Rancid Take The Road Most Traveled

Rancid is by far my favorite band of gray-bearded punks.  These timeless wonders continue to piece together blistering albums that are somehow urgent and fresh sounding, despite being trapped in a decade-plus time warp.  Honor Is All We Know is the bands millionth record and arguably one of their best.

There’s nothing here to bitch about.  Rancid’s still punk as fuck. They still believe in honor, brotherly love, and loud guitars. They clearly don’t need you and me to sell records or tickets, and I still wouldn’t fight Lars for a suitcase full of unmarked hundo’s. Throughout Honor, Tim and Lars trade vocals and gnarly chords with a power that seems to be intensifying with each release. Thankfully, Rancid isn’t fighting the urge to add some harmony into their three chord assault, taking a nod from fellow Cali vets Social D.

The wheel is still perfectly round and Rancid won’t be the crew to change that dynamic.  But this stuff is impossible not to enjoy while it lasts. Up the old punx.

Logic: Under Pressure and Doesn’t Fold

Logic’s skill set is clearly undeniable, but I wasn’t sold.  Call me crazy… I just thought dude was trying too hard on his rappidy-rap shit. I also heard some Drake in his flow, which you know for me is the kiss of death.  A few close listens of his major label debut, Under Pressure, put my suspicions to rest. Logic is a young talent with scary potential.

Under Pressure is an east coast flavored project with the expansiveness of Kendrick’s GKMC.  Rather than stringing together a handful of radio viable singles, Logic crafts a cohesive body of work that pays tribute to A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul without taking a Joey Badass swing for the fences. The kid loves hip hop, and that love bleeds all over this record.

There’s a new crop of MC’s surfacing who seem to value quality over flash in the pan success. I’m willing to bet Logic’s longevity in rap will hinge on the mature moves he made on Under Pressure.  

Adult Rappers: The Soundtrack

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Like your favorite ball players or your parents, rappers grow up. Eventually age becomes inescapable.  Hip-hop has long been a game of youth, with trends and fresh faces rotating in and out of the public conscience for the past three decades. What about the MC’s that make touring and recording a career without the flashing lights and chunky record deals? Director Paul Ianncchino Jr. (DJ paWl from Hangar 18) tackles this topic in his new documentary, Adult Rappers.

The film is driven by a living, breathing soundtrack composed of ill verses from expert rappers.  From Albany’s Giant Gorilla Dog Thing and elsphinx, to Boston’s Esoteric and Slaine, the soundtrack is a testament to a sound we fanatics grew up on.  It’s a passion project fueled by the heart and souls of artists who know nothing but how to tear the mic down.  Grab the “Adult Rappers” The Soundtrack on MP3 or limited edition cassette here.  Bury the past? Never that.

Rough Beast Records Presents: Gigantic

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Springfield, MO’s Gigantic met you last night.  They slapped you on the back.  They laughed at your shitty jokes.  They probably shotgunned a Keystone with you between drags of a Camel Light. Problem is, they don’t remember a god damned thing.

This rowdy 4 piece Rock and Roll shit show puts it down with the fever of Every Time I Die and the power of The Stooges.  Straight ahead racket fit to soundtrack those diabolic nights where you end up naked and afraid.

Gigantic is working with Rough Beast Records to release this month’s The Album, an aggressive 8-song creep fest that may bruise and batter those of weak body and soul. Buck up and crank this way past ten.  Let your neighbors know that you and Gigantic are about to do the bad thing.  Pass the ketamine.

You can preorder Gigantic The Album here.  You’ve been warned.

Yelawolf- Till It’s Gone

Alabama’s own Yelawolf has been tweaking his long-awaited sophomore release for a minute.  Love Story is a record building the type of buzz which could be damaging if it depended on a label looking for singles.  But if you’ve followed Yela’s short rap career you already know that his work from here on out will serve only the man himself.

“Till It’s Gone” (Love Story‘s first single featured on Fx’s Sons Of Anarchy) doesn’t disappoint.  The born on the Bayou swamp-core spirit of the video shoot is suited for True Detective’s haunting title sequence.  Yela’s melodic flow follows the inevitable sting of the rat race; facing the issues of fame, money, and unwanted celebrity head on.  It’s not new rapper-territory, but it’s done here with a flair that is entirely Yelawolf’s.  Keep checking back for more info as Love Story makes its way into our hands.

Different Strokes? Julian Casablancas + The Voidz

Tyranny, the new record from Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas continues the odd journey he began on 2009’s Phrazes for the Young. There’s flashes of 80’s new wave, raw and glammy CBGB’s punk, and distorted vocals that sound like they were recorded with two soup cans and forty feet of string. Tyranny is 180 degrees from what you might expect from Casablancas…making it one of the most exciting records of the year.

It’s a total departure from the robotic precision of the Strokes rhythm section.  There are plenty of razor sharp riffs, but they’re buried under walls of hard drive fall out and pummeling drums. Casablancas reaches deep to deliver his cryptic sonnets backed by a top-notch gang of weirdos who seem fully equipped to match his madness one measure at a time.  Check the eleven minute brain train that is “Human Sadness”, Julian’s most elevated jam to date.

This batch of noise is miles ahead of another phoned in Strokes album.  Tyranny a gorgeous mess, and we’re better off for it.

 

Childish Gambino: STN MTN / Kauai

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Donald Glover might never get the credit he deserves.  His short-lived TV/comedian work will cause internet type-casters (sorry bloggers) to forever box him in as the Black buddy of the autistic Indian kid on Community, a show too smart for its own good. Ironically, his efforts as rapper/musician Childish Gambino dwarfs that of Donald the TV star.

Gambino’s latest effort is the sprawling 19 track mixtape and EP STN MTN/Kauai.  The concept allows for two distinctly different records to be played back to back, ultimately coming together in all its awkward glory.  STN MTN is Gambino’s dream; one where DJ Drama hosts and he’s hailed as a king of Atlanta.  The radio stations love him, his name is gold on the street, and he plays the most iconic venues in the city.  The tape opens with a clearly agitated Gambino spilling dizzy bars all over a platinum Ludacris instrumental.  No fucks given.

The record’s relaxed second half is the sound of Gambino fading back to reality on the shores of Kauai.  The EP experiments with the pop and electric sounds he tinkered with on last year’s terrific Because the Internet with influences ranging from the mature(ish) rhythm and blues of Mike Jackson to the funk fun of Timberlake and Pharrell without compromising an ounce of integrity.  This shit only works because it’s the product of an artist balancing his jittery insecurities.  Gambino is conflicted in his own skin and altogether dialed in, dropping him into that space where the best art is squeezed to the surface.

Even during its most trying moments Kauai is wholeheartedly more hit than miss.  Force feeding us Jaden Smith’s stream of conscious babbling is useless, but then again it’s Gambino’s world. If that means we’re subject to a small dose of Smith’s lunacy, so be it.  Play it all the way through and take the ride.