Filed under: On-Campus Artists, Releases of the Week | Tags: Brandon Linn, Kevin Hegedus, Michael Jackson, Mouth's Cradle, Releases of the Week, Show Me Off, Sleigh Bells, The Next Big Thing
PREVIEW: Mouth’s Cradle’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 17/20 Watts
DOWNLOAD: The Next Big Thing on iTunes
LISTEN: “Show Me Off” by Mouth’s Cradle
These days, greatness seems to come in pairs. Enter Mouth’s Cradle and the final product they’ve been sweating over for months, The Next Big Thing.
The album starts off with a song with a great story, “Ghosts.” Brandon Linn, Mouth’s Cradle’s DJ half, says he thought of the song the exact day before Michael Jackson died when he dreamed he saw a ghost in his room. You can’t make this stuff up. “Ghosts,” secretly Linn’s and Kevin Hegedus’ favorite track on the album, sets the tone with hard thumps and catchy ring tones. Linn’s a master of stringing odd noises and flipping them into head-banging beats, and “Ghosts” floats and rips catchy beats alongside Hegedus’s trademark high-pitch rhymes.
Very smoothly, Mouth’s Cradle takes it down a few notches with their famous “Princess of the Beatz,” which loops several vocal tracks all from Hegedus and a strumming acoustic guitar. The iconic sounds in this album don’t stop there though, as the single “Honey from a Stone” picks it up with fast-paced drum and piano keys.
Filed under: Issue 21, Issue 21 Reviews | Tags: Blood on the Tracks, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Echo, Jay-Z, Michael Jackson, Plies, Raymond v. Raymond, Tom Petty, Tunnel of Love, Usher
Part of Issue 21 coverage!
PREVIEW: VISIT Usher’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 13/20 Watts
Like Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks, Tom Petty’s Echo and Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love, Usher’s Raymond v. Raymond is an album inspired by divorce. And just like those albums, Raymond v. Raymond does not offer one cohesive perspective on the complex situation. Instead, as the album title implies, Raymond v. Raymond presents two different sides of the R&B artist – the heartbroken-yet-resigned ex-husband, “ready to sign them papers” and the sweet-talking flirt, mackin‘ it on the rebound.
Jay-Z recently made a far-reaching prediction that Usher could be the next Michael Jackson. Except Jackson would never have sung the words, “When you step up in my Porsche Carrera, better not touch anything.” Yes, for three minutes and twenty seconds, Usher unfortunately sings about how “amazing,” “courageous,” “fantastic” and “awesome” (in that order) he is in the song “Radar.” Here, we are bombarded with the second Raymond – the cheesy creeper in the club, spinning one-liners out of his leather pants pocket. There’s no evidence of Jackson-esque pop music revolutionism to speak of on Raymond v. Raymond. Continue reading
Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: 8 Diagrams, album review, Freddie Gibbs, Ghostface Killah, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Meth Ghost & Rae, Method Man, Michael Jackson, Raekwon, Tracy Morgan, Wu-Massacre, Wu-Tang Clan
PREVIEW: VISIT Meth, Ghost & Rae’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts
Back together for the first time since 2007’s 8 Diagrams, Wu-Tang Clan‘s Method Man, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon haven’t lost a beat. Recording their self-proclaimed “fan album,” Meth, Ghost & Rae end up turning back the clock to gangsta rap’s 1990s heyday, as they sling smooth, yet violent rhymes over fresh backing tracks. Needless to say, the results could surprise the current rap game.
In today’s hip-hop scene, gangsta rap has mostly disappeared. There have been fleeting moments when its return seemed possible– mostly releases from Wu-Tang members (mainly these three) and various mixtapes (see either of Freddie Gibbs‘s 2009 efforts). But for the most part, that segment of the genre has given way to the more radio-oriented Kanye Wests and Lil’ Waynes of the world. As you may have guessed, Wu-Massacre meets none of these popular conceptions. Continue reading
Filed under: Best of 2009 Albums | Tags: Alejandro, Bad Romance, best of 2009, Beyonce, David Bowie, Just Dance, Kanye West, Lady GaGa, Michael Jackson, Poker Face, Releases of the Week, Telephone, The fAME, The Fame Monster
Michael Jackson. David Bowie. Madonna. Kanye West. Critics and fans alike don’t typically utters the names of pop legends with moderation in mind. It’s a good thing that Lady Gaga doesn’t seem to know the meaning of the word. Last year’s The Fame may have put Gaga on the map, but this year’s follow-up The Fame Monster gave us more new material and reminded the musically-inclined populace yet again that mass-consumed songwriting can indeed be a venue for true talent.
If you really want to know why The Fame Monster is one of the best albums of the year, you hardly need to look further than the video for lead single “Bad Romance” for proof. Lady Gaga literally sets potential suitors ablaze with the over-the-top display that colors the majority of her work — but on The Fame Monster the material is all darker, and all more vindictive. Each song is either a biting critique or a forlorn lament, and Gaga’s voice bounces beautifully over the eclectic production throughout, from Darkchild, Fernando Garibay,RedOne, Ron Fair, and others.
We see an angrier side of Gaga on The Fame Monster — and perhaps a more broken, vulnerable side of her as well. Gaga’s heartbreak-torn vocals on songs like “Alejandro” or “Telephone” (featuring Beyonce) would have been out of place alongside the hedonistic abandon of “Poker Face” or “Just Dance,” but adhere thematically to every other song on the record. This makes The Fame Monster as much a concept album as its predecessor was, in no way a bad thing. In eight songs Lady Gaga’s shown us yet another side of fame and kept herself more than fresh. Let’s just hope she can keep it up.
— Eric Vilas-Boas
Filed under: Scene Around Town | Tags: 808s and Heartbreak, C.R.E.A.M., DJ Afar, dj premier, Ghostface Killah, hip-hop, just blaze, M.O.P., Michael Jackson, Myles P, Nas, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Scene Around Town, Skyzoo, The ODB, Westcott Theater, Wu-Tang Clan
Exclusive photos and coverage below the cut!
Hip-hop shows always seem to be hit or miss. Either the performer’s on point and the crowd’s loving it, or it’s a gaudy free-for-all onstage and the music just doesn’t live up to how it sounds on record. Last night’s Ghostface Killah show at The Westcott was a little bit of both, with late appearances, brutal performances and a considerable amount of trash-talk. But what would you expect from a Wu-Tang member anyway?
The show started with a string of local openers, beginning with Myles P, whose jagged flow and attempts at 808s and Heartbreak R&B vocals made me walk out on his set, regardless of his mystifyingly dedicated fanbase, who rocked with him for the whole show. A strangely captivating but ultimately questionable local group followed, whose name I couldn’t catch and who didn’t appear on any showbills. They made a lot of noise about local hip-hop, but it was hard to buy. Continue reading
Filed under: News of Note | Tags: Anti- Records, Basement Jaxx, Channels, Chipmunk, Chris Walla, Daren Zentek, Death Cab for Cutie, J. Robbins, Jan van Nuenen, Jawbox, Kelis, Meika, Michael Jackson, News of Note, NPR, This Is It, Tom Waits
The King of Pop’s “This Is It”, the title track from a soon-to-be released documentary of the same name, was available for streaming last night beginning at midnight on the King’s official website, says Rolling Stone. Michael Jackson, who often spent time in the public spotlight for his infamous highs and spiraling lows, is featured in this posthumous release alongside piano and strings. Recorded in 1991 during his sessions for Dangerous, the ballad features backup vocals from Michael’s four brothers. The film and soundtrack are scheduled to drop October 27, you can see the film trailer here. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: New MJ Single To Be Released]
UK-based house duo Basement Jaxx have released a music video for the title track of their fifth studio based album, Scars. Stereogum gives us a look at the video, which is directed by Dutch digital animator and artist Jan van Nuenen. The video thrives off of the effect-laden vocals supplied by Kelis, Meika, and Chipmunk, and features a rather threatening plant that grows and develops as the song progresses. Trust me, you’ll never look at a rosebush the same way again. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: 20 Watts Reviews Basement Jaxx’s Scars]
Much to our delight. experimental pioneer Tom Waits has announced the release of a new live album. According to Pitchfork, the two disc set will consist of all live recordings from Tom and has been titled Glitter and Doom. While Disc 1 will consist of a collection of songs sampled from ten separate shows, the second disc will be entirely made up of one track. That one track, entitled “Tom Tales,” will consist of onstage ramble and banter from our favorite songwriter. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until November 24 for Anti- Records to release it. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Tom Waits Appears in Kerouac’s Big Sur]
Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla and Jawbox’s J. Robbins recently appeared on NPR’s Project Song, a feature in which artists are challenged to collaborate and write a song in just two days. The pair had never worked together before, which made the entire process even more spontaneous. As Pitchfork shows us, the product, entitled “Mercury” possesses all of the qualities that we’d expect to come from this talented duo, which were joined by drummer Daren Zentek, who played alongside Robbins in Channels. You can check out video of the entire process, or video of the finished song. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Editors Pick #130: New Death Cab EP- The Open Door (2009), Editor’s Pick #83: New Death Cab Music Vid]