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My schedule in reviewing albums: I don’t have a schedule. I try to review them in a timely manner, and it’s great when I am able to do one a week or two before its release, maybe even two to three months. Then there are albums that I’ll listen to off and on, and then I realize I’ve listened to it so much that I realize a few months later “wait… I know I’m supposed to do a review, right?” I know, “poor excuse John” but it’s true. Whatever the reason, this is a review for an album that came out a month or two ago by Rusty Redenbacher, The Tinkerer.
If you don’t follow him on Twitter, Redenbacher is someone who is not afraid to say what’s on his mind, and it’s not so much what he says, but how frequently he does it. You have to keep up with him, and it’s great because you are essentially following his unique path, which is not unlike his music. For this album, he calls himself a tinkerer of sorts, but what does that exactly mean in his case? It could mean a number of things, but for this new album, he simply puts together a number of familiar beats and breaks and rhymes with some jam-packed stories that make for great listening. It may come off like a mixtape or a radio show where you’re tuning in and you just so happen to be locked into a fine show. Then again, he may be playing around with the idea of having to tinker with a formula but… is that formula hip-hop, making music, or just being an individual in whatever you do? Whatever it is, Redenbacher does it in his own voices, along with a number of different tones and personas, and… does he harmonize and sing? Maybe. As he says in “Speak Monster Speak”, “every incision made with the wisdom, I am a man on a mission”, which means that he does this “for science”, which also means as he’s making discoveries of his own during the creation process, he’s also teaching. Enter Rusty’s garage and see what he’s about to build next, he may be merely tinkering but he’s in the middle of creation and enjoying himself in the process.
Earlier in the year, there seemed to be a non-stop barrage of discussion for the film Chico & Rita for its storyline and the soundtrack. The soundtrack album is 30 songs strong, featuring the kind of music that will take you to a place and time where you never want to return. Even if you never heard of this movie, you will get a sense of where it takes place and what it may be about, for the music is played as if it is its own unique voice, and it is. For those who don’t know, Chico & Rita is an animated film, all in Spanish, between a musician and singer who fall in love, and the music details their path towards romance and a bit of heartbreak. It takes place in the 1940′s and 1950′s and takes them from Cuba to New York City, Hollywood, Paris, and Las Vegas, and the music is meant to show the bond the two characters have, despite some of the conflict that comes between them along the way.
This is what happens when you live in a home full of easy listening, Brazilian, and folk music, and you realize “hey, let me electrify all of this.”
It’s A Wonder (Ubiquity) is a new EP by Jed And Lucia,to take in various natural and organic sounding music and push it into a modern, clean and fresh electronic landscape. With production done incredibly well, including incorporating various things like tape hiss and sound clipping to make it a part of their deliberate happy accidents, all of this is comforted by the vocals of both Jed And Lucia, to where it ends up sounding like Jackie & Roy. The music is definitely an ode to the past, where one might enter a good thrift store and just raid the racks for space age and/or easy listening music and twist it up. It’s a bit like Portishead but without the misery & gloom. Again, like a modern day Jackie & Roy, and it’s a style of music that definitely pans out some of the crap being released as of late.
pOnk is a one-man project from Berlin’s Frederik Knop, known for his work with his post-rock band mOck. For this brand new project, he decided to take some previously unreleased mOck material, turn them inside out, and them create a composition that may sound nothing like its original sources. I enjoy when electronic-based artists do this, because there’s a stream of consciousness which believes any and all electronic music is lazy, if not boring. This is neither, and I dare the casual fan to create something just as exciting. Exactly.
State Lines are a decent indie rock band who sound like they could rock out any and all college venues, but as I listened to their new 4-song EP, I wondered if their songs were going to be more energetic.
I’m not saying their music is bad, because it isn’t, but it truly sounds like every other indie rock band who have the same credentials and have a desire to play to/for the people and see if they can become a success. I don’t doubt their passion for success, but I don’t hear anything in each of these four tracks that would make me want to return to them. I’d like to hear something that makes them unique and different, or at least hear an understanding of what it means to be different, even if it’s a twist in riffs or moving the song into a new time signature. It’s ordinary to where I could predict everything that was coming up. State Lines, at least with this set of songs, are by-the-book, which means they understand the rules and know how to play well if they were asked by a television executive to make music that college kids would go nuts over. Now I want them to burn that book, or at least a chapter or two. Maybe that’ll happen on a (hopefully) forthcoming album.
Le1f represents the kind of hip-hop that allows itself to explore other types of dance music, and a few years ago this hybrid would make people pissy and want to punch people. Today, Dark York is an album that sounds like Divine Styler came back from the late 80′s, wanted to investigate real estate options with Diplo, while cutting cocaine residue from Bvdub‘s boil necklace. What I like about Le1f is that it sounds laid back almost to the point of being completely high, but relaxed and complete aware of everything going on as someone turned him into gigabytes of data and put him into a video game or digital animation. This is very much about being futuristic hip-hop music where Le1f sounds like he could either be a superhero or the enemy of those who want their hip-hop to be lazy and lackluster. Other rappers should listen to Dark York to know how to make emotional music without losing its strength.
(Dark York is available as a free download from Soundcloud.)
Originally released in 1984 as a cassette-only album, The Green Pajamas‘ Summer Of Lust received some positive reviews in its day, and 28 years after its release, it holds up incredibly well, if not more than it did way back when.
When I moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1984, I immediately wanted to know who were the band that were making people rock out. The Green Pajamas were a band that was mentioned a lot in the Seattle magazine The Rocket. The group would try out a wide range of styles in their existence, but for the most part were a local phenomenon whose following was as devoted as any local band. There were fans elsewhere too, but The Green Pajamas were a part of a scene that just wanted to rock, drink, and rock some more so they can afford more drinks, and Summer Of Lust is an album that showed the band’s love of pop, rock’n'roll, an folk in a way that was reflective of the music they grew up with and listened to at the time. Even though the album is now available on CD and digital, it still has the feel of a demo cassette. If it sounds innocent to you, maybe because it sounds genuine, or at least music played by a band of good friends that wanted to just play. The drums may not be completely on beat in some sections, the mixing may sound like it was more 1966 than 1984, and those may be reasons someone may call this dated, but nothing wrong with being dated if it also means honoring an album that could easily be recorded today with the same enthusiasm.
Even though this is music from Seattle’s honorable past, each of the songs on Summer Of Lust sound borderless. To me it sounds like the Seattle I first came in contact with, but people from other locales may hear it and remember being similar to the sound of their city or town. Good music is good music, and maybe it will influence people in the next 28 years to bring the Green Pajamas to future generation.
Freedom Hall have created a soul album that speaks out on/about the injustices of the world we live in, and it is very much about the exposure amongst us, in that “we” represents all and not just for specific target audiences of perceived fame and shame. United Shates Of Injustice takes a look at various forms of injustice from times when people stole gold, jewels, and property up to the present day when stealing human life is no more than a notch on the bed for some. The music is funky and when it gets into hip-hop mode, it drops knowledge hard, but that dropping of knowledge is very much a part of this album’s essence. This could be equal to the best political works of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and John Lennon. On the surface, the music and production, the vocals, and the raps sound great and they are meant to motivate you to groove, dance, or be romantic, but it’s also music that is meant to make you think. It points the finger at African culture and its transformation from the motherland into uncertain human distribution around the world, but it tries to link pain and suffering throughout the generations, one that many cultures around the world can relate to. In other words, this is very much “a black thing” but the messages expressed here has touch so many of many colors and persuasions, which allows us to realize we are a lot more unified in our suffering than we tend to believe.
Within the sound of pain and suffering is just motivational music that will hopefully not provoke you do prioritize, but perhaps live a better life so that the next generation can see things a bit clearer. In other words, their name is a metaphor for a place where everyone should feel comfortable to be themselves, life is merely a journey towards eternal change, even if freedom may not be obtainable from us. United States Of Injustice is a punch in the face for those who still feel everyone in this country is unified, but through music, there’s still a way to open minds if people wish to be open. In sound, freedom is only a volume button away.
This is a track that sounds perfect for the clubs as you watch women give each other fingertip rubs. This Breeze is in no relation to the UK MC named Breeze, American MC Breez Evahflowin, Breeze of “L.A. Posse” fame, or the electronic duo Breeezze. This is Breeze, a/k/a Breeze Raw, and while he does a club banger here, I can imagine him flowing within a number of different styles if he wanted to, but this works for me. He released a mixtape two years ago but “I Do It” is his first single, so if you like it, let everyone know. The video was directed by Michael “Sycko” Lopez and Julia Pizano, curious to see and hear what direction Breeze will go next.
The hip-hop climate of 2012 almost makes it like as if being political doesn’t exist, or being social only means you know how to upload a photo on Facebook. From Kentucky comes Hybrid The Rapper, who looks at the world and his immediate surroundings and wants to question everything from local politics to wondering of the choices in this year’s presidential elections is worth fighting for.
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Discovered this book review blog when someone had posted a review of a music book. Went through it and saw a number of books I immediately put on my want list. Created by Maria Popova and features a number of contributors.
Cool slew of goodies from books and diaries to T-shirts, bags and soaps. Now based in Portland.
The show is no more, but you may explore the archives of this great Portland-based podcast while you can. You may now listen to Cort & Bobby in Welcome To That Whole Thing, listed below.