Friday, May 27, 2016

The Legendary Roots Crew Slam Dunk First New Material Since ...and then you shoot your cousin, 2016 NBA Finals Theme Song "Champion" (okayplayer)

Let's face it, nearly any avid supporter of either basketball or Hip-Hop can likely attest to the beloved genre and stadium-filling sport's frequent cross-sectional analogies and often unexpected collaborations; be it Skee-Lo's 1995 Buffalo Springfield-interpolating "I Wish," Action Bronson's sprawling genre-defying Blue Chips series, Jurassic 5's trunk-rattling "What's Golden," or somewhat less favorable Michael Jordan & Bugs Bunny-helmed Space Jam soundtrack, Shaq's head-scratching Kazaam soundtrack, or Kobe Bryant's short-lived rap "career." Hip-Hop's latest rhyme-laden page added to the NBA's ever-growing playbook is brought to you by none other than Philly's finest Legendary Hard-working Roots Crew and Jimmy Fallon's long-time Tonight Show Band. The Roots seemingly penned "Champion" specifically for inclusion as the official 2016 NBA Finals Theme Song and in retrospect, it's only the next gradual progression; effectively following suit behind The Roots' previous Dwayne Wade & George "The Iceman" Gervin co-starring Stay Cool Gatorade commercial and last weekend's 30-second "Show Me You're a Champion" teaser, which was fittingly debuted over at ESPN. Although Roots emcee Black Thought has single-handedly rapped alongside everyone from Action Bronson to Royce 5'9", "Champion" serves as The Roots' first sampling of new material since 2014's ...and then you shoot your cousin. "[Black Thought] has the hardest job because we went a mile further by accident. It was like, 'You know what? We could customize the lyrics [to "Champion"] for every game.' So literally, for the next two weeks, Tariq will be in the studio at 3 in the morning giving a recap or the intro for what happened at that night's game," Roots bandleader ?uestlove recently revealed to The Hollywood Reporter, while on the red carpet at Popstar: Never Stop Stopping's star-studded premier.

Friday, May 20, 2016

RZA & Interpol Frontman Paul Banks Unveil "Very Unique and Very Peculiar" Banks & Steelz Creation, "Love + War" Ahead of Warner Bros. Full-length (Zane Lowe World First Premier)

"Just in from the department of unexpectedness, Banks (no, not Lloyd) has upped a mixtape and it's called EVERYBODY ON MY D*CK LIKE THEY SUPPOSED TO BE. Actually, we kinda knew this was happening. Paul [Banks] sent over a rough mixtape about nine months ago of his beats and production and it was genius. And what, with all the Kendricks and the A$APs and whatever, we thought a mixtape would take Banks to new heights if we got it out months before release... In this case, Paul called in a some mega-favors and got features from El-P, Talib [Kweli], Mike G, and hold up, HIGH PRIZM (né High Priest)," reads Matablog's tongue-in-cheek press release published accompanying Interpol frontman Paul Banks' surprisingly great 2013 "mixtape," Everybody On My D*ck Like They Supposed to Be. It would appear as though around the same general time frame, Banks miraculously managed to link up with avid chess player and Wu-Tang Clan founding member RZA; "Me and Paul Banks from Interpol, we're doing an album together. I love Paul. [We've] been working on it for six months now. He just left my house. He came and spent two weeks at my house - I have a guesthouse in my studio," RZA revealed to Rolling Stone nearly four years ago. "We went to the studio and we started writing songs and they sound very, very different than what I do, but very unique and very peculiar. But it won't be out for a while," RZA exuberantly continued.

Wednesday afternoon out of the blue, nearly four years after candidly mentioning the loose formation of their genre-blending project, Paul Banks and RZA, now known as Banks & Steelz, announced that they would be premiering their as-yet-untitled debut single on Zane Lowe's Beats 1 Radio show the following afternoon. Low and behold, Thursday afternoon, coinciding with a couple LA and New York-area @banksandsteelz pop-up shops, Banks & Steelz gifted Lowe their sultry horn and guitar-assisted single, "Love + War" alongside sharp-tongued Wu-Tang swordsmen Ghostface Killah. It's a rather thought-provoking tasteful melding of RZA and Paul Banks beloved Staten Island Hip-Hop and critically-acclaimed Indie Rock stylings, which to my ears at least, tends to evoke both Santana & Rob Thomas' GRAMMY-winning "Smooth" and Common's John Mayer-assisted Kanye & J Dilla-produced G.O.O.D. Music album, Be (2005). Then, Friday morning, mere hours after having initially announced their long-gestated project, Banks & Steelz again unveiled "Love + War"'s Arms Race-directed visual accompaniment; "this video is unlisted. Be considerate and think twice before sharing," reads a rather cryptic message mysteriously packaged along with "Love + War"'s embedded code. It appears to be a loose 6-minute homage to RZA's friend and frequent collaborator Quentin Tarantino's cult classic Reservoir Dogs and its iconic, often imitated "ear" scene. Banks & Steelz have yet to announce any concrete release plans for their debut Warner Bros. full-length, although they have in fact booked a string of concert dates at FYF Fest, Life Is Beautiful, and Austin City Limits this summer.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Father John Misty Proclaims, "Don't sleep on Butch Bastard:" Ian Murray Performs "Live" In LA!!! & Unleashes Bob Dylan & David Bowie Covers Ahead of I Am Not a Man Solo Debut (self-released)

"Don't sleep on Butch Bastard," read a statement credited to Josh Tillman of Father John Misty and Fleet Foxes fame attached to a cold submitted message sent days after I posted my email address on Twitter, along with an open call for new music "not featured on Pitchfork;" after reaching out to Poor Moon bassist and newly-christened Butch Bastard frontman Ian Murray himself, the Father John Misty-affiliated artist would go on to specify, "[Josh is] my friend and I appreciate his endorsement, but I don't wish to be viewed as an appendage to his career." It would likely appear as though Butch Bastard was born when the singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, performer, producer, and director uprooted his life from Seattle to Los Angeles in 2014 and started recording tracks from the comfort of his bedroom. Murray's wonderfully titled forthcoming album, I Am Not a Man, which currently lacks a proper label or release date, showcases 10 self-produced compositions performed in character as Butch Bastard along with Tillman, Father John Misty keyboardist Jonathan Wilson, and drummer Mitchell Rowland with additional engineering from Nico Aglietti.

Bastard's trademark sound has been fittingly self-described as "Slap Happy Rock "N" Roll, Cutie Pie Hardcore, Neo-George Thorogood, Proto-Tiger Woods Spank, Stoner Spaz, Rat Tail R&B, Meta Potty Mouth Bedroom Spunk" and readily cites his greatest influences as Billy Crystal and Catherine Zeta-Jones. "THE FOLLOWING LIVE PERFORMANCE TOOK PLACE IN LOS ANGELES, CA... THE ENTERTAINMENT CAPITAL OF THE WORLD," reads a brief description presented ahead of "Live" In LA!!! "'Magnolia," along with other delightful sides, will be featured on Butch Bastard's forthcoming LP," a VH1-reminiscent Pop Up Video text bubble reveals during the introductory minutes of Murray's impromptu presentation. Ian Murray is currently shopping his debut project as Butch Bastard, I Am Not a Man, around to prospective labels for a tentative wide release this upcoming Summer or Fall, but until then, he's uploaded two stripped down Bob Dylan and David Bowie covers to his equally sparse BUTCH BASTARD Soundcloud page. Stay tuned to this space, as I've recently been in touch with Murray and his management team with hopes of conducting and publishing an exclusive Butch Bastard interview in the not so distant future!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Stones Throw & Leaving Records Present: Cakedog's Infectious Queen & Johnny Cash-sampling Footwork Mixtape, "Champions"

"Leland Jackson [@Ahnnu] creates Footwork and Juke as Cakedog. Devoted to the dancer, DJ, and producer culture, and mentored by fixture Footwork originator R.P. Boo, Champions is a 23-minute digital mixtape album leading into the proper LP release Doggystyle, on Leaving Records later this year," Stones Throw wrote within a recent on-site press release attached to their latest mixtape release on sister label, Leaving Records. For those who may be unfamiliar, much like myself, "Footwork is a genre of related music and street dance that originated in Chicago during the 1980's," which was pioneered by Jackson's own mentor R.P. Boo, and was later "popularized outside Chicago by inclusion in the music video for Dude 'n Nem's 2007 single "Watch My Feet;"' from what I can understand, I would best appropriate Footwork/Juke to Kanye's T-Pain-assisted Alvin & The Chipmunks-evocative Graduation smash single, "Good Life." Cakedog's proper Menace In The Phantom follow-up, Champions is a Donuts-reminiscent, sample-driven instrumental Hip-Hop album fittingly described by Tiny Mixtapes as "a wild, tantalizing listen, with sub-bass thuds tickling your ankle socks via hyperactive rhythmic patterns, battle toms & tin-foil hi-hats snaking their way through the imagined circle and into your flesh wounds." It almost makes more sense to label 23-minute Champions as an EP rather than a mixtape, but it's still littered with a handful of ingeniously chopped, warped, and manipulated samples culled from Queen, Johnny Cash, Rich Homie Quan, and Travis Barker collaborator Yelawolf. Champions has been in constant rotation throughout this crazy week full of graduations, anniversaries, and everyday life occurrences and the closest thing I could likely equate Stones Throw's latest release to is Girl Talk's tantalizing sample-laden magnum opus, Night Ripper, which coincidentally, just very recently celebrated it's benchmark 10th birthday. Champions is currently available for FREE download from Stones Throw & Leaving Records or for $7.00 at Cakedog's own Bandcamp page, if you feel so compelled and seemingly serves as a stylistic prequel to his forthcoming album, Doggystyle.

Monday, May 9, 2016

@blobtower "to be like Aaron Neville, AND [Aphex] Twin?:" British Crooner James Blake Surprise Releases Third Album, The Colour In Anything (Polydor & 1-800 Dinosaur)

"So proud of my brother James Blake dropping the bigness tonight... Also, so proud of our song ["I Need a] Forest Fire" came from wonderful accidents and good friendship... James, or Jim as I call him when I'm upset with him, is such a powerful musician; to be like Aaron Neville, AND Aphex [Twin]?" Bon Iver frontman and frequent James Blake collaborator Justin Vernon (@blobtower) exuberantly Tweeted on the eve of The Colour In Anything. Vernon and Blake previously collaborated on "Fall Creek Boys Choir" from mid-album Enough Thunder EP, although likely first rubbed shoulders due to this singular candid statement: "He's James Blake. Just go listen to his music and say, "hey, that's Kanye's favorite artist." Justin Vernon contributed crooned backing vocals assists to "MONSTER" and the majority of Kanye's sprawling magnum opus, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, as well as a number of fractured Death Grips-inspired Yeezus compositions; while James Blake told a number of publications between 2013-16 that he in fact longed to nab Mr. West for an album feature on his then-titled Radio Silence, which eventually morphed into The Colour In Anything, sadly sans Kanye's long-rumored rapped verse on "Timeless." Side note: one of the greatest, albeit non-musical, aspects of The Colour In Anything hands down has to be its beautiful, mood-enducing sketched cover artwork (seen above) designed by long-time Roald Dahl illustrator Sir Quentin Blake.

Blake has grown leaps and bounds as a singer-songwriter, producer, and collaborator during the three-year span since Overgrown– having worked alongside the likes of BeyoncĂ©, Drake, Grime emcee Trim, Vince Staples, legendary "reducer" Rick Rubin, and former Odd Future crooner and co-writer Frank Ocean. While I haven't ideally had the adequate time I would like to sit with, digest, and dissect The Colour In Anything (due in part, to its inavailability on one particular streaming platform), James Blake's surprise released album has however, received the coveted "stamp of approval" from my beautiful girlfriend, with whom I generally share all of my Hip-Hop. She seemingly enjoyed "I Need a Forest Fire" and Blake's 2010-11 Indie Rock press-rattling "Limit to Your Love," but noticeably enjoyed them even more once she realized he was a handsome British lad, rather than an R. Kelly-esque R&B crooner! James Blake's self-described "bigger in scope and a byproduct of a lot of change and growing up" third album, The Colour In Anything is currently available for purchase and streaming from Spotify, Apples Music, Amazon Prime, and numerous digital platforms. Polydor Records and its stateside subsidiary, Universal Music Group have yet to announce a physical release, to the best of my knowledge, although a CD-LP distribution only seems imminent in this day and age.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Giving Bad People Good Ideas: "Disbanded" & Newly-reformed Death Grips Unleash Righteous Black Flag, Beastie Boys & NIN-melding Bottomless Pit CD-LP (Harvest Records)

Sacramento-based Noise-Rap band Death Grips have had a very tumultuous, to say the least, relationship with the media since their sudden 2010 inception, although the recently "disbanded" and reunited three-piece have been heralded as "the first truly important band of the 21st century;" having direct influence on The Thin White Duke's final album ★ (Blackstar), Kanye's Aggro-Rap masterpiece Yeezus, and even Travi$ Scott's righteous T.I. & Kanye-assisted Rodeo. Death Grips' first post-"breakup" album, Bottomless Pit was unleashed Friday, May 6th at the stroke of midnight, amdist a weekend abuzz with new music and countless headlines from the likes of Radiohead, James Blake, Chance The Rapper, De La Soul, Homeboy Sandman, KAYTRANADA, and Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def. Bottomless Pit was preceded by eventual album tracks "Hot Head," Zane Lowe-debuted "Eh," and non-album "Interview 2016," although it appears as though the full 13-track album leaked online as early as April 29th, as a result of a Reddit-sprung leak. "Iconic 70's film star Karen Black passed away in August 2013. In February of that year, Karyn Rachtman introduced Ms. Black to Zach Hill. The two immediately hit it off. Zach had written a part for Karen for a film he was developing and gave her the pages for her scenes. Though she didn't know how the scenes would fit into the final film, she readily agreed to read her character's dialog on camera for Zach," reads the description attached to a rather cryptic Karen Black-helmed Bottomless Pit-announcing Misoneism casting call reel.

Not entirely unlike their previously "leaked" albums The Money Store and Epic contract-nulling NO LOVE DEEP WEB, Bottomless Pit sounds like Death Grips' fully realized vision haphazardly sprawled across 13 frantic, aneurysm-enducing tracks, which may sound mildly painful (but a sentiment you'll no doubt understand, if you're a diehard DG devotee). "[Zach Hill] has reinvented how someone drums. When you see this guy play, it looks like a flurry of activity. It looks like a blur. It looks like a tantrum. You can't even see it. And at first, when I saw this drummer, I was like, 'What is happening?' And then I realized later, 'Oh, this guy is a genius,'" SNL alumni Fred Armisen gushed to Rachael Ray during a 60-second free space segment, which originally aired sometime between the releases of NO LOVE DEEP WEB and Government Plates. Death Grips are equal parts Black Flag, Beastie Boys, and NIN and if you haven't yet already, do yourself a favor and stream or pick up a copy of their impeccable Bottomless Pit, which is currently available for digital download or pre-order on CD and "extremely limited yellow vinyl" standard black vinyl LP formats, which are expected to ship from Harvest Records between June 15-July 29th.

Monday, May 2, 2016

"The Soundtrack to a Modern Day Re-make of The Breakfast Club:" Pink Skull Founder Justin Geller Enlists Pissed Jeans Drummer Sean McGuinness for Remote Places' Nights and Weekends EP (Box Theory Records)

"It's a song about someone who is tired of being taken advantage of by the free spirit they're in love with. They're trying to deal with the fact that they're not OK with being just a part-time lover. It sounds like Ultravox or a happier version of The Cure or any 80's band that [loved] string synthesizer sounds," Remote Places founding member Justin Geller revealed within a recent Tell All Your Friends press release. Geller, a long-time member of genre-eschewing two to five-man Philly-based group Pink Skull, has likened his upcoming Nights and Weekends EP to "the soundtrack to a modern day re-make of The Breakfast Club" and has already drawn comparisons to New Order, The Smiths, The National, Washed Out, and Wild Nothing. Geller and bandmate Julian Grefe released four sprawling full-length albums and countless EP's and 12-inches further blurring the lines between glitchy lo-fi House, Psychedelic/Krautrock Indie Dance, and finally, dark, primal Acid House-influenced production work as Pink Skull, as well as two ambient LP's attributed to their Clean Plate side project.

Esteemed Los Angeles area radio station KCRW premiered Remote Places' debut single, "Places You Go," last week on which Justin Geller is assisted by Grefe on guitar, Mikele Edwards on vocals-piano, Mike Hammel on bass, and Pissed Jeans percussionist Sean McGuinness manning the drumkit. Grefe, Edwards, Hammel, and McGuinness additionally appear throughout Remote Places' Nights and Weekends EP, which was co-produced and recorded by War On Drugs and Kurt Vile-affiliated engineer Jeff Zeigler. "Mark Robinson of Teen Beat Records and Unrest/Flin Flon was contacted to see if he could help establish a visual direction for [Nights and Weekends], and also signed on to produce the first video," which will likely be a Cure meets The National-esque accompaniment for "Places You Go." Justin Geller's debut "solo" project as Remote Places, Nights and Weekends EP, will see a release on Philly-based Box Theory Records this upcoming May 13th and stay tuned to this space for an upcoming interview exclusive to The Witzard, coinciding with the EP's imminent release.