How many of you think hip-hop’s best days are behind us? How many of you think we’re in a new golden age for rap? OK—how many of you don’t give a shit?
My Krazy Life
How many of you think hip-hop’s best days are behind us? How many of you think we’re in a new golden age for rap? OK—how many of you don’t give a shit? According to our market research, you already dress like you don’t give a shit. So let’s get some fucking action around here! Go ahead: Put down the magazine, pull down your pants, and piss all over the guy in front of you.
We usually don’t like to rate women’s records based solely on how steely they make our Dan, but this bombshell Aussie high-school dropout has made her wild pineapple ass such a huge part of her marketing campaign that it would be misogynist not to grade her on it. Have you seen that thing lately? It looks like two baby belugas slow dancing.
FREDDIE GIBBS & MADLIB
Freddie Gibbs is one of the best MCs ever to take his ski mask off long enough to spit a 16, and Madlib makes better beats than Jesus would if Jesus made beats. On this record, like Spade and Farley before them, they bring out the best in each other: Freddie becomes a psychedelic drug-thug cowboy, ready to save the day by completely trashing it, and Madlib sounds like he’s been sharpening his rare 45s so he could throw one and cut your head off. Please note that this review is biased because the last time I hung out with Freddie he got me so faded off lean and haze I was huffing laps around the editorial office trying not to have a panic attack.
John Dwyer is this scrappy punk dude from SF who parties extremely hard and has been in all our favorite bands, including Pink and Brown, Coachwhips, and Thee Oh Sees, the greatest live rock ’n’ roll band Fog City’s ever known. The only thing weird about John is that he plays with his guitar slung really high up on his chest, which makes him look like a pro-Soviet Hungarian militiaman. Thee Oh Sees is on indefinite hiatus, so he’s finally got the time to focus on a navel-gazing bleepy-bloop solo project that no one will give a rat’s taint about in a month. Cover art’s cool, though.
Arts & Crafts
Since your last record, you’ve ditched that four-eyed Austra chick and are now a solo act. That must have been a hard decision, but I want you to know that I think you’re brave and made the right choice. Your alien voice, arpeggiated waves, floppy hair, and thumping beats slide out of your body and deep into mine, but I would like to take our relationship further and make sex with your actual penis. All your songs are about me.
We Got a Love
This is the sort of nutless dance garbage that’s impossible to have an opinion about. Since this douchey Irish house DJ already reviewed himself with that pseudonym, allow me to remind you that (A) his last album was called From the Cradle to the Rave and (B) your time would be better spent wrapping your lips around Fozzie Bear’s hairy schlong.
JARGON SCOTT’S LEGLESS DOGS
Asperger’s is the new gay. This means that those rocking it may be misunderstood now, but they’ll eventually be recognized as pioneering geniuses. For example, Kanye’s been on the spectrum since “Through the Wire,” but like any savant, he excels at one very specific thing: executive-producing some of the most striking rap music ever, and pushing the genre (and its listeners) light years into the future. Evian Christ worked on Yeezus, which is a greater contribution than splitting the atom and Stonewall combined.
BEST ALBUM OF THE MONTH
Guilty of Everything
Look, sometimes you’re just fucking scared, OK? If you’re too hetero to admit that, then maybe we shouldn’t be friends. Like, I can see 30 so clearly, and if I just keep running long enough, keep my job, and stay with my fiancé, maybe things will work out for me. But I’m consumed with this crushing fear that if I look down, all I’ll see is 30,000 feet between me and the jagged wreckage of my life—all the people I’ve let down, all the opportunities I’ve blown, all these mindless obligations that are the foundation of my pointless, stupid existence. It’s times like these when only two things work for me: exceptionally conceived, downer shoe gaze like this, and Seinfeld.
DUKUS P. TEKUM
TAKING BACK SUNDAY
Whoo, boy. Sounds like somebody’s going through a shitty divorce. That must be extra aggravating when you’ve got more nautical-star tattoos than toes. You know what’s cool? Dedication. You know what’s not cool? Sad-ass humping in a loveless marriage, which is exactly what I imagine Taking Back Sunday band practice looks like. Maybe these guys should consider hocking their pyramid belts to fund a tropical Vipassana retreat or something.
Underneath the Rainbow
Here at VICE Media, we fire people all the time. Even if you’re super hot and popular, we’ll shitcan your ass and laugh about it the next day. Hell, we’d bring the company mascot out to the middle of the football field and put a bullet in its brains if it recommended an incompatible brand partner for content creation or something. Over the years, it’s become a team-building sort of thing, and whenever we give some new guy the boot the Black Lips have been there in the lobby to play him out with a cover of the Benny Hill theme and one of those giant novelty candy canes. (Fun fact: That’s the origin of the timeless saying, “Don’t let the Black Lips kick you in the ass on the way out!”)
Say Yes to Love
The first time I met Meredith Graves I was a fat, drunk college kid with rosacea scars, slamming tall boys at a locals-only punk bar in Syracuse. Everyone was rocking salt-stained Vans and skinny jeans from the mall when she rolled up with a pixie cut, mink coat, and a fat little baby friend named Cupid, who promptly fired off 300 heart arrows into my vagina. After that we had some cool times but never hung out because she had too much social anxiety. Whatever. I see now we never became friends because she was saving up all her piss and vinegar and poetry to front the best band ever and save the world with love and music.
Wait, what happened to all the guitars and drums and monotone yelling and talk-singing? Gone is the kinda Fugazi, kinda Gang of Four, mostly weirdo vibe, and in its place is some sort of chintzy industrial goth? No offense, guys, but pretty much everyone does this better than you.
BEST COVER OF THE MONTH
Wayfaring Strangers: Darkscorch Canticles
Playing role-playing games is a commitment that brands you for a life as swirlie bait. If you want to pretend to be a dwarf in your living room without living the lifestyle, we suggest HeroQuest, a board game that won’t scar you the way D&D or Magic: The Gathering will. I used to play frequently with my older cousins, and I turned into a fairly normal human who isn’t into fantasy. But the bands on this comp have names like Triton Warrior, Medusa, and Gorgon Medusa, and ever since I nabbed a promo copy I’ve been silently awaiting the return of the goatish lich king so that I may plunge my dwarven foe hammer into his urchin-snouted meat cleaver. (I get to be the dwarf, though. I’m always the dwarf.)
FIRE OF WRATH
One time Ume opened up for Blonde Redhead on a bill in my consciousness, and then they never played there ever again.
Every July when I was a kid, my relatives would trek to rural Vermont and have a huge pig roast with my grandmother’s side of the family. It was always really insane. It was a lawless paradise where, at 11 years old, I sat atop a rumbling Harley-Davidson watching my mom ice-luge Johnnie Walker while my grandma waltzed with a blow-up sex doll. For some reason I feel like the Men were there for it all. This album really brings me back.
Future Islands is a band that’s built its career on creating a bunch of songs about being heartbroken and feeling really, really sad. That’s cool. We’re into it. It sucks when relationships end, whatever. But what makes these dudes rule is that, while crying your eyes out, it’s perfectly acceptable to take a swig of that molly water and dance your Chuck Taylors off and do everything you can to forget that dumb ex who did that dumb stuff to you while you do dumb stuff with a dumb new person on the dance floor.
NEW YORK TIMES MOLLY TRENDPIECE
Leave it to a graphic designer to make the Helvetica of electro-acoustic ambient post-rock—neutral tones, spare production, minimal clarity with zero “meaning,” whatever that means. Could you imagine if they filtered this stuff into the mall? I’d probably drop a hundo at PacSun with zero guilt.
The Drop Beneath
I like this band, and I like this album, mostly because the singer and bassist sound like they’re lamping out on beanbag chairs while the drummer wrestles with a bout of chronic hypertension. This would play well with people who wish all that nerdy 80s Glasgow indie pop would sprout a pube or three.
The Soul of All Natural Things
This is the second album by California singer Linda Perhacs, ending a 44-year absence since her cult 1970 record, Parallelograms. Like Vashti Bunyan and Sibylle Baier, Perhacs cut one album of moody, psychedelic folk and fell into obscurity, only to be rediscovered during the great New Weird America gold rush of 2003, except she was working as a dental hygienist. Speaking of 2003, Devendra Banhart has now skip-farted out eight records of banal tropicália poseury and banged Natalie Portman on a filthy Anthropologie rug. I’m turning 30 this year, and I still have trouble finding matching socks in the morning.
The Private World of Paradise
I’m usually prejudiced against groups with retarded band names, but I gave this one a shot and listened all the way through to see why their publicist wouldn’t shut the fuck up about them. Wake Owl’s new record is called The Private World of Paradise, which would only be cool if it were a porno starring Vanessa Paradis’s sweet dappled ass. What really sucks is that this pedestrian indie rock is so boring it’ll get the coveted Jeff Tweedy endorsement. I know it’s fun to lower your musical standards to the point where they’re already met, but don’t force it on the rest of the world.
MUMFORD & SUNDERMANN
THE HOLD STEADY
Not really sure why the Hold Steady exists in 2014, honestly, but this record is pretty sick, mainly because if the Hold Steady aren’t making Hold Steady records, nobody else will. Craig Finn, a.k.a. the Dream Dad of every doofus with a drinking problem and a John Berryman tattoo, is doing this weird reverby thing with his voice that makes him sound like he’s singing into the Large Hadron Collider, but it works well enough, I guess. This is one of those records that gets a “Hesitant Smiley,” in that I like it but don’t really give a shit if you actually listen to it.
WORST COVER OF THE MONTH
Run for Cover
It’s a long-standing urban legend that dropping a rat in a bucket of Mountain Dew will cause it to dissolve on contact. Picture that in your mind’s eye—a squealing, bug-eyed piece of vermin, its flesh sizzling from the harsh bite of calcium dissodium EDTA, brominated vegetable oil, and Yellow 5 as it is reduced to nothing, leaving only a neon brownish-yellow plasma in its place. It’s also, coincidentally enough, how I would describe this record.
WORST ALBUM OF THE MONTH
Mirrors in the Sky
This lady is the perfect embodiment of my least favorite trend in girl music today—when indie popster chicks are so self-conscious and scared of failure that they produce harmless music that’s impossible to criticize by dint of its lack of vision. Come on, Lyla! Don’t you know we can all smell fear? Whatever. This is an open Lykke Li rip, right down to the number of syllables in their names (only when I listen to “Little Bit” I get the feeling that, unlike Lyla, li’l Lykke has actually had a cock-induced orgasm in her life).
UH HUH HER
I feel bad for these guys. Their PR rep sent me a copy of this record at that exact moment in the month when I’m so late filing copy and so sick of music that I will literally drop a linguistic butt cobra on any band that enters my inbox. So here’s what I’m thinking about this one: These are the types of leather-clad, faux “wild girls” that make it impossible for me to find dudes, because men are a wreck after they go out with them. Also, the PJ Harvey reference doesn’t make this potted electro-pop halfway tolerable.
Five young men ride in a slightly distressed van, leaving miles and miles of asphalt behind them. Most wear interesting sweaters, save one—he wears interesting glasses instead. They have been driving through the arid plains for what seems like days. The man in interesting glasses breaks his focus from the cacti dotting the highway shoulder. He looks at another shoulder, one in an interesting sweater. Dreamy guitar noodles, turning 30, waking and baking. The sun melts into the Arizona border. They make out. I join. Eventually we pull over to split some edamame hummus.
In a heroic act of determination, VICE’s reviews editor has been trying to get a copy of this record from George Michael’s publicity team for a week now. I’ve been on CC the whole time and marveled at his perseverance, firing off emails as he lies in bed with his girlfriend so he can catch the UK publicity company before they leave for the day, all so that I can make fun of George Michael’s new symphonic smegma. Usually when we ask for albums to review, they immediately forward along a download link or whatever, but this company (who have AOL email addresses, mind you) first wanted to have a “call” about it, then promised they’d connect us to the right person in their US division, then claimed they had no email contacts for them. As I sat taking a dump and reading the chain, I pondered the complete and utter uselessness of writing a review of George Michael’s new CD. But then I remembered that this was the most shits anyone had or would ever give about George Michael’s new CD, and I realized I’d done my good deed for the day.
Koen Holtkamp was one half of Mountains, a band that made a career out of feeding acoustic instruments through oscillators and modular synths. Now he’s gone solo and started pounding out more virtuosic-electronic esoterica. It would be a lie if I said this stuff doesn’t get boring, but for stony space doodles, you could do much worse.
Owls was always the least embarrassing of the Tim Kinsella projects, and now that it’s finally put out another record of mathy avant rock after 13 years I can pick up where I left off—smoking cigarettes behind a West Hartford teen center, wishing I were somewhere else.
City Slang really shouldn’t eagerly advertise in their press release that the 40ish-looking experimental musician—who has “brought an exciting new perspective to the prepared piano”—had honestly, seriously, actually, 100-percent really never heard of the pioneering work John Cage made more than half a century ago. I know you want me to think I’m listening to genius without precedent, but what I really think is that I’m listening to an ignorant IT guy who spilled kale chips on his girlfriend’s baby grand and forgot to clean them up before returning to Ableton.
DO YR HOMEWORK
Remember that dude from your freshman year of high school who sat in the back of the bus and wore a bright-colored undershirt to match the American Eagle insignia on his American Eagle polo while spending his Friday nights playing backup linebacker to some other turd log dressed exactly the same but better because he managed to match his T-shirt color to his eyes? 311 is still that dude’s favorite band.
The last time I ate weed candy I got some bodega sushi and wrote a meditative story about my lunch on my cell phone. You can imagine how that turned out—here’s the deus ex crapina: “I fail to secure the lid of the soy container, and the winds blow it off the ledge of the bench, splattering soy on my shoes—the good pair I use for everyday walking. Very little soy remains in the container now. I don’t like to use too much soy, so it’s not like I considered dipping the rolls into the soy puddle on the ground. Sure, I just mentioned doing that just now, so I wasn’t blind to the possibility of someone else in my situation doing that, but I was never seriously considering it.” The moral is that smoking pot tricks your brain into thinking you’re the next Tracey Emin when in actuality you’re 100 percent pure uncut dickcheese, so don’t go releasing records unless you’ve got something to say.