Tha Carter II
I’m looking at my 1999 Hot Boys album cover. Lil’ Wayne was about 14 years old. He was an adorable boy with a baby face and a mini Afro. On record, he sounded like a harmless little frog. Now he croaks like a seasoned toad, looks like Bob Marley’s son, and also happens to be the best MC in hip-hop. How did that happen? People don’t believe me when I tell them the only guy who could probably fuck with him is Jay. Then I play them
Tha Carter I
mixtape. They’re systematically convinced. Though not quite as densely filled with lyrical acrobatics as the previous album,
Tha Carter II
is way more consistent and listenable. Man, who knew Lil’ Wayne was the next Pharaoh Monch? Plus the only guest on this record is Kurupt. How gangsta is that?
BEST ALBUM OF THE MONTH
What the Game’s Been Missing
See what all this hype can do to a nigga? Don’t get me wrong, Juelz is our dog, but somehow his album doesn’t live up to the level of anticipation built up by the holy trinity of mixtapes:
Back Like Cooked Crack Vol. 1, Back Like Cooked Crack Vol. 2: More Crack
Back Like Cooked Crack Vol. 3: Fiend Out
. My personal favorite is
Back Like Cooked Crack Vol. 2: More Crack
, but I still strongly recommend
Back Like Cooked Crack Vol. 1
Back Like Cooked Crack Vol. 3: Fiend Out.
I just feel
Back Like Cooked Crack Vol. 2: More Crack
has more of that crack. Ya dig?
Jay Dee is truly one of the best that ever did it. I say that to say this: We send you our love, prayers, and most heartfelt support. Get well soon, playboy.
That’s my man right there; I like that dude. Don’t get fooled by the fact that his name sounds like a 19th-century boar hunter from Normandy. This Montreal luminary’s got the blogs going nuts over his quest to push hip-hop forward… if you’re into that sort of thing.
Aceyalone & RJD2
Like an RJD2 beat CD, but in order to prevent you from two-tracking the beats, he put Aceyalone on it. Acey’s effort is worthy of mention, but I’m still waiting for the instrumental version.
Coming On Strong
Dudes can’t decide whether they’re Ween-does-dance or Prince-does-Prins-Thomas (though if you believe that one song, Hot Chip is “down” with the midget). For the growing set of eight-balled indie-dance assholes who get track tips from glossy blogs and blah glossies, this album’s a revelation. The rest of you pricks? Pick up “Baby Wants to Ride” and call it a fucking night already.
I was in Belgium a few months ago, getting really bummed by all the scrawny Flemish kids in enormous North Face parkas busting moves across the street from my hotel, when this tiny Citroën blaring really tinny house music pulled up right next to them at a stoplight. All the little Fliggaz immediately started pelting it with rocks and cans, and I thought to myself from the window, “Well, at least those two streams will never converge.” Fuck.
Far Away Trains Passing By
Now this is so great. Two-CD reissue of his first record with a second disc of six rare tracks. Totally flows better than his second record. This stuff is less anxious, more even, and so, so pretty and cozy with less vocal backing. Like M83, he gets compared to Slowdive and whatnot (and he does cover Neil Halstead). Kind of like a seriously good Morr Music record you haven’t heard before. I totally get why people care about this dude now.
I Am Come
I legitimately cannot remember the last time that I put on a record I knew absolutely nothing about and it turned out to be awesome, which is simultaneously thrilling and deeply troubling. But wow, this really is awesome. I didn’t realize people were still doing “awesome.” Cool.
Love That’s Last
Here we have the whole “Look, I’m not just saying this because you’re my friend, but I honestly think your nose is a perfect size. Look at how well it fits your face” phenomenon. Watch: “Look, gigantic black lead-singer superhero, I’m not just saying that your new record is killer because you probably know where I work and could come here, rip my leg off, shove it up my ass and out my mouth, forcing me to kick myself in the nose with my own severed limb. I’m saying it because it honestly is one of the more inventive and remarkable records I’ve heard this year.” See? That sounds insincere.
Originally recorded in 1996, Stormblast is regarded by dudes who know their shit as one of the defining moments of Dimmu’s career. A lot of those same dudes are crying blasphemy at this modern retooling of a classic black-metal record, but then again, if it weren’t for blasphemy we’d all be listening to the Beach Boys anyway. To a loser n00b like me who has been into this band for like, two seconds, it sounds like a high-speed symphonic killing machine and that’s good enough. Corpse-paint nerds are never happy anyway; that’s what makes them so adorable.
VOLSTAGG THE VOLUMINOUS
Are a Total Wreck 7"
Such a fucking amazing mess of a record—obnoxious imbecility played a million miles an hour and exploding in midair before it hits the wall. I have yawned my way through so many bands trying to so-perfectly craft their angst and never come close to a song like “Shitty Life” or “Nuke the Frats.” If you turn your nose up at this, you probably don’t realize that it’s aimed at you. Yes, you.
Not kidding: This band sells sweatpants with “Eat Shit” screened across the ass. Once only worn at the gym, sweatpants are now the official uniform of the fat and unemployed. Grown men and women wear them to Wal-Mart and the DMV like nothing matters anymore and they’ve totally given up on life to the point where even getting dressed is an overwhelming task. Based on this, I imagine Shattered Realm is selling merch to A) suicidal welfare recipients, or B) people who like jogging but feel like telling off the dude behind them. Hopefully it’s group B, since group A can’t afford CDs.
Out of Aferica
If you didn’t know, guys from Heroine Sheiks used to be in Swans and Cows, two bands that spent the 80s and 90s scaring the living shit out of everybody. So if you dig catchy, happy tunes that make waiting on line at Starbucks lots of fun, then this will just make you type a little frowning emoticon. But for people who want to hear rock music awkwardly dismantled, drowned, and put together again by ex-junkie maniacs, find a copy of this and shove it into yourself as loudly as possible. It’s like the antidote for life.
Numbers From the Beast: An All-Star Salute to Iron Maiden
The worst members of the worst bands from the worst era in music have united to bring you the worst tribute record ever conceived. Remember the bass player from Mr. Big? Or the singer for Judas Priest after Halford? Sure you don’t, but the dickwads who put this record together have dug them up to re-create what could be an ever-changing lineup for the cover band at Dee Snider’s bachelor party. I hope Billy Idol’s drummer can sleep well knowing his contribution to “Run to the Hills” has been a ripple within this undulating sea of diarrhea.
FOR-REAL NEIL CALLAGHAN
I like the way this guy says “dev-eeyul” and “ee-veeyul.” It’s good for a chuckle. Hey, what if I only ever listened to this and the Darkness and Ween and Tenacious D for the rest of my life? Do you think my virginity would grow back?
Waiting to Wash Up
Fuck, remember fun? It was that thing you used to do every day before you got consumed in whatever boring shit is depressing you, remember? It involved a lot of laughing, riffing, losing it, and not caring. That shit was awesome. I’m going to start doing a lot more of that. If you’re looking for me I’ll be hanging out in the sun with my Pink Razors CD. Later, losers!
What the Toll Tells
Put aside the fact that Two Gallants are on a label that has polluted our ears with sad boys in sweaters crying about sad girls in too much makeup. That has NOTHING to do with this band. Take Kerouac with his up-too-late, thinking-too-much, missing-everything-and-needing-nothing amphetamine-fueled rants, add it to foot-pounding front-porch anthems with swelling guitars and you’ve got an unbeatable album. It’s a bit early, but I can already tell you this is going to be in my top five of 2006.
[Kerouac? More like CARE-oac—Ed.]
The Lovvers LP
This is a fun formula, let’s keep it going. How about Cancer Squirrel? Ha, good one. SARS Puppy! OK, OK, good, keep it up. Bird Flu Raccoon! OK, that doesn’t really make sense, but fine—um, Leprosy Tiger. Nice, nice…Arthritis Falcon! Whooping Cough Duck! Polio Jaguar! Head Cold Gerbil! Pneumonia Pigeon! Rickets Turtle! Bahaha, whoooo, I’m winded. Fuck this, I could go on all night.
BRAD AND RANDY
From a Compound Eye
Remember when you would do shrooms in high school, and right before you would eat them, there would always be one guy who was like, “I brought this joint. We should smoke it”? Oh really? Why? I’m about to hallucinate for six hours, maybe it’s OK if I’m not high for the next 20 minutes.
The Make Up
Sea Note/Drag City
I dunno what prompted the release of a live album six years after the fact, but why bother with niggling questions when you’ve got a record this righteous. This is from peak later-era Make Up, when they started to get all psychy and it was like the perfect combo of hyperactive soul parody (sorry, “homage”) and seriously heavy rocking. The Make Up was one of the greatest live bands I ever saw, and I saw them a lot. I miss them.
Oh man do I hope the guys from this band don’t see this and come hunt me down with their slouching and their kerchiefs and open collars and white ’fros and kick me with their pointy boots, ’cause they’re so “New York” and I couldn’t take it. Can we please put a cap on “vest rock” so I can stop shitting myself in terror at all its toughness and authenticity for, like, five minutes, please?
THE CRAPPY BOY
There were two muffins in an oven. One turned to the other and said, “Wow, sure is getting hot in here, huh?” And the other one said, “HOLY SHIT, a talking muffin!!”
The Plastic Constellations
How bad was it in high school lit class when that idiot who thought he was waaay above everyone else tried to compare Don Quixote and the windmills to punk music and the government or the mall or some such? Try to imagine how many times more intense the collective cringe would have been if the next day he came in and made everyone listen to a set of songs he’d written about it.
Jam much? This is some awesome country music by a couple of Brooklyn rock pros who just go and stick a psychedelic banjo-freakout solo in the middle of a country song about a sad drunkard like it’s no big deal. Throw in some gung-ho harmonies reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac singing “The Chain,” and you’ve got yourself an epic country-rock jammer that makes me wish I was way more stoned than I am right now (which is actually pretty stoned).
Get Iggy With It
Iggy Sniff is also in the Icelandic band Singapore Sling. This is a super narcotic solo thing, complete with Lou Reed covers and lots of tambourine. Classic.
The Last Romance
Snappy and crushing at the same time, like humming “What a Wonderful World” as you slowly slice your wrists while laying in bed next to your sleeping lover.
Tortoise and Bonnie "Prince" Billy
The Brave and the Bold
Good ol’ Bonnie givin’ the old New South treatment to classics like “Thunder Road” and “Daniel.” And with Chi-Town’s finest coming through with the seamless production, it’s like crisp new tighty-whities worn under an old pair of saggy, baggy, patchwork corduroy overalls. What? No, but seriously, does Will Oldham make a good-to-great record every time he breathes?
Kill Rock Stars
I know I’m supposed to like this cuz it’s the guy from the Decemberists, but guess what, I don’t like the Decemberists.
HIGH STAKES CANASTA
Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins
Rabbit Fur Coat
Maybe I’ve been reading too much Jane magazine lately, but holy shit am I ever onboard the I-heart-Jenny-Lewis bus right now. There are some truly beautiful-ass countryish songs on here (“Rise Up With Fists!!” is the winner), plus a freakin’ Traveling Wilburys cover that I love so much I am afraid I might be retarded. Oh well! At least I’m happy.
Comfort of Strangers
On her first album, the first song, “Stolen Car,” was really good. On this album, again, the first song, “Worms,” is kinda decent. After number one, however, you’ll feel like you wanna take a number two on your stereo, cuz it all starts to sound like one long annoying song until you finally say “I don’t care for this” to your friend and press eject.
I Am the Resurrection: A Tribute to John Fahey
I once saw Fahey performing at CBGB, and the crowd did nothing but talk during Fahey’s quiet, subtle acoustic-guitar set. There was one annoying girl behind me gabbing nonstop, and also a guy who kept asking her to be quiet (she didn’t). Finally, the guy screamed full volume at her, “WOULD YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP!?!” Everyone turned around (Fahey even stopped playing), and guess who the guy was. Lee Ranaldo, clearly suffering from a bout of “folk rage.” Yet another “classic” rock ’n’ roll moment at CBGB, just like the ones you’re always reading about in the history books.
This Time Ours
It’s hard to imagine this sat in somebody’s basement for almost 20 years completely unheard. In the mid-80s, these guys were up there with Hüsker Dü and Rites of Spring as far as unbridled speed and emotional intensity were concerned. Supposedly, the night after recording this, their only album, the singer and bassist got in a fistfight outside the studio and the former took off in their van from upstate NY to the Yukon, where he joined a fucking Inuit tribe. Man, whatever happened to musicians doing legitimately crazy shit?
Belle and Sebastian
The Life Pursuit
I could just listen to Belle and Sebastian for the rest of my life and be perfectly happy, even if they are starting to sound somewhat disturbingly like a cartoon bubblegum band. Actually, what am I saying? Cartoon bubblegum bands are rad. The lyrics on here are just as sweet as ever too. What can I say? I’m a superfan.
The National Trust
Kings and Queens
I am so skeeved-out by this I feel like I have giant scabies. Like that scene in King Kong with the huge bugs all over Adrien Brody. This record is that scene.
Town and Country
Holy shit, this is these guys’ sixth album. Nuts. Do they have fans? Maybe they don’t tour enough. You can see why Thrill Jockey likes them (they’re instrumental and Kraut-informed), but it’s more or less just light, meandering backgroundness.
Niko et La Berlue
Remember that episode of Real World London when the German roommate declared, “House music is my life”? Well, actually, Germans are about way more than just electronic beats and glo-sticks; they are also obsessed with gnomes. It is a well-known fact that gnomes do not like techno. No, they prefer stuff like this—gnome-friendly tunes with Itchy and Scratchy vocals over instruments like the kazoo or cowbell in a style highly influenced by grade-school band practice and the Brazilian group Os Mutantes. Not only do gnomes like to host dance parties with this, they also highly recommend using it as a sleeping aid for insomniacs.
Live Katmas Eve
It sure is nice to see an artist forego the prissy-princess route of playing music and not let a little something like having full-blown AIDS get in the way of dressing up like a giant cat dressed up like FDR dressed up like Hitler and raging his little wheelchair around the stage like a one-mancat demolition derby. If these guys come anywhere near where you live, do whatever it takes to see them, cause frontman Herschel Assfiend is actually dying, they have been permanently banned from almost every venue they’ve played so far, and you will swear to holy whatever that you accidentally stepped into an alternate reality where GG Allin was gay, had AIDS, and fronted Oingo Boingo.
This alb’s kind of weird, cuz about every three songs it sort of drifts from their usual Steve-Reich-and-medieval-lute fanclubbing straight into luxury-sedan-commercial territory, then perks right back up to pleasant chirpy plunking. Maybe carefully plucking all those dainty mandolins and ukuleles made them so tired they had to keep doing that myoclonic head-jerk thing to keep it together. Get some sleep, you guys!
All right, we get it: You guys are amazing. Now can you PLEASE take it fucking easy for a minute? I swear I just finished listening to the album from—what, last week?—and got up to take it out of the stereo, and this little guy was already sitting there waiting for me like I was in Wonderland or something. Far be it from me to gripe about limitless streams of mind-kickingly good psych-electronica, but as with doing lines, there comes a point where you’ve got to say thanks, but I hit my limit a while ago.