One Man Band Man
Full Surface/J Records
When Swizzy first created Casio cacophonies for DMX, we thought he killed hip-hop. Years later, he’s become the ultimate hip-hop Renaissance man. He’s also responsible for two of the year’s greatest jams, “It’s Me Bitches” and “Top Down,” so who cares what the rest of the album sounds like, this dude’s got all-around good vibes. It’s showtime!
BEST ALBUM OF THE MONTH
WORST ALBUM OF THE MONTH
BEST COVER OF THE MONTH
WORST COVER OF THE MONTH
There’s nothing better than seeing a washed-up 90s rapper fall off and then reappear with a whole new relevance. He went from being this badass grimy Brooklyn dude to making fun of how broke he is and it’s charming everyone. Go get ’em, Sean P, you can do no wrong at this point.
A few years ago, Kweli had a crossover hit. In hindsight, “Get By” was probably the worst thing that could have happened to him. To maintain the momentum of commercial acceptance, he experimented with everything from rap-rock to duets with Mary J. Blige and failed miserably every time.
, however, sees him return to his backpack roots: no-frills, no-nonsense songs with a focus that echoes “The Manifesto.” Finally, he’s doing what he does best. We won’t be mixing it in with our “best of Crime Mob” podcast any time soon, but at least (or at last), Kweli’s career is finally making sense.
I can’t front, it’s nice to see all the critical acclaim Common’s been getting. Dude’s on his seventh album and only one of them really sucks. He overcame the whole head-wrap vegetarian phase, he truly is one of the meanest lyricists out there, and he’s gracefully becoming, as his protégé-turned-mentor Kanye put it, the Marvin Gaye of rap music. But the bottom line is:
is kind of a fruitier version of his last record and I’m never going to listen to this. Except for “The Game.” Incredible song.
Eat With Me or Eat a Box Full of Bullets
This is what you title your record to get a happy face. It’s that simple.
I love this shit: “Following the footsteps of such red luminaries as Dostoevsky and Tolstoy.” Um, what? I know this guy makes a big deal out of being Russian, but if you’re going to compare rinky-dink hipster-hop to the guy who wrote
Crime and Punishment,
time to get back on the toilet-paper line, buddy. All we have here is mid-tier club fare clogged up with repetitive choruses and sucked dry of whatever dynamic may have existed. I thought Russia was supposed to be cold, so how come this is just room temperature?
NEW YOUNG PONY CLUB
Some cute ’n’ fluffy stuff here. Almost makes me nostalgic for electroclash… Almost. But what won me over is the second song, “Hiding on the Staircase,” which is clearly the hit. It’s very Tom Tom Clubby and I like the chorus when she sings, “It’s the sowwwwnd of confusianity.” Confusianity? I dunno, man, it’s funny. What can I say, I enjoy the simple pleasures.
GANG GANG DANCE
The Social Registry
Gang Gang goes electro! The first song on here, “Nicoman,” is the closest thing to a pop song that these guys have ever done. It sounds kinda like dancehall filtered through lots of fringed shawls and weird psychedelic drugs that only Native Americans know about. It’s rad. The other two songs on this lil’ EP stick to classic GGD territory: the skip-stop collage and instrumental prettiness we’ve come to know and love so well. Rave on, you guys!
There’s two schools of aging gracefully. On the one hand you can gradually phase out the wild partying and drug use and start dressing a little tidier, while still going out and doing new things and casually keeping abreast of what the kids are up to. Or you can just remain the same teetering, shirtless fuck-up and keep finding a new batch of youngsters every ten years to prop up your drunken frame. Be advised if you decide to go the David Yow route, though, you have to really give ’er or else you’ll just end up as Matthew McConaughey in that parking-lot movie.
Funny, screechy girl punk band from Atlanta. Remember Raooul? No? Oh, hmm. Well, they sound like Raooul, which is to say they sound like a funny, screechy girl punk band from San Francisco circa 1993, which is a really good thing to sound like. Except sometimes the singer does that whiny Karen O voice thing and I’d like to suggest she veer away from that in the future. Nevertheless, good stuff! “Don’t Touch My Shit” is the jam. When the singer shrieks, “Don’t touch my SHIIIIIIIIIT!” it really makes you not want to touch her shit. And you know what else, it’s relatable. People touch my shit all the time even when I don’t want them to, and now I have a song with which to express my displeasure next time my shit is touched by houseguests, coworkers, or whoever! Thanks, Coathangers!
Yup, I get it: “Who gives a shit, fuck you, we can’t be bothered to play our songs properly because we’re so crazy spastic we get wasted and fall down on stage so beware our dangerously unintelligible lo-fi whirlwind of insanity and punk rockitude, dude!” This shtick has oversold itself many times over, especially when you realize they DO give a shit enough to maintain a MySpace page and update their Blogspot with new-release info. Like, “Dude, I’m so fucking nuts I’m gonna reformat our album cover as a lo-res jpeg!” Plus in real life you know they must be totally nice guys, and there you go, point proven.
In 1995, disenfranchised JNCOs-and-labret kids everywhere would have swarmed on Droid. However, it’s over a decade later and the fans are all working in meth labs or AutoZone, oblivious to metal’s evolution past groove-moshing and all things Ross Robinson. Some even diverged into nonsensical genres like “emo” or “electronica” in order to continue the same kind of vicarious self-absorption but with a better wardrobe and cuter girls. Pity poor Droid, left behind by the fleeting whims of children, lush goatees forever consigned to active-rock limbo in the bowels of America’s sports-bar circuit.
Some people compose sonorous works of art, while others weave words into poetry. Then there are kids who like to smack those people in the face with a belt sander that’s plugged in and dialed up to full blast. I’ve never been a big fan of all that meticulous erudition stuff, but I sure do get off on the scraping and screaming. With this in mind, if you still find yourself unsure which side of the fence you belong on, don’t sweat it. Thirty seconds of Aerosols will just cleave your ass in half.
Going Way Out With Heavy Trash
Ah, the fall of Jon Spencer has been like watching a giant oak tree die from disease. Stepping backward from blues slumming to sub-Stray Cats crapabilly, Spencer and Matt Verta-Ray (the guy from the rightfully forgotten Speedball Baby, and guess what? Not his real name) wake up every morning and believe it to be another decade. Back-alley rumble, shall we? Fuck this pomo
We’re Not Men
Uh oh: return of the “personal/emotional hardcore record!” But wait! Don’t be so quick to chuck DT into that stagnant Ebullition-issue leachate pool. For the first time in a long time, a band is successfully balancing introspection and vulnerability on a solid fulcrum of boiling pissed-offness.
We’re Not Men
is smart, succinct, and flawlessly executed, ranking a spot on the shelf next to well-worn copies of Ignition’s Sinker EP and Threadbare’s
Feeling Older Faster
. It also scores highly among those who hate hearing about arcane punk bullshit and just want to enjoy their own cathartic good time. Those people don’t read record reviews though.
TICK VON SPASM
If you’re a rich gay Asian, San Francisco is mecca. If you’re anyone else, it’s a smoldering cesspool of dinks, douches, and other assorted wieners pretending to enjoy third-rate living at first-rate prices. But just like gold rises to the top in a bowl of shit (I made that up), Two Gallants have emerged from the mess and continue, with this, their third LP, to blow all other current drum-guitar combos out of the water. That’s right—all of them.
THE DEADLY SYNDROME
I grew up listening to really shitty hardcore, then moved on when I wanted to see girls naked in places other than the internet. So when I tell you that this is so fucking lame that it makes me want to drive down the New Jersey Turnpike in a headband and listen to E-Town Concrete on repeat, take that seriously. “Beat you like a drum/To show you where I’m from! STRAIGHT FROM THE E-TOWN CONCRETE!!!!!!!”
LES SAVY FAV
Let’s Still Be Friends
Since Morgan from Diamond Nights moved to LA to complete his transformation into Jennifer Aniston, there are only a few good bands left in Brooklyn that survived “Brooklyn”—right now, we’ve got Les Savy Fav, Cheeseburger, and…? Wow, thank God the Fav are back. Thank Godder this is their best work yet. Neck and neck with the ’Burger for record of the year. Seriously.
OIL CAN BOY
HOT HOT HEAT
Honestly, I wish more mediocre bands did this goofy-singing thing where it sounds like someone with an English accent trying to make fun of someone with an even Englishier accent. It really hammers home the Sting-like genius of Hot Hot Heat’s lyrics such as “Our beautiful memories, pillaged by the termites of time” (delivered with picture-perfect sincerity). I still can’t believe that asshole was an English teacher (Sting, not these dipshits).
Trees Outside the Academy
Expecting an album full of pointless noise or a guest spot filled by (insert obscure free-jazz saxophonist here), aka exactly what the world doesn’t need more of? Think again! These semi-brooding ditties further prove that the only good Sonic Youth is pop-song Sonic Youth, without all of the avant-accoutrements clogging up the process. Surprisingly, the perpetual cello is not irritating, and not so surprisingly, J. Mascis provides some guitar-shop-loiterer fret-board-burning solos that, if done by anyone else, would suck.
I’ll Follow You
Oakley Hall’s new album answers a lot of hypothetical questions. Like what if those old Lone Justice albums and other early-80s Paisley-Underground-gone-country moments were actually good? Or what if the entire history of alt-country and neo-roots rock disappeared, leaving just one amazing band?
Grass Geysers…Carbon Clouds
Touch and Go
Hey, here is a band that has always sucked and still sucks.
My mom once walked in on me jerking off. I had a Blind Melon quote on my Trapper Keeper in high school. I had spacers and wore Krishna beads. In the face of all of these grand embarrassments, liking this record takes the cake. A flamboyant homo covers Black Flag (and is not Black Fag), makes it vaguely theatrical, and kills it. I’m cashing out my punk points at the door, maybe I can still score some novelty sunglasses.
We Sing of Only Blood or Love
Whenever scientists come up with a new way to whiten teeth or make low-fat butter or something, you hear people say, “Shouldn’t they have been doing something more worthwhile, like curing AIDS or fixing the environment?” Similarly, when I hear about yet another new acoustic Southern-rock act, I wonder, can’t we dump this guy on a melting glacier and give him AIDS? I mean, OK, that’s not exactly the same thing, but the point is, the world has lots of problems and we need to stop wasting time and find real solutions. At least I’m fucking trying. What the fuck’ve you done?
Man, is this all over the place. I typically like a little bit of a buffer between my growling black-metal pastiches, my spacey Kraut synth, and my weird XTC-sounding jangle tunes, just to give my mind a second to breathe, you know? When you fling them all out there at once, wires get crossed, and instead of saying sensible things like “This is a lot better than their last album” or “Hand me that pipe, please,” all my brain keeps repeating is “Oh no you di’n’t [
KASPER VAN DYKE
Christ, what the fuck is that thing on the cover? Can you see that? It’s like some sort of weird reptilian
hand that looks like it was clipped from a 30-year-old newspaper. It took me two tries to make it through this album, and it’s all the fault of those weird stalky fingers. (Not to mention the frightening text along the side that says stuff like “anus stab” and “unbeings.”) Good stuff once I did though—just the kind of well-crafted organic noise you’d expect from a Black Dice pro.
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa 7"
Free News Projects
Free News always puts out the prettiest vinyl singles. Usually they’re picture discs, but this one is bright banana yellow and as thick as a Frisbee. I don’t know if everything just sounds better on my dinky old record player, but these two songs are surprisingly awesome. I hear these guys are the big new buzz band, which is bizarre for a bunch of Columbia University students who namedrop Peter Gabriel in the chorus of their single, and who sound like a mixture of Belle and Sebastian, Arctic Monkeys, and Paul Simon’s Graceland. So “preppy Afrobeat” is the next big thing then, eh? Weird. Bring it on, I guess.
Erase Errata girl has made an album where every song sounds like a cover of a different band. The first (and best) song reminds me of Throwing Muses. Other ones sound like Freakwater, Chicks on Speed, the Need, Helium, and just about any other 90s girl band you can think of—which is interesting because Erase Errata also tend to sound a whole lot like a defunct 90s girl noise band called the Scissor Girls, who, sadly, no one remembers. So we’re not dealing with much originality here, but I do like the first song, so, ka-thunk!—I’m slappin’ a happy face on it.
This record is so good that we love it even after the band turned down our interview request. (Apparently they “hate
,” though no reason was given.) It’s not surprising, though, since they are rumored to be “snooty” and “prima donnas.” And yet—and yet!—we STILL love them from the bottoms of our poor little ostracized hearts. Yes, sometimes they sound A LOT like Sonic Youth—Lee Renaldo even recorded the album and plays guitar on it—but they are by far the best out of the legions of bands that sound like Sonic Youth. Elisa, the singer/guitarist, has shades of Kim Gordon, Kat Bjelland, and Chan Marshall (wow!) and she manages to pull off ridiculous lyrics like “I am the secular Pentecost/Squeezing out the blue snake” with such coolness that you can’t even laugh at it. Touché, pretension.
But PS: Fuck you guys, for real.