Friday, November 21, 2014

October was so good that it deserved its own post.

That's right, proletariat. The month of October 2014 (and the first part of November) was an onslaught of such magnitude that I felt compelled to write again before the end of the year to tell you about it. I was kind of hoping to have a smaller favorites countdown this year, but it doesn't look like that's going to be possible. There have just been way too many good releases this year that need revisiting, ranking, and my ultimate omniscient judgement. Picking a #1 was already tough before October, and it has only gotten harder since.

Since I'm seeing traffic from places far across the world from where my friends here in the US and A dwell, I feel like it's time to state this again. Someday I'll figure out how to put it permanently at the top of the page. My intended audience for this blog is really just the friends I've accumulated along the way who share my music tastes but don't have the time or inclination to dig for the out-of-the-way stuff they'd enjoy, often due to the trappings of growing up/old. Accordingly, the presentation is geared toward that audience, but all readership is appreciated. You won't find free download links here (unless the artist has posted them as such), but I always try to provide a full stream. So now that I have that out there, let's roll on with the music.

gates - Bloom & Breathe

It was a must to start off with this emo/post-rock personal instant classic. This ranks up there with my favorite Moving Mountains and Prawn songs/records, especially tracks like "Bloom", "The Thing That Would Save You", "Born Dead", "Low", and the awe-inspiring "Not My Blood". While you're at it, check out some video I've shot of them. They always put on an outstanding show.


The Great Explainer - The Great Explainer

You know it wouldn't be my blog without at least one band that sounds like they gargle a cocktail of gravel, glass, and gasoline before they play. These guys put out my #8 EP of 2011 and promptly fell off the face of the earth. Other than a short EP that was essentially a teaser for the album, this is their truly triumphant return. From the album art, you can tell that their music embodies the breath and bite of an angry wolf. Both older and newer fans of the style cultivated best by early-mid Hot Water Music should find something to like in "Shadowcaster", "Phrases & Logos", & "Untitled".


Knuckle Puck - While I Stay Secluded

Here's a band executing the respectable style of pop-punk (as opposed to the disrespectable style) very well. I can't get into this band a ton, but given how much some of my friends dig them, I figured I'd be remiss to not mention them. I'd also recommend their tracks on the Neck Deep split (but stay away from the ND songs...oof).


Such Gold - The New Sidewalk

Speaking of pop-punk, I see people using that term to refer to this slobberknocker of a punk fucking rock album, and it's quite annoying. It was more appropriate for anything they did before my #1 LP of 2012, the stupendous Misadventures, but this is a step in a much more technical and ambitious direction. It also annoys me to no end when bands continually shift toward a teenage radio-rock sound/audience and people feel the need to defend it as "growth" and "maturing". My friends, THIS is a prime example of what it really means to inject growth and maturity into your sound. Bravo, boys. In fact, it has so many layers that I'm still working to peel back and examine them and come up with my full list of favorites. I will definitely say that fans of Propagandhi (no, they don't sound exactly like them and the comparison is admittedly coming from a non-fan) and Strung Out (I'm 100% in on that one) should definitely give this an honest shot. Just go right for opening tag-team "Engulfed In Flames" and "Faced".


Helen Earth Band - We Fucking Quit

Horrible cover art aside, this is a worthy and mathy follow-up to my #14 favorite LP of 2011. These guys play a semi-quirky 90s-emo-tinged, less bouncy take on Minus The Bear's Highly Refined Pirates (at least to my ears, I'm sure someone else will think I'm smoking crack or committing blasphemy with that comparison). Everything's about equal here in terms of songs to check out.


Gnarwolves - Gnarwolves

Truth be told, I think this was a pretty slow year for punk, but Such Gold and these here skate-punk/melodic hardcore lads from England turned it up a notch in the final quarter. I have yet to find a 4- or 5-star song by them, but I don't think I've rated anything besides their very first EP any less than 3 stars, so they're very consistent and usually tend to rip along at a drag car pace.


Opio & Equipto - Red XX

We'll start out the hip-hop half of this post with a double shot from Hieroglyphics, who are having a strong year despite Del not having a good album in eons. Check out "Understand" or "Love It All".


Pep Love - Dolla Daily

This might be his best release, and if not it's surely the best since his solo debut Ascension. Go for "Chilley Lime (ft. Tajai)" or "Just One".


Diamond District - March On Washington

Their debut In The Ruff (my #10 LP of 2009) was a personal classic, so I had high expectations for this and for the most part it delivers. I really hate the cheesy synths Oddisee is starting to employ more often (see the chorus of "First Step"), but the production is so dope on tracks like "Say What You Mean" and "Erything" that it pretty much makes up for it. Tacked-on previously released track "Bonus Flow" is minimal boom-bap perfected, complete with neck-snapping drums. It adds a welcome extra punch at the end of the album.


Apollo Brown & Ras Kass - Blasphemy

I've been waiting 19 years for Ras to make another solid boom-bap album like his debut Soul On Ice, and I never thought it would happen. But here it is, and it's a good effort but doesn't meet my high expectations thanks to some corny song concepts and occasionally boring production. However, "H2O (ft. Pharoahe Monch)" and "Humble Pi" are both some of the best hip-hop songs produced this year.


Kev Brown & Hassaan Mackey - That Grit

This is a consistently enjoyable & well produced EP highlighted by "Hassaan Be Rappin'". Kev Brown has put out a ton of material this year, and almost all of it has been solid to instant classic. Hopefully he keeps up this streak because it usually takes him 3 years to put something out.


That's it for this installment. Thanks for reading. Don't forget to check for the new Wu-Tang Clan and Ghostface Killah albums in the first two weeks of December. That Ghostface album has some real potential. See you in early January.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Music Worth Checking Out: 2014, 3rd Quarter

Hello out there, all you kids and slow adults. Below you will find the music I discovered and enjoyed most from July through September 2014, no matter when it came out. Thanks to school and work, I have less time than usual so this is going to be quick. I'm really looking forward to having the semester be over and having time to write my year-end list before my internship starts. We've got another strong contender for the top 5 in this installment. The hip-hop is all grouped at the end this time.

Prawn - Kingfisher

This is a modern emo/post-rock masterpiece that adds the cherry on top to an already formidable and hiccup-less discography. The second track, "First As Tragedy, Second As Farce", is my favorite song of the year so far. "Dialect of..." and "Thalassa" are superb as well.


Gameday Regulars/Guerrilla Monsoon - split 7"

I must admit I have not yet listened to the Guerrilla Monsoon side of this (though my brother says it's decent), but the Gameday side gives me exactly what I'm looking for from them, and I appreciate that. In case you haven't noticed from this year's previous posts, they're yet another gravel-voiced mid-tempo emo/post-hardcore-tinged punk band, which is my bread and butter. Of their tracks, I think "Banks" is tops.

Listen (Gameday)
Listen (Guerrilla)

Park - Jacob The Rabbit

One of my favorite rocking emo bands from the early 00's has triumphantly returned after an 8-year break. They mostly picked up right where they left off, although I would say this is more rocking and technical than their last album. At 3 tracks, it's such a dick-tease, hopefully to be followed by another full-length. It's probably also worth mentioning that it's a concept EP with an accompanying short story that's way less wack than that sounds. I usually don't have any patience for/interest in such things, but I definitely found more meaning in the music the first time after having read the well-written and intriguing story. The leadoff track "Lepus Fugam" is the standout for me.


Dikembe - Mediumship

Much like tour mates Weatherbox's latest, I was really looking forward to this....and was really let down here as well. I only like about half of this, but the second track, "Hood Rat Messiah" is so good that it warrants this being posted here. Overall the energy level has been turned way way down and the 90's alterna-radio worship has become too prominent for my tastes. I sincerely hope you enjoy it more than I do overall. The re-worked version of "Donuts In A Six Speed" (previously released on 7") is another highlight.

Braid - No Coast

I wasn't too terribly impressed by the first full-length in 16 years from these emo codgers, but overall it's a solid,enjoyable listen that probably won't go above an honorable mention for me. The fact that both tracks from their split with Balance & Composure are on this was a bit disappointing, but there are enough new tracks to make it worth your while if you've ever been a fan.

My Iron Lung - Relief

This one's for any fans of (old) Pianos Become The Teeth and other emo-influenced screamy post-hardcore. Although he was only used as the studio drummer and is not a member of the band, ex-Such Gold drummer Devan Bentley gets loose all over this, and it's cool to hear one of my all-time favorite drummers kill a different style from what I'm used to hearing him play.

Since I'm shooting for brevity (for once), and since you should know by now what type of hip-hop I like (that ol' boom-bap) and that I don't stray outside those lines, I'm pretty much just going to highlight songs (if any) for the following hip-hop releases.

EdO. G. - After All These Years

"Da Anthem", "Make Music", and "Two Turntables & A Mic" (produced by Pete Rock).

Cormega & Large Professor - Mega Philosophy

"Industry" (a lyrical and conceptual grand slam) and "Honorable (ft. Raekwon".

Statik Selektah - What Goes Around

You almost literally can't go wrong here. All good except 1-2 tracks.

Souls of Mischief & Adrian Younge - There Is Only Now

Concept/storytelling album, basically an audio movie. Zero bad songs, and a rare-form Busta Rhymes.

Fel Sweetenberg - The Invisible Garden

All solid, no huge standouts.

CJ Fly - Thee Way Eye See It

Pro Era member. FREE download. Go for "FlintroCK", "Ernee", "Loco Motives", or "Side (ft. Buckshot)".

NehruvianDOOM - NehruvianDOOM

MF Doom does the beats and a couple verses, and young Bishop Nehru handles the rest. Pretty solid throughout.

That's all for now, folks. Check for me again in early January! Thanks for reading, and please let me know if you find anything you like. I love bonding with people through music!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Music Worth Checking Out: 2014, 2nd Quarter

Well hello, kids. I've been as busy as ever trolling the internet for new stuff to listen to for the past 3 months, and below you will find the releases I enjoyed the most out of what I found. It doesn't matter if it came out in 1973 or last week. If I first heard it in the past 3 months, it's here. There are a lot of good candidates for my year-end list included. Let's roll.

Anti-Lilly & Phoniks – Stories From The Brass Section

THIS, my friends, is about as true of an emulation of jazzy mid-90s’s boom-bap as you’ll ever find. HUGE props are owed to Doc Browne for notifying me of its existence. It’s quite rare that I get scooped on finding great hip-hop like this, and when it’s this fucking great, it’s even more surprising. At least half of this is outstanding, including tracks “Blue In Green”, “Respiration” (an ode to the Black Star & Common joint), “Descension”, and “Young G”, thanks mainly to producer Phoniks being the only post-2010 beatmaker who nails the sound I love as well as Doc Browne does. Be sure to check out Phoniks’ bandcamp site and other projects as well. None of them top this, but they’re still far better than most hip-hop of the day.

Water Canvas – At Least

I forget the other 90’s emo bands that were referenced in the post that alerted me to this band, but it definitely has elements of Texas Is The Reason embedded within. This is a really good EP that has at least one great song (seriously, check the chorus on “Memorial Drive”) and a strong potential to be a grower.

Banner Pilot - Souvenir

One of the most consistent bands in modern punk rock have returned triumphantly with what may be their best effort yet (only time will tell if it tops Collapser for me). Their ability to cultivate and tweak their core sound results in pretty much the perfect amount of change for me from album to album. It’s just enough to sound fresh every time but still familiar. I’m sure their ever-present themes of upper Midwest gloom and the weary perseverance it takes to get through it helps my love for their music. Unfortunately all I can find for listening is a single YouTube video that’s the whole album. Fortunately the whole album is good, but if can access individual songs elsewhere, my top recommendations would be “Effigy”, “Dead Tracks”, “Heat Rash”, “Fireproof”, “Shoreline”, “Colfax”, and especially “Letterbox” and “Matchstick”.

Willie The Kid & Lee Bannon – Never A Dull Moment

The title of this 2010 EP is apt, and it’s a shame I wasn’t aware of it sooner. I really love the way Willie is representing Gun Rule aka G-Rap aka Grand Rapids, MI. He seems dedicated to his lyrical craft, and I can’t help but geek out when those lyrics include him rhyming “venison” with “Jenison” when rapping about being in camo out in the West Michigan suburbs. Lee Bannon is a decent producer from Cali, and for me this is his most enjoyable work. Lead-off track “News Flash” is a banger with a beat that’s got the perfect bounce to offset its repetitiveness.

Banquets/Nightmares For A Week – Split LP

I’m sure NFAW are nice lads and all, but I really don’t understand their music or what the appeal could be. Accordingly, this release is all about Banquets for me, and you should by now that I, in turn, am all about Banquets and their catchy punk-tinged rock. Their five songs here would’ve all been welcome on last year’s self titled effort (my #2 LP of 2013). So naturally they hit my ear perfectly and travel through my aural nerves to the brain, which directs the facial muscles to smile, the leg/foot muscles to tap, and the arm/hand muscles to fist-pump. “Matters” and “Come Home Ragged” are my two favorites here.

Koss & A.G. – Natural High

DITC veteran A.G. teams up with Euro DJ/producer Koss on this EP, and frankly I think this is the best thing A.G. has been a part of since 1995’s Goodfellas with his longtime cohort Show(biz). I haven’t had enough listens to pick out favorites, but you really can’t go wrong with any of the songs…if you can find them to stream, that is. This might be the most poorly promoted and scarcely available release of the year so far. I can’t even find where to buy it. Accordingly, I offer you the few tracks I could find for your listening enjoyment.

Dikembe/The Jazz June – Split 7”

Dikembe put out Broad Shoulders in 2012 (my #3 LP) and will be following it up later this year with Mediumship. They have put out three splits in between, with this being the third. “Healer of the Pride”  is on the more low-key end of their repertoire and falls in the “really good but not great” category for me. It certainly whets the appetite for the full length though. The Jazz June experienced very limited success in their original run during my first college era, and I think part of their obscurity can be tied to never nailing down a fan base because they were one of those bands that jerked their listeners around from album to album, although thankfully they never pandered. They pretty much nailed it on 2000’s The Medicine, a Midwest emo banger if there ever was one, but I never enjoyed anything else of theirs. That’s why it’s kind of a surprise that I like their track here as much as I do, especially since it’s closer to quirky indie rock like Pavement (I think) or Archers of Loaf than anything I’d usually listen to. It wouldn’t have made this list on its own, but it’s nicely tacked on to the solid Dikembe track.

MindsOne & Kev Brown - Pillars

It’s a damn shame that this is only an EP because it definitely leaves me wanting more. Kev is the producer and MindsOne is an MC duo. I was very into Kev Brown’s sound in the mid-00’s when he really started picking up steam & popularity, but in the latter part of that decade and the early part of this one, I can't recall hearing much I liked from him. Beginning with Sean Born’s excellent Behind The Scale album in 2012 (my #16 LP for that year) , on which Kev did all the production, he began to re-emerge as one of my favorite producers. This EP solidifies that resurgence, with “Pop (ft. Homeboy Sandman)” being my #1 highlight.

Luca Brasi – By A Thread

This group of lads from Tasmania came into my awareness thanks to a Facebook post from Australian band Paper Arms (creators of my #7 EP & #21 LP of 2013). They don’t have the gravelly vocals quite like PA do, but they still fall under the punk rock umbrella (probably skewing more toward the mid-tempo pop-punk designation) with vocals still on the raspy/brash side of "normal". A lot of the aesthetic, tempos, guitar work, and vocal cadence remind me of Transit’s Keep This To Yourself, although I really can’t say its quality comes close to that almost unmatchable personal classic. There are also shades of parts from the few Listen & Forgive songs I like. This is another album where all songs are good while none are really sticking out yet. Gun to my head, I’d say try “Death Rattle” or "One Set of Rules" first. Oh, and I should probably warn that dudes’ accents are thick, but I find it refreshing and endearing.

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib - Pinata

Want to hear some of the best hip-hop production of both the year and of Madlib’s career? Hell yeah, I know I do. Want to hear somebody rhyme over it who often sounds like a mentally challenged middle school student from the South (despite being from lovely Gary, Indiana) championing thug life and being proud of what a society-ruining degenerate he has been? Want to hear him say his brilliant catch phrase “beeeetch” over and over? Yeah, I’m not that hot on that part of it either. He’s a grossly overrated tool in the vein of 2Pac, and people use the same rationale of “he raps like a thug but occasionally has some insight you wouldn’t expect from a total moron” to tell you why you should love him too. It’s the Special Olympics conciliatory scale of appreciation. "Look, he only knocked down half the hurdles! Great job, buddy!" But the fact that this album appears here is a testament to two things: 1.) When Madlib is on, he’s fucking ON, so much so that I’d probably even listen to Eminem wannabes from Flat Rock or Cedar Springs rap over it, and 2.) My inability to listen to (most) instrumental hip-hop for more than a few minutes without getting bored. Thankfully for those of you who can do that, there’s an instrumental version of this available. And if you want a really good laugh, I dare you to try to listen to Freddie’s previous full-length ESGN (the G stands for “gangster”, get it? lol omg #trill). I didn’t pick out any tracks because, despite Freddie, it’s a pretty enjoyable listen all the way through, even if I need to break it into chunks because of him.

Souvenirs – Tired Of Defending You

I first heard this band via their 2011 EP, Sadder Days, which was promising but very uneven (and had fucking great cover art). They followed it up with this in 2013, and somehow it unfortunately slipped under my radar until about a month ago. That might’ve been due to an unconscious bias because this came out on my favorite label in music today (fuck you and your shady/incompetent business practices very much, 6131!). It’s an engaging take on 90’s emo- & indie-influenced rock, with more emphasis on the brooding, moody side of that sound. I can’t pick a particular track, so just listen to the whole damn thing and like it.

J-Live – Around The Sun

I’ve come full circle on J-Live in his career. His debut, The Best Part, was phenomenal. After that his releases seemed to get progressively more dull (production-wise at least; his lyrics have ALWAYS been on point), and I stopped paying much attention until 2011’s S.P.T.A. (my #11 LP) when he really fully returned to my radar. This album is an extension of that return, although right now I don’t dig it as much as S.P.T.A., but that could easily change. “Top of the Food Chain” is my favorite joint so far thanks to it sharing a sample with one of my favorite DJ Premier-produced songs ever, but “Money Matters” is also great lyrically.

People Under The Stairs – 12 Step Program

Nothing pleases me more than when a favorite group of mine rebounds after a misstep or two and re-adapts the sounds that made me love them in the first place. This a total return to form for one of the most consistent hip-hop groups of the previous decade. They’re never going to wow you with their lyrics, but they’re adequate. Their strength has always been in the production, thanks to Thes One’s sublime instrumentals. The only track I don’t like on this is their Nintendo ode “1 Up ‘Til Sun Up”, and that was the first song they put up for preview. Accordingly I was expecting another flop like their 2011 effort Highlighter only to be very pleasantly surprised by songs like leadoff “Roundabouts” (I have no idea what context it holds, but I love the goofy ass intro with the guy talking about his bath water being ready), and the absolutely magnificent “The Strand” which is already one of my favorite songs ever by them.

Low Cloud - Dust Collection

This is the second and final EP from this solid Grand Rapids gravel-gargling slow-punk band who sadly broke up recently (as did the band they share two members with, Cain Marko). This type of sound is my bread and butter, and they do a simple but enjoyable take on it. All six songs are good but there are no real standouts.

Pawz One – Face The Facts

I don’t know where the hell this dude came from (left field for me), but this is a very good boom-bap hip-hop album that sounds like it came from a vet with 3 or 4 albums under his belt. He’s no Black Thought on the mic (speaking of which, maaaaaan was that new Roots album a transparently poor effort), but he gets the job done, and multiple producers provide an adequate to great sonic backdrop. For me the highlight is “My Night”.

Blu – Good To Be Home

This double album can get a bit monotonous at times (there’s maybe 5 songs I’m bored by but none that are awful) but overall I think it's a pretty comprehensive representation of the best parts of the West Coast hip-hop sounds of the 90’s and early 00’s. I haven’t listened enough yet to have favorites, but posse cut “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” might be a good place to start.

Skyzoo & Torae – Barrel Brothers

This is a very solid slab of New York boom-bap by a couple of guys whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I’m not floored by the album overall, but I am floored by how Sean Price consistently destroys on his guest appearances, as he does on “All In Together”, my highlight here.

Gameday Regulars – It’s Hell In The Hallway

When it comes to gravel-gargling beard-punk voices, you can’t get much rougher than this dude. I know it turns a lot of people off, but it’s music to my ears, naturally. This 2011 EP isn’t as strong as the Nobody Likes A Quitter EP from 2013 (which I’m liking more with each listen), but it’s still worthy of your attention if you’re into this type of punk.

Odys – Start From Scratch

This is just some kid from Germany remixing some staples of 90’s boom-bap by the likes of Gang Starr, Sean Price, Mobb Deep, Common, Artifacts, Fugees, Mos Def and Big L. Usually these projects comes across like “OK, that’s kind of a cool twist but it just makes me want to listen to the original”, and I never listen again. But there’s something different about this kid’s beats that holds my attention. Peep it.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Music Worth Checking Out: 2014, 1st Quarter

Hi folks. It occurred to me that throwing 45-ish releases at you once a year only results in you having too much to process. It also results in you being a year behind in terms of getting into the wealth of great currently available music. I hope to do one of these for each of the first three quarters of this year and then the usual big list at the end of the year. I’ve done my best to keep the blurbs short and then expand on what I have to say about each release after I’ve had the rest of the year to digest. There are already some really great releases this year. I would have to believe that Doc Browne, Confidence presents…, Somos, and Sport are locks for the top 10 (as is the new Banner Pilot that comes out on 4/15, which I’ll include in the next update since there’s not even a stream up for it yet). Thanks for reading, and as always, PLEASE let me know if you dig any of this. There’s not much I love more than discussing great music with my friends.

Doc Browne – Mixtape Vol. 1

Tracks: All. Can’t go wrong here.
Boom-bap like it’s supposed to be. So consistent it’s ridiculous.

You Blew It – Keep Doing What You’re Doing

Tracks: All solid, no real standouts.
Slouchy emo with a nice punch they didn’t display on previous material.

Gameday Regulars – Nobody Likes A Quitter

Tracks: “Kids of the Cove” gets it started nicely.
Think Fuel For The Hate Game-era Hot Water Music and you’ve got a good starting point. Grows on me more with every listen.

Paranom & Purpose – Life Outside The Frame

Tracks: “Days Go By” (video), “I Remember”
This Purpose dude keeps producing some of the best Golden Era sounds of the new millennium. Paranom provides the thoughtful lyrics to triumphantly accompany the soundscapes.

Bluebird – Giraffidae

Tracks: All solid, no standouts.
Somewhere in (90’s) Emo County between the cities of This Town Needs Guns and Mineral with yelpy vocals.

Sport  - Bon Voyage

Tracks: “Reggie Lewis”, “Florence Griffith-Joyner”, “Ulrike Maier”, “Doris Sams”, and motherfucking “Jacques Mayol”, my song of the year so far.
Generally faster emo-punk showing influence by practically all of my favorite late 90’s & early 00’s bands like Braid, Latterman, Hot Water Music, & Small Brown Bike. GREAT fucking energy, man. Parts also remind of the Algernon Cadwallader style.

In Between – Still

Tracks: All solid, no standouts
More gravelly, beardy post-hardcore/punk-rock/emo. Some parts are awesome but some are head scratchers. Overall it evens out, making this a band to keep an eye/ear on.

Big Awesome – Better Than Numbers

Tracks: “Pay Attention” & “Chariots”
This was released in 2011 before Birdfeeder, which was my #2 EP of 2013 (but came out in 2012). It’s similar to that in the emo-rock vein but is not quite as fun of a listen. Still worth a free download, ya dummies.

9th Wonder – Jamla Is The Squad

Tracks: None stand out. Watch out for landmines.
There are plenty of solid tracks here (way more than expected) but also a few total shit piles. Definitely worth checking out. Stay away from tracks 3, 8, 11, & 18 if you know what’s good for you.

Confidence presents G.Dot & Born featuring EdO. G.

Tracks: “Grammers Strong” (sigh), “Manhunt”, “It’s Real”, “Class Is In Session”, & “Confidence”
This fucker is STACKED with awesome production thanks to Confidence. Between him, Purpose, and Doc Browne, my ears think it’s 1994 and I’m watching Yo! MTV Raps (but with no fucking E-40 videos). This album leans more in a direction akin to Group Home’s Livin’ Proof where the production is light years ahead of the lyrics in most parts, but GOD DAMN are these some tasty beats. The videos look like they might be awful though (I didn't dare watch because I love this so much), so be careful not to ruin a good thing.

Willie The Kid & Bronze Nazareth – The Living Daylights

Tracks: No real standouts but many really good tracks, a couple OK ones and no landmines
It’s really fucking cool to finally see Grand Rapids a.k.a. Gun Rule a.k.a. G-Rap represented so well when it comes to hip-hop. Bronze’s soulful samples are the perfect backdrop I’ve been for Willie to bless. He’s not my favorite MC ever or anything (although he can certainly wipe the floor with older brother La The Darkman in present day), but he gets the job done. The video for “The Guilt” is worth your time.

Such Gold – 2 split 7”s

Tracks: Both are solid
These two tracks are going to please their existing fans as they generally give you what you need/expect from SG, although “Choosing Cages” is one of the most angular things they’ve done yet and even contains a guitar solo that adds a new twist. Also worthy of note here is the Wax Packs deal that the Placeholder split is a part of. The label got a whole bunch of bands to do split 7”s, made a few different colors of each split (with varying degrees of rarity), and is selling them in packs, like sports cards. So you buy a pack and have no idea which records you’ll get or which variant it will be. Cool idea that I wish I had more disposable funds to take part in.

Somos – Temple Of Plenty

Tracks: “Domestic”, “Dead Wrong”, & “Distorted Vision”
I hate this album for what it’s not, and at the same time I’m growing to love it for what it is. Make no mistake, the loss of energy and balls compared to their demo is quite disappointing. However, when examined completely on its own, this is an example of yet another young band coalescing a wide range of my favorite sounds of the last 20 years into a very cohesive record that brings to mind Alkaline Trio, Park, Name Taken, Jimmy Eat World, Texas Is The Reason, The Swellers, Balance & Composure, and Moving Mountains (Waves era). Thankfully the rhythm section maintains some groove and urgency even if the overall feel of the music isn't as crunchy. It also strikes me as a sound that could’ve been the bridge between Transit’s Keep This To Yourself and the third of Listen & Forgive that I enjoy. I’m sure I’ll have more to say on my year-end list because I can’t imagine this baby not being in the top 5.

Prawn – 2 splits

The first is a split 12” with two track from 4 bands. The second is a split 7” with slow-emo purveyors Joie De Vivre, who are worth checking out even if they don’t entirely float my boat. All four of these Prawn tracks are on the mellower, more straight-ahead side of their emo/indie rock sound, so they’re not my favorites of theirs but are still worthy additions to the catalog.

Thanks for reading! See you in July.