Room On Fire: Redux

Comedown Machine is another solid release from a band who couldn’t care less what we write in the glossy mags and flickering blogs.  The in-fighting and egomania’s been documented ad nauseum, and it might be said the Strokes are essentially making records to tour and touring to line their pockets.  Speculation aside, this is in no way a throwaway record.  It’s quite the opposite.

Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond’s guitars are as nasty as they’ve ever been, Fab is drumming like he’s got those robotic wasps from the Hunger Games in his pants, and Julian is out to try something new.  He’s leaving the shredded screaming behind for a post-80’s falsetto croon, crafting a heap of tracks that sound like one hit wonder b-sides from compilation discs buried deep in the bargain bin.   There’s a blatant Ah-ha rip, a few nods to the Cars and even a ballad that borrows from Little Joy’s hipstery ethos.  Comedown Machine plays like a return to form by experimenting with new sounds, while leaning on their trademark energy.

Sit in judgement if you must, but remember.  All good bands, especially those five records into their career, shouldn’t be looking to repeat themselves release after release.  As long as they can tolerate one other, and as long as they’re selling out venues from California to Spain, we should welcome what they put to wax.  Love it or hate it, it’s still more clever than most of the shit on the iTunes homepage.


In The Moment by Paper Kav

It seems every time we turn around Harlem’s Paper Kav is dropping another jewel.  This time it’s the introspective, “In The Moment”, a laid back affair aimed at those ladies that never fail to catch our eye.  Make sure you grab his recent project Ni’jels Biography at   Check him out on Twitter @PAPERKAV and Instagram at KAVYY.  Salute the kid, he’s doing his thing.

Accidents Happen

Nashville punks Diarrhea Planet have the most unfortunate name in rock and roll, which is exactly why it’s so god damn perfect.  They bash the hell out of their instruments and yell into the mic as if to warn us against taking life so seriously.  They shout like it’s last call and they’re third back when it’s three deep.  They rejoice like music might actually be able to save your soul, one Charmin roll at a time.  Loose Jewels has been spinning nearly nonstop in my world for the past week, and rightfully so.

SXSW has come and gone.  Errbody and their mom hit Austin this year with fully charged iPhones and Bandcamp links burning holes in their pockets.  Buzz bands.  Hot rappers.  EDM.  You name it.  Since I’m stuck in the miserably cold Northeast for 8 months of the year, I was rock-blocked from attending, but that’s OK.  I read, read and read some more and the name that keeps bombarding my eyes is, Diarrhea Planet.

It’s rock and roll with a party punk spirit, heavy in the vein of Against Me minus the wig.  By time you’ve heard the entire record rip by in just a touch over 18 minutes, you’re hungry for more.  If you can get past their dry-heave inducing moniker, take a chance on Loose Jewels while keeping your eyes peeled for their next LP coming in May on Infinity Cat Records.

Now In Session

K.E.V.O.R.K.I.A.N jets to ‘Bama to team with Sortahuman, and just like that, the joint chiefs have convened.  My Cousin Vinny 2  is masterful, 21st century hip hop; more tangible proof that independent music can thrive on the strength of creativity and hustle, void of big budget dollars and bullshit glossy magazine co-signs.  From the Bay to ‘Bama, these joint chiefs are a verbal version of church burning.

Supa, K.E.V. and Joey each put their distinct take on the record, equating to a murderous blend of regional flow and brainiac flair.  K.E.V’s California love is real but he can’t hide that east coast stamp.  Supa and Joey ride the beat with just the right touch of southern tough while BOATS geeks out behind the boards like a true beat junkie.

“Illest In The Game”, “Killer Weed” and “Drankin & Smokin” will bump at sickening levels from my car stereo this summer.  I hope my neighbors have their Death Adder hats slightly tilted and are ready to ride.  Love it or hate it, don’t take it to heart and get all hot.  Frankly, they’ve been drinking a lot.



Country Fresh

Yelawolf didn’t come with his A-game on Radioactive,  his Shady Records debut.  He was working with new producers, under the gun from Interscope execs to make radio hits, and sequenced a final product that played like a botched science experiment.  The record was up and down, pop-tinged yet still gutter, leaving fans of 2010’s Trunk Muzik unsure of white dog’s direction.

Heart Of Dixie was a tape meant to right the ship following Radioactive’s lukewarm reception.  It took us deep inside the mind of a man with a curious angle, but where was his lane?  What would set him apart from every other rapid fire southern MC?  The answer was a few solid collaborations with Ed Sheeran on Slumdon Bridge, and Travis Barker on Psycho White, proving he felt most at home when flexing his punk rock muscles.

Trunk Muzik Returns is country music bleeding through the futuristic lens of a kid who’s world revolved around classic rap records, skateboards and trailer park curbs.  Dipped a in a codeine glaze of southern funk and set outside in the Alabama sun to crisp like roadkill, it’s a weird and wild walk in the shoes of a man following his very own Slumerican Dream.  Grab it at

Get Up, Stand Up

I’ve spent countless hours enjoying Ben Harper.  Certain memories of mine play back with his earnest blues as a personal soundtrack.  I was handed a live disc featuring his work with the Innocent Criminals as an undergrad, and I’ve been a rabid fan since.  It’s that word of mouth push which has fueled his career for the last decade, but collaboration has always seemed to please Harper the most.

His soulful work with the Blind Boys of Alabama was stellar.  And the record with Dhani Harrison as Fistful of Mercy was trippy.  Now, Harper finds himself working side by side with legendary harp player, Charlie Musselwhite, in a pairing that simply makes sense.  Get Up staggers from track to track with the lonely gait of a cowboy who has nowhere left to hide.  And before you know what hit you, it’s up and gone.

Harper nails his signature slide guitar groans while humming impossible vocal harmonies as Musslewhite drenches the room with his howling harp.   It’s the sound of years of experience locking into place and stepping out all over the speakers.  Authentic, weathered and brand new, Get Up is the type of record that comes around every few years then recedes into the depths of your collection.  Perfect to dust off for a rainy day and a bottle of whiskey.

Anything Is Possible

The Sidekicks Awkward Breeds is the best record I’ve heard this year.  I know it’s only March, but something tells me I’ll be hard-pressed to get my head around a release with as much playful finesse as this between now and Christmas.  Not surprisingly, a quick internet search will land you in a world declaring this the best Weezer record since Pinkerton.   Not so fast.

Sure, the jams on Awkward Breeds are what Jimmy Eat World meant to write.  And yes, they’re as solid as anything Piebald ever put on wax.  But The Sidekicks have an urgent flair, setting them apart from most bands zigzagging the country in noxious vans leading up to South By Southwest.  They find zero problem masking a love for glossy pop songs in the beer-drenched fog of hard charging punk rock.

Songs like “DMT” and “The 9th Piece” showcase a knack for melody at a blistering pace.   It’s an awesome record from end to end, one I’m glad to have found via Twitter from recent tour mate, Frank Turner.  The Sidekicks won’t be under the radar for long touring the country with a record like this.  Enjoy.