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Monday, Mar 23, 2015
Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic's Hail Mary Mallon project is one of indie-rap's best kept secrets, but nothing compares to Rob's knowledge of Conway Twitty albums.

Back in 2009, El-P’s famed underground rap label Definitive Jux released their fourth Definitive Jux Presents compilation, featuring another collection of new and stray tracks from their acclaimed roster. Tucked away on that disc was “D-Up”, a collaborative song from Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic, two rappers with highly-regraded solo careers of their own, joining together to carve out a new artistic vision for themselves ...


... and boy, did they.


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Friday, Mar 20, 2015
Geezers need excitement. If their lives don't provide them this they incite violence. Common sense. Simple common sense. So here's the very exciting UK hip-hop debut of the Streets. An early aughts phenomenon is this week's Counterbalance.

Mendelsohn: There are two things I find odd about the Great List. One, the lack of hip-hop. I’m not going to get into it—the rockist nature of the Canon is what it is and will change slowly over time. I get that. Two, I’m a dumb Yankee and finding the odd record that only made it in the UK sitting near the top of the Great List always catches me off guard. It was weird and exhilarating to find Massive Attack and Portishead in the Top 100. On the flip side, there are also two Oasis records in the Top 100. Sometimes the UK giveth. Sometimes the UK shouldn’t have.


What’s the point? How about a hip hop record from the UK, sitting at no. 189—The StreetsOriginal Pirate Material This is weird and exhilarating, Klinger. A hip-hop record, from the UK that got almost no play in America, camped out in the Top 200. I’m ecstatic. Back in my younger days I was a bit of an obscurest wanker and snapped this record up when it hit stateside in the fall of 2002. I was impressed by the East Coast hip-hop filtered through the driving garage beats. Mike Skinner, the man behind the moniker, had a way with words, painting vignettes of violence and humor from across the pond, offering a quick link to a world nearly identical to mine. I still enjoy the record. It doesn’t have nearly the same pull it did a decade ago, but then neither do I. What do you think? Are you going to be a stand up geezer or are we going to get paralytic and fight?


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Thursday, Mar 19, 2015
This week in metal features legendaries killing it on the live circuit and a surprising debut from the oft-forgotten world of speed metal.

This past weekend I attended a show featuring In Flames and All That Remains, two bands that have achieved substantial popularity in similar but also very different ways. For an extreme metal band to broaden its sound enough to attract a wider audience and at the same time retain credibility in the minds of the established fanbase is a tricky, precipitous line to walk. More often than not, cries of “sellout” will be heard; after all, from day one, most metal fans have loved to complain about their genre’s lack of recognition and validation yet at the same time get up in arms the second a band crosses over. If a band is ambitious and wants to make a decent living in this racket, why not try to attract more listeners, open itself up to broader exposure? Besides, for a lot of bands, merely copying your debut album over and over again would be the most boring thing ever. You can’t blame a band for changing, but as long as they do so with integrity, and both In Flames and All That Remains have succeeded and stumbled along the way to varying degrees.


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Wednesday, Mar 18, 2015
Orrin Keepnews didn't just encourage and oversee some of the most important jazz recordings in history; he rolled up his sleeves and helped shape their final form.

Orrin Keepnews frequently talked about jazz the way war veterans will talk about experiences on the front lines. There were at least two reasons for this. One, it was never strictly business with him; it was always personal. More importantly, it was necessary.


See, Keepnews didn’t gravitate toward a career in jazz—as producer, writer and battle-scarred raconteur—because it was fashionable or profitable. He immersed himself in the idiom for the same reasons any of us who make the music and those who become enchanted, then obsessed by it do: because there is no choice in the matter. Once you get in, as a fan but especially as an artist or producer, you don’t get out easily. You don’t want to. In Keepnews’s case, he didn’t know how to.


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Tuesday, Mar 17, 2015
Buffalo Killers' songwriter Andy Gabbard debuts his solo album, Fluff, which is anything but that.

Andy Gabbard‘s debut solo album, Fluff, definitely does not live up to its title. This trippy-tinged collection of tunes brings fuzzy pop sense to Gabbard’s writings that do not fit the Buffalo Killers’ vibe. Fluff is not “trouble in paradise”; rather, it is an expansion of his creativity, like a second leg of vacation.


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