Wednesday, May 31, 2017

J-Zone & Pablo Martin Are Ready to Thicken Your Oatmeal with Neckbones Once Again On The Du-Rites' "BITE IT" b/w "BOCHO'S GROOVE" 7-inch (from Album #2: Greasy Listening)

"The inspiration was mostly the good reception that the first album [The Du-Rites] had and sonically, the reference plan for have something consistent with our sound, but further enough from it to not sound repetitive [compared to the first album]. As for the single for Greasy Listening, as a whole, the main inspiration was the four months we had to wait to get the single back from the [pressing] plant," The Du-Rites' guitar/bass guitar/synthesizer/Fender Rhodes player Pablo Martin wrote within a recent emailed statement. "Sonically, it's dirtier and in general, it sounds like a smaller ensemble. Philosophically, it has to do with the transition of Jay moving on from the crap you have to deal [with being] an emcee and a Hip-Hop producer with the crap you have to deal with being a gigging drummer/musician and me having a good laugh, while witnessing that. The single is just the two of us doing the usual," Martin continued. He's of course, referring to The Du-Rites' Funk-tastic first 7-inch single, "Bite It" b/w "Bocho's Groove," from their second album, Greasy Listening slated for a Fall 2017 release. "Bite It" & "Bocho's Groove" are currently available for streaming on The Du-Rites' Soundcloud page and is available for $2 digital download from J-Zone's Bandcamp page, as well as 300 limited edition 7-inches and a special Cuttin' Doubles! packages from The Du-Rites' page.

The Du-Rites, for those who may be terribly unaware, are Pablo Martin and rapper-producer turned Funk drummer-for-hire Jay "J-Zone" Mumford. Martin currently plays guitar in Talking Heads off-shoot Tom Tom Club and has mastered nearly every J-Zone release since 2000's A BOTTLE OF WHUP A** THE EP; in addition to The Du-Rites, J-Zone & Pablo Martin have played together on recordings by PABLO and Lulu Lewis, fronted by Martin's wife Dylan Hundley. "The Du-Rites is a Funk duo comprised of me on drums, organ, turntables, etc. and Pablo Martin on bass, guitar, Fender Rhodes, etc. Sophomore album, Greasy Listening out this Fall. Debut album out now. Shout to legendary/great drummer Leslie Ming for showing me how to play that drum groove on the B-side. Respect the originators," J-Zone wrote within a recent Instagram post, detailing the process behind "Bocho's Groove." As early as March 2017, Jay Mumford uploaded a list of "Confirmed Musical Endeavors for 2017, So Far," which includes The Du-Rites' just-released "Bite It" 7-inch and THE ZONE IDENTITY's "Funk​-​I​-​Tus" 7-inch released on Fraternity Music Group this past May. Also on J-Zone's running 2017 release schedule are an array of 7-inches and full-lengths from SUPERBLACK with Prince Paul and Sacha Jenkins, revived obscure mid-70's Instrumental Funk group Manzel, a second The Du-Rites 7-inch tentatively planned for August, and their sophomore album Greasy Listening not too far behind in September.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Cadence Weapon Follows Up "My Crew (Wooo)" & "Connor McDavid" with Gibbs Co-produced Nelly Furtado Remix "Behind Your Back" (self-released)

Make no mistake, party people—'round these parts, one-time Canadian Poet Laureate and former Pitchfork staff writer Roland (Rollie) "Cadence Weapon" Pemberton is often regarded as one of the finest, funnest, and most-talented emcees in all of the land; just think, an extremely more talented, painfully under-rated, waaaayyy less corny, lyrically verbose version of Canadian export Drake. Cadence Weapon recently re-emerged from a self-imposed nearly 5-year-long sabbatical from the music industry following his critically-acclaimed 2012 album. Hope In Dirt City, as well as a brief period wherein he appeared to be going by simply "Rollie." A re-weaponized and tactfully word-sharpened Cadence Weapon triumphantly returned to the spotlight not long after the top of the year with KAYTRANADA-produced "My Crew (Woooo)" and not long after, seemingly only Spotify Canada-released "Connor McDavid" (which soon pooped up on his Soundcloud.) While nothing has been 100% officially confirmed, it appears as through Rollie Pemberton is diligently working towards completing his long-awaited follow-up to Hope In Dirt City. Not entirely unlike its hockey-referencing predecessor, Cadence Weapon's latest, "Behind Your Back," was produced in collaboration with fellow Canadian beatsmith and mixing engineer Michael Gibbs; "since Summer is rapidly-approaching, I thought it might be a good time to post this remix I made for Nelly Furtado with my homie Gibbs. Check it out!" Cadence Weapon enthusiastically wrote within a Facebook post over Memorial Day Weekend. It appears as though Weapon & Gibbs quite cleverly unleashed their "Behind Your Back" remix just in time for Summer BBQ season. "Behind Your Back" was released as a pre-album single to Nelly Furtado's first album in some five years, The Ride and appears within Nelstar Music's deluxe 2xLP vinyl version of the album, along with two additional vinyl-only bonus tracks, "Islands of Me" and "Bliss."

Monday, May 29, 2017

Run It Back: Revisiting E. Grizzly's 2016 Synth, Calypso, Punk, Afrobeat, Hardcore, Dance Hall, Reggaeton & Metal-fusing Hip-Hop Concept Album FELIPE PUPO (A-Ha! Records)

"E. Grizzly is a progressive Hip-Hop artist from Philadelphia, PA specializing in a philosophical, poetic flow similar to Mos Def, Kendrick Lamar, Anderson.Paak, and Zach de la Rocha. The point of E. Grizzly's brand of music is to share new perspectives and challenge social standards accepted by the majority of society," reads the intro to E. Grizzly's press BIO fittingly titled, The Synth Calypso Punk Experiment. Now, many of you may recognize Erik "E." Grizzly's name from a few recent posts published right here within the pages of The Witzard: he designed an impressive zombified Breakfast Club show flyer for The Punk Rap Show held on May 6th, which I used as artwork for a recent MANIK|NETER EP write-up (as well as my lock screen background!) E. Grizzly was also included within a photo of what's very recently been dubbed the "Philly Squad," which includes—in addition to Grizzly himself—Darko The Super, ialive, Johann Sebastian, and Carl Kavorkian (MANIK|NETER.) E. Grizzly considers himself an audio/visual artist and in addition to making his own genre-blending music, also produces with a group of friends, and currently books shows for himself and his fellow Philly and East Coast-based musicians.

E. Grizzly
has issused five self-released solo albums and mixtapes since 2010: THE REVOLUTION WILL BE TELEVISED on Miami's Puerto Roc Records, pre-Run The Jewels El-P remixing HELLDOESNOTEXISTASWEKNOWITBIZZAROMIXVOL0, RJD2-flipping Generation 01000001, Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor & How to Destroy Angels-remixing How to Destroy Everything, and his latest Hip-Hop, Punk, Afrobeat, Hardcore, Dance Hall, Calypso, Reggaeton, Metal, and Synth-Pop-blending Felipe Pupo. Grizzly has additionally recorded two albums with bands based out of Miami and Philly throughout his brief, yet incredibly expansive career: an "Experimental, Heavy Rock/Hip-Hop kind of thing" with AlukarD on Labeless Records called One shoT (2010) and The NAH Mixtape (2012) produced by drummer Mike Kuhn from NAH and 1994! with a little help from Lancaster's No Heroes and P.K.G. out of Philly. "E. Grizzly has performed over 100 shows in the Miami, Philadelphia, and New York area and is recognized in these scenes."

"The inspiration for this album came from a bass player and a good friend named Jason Pupo. We wanted to start a band that was as much fun as possible. We decided to do a Synth-Calypso-Punk set, so people can dance and rage. Everything revolved around having a good time. He then passed away before we could even start recording. That took the idea in a whole new direction and it became a homage to Pupo. That's when I started to write about ghosts. And not just cliche ghosts, but a whole psychoanalysis about things that typically haunt the average person. Now, it's just trying to have the time of our lives with the things that scare us the most," E. Grizzly said of the inspiration behind Felipe Pupo. It was entirely produced, recorded (including all instrumentation,) mixed, and mastered by E. Grizzly, Scott Labenski, and the ghost of Jason Pupo at Home Bassment Studios in Lancaster, PA. E. Grizzly very recently professed to be "taking a month off shows" to focus on writing and producing his next project aimed for a Summer or Fall release; although, he played two shows just this past Sunday, May 28th and currently has gigs booked for 6/22 (E. Grizzly solo) at Safety Meeting with LT Headtrip of The Karma Kids, Ray Strife, The Kankers, and Planet 88 and 6/30 (with Felipe Pupo) at The Pharmacy with Carl Kavorkian, The Sh*thawks, and Planet 88 BOTH in West-South Philly.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Roots & The Tonight Show Band's @questlove Reminisces About The Beatles' "Anti-Beatle-like Mixtape" Sgt. Pepper's On Its 50th Anniversary (Parlophone/Capitol Records, 5/26/1967)

"#ItWas50YearsAgoToday This LP was always in my dad's collection (Dad was a vocalist who LOVED Pop. Yeah, he looked like a member of the #BlackPanthers. Ran the house like he was #JamesEvans. But his go-to zone was some of the best dentist office music ever—feed your kids equal [Barbra Streisand] #StoneyEnd & [Rufus] #Rufusized & see what happens? lol)—I ignored #SgtPeppers because I never liked the 60's @capitolrecords logo (see how everyone is going #FigitSpinner mad? My version of that was taking records out the sleeve, & spinning them on my finger watchin' the logo rotate. Seriously, I was obsessed with all spinning rotating objects—hence, my record obsession)—If the logo was dope? I'd give the record a chance. I'd love to revision a story of singing "Within You Without You" in my 2nd grade class—but the truth is, it didn't hit me 'til 22 years AFTER its release. Sgt. Pepper's was the 4th CD I ever purchased for my high school graduation gift (CD player) (my 1st? @LivingColourofficial's #Vivid, 2nd #SlyAndTheFamilyStone's Anthology 3rd) #WalkingWithAPanther by LL [Cool J] & I think my 5th was #CookieCrew's "Born This Way"—sidenote: their "Females" was used on #ADifferentWorld, but WAS NOT ON THE LP—WHY!!?

OK, lemme stay on track—entire Summer of '89, this record blew my mind, man. It still does. I'm recording music now on 16-track machine & struggling. Meanwhile, these guys are using a 4-track machine & making some of the most timeless, futuristic long-lasting music ever. This LP INVENTED the idea of LP's being a statement. Not just a collection of 3 good hits & some cover songs. Liner notes? This album. Gatefold? This album. Matter of fact, this is the 1st "departure LP" (@TheBeatles wanted to be taken seriously & lose the "Teen Pop" tag, so they made "a mixtape" of weird, anti-Beatle-like songs experimenting [with] different genres & recording techniques & the plan backfired: they became even bigger than ever—one could say so big that this actually became their undoing?) this album inspired Stevie Wonder to dream of endless musical possibilities (I say his [catalog] picked up the torch left by The Fab 4 once they imploded in 1970) words can't express the ripple effect this caused on its release. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!"

- Questlove Gomez (@questlove)

Film & Television Composer, Multi-instrumentalist & Illustrator Silas Hite of Satin Cowboy & The Seven Deadly Sins Unleashes Jarring Cover of Metric's "Other Side" (The Witzard Premier)

"I've always been big fan of Metric. Their lyrics are always so impactful and their music delivers so much genuine emotion, from sadness to elation and all the complications in between. What struck me the most about "Other Side" was the beauty of the lyrics and the vocal melody. Those were the two elements I tried to be faithful to in my cover; although, I ended up giving the melody a bit of my own flavor when I sang it," film and television composer, multi-instrumentalist, artist, and illustrator Silas Hite wrote within a recent email. He's of course, referring to his recent cover of Metric's "Other Side" from their 2015 album, Pagans In Vegas—founding members Emily Haines and Jason Shaw recently re-joined forces with with their long-standing Toronto-based musical collective, Broken Social Scene, to prep their first proper album in some seven years, Hug of Thunder. Silas Hite did the vocals, guitar, bass, drums, and keys himself on "Other Side" and additionally recorded, mixed, and produced his Metric cover. He then recruited cellist Timothy Loo and violinist Nancy Kuo to help put a few finishing flourishes on the tracks, which was mastered by Hans DeKline at Sound Bites Dog. Silas Hite's complex, yet fittingly simplistic "Other Side" single artwork was designed by Los Angeles-based graphic artist Derek "D-WREX" Zimmerman.

Silas Hite has had a rather long-standing musical career himself and over the course of the last 14 years, has amassed quite a staggering resume of credits: co-scoring Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist with his uncle Mark Mothersbaugh (DEVO), scoring episodes of Chef's Table, contributing music to Catfish: The TV Show, The Simpsons Game, American Pickers, Pawn Stars, and Keeping Up with The Kardashians, as well as popular commercials for Apple, Blue Moon, Chevy, Dunkin' Donuts, Microsoft, and most recently, Chipotle. Hite has additionally performed with a variety of genre-blending bands including, but not limited to, Satin Cowboy & The Seven Deadly Sins, Alma Sangre, Hellbeast of The Night, Happiness Realization Party, and Project Parallel. "Other Side" is currently available for streaming on Silas Hite's personal Bandcamp and Soundcloud pages, as well as both Apple Music and iTunes for an extremely reasonable $0.99 price tag. Silas Hite tells me he's currently scoring two video games that are scheduled to come out this upcoming Fall (although, he can't mention any names yet) and just finished a commercial campaign for Chipotle that's playing on TV right now. Hite additionally mentioned he's hard at work on the third full-length from his American Rock "N" Roll band, Satin Cowboy & The Seven Deadly Sins.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

ialive Returns from it's all down south from here. Tour with Darko The Super & Torito with "A C U R A (back in my bag)" Ahead of East Coast Dates Along with Oddisee & kidDEAD

"I was feeling a little overwhelmed and burnt out with doing shows and being a wack promoter, so I decided to sit down at my funk machine and do a jam; this is the result. I did all of this in a few hours—beat, rhymes, record, and mix. It's all about the music and it always has been about the music. THANK YOU! <3 kidDEAD and I leave for a short run of shows this Thursday," Philly beat-maker, emcee, Rap-singer/song-writer ialive wrote within a recent Facebook post. ialive is of course, one half of The Hell Hole Store with fellow rapper-producer buddy Darko The Super and his latest single, "A C U R A (back in my bag)" is his first since April 2016's The Jelly EP. ialive further details that he doesn't tour as much a some of his road dog friends, but steadily maintaining a 40-hour a week schedule at his day job, booking shows for his rapper friends throughout Philly, and upkeeping a somewhat regular existence, he understandably gets tired rather easily, as most of us often do. "I focused on the feeling of thankfulness and gratitude I felt while on tour with Darko and Torito two weeks ago. I [wanted] to focus on that and not feeling rundown."

"A C U R A (back in my bag)" is largely anchored around a muffled sample that proclaims, "WHEN I'M ON TOUR, FOR'REAL..." to which ialive quips, "I'm not on tour!" ialive just recently got back from the it's all down south from here tour with The Hell Hole Store (Darko) & Torito—they even came "BACK IN THE DAMN ACURA" and is headed back out this week on a 6-date East Coast jaunt along with kidDEAD: 5/26 at Legion Bar in Brooklyn NY, 5/27 at Oxbow Brewing in Portland ME, 5/28 at Shaskeen in Manchester NH, 5/29 at The Hollow (opening for Oddisee) in Albany NY, 5/30 at an unspecified venue in Allentown PA, and finally, 5/31 at The Pharmacy in Philly PA. Darko, ialive & Torito triumphantly returned from said tour with a stack of Homeboy Sandman-esque it's all down south from here. (Tour Tapes) available on either band-made cassette or Name-Your-Price digital download. I recently heard from a little birdy that ialive and Darko The Super have reunited as The Hell Hole Store for a proper follow-up to their self-titled 2016 Already Dead Tapes album, Return to The Hell Hole Store, will be out this upcoming June 23rd. They've already released one Das Racist-sampling teaser single from their second album, "Mellow Yellow 2" to help whet your appetite and even went as far as to perform their very own "NPR Tiny Desk Concert" submission.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

South Philly's "Least Important Most Important" Zilla Rocca & Small Professor Team Up for Career Crooks' URBNET Full-length, Good Luck with That (The Witzard Interview)

"I used to watch Run-D.M.C. videos on my grandmother's TV in South Philly; then, I had to hide Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg CD's from my parents when I was 10-years-old. I used to make Rap tapes on my dad's stereo system. I would record every episode of BET's Rap City in high school on VHS. In college, I started my first Rap group. After college, I started my own Indie Rap label. Today, my first album released on a record label is out. And I can't believe it!" Zilla Rocca ecstatically wrote within a Friday afternoon Facebook post. Friday, May 19th was the release day for the seasoned South Philly rapper-producer and remixer's major label "debut," Good Luck with That on Toronto-based Indie Hip-Hop label URBNET. Zilla recently formed Career Crooks with his long-time friend and partner-in-crime Small Professor (Small Pro) and ahead of Good Luck with That, they released two hard-as-nails pre-album collections: last year's Sin Will Find You: The Collected Works and Name-Your-Price Take What's Coming EP. URBNET fittingly describes their sound as being "steeped in the late 1980's to early 1990's Career Crooks, couples street smart blue collar futurism, with a modernist approach, launching them to the level of current luminaries like KA, Roc Marciano, and Westside Gunn."

"[Career Crooks] hits you like a big-a$$ 60's Batman sound effect. Go get that," Hip-Hop critic and purveyor of all things dope Elmattic (@thisiselmattic) wrote on Twitter Friday afternoon; characteristically continuing, "Yo @ZillaRocca & @smallpro, that "Corrupt Novelist" joint hits you like..." along with an attached image that simply read "ZLONK!" Good Luck with That does indeed hit you like a ton of cocaine-filled bricks and is very reminiscent of 36 Chambers-era Wu-Tang Clan, as well as similarly-minded Hip-Hop duos like Run The Jewels and OutKast. I was lucky enough to obtain the unique opportunity to interview both Zilla Rocca & Small Pro coinciding with the release of Good Luck with That this past Friday; Career Crooks waxed poetic on everything from Sin Will Find You: The Collected Works to Take What's Coming EP, Good Luck with That's friendly features, "Cheesesteak Noir-Hop," Zilla Rocca's now-infamous voicemails, and inventive album artwork. I suggest you do yourself a favor, download or order a cassette copy of Good Luck with That, pop open a nice aged bottle of Cognac, and delve into this expansive interview with Zilla Rocca & Small Pro!


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
"The Humpty Dance" Contest Winner

I. How did you guys initially meet and ultimately, decide to start recording together as Career Crooks, a 2-man faction of your larger group, Wrecking Crew? How did you come up with the name Career Crooks anyways?

Zilla Rocca: Me and Small Pro met in like 2007-08. We were the only dudes in Philly getting blog love around then with dope underground sites, so I made it my business to find this guy and make him work with me. I came up with the name just driving around listening to Jay-Z's "So Ghetto;" plus, it fit in with our underworld themes, like our past projects, Major Crimes EP and Thieves with Good Taste EP [with PremRock.] Plus, we just steal a lot of sh*t.

Small Pro: I prefer the term "illegally recycle," but yes... very fitting group name. I actually didn't like it at first, but it grew on me, like most of Zilla's artistic suggestions do. My mother also pointed out that it's (slightly) alliterative, after slightly frowning upon learning that her favorite middle son is literally a "career crook."

II. As Sin Will Find You: The Collected Works expertly shows, you've been "unofficially" working together as Career Crooks for a number of years now... but what exactly made you decide to make it "official" with a proper rapper-producer full-length?

Zilla: The album was going to be just "Zilla Rocca & Small Pro," but after talking with people I respect and thinking about how it would be dope for us at this point in our careers to have something brand new out, making it an official group was the right move. Like Run The Jewels is obviously Killer Mike & El-P and they could've just dropped their music like that under their names, but making it a group name to me, creates a real bond with the music and to the fans, like this isn't a one-off or just some quick sh*t we put out. It's about formally uniting.

Smalls: I think that conceptually, it made sense to make Career Crooks its own distinct entity; this way we can go places creatively that we might not, if it's a Zilla song produced by me.

III. How do the tracks on your recent pre-album EP, Take What's Coming relate to Good Luck with That? Is it mostly composed of album left-overs and voicemails?

Zilla: There was one song that we left off the album and put it on the EP, but everything else was built from scratch. We spent a long time with the album, so the EP was just light work. It was more fun and quick to put together. By that point, we knew what worked best with each other, so I know if we do another album, it would be very comfortable and simple, just based off how cool the EP came out.

Smalls: [Take What's Coming] is [Good Luck with That's] companion piece; an introduction to our world and a preview of the debut, as well as being its own entity. I'm sure [Zilla] has his own reference point for it, but mine was Soul Position (RJD2 & Blueprint) releasing the Unlimited EP in 2002 before they released 8 Million Stories in 2003.

IV. What can you tell me about your now-infamous voicemails, Zilla, which Small Pro included within your recent Take What's Coming EP and Good Luck with That? What struck you as so compelling about them, Small Pro and why did you ultimately, decide to include them within the recordings?

Zilla: I don't even remember those at all! If Smalls didn't put them on the albums, I'd have zero recollection of ever leaving them! But I miss hearing voicemails on people's albums in general—you can't put a f**king text message on a song.

Smalls: Zilla leaves me stuff like that all the time, in all honesty... it picked up more during the making-of [Good Luck with That] since we were actively working on an album and therefore, communicating with more regularity. However, until we started working on the EP, I was planning on using them on something completely different, since they didn't really fit in anywhere on the album comfortably. The EP setting worked better for the voicemails because of its loose and fun nature.

V. What was your typical writing, recording, and beat-making process like for Good Luck with That; was the album fully written, recorded, and produced with both of you together in the studio in South Philly, remotely via email transmission, or a little bit of both scenarios?

Zilla: We both work completely alone—we don't live far away and we talk on the phone and kick it in person; but we keep very different hours and schedules, so it made sense for Small Pro to bang out stuff on his end and me on mine. We both are self-sufficient people and very prolific artists who don't like people telling us what to do, so it was the smartest way to maximize both of our strengths.

Smalls: Most Rap songs/albums follow this sequence during their creation: producer makes beat at some point in time, rapper hears aforementioned beat, rapper records pre-written lyrics or writes new lyrics to beat. We did things the opposite way this go 'round: for the most part, I crafted and worked around Zilla's pre-existing vocals. Same end result, just our own particular process.

VI. How would you attempt to best describe the underlying 90's Hip-Hop-reminiscent Noir-Hop feel heard throughout Good Luck with That, for someone who may have never previously been exposed to your solo music or Career Crooks' storied output?

Zilla: It's just natural for us to make sh*t like this. My other projects that are more Experimental and Proggy on purpose, such as No Vacation for Murder or The Slow Twilight; they were natural and effortless when I made those with my homie Douglas Martin aka Blurry Drones. He and Smalls have had this years-long respectful rivalry with each other as producers. It's just Douglas lives in Seattle and Smalls lives here, so they're not going to do sh*t the same way—Douglas' beats feel like the Northwest. Small Pro's feel like the East Coast, but I'm the constant between both sounds. Like I worship Nas and Ishmael Butler [Palaceer Lazaro,] Aesop Rock and Nas, Raekwon and doseone. So, I've always straddled the line between traditionalist and progressive with Hip-Hop. I think this album is more "traditionalist," but me and Small Pro love Prefuse 73 and Drake, so there's little moments on the album that aren't strictly [just] for back-packers in their thirties.

Smalls: On the production side of things, I've always liked the idea of purposefully using previously utilized samples in my music; even though Guru of Gang Starr once famously said, "Rap is an art, you can't own no loops," there are still producers that feel like using the same piano sample as DJ Premier from 1998 would be heresy, no matter how different the end result comes out. Even unwritten rules are meant to be broken. Also, we both grew up on dark and gritty NY Rap... so, even though we weren't trying to sound like a particular year, there's simply a specific and special feeling you get when you hear hard drums and a loop and that's what we were aiming to convey.

VII. Where exactly did you draw your greatest sources of inspiration and influence while creating what Passion of The Weiss scribe Chris Daly fittingly described as your unique "Cheesesteak Noir[-Hop]" style showcased throughout Good Luck with That?

Zilla: After we finished the album, Smalls told me our album was incredibly "South Philly," which I never picked up on, until he said that. But I'm a life-long South Philly resident, so I'm too close to pick up on that. He's not, so he has the outside eyes to peep it. But since we both live in South Philly, it had to come out that way. And when I was writing songs like "Cold Ten Thousand," that's inspired by real people I knew around South Philly—the loser who gambles and works side jobs, the loan shark who is everyone's buddy, the wife who just tolerates it because she's loved her man since they were teenagers. On "Dock Street Suspicions," I pick out very specific real places in Philly to tell a fictional story, so I guess that's what Chris [Daly] meant by "Cheesesteak Noir" haha!

Smalls: South Philly definitely has its own sound, which [Zilla] has always interpreted in his own way... both subconsciously and on purpose. But having the added dimension of a fellow South Philadelphian picking sounds to match his words accentuated those vibrations.

VIII. How exactly did you go about fielding and recruiting Good Luck with That's featured artists: DJ Manipulator, Curly Castro, ALASKA, My Man Shafe, Defcee, s.hablB, PremRock, Dewey Bryan, and MaLLY? How did you decide which artists to place on each corresponding track?

Zilla: Almost all of those guys are good friends of mine and cats like beeb (s.habIB) and DJ Manipulator are dope cats I met on Twitter that I wanted to bring in for their specific skills. But I've known MaLLy 10 years, [Curly] Castro is my best friend. I've toured with PremRock and have hung out with Dewey [Bryan] countless times—again, real life friends. So, it's just a natural extension, not like we had to reach out to big-name guests to sell the record, which I'm not against, but the album was built on camaraderie. I started getting really cool with ALASKA way after the album was in post-production and was like "I need this guy, too." It's all organic.

Smalls: The guest performances are one of my favorite details about Good Luck with That, especially PremRock's two spots. Everybody in the Wrecking Crew is heavily influenced by the Wu-Tang Clan's string of albums in the 90's... so, for example, you might hear a [Career Crooks] song one day where a featured artist's verse is longer than Zilla's, or elsewhere, it might not even have Zilla featured at all, even though it's still Career Crooks/Wrecking Crew. As long as it comes out dope, we have zero issue with sharing the spotlight or letting a guest's star explode on a track. And we love posse cuts... just ask Curly Castro.

IX. How important was it for you guys to really "hit the nail on the head" and capture some dope inner-album imagery to accompany Good Luck with That's CD/cassette release, considering Zilla's day job as co-creator of @rapbooklets alongside @EgyptoKnuckles?

Zilla: I'm really big on artwork—I feel like that's the one piece of props I've never gotten in my Indie Rap career that I'm salty about still! Any project I put out, I think about how it will look next to all the other artwork on my Bandcamp page. Because I'm a fan of discovering people completely off great artwork. I just discovered this band SHEER MAG because their album was so inspiring. I cheat and screen-grab sh*t all the time from Instagram, Tumblr, [Twitter,] or will snap a pic out and about and go back to it. My wife is a photographer, so I've cheated from her style a bit about framing, lighting, and sh*t like that. Rap Booklets is all about that—just letting people know the more imagery with Rap beyond a Soundcloud .JPG or a YouTube video is better.

Smalls: As far as the group photos accompanying [Good Luck with That] are concerned, we were just having fun... especially me, with the mask! There will be more masks.

X. What can you gentlemen tell me about Good Luck with That's striking Golden Age Hip-Hop-reminiscent cover image? How does it correlate to the lyrical themes, style, overall feel, etc. of the record? What do you think of my Good Luck with That re-design commissioned by self-described Instagram Outsider/Folk Artist @grimeytapesnewportcigarettes?

Zilla: I don't know what's "Golden Age Hip-Hop" about the cover honestly—it was just a scene I saw one day getting coffee on Broad Street not too far from where we both live. So, I snapped it, posted it on Instagram, and Smalls and a few other people were like "YO! THAT'S AN ALBUM COVER RIGHT THERE!" So boom—we had that album cover before we even had a group name or album title. But Smalls was right—the cover fits the album because it's completely South Philly—the old stretch Cadillac parked between two funeral homes on a dreary day.

Smalls: The commissioned re-make made me chuckle, once I figured out what it was. Above all else (and in my not-so humble opinion,) [Good Luck with That] simply looks like it's probably a dope album based on the cover and that especially is something that both Zilla and I try to be mindful of, in our respective fields.

XI. How did you initially come to get in contact with Canadian Indie Hip-Hop imprint URBNET and what made you feel as though they were the perfect fit for a label to work with to unleash Career Crooks' premier project, Good Luck with That?

Zilla: My homies PremRock and Fresh Kils dropped an album late 2016 with them called Leave In Tact. And Prem was always saying great things about the label and the big cheese Darryl [Rodway] that runs it. I wasn't too familiar with them, but once I did my research, I thought it would be a new, fun outlet for this record. We're the first 100% American act they've ever signed and they've been around almost 20 years, which is dope! And me and Smalls wanted to catch more people that might've never heard of us before this album, so why not attack the Canadian Rap fans?

Smalls: I had heard of URBNET previously through releases by Moka Only and Elaquent, but after a little bit of research and discussion, Zilla and I agreed that it was the right way to go. This will sound a little weird, but since I place a lot of stock in album artwork, I went to their Bandcamp page and imagined our record there next to their other releases and it made sense. I also knew that if they were putting out and standing behind records like the Leave In Tact album, we would be right at home.

XII. What do you fellas have planned next for Career Crooks or within the confines of your separate, yet often over-lapping solo careers? I know you've recently been hittin' it outta the park with your 90's Hip-Hop-evoking Soundcloud loosies series, Zilla and you with your ever-infectious Jawns beat series, Small Pro!

Zilla: I have my long-awaited solo album on deck [called] Future Former Rapper. Looking for a home for that now. But beyond that, it's good to not be sitting on music anymore. I'm stacking up more remix credits, which I'll compile for another remix project as Anything I Touch I Bruise Vol. III.

Smalls: Let's see... currently working on a group album with a Philadelphia-based singer that doesn't have a name/title yet, I'm in the middle of my second official instrumental album, and I've started setting aside beats for Gigantic, Vol. 2, the follow-up to my first compilation album.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Flying Lotus Shares Thundercat, Brendon Small & Miguel Atwood-Ferguson-assisted "You and Your Friends Are Dead" & "North Star3" from You're Dead! Sessions (THUNDERDETH LOTUS?!!!??!)

It appears as though BRAINFEEDER founder, Los Angeles multi-instrumentalist, Experimental Hip-Hop producer, DJ, villainous rapper, and film-maker Steven Ellison AKA Flying Lotus AKA Captain Murphy AKA Kuso director steve. has been doing an Ideas+drafts+loops-style purge of his old hard drives recently; Ellison has upload a staggering seven previously unreleased tracks to his Flyinglotus Soundcloud page just this past week! FlyLo first uploaded a remix of Angelo Badalamentii's iconic "Twin Peaks Theme" and Queen-sampling "Night Grows Pale" this past Tuesday, May 16th. Then, came a whopping five tracks just one day later: Captain Murphy-helmed "Crowned," Miguel Atwood-Ferguson-assisted "LoveTrue Opening" and "LoveTrue Opening Alt1" from Alma Har'el's 2016 Netflix film of the same name, and two mysterious left-overs from You're Dead! (2014) credited to THUNDERDETH LOTUS... DETHKLOK-hashtagged "You and Your Friends Are Dead" with assists from Thundercat & Brendon Small and Thundercat, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson & Brendon Small-featuring "North Star3."

Brendon Small is one of the co-creators behind both [adult swim]'s Home Movies and Metalocalypse, as well as the aforementioned show's "virtual" Death Metal band, Dethklok. Small additionally fronts his own similarly-minded Melodic Death Metal/Prog-Metal band called Brendon Small's Galaktikon with Dethklok members Gene Hoglan and Bryan Beller. Small, Hoglan, and Beller are currently working on a proper follow-up to Brendon Small's Galaktikon (2012) with producer Ulrich Wild that's being billed as "a Dethklok album [that] just can't be called Dethklok 'cause of rights." Drummer Gene Hoglan went on to explain, "if you love Dethklok, you will love this record. The lyrics, the music, and everything is Dethklok-styled." Thundercat recently unleashed his third album, "DRUNK," which featured numerous contributions from both Flying Lotus and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. Brendon Small previously contributed guitar licks to "Turkey Dog Coma" and "Siren Song" from Flying Lotus' 2014 Warp Records album, You're Dead! It's currently unclear if and when "You and Your Friends Are Dead" and "North Star3" may appear on a proper release from a re-formed and fully-fleshed out THUNDERDETH LOTUS.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Gabriel Reyes-Whittaker (GIFTED & BLESSED) & Yeofi Andoh (A Race of Angels) Re-form The Steoples for Stones Throw Single, "From The Otherside" & Six Rocks Full-length

"Six Rocks is the first full-length from long-time collaborators GB and Yeofi (Gifted & Blessed // A Race of Angels,) known collectively as The Steoples; with solo careers working across genres, this album stands as a statement and homecoming for the duo," read a brief, yet rather telling description attached to a recent TICKETFLY page for The Stoples' Saturday, May 13th show at Zebulon in LA. Stones Throw's latest signee, The Steoples—consisting of singer-producer Gabriel Reyes-Whittaker and assumed multi-instrumentalist Yeofi Andoh—played their premier show along with label head and DJ Peanut Butter Wolf, DJ Rani de Leon, and DJ Sonny Abegaze. The Steoples' musical stylings have been previously described as "Electronic, Deep House, Downtempo, and Electro" by Discogs and tagged as "electronic, experimental & post-avant garde, healing & meditation, techno-indigenous studies, and los angeles" on GIFTED & BLESSED's label Bandcamp page.

Gabriel Reyes-Whittaker has been releasing a variety of genre-spanning music under a multitude of aliases since around 2004-05, some of which include releases from GIFTED & BLESSED (or simply GB,) The Abstract Eye, The Reflektor, Julian Abelar, GaBe, POLY, SOMOS, and most recently, Frankie Reyes; producer and bandmate Yeofi Andoh has released past musical efforts as A Race of Angels, Outside, and may even be a part-time member of GIFTED & BLESSED. Andoh seems to have even shot the cover image for English Punk/Indie Rock band Mega City Four's debut Tranzophobia as far back as 1989. Stones Throw's Friday afternoon introduction to The Steoples and their latest track, "From The Otherside," simply read: "a new track from the latest name at Stones Throw. The Steoples are Gabriel Reyes-Whittaker & Yeofi Andoh. Expect an album this summer." It appears as though said The Steoples album is likely called Six Rocks, as intentionally (or unintentionally) revealed within TICKETFLY's aforementioned Zebulon LA event listing. Judging by "From The Otherside" and The Steoples' lone 2012 self-titled EP on GIFTED & BLESSED, I would best equate Gabe & Yeofi's output to something along the lines of Stones Throw left-fielders James Pants, Australian multi-instrumentalist Jonti, or even recent signee Gabriel Garzón-Montano.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Hammered Satin Let Loose Glittery Music Videos for "Upwards Spiral" B/W "Lavender Lightning Lady" 7-inch (Rad Cat/Burger Records)

"'Upwards Spiral" is a mind-power motivational song to encourage people to believe more in themselves using thought vibrations to raise emotions into a state of bliss; [while] "Lavender Lighting Lady" is a female goddess super-hero fantasy song about a woman with the super-powered ability to shoot lavender-colored lighting bolts from her fingertips! In the video, I wear a "LAVENDER MENACE" T-shirt as a shout-out to Women's [Liberation] and female empowerment, in general," Hammered Satin frontman Noah Wallace explained within a recent email. Hammered Satin make a genuinely unique brand of 1960-70's-evoking Rock "N" Roll they like fittingly to describe as, "GLITTER-ROCK" (Glammy, Crunchy, Punchy, Hooky Glitter Rock "N" Roll) that I would personally, go as far to liken to a stylistic mix between 80's Hair Metal forefathers Mötley Crüe and Cinderella, Iggy & The Stooges, Rob Reiner-formed Heavy Metal mock-umentary act Spın̈al Tap, and fellow Glam Rock revivalists The Darkness. Hammered Satin readily attribute T. REX, THE SWEET, PANTHERMAN, THIN LIZZY, MOTT THE HOOPLE, SLADE, SILVERHEAD, HELLO, JOOK, MILK 'N' COOKIES, NEW YORK DOLLS, ALICE COOPER, DEEP PURPLE, THE RAMONES, CHICORY TIP, CATAPULT, LEMMING... as their greatest sources of influence.

Hammered Satin was formed in Los Angeles around 2011 by frontman Noah Wallace along with guitar player Conor Behrle and bassist Dan Sandvick and much like Spın̈al Tap, often features a rotating cast of touring drummers: fellow Los Angelean Mike G, East Coast drummer Ray Peters, and Keli Egizi, as well as a number of skinsmen who may or may not have succumbed to "spontaneous self-combustion." Hammered Satin put out an 8-track self-titled cassette on Burger Records in 2012, followed by their Glamorama full-length on Diamond Fist/Burger Records in 2013, and most recently, a few 7-inches on Lolipop/Rad Cat/Burger Records released between 2015-17: "Reptilian/Good Little Girl," "Strawberries N' Cream/UFO," and "Upwards Spiral/Lavender Lightning Lady" just last week, Friday, May 5th. Not entirely unlike their previous 2015-17 7-inch singles, Hammered Satin have made music videos for both the A and B-sides of their latest "Upwards Spiral/Lavender Lightning Lady" 7-inch single pressed up by Rad Cat & Burger Records.

Hammered Satin's "Upwards Spiral" 45 was recently described as "A JUNKSHOP GLAM STOMPER INSPIRED BY THE SWEET AND CHICORY TIP..." within a 1970's-evoking Rad Cat & Burger Records flyer and its companion Ant Boyd-directed music video has a pretty straight-forward concept; Hammered Satin rippin' through "Upwards Spiral" in what appears to be some sort of industrial warehouse or bodyshop alongside a shiny black muscle car decked out in their finest glitter-encrusted jackets, patent leather pants, scarves, polka dots, striped shirts, etc. surrounded by a few lighting rigs and a bunch of dingy black-and-white posters. "LAVENDDDDEEER LIGHTNIN' LAAAA-DDDY," Noah Wallace wails a mere three seconds into Hammered Satin's Yahoo! Music-premiered "Lavender Lightning Lady" music video. Director Logan Feser cast actress and costume designer Elizabeth Boyd as the song's titular caped heroine, who seems to have electrified super-powers similar to that of Spider-Man villain Electro (played by Jamie Foxx in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.) Lavender Lightning Lady and her bedazzled sidekicks dance around in quite a "shocking" manner, as Hammered Satin effortlessly rip their way through her theme song. Hammered Satin's latest Bubblegum-Glam 45, "Upwards Spiral/Lavender Lightning Lady" is currently available for purchase on 7-inch wax from Burger & Rad Cat Records, as well as digitally.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Z2 Comics & Easy Eye Sound Present: MURDER BALLADS Graphic Novel, Free Comic Book Day Prequel THE BALLAD OF FRANKLIN BONISTEEL, and Robert Finley & Dan Auerbach's "IN THE PINES" (The Fontweathers EP)

"THE BALLAD OF FRANKLIN BONISTEEL acts as a prequel, of sorts, to MURDER BALLADS, the highly-anticipated Rock "N" Roll noir graphic novel about the music industry and redemption. The highly-anticipated graphic novel from Z2 Comics... will be distributed at comic book stores and bookstores nation-wide and will be available digitally, via ComiXology. It is available now for pre-order," reads a recent press release for Murder Ballads and its accompanying prequel, The Ballad of Franklin Bonisteel; the latter was available for FREE on a first-come-first-serve basis from participating comic book shops and bookstores nation-wide this past Saturday, May 6th, 16th annual Free Comic Book Day (FCBD). The Ballad of Franklin Bonisteel was made available by Z2 Comics and Easy Eye Sound on FCBD along with an exclusive download link to a new rendition of Lead Belly-popularized 1870's Folk song "In The Pines" performed by Louisiana Bluesman Robert Finley alongside The Black Keys' frontman and guitarist Dan Auerbach. However, many music fans of a particular generation might recognize Nirvana's slightly Grungier version of "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" from their 1993-94 MTV Unplugged In New York live album. "You haven't heard "Into The Pines" performed like this before," said Z2 Comics' co-publisher Josh Frankel. "And you’ve never read anything like the misadventures of LA's legendary record producer, Franklin Bonisteel," he charismatically continued. THE BEAT: The News Blog of Comics Culture is currently running an "EXCLUUUUSIVE" 5-page preview of The Ballad of Frankilin Bonisteel, for those who may not be able to procure a copy left over from Free Comic Book Day's recent festivities.

It appears as though Dan Auerbach's accompanying Murder Ballads soundtrack, which at one point in time, was "shorter than a double LP and longer than eight minutes," has now been compressed down to a concise 5-track EP recorded along with Robert Finley and may or may not include contributions from The Dirtbombs and The Gories founder Mick Collins. "There's never been a Free Comic Book Day release like this one and it’s hard to imagine a more collectible, must-have release for fans," said Z2 Comics' co-publisher Sridhar Reddy. "The cover of "In The Pines" is just a taste of what's to come," Reddy further detailed. Life Sucks, Batman '66, and one-time Blender writer Gabe Soria—who also penned The Ballad of Franklin Bonisteel and oversaw Auerbach's Murder Ballads EP—worked alongside DC & Dark Horse Comics illustrator Warren Pleece on Franklin Bonisteel and illustrators Paul Reinwand (KONRAD WERKS) and Chris Hunt (CARVER: A Paris Story) on Murder Ballads.

Soria recently described Murder Ballads to PREVIEWSworld as a story centered around "Nate Theodore, a young, music-obsessed white man who happens upon two musicians, Donny and Marvell Fontweathers, two black men, who embody everything he genuinely loves about music, the visceral punch of it and the mythic qualities he ascribes to it. They’re basically a dream come true for Nate, a mythic ideal, and Murder Ballads is about how that sort of romanticizing can sometimes go off the rails.">/big> Z2 Comics' Free Comic Book Day release, The Ballad of Franklin Bonisteel is currently available from participating retailers, while supplies last. Murder Ballads, which will be accompanied by Robert Finley & Dan Auerbach's EP as "The Fontweathers," is currently available for pre-order and will become widely available in comic book shops and bookstores nation-wide on June 28th.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

alt-J Share Director Casper Balslev's Harrowing Tale of An Adventurous Wood Mouse Within Iggy Pop-narrated "IN COLD BLOOD" (@grimeytapesnewportcigarettes Art)

"We love working with great directors, giving them the creative freedom to interpret our tracks as they wish. It leads to great collaborations, like this new video for "In Cold Blood" from Casper Balslev. As you are about to find out, a day in the life of a wood mouse can be unexpectedly dangerous... We hope you enjoy it," signed simply Gus, Joe & Thom.

I'm of course, talking about Gus Unger-Hamilton, Joe Newman, and Thom Sonny Green of English Indie Rock buzz band alt-J, who were once a bit prematurely dubbed "the next Radiohead," as the Indie Rock music-covering machine seems to do every 10 years or so. Since forming while attending Leeds University with since-departed fourth member Gwil Sainsbury, alt-J have released three EP's, two critically-acclaimed studio albums, and one live album recorded at Red Rocks; on the heels of their wildly successful sophomore album, This Is All Yours (2014) alt-J are currently gearing up to unleash their long-awaited third album, simply titled RELAXER this upcoming Friday, June 2nd on Canvasback/Infectious Music, which is distributed by Atlantic state-side. So far, RELAXER has yielded two rather Bluesy Charlie Andrews-produced pre-release singles: lead-off track "3WW" and "In Cold Blood;" described by alt-J within a recent Facebook post as, "a song we began writing in our Leeds days and finished last year in London. The brass was recorded at Abbey Road, the keyboards were done on a Casiotone that cost £1.05 on eBay, and no one is quite sure where the key change came from."

"The wood mouse is primarily a seed-eater; particularly seeds of trees, such as oak, beech, and ash. They are mainly active during the dark, yet sometimes, they are out at daytime. The mouse compensates for its poor eyesight, relying on its sense of smell to locate food and to avoid predators. It must be cautious. Enemies are everywhere," a grizzled voice describes prior to alt-J's latest Casper Balslev-directed set of stirring visuals. Yes, it's the reigning Godfather of Punk and The Stooges' infamous frontman, Iggy Pop! "In Cold Blood," according to a recent Big Hassle press release, takes its name from Truman Capote's classic 1966 non-fiction novel, although, "has absolutely nothing to do with it, in terms of themes, builds to a thrilling, brassy, bleepy, shouty climax."

Balslev's treatment follow's a wide-eared grey wood mouse on a harrowing journey through his habitat—narrowly escaping the clutches of a slithering snake and a pesky, sly fox—before befriending a similarly-sized snail and well-nigh falling to his demise from a flimsy tree-top branch. Our furry, long-tailed protagonist soon stumbles upon what appears to be an attempted burglary and vehicle hi-jacking gone terribly wrong with bodies strewn across a desert wasteland, a duffel bag full of blood-soaked money, severed limbs, and shattered windshields. He ultimately, ends up escaping with two star-crossed lovers (with crackers on their passenger's seat) who somehow, managed to escape the bloodshed. "The humble wood mouse: if it survives, it will be because of a remarkable skill to adapt to almost any new environment, on its way to the future. And the future, indeed, looks bright," our narrator Iggy Pop recounts, in closing. alt-J's third album, RELAXER will become available on 6/2 on Canvasback/Infectious Music.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

3 Feet High DEAD & Rising: Carl Kavorkian Unveils Sleep Beggar, Noise Lock & STATIC BROTHERS-infuenced Noise-Rap Side-project MANIKINETER with Mannequin Eater EP (Cult Member Music)

"Loud. Abrasive. Mental. Music; a four word preface into the sound of MANIK|NETER, the side-project of Carl Kavorkian. Bringing together the essence of various adrenaline-inducing genres, this Noise-Rap project is described as an evolving experiment in crushing drums, heavy sounds, manipulated vocals, and translucent streams of consciousness. Lyrically, putting less emphasis on "bars" and more concentration on stirring emotions and simply rocking the f*ck out. Live cats to the front, wall flowers to the back when MANIK|NETER hits the stage," reads a fragmented chunk of Philly-based emcee, producer, engineer, and DJ Carl Kavorkian's recent email blast. MANIK|NETER (pronounced: "Mannequin-Eater") is the new Noise-Rap-leaning side-project from Kavorkian, who described his latest Mannequin Eater EP as sonically reminiscent of Sleep Beggar or Noise Lock; "the intensity of all those artists and all the new music I've discovered over the past three years have been an influence for MANIK|NETER. For this EP, I wanted to harness that energy using a minimal approach and build out from there, as I try more things and learn new gear." Carl Kavorkian's coincidentally, runs in the same East Coast Indie Hip-Hop circles as The Witzard favorites Darko The Super, Height Keech, ialive, JE DOUBLE F, Ray Strife, Jumbled, Walter Gross, and Cody Jones. Kavorkian has self-released a whopping 21 albums, EP's, mixtapes, and assorted projects on his own Cult Member Music imprint and was featured on "Dope Skill" from DOOM's Venomous Villain (VV:2) released as Viktor Vaughn and contributed production work to Nogatco Rd. (2006) Kool Keith's first album under his Mr. Nogatco alter-ego.

Carl Kavorkian played a show just this past Saturday, May 6th (under his MANIK|NETER alias) that was quite fittingly dubbed The Punk Rap Show and billed as "Strangers with nothing in common, except each other" along with Supine, E. Grizzly—who designed the extremely sick zombified Breakfast Club show flyer pictured above, Dreadpool Parker, The Sh*t Hawks, Buddy Leezle, and Sikes & The New Violence. The Punk Rap Show: NJ/Pittsburgh/Philly Edition was initially scheduled to be held at The Fire on W. Girard Ave. then, moved to Safety Meeting on Willows Ave. briefly moved to Philly Kid Grafix (PKG) on Girard, and then, at the final hour, roughly around 6:00pm Saturday, moved back to Safety Meeting. Now, while I have yet to see Carl Kavorkian's MANIK|NETER show in a live setting, I would assume it's just as "loud, abrasive, and mental" as the material housed within his premier Mannequin Eater EP... which I would compare, if pressed, to Death Grips' Exmilitary and NO LOVE DEEP WEB, STATIC BROTHERS' OBSTETRIC TRASH EP, Occult Hip-Hop emcee Mahatma Crowley, Doc Savior & Heavy Rev, and even Ice-T's newly re-invigorated Hip-Hop-infused Heavy Metal band, Body Count. Carl Kavorkian recently described his Mannequin Eater EP as "an exploration in minimalism, beats, basslines, and raw thoughts" and deals primarily with mature themes such as "aging, taking things for granted, and getting by on a tight budget." MANIK|NETER's Mannequin Eater EP is currently available for streaming and download from Carl Kavorkian's Bandcamp page on a Name-Your-Price basis; 30 limited edition cassettes and MANIK|NETER pin sets are currently available for pre-order, as well and should be expected to ship by or around 5/22. Kavorkian eerily attests that his inaugural "Mannequin Eater [EP] is a short, but sweet introduction of what is to come."

Saturday, May 6, 2017

DJ Cummerbund Pens Yet Another Chapter In The Ever-evolving Saga of Rhonda Garbonzo: Flo Rida, T-Pain & Motörhead-assisted "Boots (with The Fur)"

Here, ladies and germs, we have the next audio/visual chapter in the ever-evolving saga of Rhonda Garbanzo: Flo Rida, T-Pain & Motörhead-borrowing "Boots (with The Fur.)" Lest we forget, the last time we heard from our beloved strong female protagonist was within DJ Cummerbund's Foo Fighters-approved "Freaktender;" an expertly-executed mash-up artfully blending Foo Fighters' "The Pretender," Rick James' 1981 Disco-Funk smash hit "Super Freak," The Beach Boys' "Help Me, Rhonda," and Led Zeppelin, for good measure. Since "Freaktender" and prior to the infectious Urban R&B and Heavy Metal-blending concoction that is "Boots (with The Fur,)" DJ Cummerbund has unleashed Evanescence & Celine Dion-juxtaposing "Bring Me My Heart," Nickelback, Sixpence None The Richer, Ying Yang Twins, Dragonforce, and Lil Jon-featuring "FreckleFeet" (the sequel to "PantsFeet,") Blind Melon and Twisted Sister-assisted "No Take It," and Rihanna, Gorillaz, and Metallica-mashing "That Which I Desire."

While I've been admittedly dragging my feet a bit for the past 2-3 weeks since "Boots (with The Fur,)" the ever-prolific DJ Cummerbund has somehow released not one... not two... not three, but four newly-minted mash-up chapters to Rhonda Garbanzo's story: "The Sound of Smash Mouth" (Karaoke Version 노래방 버전,) "Came In Through The Window," "Imagine There's No Yoo-Hoo," and Shia LaBeouf-starring "Thick Skin," uploaded just a few mere hours ago. Did anyone follow absolutely ANY of that? Regardless, or not withstanding, I'll let DJ Cummerbund himself take it from here; below, is an emailed statement on "Boots (with The Fur,)" which I received from Mr. Cummerbund's manager and "handler" J. Gary Gildersleeve. I've been told by Gildersleeve that DJ Cummerbund is currently hard at work on an EP's-worth of original material, which he was only able to describe as, "interesting... so far!" So, do yourself a favor this weekend and peruse through the fun-loving audio/visual saga of Rhonda Garbanzo and don't forget to subscribe to DJ Cummerbund's YouTube channel. You surely won't regret it!

"Hello again, Matthew. I just released a new mash-up, which is another chapter in the long saga of Rhonda Garbanzo and serves the purpose of emphasizing her penchant for a sinful lifestyle and desire to be the center of attention. I chose Motörhead's "Ace of Spades" and Flo Rida's "Low" because they are both in Eb minor and as you know, Eb minor has 6 flats... 6x111 = 666... The Number of The Beast! Fans will also recall Beethoven's use of Eb minor to the introduction in the last movement of his "Septet Op. 20," which I heavily borrowed from for this particular work. I also included footage of the band Motörhead as LEGO's because I like LEGO's. Speaking of fans... I just have to say, after a string of unfortunate incidents, I would like to request privacy when I'm out in public with my family. The other day, I was having brunch in the village when two children... they had to be about 10-years-old... just walked right up to my table and started blathering on about how much they love my work and how I'm their hero, etc. I immediately jumped up and started screaming at them to leave me alone and they start making a scene by weeping loudly. This COMPLETELY ruined my very nice, quiet meal and I am just SICK of these things happening all of the time. PLEASE leave me alone when I am having brunch. Twaddle!"

- DJ Cummerbund (by way of J. Gary Gildersleeve)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Damn Jackals Release Myspace-premiered "Freezing Blues" & Punk/Glam Rock-inspired That's It EP Ahead of Crooked Castle, Vol. I-II Full-length (self-released)

Damn Jackals frontman and guitarist Beau Croxton explained that Myspace-premiered "Freezing Blues" is about "the type of cold, loneliness that reduces the heart to burning carnage and leaves the subject so crippled with emptiness and anger that he is rendered utterly unrecognizable." Croxton formed Punk/Glam Rock-inspired Damn Jackals along with friend and producer Mike Goehler over the summer of 2014 and before long, the two aspiring musicians converted his upstate New York home into a no-frills DIY recording studio soon dubbed "The Crooked Castle;" by 2015, Beau Croxton & Mike Goehler had already recruited guitarist Willie Mosto, keyboard and guitar player Paul Truitt, bassist Forrest Hackenbrock, and drummer James Esposito—effectively transforming the 2-piece collaboration into a fully-formed 5-piece band, plus an in-house producer, based out of Brooklyn. Damn Jackals additionally includes a 3-piece horn section made up of touring trumpet player Carter Yasutake (David Byrne & St. Vincent, Charles Bradley), trombonist Jason Disu (David Byrne & St. Vincent, LCD Soundsystem), and sax player Noah Dreiblatt (Blitz The Ambassador.) Damn Jackals and their three hornsmen wrote and recorded their just-released debut, That's It EP at Croxton's home-studio, as well as their appropriately-titled forthcoming double-LP, Crooked Castle (Vol. I & II.)

Damn Jackals readily list their greatest sources of inspiration and influence as "early 70's Bowie/T. Rex Glam Rock and Classic Punk styles of Johnny Thunders, Iggy & The Stooges, and Television, punctuated by distorted, wailing synth, guitar lines, and Croxton's fuzzed out vocals," as well as Captain Beefheart, coffee, Patti Smith, leather, The Dead Weather frontwoman Alison Mosshart, New York City, and "Cars" hit-maker Gary Numan. Upon my first listen to "Freezing Blues" and Tell All Your Friends PR-sent That's It EP, I was almost instantly reminded of the stylings of This Is It and Room On Fire-era The Strokes, The Black Keys, Foo Fighters, recently re-formed Jet, and The Witzard mainstays Peanut Butter Lovesicle. Damn Jackals' 5-track That's It EP is currently available to purchase from Apple Music, Soundcloud, Spotify, and similar-minded digital streaming platforms with full-length Crooked Castle (Vol. I & II) coming soon after. Damn Jackals have two upcoming shows scheduled: an Indie Shuffle-presented gig at Brooklyn's Our Wicked Lady on 7/15 and a gig with Crushed Out at New York venue Mercury Lounge on 7/28 and assure that there will be a "handful of Manhattan and Brooklyn shows in support of their release."

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Baltimore Rapper-producer Drew Scott Discusses Latest "Sci-Fi Concept Album" ILL VESSEL, BLACKSAGE & Owen Ross Super-group, Working with Future Islands Emcee Hemlock Ernst, Beastie Boys' Influence & More (The Witzard Interview)

I recently heard about rapper-producer Drew Scott after fellow Baltimore beat-maker John "Jumbled" Bachman shared his latest single from then-unreleased ILL VESSEL, Hemlock Ernst, Eze Jackson & 83cutlass-featuring "Porcelain." I immediately reached out to Drew Scott, simply on the strength of "Porcelain," and we quickly began emailing back and forth. Before too long, he sent me a pre-release copy of said album, ILL VESSEL along with this fitting, extremely descriptive statement: "So, it's kind of a solo album/collaborative project I've been working on for about three years in-between the last BLACKSAGE album and Luvadocious with Al Rogers, Jr. Predominantly Baltimore artists, aside from PT Burnem (Richmond, VA,) Mike East (Rhode Island,) and Jaws That Bite (Detroit.) I did almost all of the beats, aside from contributions from Berlin-based producer Owen Ross, the Jumbled-produced track, the Mike East-produced track, and collaborating with Jaws. It's my first solo release since 2014. Mostly, I'm rapping, but there are some sing-ier tracks as well. It kind of started as a Sci-Fi concept album about a dystopian future, but overall it deals with depression and being bi-polar, some political themes, as well, and technology and its influence. "Suicidal Android" with JPEGMAFIA and Pale Spring is kind of written from an android's perspective, coming to terms with consciousness and realizing they're/I'm a tool of Capitalism; existing to serve humans and study their algorithms. "My Vessel" is kind of a misanthropic observation on mankind's obsession with wanting to leave the planet." ILL VESSEL is now available for unlimited streaming and purchase from Drew Scott's personal Bandcamp page, along with his Warmest Regards EP recorded with BLACKSAGE bandmate Josephine Olivia and Berlin-based producer Owen Ross. I recently emailed Drew two batches-worth of thought-provoking questions concerning ILL VESSEL, new material from BLACKSAGE and Luvadocious, Warmest Regards' "secret side EP," his sources of inspiration and influence, and his recent batch of remixes for Height Keech and Wildhoney. Feel free to sit back, relax, put on a copy of ILL VESSEL, and delve deep into my conversation with Drew Scott.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Beastie Boys Fan Club President

I. How did you come up with the idea behind ILL VESSEL, "a Sci-Fi concept album about a dystonian future [that] deals with depression and being bi-polar," as well as themes of a political nature, technology and its influence, mankind's obsession with space travel, etc?

Originally, I was just loosely making these concept songs probably because I was reading more stuff in that vein. These dystopian themes weirdly became more and more of a reality in the last three years since I started it. I let some of the features dictate what the subject matter would be, but my solo work has always been my best form of therapy; isolation is a big theme throughout as is wanting to leave the planet, whether it's in a vessel or suicidal ideation, it's kind of the same thing.

II. How did ILL VESSEL morph, over the course of its 3-year creation, from a solo Drew Scott album to the quasi-collaborative album you're now preparing to release?

Well, I knew I wasn't that interested in making a "solo record," that idea felt really boring. Especially after working on Luvadocious with Al Rogers and in Baltimore you're surrounded by these insanely talented people who are multi-disciplined. Everyone is collaborative in nature, so it just comes up in conversation like, "so, what are you working on...?"

III. ILL VESSEL's credits feature names like Anna Notte (Pale Spring,) Jumbled, Jaws That Bite, Berlin-based producer Owen Ross, Height Keech, :3ION, Mike East, Toyomansi, JPEGMAFIA, and Future Islands frontman/emcee Sam "Hemlock Ernst" Herring. How did you go about recruiting and then, painstakingly placing all of these talented continent-spanning collaborators?

It surprisingly, wasn't that painstaking. It's a close-knit music community here; it's just a matter of being a mix of really persistent with people and really patient with people because everyone is busting their a**es with music. Having a good elevator pitch, via email definitely helps.

IV. What was it like working with the ever-illusive Sam "Hemlock Ernst" Herring on ILL VESSEL's "Porcelain" and "Dear Cupid?" Also, do you happen to have any type of leads on his long-rumored Hip-Hop project?

Sam is a pro. He sent me back the "Porcelain" verse within days and he laid down "Dead Cupid" at my house in a couple takes. It was his idea to have a woman emcee kind of answer his verse, so naturally, my girlfriend Anna Notte was a perfect fit. I don't know what he has planned as far as Hemlock Ernst material, but I've heard lots of unreleased stuff and it's really, really dope.

V. Aside from Jumbled-produced "My Vessel," Jaws The Bite-co-produced "Interlude," and Mike East-produced "Save Your Aim," you produced the entirety of ILL VESSEL yourself, correct? Would you mind running us through your typical beat-making process for, let's say... Hemlock Ernst, Eze Jackson & 83cutlass-featuring "Porcelain?"

The process for each song is different, but I like to tinker with things for as long as I can. "Porcelain" might be the oldest beat on the whole tape, but I just chopped up "Double Dare" by Bauhaus. I wanted to make something Industrial and noisy, with a Boom-Bap vibe and initially sent it to 83cutlass. He was the first to lay his verse down and he actually helped with the drums a bit, also. Then, I laid my part down and then Sam [Hemlock] destroyed it. Eze was the final nail in the coffin and I kinda re-worked the beat around everyone.

VI. How have the Beastie Boys influenced your musical output over the years? I noticed a clever "don't you tell me to smile... if you stick around, I'll make it worth your while" interpolation from "Intergalactic" on Jumbled-produced "My Vessel" from ILL VESSEL. What's your favorite Beasties album?

My favorite album changes depending on my mood... but I'll say Hello Nasty, since I have the sardine can tattoo'ed on me. As far as influence, their production alone was always so experimental album-to-album. I remember hearing their first three records very young because of my parents and my uncles and was always captivated; sonically, they've been so satisfying and always hit me with a curve ball. I think that alone has been their biggest influence on me, to always keep the listener guessing.

VII. How do you personally think your overall sound and approach to music-making has grown and evolved since your last solo album, 2014's The Drewcifer Tape?

My approach is always the same, but I think with Drewcifer Tape, I was in a much darker place. This album [ILL VESSEL,] feels a bit more relaxed overall and I just really took my time to write and bounce off all the different personalities and features. I wasn't trying to make a strictly "Rap album" either, so there's more singing and experimenting with the vocals. My girlfriend (Pale Spring aka Anna Notte) was heavily involved in the whole process from beat-making to song-writing down to the design.

VIII. Who would you likely list as some of your greatest sources of influence and inspiration during the creation of ILL VESSEL? Aside from the work of a few of some of your Baltimore contemporaries, I can honestly say it's unlike anything I've ever heard before!

As far as inspiration, it's pretty broad and definitely not limited to music. I'd have to say stuff I,m always listening to like OutKast, Beastie Boys, NIN, and El-P. Also, a lot of the darker modern Rap albums were really exciting like Vince Staples, Earl Sweatshirt, and Future. Prince has always been a huge influence in my production, also. Much of it has been witnessing the local music scene flourish, bouncing ideas off fellow artists, that's been most inspiring. Everyone that worked on the album influenced it in their own way. I just filled in the spaces accordingly. As for the Height remix, he sent me an early link to the album and ["Amazing Spiral"] caught my attention right away, his flow was different from the rest of the album, plus the Mister feature was so sick. I wanted to make it kind of bleak and somber.`

IX. With ILL VESSEL now out into the ether of the world, what else are you currently working on or planning to start working on next? Any new material from BLACKSAGE, Luvadocious with Al Rogers, Jr. or any other as-yet-unannounced projects?

I'm always working on stuff, whether it's BLACKSAGE or just random beats. I have left-over songs from this era of material, as well that will eventually come out. Al and I definitely talk about doing another Luvadocious album, but I know he's close to finishing his solo EP, I have some production on there, as well. But recently I've been recording stuff for 83cutlass and his new album and I'm doing some production for another Pale Spring EP, as well.

X. While I've previously seen your 2015 #DrewSCottRemixes comp. on Soundcloud, I've noticed you've recently gotten back into the remix game; re-working Wildhoney's "TL Reprise" and an as-yet-unspecified track from Height Keech's MIND MOVES THE MOUNTAIN. How did these collaborations come about and how does your approach to a remix differ from your own productions?

Doing remixes is probably my favorite thing to do because it's a challenge to fit my sound into different genres. I wouldn't normally get to work with say a Post-Punk band like Wildhoney. I've been friends with members of that band for years now and that's actually the second track I've remixed by them, so it was pretty organic. My production work in Pop and Electronic music (with BLACKSAGE) has definitely opened doors to new audiences and relationships, in that regard.

XI. What can you tell me about your just-released "secret side EP" with Josephine Olivia (BLACKSAGE) and Berlin-based ILL VESSEL collaborator Owen Ross as Warmest Regards? How did your self-titled cross-continental EP come to be and can we expect a Warmest Regards full-length any time soon?

We met Owen years ago doing a Rap show with Eze Jackson when I was in this duo called Something compleX, he did this one-man Electronic/guitar thing and I was instantly inspired by his sounds. We've been in touch ever since. We've always shared music back and forth. He's like my go-to guy when I think a beat is missing something. He did some guitar on Luvadocious, as well. Warmest Regards was just a fun thing we stuck with—not sure what we have planned yet, but he recently moved to Berlin from NY and it hasn't changed our music collaboration one bit, so I wouldn't rule it out.

XII. I've luckily, been exposed to a handful of super-talented Baltimore-based artists, thanks to your peers Jumbled & Height, in recent months... but who might you be able to expose my readers and myself to that we may not have heard of yet?

Well, damn, I could really go on forever... but as far as Rap goes, [definitely] check out JPEGMAFIA, Bond St. District, Abdu Ali, and Butch Dawson, if you haven't yet. Joy Postell and Bobbi Rush, if you need some Soul. A few beat-makers I'm always vibing to are Urban Shaman and eu-IV... and this new Wae album [Glimmer] out on Friends Records I've been listening to weekly, also. That's a good start!