’d be giving the “skip” button a hell of a workout. 3/10

Kylesa – Static Tensions (Prosthetic; 3/17)

kylesaAnswer: The Allman Brothers. Grateful Dead. The Doobie Brothers. Kylesa. Question: Can you name any bands that have TWO drummers? One of these bands seem out of place. Oh, yeah- it’s Kylesa; with their sludgy brand of metal, hostile vocal deliveries and overt aggressive musical tendencies that would scare any hippie out of a hacky-sack circle and into their Subaru Forester. They share a common thread with the Allmans in that they’re Georgia-natives; likewise there’s a commonality with the Dead in that they have some psychedelic-tinged nuances in their music, and, uh- they may have shared a doobie or two in their day, as “sludge” metal entails a certain stoner-rock affiliation. Add the fact that three vocalists share duties and you’re hit with the alternating shout/scream/growl/sing attack, there’s even a female voice in there somewhere. Standout tracks like Nature’s Predators and Said And Done showcase Kylesa‘s best attributes (riffage and dual drumming, respectively) but the rest of the album serves as filler material; fellow Georgians Mastodon have set the bar so high that no one’s going to be able to come close to that this year (in terms of: METAL!) but Kylesa can always find work as one of Mastodon‘s support bands in the coming years. 5/10

Au Revoir Simone – Still Night, Still Light (Our Secret Record Company; 5/19)

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Self-described as “dreamy electronic lo-fi keyboard pop”, I gotta say they nailed themselves on their one-sheet; it’s a simple take on music with its “three keyboards and a drum machine” approach, all the while intertwining gorgeous vocal harmonies atop the mix. It’s funny that I can get down with some heavy-ass shit like Mastodon one minute and the next I’m fawning over these three ladies’ gentle and warm electro-pop goodness. Anyway; the songs here are crafted to sound like demos but in actuality they’re the finished product- and it works to overwhelming success. Either these three are some of the most muscially savvy individuals in Williamsburg or they’re really charmingly sweet and endearingly naive (both angles shine through their lyricism; whether it’s intended or constructed is the debate). I’m not going to overanalyze it because I friggin’ like it; so I’m giving Au Revoir Simone‘s Still Night, Still Light the benefit of the doubt. 7/10

The Field – Yesterday & Today (ANTI-; 5/19)

thefieldSwedish. Minimal techno. Ambient house. Basically; it’s what’s playing when you’re eating at that oh-so-hip Peruvian-Asian fusion restaurant that consumes about 1/8th of your monthly paycheck and you only ate there just to say you ate there. If I want background music, play some Brian Eno or that Buddha Bar shit- this seems too “intelligent” for me. It pairs nicely with the Riesling or so I hear, but this music has no soul; faceless, futuristic- boring, repetitive, knob-twiddling, synthetic garbage for the “comedown” set. The album’s title track features drummer John Stanier of Battles (and Helmet) but you basically have to get through seven-plus minutes of techno dance bullshit before his three minutes of what I’m sum up as a kind of pointless appearance here. If you’re gonna take some ecstasy this weekend, then this record’s for you. If you’re part of a functioning society that doesn’t suck on pacifiers and wear candy necklaces out in public, avoid this whack shit at all costs. 1/10

Jay Dilla – Jay Stay Paid (Nature Sounds; 6/2)

jspBeats produced by Dilla, arranged and mixed by Pete Rock; basically a formula that works. Dilla’s passing in 2006 from a rare blood disorder saddened the hip-hop community, yet his legacy will go on for years because of the staggering amount of work he left unfinished; his little brother Illa J made an album from unused beats as well as all the records he was contributing to upon his passing (The Shining)- and his stuff is still showing up on releases from Q-Tip, Common and Mos Def. On J$P, the community gives love back in the form of guest vocals from Raekwon, Havoc, MF Doom, The Roots’ Black Thought, underground star Blu (Johnson&Jonson), Frank Nitty and Lil’ Fame. Not as good as his magnum opus Donuts, but then again what else in the instrumental hip-hop genre is? Since Dilla‘s set the standard in the game, I can’t take anything away from his records except pure and utter enjoyment, Jay Stay Paid included. God bless you, James Dewitt Yancey9/10

DJ Quik & Kurupt – BlaQKout (Mad Science; 6/9)


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This should’ve been called WhaQKout because it’s fucking whack as shit. Coming a scant fifteen years after The G-Funk Era was both relevant and listenable (not to mention commercially viable) comes this lovely pile of shit from the West Coast “gangsters” Quik and Kurupt. I mean really, this is awful- let me count the ways: all the backing tracks sound like Luther Vandross‘ band from 1988, Kurupt‘s flow is godawful- he lags behind the beat, missing more cues than a one-armed billiard player. Listen, I grew up on the east coast; we don’t have the same love for the G-Funk era as some of you westsiders. I like my beats with that boom-bap and recognizable breaks lifted from old soul records, samples from Blue Note-era jazz records, basically any shit that Premier, RZA, Marley Marl or Scott La Rock was working with. This DJ Quik shit is basically R&B tracks with some fool tryna rhyme over it. I’m gonna re-open that whole east coast vs. west coast beef right now. Guess which side I’m on? 3/10