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Get ready for another batch of Cheese Coney album reviews from John Crowell…..
4 / 5
The nice thing about being a young band these days is that it’s easier and cheaper than it’s ever been to get your music out there. The bad part is the music industry is so incredibly fucked that it doesn’t make sense to wait for a record label to come along, sweep you off your feet, and pay all your expenses. It’s awesome, then, that bands have avenues like cell phone commercials and film soundtracks, because a catchy song can get easily snatched up and purchased for a handsome fee. I’m all about commercialization and monetization. I think this is where the Yugos can make a shit load of money.
“Dream Away” is the first single off of the Yugo’s second album, Life Is Awesome And Then You Live Forever. It sounds like laying on the floor of your room and listening to records by yourself. It sounds like being a teenager and having sex for the first time. It sounds like driving around with your friends at dusk and laughing. It sounds like it could be the sound of the new Subaru campaign.
The Yugos are great, I’m proud they’re from Cincinnati, and I can’t wait to hear the rest of the record.
Twelve Reasons to Die
Soul Temple Records
3.5 / 5
Twelve Reasons to Die is a concept album – an “artsy” album. The beautifully produced tracks were composed and arranged by Adrian Younge, a law professor and sampling aficionado with a serious hard-on for 60’s and 70’s soul. The backing strings and hooks are rich and lush, creating a smoky, woody flavor absent from most over-produced, synth-strings-stuffed modern hip hop.
Though Twelve Reasons to Die gussies itself up with all this lush production, it still does exactly what you hope and expect a Ghostface Killah record to do: it combines Ghostface’s formidable flow with unnecessarily confrontational lyrics (mostly tales of the drug trade) and dark, powerful beats. To make things even better, Twelve Reasons predicates itself on a crazily far-fetched backstory: an enforcer for a crime family is murdered and his melted corpse is pressed into twelve vinyl records that, when played, summon the spirit of Ghostface Killah for revenge. This shit is fucking bonkers, but that’s why I love it so much.
This record won’t change your life, but if you like Ghostface Killah (and you should), it will brighten up your day.
3 / 5
Duality is a few months old, but I think it makes a nice counterpoint to Ghostface Killah’s Twelve Ways to Die. While Twelve Ways chose restraint with its musicality (Adrian Younge’s production keeping a very consistent tone and timbre throughout) but a hyperactive flood of ideas with its lyrics and backstory, Duality chose an “everything plus the kitchen sink” methodology of beat and hook creation while leaving the lyrics feeling anemic.
The explosion of rhythmic and melodic ideas are easily explained because, as we all know by now, Captain Murphy is actually Steven Ellison, better known in the laptop bass music world as Flying Lotus. Over the last few years he’s created some amazingly creative beats and sample chop with unbelievable depth and vibe. His talent for production is undeniable and, in my mind, his position at the top of the mountain of laptop producers is untouchable. Duality was his first chance to step in front of the mic and the results were mixed.
His vocals are detuned and his lyrics are aggressively profane, so much so that there just isn’t any way around saying this: he sounds and speaks exactly like Tyler the Creator. When I first heard Duality, I just naturally assumed it was Tyler, as did many. His lyrics also include such gems as: “Look at all these bitches now / Stroke my dick and lick the sauce, ’til it’s soft / Hopefully they come in packs / Bitches known for villainy / I didn’t spit a penny once I know this ho was feelin’ me,” and, “Captain known to choke a blonde / Does she like it? / No doubt even though she cryin’ / Oh wow, simmer down I only kinda mean it.”
We’ve already got a Tyler the Creator and I often feel that’s a little more than we need. And even while Tyler constantly reminds us he’s young and composes his own beats, Flying Lotus is in a whole other galaxy in terms of talent for sampling and sequencing sounds. Ellison should have stuck to his strengths here, instead of putting out another set of supposedly shocking rap songs in a market already flooded with them. His production here is still incredible though: the version of Duality I have includes a collection of tracks at the end which are the backing music for all the record’s songs – sans vocals. I tend to listen to this instead because I like hearing Ellison’s genius uncontaminated by derivative vocal posturing.
I have to take away major points especially for the song “The Killing Joke,” which mars probably the most awesomely creepy vocal loop I’ve hear all year with constant sampling of one-liner’s from the 2008 Batman film The Dark Knight. Michael Caine speeches, Joker laughs . . . ugh. Ellision is still a sampling genius, but that shit is just lazy.
Chance the Rapper
4.5 / 5
I’m a fan of unique lyrical flows and Chance the Rapper has got one. He’s got this nasally, snarly vocal tone that makes him sound like he’s half-singing, half-whining through his verses. This sounds a lot better than it reads, so you need to listen to Acid Rapper as soon as possible. It’s free to download!
By the way, the songs themselves are amazing. “Cocoa Butter Kisses,” and “Favorite Song” are two of the chillest, most good-vibe-packed tracks you’ll hear all year. “Pusha Man” turns into a surprising epic about Chance’s neighborhood. “NaNa” has one of my favorite basslines ever.
The beats and strings all sound great, Chance’s lyrics are smart and, refreshingly, he’s more interested in telling stories and sharing personal feelings than lingering on instructing various women to suck his dick.
This guy was in high school only a couple years ago! Chance the Rapper has unseated Tyler the Creator as the rap prodigy of the moment, and Acid Rapper sounds like it could be the rap mixtape of the summer.
Shaking the Habitual
3.5 / 5
Everyone makes fun of me for listening to aggressively unpleasant music and noise. That’s cool, I understand how someone could hate that stuff. But then again, everyone really loves the Knife. There are some really catchy hooks on this, but there are some brutally nasty bits too. Like, extreme, howling, screaming, feedbacking stuff. But no, everyone’s ok with it? Alright, whatever.
But seriously . . . nothing? No one mentions anything about that part? No? Really?
Anyways, Shaking the Habitual is good or whatever.
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