Hey there party people! Glad you could join us on what I guess you could call our REAL return. Not gonna lie, it almost didn't happen this week. Somebody must have gotten wind that we were doing awesome things again and life tried its best to prevent it. My laptop got swiped out of my truck, and then a few days later my aunt passes away out of nowhere. Needless to say, life hasn't been too swell for 'ole Apathy this past week.
BUT! I'm a rockstar, Stereotoid's a bunch of baller ass rockstars, and the show must go on. I wasn't able to finish up my review due to life, but we've got some excellent submissions from Xzyliac, Daxelman, JTHomeslice, and Crackity Jones covering a nice spread of genres. We even have a little hate in here, already on our first return to reviewings! We waste no time here folks. And speaking of which...
Album: First Serve
Artist: De La Soulís Plug 1 & Plug 2
Label: [PIAS] Entertainment Group
Released: April 2, 2012
*Sub-genres: Jazz-hop, golden age hip-hop
Sounds like: Eternal summer jams.
Itís been a helluva long time since we last got an entire album from the legendary group De La Soul. 8 years in fact and itís always been kind of assumed the best years of De La Soul have been left in the 90s, which was always a fair assumption. So when Plug 1 and 2 both announced their side project First Serve I donít think anyone really expected much. A solid album at best, maybe with one or two really stand out songs, but nothing that could really sit alongside classics like 3 Feet High and Rising or (my personal favorite) De La Soul is Dead.
So what a pleasant surprise when April 2nd rolled around and here it is, the modern day De La Soul album that can proudly sit alongside their best. First Serve, the official latest album in the De La Soul catalog in spite of the absence of Plug 3, is a bright, funky, jazzy revival in colorful urban hip-hop. The album takes a page from De La Soul is Dead where the album has a narrative, a much more cohesive one than the aforementioned classic, and manages to retain that funk that the group brought to life in the 90s.
For this album the group has brought in a live band complete with drums, pianos, guitars, a particularly funky horns section and even a blues-y harmonica during The Book of Life. Itís actually kind of a relief that the band chose the live band route much akin to The Roots as it manages to give the album a lot of flexibility. As the story plays out the highs and lows are very effectively communicated by a band that can easily transition from bright and cheery to dark and tense seamlessly. As much as I love De La Soul is Dead sometimes it feels like the heavy use of samples can make the album seem a bit jarring and schizophrenic. It gives it a charm but it also tends to split the appeal between tracks. The great use of a live backing band makes everything feel original, fresh and consistent but never boring.
The lyricism of First Serve isnít nearly as imaginative as though of us who fell in love with the earlier sounds of De La but the trade-off is weíve gotten a more ďmatureĒ album. Not mature in the sense that the lyrics contain more adult content but mature in the sense that it feels like Plug 1 and Plug 2 have learned how to more effectively communicate the songís purpose. Songs like Must B the Music have catchy lyrical hooks whereas Tennis is a tribute to building an empire and seeing that empire create a bond. Itís the type of effective lyricism that isnít even really present in the album prior, The Grind Date.
All in all, First Serve has managed to become one of my favorite hip-hop albums of the last ten years. There are literally no middling tracks on this album. Everything has a genuine flavor, one that is so hard to find in hip-hop nowadays, where even the darker tracks have a sense of color to them. Itís a very vibrant album with some great ďsummer jamĒ type hooks. Songs like Must B the Music and Move ĎEm In, Move ĎEm Out are instant hits the minute they latch themselves onto your brain. Meanwhile, Pop Life, Pushiní Aside, Pushiní Along, and The Work, the more serious tracks of the album, carry a similar infectiousness while still feeling like they have purpose. Itís appropriate that this album drops as everything begins to warm up as itís certainly one that just feels good to blast with the windows down ona sunny Saturday afternoon.
Album: Slave to the Game
Label: Victory Records
Released: April 10, 2012
Sounds like: Another fucking Emmure album
We meet again Emmure. I always try to give new music bands I havenít been into a chance. Sometimes it turns out they got better. This isnít the case for Emmure. If anything this album just shows how creatively bankrupt they are.
The problem with Emmure isnít that their music is bad, which it is. Itís that their music is lazy and boring. Thereís a lot of jokes made at their expense about how their guitar tabs look like binary, (insert overused meme here) but itís really true. 99% of their music is just detuned guitar chugs with the occasional screech on the high strings. The remaining 1% comes from the rare instances where they stray away from this. The slightly Korn-ish break in ďUmar Dumps DormammuĒ and the intro to ďMDMAĒ are examples of this. These slight glimpses of hope are quickly dashed away for more SICK BREAKDOWNS. They show the possibility of something more, but are washed away by the same old shit.
The vocals havenít gotten any better either. Vocalist/internet hate monger Frankie Palmeri pretty much hasnít changed. He still does those ďbrutalĒ low growls, awful high pitched screeches, and weird kind of clean vocals. It seems like he does those ďI want to do non-growls but still sound hardĒ vocals even more on this album, which just makes him sound even more like Fred Durst or any other nu-metal singer. The nu-metal comparisons are even more apt when some songs actually have turntable scratches on them. Honestly, I hope they add a full on turntable player with their next album. That would be hilarious. Also, there arenít any quotes about dicks, which is a real disappointment.
I donít know what else to say about this album. Itís yet another Emmure album that sounds exactly like all of their others. Once again, the few times they try something new, it just goes back to the safety of chugs. You know at this point whether or not you like Emmure. I donít.
Personal favorite tracks: Donít even bother.
TL;DR: Itís another Emmure album. You know if this is appealing to you by now.
Artist: Amon Tobin
Label: Ninja Tune
Genre: Experimental, Trip Hop, Electronic
Sub-genres: Dubstep, Drum and Bass, Samples Galore
Sounds like: Someone went to the sound emporium and had a party while drinking bacon grease and Jager and eating chocolate filled gummy worms.
ISAM stands for Indexed Sequential Access Method. Itís a way of basically sorting large amounts of data so you can then search for things fast. ISAM is also the latest and greatest experiment in sound from the world's leading electronic maestro, Amon Tobin. What do the two have to do together? Nothing, I just wanted to throw some computer science at you guys. I thought it would go well together
Thatís basically what Amon Tobin did with this album, albeit with more success then my little nerd spiel. ISAM is what one would call ďthings I never thought would go well togetherĒ, if you actually spent the time to see what samples Tobin pulled from this time...if he had pulled samples in the first place. Much like his last effort Foley Room, Amon Tobin went out and did a bunch of field based recordings for ISAM, but unlike Foley Room, Amon went off the deep end with these recordings, sampling some truly nasty sounds from lord knows where. Everything from subtle guitar licks and faint lyrical words to weird beeps, boops, wobbles and drops can be heard in this album.
Of course, it wouldnít be Amon Tobin if those samples werenít distorted, broken, fixed, dropped, picked up, slid across sand paper, and dipped into Mountain Dew, and ISAM is no exception. Sounds that seriously shouldnít go together to make any sort of rhythmical sense fall into a fine line under Tobinís control, creating a myriad of sounds such that anyone a fan of any electronic music could find something that fits to them; be it asymmetrical polyrhythm, deafening bass, or trips so hard youíll break your nose, ISAM has it, and itís in technical full force.
There isnít much else to bother you with buying this album. Every sound, every single sample, no matter how out of place it seems alone, has a loving home in each of the songs in ISAM. Every detail was taken into account, from the sound of the sample, to what effects to use, to how it loops, and itís amazing to see what meticulous sound design can do for electronic music these days. If there was anyone who would ever say electronic music is ruining the music industry, plug in some headphones and then pop ISAM in the stereo; send their doubts running.
Iíve said it before and Iíll say it again; Amon Tobin is a master of his craft, and he just keeps on hammering that fact in with each release. With ISAM, now heís now using a ten ton hammer.
Artist: Jack White
Label: Third Man Records
Released: April 24, 2012
Sub-genres: Blues, Folk
Sounds like: Jack White being Jack White, which is just swell.
You know how I know it's going to be a good year? We just got a new release from Jack White. If you've never heard of music before or just need some refreshing, Jack White made a name for himself in his first band, The White Stripes. White has had plenty of projects and bands over the years including: The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, Die Another Day with Alicia Keys, providing guitar for the latest Wanda Jackson album and other various projects.
Blunderbuss, which was just released yesterday in North America, is the latest solo release from Jack White and chances are, it's exactly what you'd hope it would be. Blunderbuss jumps around from sound to sound without going too far to any sort of extreme. You will mostly be hearing White play some of his folk songs as well as brining the album back to his roots with some blues/garage rock. Between the two genres that White plays around with on the album, it makes a fitting release for his self-owned label, Third Man Records. TMR also recently released the first album from The Alabama Shakes which is another great album you should look into if you dig Blunderbuss.
While Blunderbuss is certainly an evolution for White, it isn't drastically different than the music he has produced in the past. Basically, if you're worried that this album will be too different than a White Stripes or Dead Weather album, you have nothing to worry about. Right from the start you'll understand what I mean as the first few chords of Missing Pieces come in. The album is basically formed in the way that you have a garage rock, folk rock, sandwich. Towards the beginning you have loud guitar driven songs like 16 Saltines, then around the middle of the album you have slower more vocal and keys driven songs like Hypocritical Kiss but by the end of the album you're back to songs with some of White's traditional face shredding guitar work as heard on Take Me With You When You Go. All of this makes for an album that flows perfectly.
To be quite honest with you, it's pretty hard to find much to complain about with Blunderbuss. The closest I can get to a complaint would be that I would've liked to have seen an album from Jack White that was completely blues rock with a lo-fi twist. I'd just be super giddy if he went back 100% to his original sound on the first few White Stripes albums. That pure energetic, dirty guitar driven rock n roll sound. That's just me though. If you're a fan of Mr. White then I would whole heartedly recommend Blunderbuss. If you don't like it then there is a good chance that you just don't like music anymore. The radio has won and all you desire now is more of the same three sounds driven into your head on repeat.
That's all folks! Tune in next week, where we promise to have so many musics for you to music that you'll look back and be like "Wow, how did I possibly music all of that music". But for now, PANCAKES!