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PopMatters Music Short Takes
our brief reviews of new releases
20 April 2006
Fucious, The Journey (self-released) Rating: 6
The album cover is a ruse. It looks sedate, almost boring; Fucious is a "soulful", goody-goody conscious rapper, and he threw this all together with PowerPoint, right? But The Journey is a refresher course in just how wrong preconceptions can be. Fucious is a soulful (sans quotation marks), nimbly-flowing, solid rapper, with a strong delivery and a surprisingly authentic reggae vibe. The album begins with an ominous rush of wind; then mysterious synths cut in, and Fucious flows near-abstractions in a tight pattern of thick circles, setting a perfect mood. The overall feel of the album is raw and reggae-soaked, supported by production from the likes of King Tuch and Ras Hugh and flavorful contributions by featured artists from Krucial and Professa to, notably, Capleton on "Heaven". Fucious even sings his own hook on the catchy "Temptations", and he isn't bad. His lyricism ranges in subject from the more considered reflections of songs like "Living This Life" and "Calling" to more conventional cuts like "Badoom Boom" and "Oochie Cah", but stays solid throughout. "The General", with Michael Rose of Black Uhuru handling the beautifully, nasally mournful reggae vocalizations alongside some fast prison raps from Fucious, is a definite highlight, as is "All That I've Been Through", featuring addictively tight harmony from guest singer Marsha. All things considered, The Journey is, despite appearances, a surprisingly strong debut that is definitely worth picking up.
multiple clips: [MP3]
Bathtub Shitter, Dance Hall Grind (Super Hit Jam) Rating: 5
They never promised you a rose garden, but Bathtub Shitter bring plenty of fertilizer. Anyone distraught upon hearing this band will find little sympathy; given their name, you can't really approach them innocently. A more likely reaction will be some level of disappointment among extreme-music fans expecting the breaking of new boundaries -- the transgression factor here is lower than the name suggests. Bathtub Shitter play midtempo death metal with liberal patches of heavy funk, over which Masato Henmarer Morimoto's vocals jump from guttural grunts to high-pitched shrieks. In short, the Japanese band sounds vaguely like the Boredoms covering Funkadelic and Deicide simultaneously. The songs are generally engaging but overlong, with such exceptions as the tender instrumental (I'm serious) "Shit Drop." As might be predicted, the lyrics bring new meaning to the phrase "scat singing" (typical example: "Dry each underwear under the same sun/Many shit, everybody has the wet"). This is kind of fun, in the way Beavis' Cornholio act was good for a laugh or two on a slow day; at 40 minutes, it suffers from a bit of logorrhea.
multiple songs: [MySpace]
Various Artists, All Tomorrow's Parties: 3.1 (ATP) Rating: 6
The Simpsons creator Matt Groening curated the 2003 Los Angeles edition of the All Tomorrow's Parties music festival and offers his compilation-assembling skills for this companion CD. The tracklisting (and, one must infer, Groening's taste) touches on oily garage rock (the Stooges' "Fun House", the Magic Band's "Dropout Boogie") and skronky art-noise (Sonic Youth's colicky cover of The Simpsons' theme song, an unreleased Jackie-O Motherfucker tune). But mostly it's a round-up of some of the more popular indie bands from recent years, including Spoon, the Shins, Modest Mouse, and Deerhoof. Groening, who used to work as a music critic, selected participants of the 2003 ATP festival for the compilation, so the format isn't necessarily one that allows for revelations and obscurities. As a result, All Tomorrow's Parties: 3.1 is hardly a necessity -- the best songs here are taken from great albums that stand up on their own, which most fans likely already own. If there's a lingering issue here, it's this: what are compilations such as these supposed to achieve beyond providing proof of a happening for the sake of posterity?
Penelope Jones, "Louie" [12-inch single] (Motown) Rating: 1
Remember how dope it was when Ultramagnetic MCs looped up "Louie, Louie"for "Traveling at the Speed of Thought" and Kool Keith just went to work in under three minutes? Remember how sweet it was that the Fat Boys remade the song as a meta homage? Well, this is nothing like that. Imagine a subpar Gangsta Boo dancing like a fool over the closing credits to the imaginary Animal House 2000. Yes, mediocrity over an abhorrent and dated idea. Here's the real question: is this a worse look for Motown or for hip-hop?
multiple songs: [MySpace]
.: posted by Editor 6:45 AM