October 2010

Wilderness Names (youtouchusyoudie Records)

Living Ghost a/k/a Daniel Davis (ex-Weather is Happening, ex-Be Kind to Your Neighbor) makes dark, dense, lo-fi jams in the vein of TV on the Radio’s debut EP, Young Liars. But where TVotR mined the soulfulness of drum machine-laden post-punk, Davis brings out the punk in post-punk. Wilderness Names is the first release for his new(ish) solo moniker and over the 31-minute run time, it can get a bit messy and sprawling, but when it hits, it’ll lay you out flat. (more…)


Director: Davis Guggenheim
Featuring: Geoffrey Canada, Michelle Rhee, Bill Strickland & Davis Guggenheim

1/2 (out of five)

There are several issues at play in Davis Guggenheim’s latest zeitgeist-tapping, Oscar-baiting, tear-jearking documentary, Waiting for Superman, and some of the scatter-shot pinpointing pokes holes in what seems to be Guggenheim’s central thesis: charter schools are the wave of the future and teacher’s unions are bad. While, at heart, this isn’t a terrible line of thought, this issue is complex and ignores the instances where charter schools are unsuccessful and teacher’s unions are advocates for a grossly put upon and poorly paid profession. (more…)

Featuring: Mos Def, Lupe Fiasco & Big Sean

“Don’t Look Down (The Phoenix Story)” is another mid-tempo rap dirge from Mr. West. Another example of West’s inability to utilize space. Though “Don’t Look Down,” amazingly, clocks in under the six-minute mark (just barely at 5:55), there’s still lots of soggy, poorly used space wasted on vocorder and synth solos which vary from early Kieth Emerson experiments with the Moog (bad) to later Emerson experiments with the Moog (tolerable-to-good). I’ll stop whining about track lengths and concentrate on things unique to this cut. (more…)

Director: Kanye West

Staring: Selita Ebanks & Kanye West

(out of five)

Part of Kanye West’s original appeal was not only his beats and his openness, but also a great potential, a promise that he may actually be the new direction for hip-hop, if not pop music. I don’t know if Runaway fulfills that promise, but it certainly is one more brick in that wall.
West has been in a league of his own for the last several years, nearing pop figure-heads like Prince, Michael Jackson, and Madonna in cross-over appeal/potential. Yeezy’s aped the alien hip-hop persona of Andre 3000  while living high and kingly like his “big brother,” Jay-Z, creating this hybrid of European flash, and mogul rapper, almost Euro-trap. Even his languid auto-tunned Dear John of an album, 808’s and Heartbreak occupied it’s own corner of a newly crowded R(ap)&B field, if by no other metric than a single-minded, well-constructed theme (heartbreak). But his serial mixtape, which I’ve been covering fanatically, and this new promotional film put him in a whole other category, approaching the stratospheric heights of pop-as-art like The Beatles. (more…)

2010 has been a busy year for Alex Body. Back in January, he offered up his self-released, solo debut, Just Say Yes. The album, which I loved, was a major departure from the work which Body had been involved with prior. As one half of The Twelve Canon’s macabre folk sound and a regular contributor of keyboard/organ parts to Miracles of God and various Samuel Locke Ward projects, Body had shown he wasn’t treading down the normal pop music path, but Say Yes‘ dark, gothy swaths of layered synths, layered vocals and Casio-programmed drums was out of left field, even for Body.
Alex has quickly built up an impressive catalog since his January debut. I’m giving you the skinny on the three projects which followed Just Say Yes: an EP for the, sadly defunct, Des Moines label, Moist Tapes called Little Hazey [sic]; a new cassette, Chief of Time and Frequency, from Iowa City’s Night-People Records; and a self-released EP, Culture of Closed Doors. (more…)

I’m in the midst of composing a massive overview/review of Alex Body’s output (three different releases) since his solo debut, Just Say Yes, was released back in January of this year, and he went ahead and tacked one more track on the heap: “Blood Orange.”
Since he just done gone and broke us off with one more cut, I’m not going to include it in my massive 1000-word review (coming later this week), I’m just going to point you in the direction of the new track and introduce my new segment: Fresh Jamz.
“Blood Orange” chugs along more than the trippy, glitchy rhythms Body has largely embraced. The track also finds Body’s triple-tracked voice creating a unified choir rather than the crazy, dischordant structures he often featured in prior songs. Body channels some Animal Collective, tribal freak-folk with this one.

Alex Body’s been super generous of late, hooking up almost all of his tuneage for $FREE.99 on his bandcamp site. You can score “Blood Orange,” download the entirety of Just Say Yes and Little Hazey, stream his latest, Culture of Closed Doors, and cop select tracks from his recently released Night-People Records cassette, Chief of Time and Frequency at the link above. That’s a boat-load of free music to help you get into the fall mood.

Featuring: Pusha T, CyHi da Prynce & Keri Hilson

For all of Kanye West’s experimentation over the past few weeks, he may have lost his knack for putting together a banging club jam. “Take One For The Team” may be first dance floor-batting track Ye has offered over the course of his GOOD Friday experiment. He has just about everything he needs for it too: a dirty beat (an oddly anachronistic beat-box loop), cool, ring-tone ready key part, R&B chanteuse wailing, solid, syrupy southern verses from Pusha T and my new favorite rapper CyHi da Prynce; and he doesn’t know how to put the puzzle together. (more…)

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