12/31/15: Kendrick Lamar

@@@ Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp a Butterfly (Interscope, 2015).  I thought Lamar’s first record was hyped and while I liked the sounds on this record when I checked it our earlier this year, this record has gotten so much love from our unbiased record reviewing community that I had to roll back and listen again.

I listened to the first three tunes last night and while I thought the third tune, King Kunta, is pretty hot, the first two are less so.  The first tune is basically a George Clinton ’80s era tune with some rapping by Lamar.  While I’m assuming Lamar orchestrated the track the credit can’t really go to him when the tune is so clearly a Clinton jam.  And not a Hilz Clinton jam.

I made it to the 13th track before I bailed.  What did I like about this record?  I like Lamar’s voice, he sounds unique — a little gravelly, he’s quick, he’s got soul.  I like the sounds on the record, though I thought sonically it spanned a few too many sounds and sounded a bit hit or miss in places.  He did some more George Clinton-like jams, he’s got some sounds that would sound at home on an old Prince record, he’s got some early ’80s electro funk sounds.  I like his lyrics, though like his sounds they kinda jump around all over the place.  He’s got some personal lyrics about himself, he’s got some conscious black race kinda lyrics, he’s got horny lyrics.

I liked the tunes more towards the end of what I heard.  I liked the tune ‘Complexion’ a bunch, and I liked the tune Institutionalized and King Kunta.

It’s a really good record, B+, but it’s not a great record.  I just read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ column about the police in Chicago here.  Here’s an artist/intellectual at the top of his game.  He’s not jumping around at all, his ideas are tight and lean with no fat, his writing is powerful and focused.  I don’t hear the same thing on this record. And you might say well Kendrick Lamar is just starting out and he’s young, and I would say go listen to Prince’s 1999.  Focused and relentless, just one ridiculous sound after another.  Maybe Kendrick Lamar will hit that on his next record, I have no clue, but you listen and compare him to other greats and see how he stacks up.  Then go listen to Curtis Mayfield’s first solo record and tell me that doesn’t just burn all the way through.

YTD recordings listened to: 1000
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 566
Not good music: 337

Honorable Mentions: 27
Buys: 20

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, About Group, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Debruit, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, Alexander Hawkins, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Mohamed Abozekry, Dawn Richard, Leo Welch, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Akitsa,  Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Destruction Unit, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Noisem, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Mystic Braves

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12/23/15: Miley Cyrus!

@@@ Miley Cyrus: Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz (Not sure, 2015).  Oh how the mighty have fallen.  In the spring of this year I was writing about Cyrus and her video for Wrecking Ball had a staggering 75 million views on the Google Pimp Tube.  This is the single for Miley’s latest biscuit and it stands at a mere 17 million YouTube views.  17 million people will tune in to watch Taylor Swift take a pee.

I must admit that I like this tune more than Wrecking Ball.  She’s smearing food and syrup on her face and she’s really trying to make weed popular, but she’s closer to singing than anything she did on Bangerz, which was a sad biscuit.

She goes from a blazed slow chant in the beginning of the tune to a manic club flow so she actually pulled off a change in one of her tunes.  She wraps up the tune below with the lyric ‘I want to put the dick in my pussy’ so she continues to milk the x rated antics for all they’re worth.  Let’s check out another tune.

This tune Lighter looks like’s it gonna be a ballad.  This is a slow jam where she might actually keep her tits covered.  It’s a pretty cheesy beat, but she’s singing — I can’t believe it but she’s out singing Taylor Swift who’s more than a bit of an Ice Queen on the microphone.

As the masthead of this blog announces we don’t ride the wiener here.  We just discuss the music.  And how typically American that as Miley Cyrus gets over the hump and is able to sing and put songs together America is about to wipe their ass with her.  Witness the sub line headline below from today’s Daily Beast here.

Oh look, Miley posed nude in another ‘racy’ photo. And there she is in a ‘crazy’ outfit. Did you know that she loves weed? Yes, 2015 is the year Miley’s antics got tired.

I guess that’s the price you pay when you engage in spectacle.  People feel it for a while, they get bored and they throw you away.  Celebrities use people and people use celebrities, god bless America.

But she’s making much better music.  I like that tune Lighter more than I dig Adele’s cheesy biscuit Hello.

YTD recordings listened to: 999
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 569
Not good music: 344

Honorable Mentions: 27
Buys: 20

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, About Group, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Debruit, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, Alexander Hawkins, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Mohamed Abozekry, Dawn Richard, Leo Welch, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Akitsa,  Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Destruction Unit, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Noisem, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Mystic Braves

12/21/15: DJ Richard

@@@ DJ Richard: Grind (Dial, 2015).  This record is tagged as best of the year for EDM over here at inverted audio.  The Apple Music blurb says it’s ‘outsider house for an open minded dance floor’.  This first tune is pretty dark, some grinding gears and some slow changing dark pillow synths.  And here’s the metal, like C3PO put in a blender!  Poor fucker.  No beats yet.  Still no dance floor.  This second tune has beats — no four on the floor yet, just little clinkers.  He’s got some bass drum working now, but I’m not hearing best of 2015 yet.   I don’t think that a record that is club music with fewer beats qualifies as experimental as it’s labelled by Apple Music.  From what I’ve heard this is a half ambient/half club record, which is fine, but I want higher quality ambient sounds if you’re gonna strip the funk out.  The video clipped below is the last track on the record and gets name checked by the reviewer at inverted audio as one of the best examples of DJ Richard’s aesthetic.  He’s got some damned skippy robot sound arpeggios, those enter the ear holes quite easily and those twerk on clouds of pretty stand synth clouds and a light club beat.  I think this music might be frickin’ fantastic if your high out of your mind, but we can’t review based on drug induced feelings.  That’s not pro.  I’m giving DJ Richard a B — if had more flavor in his beats and a more interesting chord progression to the synths I would give props.

YTD recordings listened to: 998
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 568
Not good music: 344

Honorable Mentions: 27
Buys: 20

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, About Group, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Debruit, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, Alexander Hawkins, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Mohamed Abozekry, Dawn Richard, Leo Welch, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Akitsa, Richard Thompson,  Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Destruction Unit, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Noisem, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Mystic Braves

Best of 2015 Pick 16

Fuck the Facts: Desire Will Rot (Noise Salvation, 2015)

I’m going to digest as much of the heavy metal on my listening list before the holidays as Christ died so we could listen to heavy metal.  He’s into it, he don’t mind the Satan at all.  Following that introductory nonsense this may be my favorite heavy metal record of the year.

This is molten monster shot of metal, thrash, hardcore punk, grind, post-rock a tad of doom — you name it.  It’s all blenderized and served up undiluted.  It’s a full on celebration of simultaneously not giving a fuck and really giving a fuck.

Not giving a fuck in the sense of letting it all the bad emotions out without regard for society.  Fuck society!  Giving a fuck in terms of creatively and intensely honoring all those emotions.

Excellent drummer in all styles — suffocating thrash, kick drum wallop, big octopus sprays.

Excellent guitar tones and guitar playing — very satisfying grinding that often erupts into wild melodic spasms, even some classic guitar metal shredding thrown in at odd points.

Ugly bass player — heavy metal bass players have hard lives as they don’t get much in the way of props.  Sorry dude.

The singer alternates between an almost caveman low register thing and a very convincing upper register end of his rope  wail.  No epic opera singer going here.

The pop music/shopping industrial complex!

Regular readers know that I often refer to some music as great for the shopping mall, or great tunes to buy blue jeans to.

And while it is very not in vogue to say that anything really means anything, it’s my opinion that some of what drives the shallowness of today’s music is the search for ears and there are many ears at the mall buying blue jeans.

You say I’m crazy?

Peep the video below as Katy Perry does a flirtatious, stupid song for European retailer H&M.

Pop shopping music is business people, it just business that makes our whole society mo stupid by the day.

2015 Honorable Pick 15: Richard Thompson!

Richard Thompson: Still (Fantasy, 2015).

I have no trouble recommending this record from Richard Thompson with the caveat that after you check out the above average songs with virtuosic guitar playing you then go and check out ‘I Wanna See the Bright Lights Tonight’ from 1973.

And if the track ‘The Cavalry Cross’ doesn’t almost make you cry then your a dried up heartless asshole.

It’s a little bit of a tough comparison because Linda Thompson adds a whole another dimension to ‘I Wanna See the Bright Lights’ with her singing, but the point is folks should keep that record going.  And this one.

12/17/15: Sufjan Stevens

@@@ Sufjan Stevens: Carrie and Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty, 2015).  Just a minute before we get to this record which is just tearing up the best of 2015 lists.  I was checking the Pitchfork top 50 of the year and 3 of the first 10 records are hip hop records.  When did Pitchfork blackafy?

I think I peeped this record earlier in the year but sometimes I go back when I see so many people jumping up and down because maybe I made a mistake in not seeing the greatness of a record.  Prior to this record as a general statement I think Stevens is a hyped darling.  His talent doesn’t measure up to his rep.

This is also a very easy record to bandwagon on — a musician does an album about the demise of his mother, it’s a universal theme and it makes indie music come across as having more depth than it really has as a genre.

The arrangements are simple, the arpeggiated guitar is beautiful and easy for listeners to hang onto, but if you’re top 10 on everybody’s lists should I expect Dylan quality lyrics?  Should I be getting some near poetry, some shit that hits me or am I asking too much?  No equivalent of Masters of War?  We’re talking a major periodical’s end of year list.  I don’t hear best of year in lyrics here — I dig the lyrics and delivery on Frog Eyes’ recent record more than this.

If pretty is your only criteria for a record you’re good for this one.  Frankly, I’m a bit bored by the fourth song.  If you’re going to strip the arrangements down so much I want some Grade A lyrics to connect with.

#indiehypemachine

YTD recordings listened to: 997
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 566
Not good music: 344

Honorable Mentions: 27
Buys: 20

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, About Group, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Debruit, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, Alexander Hawkins, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Mohamed Abozekry, Dawn Richard, Leo Welch, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Akitsa, Richard Thompson,  Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Andra Day, Frog Eyes, Destruction Unit, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Noisem, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Mystic Braves