Suffering from Success
We the Best/Cash Money/Universal Let’s be real for a second. Like really real. Mainstream rap is the pro wrestling of the 21st century, and DJ Khaled is the Vince McMahon that our dumb, status-obsessed society regurgitated in its own image like spoiled Cheez Whiz. Think about it: in the same way that the “Genetic Jackhammer” is the gushing, fake-blood heart of the WWE, Khaled is just faking it every single time he borks out another record. Still, his ability to instill that spirit of retardazoid grandiosity in every single rapper on this record makes Suffering from Success the sonic land yacht that only he could bless the planet with. And yes, your hunch was correct, a bork is a fart in a bathtub.
Get Home Safely
OpM Remember that booze-cruiser you knew in college who, despite being incapable of generating a single original thought, managed to go book a one-way ticket to Bonetown, Virginia, with pretty much anybody he met? Dom Kennedy is that guy, and his music is his coveted seed. He’s so leather-jacket-made-out-of-baby-otter-pelts-stitched-together-by-Inuits smooth that you know even Ed Gein would rather fuck him than kill him.
The Beauty in All
Mello Music Group If, after listening to this record, you can overcome the immediate and overwhelming desire to drop an elbow straight into Oddisee’s eye socket so that next time he doesn’t try quite as hard, you might find that this is one of the most winning and rewarding underground hip-hop albums you’ve heard in the current fiscal quarter. (“Q3” if you’re lame—ad guys, you realize that’s like saying “LOL” out loud, right?) Still, this motherfucker is one of the most beat-up-able bipeds to ever get stuffed into a locker, so at the end of the day I can’t in good conscience recommend his music in any form, and I’ve gotten a lot of black eyes from a lot of jocks.
Growing Up in Public
Virgin In college, because I wanted to waste some money “finding myself,” I spent a summer in London studying British People 101. Instead I found myself slogging through Wilfred Owen’s thoughts on dead teenagers, choking back breakfasts unfit for human consumption, and attending a Professor Green concert. After all, I thought, he is a famous English rapper, isn’t he? Call me anglophobic or just plain close-minded, but this guy sounded like how an open sewer smells. I actually ripped a fingernail out just to make sure I wasn’t dead. Growing Up in Public is like that experience, but worse, because someone bothered to record it for posterity. Can’t you dudes get it together and give us another Beatles, or at least another Oasis?
NYC, Hell 3:00 AM
Hippos in Tanks Sure, Eskimos have identified a thousand types of snow or whatever, but lately I’ve been seeking high-level collaborative-research grants to discover and map the innumerable types of boners on God’s green earth. I’ve learned a lot, and one surprising result of my research proves that not all lap rockets originate from normal feelings of intimacy and love. (Note: see the “MDMA street-pee stiffy” or good-old morning wood for contemporary and classical examples of what I’m talking about here.) All I had to do to fully experience the Fear Flute was listen to James Ferraro’s new album, which is so pants-shittingly terrifying that it sucked all the blood vessels from my face and brain and transported them southward faster than a van’s worth of AR-15s breezing past Mexican customs.
BEST COVER OF THE MONTH
Fool’s Gold Danny Brown’s been our favorite rapper for a couple minutes now, even though we know he’d blast a love load on our girlfriend’s stomach if given even a pube’s worth of opportunity. Actually, we like Danny Brown so much that if VICE as an editorial collective could have a girlfriend, we’d probably let him slip it in as long as we could lay claim to any child support that may or may not result. It’s not like we’re being greedy; most of it would go to bail bondsmen and psychiatric evaluations. And that’s why we love the dude, and the reason he is able to receive fellatio onstage. And yet everyone is more offended by that (and Miley Cyrus’s dumbness) than children being gassed to death in Syria.
Hyperdub These days, the proverbial South Side of Chicago is often cited as a “vibrant music scene,” not a spawning pool for dead-eyed child soldiers who can occasionally be coaxed into creating the bleak-as-death drill music that straight white male music critics are currently pounding off to ad speculum. But there’s another side to the city that has nothing to do with tubesteaks of any sort, one that’s centered around a different bass-heavy breed of club music called “footwork.” It’s a lot less murder-y, and DJ Rashad is its reigning (if oft-overlooked) king. This record is crack, but its only problem is a release through some limey professor dude’s vanity label. So I guess straight white male music critics are gonna be the only ones listening to this outside of the Big Onion after all.
Little Idiot Yeah, that’s a smiley, and you will have to deal with it as we have. The reasons to sneer at this self-styled “little bald idiot” far outweigh the reasons to defend him, but I’m sticking up for the underdog on this one: Moby is such a milquetoast little nothing compared with the deadmau5es of the world that he’ll probably just soldier on, releasing album after album into the ether, amid scattered choruses of “Oh, Moby has a new record out? Oh.” I’d rather praise Moby for what he’s not doing, instead of locating that moment where he paired a bleep with an oh-so-perfect bloop. Plus, I’d rather be lulled to sleep by the sound of his integrated conical Burr espresso grinder than the ravings of some watered-down, molly-addled 2013 version of Jenny Talia. He should stop making that tea, though, because it tastes like shit.
PAPA D. PREACH
ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER
R Plus Seven
Warp You know when it’s 4 AM on a Tuesday and you realize you’ve just watched the entirety of a two-hour infomercial for some carpet cleaner you’re never gonna buy, but you just can’t turn off the TV because it’s bright and shiny, and you’re a depressed insomniac? That’s how it feels to listen to this record. It’s like getting a late-capitalist massage in a postindustrial spa on the internet in 1080p. Yes, the vibes are totally vapor-wavy, but not in your typical made-by-a-15-year-old-kid-in-Norway way. Whatever.
BEST ALBUM OF THE MONTH
Thrill Jockey The Body is one of my favorite bands because they’re basically the Christopher Hitchens of nihilist sludge as shrieked by Donald Sutherland at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. They recently relocated from Providence to Portland, and judging from this album it sounds like life up in the big Northwest blanket fort (no wonder all the racists want to move there) has pushed these dudes deeper into whatever K-hole of sightless aggression they’re currently drifting down. This one gets five upside-down crosses shoved up Regan MacNeil’s Satanic birth canal.
Tally All the Things That You Broke
What’s Your Rupture? They say life on the road does odd things to the human mind, but the last time I texted Parquet Courts’ bassist Sean to ask if he’s been happy on tour, this was—I shit you not—his response: “It’s definitely not the most stable lifestyle. Horses smoking cigarettes, magic mushrooms, the fear. It’s all there, wrapped up in a poorly tied bow, mouth filled with old newspapers, the ashes of burning money peppered over the dimly lit metropolis of my past and future self’s imagination. 9/11, or worse, 9/12… fuck it may even be 9/13 at this point. Red-toothed prostitutes lumbering by a pit of bluegrass musicians plucking Dixie. Gamblers, racists, pregnant woman stomachache. A delicious quiche made from miserable ingredients. And that’s just in the last 24 hours. Alligator-skin running shoes, shellacked tortoises, tiger benzos. Chartreuse with Kunta Kinte while Reading Rainbow plays in the background. Humongous birds. It’s fucked. What the fuck is happening in your life?” This is why we love Sean and this record.
A-ZAP Melt-Banana is from Tokyo, but not the Smashing Pumpkins Lost in Translation Tokyo, or sexy In the Realm of the Senses Tokyo. And you might even think they’re from the drug-addled hell-scape cartoon Akira Tokyo, but they’re almost actually from Fast & Furious 7 Tokyo, if members of Atari Teenage Riot and Discordance Axis were behind the wheel. They still play the occasional grindcore song, but this record is actually way more “mature” than what you’re used to if you’ve been following their career for the past 20-odd years. Less about adorable animals and more privy to direct confrontation of the catastrophic nuclear disaster that continues to plague their country. More people should make “concept” records like this one.
Suicide Squeeze Back in high school, before I realized I was more interested in “holding the fuzzy bowling ball” than “jerking off dudes,” I was a ski instructor for a little while (and I don’t mean I was a cocaine dealer). One winter, a bunch of white South African guys did a work exchange on my mountain. None of them could ski, but they were all hot as shit, except for this one guy nicknamed Pinkie. As the winter wore on, we spent our nights drinking beer, smoking Camel Wides, and listening to horrible punk rock. Eventually, kids started to couple off, and I felt the ovary-and-ego-crushing pressure to jump into bed with somebody. One night, fueled by NOFX and 151, I clumsily pulled Pinkie into a back room and gobbled his penis like a hungry sow. After tons of screaming, he pushed me into the hallway, and later at school, I heard he said his penis had basically been scalped. “Well, he deserved it for treating me the way he did!” My lie couldn’t cover up the fact that I had no idea how to be sexual with anyone and was embarrassed and scared people would find out I was gay. Pinkie, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry, and if this record accomplishes anything, hopefully it’s your knowing that.
The Paradigm Shift
Caroline Here’s Korn’s “return to form” after The Path of Totality, which was a dubstep record for balding rap-rockers with kids and dreadlocks. Yet this sonic document harks back to the Korn of yore, the Korn of Issues and Untouchables. This is the Korn of our youth, the Korn that we, the Children of the Korn, all know and love. This is the Korn that we will remain forever faithful to. And as a lifelong Korn enthusiast, I gotta say, the sound is there, but the feeling—the just-sprouting-pubic-hair juvenile aggression that Korn imbued into every single track… Well, that shit just isn’t there. It’s like a bunch of fucking 40-year-olds tried to make a shitty Korn record or something. Oh wait, they did, and they can go fuck themselves.
JIM BREWER’S GENITALS
WORST COVER OF THE MONTH
Frontiers There are two opposing schools of thought regarding the Nuge. One contests he’s a dangerous, psychotically patriotic Tea Party nut job whose main joy in life is dragging illegal aliens behind his pickup on the way to the gun show. The other contests that he’s a harmless maniac whose every word and action can (and should) be disregarded so as not to distract from his joyous shredding. Both of these opinions are completely valid, and yes, this man should probably be in jail, but he begins this new live record by calling Pennsylvania “Pennsyl-Mania,” and that ain’t nothin’ but cool. Also, every track has a minimum of 45 guitar solos, so you might as well shut the shit up and rock the fuck out, or else shut the boring hole in your face that serves as a slot for semi-edible garbage and ignore him. It’s way easier than getting angry, since he and his family aren’t really breaking any laws… Besides that time he slaughtered a baby deer without a hunting license, or that time TSA agents found that loaded pistol in his wife’s carry-on. But in the grand scheme of things, who gives a shit.
Whales and Leeches
Relapse Have you ever hurt yourself to hurt someone else? And no, I’m not talking about your homemade high school Hot Topic commercials when you dragged a bread knife across your forearm to get back at your stepdad. I’m speaking about irreparable, future-crushing, free-falling descents into actual self-destruction, driven solely by the motive to make someone else feel like shit for being peripherally responsible. Whales and Leeches makes me feel a lot like that: brutal, tormented, and empowered by the conflicting knowledge that the pain means I’m doing something right. On that note, off to therapy. Later!
Thrill Jockey I sit next to VICE’s reviews editor. She’s got a pyromaniac streak and a lot of weird habits, like refusing to eat fruit. One time she sighed, slowly removed her headphones, turned to me, and said, “The only place to find serious art these days is in extreme, progressive metal.” Of course, I told her that a job where one listens to popular music and writes about it will, at best, lower one’s standards for art, and, at worst, retard the cognitive faculties to an eight-year-old’s comprehension level. But then, out loud, I told her she was probably right. Point is, I’m sort of surprised she recommended this record. It doesn’t sound particularly “serious” to me. It sounds like Bay Area 80s thrash and weed.
THE PURPLE ORGAN
Tripple Nipple There are weirdos who make music, and then there are guys who commandeer a studio through questionably legal means, finger up all the instruments and knobs, and smack around a microphone while spitting out gibberish like “Ding-dong, gee-jo, let’s ride the magic dragon all the way down your mom’s giblet gorge and snort clouds made of rainbows while we fuck midget Smurfs—yeah, they’re really small—in Dust Bowl-era Oklahoma.” Then these freaks pop out the other side a few weeks later with true Mutant Music. Not that the Purple Organ, also known as Doug Black, says any of the aforementioned hogwash on Little Peanuts, at least not verbatim. But making catchy, blown-out, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink-that-doubles-as-a-psychedelic-drug-lab tunes that make me hard like early Flaming Lips and Butthole Surfers is exactly his forte. And I want to fuck him for it.
DR. RUTH’S PERINEUM
The Swamps EP
Captured Tracks My ex is one of those aggravating people who hates specific things for no reason. Brooklyn is one, the internet is another, and Widowspeak is a third. I never had the energy to argue with her over what exactly it was about this fairly innocuous, affable-seeming indie-rock duo that made her blood turn to searing lava. Plus, I always liked the other things she hated, so I jumped at the chance to review this EP. After all, I like what I like, and there’s nothing she can do or say about it anymore. Well, J, you were right. I mean, not about the part where you cheated on me and acted like a psychotic hose beast. I’m talking about this band. They’re grade-A vaginal smeg. Otherwise, you were a total asshole, and I hope you have a terrible life.
THE DISMEMBERMENT PLAN
Partisan Let’s be honest for a second. Humans the world over are psyched that this record exists. My opinion on the new Dismemberment Plan record is not worth the black blood we ink these pages with. This album is not Emergency & I, but hey, nor is it Travistan, so don’t be a baby about it. Anyway, if you know who the Dismemberment Plan is, you’re probably going to listen to this regardless of what I have to say about it, and if for some reason, you’re some sort of freakish dweebazoid who doesn’t, then you probably just read this review all the way through because you were hoping I’d teach you a new euphemism for penis. Sorry.
When the Night
Neon Gold/Columbia St. Lucia has been plugging away at their craft since way, way back in 2012. But it was during this past year’s SXSW that they really caught everyone’s ear. And by “everyone,” I mean middle-aged label execs and people who think waiting in line for six hours to see the Hood Internet at the Hype Hotel is a good way to spend a spring Friday (I feel like a loser for even knowing what those two things are). Whereas synth pop is a malignant tumor in the ball bag of “indie music,” at their essence St. Lucia is a mole that should be checked regularly, and I guess that’s saying something. I like picking at moles.
SHABBA RANKS (SHABBA!)
Virgin Fade in. Sara “Lorde” Bareilles is primed and poised, iPad Mini in hand. It’s mid-March, 2013, and she’s just discovered a really cool new experimental band called the xx. She’s heard them the last time she stopped in an Urban Outfitters to pick up a few imitation-rustic bird necklaces—you can never have too many. She pulls out the iTunes gift card Starbucks gave her in exchange for curating their latest compilation, carefully reads the terms of agreement and, $9.99 later, the xx’s 2009 self-titled record is snuggly nestled into her library. She hits play. Wait a minute, she thinks. I’ve got an idea. And then the Greek chorus sings: “FUCKKKK YOUUU!!!!”
Nothing Is Real
Innovative Leisure The press release for this record mentions Los Angeles about 54 times, which is about 54 times too many (AY-OH!). But seriously though, it’s all about how they live in LA, signed to a great LA label, record in LA at the singer’s home studio, how they’ve played FYF Fest a bunch of times (in, you guessed it, LA), and they’re just crazy about the scene out there. Cool! Go choke on an avocado, fuck-os. This record has no teeth, and that’s probably because they live in… LA. Don’t get me wrong, the weather’s great, but the only people I like there have already lived and succeeded in New York for a substantial period of time. Those who haven’t and think it’s so great: I invite you to come out east and get shanked in the face when you take too long fixing your coffee at the milk-and-sugar station.
WILE E. CHODEY
RCA Come on. You really want VICE’s honest review of a Miley Cyrus album? Let’s cut to the chase: another review of Bangerz as phoned-in genero-pop. Defensive, sanctimonious contestation that review is more focused on Miley’s private cum public life than an “actually pretty OK pop album.” Rebuttal that just because someone can shamelessly throw enough money around to fart out a few undeniable hits doesn’t mean they deserve accolades. Abrupt, defensive outro citing the entire review as folly in and of itself. Smug self-satisfaction. There. Was that as good for you as it was for me? My tongue is turned sideways, wedged firmly in the crevice of a confused tween. Does that help?
LOU PEARLMAN’S PUBIC WIG
WORST ALBUM OF THE MONTH
Columbia If I were a big-time record-label executive, I’d have a biiiiiig desk and a cool old creaky leather chair. And if Cults came in to pitch me their demo, I wouldn’t get all starstruck. No way. I’d pour myself a tall, cool seltzer with ice while my secretary ushered them in. Then I’d lean toward them and take a sip from my drink. I’d sigh and say, “Listen up, gang! Your melodies are top dog! But the girl in the band stinks, and she’s got a voice like an old orangutan. Drop her like a bag of bananas!” Then there’d be a moment of sad silence and after that, Cults would get all mad at me, talk about how they played ATP when Portishead curated, and how they got a Pitchfork Best New Music. I’d just laugh and shake my head. Then I’d take a big swig of seltzer and write, NASALLY CHICK VOCALS TOO ANNOYING in red magic marker across their demo before scooting them out of my office so I could snort drugs off my midcentury teak desk and call up a bunch of escorts who I wouldn’t be able to get it up for.
Suicide Squeeze Our music site Noisey really likes these guys, but man, things must be straight-up apocalyptic in post-Grimes Montreal if you have to play Sino-Indian prog in Noh costumes just to get a publicist. Guess we have a difference of opinion here, and you know what they say about opinions: they’re like terrible bands these days, everyone’s got one.
SLEUTH “JUICY” LOOSELY