Pryor Stroud: “Dawn in Luxor” is the introductory track from Shabazz Palaces’ second and last proper LP Lese Majesty. The track doesn’t pop into view, it fades in, a slow-moving agglomeration of spaceship wreckage and nebula dust drifting through an atmosphere-plane so cold that all life shrivels within it. But then the verse begins, and your perspective is thrown for a loop: where are we? Are we looking down from space or on earth gazing up? Unfortunately, the lyric doesn’t have any answers; it speaks in tongues, cryptic hip-hop codices and avant-rap tangents, conjuring-up more mystery and intrigue than authentic actuality. However, if you pay attention to the words, there seems to an inter-dimensional mythology growing here. “From out the water’s wall / From Luxor to heavens in the sprawl”, Ishmael Butler drones, but, between his lips, “Luxor” doesn’t seem like an ancient Egyptian city or even a Vegas casino, it seems like an Afro-futurist ether-world, a place where oppressed populations can congregate and, if necessary, escape to. [8/10]
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Texas singer-songwriters Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen have achieved a great deal of solo success over their long careers, but they’ve really found their voices by working together. For years they’ve toured together and only last year released their debut album, Hold My Beer, which received high marks in the music press. Given that their best work together has been their live performances, the duo is about to release Watch This on June 3rd via their label Lil’ Buddy Toons.
The energetic—nearly riotous perhaps—Cage the Elephant were great openers for the 2016 Summerstage season. The band packed in crowds for two sold out nights and the youthful crowd showered adoration upon them. As the band, and in particular lead singer Matt Shultz, took the stage, their enthusiastic and electric energy leapt into the audience who quickly lit with their own madness. This felt like a rare night for Summerstage—rarely do I see security in the photo pit looking out for over enthusiastic fans or crowd surfers approaching the barriers. Cage the Elephant will return to NYC for a free show May 29th—full details follow below.
There’s a pretty strong critical consensus about how to best portray an action scene in an action movie. Presentation is the key to it all. It seems that action should be presented in a way that’s comprehensible. We should be able to follow how one shot leads into the next shot, how the characters move in relation to one another, how the environment impacts the action, etc. The action doesn’t necessarily have to be clear, blurring the screen and shaking the camera are perfectly acceptable, but only as long as they reinforce certain moments of action, rather than obscure them. In short, we should be able to tell what the heck is going on.
Pryor Stroud: Glutted with lithe polyrhythms, house drums, and a sashaying vocal sample lifted from some ‘70s Brazilian pop track, “Lite Spots” is full of miniature sonic breakdowns, moments when Kaytranada abruptly switches directions and seems to stumble into an entirely different song. Yet, despite these unpredictable aesthetic decisions, there is an overarching sense of levity and celebration to “Lite Spots”. There’s a feeling to it—call it a groove, call it a beat, whatever—that unifies the track into one propulsive, hip-shaking mass of sinuous syllables and uncontrollable funked-out movement. It’s a testament to Kaytranada’s skill as a songsmith that a cut this jumbled and frenetic, this high-on-something, sounds so totally pure. [8/10]