Just Some Grownass Men

As Bon Iver, Justin Vernon relies on a sweeping, hushed, almost cinematic take on making records.  It’s great for your headphones, but it’s also head scratching.  At times, it feels too personal.  With The Shouting Matches, his blues bar band, there’s nothing hushed or cinematic about it.  Vernon relies less on the falsetto and lets a more natural, guttural croon rip, and it’s a welcomed change of pace.

Grownass Man sounds like it was made for dusty jukeboxes across our fine fifty states or long rides where the trees and country houses smear by in a sixty-mile-an hour blur.  It’s introspective in that it plays to your mood, as any good blues record should, but it’s not technically mesmerizing.  The freewheeling space leaves more time to make sense of it on your own.  Most importantly for the band, it’s a departure from expectations, which gives it plenty of room to breath.  “Gallup, NM” rambles on like a Jackson Browne b-side, while tracks like “Heaven Knows” and “Milkman” wander into Ben Harper territory without all that pain and suffering.

This is a fun, smart release from a band of true professionals.  Roll your windows down and roll on.

Happy Holidays

hiphopdx.com

It’s weed day. I think it has something to do with the Grateful Dead, but what do I know. It’s only fitting that Wiz and Currensy drop their long-awaited Live In Concert, for the smokers and the squares alike. This thing is a year in the making, and while these songs have clearly been on the shelf, they’re as fresh as that sticky green in your jar.

Fans waiting for a proper follow up to High Fly better not hold their breath. Currensy’s verses are intricate and clever, and though it might come off like there’s somewhere else Wiz would rather be, he’s right at home. The rap Cheech and Chong go together like peas and carrots. But there’s just not enough ground covered on this EP to fully satisfy the inner High Times editor in all of us.

The duo flip Bobbi Humphrey’s 1975 jazz classic Fancy Dancer (Humphrey’s last album on Blue Note Records) into something entirely brand new. The jazz-funk feel is perfect for lighting what you light. The more you spin this, the more you’ll appreciate the wait on the samples (they took over a year to clear). It’s an ambitious move from a duo that shouldn’t wait so long between releases. Pass the lighter. It’s 4:20 somewhere.

One In The Chamber

xxlmag.com

Seattle rhymer Macklemore said it best when he spit, “I grew up really wanting gold fronts, but that’s what you get when Wu Tang raised you.” I second that. As a kid, I idolized the Wu. They’re the crew of crews, with more hits than misses. Check their storied history of incredible studio efforts, monster solo releases and bona fied classics. I anticipate Wu drops like kids line up for two-hundred dollar sneakers.

Ghostface’s records are hybrids of grit and class; stories of major weight pushed through the five boroughs balanced with quiet gems of love and deception. This time around we’re served up a fictional war between Tony Starks and the DeLuca crime family. The scheming and plotting is brought to life by composer Adrian Younge, compelling the listener to connect the narrative which certainly hooks us, but spends too much time playing out like the second half of a Tarantino film. Live instrumentation is a blast, but there are moments when it’s a bit overly dramatic, leading to more smirks than menacing Staten Island stares.

Lyrically, Twelve Reasons To Die is Tony Starks at his finest. Ghost’s cadence is unmistakable, razor sharp and somehow completely relevant record after record. Check the tale of the tape and you won’t find a string of glossed up radio hits. Under that thin layer of dust you’ll uncover four-star full lengths with over a decade of staying power. The deluxe edition comes loaded with the instrumentals for all you bandcamp champs. Enjoy gangsters.

Live From NY

hiphopdx.com

Hot 97 radio jockey Peter Rosenberg gets it.  He’s a New Yorker who unabashedly loves hip hop.  He has insane connections in the game.  What better to do than call in a few favors from Joey Badass, Action Bronson and golden boy producer Harry Fraud for New York Renaissance,  a beast coast borough-spanning block party?

Thank goodness this isn’t your average tape.  There’s no shouting DJ, no annoying host or numbing drops.  No sirens or gun shots clapping while they spin it back.  Just the tried and true formula of beats and rhymes.  Rosenberg features some of the east’s brightest stars.  Bronson, Flatbush Zombies and World’s Fair shine bright.  Newcomers Kris Kasanova and Pro Era’s Nyck Caution could very well could be next to blow, while features from seasoned indie vets Homeboy Sandman and Smoke Dza anchor all the nervous energy.

Worth a download and certainly the spins as we enter windows and sunroof weather.  When the east is in the house…oh my God.

 

Kings Of The Sewer

RATKING via clashmusic.com

RATKING is a crew making the type of records that cause golden-era nerds to drool, swearing up and down “New York back”, but where the fuck did it go? And how in the world did a couple of art-punks manage to bring it home? It doesn’t take a Badass to see that true soul is alive and well in the five boroughs.   Everybody quiet down and let Wiki speak.

Produced entirely by Sporting Life, WIKI93 is an EP full of dense, sobering east coast racket.  RATKING embodies the eclectic spirit hip hop but manages to feel as punk as Polly Wog Stew.  I don’t know where this Wiki kid came from, but a nineteen year old this infatuated with Buckshot should make you laugh.  Instead, he spits dizzying bars that are as dexterous as anything happening in the best cypher in your city.

If you listen to hip hop for the word play, you’ll geek out on “Sporting Life” and “Pretty Picture”.  Try and remember this thing was made in 2012 because it’s going to make you dust off your old Company Flow collection.

Believe me.

The Boys In The Band

thephoenix.com

NME sinks its teeth into any crew who leaves a chord ringing long enough to get noticed.  You have to admit, it’s gotta suck to be hailed England’s “best new band”.  But when they started jabbering on about Palma Violets, I listened.  Then I listened again.   Palma Violets boasts a  combination of the dirty elbow Strummer thing and the douchey glare that’s made Damon Albarn a very wealthy man.  That mix makes 180 worth your dollars and time.

The party kicks off with “Best of Friends”, which sounds like Billy Bragg fronting The Replacements at dollar beer karaoke.  Save your breath and call them rock and roll, but the oddly casual moments of psychedelic pop throughout 180 remind me of British weirdos The Coral or Clinic.  See “All The Garden Birds” and “Last Of The Summer Wine” for a few lessons in true bliss.  This is a very worthy debut from a talented bunch of London lads.

I’ll save you a seat on the bandwagon.