Saturday, April 30, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Best of the First Quarter

So I'm taking a cue from Yayo and making a list of my favorite music from the last quarter (or so). This is, however, a list less oriented around judgement and more around calling attention to what I've enjoyed listening to. Also, I've not payed attention to album cohesion or consistency, so these tapes and albums have some duds. I've linked one of the better songs from each album underneath it as a frame of reference. Hopefully this will bring to people's eyes music they have missed. The albums are listed loosely from worst to best:

Rich Boy - 12 Diamonds
"All I Know"

Crystal Stilts - In Love with Oblivion

Wiz Khalifa - Rolling Papers

Fat Trel - April Foolz

Gunplay - Inglorious Bastard
"Rollin ft. Waka Flocka Flame"

Mouse on Tha Track - Swagga Fresh Freddie
"Unwind ft. Shell and Foxx"

Panda Bear - Tomboy
"Alsatian Darn"

Lil B - Angel's Exodus

DJ Burn One - Joints
"Fuck Ya (Starlito)"

Chancha via Circuito - Rio Arriba
"Quimey Neuquen (Remix)"

LinkSpaceghostpurrp - NASA

Young Dro - Equestrian Dro
"Polo Down"

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Belong

Smith Westerns - Dye It Blonde
"Dye the World"

LinkMax B - Vigilante Season

Destroyer - Kaputt

DJ Quik - The Book of David
"The End ft. Garry Shider"

Young Sam - Jerkin Can't Die Pt. 2
EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints

Dum Dum Girls - He Gets Me High
"There is a Light that Never Goes Out"

Curren$y and Alchemist - Covert Coup
"Scottie Pippens ft. Freddie Gibbs"

Lil B - Illusions of Grandeur
"Cocaine Killer"

KD - G-Fluid

Clams Casino - Instrumental Mixtape
"All I Need"

LinkThe Weeknd - House of Balloons
"The Party and the Afterparty"

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I've always understood the appeal of Main Attrakionz but I hadn't seriously enjoyed one of their tracks until I heard this one. This is impressive. I strongly recommend Blackberry Ku​$​h.

Whoa kemosabe. Boring cadence but it grows.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Jared Paul - Ubeatquitous

Hey buttheads, a friend of mine recently released his debut album, the very punny Ubeatquitous. Although I'm biased, it is surely quite lovely, silly, rockin, etc.

Jay Cue - Pyramid Life [REVIEW]: Another review for, in the jazzy young people making raps vein.

Hey, wait, this is good.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

This just made me so pumped for the Curren$y album.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Starts out in the Vitamin C graduation song vein but the chord progression goes somewhere much darker. Most of the credit, however, goes to Ashanti. File under throwaway album cuts that I like but will probably not remember to play again later.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Comments on "What's My Name ft. Drake"

I'm late to this I know, but I've been brooding over this thing for quite a while. To me, this is Rihanna's "What You Know" or "Wuthering Heights", all three being virtuoso displays that somehow fail to give the impression that anyone is showing off. As everyone has said, Drake sounds like a idiot here, and whether or not he intended that, it really works as part of the song. Try listening to the Rihanna-only version of this track, you'll find its not nearly as good. Drake's verse, to some extent, allows the consequence that impregnates the beat to go unfulfilled for quite a while, so that when Rhi Rhi arises in swirling lights, cutting Drake off practically mid-sentence, she sounds like the most nonchalantly confident "girl in the world", rolling three progressively more monstrous hooks into our ears without introduction or interruption. As far as the T.I. and Kate Bush reference goes, she just doesn't stop, rotating from hook to hook to hook to just enough "na-na"s for us to catch our breath and back again. And like T.I., what's key is that she has enough confidence that she can act like she's not just repeating herself, enough calm that she can make the same "what you know about that" or "it's me i'm Kathy"s or "go down town witta girl like me"s sound like development rather than repetition. And in the end, its better that way, because I never want that chorus to end.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Introspective yet completely lacking in self-awareness. I like it.

Exciting (for now) new album.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

So Chris Brown is doing a JT impersonation and Timbaland is doing a Timbaland impression but this is still good. It is kind of annoying how much Timb has become a parody of himself, though.

Vans Syndicate x Luke Meier from WHAT MATTERS MOST on Vimeo.

Is it possible that Shabazz Palaces is going to by the rap Mars Volta? I'm having the same "this is so cool and random that it must be deep" reaction that I once had to the visual media that TMV put out in my late high school years. Hopefully the admiration won't fade and some understandable complexity will come out of this group, because some of their stuff is really engaging.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Its very disconcerting, as a person who's trying to say relatively definitive things about music, how clear my judgmental vision can be in hindsight. I've chosen HHNF as my token palette-cleansing classic album as of late, and all I hear is "IMPERFECTIMPERFECTIMPERFECT". If I could swallow a set of speakers that played "Wamp Wamp" on a loop in my stomach forever, I might not have a problem with that.

Um, what is going on here?

Monday, April 4, 2011

I've been listening to the Clams Casino instrumental tape a lot, and this is by far my favorite. It is amazingly good, like its rocketing up my iTunes playcount list. I love his signature shuffling sound, although I have no idea what it is. Where did this dude come from? In interviews, he almost seems like he has no sense of purpose. So non-nonchalant. He also doesn't seem to be all that aware of the music that everyone is comparing him to. Its a little crazy, but it makes sense. He's bypassed the anxiety of influence by simply not having influences at all. He just makes music and its ridiculously unique.

Here's the original:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Comments on BADLANDS

I really don't have any idea how to talk about this Dirty Beaches album. To start, I guess, I could say that it really exemplifies the falsity of a perceived connection between originality and goodness. This album is incredibly original: it combines post-rock, lo-fi, early rock-and-roll, classic rock and numerous other influences into a relatively cohesive style, one that I have never expected to experience. Is it good though? Eh.

These days its pretty common to see different bands pulling from various eras and styles of music from album to album, to the point that we hear a song by an established band and say, "this sounds like Men at Work." The most recent Strokes album probably showed the dark side of this reappropriative stylistic exploration. We see the Strokes doing Men at Work, as opposed to the Strokes developing a new multi-faceted sound. On the other hand, you have people like the late LCD Soundsystem who similarly pull from influences, but do so fully enough that variation on their part doesn't seem like LCD Soundsystem doing Gang of Four, but rather LCD Soundsystem exploring their abilities and developing within their sound that has been inspired in some way by Gang of Four. Dirty Beaches occupies a middle ground between these two extremes. There's no way to deny that this sounds like a guy doing an Elvis impression, but there's no way we can say that the band is trying to sound like Elvis as a whole. Elvis wasn't this weird.

So, to be honest, the best songs on this album are those that sound most like a "real" song, with verses, choruses, bridges etc. This is not necessarily because their less melodic songs are too "out there" in their derivations, but because their more complete songs allow them to more fully embody the mix of styles that they have grabbed. The beginning and end of this album are, to be frank, boring. "Speedway King" succeeds in being thoroughly ominous+Elvis, but that's about it. It takes the sort of repetitive post-rock approach, with repeated extraterrestrially throbbing instrumentals, but with none of the growth that allows bands like Boredoms to make compelling music. It is, in other words, impossibly anticlimactic. "Black Nylon", similarly, sounds like the soundtrack on an Akira Kurosawa print: interestingly creepy, but there would be no difference if this song was three minutes or ten. Its not developed enough to create a textured mood.

These songs, however, are almost the building blocks of the album's better (much better) tracks. "Horses" has a similarly constant unchanging loop, but it moves, it implies that more things will happen. And they do: Alex Zhang Huntai, the guy with the voice, actually goes through various, relatively well defined segments. There's even a terrific guitar solo, distilling the atmospheric body horror of the song into a series of viscerally creepy clicks and booms. All of this succeeds in making the songs constantly yet intricately and kinetically creepy. It doesn't change, but it seems like its always moving.

The best moments on the album occur when this mixture of influences truly congeals into pretty unsettling combination of old and new, of old subtly developed restraint and modern repetitive and equalizing disorder. The combo succeeds in making the restrained elements seem foreboding and the relatively explosive elements seem costly. It solves the old rock problem, that shock needs contrast. Here the various elements serve to widen the distance the emotion has to move, making the difference seem all the more drastic. My favorite song ("A Hundred Highways"), for example, sees Huntai crooning almost calmly over a reminiscently methodical blues bass-line, while razor sharp guitars lick the higher register. Its all very tense until the guitars erupt into a solo that is so steeped in anger and loss that I could swear that the guitarist had just suffered some sort of major life-changing trauma, sounding like the hell-fire of Hendrix, just less positive and purpose driven. Its effective in an almost physically relatable way: sputtering, moaning, vibrating out the pain. The lo-fi, surprisingly, just serves to make it more universal, in the sense that a certain distance serves to make the eccentricities of their sound seem foreign rather than weird, allowing the universally relatable sounds to rise closer to the surface.

Unfortunately this sort of relatable tension and release only seems to happen once or twice. At other times it seems that the band is simply concerned with either being eccentric, poutingly moody, or both. "True Blue", for example, just seems to be all eccentric restraint filtered through flattening lo-fi hiss. At this point I just don't know what to do with them. What are they getting at? Nostalgia? If they are I'm not feeling it.

Overall, its a hit or miss album that, if it is worth it, is worth it for the promise of more consistency later on. Hopefully Huntai will be capable of separating the creepily touching wheat from the boringly eccentric chaff.