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The world may not be aware of who Chris Macro is, but if you’re from New Zealand and Australia, you’ll know him as someone who has worked with Katchafire among others. However, Macro is somewhat of a wiz in terms of creating electronic-based music, be it reggae, drum & bass, and hip-hop. If there’s a way to tap into the consciousness of American hip-hop fans, you’d do it right? The impact of the Wu-Tang Clan is worldwide, one sight of the sacred W and people will drop verses left and right. The Wu-Tang Clan have flirted with ska and reggae over the years, especially Method Man, who found himself dropping a verse for Supercat and years later doing a track for Capleton. In the days of the U-WU Newsletter I had suggested that Method Man do a full-length reggae album, or at least to do an album featuring various reggae and dancehall artists. It never happened, but Chris Macro shows what it would sound like with Macro Dubplates Vol. 1, an album that unites the classic dubs of King Tubby and unites them as nature intended with Wu-Tang and Wu-related acapellas. You’ll hear tropical versions of “Brooklyn Zoo”, “C.R.E.A.M.”, and “Pinky Ring”, but the one that works the best is “Criminology”, proving that Ghostface Killah sounds good on almost everything.
If the Wu aren’t to your liking, maybe you want to hear Hova over the sounds of Jamaica. Macro Dubplates Vol. 2 puts together for the first time the rhymes of Shawn Carter with Robert Nesta Marley, soi if you ever wanted to hear what “99 Problems” would sound like over “Small Axe“, or “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” over “Put It On“, now you can. When Jay-Z allowed fans to create unique mixes from his acapellas, I don’t think he knew how much fans, producers, and DJ’s would give life to the process.
(Macro Dubplates Vols. 1 & 2 are available as free downloads from ChrisMacro.com.)
Good funk is good, great funk even better, and we all know that funk is its own reward. But occasionally there is a bit of mystery in the funk, especially when you’re not sure why it was made. Case in point, The Memphis Sounds.
There are a lot of soul and funk bands from around the world, showing their love of the music from the late 1960’s and throughout the 1970’s. Isaac Hayes is a legend, so it seems only fitting that the man is honored with what is essentially at tribute album. The Memphis Sounds are not from Memphis, but rather is a collection of musicians who normally find themselves in The Dap Kings, Antibalas, and El Michels Affair. It’s a mystery because the album cover looks like one of those cheapy cash-in covers Laff Records were known for, and nowhere on the cover does it indicate it’s an all-star album. In other words, you have to really dig deep to find out who The Memphis Sounds are.
Now that you know who the musicians are, perhaps it makes sense why some of these renditions would have fit perfectly on an Antibalas, El Michels Affair, or Dap-Tone LP, especially when things move into Afrobeat form. Some of Hayes’ best songs were merely renditions of other people’s songs, so what you are hearing here are new versions of Hayes’ own revisions. Sounds odd, but it works.
Sample junkies will find this album worthy, for there are enough funky moments that would be perfect for any new songs. It would be cool of someone released this album as a box set of 45’s, because it’s that cool. It’s the music of Isaac Hayes in rustic funk mode, and yes it is a bad mother.
When Teddy Presberg released Blueprint Of Soul two years ago, I felt that his style of jazz-meets-blues-with-hints-of-rock was really good, and that I could hear the potential of someone who could become brilliant. I felt at the time that his work had the free spirit of a jam band, but that with a bit of structure it might reveal a new side of his musicianship.
Outcries From A Sea Of Red (Outright) is an album that seems to have taken some of this constructive criticism, and turned around to create something that is very good. Things are structured, and at times reserved but it’s a calm reserve that only leads to some fierce guitar playing from Presberg. In “Timebomb” it may sound like an old Paul Butterfield-style boogie, but it then develops into something else and takes off into something seductive. He moves comfortably around different styles and time signatures, it isn’t the jazz equivalent of math rock but if those words will move people to listen to Presberg and his way of playing with tempos and time signatures, proceed. It’s not dominant, but there’s even a bit of electronic tomfoolery in “Beyond Busted”, where it sounds like Medeski, Martin & Wood hanging out with MC 900 Ft. Jesus.
I enjoy the different roads Presberg walks on with this new album, and it never strays too far from the kind of jazz and blues he loves to play.
If you’ve been listening to DJ Honda for the last few years, you’d think he was born and raised in the United States with the kind of productions he creates. But he is from Japan and has gained a reputation for making some of the best music that will move any and all crowds. Honda is back with IV, a self-released album that brings a number of MC’s to his world, including Ras Kass, EPMD, Heltah Skeltah, Kool G. Rap, Iriscience, Lord Tariq, and the return of Mos Def, who unites with Honda once again with “Magnetic Arts”.
The album has a classic feel to it, or the way hip-hop is and will always be, it slams in all the right ways and Honda knows how to control his tracks in a confident way. Why this album isn’t on a proper lavel, I do not know, but this should let people know that real hip-hop can be found anywhere, and this time it’s in the land of the rising son.
The word “atmospheric” when applied to music can mean different things for different people. Other words that can be used include celestial, ethereal, trippy… it all applies because it can be these things and more at the same time. Deru has been doing his thing for a few years, and this thing he calls his thing now finds a new home in the name of Mush Records, who are releasing Say Goodbye To Useless to a fanbase who are waiting, and to a new audience who will be excited his is creations.
His promo teams says his music is “an amalgamation of hip-hop, electronica and IDM”, and I definitely hear all three elements on this new album. When it comes to atmospheric, he does so by creating songs with a deliberate slow pace that makes you want t hear more by adding in sounds that are lures for what lies ahead. The hip-hop comes from the ways the beats are programmed, mix in samples that are extracted from crusty thrift store finds and you have someone who does it for the groove and funk, but also as someone who let’s people know what he’s about it. It doesn’t have to be about clarity or cleanliness, just good music. As for the IDM, it has been called a lot of things but if you do like Boards Of London, those type of atmospherics can be heard on this album. Are the songs clever, very much, and just went it might sound too electronic, the human qualities of the drum samples let’s you know there’s still a man behind the machine. “Walk” sounds like its title, a gentle stroll across the apocalyptic landscape in order to reach the beginning of loneliness, it’s dark and engaging but not enough to where you want to run off and listen to something bright and perky. “What Happens When You Ask” has no rhythm at all, it’s just the sound of the world laid over vinyl crackle as slowed down horns and voices in the bushes make this a song you may not want to leave behind without a friend.
At times it’s very experimental in nature, where it sounds as everything is done improv, and maybe it is. But there’ is a plan, a mission in his work. When he builds up a song that comes from nowhere, he may add a part of it in another song so you can witness what he did before from afar, and then the mood of the album switches completely. It motivates you to listen deeper as it does everything in its power to entertain, which of course is done by default. What Say Goodbye To Useless does next is anyone’s guess, but it is sure to make listeners want to hear how Deru will push his own limits throughout his career, beginning now.
(Say Goodbye To Useless will be released on September 22nd.)
(photo courtesy PiratesPress.com) Jonesin are a duo fron San Francisco who have recorded and released a debut album, Hi, We’re Jonesin, that shows off their love of sunshiney pop. The album cover is an homage to an album by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood:
However, Nancy & Lee didn’t have 8-bit video game technology or computerized multi-track capabilities, which you’re hear a bit on the Jonesin album. If you liked the Russell Simins/Miho Hatori project called Butter 08, you’ll understand the cute and quirky ways of Jonesin. The album will be released on September 8th.
Does Slug ever rest? Damn. He and MURS have united together once again as Felt, and along with Aesop Rock they have created a new installment in the Felt series and are calling it Felt 3: A Tribute To Rosie Perez (Rhymesayers). The album is due out on November 17th, so mark that on your calendar and make sure you have enough kala to buy multiple copies as stocking stuffers.
BTW – is it me or does this album cover look like it could be a missing half of a very familiar cover from the 1970’s?
Heavy is as heavy does, right? No, maybe that’s not right, but what is right is the sound of Pelican, who are about to release a new album on Southern Lord, What We All Come To Need. The band are about to head on tour in support of the album, while the show on September 22nd will feature them in a show alongside Sunn O))), Earth, and Eagle Twin, so bring earplugs or allow yourself to be a part of the communicable vibration. Here are the confirmed tour dates:
9/22/09 Brooklyn, NY Brooklyn Masonic Temple
10/18/09 Minneapolis, MN Triple Rock Social Club
10/19/09 Kansas City, MO Riot Room
10/20/09 Denver, CO The Marquis Theatre
10/21/09 Salt Lake City, UT Club Vegas
10/22/09 Boise, ID Neurolux
10/24/09 Seattle, WA El Corazon
10/25/09 Portland, OR Hawthorne Theatre
10/27/09 San Francisco, CA Independent
10/28/09 West Hollywood, CA The Troubadour
10/29/09 San Diego, CA The Casbah
10/30/09 Tempe, AZ The Clubhouse
11/01/09 Austin, TX Emo’s
11/02/09 Dallas, TX Outland Ballroom
11/05/09 Iowa City, IA The Picador
11/28/09 Detroit, MI The Shelter
11/29/09 Buffalo, NY Soundlab
12/01/09 Philadelphia, PA First Unitarian Church
12/03/09 Allston, MA Harper’s Ferry
12/04/09 Washington, DC Rock and Roll Hotel
12/05/09 Asheville, NC The Orange Peel
12/07/09 Atlanta, GA Earl
12/08/09 Birmingham, AL Bottletree Cafe
12/09/09 Knoxville, TN Cider House
12/10/09 Columbus, OH Ravari Room
12/11/09 Chicago, IL The Empty Bottle
To paraphrase a jelly commercial, with a name like Tape Deck Mountain it has to be good, right? This San Diego band are signed to Lefser Records and will be releasing Ghost on November 17th. They play some pretty mean rock, indie style, which means they have the freedom to do what they want without having to sound like Nickelback, which is always a plus. You can find out what they’re about by downloading for free a song called “Ghost Colony” (6mb). If you like it, you can buy their “Scantrons” single, a preview of what’s to come on the LP.
If you like it, you’ll just have to wait a few more months to hear the full-length. If you are in or near San Diego, you may want to check out how they rock to hometown crowds before they turn into Weezer (which is not a good thing).
09/06 San Diego, CA Casbah w/ The Thermals
09/15 San Diego, CA Bar Pink
Yeah I know, boring subject like, right? But you came here for a reason: you’re a Mayer Hawthorne fan, or you eat up anything Stones Throw offers, and rightfully so.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t even heard this Mayer Hawthorne guy, but you roam enough music websites and forums and the buzz is there, street teamers doing their duty. You see a video showing that his label pressed up a 4 inch single. Not a 5 or even a 6, but a 4, on a Vestax portable and I’m wondering “where in the hell is my copy?” But what I really want is to hear the music.
I have not heard Hawthorne, not a note, don’t know if he’s just another Remy Shand about to find his downfall fast, or if he’s a wunderkind or whatever German word can be italicized for maximum effect.
But you know, regardless of the promotional techniques and ways to make people aware of Hawthorne and his music, I think the kid has heard. He also has a contract, but that’s besides the point. There is an Astronote El Camino Remix of “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out”, which you can download right now by heading to StonesThrow.com and reading. Well, not just read, but look for the link, it’s there. Browse around, check out the Now Again label to see what Egon and Cut Chemist are doing in Japan. Go ahead.