Record Bulletin

Record Bulletin, 3/27: 2011 to 2013 Dust-Up

Shaking the Habitual

Most of these are unaltered notes I made way back when. In looking back, there’s plenty more where this came from, though these are at least coherent, and more or less sum up what I think about the album in question even if it’s not particularly articulate or insightful. In alphabetical order, not order of preference.

Honestly, there are probably hundreds of albums I’d like to write about that I didn’t, but in order to do it correctly I’d have to go back and listen to them even more, and that’s just time I don’t have. I’ve considered making a list of band, album title, label, year of release, and grade—no review, no snarky remark—just to have it on the record that I like this or that record.

Jake-Bugg-albumJAKE BUGG – Jake Bugg (Mercury ’13): 19-year-old Nottingham singer-songwriter’s debut, a pop-folk album slightly more sophisticated than the likes of Ryan Adams or Mumford & Sons but not the son of Dylan as too many are quick to claim. His cadence and nasality sometimes sounds similar, but that’s all he’s got; he wouldn’t know government if it bit him in the ass. LEMON

cakes da killaCAKES DA KILLA – The Eulogy (Bandcamp download ’13): Where Frank Ocean gets a capital-S serious discussion about his homosexuality, Cakes comes out the closet on his second line with “Niggas pay my loans just to fingerfuck my asshole.” Raucous, hilarious, and crazy irreverent. B PLUS (***)

 

Push_the_Sky_AwayNICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS – Push the Sky Away (Bad Seed ’13): On the few occasions I tried, I never made it far into Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, though the leadoff had a really nice groove overshadowing Cave’s storytelling, so I never noticed his want to be Patti Smith, all too apparent on this downtempo release—just hear “Water’s Edge.” LEMON

childish gambinoCHILDISH GAMBINO – Because the Internet (Glassnote ’13): Couldn’t care less whether Donald Glover’s got any street cred; he’s creative in his delivery, has a flow that curves and snaps, wordplays like a mother, and more than once backs himself up with better beats than most of his contemporaries. How I wish he’d just stick to being a jester—his ‘critique’ of internet culture in the cringingly bad denouement is what anyone else would call, er, white people problems. Inspired hook: “Don’t be mad cuz I’m doin’ me better than you doin’ you.”  B PLUS (***)

Chvrches_-_The_Bones_of_What_You_BelieveCHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe (Virgin ’13): Scottish electronic trio’s debut LP, made a real big splash on both sides of the pond. Sounds something like goth indie to me; gloomy, abrasive, and without humor, the self-serious types who con saps into their shtick by occasionally producing worthy ear-candy. B PLUS (*)

exmilitaryDEATH GRIPS – Exmilitary (free download ’11): Featuring MC Ride (Stefan Burnett), keyb-man Flatlander (Andy Morin), and drummer Zach Hill (Zach Hi-… that dude from Hella). Sample-heavy, the weakest of their work in terms of abrasiveness, but still plenty interesting. Wouldn’t recommend it for the uninitiated, even if compared to their other shit this is pretty fucking mild. B PLUS (**)

death grips govt platesDEATH GRIPS – Government Plates (free download ’13): By the “conceptual art exhibition’s” own admission, this isn’t so much an album as a placeholder; i.e. crap to hold you over in anticipation of their newest crap. An experiment gone wrong, this holdover between stiff-cocked No Love Deep Web and the intermittent Niggas on the Moon is about as good as the MS Paint-inspired album art. LEMON

Holy_Fire_IIFOALS – Holy Fire (Warner Bros. ’13): Indie outfit from Oxford I started following when they dropped their debut in 2008—their dance pop/rock affected me enough to keep occasional tabs, though I probably heard Total Life Forever once or twice and never listened again, so it’s not entirely clear to me whether that album serves as a marker of transition between Antidotes and this; from my recollection the two sound almost nothing alike, to the point where if you played both side by side and told me they were different bands I’d believe you. This just sounds like anti-rhythm/melody indie, as typical as anything else. Could be the jump from Sub Pop to major. B PLUS (*)

the go fiestaTHE GO – Fiesta (Burger ’13): Return of Detroit garage rockers after 07’s Howl… They’re not the same band that concocted fuzz-guitar masterpiece Whatcha’ Doin, in fact have shifted personnel several times, though since their last they’ve settled into a distinct quartet. And they’ve largely shed the too-weird psych vibe they prominently portrayed on Howl, here taking the easy route of regular rock and rolling out good tunes while retaining their fetish for late 60s/early 70s lo-fi. Nothing remarkable, but completely listenable, and a wonderful token signifying not all is withering away in the Motor City. B PLUS (***)

the go singlesTHE GO – Singles, Jingles & EPs (Burger ’13): Hour collection of singles reaching back to their Lizard King days, featuring original—not album—versions of HotHBYR singles, some vinyl-only releases, and a few cuts they did for the kiddies. I take this more as an archive dig than a best-of, which is nearly what it reads as. Considering no Sub Pop material surfaces here (particularly disappointing but not surprising is the ever-absent Free Electricity), it functions as a summation of the band’s last eleven years or so, which is far less interesting than those first few. B PLUS (*)

knife shakingTHE KNIFE – Shaking the Habitual (Rabid ’13): Finally made it through this one. Plenty of parts are easy enough to listen to, though none of it gets me tapping my feet. But I have to say the 19-minute slogs need to be justified by those telling me just how great this film-length electro workout is. B PLUS (**)

 

lotus plazaLOTUS PLAZA – Spooky Action at a Distance (Kranky ’12): Side solo venture for Deerhunter guitarist Lockett Pundt. Like his regular band, this is atmospheric rock, a wash of guitar with a bass hum. But it’s also the first indication of definitive strong structure, which came to the forefront on 2013’s Monomania. Both great albums. A MINUS

Katy_Perry_-_Prism_coverKATY PERRY – Prism (Capitol ’13): Finally caved when I could no longer deny that “Dark Horse” was a great club song, and when this opened with the surprisingly good single “Roar,” I thought maybe she’d pulled it off at last. I was wrong. CHOICE CUTS: “Dark Horse,” “Roar”

 

public enemy evil empirePUBLIC ENEMY – Evil Empire of Everything (Enemy Records/Spit Digital ’12): Great blend of old skool big beats and boom bap splashed with an ominous aura infecting the best political rap of our time. Not always brilliantly delivered, but by my recollection the first rap song to explicitly address Trayvon Martin. Criticizes the status quo (people are machines, don’t know what it means) as though it’s new, and maybe it’s new to Chuck D. Ha. I doubt it. B PLUS (***)

public enemy most of my heroesPUBLIC ENEMY – Most of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear On No Stamp (Enemy Records/Spit Digital ’12): Those heroes include civil rights activists, historical figures, and artists. I don’t think Chuck D is calling for these individuals to be revered through the Post Office—instead he and Flav stress it’s not only these people, but all the nameless whose names we’ll never know backing these individuals that need be commemorated—not on our envelopes, but in our minds, seemingly the last place pernicious powers can’t wholly control. Really dig “Get Up Stand Up” with Brother Ali and the title track, also “Rltk” and “FassFood.” A MINUS

RGNET1296The Rough Guide to African Disco (World Music Network ’13): Hit and miss disco/funk/pop songs from 70’s Africa, includes bonus disc of Maloko covering 60s American R&B the likes of Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, and James Brown. Why two renditions of “In the Midnight Hour”? Are they the same one? It didn’t work when Donna Summers covered Eddie Floyd’s “Knock On Wood,” so why does Maloko think he can do it? B PLUS (**)

tal-national-kaaniTAL NATIONAL – Kaani (Fatcat ’13): Nigerian collective led by guitarist/judge/ex-footballer Hamadal Inssoufou Moumine (aka Almeida) whose specialty is rhythm. Pulling from different ethnic music traditions ranging from Tuareg desert blues to Fuji 12/8 time signatures, this propulsive hour-plus of non-stop highlife and afrobeat. A MINUS

THEESatisfaction-And-Thats-Your-Time-608x608THEESATISFACTION – And That’s Your Time (Sub Pop ’13): Trip R&B, if such a thing exists. I probably overrated their debut awE naturalE, a 30-minute low-key funkfest, But they’re hard to pin down, their personalities as non-emotive as Rihanna. This EP doesn’t do much to improve that, and isn’t as groovy to boot. LEMON

FALSE-IDOLS-400TRICKY – False Idols (False Idols ’13): Downbeat trip-hop featuring remixes of The Antlers’ “Parenthesis,” among others. Thought for a long while there was something to this, and while some of the beats slide along nicely, the slow-tempo slogs turn out to be all hot air. B PLUS (*)

 

American_Weekend_cover_artWAXAHATCHEE – American Weekend (Don Giovanni ’12): Lo-fi, muddy debut of PS Eliot’s Katie Crutchfield. This has its moments, too, and her new, cleaned-up sound makes me think the murkiness and so-so sound quality wasn’t so much a choice as a result of under-financing. Still, we listen to music for the sound, of which there’s plenty but is difficult to make out. A MINUS

Wussy_CakeShopWUSSY – Cake Shop (free download ’12): Killer live set from Cincinnati band, over an hour long, raw performances with subpar sound quality that’s probably too harsh for the unaccustomed listener. For the veteran? Bliss. A MINUS

 

Yuck_Album_CoverYUCK – Yuck (Fat Possum ’11): Probably the perfect case for buying an LP for one side, but in these days of digital downloads and waning CD sales, I’d suggest you pick up with this about halfway through. Start with “Georgia” and ride the coast til the end. The first five are no reminder of why you put this album on. A MINUS

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