Saturday, August 23, 2014

The FADER Presents: Heems & Riz MC - SWET SHOP [BOYS] EP & "Batalvi" (Greedhead)




Das Racist were hands down, one of the greatest post-2000 New York area Hip-Hop groups, who essentially created their own "outsider rap" scene, which would later harbor up-and-coming guys like Lakutis, LE1F, Mr. Muthaf*ckin' eXquire, Antwon, Kassa Overall, KechPhrase, Big Baby Gandhi, etc. Luckily enough, I had a chance to see Das Racist on their then unannounced 2012 "farewell tour" in Philly, a show which additionally featured a mini-Greehead label showcase: Lakutis, LE1F, and Weekend Money as opening acts. Since disbanding, founding members Himanshu "Heems" Suri and Victor "Kool A.D." Vazquez have each released a number of critically-acclaimed solo mixtapes; well, Heems actually uploaded two mixtapes, Nehru Jackets and Wild Water Kingdom, while Das Racist were still actively together. Suri then moved to Bombay, India between 2012-mid-2014 as part of a self-imposed exile, wherein he began recording material for his first proper album for Sony/Megaforce Records, tentatively titled "EAT PRAY THUG." Amidst compiling tracks for possible inclusion on EAT PRAY THUG, Himanshu Suri quietly began recording material for a separate project entirely, Swet Shop Boys, a self-described Indo-Pak rap group with London-based Pakistani rapper-actor, "Riz MC" Ahmed.


Then, with little to no prior notice, The FADER sporadically premiered their 4-song SWET SHOP EP Friday afternoon, along with a music video for new EP-plucked single, "Batalvi." "Shiv Kumar Batalvi was a renowned Punjabi poet and singer, who loved hard, lived fast, and died young... the late Batalvi pops up between archived shots of Bollywood glamour and militant handy-cam footage to remind us that life is a "slow suicide,"' reads a chunk of The FADER's featured "Batalvi" piece, which attempts to make sense of director Zarina Muhammad's scatter-brained FaceTime-aided video clip. The then untitled SWET SHOP EP was previously reported to consist of a mere three tracks, two of which seemingly had producer clearance issues, but I guess Greedhead were able to tack one back on; production work on Heems & Riz MC's recently uploaded FREE EP comes from Greedhead-affiliates Lushlife, Lynas, Ryan Hemsworth, and Trooko. It seems as though Himanshu Suri & Riz Ahmed are "both into the idea of doing some more work when [their] schedules permit," stringent on if SWET SHOP BOYS EP ends up being well-received, while Heems' roughly 11-track EAT PRAY THUG is rumored for a late 2014-15 release on his new-found label, Sony/Megaforce Records.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tom Gould Presents: Action Bronson & Party Supplies - "Easy Rider" (VICE/Atlantic Records)


"ACTiON BRONSON JUST JUMPED TO THE TOP OF THE RAP GAME FOOD CHAiN WiTH THiS MOViE-QUALiTY ViDEO, "EASY RiDER" FT SLASH," Tweeted oddball rapper and supposed Galaxy Gladiators collaborator, @JODYHiGHROLLER aka RiFF RAFF. "DON'T LET ME DIIIEEEE!!!" Action Bronson proclaims in a black-and-white red bandana-accented clip whilst pummeling bullets out of a machine gun, which appears to be a war flashback; as "Easy Rider"'s hymn-like intro starts, we see our bed-ridden hero approached by a lieutenant, "Soldier, tell me what happened..." to which Action Bronson achingly grunts, "Where's my guitaarrr!!?" It's largely unclear what happens next, but we see Bronson, still in a hospital gown, and his red bandana speeding down a barren desert highway as "EASY RIDER" and "DIRECTED BY TOM GOULD" scroll across the trailer-esque screen. RiFF RAFF is generally non-sensical, but he's 100% right, what you're currently witnessing is so much more than just your average music video... it's a cinematic short film that just happens to be accented by a top-notch guitar-drenched Hip-Hop track, to which Action Bronson has already achieved Michael Jackson "Thriller" levels of excellence. But let's quickly address those first couple introductory lines: "Praise the lord, I was born to drive boat / Feeling like Slash in front of the chapel / I'm leaned back with the Les Paul." Bronson is quite obviously referencing Guns 'N Roses' infamous power ballad "November Rain" video, and maybe even his own similarly-titled cast-off track, wherein Slash is just shreddin' in front of Axl Rose's stark white wedding chapel, which (spoiler alert) is later unintentionally hilariously emulated towards the end of "Easy Rider."


Action Bronson then picks up a woman who he somewhat inappropriately refers to as "a midget Puerto Rican at [his] beckon call" and then they "took acid for 10 days straight up in the mountains." I'm guessing he's a Vietnam vet with self-proclaimed "very loose pants" and man, he must have some serious PTSD, cause all sorts of illegal drugs and mysterious Native American smokes are repeatedly misused; Bronson seriously needs one of those "How's my driving?" bumper stickers because he's trippin' balls on his motorcycle all over those desert roads and it's not long before he gets into a bloody bar fight. Now, the second half of "Easy Rider" concludes with a drug-aided cop chase, another run-in with that friendly Native American chief, and of course, some Slash-indebted shirtless/trench coat shreddin' alongside a white chapel. As @atrak preemptively proclaimed late last night, "GIVE @ACTIONBRONSON A G**DAMN VMA FOR THIS "EASY RIDER" VIDEO, SWEET BABY JESUS;" Action Bronson's long-awaited major label debut, Mr. Wonderful still lacks a proper release date, but should be out on VICE/Atlantic Records before year's end or in early 2015. "The album is sounding incredible. The whole album is a stand-out. I don-t care about individual songs, I'm trying to make a complete, classic project. I just do my music uninfluenced by anybody else, or current trends, and it comes together at the end. Nothing needs to have a f*cking theme all the time. This is just rap. I'm not trying to make people think I'm some sort of scientific wizard or inspirational poet. F*ck that! It's just happy, funny, rugged, rough rap," as Action Bronson previously described Mr. Wonderful to NME back in May. This is gonna be one wild ride and I'm already calling it, Best Album EVER!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Columbia Records & Chandler Bing Present: HAIM & A$AP Ferg - "My Song 5" (Remix)


Los Angeles sister act HAIM have indeed dabbled with Hip-Hop in the past, whether it be nearly getting recruited as A$AP Rocky's backing band or appearing on genre-blending Kid Cudi and Childish Gambino tracks... But now they've enlisted rising A$AP Mob emcee, A$AP Ferg to append a ferocious add-on verse to their Days Are Gone album stand-out, "My Song 5." It's not entirely unlike a visual Where's Waldo? of seemingly everyone Danielle, Este & Alana Haim have encountered or befriended while on the road over the last couple years; featured emcee A$AP Ferg, Ke$ha, Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig, Grimes, Big Sean, SNL comedian Vanessa Bayer, Mama & Papa Haim, producer Ariel Rechtshaid, and even "Artemis" from It's Always Sunny. Leading up to it's Tuesday afternoon release, @HAIMtheband's long-rumored "My Song 5" video was subtly teased with cleverly edited 90's screen-grabs from Sally Jessy Raphael, Jerry Springer, and Ricki Lake; the finished product vaguely resembles a trashy daytime TV talk show wherein host "Dallas Murphy"'s guests profess their secret love for mimes, steamy girl-on-girl romances, deathly fears of cotton balls, and unrequited feline love. It's all sporadically inter-spliced with random quick-strike cameos and some sort of moody, dimly lit backstage HAIM quasi-performance footage. I'm pleasantly surprised that HAIM and the powers that be at Columbia Records actually chose their 1980-90's Dance-Funk-leaning "My Song 5" as the album's sixth single, nearly a full year after Days Are Gone's initial release. Rolling Stone's lengthy November HAIM-centric piece interestingly notes that "at a party earlier this year, Timbaland told HAIM that he loved their track "My Song 5." "Which is basically us ripping him off!" says Danielle [Haim]."

Monday, August 18, 2014

Fat Rist West Coast Mini-tour: Rat Fist - "Waukeenar Mix 5" (self-released 7-in.)




Rat Fist are a newly-formed Punk band who you may not have heard about yet; consisting of primary members Sean McGuinness & Randy Randall from veteran Sub Pop Post-Punk bands Pissed Jeans & No Age respectively, along with part-time bandmates Michael J. Sabolick, Jelle de Cremer, and Aaron Farley. They're gearing up to head out on a three-date West Coast mini-tour with Canadian punks rockers, F*cked Up, which will double as a 7-inch re-release jaunt. Rat Fist previously self-released 50 test press copies of their debut 7-inch that were were sold exclusively at their initial run of East Coast gigs, while the second pressing has since been expanded to a batch of 500 limited records. "We will have 7" available for mail order starting next Monday 8/25. Send $7 for shipping in the USA or $10 for shipping everywhere else. Make check out to: Randy Randall 10658 Sable Ave. Sunland, CA 91040 USA... It might take a while for me to get to the orders, so please be patient. Thanks," Randall wrote on Rat Fist's Facebook page, an initiative I would like to think my constant pestering helped get into motion ha. Ahead of their upcoming 8/21-24 LA shows, Rat Fist spontaneously unleashed a righteous 2-minute long track, seemingly titled "Waukeenar Mix 5," which is one of four tracks pressed onto their merch table 7-inch. Not unlike Rat Fist's previously released material ("Disrupt yr DNA" and "Sit Still") "Waukeenar" harkens back to the glory days of rapid-fire, in-your-face 1970-80's Hardcore Punk; Sean McGuinness & Randy Randall recently lamented to Noisey that their forthcoming roughly 10-song full-length was heavily influenced by middle era Black Flag... specifically My War and Slip It In (1984) and further noted that their first time vocal deliveries kinda "sound like guys doing impressions of Dez [Cadena] from Black Flag, pre-Henry [Rollins]."

Friday, August 15, 2014

Stones Throw Presents: Silk Rhodes - "Pains" & "Face 2 Face" (formerly Royal Kush)




Even though I've been an avid Stones Throw record collector for about 10 or so years now, I still managed to learn a lot of interesting facts and tidbits from their Kickstarter-funded, Jonah Hill-approved documentary, Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton. For example: Aloe Blacc's HBO-backed "I Need a Dollar" nearly saved the label, Peanut Butter Wolf was childhood friends with Stones Throw employees Jeff Jank and Steve Helmer (aka Baron Zen), Kanye and Roots bandleader ?uestlove are fervent supporters of the prolific label, the years following J Dilla's untimely death are generally regarded as Stones Throw's "post-Hip-Hop" phase, etc. It's funny because while I'm pretty familiar with Stones Throw's ever-growing label roster, I noticed a few names through out Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton that even I didn't recognize; Royal Kush, extraterrestrial songstress Diva, and righteous Punk band The Cliftons in particular. This past Tuesday after watching the documentary, I noticed newly-signed band Silk Rhodes' "Pains" 45 on Stones Throw's front page, which after consulting with Peanut Butter Wolf, I learned were formerly referred to as "Royal Kush." "This Baltimore duo garnered notice from Hip-Hop heads when their glittery Disco jam "Face 2 Face" was included on the soundtrack to Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton, the documentary about storied California indie label Stones Throw," noted Rolling Stone's recent profile on Silk Rhodes, a fragment of their monthly 10 New Artist You Need to Know short-list (July 2014).


Silk Rhodes consists of vocalist Sasha [Desree] Winn and producer Michael Collins, who played their "very first show ever" along with Peanut Butter Wolf and fellow fresh meat Mild High School Thursday night in Glendale, California. "We were on tour together doing separate projects. At some point in the Southwest – Arizona, probably – we started turning our car into an impromptu recording setup," Winn and Collins told Rolling Stone. "It was very minimal, lending itself to vocal processing, looping and long-form meditative music [that we worked on] while crossing through the desert," road-trip sessions which likely help make up Silk Rhodes' forthcoming Stones Throw full-length. "Face 2 Face" is the more upbeat track of their currently brief discography, both of which resemble minimalist Electronic-leaning Soul-Funk; it's almost reminiscent of what it might sound like if Mayer Hawthorne were the frontman of Hot Chip, while "Pains" doesn't sound unlike a smooth bedroom slow jam that D'Angelo & J Dilla could have very well crafted together. Silk Rhodes first 2-track record pressed up for Stones Throw, "Pains" is currently available in either 7-inch or digital formats, which are reasonably priced from $1.98-7.00.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Drag City Presents: Ty Segall - "Susie Thumb" (Manipulator video sampler)


In all honesty, I've never really been all that into Garage-Psych Rock man-machine Ty Segall and his various projects, but I know he puts out quality material at a pretty consistent rate. While I don't personally own any of his countless records, I did in fact try to get a copy of his Record Store Day exclusive, Ty-Rex EP a few years ago to no avail. Segall is currently readying his first LP since last year's marathon three-album release schedule (Sleeper, Gemini, and Fuzz); "Manipulator [features] Ty's helium-cooled vocals, sounding more powerful and dynamic than ever, and many sounds in the mix, but most of all, SO many guitars!" reads a rather disjointed Drag City press release. Seattle-based radio station KEXP 90.3 FM premiered a download-able stream of album track, "Susie Thumb," one of 17 tracks culled from the nearly hour-long record, which supposedly took Ty Segall almost a full month to record to tape. Tom Breihan over at Stereogum fittingly described it as "a chunky and fired-up riff-beast with some snotty, glam-rocky falsetto from Segall," which pretty much hits all the sonic nails on the head; upon initially hearing "Susie Thumb" on my break at work Monday morning, I soon thereafter Tweeted, "this is so funky, my brain's turned to mush... and I like it! ha." It's almost impossible to pre-judge an entire album off one lone track, but "Susie Thumb" is without a doubt heavily indebted to 1970-80's era guitar-infused Funk-Rock akin to Average White Band, Parliment-Funkadelic, T. Rex, whom Segall covered on his Ty-Rex EP's, or even Prince & The Revolution. Manipulator will become available on Drag City this upcoming August 26th, but it's currently available for pre-order in a number of audio formats that're reasonably priced from $8-25.00.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Good Riddance to Bin Laden: alt-J - "Left Hand Free" (Infectious/Atlantic Records)


"And I say, "Gee [whiz]," which I'm not sure is a phrase I've ever uttered before. I can imagine it appealing to American truckers with Good Riddance to Bin Laden stickers," alt-J frontman Joe Newman recently told British publication The Guardian in a rather scathing band interview; Newman is of course referring to alt-J's latest single, "Left Hand Free," which the band said was only written to appease their American label because they didn't exactly feel teaser single, "Hunger of The Pine" was a "big single." alt-J's critically-acclaimed first album, An Awesome Wave (2012) was essentially heralded as the second coming of Radiohead, while "Left Hand Free" is more so along the lines of Black Keys or Jack White-ian Modern Blues-Rock. "I tried to make the drums as cliched as possible, there's none of my personality in it... I'm doing some kind of organ solo. I don't know where "baby" came from... Oh God, someone's going to walk onstage to it at an NRA convention," further lamented Newman's fellow bandmates Thom Green and Gus Unger-Hamilton. Not entirely unlike the Beastie Boys' 1987 break-out hit, "Fight for Your Right," alt-J's latest This Is All Yours single may end up being one of those all-too-familiar industry cases where the biggest misrepresentation of said band just might accidentally end up being their most popular and likely, career-defining hit. Following all-star director Nabil's surreal video treatment for "Hunger of The Pine," alt-J unleashed their "Left Hand Free" video late last week; self-proclaimed "director, producer, writer, animator & designer" Ryan Staake has assembled your quintessential all-American video montage... chock-full of attractive model-esque teens drinking, partying, swimming, haphazardly lighting off fireworks, off-roading, and basically just enjoying the last of these quickly dwindling summer nights. For what it's worth, "Left Hand Free" is a pretty great song in it's own right, but it really is a far cry from alt-J's former progressive Art-Indie Rock hits, like "Fitzpleasure" and "Tessellate." Their long-rumored second album, This Is All Yours will finally see a world-wide release this upcoming September 22-23rd on Infectious/Atlantic Records and judging by what we've heard so far, it should be a pretty interesting listen.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Ride The Harley Into The Sunset: Action Bronson & Party Supplies - "Easy Rider" (VICE Records)


"The album is sounding incredible. The whole album is a standout. I don't care about individual songs, I'm trying to make a complete, classic project. I just do my music uninfluenced by anybody else, or current trends, and it comes together at the end," Action Bronson recently told online publication NME about his approach to recording his long-rumored VICE Records debut, Mr. Wonderful. "Nothing needs to have a f*cking theme all the time. This is just rap. I'm not trying to make people think I'm some sort of scientific wizard or inspirational poet. F*ck that! It's just happy, funny, rugged, rough rap," which almost perfectly describes Bronson's care-free aesthetic to his chef-turned jet-setting rapper Hip-Hop career. While he's been playing it live for a month or so now, Action Bronson's major label single, "Easy Rider" leaked online Monday afternoon; he previously performed the track at Peter Rosenberg's Peterpalooza 2014, which Rosenberg sporadically premiered on his weekly Sunday night Hot 97 show and then a low-quality radio rip went viral the following morning. "'EASY RIDER" OFF MY DEBUT ALBUM *MR. WONDERFUL* FULL CD-Q AND ART WILL BE OUT [TUESDAY]. This is the first song I've put out all year. I'M BACK," @ActionBronson Tweeted late Monday night. Presumably a clever allusion to the track's namesake, Dennis Hopper & Peter Fonda's 1969 cult classic film, Bronson repeatedly professes that he wants to "ride the Harley into the sunset" over Party Supplies' meandering guitar-accented Middle Eastern Jazz-influenced backing track. It's reassuring to hear that Action Bronson's prior fearless tendencies to attempt to rap over almost anything from Peter Gabriel to Guns N' Roses seemingly hasn't changed one bit since signing to a major label like Atlantic/VICE Records. Bronson's Billboard Trending #2 smash-hit "Easy Rider" is now available for your streaming pleasure at VICE Records' sister-site, MUNCHIES or for download from iTunes and other digital retailers... a companion all-American music video should be released fairly soon, while Mr. Wonderful is expected to see a world-wide release, if not this year, then in early 2015.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Play That Funky Music, White Boy: Wampire - "Wizard Staff" (Polydor)




Wampire are a newly augmented Indie Rock band hailing from "Hipsterville, USA" Portland, Oregon; founding members Eric Phipps and Rocky Tinder have been actively performing together since about 2001 playing dance-friendly Electronic music at local house parties. While it doesn't exactly specifically mention musicians names or which instruments have been added, a recent Stereogum post notes that "Wampire are a quintet now — a "real band," if you will." Although WAMPIRE's Facebook page seems to have been recently updated to feature their mysterious new band mates' names: Cole Browning, Owen Thompson, and Thomas Hoganson... but still lacks respective instrument specifications. Judging by "Wizard Staff," the lead single from their forthcoming second album Bazaar, Wampire are seemingly taking their fledgling music career(s) a little more seriously than the former half jokey Horror-Punk roll-out behind Curiosity (2013), too. Fellow Portland multi-instrumentalist and Unknown Mortal Orchestra bassist Jacob Portrait produced Bazaar, as well as Curiosity, which based off album teaser "Wizard Staff," is likely poised to be a Hall & Oates-style "White Boy Funk" sax and horn-laden romper. Wampire are soon headed out on a brief 11-date US tour along with English Psych-Rock band Temple ahead of the October 7th release of Bazaar on Polydor, which is now conveniently available for pre-order in a number of various formats.