Friday, September 29, 2017

ialive & Cody Cody Jones Unleash Second Split In Support of Upcoming 10/3-7 Four to The Floor 2 Mini-tour (U DONT DESERVE THIS BEAUTIFUL ART/Surface Level Records)

Now, anyone even remotely familiar with The Witzard and what we do 'round these here parts, should almost instantly recognize the names "ialive" and "Cody Cody Jones" (formerly known as Stillborn Identity.) They're collectively affiliated with Philly/Baltimore-based Hip-Hop scenes and artists such as Height Keech, Carl Kavorkian AKA MANIKINETER, E. Grizzly & Felipe Pupo, Lt Headtrip, Johann Sebastian, Torito, JE DOUBLE F, BLKrKRT, all these fingers, Vinyl Cape, and probably most notably, Darko The Super (The Hell Hole Store) and John "Jumbled" Bachman. Friends, frequent touring buddies, and self-described "bike boy babes" ialive & Cody Cody Jones have now joined forces to form touring partnership Four to The Floor. ialive & Cody Cody Jones' touring partnership initially started this past summer with "a collection of songs compiled specifically for a 4-day jaunt with your best boys, Cody Cody Jones & ialive." Following the wide-spread success of Four to The Floor's inaugural July 2017 run, ialive & Cody Cody Jones have reconvened for Four to The Floor, Part II.

Not entirely unlike its predecessor, Four to The Floor 2 showcases eight tracks total with four each from both ialive & Cody Cody Jones or as they quite fittingly put it, "a new track featuring the other, a previously released track, an unreleased track, and an exclusive" to said release on each artists' respective side. Die-hard fans of The Witzard might recognize ialive's "A C U R A (back in my bag)" and Cody Cody Jones' Joey Smooth-produced "The Last Working Dinosaur," which have both graced these digi-pages in recent months. Cody Cody Jones & ialive's Four to The Floor Part II Tour will kick off this upcoming Tuesday 10/3 in Philly and make a few stops in Trenton (ialive solo set,) Brooklyn, Ithaca, and Ellicottville through Saturday 10/7. U DONT DESERVE THIS BEAUTIFUL ART & Surface Level Records have pressed up a limited edition of 25 Four to The Floor 2 cassettes, which will be sold exclusively at shows along the tour route, as well as a "digital tour tape" version to be sold on Bandcamp. ialive & Cody Cody Jones are both currently finishing up separate solo projects, while ialive and his Hell Hole Store partner-in-rhyme, Darko The Super recently issued Return to The Hell Hole Store on Already Dead Tapes & Records.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

4:44 Frontman Anthony "Free" Friedlander Talks Critically-acclaimed JAY-Z EP, 4-part parallelement & CARDINAL (The Witzard Interview)

"Anthony Friedlander, frontman of New Jersey-based Indie/Alternative/Prog-Rock band 4:44, gets it and really seized the day on July 9th when on a whim, around 3AM, he uploaded 4-track JAY-Z EP to their Bandcamp page. Friedlander and his 4:44 bandmates—bassist Greg, Mele Jr. and drummer Zach Gormley—readily admit that "THIS IS A SHAMELESS MARKETING TECHNIQUE," as JAY-Z's latest album was seemingly "named after" their band; just imagine a stylistic mix between alt-j, Indie Rock innovators Radiohead, and the frantic, frenzied vocal delivery of Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock," reads part of a 4:44-centric piece I published this past August. Since releasing their critically-acclaimed JAY-Z EP back in July, 4:44 frontman Anthony Friedlander (@anthokneefree) and I have, personally, had amany late night conversations about the future of the band, his solo music, and their wonderful—still largely unrecognized by The Needle Drop—"SHAMELESS MARKETING TECHNIQUE" of a re-packaged EP.

Let me just try to clarify that at the time of sending Anthony these questions, he had only released his ICE EP 1/4 on Bandcamp and now, all four parts of parallelement, AKA FOG (ICE + FIRE) & RGB (WIND + WATER,) which were, at one time, tentatively being referred to as disillusion (ICE), desire (FIRE), nature (WIND), and clarity (WATER.) Now, without further ado, I'm proud to present to you: The Witzard's concise, yet thorough, interview with 4:44 frontman and solo artist Anthony "Free" Friedlander; please, feel free to cue up a few jams from either 4:44's JAY-Z EP, CARDINAL, GREENWAVE, Child of God or @anthokneefree's FOG (FIRE + ICE) and RGB (WIND + WATER), collectively known as parallelement. Anthony Friedlander's 4-part magnum opus, parallelement, is now available to steam, download, or purchase on both Bandcamp & Apple Music and will soon become available from additional digital retailers, as well.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Non-Indie Rock Blog "Darling"

111. Your Anthony Free Bandcamp page banner seemingly alludes to Parts 2-4 of your parallelment series: FIRE (SUMMER,) WIND (FALL,) and WATER (SPRING.) What else can you potentially tell me about these EP's and when might they be unleashed to the masses?

Anthony "Free" Friedlander: These EP's deal with disillusion (ICE), desire (FIRE), nature (WIND), and clarity (WATER) [Editor's Note: now, effectively re-titled FOG (ICE + FIRE) and RGB (WIND + WATER)]. They can be looked at as seasons and elements. There’s definitely a lot going on during the EP's and the genres tend to fluctuate between super-abnormal and completely normal. This is all done on purpose. If the music or lyrical content makes you feel uncomfortable, but then, the hook is addicting or catchy, then, that is exactly how it's supposed to make you feel and how things usually feel in reality. I didn’t go into the project with this purpose in mind. I had no idea that some slightly humorous and twisted songs would have a place on this album, but they fit perfectly next to the more "socially acceptable" songs; I'm not saying the songs are dishonest because they are very honest. The twisted portrait that is sometimes painted is because it's what the song topic called for. I found a lot out about myself through closely observing situations, trials, and tribulations that people around me went through. As you know, the self-inevitably leaks into the art but, that's necessary to make any story work.

* PS: the names of the EP's could change, when the entire album is complete. I’m hoping to have them out by October because I have so much more music to record! *

222. I noticed you recently released a solo EP entitled ICE, which says it's 1/4. How do these four EP's fit together and what exactly sets these compositions apart from your material with 4:44?

Free: I play and mix all of the instruments on my solo albums; whereas with 4:44, the band plays and writes the songs. I have written six records-worth of songs (20 songs each) over the past two years, but they didn’t make sense for 4:44 to play them, as they were either too personal, too not personal, or [too] goofy. The band's music feels like its something bigger than me. The solo stuff is very much my story and other people's stories, as well. The band's music is Experimental, but I definitely want to be able to play most of it live and at our core, we are a "Rock band," so the live show is super-important. We want that music to explode and wake people up. The solo stuff is harder to pin down, when choosing production, since I do it all myself and the possibilities are endless (and I’m not a drummer or bass player.) Both the band and the solo music's aim is to transcend the flesh. If you don’t like the band, you might like the solo music and if you don’t like the solo music, you’ll probably like the band.

333. Your Bandcamp page says you single-handedly recorded "Everything" on your recent ICE EP including VOX, GUITAR, BASS, DRUMS, "FUNNY SOUNDS," RECORDING, MIXING, ETC. Which instrument(s) do you generally start out with when recording your solo material?

Free: That’s a great question because I am a huge (Sandy) Alex G fan, who plays and records all of his music himself. I’ve definitely searched up, if he records with drums or guitars first and it turns out that he usually starts with guitars. I started this album by doing the drums first and then, quantizing them, so they’re in perfect time (once again, I’m not a drummer.) The next album, I am definitely going to try doing guitar and bass first, before drums. I decided to record all of my music because I have so many songs written and they’re kind of just hanging out in my Voice Memos. For this album, I had the songs all pretty much written on piano/acoustic guitar, before recording. I believe that after I get this album out, I’m going to be releasing 5-song solo EP’s every month, so that after every four months, there will be a new record.

444. 4:44 recently made headlines when you surprise released a self-described "SHAMELESS MARKETING TECHNIQUE" of an EP entitled JAY-Z and sold on Bandcamp for $444. Are you guys genuine JAY-Z fans and what were your intentions with issuing this HOV-referencing EP?

Free: I released the EP as a complete bad joke at 3AM. I did not plan on anyone actually seeing it. I am a JAY-Z fan. The intention was definitely for somebody to accidentally stumble upon our music and listen to it.

555. JAY-Z EP actually consists of thinly-veiled songs pulled from 4:44's various studio albums: CARDINAL, GREENWAVE, and Child of God. What sort of new reactions have you received towards these albums, since unveiling JAY-Z EP?

Free: Since JAY-Z is a Hip-Hop artist, I put the song "Derf" [from GREENWAVE] on the EP because the beat definitely has a slight Hip-Hop influence. I noticed a few posts online, where people enjoyed that song a lot, which was really cool. A couple of people reached out to let us know the music moved them and that was surreal.

6*6. What might you and your fellow 4:44 bandmates cite as some of your greatest sources of inspiration and ifluence while recording your latest album, CARDINAL?

Free: I'm a CD junkie, so pin-pointing influences is impossible because I listen to so much music and so does the band. Sonically, we get our sound from simply being open to all genres. We’re always so excited to explore sounds and atmosphere that we don’t bother to get caught up in worrying about fitting into a niche. Zach [Gormley] and Greg [Mele, Jr.] are theory masters that are fearless, when it comes to their instruments. They play whatever the song calls for and they embellish it with their lifeblood. GREENWAVE is the first album that the band tried to write. Child of God was written during the writing of GREENWAVE. CARDINAL was written during the writing of GREENWAVE. Our next two unreleased albums were written during the writing of GREENWAVE. At first, I couldn’t believe how big of an album this was going to be. There were definitely songs that have been discarded, but a lot of this music, we couldn’t pass up on. I started noticing patterns, in the song topics and sonics. CARDINAL literally just appeared. It's the beginning of the "Year of Mercy" with the sign of the "Blood Red Moon." CARDINAL is Winter.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Shabazz Palaces Emcee Ishmael Butler & Oneohtrix Point Never Join Forces As 319 On Latest [adult swim] 2017 Singles Release "The Rapture" (Sub Pop/Warp Records)

"Oneohtrix Point Never (0PN) teams up with longtime inspiration and Spiritual Rap guru Ishmael Butler, The Palaceer of Shabazz Palaces/Digable Planets. Listen to new track "The Rapture," below," Warp Records wrote within a 26/09/2017-published press release. "0PN and Butler met and produced "The Rapture" on first meeting this Summer, creating the experiment of verses and spine-tingling dances of percussion. The track premieres as a unique addition to the [adult swim] singles club," it continued. "The Rapture" is actually credited to "319"—a newly-formed rapper-producer duo consisting of Ishamel "Butterfly" Butler AKA Palaceer Lazaro and Electronic producer Oneohtrix Point Never AKA Daniel Lopatin of Ford & Lopatin. It's been quite a busy year for both Butler and Lopatin with Shabazz Palaces releasing not one, but two full-length albums on the same July day, Quazarz: Born On a Gangster Star and Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines; 0PN composed the score for Joshua Safdie & Ben Safdie's critically-acclaimed Robert Pattinson-starring crime-drama Good Time, which already won the Soundtrack Award at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.

319 isn't exactly the first time either party has collaborated with largely unsuspected artists: in addition to Shabazz Palaces, Ishamel Butler is part of Funk-tastic super-group WOKE along with Flying Lotus, Thundercat, and George Clinton, as well as visual artist collective Black Constellation... while Oneothix Point Never collaborated with Iggy & The Stooges frontman and "The Godfather of Punk" Iggy Pop for his chilling Good Time Original Motion Picture Soundtrack closer "The Pure & The Damned." I reached out to Palaceer Laz via email on a whim Wednesday afternoon, inquiring about "The Rapture" and a potential 319 album, to which he said: he and Dan Lopatin "plan to complete an album. As you can imagine, finding the time to do it is the only obstacle." [adult swim]'s 2017 singles series will run through year's end and will still feature 31 more stream-only submissions from the likes of Brian Eno, Colin Stetson, D∆WN, Dinosaur Jr. Flying Lotus, Jonwayne, Julian Casablancas + The Voidz, Knxwledge, Low End Theory—AKA Daddy Kev, Nobody, The Gaslamp Killer & D-Styles—Migos, Moor Mother, Run The Jewels, Thundercat, Washed Out, and Your Old Droog, amongst other participating artists. While we await next week's mystery single, the 22 previously-released 2017 [adult swim] singles (excluding #14 DOOM feat. Jay Electronica) are all currently available to stream online.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

3 Feet High & Rising: New York-based Modern Jazz Quintet Cowboys & Frenchmen Ready Ryan Truesdell-produced Sophomore Album Bluer Than You Think (Outside-In-Music)

Cowboys & Frenchmen (C&F) are a wonderfully named, New York-based Modern Jazz quintet that describes itself as an act who "produces music that is expressive and fiercely creative, taking co-improvisation to new heights," as their Facebook About section fitting describes. I'll be the first to readily admit, I'm not the most well-versed on Jazz's formative late greats, but I've always enjoyed a Jazz-minded Hip-Hop sample and the Neo-Jazz stylings of Flying Lotus and his BRAINFEEDER crew, BADBADNOTGOOD AKA BBNG, Wu-Tang Clan-indebted El Michels Affair, Polish Jazz septet EABS, and even "The Greatest Band In Late Night," Philly's own The Roots. I received a cold-sent email late last week from Massachusetts-based PR company Braithwaite & Katz Communications highlighting the title track from Cowboys & Frenchmen's innovative, alto sax-led sophomore album, Bluer Than You Think—to be released on Outside-In-Music this upcoming Friday, October 13th.

Raul de Gama at Jazz Global Media describes C&F's forthcoming body of work as, they're "masters of mood and atmosphere, with the ability to coordinate colour and structure to a rare degree. Bluer Than You Think consistently reveals their exceptional versatility and resourcefulness..." Now, to my fairly untrained Jazz ear, Cowboys & Frenchmen's "Blue Than You Think" evokes sonic vibes of both Herbie Hancock & The Headhunters' 1973 Jazz-Fusion masterpiece Head Hunters and The Vincent Guaraldi Trio's work scoring countless 1950-70's Peanuts films and shorts forever immortalized on cable TV. Cowboys & Frenchmen consists of saxophonists/composers Owen Broder & Ethan Helm, pianist Chris Ziemba, bass player Ethan O'Reilly, and drummer Matt Honor; Bluer Than You Think was recorded along with GRAMMY Award-winning producer Ryan Truesdell. Cowboys & Frenchmen have an 8-date Album Release Tour 2017 booked to align with Bluer Than You Think's release, running from October 17-27th and including stops in Baltimore, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and a few in-between. Bluer Than You Think is out everywhere "good records" are sold 10/13 on Outside-In-Music.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Avant-Hip-Hop Emcee BRZOWSKI Unveils Dark, Twisted 80HRTZ, C$ Burns & Chryso-produced Album ENMITYVILLE (The Witzard Interview)

"BRZOWSKI is a touring Post-Rap artist hailing from the icy wastes of New England. This road-worn vocalist has been regarded as a standard-bearer for Avant-Hip-Hop since his first release in 2001. Always prescient, often verbose, never for the faint-of-heart," reads BRZOWSKI ("BRZO" for short)'s Bandcamp Bio. He's done over 1,000 live performances, released three critically-acclaimed albums, four mixtapes, five EP's, and two 7-inch singles, as well countless featured appearances with a who's-who of seasoned Indie Hip-Hop vets. BRZOWSKI has been steadily touring with a wide array of projects since 1993 and has logged road hours in support of Atmosphere, Astronautalis, billy woods, Brother Ali, Busdriver, Cage, Ceschi, Doug E. Fresh, El-P, The Gaslamp Killer, MURS, Open Mike Eagle, Sage Francis, solo, and Uncommon Nasa. BRZO initially emailed me back in July, praising my recent published works with Height Keech, E. Grizzly, and Lt Headtrip, with a pre-release copy of his then-upcoming new album, ENMITYVILLE—his first 100% tried and true "solo" album since 2012. ENMITYVILLE showcases production work from 80HRTZ, C $ Burns, Chryso, and BRZOWSKI himself and overall, sounds like an imagined dark, twisted multi-layered collaboration between Beastie Boys and Nine Inch Nails with skeletal song-writing from Johnny Cash. BRZOWSKI's ENMITYVILLE was unleashed into the terribly unsuspecting masses a couple weeks ago, Friday, September 8th; he and I recently conducted a brief, yet extremely thorough interview via email. It's presented in full, unedited form down below the break and BRZOWSKI's ENMITYVILLE is now available wherever fine Underground Hip-Hop records are sold.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Hip-Hop Purveyor & Taste-maker

I. What were the writing, recording, production, etc. processes like for your latest solo album, ENMITYVILLE? To what extent, if any, were your fellow Vinyl Cape group members and affiliates involved?

I'm your garden-variety beat hoarder. Over the past three years, when I'd heard a beat from C $ Burns or 80HRTZ, I would ask for the stems or sit down with Burns to do a little re-arrangement and then, sit on it until the proper inspiration or theme strikes me. I'll usually write a song all in one day, edit it a few days later, and then, record it with a few other tunes several weeks after that. The song then goes into one of three piles: the "BRZOWSKI" solo-project pile, the "Vinyl Cape" pile, or the "collaborations/compilation songs/singles/mixtape pile." For this album, C $ Burns produced three tracks, but did post-production, plus mixing and mastering on every g**damn song. I don't trust anyone else to touch my "finished" art, these days. He and I have an artistic and philosophical connection and we trust each other unquestioningly. We've made over 100 songs together, at this point. Adding effects and layers, EQ'ing sounds with precision, all the hair-splitting. The mixing and mastering process alone was eight weeks of us sitting in a room saying: "let's turn that snare down 0.2 decibels (dB)... down another 0.2dB... no, def up 0.3dB"—we take this sort of detail dead-serious.

Mo Niklz dedicated some great scratching to "Leave It All Behind," which is one of the most psychologically hefty tracks on the album. I've toured with Mo about five times and he is one of the most lovable humans I know. His skills as a DJ are precise—I get his files for a track and they barely need a nudge. That's the sign of someone who takes pride in their craft. His work on the [Vinyl Cape] album was immaculate and I'll be harassing him for more "zigga-zigga" in the future. In addition to the OG Mo, my good comrade Jane Boxall (an amazing drummer and full-patch VC member) joined us for our brief run on Northeast release parties. Jane is an accomplished drummer and percussionist (she tours the Western-world playing solo marimba) and I'm so glad she could join us on these gigs on the drumkit. She's one of my favorite humans I've ever toured with. Positive, unflappable, and inspirational. She's taught me UK slang and calls me on my (minor) sh*t, when nobody else would find it necessary. We're doing some Vermont gigs together this Fall. She's all over the Vinyl Cape album and I'm stoked to work with her in the future. Vinyl Cape is a coven of some of my favorite humans.

II. How do you generally craft your beats. BRZOWSKI? Do you prefer to use samples or live instrumentation, interpolation, etc?

I, personally, prefer starting with a striking or moody sample and then, build synthetic drums and keys around it, topped off with guitar and bass guitar played live. I prefer to have at least two organic elements played live in a song to be sure the human hand is in there somewhere toward the end of the process. No matter how precise or sanitary the buffing of the beat may end up being. Vocals would be recorded next. Scratches and other folks playing instruments would be the last piece added. And then, I call up C $ Burns and we boil it.

III. Do you have any current plans to make any music videos, 7-inch singles, or anything else of that nature to accompany ENMITYVILLE during its release roll-out?

Yes, I have two videos in the can presently; one directed by Jake Ripley, the other by Jason Knightly of Lucky Hand Studio—both hyper-talented Mainers. Both videos have lo-fi affectations by design. The video with Jake is for "Contemporary Cynic" and it's a humorous interpretation of an exceedingly bleak indictment of contemporary life. "Leave It All Behind" is... well... it paints a direct picture in relation to the song. I don't want to say much more than that just yet. Both videos roll out this Fall and perhaps a third video solidifying come this Winter. Spot shows this Fall in ME, KS, TX, VT, and RI with a proper touring cycle of several US regions and Western Europe in 2018. Milled Pavement Records does not plan to do a vinyl or cassette version, but I'm certainly open to a limited-run, if approached by another label, whom I dig.

IV. What would you likely cite as some of your greatest sources of inspiration and influence while writing and recording ENMITYVILLE?

I had a long string of dead-end-type employment situations, where I felt totally trapped in a hand-to-mouth world and once I had clawed ever-so-slightly out of that existence, I wanted to distill those feelings of isolation and powerlessness, juxtaposed against a backdrop of the current sociopolitical climate here and abroad. I had a lot of space in my life back then because so many activities that happened outside of my apartment/studio were not responsibly accessible. So, I read voraciously on art history, geo-politics, Marxism, and more... and the influence certainly, reared it's head here. The parallel topic discussed throughout is the devaluation of art. Art still has a transformative power, but it seems to have been superseded by easily digestible kitsch at every turn. Hip-Hop (Indie and otherwise) in particular tends to come off as some obscene parody of a once-rich counter-culture, now steeped in spectacle. I wanted to challenge that disturbing development at every turn-lyrics, beats, artwork, etc.

V. How would you say your overall rhyming style and sound has grown and progressed since your last proper full-length, 2011's A Fitful Sleep?

It's been a glacial, interesting evolution over the past five years. Between solo outings, I did a 7-inch, mixtape, and album with Vinyl Cape—which was primarily, very arrhythmic and non-rhyming flows to the backdrop of Doomy/Sub-Jazzy-Experimental Metal—a Noise-laden/Industrial EP with Fake Four's DJ Halo, 40-odd features, which were primarily "bars" for other people's projects, and a full-blown unapologetic Rap-Metal-Dub-circa-'99 record with the French homies, D-FAZ. Between that and 15 or so tours across the same time-span, I arrived at a well-seasoned place when writing rhymes for this new record, when at last, that was the primary task at hand. I wanted to slow down the delivery and lessen the syllable-cramming. I love rapping fast, triplets, and lyrical-torrent style spitting. I love "choppers" from California, "chewers" from the UK, and the "Cambridge-sound" coming out of the Abstract Rap cats in the Boston Metro area, circa 1998-2004 (Komadose, Logic Based, Lost Channel, etc.) but I wanted to SLOW DOWN. I wanted people to actually hear and understand the lyrics that I had written, edited, re-written, and then, spit, whilst the "Record" button was pushed. I feel like I have some weighty material to be unpacked, via this album and I did not want to risk being misquoted or misunderstood. This is primarily, the same reasoning behind the fact that this album features zilch Rap features; it had been so long since I spoke solely for myself via record, that it would have been disingenuous to have a grip of guests on the album. Next time I venture out into the public sphere under my own pyrrhic flag, a grip of my friends will be with me... but it just did not seem appropriate, this spin around.

VI. How did you come to get involved with "Gingerbread Hag" from Uncommon Nasa's latest album, Written at Night? Now, are you able to divulge any particular information about its recently-filmed music video accompaniment?

Uncommon Nasa and I have been good friends since around 2012 or so... my memory is not precise here, as we've done so much work together, in the meantime. Mo Niklz and I rolled with Nasa on his very first tour and now, he's a road animal. The bug bit him hard and I love watching that enthusiasm grow. I think he and I have toured together two or three times since. Nasa and I have about four collaborative songs in the can for a future project—no hard timeline there, it's ready when it feels complete and our solo schedules align... we're BOTH control freaks and we respect that about each other—and Nasa thought it would be an effective way to introduce our musical pairing on his primarily collaborative album. He sent me a left-field concept and an Avant-garde beat, C $ Burns got on the guitar, and we made a strange little beast of a Literary Rap song. The ["Gingerbread Hag"] video was shot in Portland, ME a few weeks ago, directed by Duncecap of The Karma Kids NYC... it's rather involved, as we are drawing visual influence and flow from the [Grimms' Fairy] Tale, as well as our lyrical bent concerning it. I haven't seen the roughs yet, but I expect it will be out late October. I've been impressed by the preliminary shots I've seen.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Carl Kavorkian Unleashes Brooding MANIKINETER Single "Cocoon" from Upcoming Mannequin Eater EP Follow-up EP2/TBA (Cult Member Music)

Carl Kavorkian makes some of the most ferocious, experimental Noise-Rap music I've ever heard and (not) surprisingly, he's one of the nicest, most hospitable people I've ever met working in "the music industry." Case in point: my buddy Omarey and I went into South Philly one Friday night back in June for The Sh*thawks, Felipe Pupo, MANIK|NETER, Planet 88, and King Ani Mal's show at The Pharmacy. We grabbed a pizza back in Jersey and were pretty much on time for the show, although, Felipe Pupo frontman and show organizer Erik "E." Grizzly was messaging me on the way in; Erik mentioned he thought the set times were running a bit earlier than expected and Carl Kavorkian's MANIK|NETER was likely going on early. Now, while I was excited for all five bands on the bill, I was most excited to see MANIK|NETER and was looking forward to seeing his infamous executioner's mask-covered set! Once Omarey and I got into South Philly, we soon found parking near the venue and started walking to The Pharmacy. After an unexpected 10-block detour, we ended up at the venue a little later than expected and needless to say, we unfortunately missed Carl Kavorkian's opening MANIK|NETER set and made it just in time for Felipe Pupo. Not only did we get to hang out with E. Grizzly and Carl—who graciously insisted on paying my $5 cover charge—we even bumped into Quinn AKA Riff Quantum from Darko The Super-affiliated THE STATIC BROTHERS.

MANIK|NETER's premier Mannequin Eater EP has been characteristically described by Carl Kavorkian himself with these four simple, yet incredibly fitting, words: "Loud. Abrasive. Mental. Music." I would describe MANIK|NETER's unique Noise-Rap style as the hypothetical missing linkage between Nine Inch Nails, Linkin Park, and Aggro-Rap group Death Grips. Kavorkian has described his latest side-project as being strongly influenced and inspired by like-minded Noise-makers Sleep Beggar, Noise Lock, STATIC BROTHERS, Moor Mother, and Death Grips. I think it would be fair to say Carl Kavorkian has always been a little more "left-field" and "Experimental," even dating as far back as his 2002 debut Earbleeders, which is even tagged on Bandcamp as "progressive hip-hop," "alternative hip-hop," and "noise rap." Carl Kavorkian has either cooked up music with or performed alongside the likes of DOOM, Kool Keith, Tame One, Pumpkinhead, PackFM, Masai Bey, Breez Evahflowin', and MC Paul Barman. In addition to his standard canon of albums, Carl Kavorkian has released volumes 1-3.14 of Uglyass Music containing remixes, left-overs, alternate cuts, etc. from throughout his discography. Just this past week, Kavorkian quietly unleashed the first single from MANIK|NETER's upcoming TBA AKA EP2; "Cocoon" is now available on Cult Member Music's Bandcamp page on a Name-Your-Price basis, as well as his previous Mannequin Eater EP. MANIK|NETER's next shows will be tomorrow night, Saturday Sept. 23rd at Lancaster AVenue Autonomous (LAVA) Space with Downtrodder, Spirits & Disappearances and October 28-29th at Century Bar for Noise-centric festival, Oktober Hexfest. Tickets are currently still available for both events.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

3 Feet High & Rising: LA-based Hip-Hop/R&B Collective no suits Speak On Debut VIRGIN EP (The Witzard Interview & Playlist)

"no suits started in kindergarten, when Max Pierro and Sajan Sanghvi met on the first day of class. Pierro told Sanghvi shortly into their friendship "when we grow up, we gotta be entrepreneurs and never wear a suit to work." That single statement grew into a philosophy and continued to spread to this day and hence, became the label of their music group they began in 2014. Pierro & Sanghvi forged ahead to release their first single, a remix of ODESZA's "Say My Name." Shortly after, they recruited drummer/bassist Ed Hill, who was taking college classes with Pierro and had a similar passion for early Hip-Hop and shared the no suits' philosophy. The trio went on to release a slew of hit singles, namely "Strawberry Wine" ft. Aubren Elaine & Matt Capone, "Escape Reality" ft. Aubren Elaine, and a remix of Major Lazer's "Be Together" ft. Wild Belle.

Proceeding to execute their vision to push the boundaries of modern Electronic sound and in anticipation for their Virgin EP in early 2017, the group then brought on guitarist, Reed Hallums, who also took classes with Ed and [Max] Pierro, bonded over Tame Impala, and shared the group's philosophy. Hallums had already made a guitar appearance on "Escape Realty" ft. Aubren Elaine. The band is now crafting a character, taking influence from the tones of Daft Punk, as well as inspiration from vintage heroes like, Jimi Hendrix. They like to classify themselves as "the new guys who like the old sh*t." no suits is about not being a cog in a machine, not making the same music everyone else does, and of course, not wearing suits. They will continue to spread this philosophy with their music and beyond," reads no suits' now-infamous okayplayer-coined "4 Virgins make an EP" press release.

I. Your press bio notes that "no suits started in kindergarten when Max Pierro and Sajan Sanghvi met on the first day of class" and soon vowed to "never wear a suit to work;" although, how did you two come to meet Ed Hill and Reed Hallums to form No Suits' current incarnation?

Max met Edward about a year into college and they started jamming together. Max, Edward, and Sajan all began making records together and Edward joined no suits. Reed made his first appearance on the track "Escape Reality" (ft. Aubren Elaine.) The four all started jamming regularly and Reed officially joined the group prior to the release of their Virgin EP.

II. What were some of your greatest sources of influence and inspiration while recording no suits' VIRGIN EP? I pick up notes of No I.D. & James Fauntleroy's Cocaine 80's, Chance The Rapper, Gorillaz, and even Jimi Hendrix/Band of Gypsys!

Chance The Rapper, Gorillaz [Damon Albarn]'s vocals, and Jimi Hendrix's guitar solos.

III. What were the typical writing and recording processes behind no suits' VIRGIN EP like... were any beats or ideas pre-recorded or was it mostly improvised and recorded live in-studio?

The answer really varies on the song; for "Man In Tie Dye," we had that one in-the-works for over a year. "Queens" came together quick after a session with our friends Danny Dwyer and Jackii. Usually, we lay down the foundation of the tracks pretty quick and the intricacies of each song really come together in the mixing process.

IV. How would you say no suits' sound has grown and progressed since your 2015-16 Soundcloud singles and latest VIRGIN EP?

We've definitely grown a more authentic sound since our original slew of Soundcloud singles. We are taking a lot more risks in the production process and utilizing our live instruments more. Virgin had a very pure sound and our next EP will be a lot more sophisticated and sexual, if you will.

V. Now, I know you guys have $5 VIRGIN EP CD's available upon request, but what's next for no suits? Any live dates, more EP's, a full-length planned, etc?

We are currently working on our next EP, which should be done later in 2017. Meanwhile, we are working on a bunch of [collaborations] with other artists and [actively working on our live performance.

no suits Playlist:

01. Steve Lacy - "Dark Red"
02. Abhi The Nomad - "Sex n' Drugs" (feat. Harrison Sands & Copper King)
03. D'Angelo & The Vanguard - "Really Love"
04. 4 Non Blondes - "What's Up"
05. Jungle - "Drops"
06. Unknown Mortal Orchestra - "Can't Keep Checking My Phone"

07. Jimi Hendrix - "Crosstown Traffic"
08. Portugal Man - "So Young"
09. Jean Tonique - "Lit Up" ft. Dirty Radio
10. Pink Floyd ...
11. Led Zeppelin ...
12. Bob Moses - "Before I Fall"
13. Travi$ Scott - "Goosebumps"

14. Kendrick Lamar - "YAH."
15. Cigarettes After Sex - "Sunsetz"
16. Daft Punk - "Something About Us"
17. Danny Dwyer - "wifey, girlfriend, and mistress"
18. Jackii ...
19. OutKast - "SpottieOttieDopaliscious"

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Sapwood & Bear Faces Frontman Jason Brown Unveils Hardcore-minded Ear Nail with Blistering Anti-Establishment "Head of State" (self-released)

It was Winter 2013 and "Thrift Shop" was still rapidly rising through the ranks of Billboard's Hot 100 chart. I'll never forget the first time I met Jason Brown, it was up in the Shop Rite break room and said, "what's up, Macklemore?" I don't think it was in a particularly nice way, but regardless, we still became friends. I worked as a baker and Jason was checker at the front-end registers and eventually, worked his way back to frozen foods department. I soon learned about Jason's rapping alter-ego, "Jason Brownies" and he, knowing I ran an online music publication, was constantly passing me CD-R mixtapes and hand-made cassette tapes of his musical musings. He eventually hung up his "2 turntables and a microphone" in exchange for fuzzed out Garage Rock guitars and lush Indie Rock-minded melodies and formed solo projects/bands Bear Faces and Sapwood, which both still appear to be active, in one form or another. Bear Faces recorded and released four EP's between 2015-2017 with their latest, Impulse Control, being released as recently as February 3, 2017.

Sapwood, on the other hand, feverishly recorded and self-released a staggering five full-length albums and two EP's—Does Anything Last? quietly released on September 10th—all recorded at Brown's home studio, The Shed. Sapwood's Bandcamp page additionally includes a string of pre-Sapwood releases simply attributed to "Jason Brown." Sometime in-between these various releases with a rotating cast of friends and players, Jason Brown unleashed a #RARE Shop Rite-only beat CD-R as "Hood Vermin," a short-lived DOOM/Viktor Vaughn-esque production alias and two mini-albums from his Experimental band, Todo Rosa. Now, it's a number of years later and I work for a local county government office and Jason stocks bread amidst the shelves of Shop Rite and other local vendors; we still stay in touch, frequently talk music, and go diggin' for records once in a while. Jason Brown formed his latest solo venture, Ear Nail, in light of recent events going down in Washington and unfortunately, across The Nation. Ear Nail draws stylistic influence and inspiration from Black Flag, The Misfits, Iggy & The Stooges, and Minor Threat/Fugazi, as well as predecessors Bear Faces and Sapwood, naturally. Ear Nail's roaring debut single, "Head of State," is currently available to stream on Bandcamp and an EP is currently in-the-works. I'll just let Jason Brownies take it from here...

"'Ear Nail" was some dumb joke from that 1,000 Ways to Die In The West movie. My dad said I should name my band that and I was [like] "holy sh*t, that actually would be cool!" I've been listening to nothing but Black Flag (Greg Ginn is an animal on guitar and he is my spirit animal) and The Stooges' Fun House album lately. Stuff like Sex Pistols and Dead Kennedys, too. I wrote some songs that are anti-Trump, anti-nazi, and anti-cop a while ago and thought that "Ear Nail" sounds like a Punk enough name to carry out that message; so, I finally recorded "Head of State" and it came out exactly the way I wanted it to. "Head of State" is about wanting Trump's head on a stake. I played and recorded all the instruments on my 4-track machine and had my friends do backing vocals. I'm working on some new songs [this week]. I'll probably make three or four more songs to add to that and call it the Head of State EP or something."

- Jason Brown (Ear Nail)

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Witzard Premier: Jack Topht's "Come On Nike" Lyric Video from We Can't Go Back Now: The Cold Rhymes Collection (EDITED BY COOL GUY BRY)

"recorded in like, 2008 by mr. ski-mask on 1-inch analog tape at the electric pumpkin patch studio on the east side of buffalo. lindsey did guitar, i did drums, and me and ski-mask did synths. i wrote the song before i had a band in 2000," Jack Topht AKA Jack Toft AKA Jack Topht with The Vegetables AKA Little Cake n Jack Toft AKA Lindsey & Jack Toft AKA TEENWOLF AND JACK TOFT wrote within a recent email exchange regarding "Come On Nike." His rather unique style has been self-described as "Kool Keith meets Crass" and has often been labelled Awesome Rap, Folk-Rap, Americana Grime, Grunge-Funk, Grunge Rap Punk/Ska, "kooky, riveting Rap, wild freak Anti-Folk Noise/Free Jazz" (Little Cake n Jack Toft,) and "part rapper, part performance artist, part comedian/motivational speaker." Jack Topht's largely genre-less style has been compared to the likes of Bob Dylan, Minutemen frontman D. Boon, Kool Keith, Le Tigre, Jonathan Richman, Das Racist, and Ween. I would personally liken Jack Topht's output to a somehow, even more lo-fi version of Pavement with a dash of Darko The Super.

"nypirg was calling nike headquarters in the lobby of [university at buffalo] and encouraging students to complain about their sweatshop labor practices. my comedian-mentor, velvet al, came up with the punchline that their sh*t should be cheaper, since they don't pay their workers much. i worked that into a song. eventually, i had a band i could do the song with—always a staple of lindsey and my band's from 2005-2010," Jack Topht continued. Now, friend and Jack Toft super-fan Height Keech has pain-stakingly assembled a comprehensive, 22-track collection entitled We Can't Go Back Now: The Cold Rhymes Collection, culling tracks from 20 albums and endless tour-only CD-R's released over the course of the last decade. We Can't Go Back Now: The Cold Rhymes Collection is now available for pre-order from Cold Rhymes Records/Awesome Rap ahead of its Monday, Sept. 25th release. Cold Rhymes' recently assembled videos for both "TADPOLE" and The Witzard-premiered "Come On Nike" were edited together by Cool Guy Bry AKA mister from Passalacqua.

"We Can't Go Back Now: The Cold Rhymes Collection is a retrospective of Jack Topht's immense catalog. I've been a fan of Jack's music since our respective tours crossed paths at a Charlottesville, VA house show in 2011. That night, he gave me copies of RAP DRUMS, Goofy Tunes, and Songs of Love, Spleen & Tenderness. His songs went all over the place. Some songs made me laugh ("Awkward Interactions at Yer Favorite Band's Show,") and some songs freaked me out ("Big Disappointment.") The common thread was that they all had a strange, poignant twist and he seemed relentless and fearless in taking that "strange twist to the highest peak." Despite his wild styles, he's been anything but a reclusive, outsider artist. He’s toured the country year after year with the tenacity of a Hardcore band. Unlike that Hardcore band, there's no Jack Topht genre or Jack Topht scene for him to safely navigate. I've seen him ruffle feathers at local Hip-Hop open mic nights and Punk shows around the country. I've also seen him convert suspicious strangers into rabid fans with one set. Jack has self-released 20 albums over the last decade; some solo and some with frequent collaborators Lindsey, Little Cake, and TEENWOLF. These are my favorite songs off all those albums re-mastered. I hope this little tape is just the beginning of people taking a second look at what Jack [Topht] does."

- Height Keech (Cold Rhymes Records)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Already Dead VII Comp. Features The Hell Hole Store's Beastie Boys Cover "Brass Flunky" & Day Tripper-produced Darko The Super Loosie "I'm Only In It for The Money" (No Sleep 'til Baltimore)

No Sleep 'til Baltimore was a tribute/benefit show held at The Ottobar in Baltimore back on Friday, July 7th. It was billed as a "benefit to help local musician adopt" with "local musician" being producer John Bachman (Jumbled) and his wife Rachel. Not only was No Sleep 'til Baltimore a fundraiser to help The Bachmans earn money for their adoption, it was dually billed as a tribute to the Beastie Boys' monumental Rick Rubin-produced 1986 Def Jam debut, Licensed to Ill. Berko Lover did a rendition of "Girls," GUY GRAMS performed a roaring rendition of "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)" MC Bravado & S.U. The Clique covered "No Sleep 'til Brooklyn," Drew Scott & Vans_Westly did "Hold It Now, Hit It" with a little help from Jumbled himself, The Hell Hole Store covered "Brass Monkey," and much, much more. By all accounts, No Sleep 'til Baltimore was a great success and now, nearly two months later, John & Rachel Bachman have welcomed a beautiful adopted baby girl into their lives. While it remains unknown if all of the participating artists recorded studio versions of their various Licensed to Ill tracks, The Hell Hole Store without a doubt recorded a 2017 version of their "Brass Monkey" cover, now re-titled "Brass Flunky." It appears within Already Dead Tapes & Records' recent 28-track Already Dead VII comp. alongside the likes of MGNTK. emcee UllNevaNo, Totally Boring, Hypocrite In a Hippy Crypt, About a Million, and The Grow Fangs. Already Dead VII additionally showcases a choice cut from Darko The Super entitled "I'm Only In it for The Money" produced by The Difference Machine emcee and "spiritual advisor" Day Tripper. Darko graciously provided detailed statements on "Brass Flunky" and The Mothers of Invention-referencing "I'm Only In It for The Money," which can both be read down below the break.

"Jumbled [John Bachman] from Baltimore invited me and ialive to perform at a Licensed to Ill tribute/benefit show to help him and his wife adopt, which we were super excited about. Then, we realized how hard it was to perform the song we chose, "Brass Monkey." Eventually, ialive found the sample they used and whipped up a Hell Hole version and we wrote and recorded our verses. Then, the next day, tried to perform them in Baltimore at The Ottobar. It didn't go to well, but it sure was a fun evening and now, just a few months later, Jumbled and his lovely wife are the proud parents of a beautiful baby girl. You can find this track on Already Dead Tapes' latest compilation."

"[Day Tripper] sent me this beat back in 2014, that's when I recorded the first verse. Much more recently this year, I found the song going through my hard drive and wrote the second verse and mixed and mastered everything again. I sent it to Josh [Tabbia] at Already Dead and it landed on their latest compilation. "I'm Only In for The Money" was an album idea I ditched; an obvious reference to The Mothers of Invention. I wanted to wear a dress on the cover [of We're Only In It for The Money] just like them, too, which inspired my video for "The Learning Channel.'"

- Darko The Super (The Hell Hole Store)

Mega Ran Discusses His Latest Retrospective Album EXTRA CREDIT & Breaks Down Selections from EXTRA CREDIT: The Inspiration Spotify Playlist (The Witzard Interview)

When we last spoke with Phoenix-based/Philly born and raised rapper, producer, wrestling super-fan, and former teacher Raheem Jarbo AKA Mega Ran, he was preparing to unleash his DJ DN3 & Fresh Kils-produced Biggie tribute, Notorious R.A.N: Ready to Live. Ran's since "[taken] on a rigorous touring schedule, [hosted] a wrestling podcast Mat Mania, and [made] high-profile appearances on WWE television" and "returns to release the introspective and enlightening album, EXTRA CREDIT." His latest collection, EXTRA CREDIT—which even I had absolutely NO IDEA about until about 2-3 weeks prior to its release—is effectively a "greatest hits" collection made up of equal parts new tracks, old tracks, and re-imagined versions. Anchored by a few RNDM left-overs, EXTRA CREDIT features production work from K-Murdock (mixing & mastering,) The Rockit Scientist, Charlie Mumbles, ECID, Kaito Kobayashi, RandomBeats & Middle East Modern, DIBIA$E, Wann Sklobi, Yon.Li, D.R.O. and DJ Big Serg; features from fellow emcees and singers Sammus, Ceschi, Jermiside, J-Live, Homeboy Sandman, SisQó, Tina Estes, RND1, and Thaahum feat. Mega Ran, Mr. Miranda & M.P.R.E.S.S; as well as remixes from Willie Green, Emrls, Fingaz, and Scottie Royal. EXTRA CREDIT is now available for streaming or downloading from Mega Ran Music's Bandcamp in either digital or "Limited Edition Singed EXTRA CREDIT CD" with artwork by Daniel Hill and hand-written inscriptions by Mega Ran himself. Please do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of EXTRA CREDIT, scroll down, and thoroughly enjoy The Witzard's latest interview with Mega Ran.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Crate-digger Extraordinaire

I. Would you mind going through and breaking down your EXTRA CREDIT tracklist a bit? From what I understand, it sounds like equal parts new tracks, re-recordings of old ones, and remixes.

Indeed it is—we created about 1/3 of it in 2015, while working on RNDM, an album that I was super-proud of. We had some left-over tracks that I didn't know what to do with so then, I sought out remixes and recorded new jams to round out what became EXTRA CREDIT.

II. How exactly did you go about deciding which tracks to effectively re-visit, re-imagine, re-work, remix, and include EXTRA CREDIT?

I asked the people who know; I polled the fans of RNDM, who bought the original album, back me on Patreon, and enjoyed the songs, which songs they'd like to see fleshed out or re-imagined and then, I asked producers to work on those songs. I had at least 4-5 remixes for each song, so the hard part was choosing the best one.

III. How did you manage to get SisQó (of "Thong Song" fame) to sing background vocals on "Church, Pt. 2?"

Amazing, super-long story: SisQó and I are both big-time video game fans. He found out about me on the Kinda Funny [Games] podcast and one day, I was at E3, a game expo in LA, and saw him being interviewed on the red carpet—when he noticed me, he yelled for me to come to him and we met for the first time in the middle of his interview. Startled, I didn't know what to say, but we exchanged information and talked about making music, when a year later, I was back in LA for E3, and my friend Chandra played him "Church," which was brand new, at the time, off her phone. He loved it and almost demanded to be on the remix. That weekend, we recorded "Church, Pt. 2." Nowadays, we play games online against each other more than we talk music, but he's a super down-to-earth cat.

IV. What can you potentially tell me about the creation of EXTRA CREDIT's ECID-produced quasi-"lead single," "Old Enough" with featured guests Sammus & Ceschi?

It came together super-fast. ECID is a great beat-maker and he had sent me three [beats] I really loved (the other two could surface on the next project.) The album was almost done and I'd started writing, after I read the quote "Old Enough to Know Better, Young Enough to Do It Anyway" on one of those silly quote memes and started writing a verse. I knew I wanted others on the song, but I didn't know how available they'd be. I reached out to Ceschi & Sammus and they both delivered stellar verses within a week, which is crazy. It was the last song recorded for EXTRA CREDIT.

V. I know you were a teacher prior to deciding to take up rapping a producing full-time and I noticed Harper Lee-referencing "Mockingbird" included within EXTRA CREDIT; how does your passion for literature and teaching still inform your rapping and production styles?

I love literature and I always try to include something from one of my favorite books into an album, either in title or entire concept. "Mockingbird" was written originally for a scholastic program, but they'd asked for specific changes to wording and scope, until it had become a totally new song and I wasn't fully comfortable with it. So, we decided to keep it as it were, and Jermiside is a consummate pro, who always brings it.

VI. How do you suggest fans approach EXTRA CREDIT and its previously-released counterparts... for example, should new-comers first, fully digest "Church" (2016) before listening to SisQó-aided revision "Church, Pt. 2" or vice versa?

I went back through some notes and I realized that "Church" was a 2017 release. It grew so quickly, becoming my second most popular Spotify single and more, but it's only six months old. To expand on that record the way I wanted to—to reflect on what the idea of "Church" is to someone without religion—I had to literally change the focus of the song halfway through from braggadocio to reflection. Because of changes like that, I would suggest EXTRA CREDIT, listening after RNDM then, our Patreon songs, for sure; then, everyone would know exactly where I stand and nothing should be too surprising. I'm super-proud of how it came together and I think anyone, who is a fan of Mega Ran will find several things they like on the album.

EXTRA CREDIT: The Inspiration (Spotify Playlist Selections)

Here's a few choice selections from as Mega Ran simply put it, "a Spotify playlist of songs I listened to while putting this album together." Ran hand-picked a few of his favorite selections from his EXTRA CREDIT: The Inspiration Spotify playlist and briefly outlined their connection to his latest retrospective album, EXTRA CREDIT.

De La Soul - "En Focus" (1993)

A slept-on album cut on De La's Buhloone Mindstate album, which was so over my 16-year-old head, at the time, and even now. I loved the beats, though and when Pos started his line off with "ichi, ni, san, shi," I searched high and low to translate it ["one, two, three, four"] and that was when I learned my first Japanese and THAT began my fascination with Japanese culture—not the cartoons and toys I'd loved. I used that and the bridge of this song to build "Eyes On Your Own Paper." I knew that J-Live was just as influenced by De La Soul as I was, so it was a perfect fit to top off a great song.

Gnarls Barkley - "Feng Shui" (2006)

"Forgive me, Father; I was forced out of Feng Shui." On a superb album, "Feng Shui" is so short and almost ends, before it can make an impact, but when Cee-Lo spits those words (shoot, this might actually be the last time Cee-Lo raps on a record, ha) it hit me. Using the metaphor of "Feng Shui" and extending it into social, emotional issues, even paralleling it with a dysfunctional relationship, helped me to flesh out the song that became "Form School of Feng Shui." I loved it a lot.

SisQó - "Incomplete" (1999)

This song didn't particularly inspire any one song, but when I did have a moment to build with SisQó, while working on "Church, Pt. 2," he said a lot of things... but what hit me hardest was when he mentioned that no matter how much everyone associates him with the mega-hit "Thong Song," the biggest song he created was actually "Incomplete," a classic R&B ballad. SisQó actually wrote, arranged, and completely conceptualized that song. That made me go back to it and study the words and the notes he hit within it, so that when we got in the lab to make "Church," I knew exactly what he was fully capable of and he truly took over in the studio and made that song POP. That's a session I'll never forget.

Daft Punk - "Something About Us" (2001)

I could have picked 20 different Daft Punk songs to make this playlist, but this one was definitely in mind, when I created "Pursuant Hearts." I feel like this song talked to younger me, who was out breaking hearts, playing games, and doing all kinds of foolishness. I've had this talk with women in the past about it not being the right time or situation, when in reality I'd just had my eyes on someone or something else. The relationship I wrote about in "Pursuant" was one in which the circumstances of how we'd met (a sheer coincidence) had us so convinced that we were meant to be that we both ignored the obvious signs that we were a mismatch.

Malibu Shark Attack - "Internal Organs" (2014)

Tribe One is a masterful lyricist and this song is probably my favorite of his. It's so great for so many reasons, but I love the fact that it juxtaposes probably the two strongest feelings a human can have: love and death. I lost a few people that were close to me during the creation of this album, my Uncle Jim, rapper and friend Thaahum, and Rustin [Luther], bass player for URIZEN, a band I'd toured with for many years. I'm probably not at my best, when conveying loss in songs, so I listen to tracks like this to keep me inspired to 1.) properly grieve and 2.) to maintain creativity and top-tier conceptual stuff, at the same time.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Behind The Beat, Vol. 2 Part 2: Homeboy Sandman & Aesop Rock Producer Ben Boogz of 2 Hungry Bros. Speaks On His "Pizza & Burgers" Beat from TRIPLE FAT LICE (Facebook DM Q&A)

Matt Horowitz: Let's do a little Nardwuar-type intro... who are you?!!!??!

Ben Boogz: Have you ever heard of my production duo, The 2 Hungry Bros? I'm Ben Boogz of The 2 Hungry Bros.

MH: Yessir, I have! I'm actually talking with Deep about another project for my site.

BB: From The Lower East Side (The L.E.S.) Manhattan NYC.

MH: You guys have worked with Homeboy Sandman since day one, right?

BB: Yes, that's correct. We have worked with Sand for some time.

MH: What was the first project 2 Hungry Bros. worked on with Sandman?

BB: He first was featured on our second compilation album called Table Manners (2008). Then, the first 2 tracks we did were the "iTunes Song" and the "2 Hungry Bros. Outro" on Actual Factual Pterodactyl (2008). Also, on The Good Sun (2010) we produced "The Essence " and "The Carpenter," the song that got him signed to Stones Throw.

MH: Really!? And that very track, "The Carpenter," is what helped get him signed to Stones Throw? Now, that's pretty cool!

BB: Yes! That's what I've been told. I heard [Peanut Butter] Wolf loves that song!

MH: Nice! How did you and Deep first meet Homeboy Sandman?

BB: At a show my bro, Fresh Daily was doing with him at this spot called Kenny's Castaways in The [West] Village back around 2003, I believe. There [were] a bunch a spots that heads used to do shows at that are gone now. From then on, we became fam.

MH: Sounds pretty awesome! So, let's just kinda get right into it... how did you get involved with TRIPLE FAT LICE (Lice III?)

BB: Well, I was on tour last summer with Sand. I was his DJ subbin' in for Sosa. Shout out Sosa. I had finished my my first solo beat album, I Moreno, which is on HiPNOTT Records. Sand had a copy of the tape and I was always bumpin' the tracks, when we had downtime. It's the track "Pickin'" they used for "Pizza & Burgers."

MH: Nice! I actually saw Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman at Union Transfer on the Philly stop of their first Lice tour! So, "Pizza & Burgers" comes from "Pickin'" from your instrumental beat tape, I Moreno?

BB: Yeah, it's one of the bangers of the album. It's a kinda Country-sounding, but it's a sample from a Jazz record.

MH: When did you find out your "Pickin'" beat would be featured on TRIPLE FAT LICE as "Pizza & Burgers?"

BB: I was on a roadtrip with my Hunger Division fam tearing up some salad at Golden Corral and Sand hit me with a message out of no where like, "Yo! I need the stems for "Pickin'" for Lice 3." I was def pumped because I've always wanted to work with Aes.

MH: That's awesome! Sandman is easily one of my favorite rappers and I've always enjoyed Aesop's music. They really make a great team! Yeah, I really like what you did with the break! Where's the sample from or would you rather not divulge?

BB: Being a dad and having a full-time job, my beats are made at all kinds hours, so it's kinda like alone time with me and my MPC haha. So, I don't spend time writing down what records I use. I will probably bump into it sometime like, "oh! That's the sample" hahaaa.

MH: Oh, I could imagine! So, did you have any idea your "Pickin'" beat would be featured alongside Oh No, CohenBeats, Quelle Chris, and M Slago? Not bad company haha.

BB: I didn't! Sand kept everything TOP SECRET! It's dope! And I have been on projects with M Slago before, so it's great to rock with him again! He kills it!

MH: So, none of the producers (yourself, at least) had NO IDEA their beats would end up on TRIPLE FAT LICE or when it would be released? Damn, that's actually pretty awesome!

BB: HA! Yeah, I'm guessing it was some covert operation, but it's an honor to be featured with these other producers. I also really like the artwork for the EP. Jeremy Fish kills it! I like that he took the Simon & Garfunkel Sounds of Silence cover and flipped it!

MH: Hell yeah! I love Jeremy Fish's artwork. I Follow him on Instagram and I really dig how he flipped The Sounds of Silence into to sharp-spittin' lice! Have anything else to add about "Pickin'"/"Pizza & Burgers," TRIPLE FAT LICE, or Homeboy Sandman & Aesop Rock, Ben?

BB: I was surprised what they did with the beat. Sounds like they had fun making the track. That's what its about, having fun. It's def the most different and catchy of any other Lice song out.

MH: They really did turn it into a fun beat! I just have fun listening to it! I selfishly kinda wish they kept in the intro about the sound "Hubert could make [when] he wasn't talkin'!" haha.

BB: Yeah, that line and movie cracks me up. Thought it went well with the beat.

MH: It's great! What movie is it from, Ben? I can't say I've ever seen it!

BB: Really? Oh, man! It's from the film Best In Show (2000).

MH: Alright, I'll have to check it out! Thanks! Anything else you might want to mention? Any additional projects coming out any time soon?

BB: "Yo, thanks Matt! Thanks to The Witzard for the interview! You can find me on Twitter and Instagram at @chefboogz2hb and also @2hungrybros. Also, you can find 2 Hungry Bros.' music at any digital music outlet (iTunes, Google Music, Spotify, etc.) Check out my sis LiKWUiD's latest 2 Hungry Bros. collabo Fay Grim. Also, check out my bro Deep's last few projects out now at Bandcamp. Thanks again! My new tape is almost done and the title is Love Handles! Big ups, Sand! Much love to Aes, Stones Throw, Rhymesayers, and HiPNOTT! Peace!

"Ben Boogz of The 2 Hungry Bros. can be described as the soul of the duo and Deep is the spirit. What does that mean? Deep is known for being driven and possessed, while Ben is laid-back and calm. It also pertains to their sound. Fans of comics, Adventure, and Sci-Fi [films], Ben follows up with his first Action-packed installment, after Deep's instrumental trilogy with his own to establish his soulful sound and also, leave a legacy. The two worked independently, yet their concepts connect, rooted in fatherhood. Deep being a father celebrated his son, now Ben Boogz (also, a dad) celebrates his father with Jazzy horns, Funky breaks, vibrant strings, strange sounds, wild cuts, and more with I Moreno. This amazing Hip-Hop album was mastered by Willie Green. It also features live electric guitar by Scott Greenberg, sax by Bryan Beninghove, keys by David Stolarz, and cuts by DJ M-Tri, as well as [Israel "I."] Moreno on commentary."

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Connecticut Rapper-producer & CURTA Opener Chef The Chef Unleashes First Proper Full-length DEMONZZZ "for The Ladies" (self-released)

Chefren "Chef The Chef" Gray is a rapper-producer, multi-instrumentalist, and singer hailing from Bridgeport, Connecticut. He recently emailed me, after being referred to The Witzard by my past collaborator CURTA, with a link to his latest 10-track project DEMONZZZ. Chef The Chef is playing a CURTA show along with fellow openers Zak G + ECID & PremRock at Connecticut's own Stella Blues this upcoming Thursday, October 12th at 8:00pm, as part of CURTA's awesomely-named Circus In a Suitcase 2017 Tour. "I was really influenced by my surroundings. My experiences and just the mental battles I fight everyday. So, I called it DEMONZZZ because I wanted people to instantly be able to see right through me," Chef The Chef wrote within an emailed statement. "I wanted to be very transparent. I feel like being vulnerable is a valuable trait in deciphering who we are as people," he continued. Chefren Gray initially told me he created DEMONZZZ on Tuesday, August 15th—a mere two days prior to sending the project my way—and self-produced the entire 10-track collection, with the exception of DJ Fife-produced "Flow" and "Déjà Vu."

DEMONZZZ almost sounds like something to the effect of an imagined "missing link" between Pharrell's early 2000's Funk-Rock band N*E*R*D and his beloved "Happy"-led mainstream solo breakthrough, G I R L. It additionally sounds like a Rap record "for the ladies," which could have easily been recorded by Soul-Funk crooner Isaac Hayes or even Philly's own pride and joy, Teddy Pendergrass and that was EXACTLY what Chef The Chef was going for: "I was really inspired by women; more notably women of color, as in the last few years I've had this profound awakening to feminism and women in my life in any way have I feel life I owe so much to as a man, so I really wanted women to enjoy it." Chef The Chef's first proper full-length, DEMONZZZ, is currently available to stream and purchase from Apple Music/iTunes, Soundcloud, Spotify, TIDAL, YouTube, and like-minded digital retailers. In addition DEMONZZZ, a few album's-worth of material is available on Chef's plethora of a Soundcloud page, with material dating back as far as five years.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

3 Feet High & Rising: Australian Indie-Poppers Strange Talk's Gerard Sindu & Stephen Docker Form French Electro/House-inspired KNIGHTFALL & Unleash "Watching Me" (VOLUME 1 EP)

Strange Talk is a Melbourne-based Australian Synth-Pop duo consisting of Stephen Docker and Gerard Sindu. Their music has been likened to contemporary Indie-Pop acts such as Passion Pit, MGMT, Phoenix, Cut Copy, and Yeasayer. Strange Talk released one full-length album, Cast Away (2014) on Wind-up Records and two EP's for both Wind-up and Neon Gold Records, as well as a number of singles and commissioned remixes. However, "after working on nothing but Strange Talk for the last seven years, the duo decided to take a break from the Indie-Pop world to pursue their other love... French Electro/House," reads a recent press statement. Now, Gerard Sindu & Stephen Docker are actively readying their Electro/House-inspired EP-length re-birth as KNIGHTFALL, VOLUME 1. Following this year's previous two singles, "Speed Machine" and "Exodus," as well as "Motostop" (KNIGHTFALL vs. Q-Tip) KNIGHTFALL have unleashed the latest track from their VOLUME 1 EP, "Watching Me."

Upon my first listen, my initial reaction was not only did "Watching Me" sound like French Electro/House figureheads Daft Punk, Justice, SebastiAn, and Kavinsky, but also a unique stylistic mix between The Weekend and Daft Punk... almost even something to the effect of a Pharrell-less "Get Lucky (Reprise.)" "Watching Me" was co-written with Stephen Docker & Gerard Sindu's long-time friend Dennis Dowlut of Electric Empire. "Watching Me," as well as the entirety of VOLUME 1 EP, was mixed by Sindu and mastered by Mike Marsh, who has previously worked with The Chemical Brothers, Basement Jaxx, Oasis, CASSIUS, and The Darkness. In addition to "Speed Machine," "Exodus," and newly-released "Watching Me," I've heard a coveted pre-release press advance of KNIGHTFALL's 6-track VOLUME 1 EP and I can assure you, it evokes sonic fingerprints of the aforementioned Electro/House staples, as well as genre-spanning inspirations such as Nile Rodgers & Chic, Bruno Mars, Miguel, Passion Pit, The Neptunes, and even Silversun Pickups. It's the perfect soundtrack for these late Summer nights—slowly, but surely transitioning into Fall—sitting by the fire cooking smores with loved ones. KNIGHTFALL will self-release their debut EP, VOLUME 1, across digital streaming services this upcoming Friday, September 29th.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Neatbeats Frontman Mr. Pan Stars As The Screamin' Telstars Bandleader Within Ghostroads: A Japanese Rock n Roll Ghost Story (ROBOT 55)

"Get ready for some groovy rockin' and rollin' with large doses of spooky intrigue, steamy jealousy, ribald rivalry, back-stabbing betrayal, the perfect black leather jacket, sultry groupies, a strummin' specter, and even a miniature stripper, as lead guitarist of the Japanese Rock group, The Screamin' Telstars meets his doom in the form of a smokin' vintage amplifier. After crossing the Ghostroad, Tony discovers there is nowhere else to turn—and if you don't give The Devil his due, payback is a b*tch," legendary Rock "N" Roll groupie, author, journalist, and musician Pamela Des Barres exuberantly proclaims. Ghostroads: A Japanese Rock n Roll Ghost Story has been quite fittingly described as "A Hard Day's Night in Japan [with] a Faustian Twist," which follows a struggling musician named Tony (AKA The Neatbeats frontman Mr. Pan) and his Retro-Rock band, The Screamin' Telstars. As you can see within ROBOT 55's Ghostroads teaser trailer, Tony enters a mysterious guitar shop in search of a new amp; little does Tony know, the amp he picked out is home to a ghost named Peanut Butter (Darrell Harris) who promises Tony fame, fortune, notoriety, and immorality in return for great sacrifice—namely, breaking up with his long-time band, The Screamin' Telstars FOREVER!

Ghostroads is currently being billed as "Japan's first ever Rock "N" Roll Ghost Comedy movie—a stunning combination of Live Action, Rock "N" Roll, and Tokyo, Japan's underground scene." Alongside Mr. Pan & Darrell Harris, Ghostroads co-stars The Neatbeats as The Screamin' Telstars, The Privates frontman Tatsuji Nobuhara Tatsuji, KROQ/SiriusXM DJ Rodney Bingenheimer, Japanese pin-up model Mina Shirakawa, The 50 Kaitenz frontman Danny, burlesque dancer Miwa Rock, and countless others. Ghostroads: A Japanese Rock n Roll Ghost Story is set to premier at London-based Raindance Film Festival on Sept. 25th and 28th with a wide release across Japan scheduled for Fall 2017. Ghostroads' companion Garage Rock/Beat-heavy soundtrack will likely be released on Tower Records Japan and Amazon Japan (hopefully, State-side, as well) and features the likes of The Neatbeats, Mergers, The Shakers, High Learys, Alloy Six, The Privates, and even silver screen rockers The Screamin' Telstars. It appears as though Tower Records Japan and @ghostroads_jp are doing some type of joint contest or giveaway with four copies of a limited edition 7-inch attributed to "MR. PAN & THE SCREAMIN' TELSTARS" (The Neatbeats) featuring Ghostroads-themed tracks titled "Expedition Moon," "Fuzzy Rocket," "Walk On The Ghost Road," and "Tony's Blues."

"40 years ago, I played in a one-hit wonder late 1970's LA Punk band [The Rotters]. I had a dream. We were a lightning smash success within a few months and on radio stations and charts all over America and Europe. One night, my band played at a new club in Hollywood called Madame Wong's [West]. We all were expecting a packed crowd of 300+. My band opened. When we hit the stage, we were dumb-founded to see a crowd of only eight people. Eight! We played a flat and disappointing set. After us, the next band played in front of the same eight people... that band was f**ing awesome. They were electric and exciting. Their power made the small crowd (including me) go simply crazy. After the show, I asked them how they did it. My band was flat "because" of the disappointing size of the crowd; their band was explosive. The guitarist said to me, "it doesn't matter, if there's three people in the crowd or three hundred people—we always kick a**!" They did indeed. That was 1979. His name was Greg Ginn. The band? Maybe you've heard of them! Their name was Black Flag. The point of it all? It doesn't matter, if there is only one person who sees what you do or 10,000 people, do it for yourself and build a legend. It doesn't matter now what other people think. It only matters what you think. Remember: it is better to have Punked and lost, than to have never Punked at all! James Dean said, "dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today." I am glad I did play in my band. I am glad I made this movie. I hope you get a laugh. I hope you get a dream."

- Mike Rogers (Ghostroads Producer, Writer & Co-director)