Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Awkward Unleashes Beastie Boys Remix Album POSSE IN EFFECT 1 & Vulture's BEASTIE BOYS BOOK Excerpt (Ghost Locust Music)

Not entirely unlike Peanut Butter Wolf, Madlib, Egon & John Doe, dj BC, Jeremiah Jae, and TT5BR before him, Awkward has unleashed a 10-track collection of Beastie Boys remixes fittingly called POSSE IN EFFECT 1. Awkward is a UK-based producer/emcee/artist/DJ with affiliation to Los Angeles crew The Cloaks and Bristol's Ghost.Locust Music. He has previously worked with clipping. The Kleenrz, Nocando, Open Mike Eagle, Self Jupiter (Freestyle Fellowship,) Third Sight, Zackey Force Funk, and Malakai's Stepchild AKA Stepasaur. We, here at The Witzard, actually, first heard about Awkward after he mastered Roughneck Jihad's recent compilation album, The Red Herring Mixtape. In conjunction with Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz & Michael "Mike D" Diamond's newly-released memoir, BEASTIE BOYS BOOK, Awkward has collected 10 choice cuts from throughout The Beasties' storied three decades-long career. Said Beasties remixes were originally created between 2007-12 and were previously released in 2014 as Awkward vs. BeastieBoys.

Now, they've been properly re-packaged as POSSE IN EFFECT 1 and are available to download or purchase for THE! FIRST! TIME! EVER! It appears as though the song titles for most of Awkward's remixes have simply been re-arranged and Beastie Boys die-hards should quickly be able to figure it out. Awkward says he's currently working on a number of projects, including a follow-up to The Cloaks' 2014 self-titled debut. The Cloaks' LP2 will feature core crew members Awol One, Gel Roc, D-Styles, Sir Beans & Awkward, as well as special guests Shapeshifters & Sage Francis. Awkward's POSSE IN EFFECT 1 is currently available to stream or download from Ghost.Locust Music's Bandcamp page. Also, below, you'll see an excerpt from BEASTIE BOYS BOOK, as published by Vulture, about attending Black Flag's first-ever East Coast show at The Peppermint Lounge in Times Square in March of 1981. Ad-Rock & Mike D's BEASTIE BOYS BOOK is now available, as well, wherever fine paperbacks are sold through Spiegel & Grau.

"In retrospect, maybe the most impressive thing about the show is how many bands formed at that moment and in the aftermath. It inspired Yauch and John [Berry] and me to form Beastie Boys a few months later. It inspired Adam Horovitz to form The Young & The Useless. Thurston Moore was there. He was already playing around with Kim [Gordon], but they didn't debut as Sonic Youth until a few months later. And that summer, D.C. punk and mosher, Henry Garfield, who was seeing Black Flag for the first time that night, would join the group as its singer under the name "Henry Rollins." To him, and all of us in the audience, that night in March changed what we thought was possible."

- BEASTIE BOYS BOOK (Vulture Excerpt)

G​-​Pek, Brycon, DJ Eons One, Yelir & B​.​I. Lectric Return with Annual "Halloween Beat Tape" There's No More Room In Hell (Part 4)

It's that time of year wherein artists unleash festive freebies, ghoulish get-downs, and Horror-filled haunts. Yes, we're talking about seasonally-appropriate Halloween-themed/centric releases! San Francisco producers, Bay Area beatsmiths, and Gurp City affiliates G-Pek & Brycon returned with the fourth installment of their annual Halloween beat tape, There's No More Room In Hell Part 4; this time, recruiting like-minded producer buddies DJ Eons One AKA Dan Lactose, Yelir, and B.I. Lectric for their ghoulishly good time. Studio Don, a mysterious entity, somehow affiliated with the series, explains: "for the last 4 years, Gurp City producers G-Pek & Brycon have been assembling a nightmare soundtrack for Halloween revelry and inviting one more beat-maker homie to join in every year. This year, the legendary B.I. Lectric AKA Big Shawn of Bored Stiff joins the roster, along with Eons One & Yelir." G-Pek & Brycon Present: "THERE's NO MORE ROOM IN HELL" (Volume 1) from 2015 featured one single track clocking in at just under 20 minutes created simultaneously by the two top-billing producers.

Although, for 2016's There's No More Room In Hell II, Brycon & G-Pek recruited Dan Lactose, featured here under his oft-used DJ Eons One alias, to join in for their festive frolic. Last year's There's No More Room In Hell Part 3 featured San Francisco studio rat Yelir, as does Part 4. Studio Don ominously adds, "this gruesome medley was designed for repeated listens, seances, and zombie slayings. Simultaneously, as our cruel world becomes more Hellish, these sounds paint a dripping and haunted portrait of the Hell on Earth we all should be preparing for..." There's No More Room In Hell Part 4 clocks in at just under 30 minutes and features one brooding track from each Brycon, B.I. Lectric, Yelir (or "Hellir,") Eons One, and G-PEK. Frightfully self-described by @bryconmusic as "Crate Goblins, Gurp Goons, and Funky Zombies," each participating producers' submission appears to be a spook-tacular multi-part medley. There's No More Room In Hell Part 4 is currently available to stream, downlaod, or purchase from Brycon's Bandcamp page.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

All-around Breakdown: The Skull Eclipses' Producer Botany Pens PENUMBRAS "Beat Album" Track-By-Track Breakdown (Western Vinyl)

"A penumbra is the space between the shade and the light of a partial eclipse, the area that is neither blacked-out nor illuminated fully. More broadly, the word is defined as something that surrounds or enshrouds a region or object. Like this twilit fringe between being and non-being, the production of Spencer Stephenson—known for his output under the name Botany—gives shape and circumference to The Skull Eclipses' self-titled debut.​ PENUMBRAS lays bare that album's hybrid scaffolding of ambient Boom-Bap, dubby Jungle, and hauntological sample-collage revealing a multi-faceted beat tapestry unadorned by lead-vocals, standing alone as a full-length listening experience. On ​October 26th,​ Western Vinyl is releasing ​PENUMBRAS by ​The Skull Eclipses​, an album of beats and previously unreleased pieces from the self-titled collaborative debut of producer Spencer Stephenson (​Botany​) and rapper Raj Haldar (​Lushlife​) that featured Laraaji, Open Mike Eagle, and many others."

- The Skull Eclipses (Western Vinyl)


"It didn’t make sense to put the same track on two different releases, as the original is already instrumental, so this is a truncated version of what appears on the vocal record. That version was called “Yearn Infinite” this one is called “Yearn Finite.” The “Yearn” phrase refers to The Institute of Higher Yearning. If you’ve ever picked up a physical copy of a Botany record, you might have some reference point for what that is.

This intro embodies what Lush and I were calling “rap-salad” in the studio, which is a term that embodied our method of using rap vocals as a deconstructed, abstract texture rather than a lyrical vehicle. Hip hop digests so many other musical forms it was interesting to attempt to make it digest itself and alchemically become a weird kind of ambient music. The flute noise in the background is a tape recording of my brother playing wood flute while I mimicked him in the background with a flute-esque monosynth patch."


"Def Rain is a Dallas electronic act who I’ve shared a bill with several times. Dallas is a scene that--for all its rockism, fracturing, and cannibalizing--produces some wildly psychedelic, forward-thinking acts, and Def Rain is part of that pool which I have had a foot planted in for about a decade (see also: Black Taffy, Melting Season, New Fumes.) I have always enjoyed hearing them play a particular song called “ENEMY,” so I simply asked them for stems of the track thinking I’d remix it. Around that same time Lush flew down to Austin to hem up some vocal tracks for The Skull Eclipses s/t debut, and the remix I was sketching up for Def Rain just ended up becoming one of our tracks. They were kind enough to let us sample them. Chronologically, I think this may have been the final track that we committed to for the debut LP. It’s funny then that it shows up first on the album."


"I think Lush and I tend to think of this as The Skull Eclipses’ anthem. I named the beat “Angels Don’t Mind” just because the looped-up choir vocal phonetically sounds like it’s saying that, although I think they’re actually singing in Latin. That phrase just kinesthetically works for what we were expressing tonally and lyrically, and I haven’t really been conscious of it until now. Mythologically angels are supposed to be protectors, chaperones, saviors, but here they can’t be bothered. This era tends to feel like that in some ways."


"On the vocal version of the record this track features Felicia Douglass (from Ava Luna, Dirty Projectors) and Tendai ["Baba"] Maraire from Shabazz Palaces. I believe Ishmael Butler from Shabazz was going to turn something in for this track too, but I think that was right around the time he started working at Sub Pop, and his priorities shifted. So the result is that this track ended up sort of being steered by Tendai, whose contributions really made it what it is. Even though his verse is removed on the Penumbras cut, his percussion still forms the golden thread of the track. The top-layer of hand-drum is all him. He was able to effortlessly sink into the pocket of my production both texturally and rhythmically.

And I have to add that on the vocal version Lush’s second verse is one of his most crushing on the whole record. He came back months after the first verse was recorded because the track needed to be extended for flow and pacing of the record as a whole, and he turned in a really strong performance despite the time in between.

In the final few seconds during the interlude, you can hear a woman describing a vision of herself as an ancient astronaut talking about how she never ages, that she’s always been in the state that she’s in now. Lush and I tried to incorporate as much of this kind of thing as we could into the album; the latter 20th century fixation on aliens and cosmic entities as these modern transfigurations of--once again--external savior archetypes that society seems to so desperately crave. I feel that if the power is in us to cause hurt and dissonance then we shouldn’t dream up outside forces to counterbalance that, we should instead put more stock in our ability as highly evolved creatures to create that harmony ourselves. The animalistic aspects of our species get too much media credit likely because that serves somebody’s bank account, and justifies too many people’s low view of themselves."

05. "TAKE MY"

"This is where the record downshifts to a melancholic, tragic tone. This beat is dear to me, and probably my very favorite on the record. Its minimalism is pretty remarkable when I consider it for a moment. The entire track is just a flipped sample with some drums under it. There are no tricks, no glossy YouTube tutorial type bullshit, no bloated producer-y, gimmicky stuff that tends to make me want to distance myself from the world of “beats.” It feels really pure and honest to me. I sampled the 60’s pop group The Free Design, who has been one of my favorite groups for a long time, and we were lucky enough to clear it with the son of one of the band members. He was really easy to communicate with, and very gracious in letting us use the audio."


"This ended up on the record at Lushlife’s urging. He really gravitated toward this one. There were two big phases to the self-titled record: The first, and the largest part, was hammered out in a few short days in Tulum. I sent him a handful of demos, and he headed down to Mexico with a mic and a preamp, and laid out the majority of lyrics and vocals in just a week or so. This was not part of that. It was one of the few that we added in the second round the following year. What I appreciate about this one is it feels kind of classic without being on-the-nose boom-bap, and it doesn’t fall into the modern trap-beat pocket either. It floats outside of genre descriptors while still referencing them, which is what Lush and I intend to do a lot of the time."

07. "GONE"

"Here’s another one on the melancholy side. When I re-listen to this one, the thing that stands out compositionally is that bouncing eighth-note kick drum. It sounds impatient under the relative serenity of the melodic elements. I like that dichotomy of tranquility and urgency, and I think that characterizes a lot of what I do. This one is kind of classic Botany in that sense.

Toward the end you hear audio from the Judica-Cordiglia radio hoax wherein two Italian radio operators claimed to have captured the sound of a solo female astronaut dying in orbit because her spacecraft had caught fire. According to the hoax the USSR had carried out the mission completely off the books knowing the woman would die. Whether any of that’s true or not Lush and I liked what that said about how government regimes can end up treating their subjects: “we will launch you into impossible circumstances, knowing full well the odds are against you, then when you’re facing doom we’ll act like we never knew a thing, all so we can advance our own interests”. In a way that speaks to Open Mike Eagle’s verse in the vocal version: “police should break arms, instead they just shoot to kill, and murder is a sentence for cruising a boosted Coupe DeVille, like having a toy gun or selling single cigarettes, or just having a snack when you wasn’t ready for dinner yet--dead. I’d like to stay up out the judgment biz but wonder which Republicans know what a Republic is.'"


"The title for this one came from an acquaintance of mine in Luxembourg, Victor Ferreira, AKA Sunglitters. The sparkly texture of the harp and other elements reminded me of his production, but the whole thing has a more aggressive momentum than anything of his I can recall, thus “Gun glitters.” Lojii, who featured on the vocal version (my favorite track on that iteration of the album), ended up setting up the chorus around that phrase. When we were trying to secure premieres for this track the Parkland mass shooting occurred, and we pulled the track immediately.

Sadly, if it weren’t for this shooting, we’d have had to pull it for a different one, that’s how frequently they occur in the US. We never intended this to be an un-nuanced promotion of guns in any way, we simply included the imagery in the song with artistic objectivity, the same way a painter who paints a picture of a gun isn’t immediately associated with being pro-gun. Guns are a part of the modern US (and world) landscape. It’s impossible to blur that out and still maintain an accurate picture of modernity."


"Here’s one of the first beats demoed. That would make this one about four years old at the time this article is published. Pretty straight-ahead Botany fare. This wasn’t intended for anything from the outset, Lush selected it out of the initial batch of demos I sent. A bit of trivia; he and I had considered (half jokingly) naming our duo Feel Spectre based on the line from this song: “I’m Phil Spector in your sector with beautiful strings.” That’s a pretty classically Lushlife reference, and its indicative of our approach to this record. One of our points of commonality is that we both think of hip hop production as something not entirely disconnected from the baroque pop production of Phil Spector, Brian Wilson, George Martin, and whoever else."


"One afternoon while Lushlife was here (where I live in Austin) recording some parts for the record he passed an open laptop over to me, and on the screen was some email conversation he’d been having with Laraaji. Unbeknownst to me Lush had sent Laraaji the sketch of this track, and Laraaji had recorded several layers of electric zither over my demo. This was a huge surprise to me given how big of a fan I was/am of Laraaji. Lush just reached out and secured it as a nice gesture to me, and only notified me once it was done.

Laraaji apparently records some of his stuff on a digital multitrack box which has a DVD-R writer built into it for exporting tracks. Instead of hassling with ripping all of the tracks from his machine to a computer, then uploading them and transferring them over, he just mailed me a DVD case with DVD-Rs of his zither tracks. It was wild to me at the time to receive this set of DVDs in the mail hand-addressed to me by Laraaji himself.

I finally met him just the other day. I told him who I was and that we had worked on a track together over the internet, expecting him to have forgotten about what must have been a blip in his busy life, but he goes “Oh yeah, I remember that track. "Yearn Infinite."' The title wasn’t even readily accessible in my mind, I had to pause for a second to piece together what he was saying. He just pulled it out like magic."


"Here’s another one of the initial tracks from these sessions, probably close to four years old as well. This is an odd breakbeat flip, it kind of plays with listener perception of where the first beat in the measure sits, but once you catch it it’s pretty easy. I love the the David Axelrod feel of this beat, and once again, how it doesn’t fit within normal hip hop production pockets of trap or boombap. It is neither, but it still feels like a hip hop beat. The demo title for this track became the name of our band, and the record, “The Skull Eclipses.” I named it haphazardly, from the gut, yet it seemed to evoke the appropriate kind of imagery for the project. This title is an incomplete sentence that was looping in my head, “The skull eclipses the [insert object here].” Eventually the word “sun” landed in the blank spot. “The skull eclipses the sun.'"

*BONUS* 12. "MUM UM"

"I have been playing this one out since 2013. I really wanted it to go on the self-titled LP, but I didn’t want to force the issue, and Lush didn’t seem to readily gravitate to it, though he really appreciated it on its own. I’d love to talk about what was sampled for it, but I’ll leave it for whatever curious niche of the public to discern. It seemed only right to make this one a part of the beat tape. It sounds inherently like a Skull Eclipses track to me."

*BONUS* 13. "LOOK"

"I cooked this one up around the time of the initial round of Skull Eclipses demos, but I guess I had intended it to go on a Botany record, and it never did. Probably for good reason. It matches this project better, tonally. There’s a prominent vocal sample in here of a young girl singing “if you look very carefully, there’s a goblin, behind that tree” which I assume is an elementary school Halloween singalong from the 70s or 80s. I grabbed it from a collection of secondhand tapes I was given that included a bunch of home-audio recordings. Several years back, a guy who helped my parents with some painting and repairs just walked up to me with a stack of those fake wood-grain cassette storage drawers and was like, “you collect sh*t like this right? I got these from so and so when I painted their house.” I spent the next month sorting through them one by one and grabbing pieces of them with the SP-404. There was one tape I found weirdly stuck in the back of one of the drawers, and the label says in scribbled handwriting “6-1-78 HAUNTED CHURCH.” I’ve never listened to it, and I probably never will. I think that makes it better."

Monday, October 29, 2018

MANIKINETER Mastermind Carl Kavorkian Curates Ghoulish 22-track "Halloween Playlist for" (Exclusive Spotify Mix)

"Hey Carl! So, I was cooking pierogies earlier and made this little mix of your music as MANIKINETER on Spotify. And I was wondering, if you might be interested in making a mix for The Witzard? Maybe, Halloween-themed/tinged and we can include some (or all) of your music as MANIKINETER, as well..." read part of a recent email I sent to Carl Kavorkian a couple weeks ago. The Witzard regulars may, in fact, recognize Kavorkian's name from his recent musical re-birth as Noise Rap behemoth MANIKINETER. He's self-released a staggering three EP's—Mannequin Eater, Missing & Not As They Do—in just two short years, all while fine-tuning his frantic one-man live show. So, lo and behold, now, a matter of weeks later, Carl Kavorkian has hand-selected 22 seasonally-appropriate festive favorites, as part of his exclusive Halloween Playlist for Carl's Halloween mix includes ghoulish selections from everyone from Gravediggaz to George Clinton-led Parliament, TV On The Radio to Mr. Len & Jean Grae, The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza to Portishead, and much, much more. However, I'll just let Carl Kavorkian's Halloween Playlist for speak for itself. MANIKINETER's first 3 EP's are now available on Bandcamp through Cult Member Music. Also, keep an ear out for Carl Kavorkian's full-length debut as MANIKINETER expected later this year or early next year.

01. Pig Destroyer - "Jennifer" (Remix) from Prowler In The Yard (Deluxe Re-issue) / 2015

02. Gravediggaz - "Repentance Day" from The Pick, The Sickle & The Shovel (1997)

03. Fantomas - "The Omen (Ave Satan)" from The Director's Cut (2001)

04. Screamin' Jay Hawkins - "I Hear Voices" from I Hear Voices (2005)

05. MELANIN FREE - "outside" from MF3 (2018)

06. Pure Hell - "The Girl with The Hungry Eyes" from Noise Addiction (2010)

07. Witchdoctor - "The Ritual" from A S.W.A.T. Healin' Ritual (1997)

08. Parliament - "Dr. Funkenstein" from Clones of Dr. Funkenstein (1976)

09. Moor Mother & Mental Jewelry - "Death Booming" from Moor X Jewelry: Crime Waves EP (2017)

10. Daughters - "And Then The C.H.U.D.S. Came" from Canada Songs (2003)

11. Cage - "Holdin' a Jar 2" from Movies for The Blind (2002)

12. TV On The Radio - "Wolf Like Me" from Return to Cookie Mountain (2006)

13. MANIKINETER - "Meet & Greet" from Not As They Do EP (2018)

14. The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza - "Death Eater" from Danza IIII: The Alpha - The Omega (2012)

15. Mr. Len & Jean Grae - "Taco Day" from Pity The Fool (2001)

16. Sour Spirit - "Flesh Off My Palms" from INTENT: Experimental Music In Solidarity with Baltimore Protesters (2015)

17. Buckethead - "The Hand" Feat. Maximum Bob & Ani Maldjian from Enter: The Chicken (2005)

18. Portishead - "Hunter" from Third (2008)

19. Dr. Dooom AKA Kool Keith - "Run for Your Life" Feat. Fathed from Dr. Dooom 2 (2008)

20. Psyopus - "Insects" from Our Puzzling Encounters Considered (2007)

21. Dreamcrusher - "Cathedral of Moths" from Incinerator EP (2013)

22. Pig Destroyer - "Natasha" from Natasha 12-inch/EP (2008)

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Witzard Premiere: 80HRTZ's The Misfits "ASTRO ZOMBIES" Remix Feat. DJ Halo On "The Wheels of Steel" (@80HRTZ & @HALO203)

Dennis "80HRTZ" Faria is a musician, beat-maker, producer, and multi-instrumentalist hailing from Fall River, Massachusetts. 80HRTZ has been playing with local Southeastern Mass area bands since about 1995; from '95 to around 2004, Faria played bass with a variety of bands including, a 7-piece Hip-Hop crew called Nyhilistx and female-fronted Rock band, Eryss. Since halting his career as a bassist around about 2004 due to severe carpal tunnel, 80HRTZ has largely focused on making music by himself from behind his computer. 80 has either produced or contributed to Portland, Maine emcee BRZOWSKI's New England Gothic, General Surgery, Blooddrive Vol. 1, 2017's ENMITYVILLE, and most recently, his DIG 2 GRAVES split with MC Homeless. Dennis Faria was part of The Witzard's comprehensive Round Robin-style interview in support of BRZOWSKI & MC Homeless' collaborative split, DIG 2 GRAVES on I Had An Accident/Milled Pavement Records. 80HRTZ has hand-crafted neck-snapping remixes for the likes of Ghostface Killah, EPIC BEARD MEN's B.Dolan, and SHREDDERS AKA Lazerbeak, SIMS, Paper Tiger & P.O.S. over the years. I'm told, he's currently working on a full-length with New Bedford, Massachusetts-based emcee Purge, as well as a Hip-Hop remix of Dead Kennedys' 1979 7-inch single, "California Über Alles."

We're proud to present, today, here at The Witzard, 80HRTZ's Hip-Hop-leaning remix of "ASTRO ZOMBIES" from Horror Punk pioneers The Misfits' 1982 debut, Walk Among Us. 80HRTZ, actually, stumbled upon frontman Glenn Danzig's acapella from Guitar Hero 5 while searching for unique acapellas on YouTube recently. "I have been a fan of The Misfits since I was 12-years-old. They were very popular amongst the skateboarders in the 1980's. So, when I saw it, a light bulb immediately went on in my head! I thought, "I've never heard anyone do a Hip-Hop-style remix of a classic Punk Rock song like this,'" 80HRTZ told The Witzard. Honestly, I share a very similar sentiment, as The Misfits were one of the first bands I cut my teeth on during my earliest exploration of Punk/Hardcore as an angsty, pimply 15-year-old. After running into a few sonic speed bumps, such as lining up drums, slowing down the tempo, punching in F-bombs, and recording precision bass lines, 80HRTZ recruited frequent collaborator DJ Halo. "When the idea of having a DJ on the "ASTRO ZOMBIES" remix struck me, it was only natural to ask if this might interest him. I sent him the track and I'm pretty much sure, he was on board instantly," 80HRTZ exclaimed. The Misfits' current frontman Jerry Only recently reunited with founding members Glenn Danzig & Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein for the first time in 33 years as "The Original Misfits" and embarked on a string of select tour dates through 2016-17.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

LEAVING R E CORDS Presents 12-inches of Pleasure: "Anymore" from Flaunt Edwards AKA J.Rocc's The Name Is Flaunt (Stones Throw)

Flaunt Edwards is a long-standing alias of J.Rocc The Funky President. Jason "J.Rocc" Jackson has, over the years, become one of the most world-renown and sought-after Hip-Hop DJ's, turntablists, and producers. One of the founding members of The Beat Junkies, J.Rocc has spent time either playing with or recording alongside artists such as Axel F. with M.E.D. Bumrush Bros. D-Styles Sextet, DJ Spinna, Dirty Fingered B-Boys, J Dilla, Jurassic 5, Madlib, and PSK, as well as being the honorary "third member" of Jaylib. The Witzard, actually, has a very special relationship with J.Rocc, as I've been patiently waiting to hear Jay's long-rumored J Dilla & Michael Jackson mash-up/blend album, SHARE MY BED, for about 10 years now. Although, miraculously, earlier this year, J.Rocc surprise released an 8-track version of SHARE MY BED on his Bandcamp page; along with it, was this quote, seemingly, paraphrased from Dilla himself: "J Dilla once said he was gong to make an album of him singing. The cover was a picture of him like Michael Jackson on Thriller. The title of the LP was going to be SHARE MY BED." I soon reached out to my friend and frequent collaborator, unibrow duck (@UnibrowDuck) to see if he could whip up an alternative SHARE MY BED cover based off of Dilla's vision. In a matter of days, unibrow duck had designed a cover image, complete with a tiger cub, and we soon reached out to @jrocc, who, to our surprise, offered to graciously adopt our alt. cover design as the official SHARE MY BED cover artwork!

Now, J.Rocc has returned to Stones Throw Records for the follow-up to his 2014 cassette release, Beats On Tap(e). J.Rocc has, over the years, been featured on countless Stones Throw releases and DJ mixes, although, starting around 2003, released a number of projects attributed to his own name on the label, including: Play This (One) 12-inch, Play This Too 12-inch, Stay Fresh 12-inch, Some Cold Rock Stuf, Mystery Tracks EP, The Minimal Wave Tapes: J.Rocc Edits Volume 1-2, and the aforementioned Beats On Tap(e). This brings us to The Name Is Flaunt, J.Rocc's upcoming release attributed to Flaunt Edwards to be released on Stones Throw's sister label LEAVING RECORDS Tuesday, October 30th. "Best DJ in the world, J.Rocc gives you six bootleg bangers of Electro ecstasy as Flaunt Edwards on 12" VINYL channeling legendary party people like Ron Hardy, Larry Levan, DJ Harvey, and Kraftwerk," Matthewdavid's LEAVING RECORDS wrote within a recent email blast. The Name Is Flaunt is the quasi-follow-up to J.Rocc's previously released—and now, mysteriously scrubbed from The Internet—full-length/bootlegs as Flaunt Edwards, 2012's J.Rocc: Flaunt Edwards Edits and 2015's J.Rocc X Flaunt Edwards - The Edits, Vol. 1. The Name Is Flaunt seems to follow more in the same vein as J.Rocc's edits of Tuxedo's "Do It," 2013's "Wheel me Out" (Edit) & "Rock Creek Park" (Edit,) and Salsoul vs. West End Edits 7-inch. Flaunt Edwards' The Name Is Flaunt 12-inch is now available for pre-order from both Stones Throw & LEAVING RECORDS with FREE digital download available instantaneously, upon vinyl purchase.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Dinked Records Presents: Run-D.M.C. "Down with The King" Feat. Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth 7-inch Re-issue (Artwork Designed By: Ricky Also)

Dinked Records (@dinkedrecords) was established as recently as 2015 and according to Discogs, "aims to put out high-quality 7-inch records with big holes (dinked centres) all 100% officially licensed and re-mastered for vinyl." Around 2016, Dinked launched a sister/sub-label called Random Rap Records to fittingly release "random rap records," such as Souls of Mischief, Boogie Down Productions, and KRS-One. Dinked Records is actively re-issuing and releasing top-notch 7-inches and are currently working on launching The Dinked 45 Club. For their latest archival release, for the first time ever on 45, Dink Records have re-released Run-D.M.C.'s 1993 single, "Down with The King" featuring Rev Run, D.M.C. & Jam Master Jay, as well as Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth. First and foremost, Dinked Records' "Down with The King" 45 re-issue cover art was designed by acclaimed graffiti artist and graphic designer Ricky Also from Paintshop Studio. It's great to see "Down with The King" get a proper re-release for a whole new generation, nearly 25 years after its original release.

Ricky Also used Google Street View, some detective work, and a little luck to locate what he believes is the same exact church on Jamaica Ave. Hollis, Queens, New York from the cover of Run-D.M.C.'s 1993 single, "Down with The King." Ricky Also's cover re-design features Rev Run & D.M.C. in front of the same Jamaica Ave. church as the original Profile Records single and Jam Master Jay peering down from a cloud up in Heaven with a ghettoblaster in hand and his Shell Toe Adidas. Dinked Records' 45 re-issue of Run-D.M.C.'s "Down with The King" Feat. Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth is currently available for pre-order on their Bandcamp page and I'm quite sure Bobbito Garcia isn't the only one who's "amped to play this!" Dinked Records pre-orders are expected to ship on or around October 30th, which is coincidentally, the 16th anniversary of Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell's untimely passing.

"I love record sleeves that have a bit of a story behind them. I used to spend hours checking out every detail on every vinyl I brought and you could always tell which covers were created with love; they would have that extra level of detail and story behind them. "Down with The King" is such a dope release, it still sounds as fresh as it did when it was first came out in the early 90's. I wanted to create a cover design that looked as fresh as the record sounds, but also, had that nod back to its past and the original sleeve design. The original sleeve shows Run, [Jam Master Jay] & D.M.C. sat on a fenced wall in front of a graveyard and church. After a fair amount of research, a few educated guesses, and a lot of routing through Street View maps, I found the same church on Jamaica Ave. Hollis, Queens, New York. I was then, able to create a broader view of the scene and show JMJ floating above the graveyard and Run & D.M.C. still in the same position on the fence. It felt like a nice story to be able to tell. It reflects the history and roots of the group and almost gives the song a new perspective, now that the legend, Jam Master Jay is no longer with us."

- Ricky Also (Paintshop Studio)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

OVER EVERYTHING Fronted By Trenton Emcee Ray Strife Unleashes Frantic Debut EP HARD FEELINGS ("Negative" Hardcore)

"There isn't much to say. Nothing is OK. We're over it. We are OVER EVERYTHING," is the oft-used mantra of Trenton-based OVER EVERYTHING. A self-described "Negative Hardcore" band, OVER EVERYTHING's line-up consists of frontman Raymond "Ray Strife" Novak, guitarist Erik Monsees, bassist Ricky Scheinder, and drummer Brendan Lipira. OVER EVERYTHING's debut EP, HARD FEELINGS, is Ray Strife's first released piece of work since his April 2018 full-length with producer and frequent collaborator, iLL-Omega, Go for The Gusto. Ray Strife defines "Negative Hardcore" as "a place to get out all the negative sh*t in your life and brain; take the anger and aim it through the speakers! That's what I use it for, anyway" and adds that OVER EVERYTHING may (or may not) have, actually, created the genre. I've personally, been hearing rumblings about OVER EVERYTHING for a year or so now, so with that said, it's great to see their long-rumored debut EP has finally come to fruition. It's, honestly, pretty refreshing to hear a modern day Hardcore/Punk band that doesn't sugarcoat the highs and lows of everyday life!

"We formed about a year ago. Ray would be working in The Basement at Millhill, me and Brendan would usually be there for shows or to just hang. We sat around listening to bands like Trash Talk, Tear It Up, PAINT IT [BLACK], etc. and talk about how we felt there was something like the missing from our current scene," guitarist Erik Monsees told The Witzard. "We spent a few months drunkly saying, "we gotta start a band, man!" like most people do, but, then, Ricky and I started going to [Brendan's] house on Friday nights and we sat at his kitchen table working riffs out. We got a few songs together, showed them to Ray, and took it from there," Monsees continued. OVER EVERYTHING's HARD FEELINGS EP, to my ears, at least, evokes sonic undertones of early 80's staple Punk/Hardcore imprints, SST Records & Plan 9/Caroline Records' genre-shaping releases from Black Flag, Hüsker Dü, Minutemen, The Misfits, and pre-Danzig incarnation, Samhain. OVER EVERYTHING's debut EP, HARD FEELINGS, is now available to download or stream on their Bandcamp page with CD's available directly from the band, as well. For details on OVER EVERYTHING's next 3 shows, which are going to be admittedly "wild!" head on over to their Facebook page.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Thelonious Monk Quartet's Long-lost MØNK Unearthed from 1963 Danish Broadcasting Corporation Live Tapes (Gearbox Records)

It isn't often we cover posthumous releases here at The Witzard, but honestly, we just couldn't pass up an opportunity to cover Gearbox Records' newly-unearthed 5-track collection, MØNK. World-renown American Jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk, unfortunately, passed away back in 1982, although, his estate has continually released a slew of previously unissued recordings since his untimely passing. Not entirely unlike similarly-minded "lost" albums John Coltrane's Both Directions at Once, Miles Davis & John Coltrane's The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6, and Monk's own Les liaisons dangereuses 1960, MØNK was initially recorded at a live concert held at Old Fellow Palæet in Copenhagen, Denmark on March 5th, 1963. MØNK features the genre-shaping talents of Thelonious Monk's most widely-acclaimed Quartet: sax player Charlie Rouse, future Sun Ra Arkestra bassist John Ore, and drummer Frankie Dunlop, who all previously appeared within Monk's 1963 albums, Monk's Dream & Criss-Cross.

"The original tape was a Scotch broadcast tape amongst a collection of delights we bought from a Danish producer, who had literally, picked them from a skip [dumpster] some 20 years ago," according to Gearbox Records owner/founder Darrel Sheinman. "He was going to use them to sample and remix during the Acid Jazz heyday, but didn't have time," Sheinman further explained. It's believed the Thelonouis Monk Quartet's performance was recorded by the Danish Broadcasting Corporation and aired four days later, on March 9th, 1963, for a local radio audience; however, it appears as though the original broadcast was the only time the recordings were widely heard... until now! Oddly enough, it appears as though no one ever even knew the raw tapes for MØNK ever even existed, until Gearbox's Darrel Sheinman, literally, saved them from being thrown in the trash and discarded forever without being heard. "Bye-Ya," "Monk's Dream," and "Body & Soul" previously appeared within the Thelonious Monk Quartet's album, Monk's Dream, released earlier the same year.

"I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" was previously released on a 1960 Riverside Records 7-inch issued by Thelonious Monk Quartet Plus Two, while "Nutty" was originally released on The Quartet's 1958 live album called Misterioso. MØNK took several years to create because Darrel Sheinman & Gearbox Records painstakingly created a special all-analogue AAA recording, which is analogue through and through, all the way from the source to 180g vinyl LP's and CD's. "AAA" meaning Analogue recording, Analogue mix, and Analogue master with no digital technology whatsoever anywhere in the path. "We felt this was the only way to produce, probably, one of the best Monk renditions we have ever heard," Sheinman explained. Thelonious Monk Quartet's MØNK is now available to purchase, download, or stream on Gearbox Records' Bandcamp page, as well as select digital and physical retailers. Honestly, for entry-level Jazz/Hard Bop fans or listeners new to Thelonious Monk's music, much like myself, MØNK seems like a perfect jumping-off point into his storied 66 year-long (and counting!) discography.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Russian "Skinhead" Reggae/Ska Group The Punchers Unleash Debut EP Punch from The Jungle (Magnetic Loft/Mangy Little Mut Records)

Not many people know this, but aside from Jamaican Rocksteady/Ska music, Second Wave Reggae, actually, first started in London, England during the 1970-80's with the onslaught of Hardcore/Punk. Oftentimes, known as "Skinhead Reggae," the genre was largely supported and played by non-violent working class youth and was chronicled on a 2002 3-CD collection called Trojan Skinhead Reggae Box Set. Now, it appears as though Skinhead Reggae is experiencing a comeback, of sorts, in of all places, Moscow, Russia. The Witzard has recently showcased two Russian Library Music/Funk bands, The Great Revivers & The Soul Surfers, but I have to admit, this is the first time I've ever heard of any Punk/Hardcore-related music coming out of Russia. The artist in question is Moscow-based Skinhead Reggae group called The Punchers and they've just released their first physical release, Punch from The Jungle EP, on Magnetic Loft Records. The Punchers have been together for about a year, according to Magnetic Loft Records, and have been steadily playing shows in and around Russia. Magnetic Loft, actually, released The Great Revivers' 2014 limited edition 7-inch, Spy Potion / Rural Moonshine / Rhino's Walk.

It appears as though the band consists of frontman Kirill Sosed, bassist Vladimir Jurin, guitarists Artem Piskun & Evgeniy Balashov, keyboardist Kamil' Gazizov, and drummer Stas Ikonov. Prior to forming The Punchers, its members have previously played with The Wheeler-Dealers, The Skatholics, The Invibers, and The Lappers and have been a major part of the local Russian Ska & Reggae scene for a number of years. "We support [the] original Reggae sound of 1969. No peace, no love, just pure Aggro sounds!" The Punchers enthusiastically write on their Facebook page. As a life-long Punk/Hardcore & Ska fan, The Punchers' debut Extended Play, Punch from The Jungle, is a perfectly quick, yet effective 12-minute blast of feverish old school Skinhead Reggae! Punch from The Jungle is now available to stream or download from Magnetic Loft Records' Bandcamp page with 100% of the proceeds earned going directly to The Punchers. Early next year, Punch from The Jungle will be available as a 7-inch vinyl EP from Moscow-based Mangy Little Mut (MLM) Records. Frontman Kirill Sosed says The Punchers are currently "planning to play more shows and record more songs soon..."

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Boog Brown & Son of Sam's Tom Caruana Announce Boog Brown EP & Release Teaser Single "A Little Light" (Tea Sea Records)

Boog Brown is a Queens-based emcee, originally hailing from "Atlanta by way of Detroit." Her last full-length project, The Late Bloom, was released in 2013 on Working Class Music Group with production work from Dynamite Bruhz, Illastrate, Joe D. and Lex Boogie. Since 2010, Boog has released a multitude of projects and has worked with Hip-Hop heavyweights such as Apollo Brown, Live Percenters, L'Orange, Georgia Anne Muldrow, and Dillon Maurer as Martha Knuckles—primarily, issued on Mello Music Group. For the last few months, I've been hearing rumblings about a mysterious project called "The Boog Brown EP" with production work from UK-based beat-maker Tom Caruana. Caruana is, of course, the man behind the boards for phenomenal mash-up albums, such as Wu-Tang vs. The Beatles - Enter: The Magical Mystery Tour, Jimi Henrdix vs. Wu-Tang - Black Gold, An Adventure to Pepperland Through Rhyme & Space, okayplayer: The Bollywood Re-make, and most recently, Black Gold - Spare Nuggets. Although, I didn't get a chance to cover it within the pages of The Witzard, Tom Caruana and his band, Son of Sam, released one of the strongest "Live" Hip-Hop albums 2017 with CINDER HILL. Tom Caruana (percussion, piano, samples & clav) along with drummer John Sam, bassist/guitarist Joe Sam, and keys, sax & flute player Richard Halligan recruited a who's-who of sharp-tongued emcees from both sides of The Pond to help fill out CINDER HILL. Shout-out to Tim Fish at GingerSlim for initially turning me onto Son of Sam!

Just this past Tuesday night, Caruana's Tea Sea Records surprise-released a digital single from the Boog Brown EP called "A Little Light." They've also, announced Boog Brown & Tom Caruana's collaborative Boog Brown EP will be released digitally on Monday, October 22nd. It appears as though the CD/tape/digital versions of the Boog Brown EP will feature a whopping 13 tracks—10 originals and 3 Tom Caruana Remixes—while the 7-inch vinyl version will feature 4 stand-out tracks. Boog Brown EP will feature guest verses from BIGREC, Flo, Dillon, Nolan The Minja, and yU AKA yU The 78er. Caruana provides production, various instruments, and mixing throughout the Boog Brown EP and his fellow Son of Sam bandmates John & Joe Sam make appearances on select tracks. A crew of talented players including Nick Maxwell, Jabbathekut, Andy Vickery, and mastering engineer Chemo help fill out the rest of the Extended Play. I was fortunate enough to receive a pre-release press advance of the Boog Brown EP and trust me, this one's not to be missed! I would even go as far as to liken it to something to the effect of Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman's critically-acclaimed LICE 1-3 EP's or El-P & Killer Mike's Run The Jewels 1-3. Boog Brown & Tom Caruana's Boog Brown EP is currently available to pre-order from Tea Sea Records' Bandcamp page; 7-inches, CD's, and cassettes are expected to ship by or before Monday, October 22nd.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Unsung Liberates Material from 3 Long-shelved 2002-04 Umm... Albums On Umm... and The Haunted Apartment Comp. (self-released)

Not entirely unlike his last retrospective release, The Station Signal's Collection of Work, West Virginia emcee and producer Unsung (@UnsungTheRapper) has returned with Umm...'s and The Haunted Apartment. Umm... is one of Steven Miller AKA Unsung's many recording aliases I've been hearing about these last few months. Umm...'s and The Haunted Apartment is, essentially, a long-shelved compilation culled from three separate previously unreleased Umm... albums initially recorded between 2002-04: Umm... and The Surprisingly Well Garnished Plan, U Look Like Pumpkin Pie, and Umm... and The Giant Windmill. Unsung self-recorded the albums onto a dusty old 4-track recorder from a friend, while compiling his first and second Hip-Hop albums, Embrace The Shellfish & TWIN, burned onto CD-R's, and passed out to his friends, family, and classmates nestled inside of "folded and staples [pieces] of paper." For the trio of Umm... albums, Unsung employed a slew of unconventional techniques and instruments, such as acoustic guitars, keyboards, drumming on random objects, answering machine messages, and spacey sound effects.

Unsung says the songs contained within Umm... and The Haunted Apartment were largely inspired by "a lot of lo-fi music anticon was making, at the time, a few Internet relationships, the birth of Emo music, and, of course, Radiohead." Unsung told The Witzard one of his greatest sources of inspiration on Umm... and The Hunted Apartment was a recurring nightmare scenario, which you can read about at length below. I would, however, personally liken Unsung's Umm... and The Haunted Apartment to Bright Eyes, Bon Iver, Stereopathetic Soulmanure-era Beck, Death Cab for Cutie, John Frusciante's From The Sounds Inside (2005,) and Ben Folds. Unsung's freshly dusted off Umm... and The Haunted Apartment is now available to stream or download on Bandcamp on a Name-Your-Price basis, oddly enough, akin to Radiohead's In Rainbows. Unsung's next proper Hip-Hop full-length, An Interior History will be released on Friday, November 9th. I've also, heard, through the grapevine, that Unsung is currently working on a number of projects with Scotsman SaIGO & 'i's AKA Mugwampers!

"One night, I had the same dream at least 30 times. I wake up in my dream and I'm in my bed. The apartment looks just like it really does. I sense that there is something in the kitchen, a presence. I wake myself up, fall back asleep, and it starts the same way. Every time I dream the dream, I go further and further, before waking up. The final time I have this dream that night (which is now morning) I actually, open the curtain and walk into the kitchen. I can feel my heart pounding, but there's no one there. All of a sudden, someone walks out from the bathroom and towards me. It's a sexless spirit. I couldn't recognize either masculine or feminine traits whatsoever.

I remember thinking it was derived from some sort of Native American religion. It urged me to be seated at my table and it began to speak. In the dream, it felt like I listened to it speak for hours/days. It was fascinating! I remembered thinking that I HAVE to remember all of this. The only part of the conversation I remembered was the last thing it said: "you have two people that matter more than anyone else. When you wake up, one of them will die..." I woke up and immediately called my parents and a few friends. Everyone was fine."

- Unsung (@UnsungTheRapper)

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

UncleRussie Presents: Bulma3 & TrunksEP2 [Album Preview] Featuring Benjamin Banger, Action Bastard, Malcolm Maximillion & eu-IV

Just about a year ago, John "Jumbled" Bachman helped link me up with a fellow Baltimore-based producer buddy of his, Timothy "Tim" Chester AKA UncleRussie (@PeaceRussie.) Right around the time Tim. & I first met, he was preparing to release his next project, Trunks EP. which was a 14-track audiophonic examination of Trunks Brief - Past, Present, & Future(?) from Dragon Ball Z. Now, while I'll readily admit, I'm far from a die-hard Dragon Ball Z fan, it's been pretty interesting to learn about the series through a medium I'm extremely familiar with: Hip-Hop! For Trunks EP. UncleRussie recruited a who's-who of The East Coast/Baltimore's finest emcees, singers, and producers to help convey his vision, such as: Benjamin Banger, Dot-Com Intelligence, Swellthy, Action Bastard, TEK.LUN, ONLY, Jumbled, and Drew Scott. Many of you may recognize UncleRussie's name from his submission(s) to The Witzard's Andy Cooper "THE PERFECT DEFINITION" Remix Comp.Tim. actually, sent in TWO "Perfect Definition" remixes!—earlier this year, on the heels of Rocafort Records' the layered effect. Now, UncleRussie has effectively returned with a 12-track preview of his next, not one, but two projects: Bulma3 & TrunksEP2 [Album Preview], which will both be released this Fall/Winter.

Bulma3 & TrunksEP2 will each feature roughly 13-15 tracks each, maybe, more depending on each album's final sequences; UncleRussie has, again, recruited a who's-who of featured producers for the releases, including (so far) Benjamin Banger, Action Bastard, Malcolm Maximillion, and eu-IV, as well as addition still-to-be-determined guests. "The [Album Preview] for Bulma3 & TrunksEP2 lends itself as a snapshot of what both albums will sound like; different timelines and scenarios from the Dragon Ball series will be highlighted throughout," UncleRussie charismatically explained to The Witzard. "Though, Bulma3 will attempt to shine a light on the different periods in which Bulma, the character and primary inspiration of The Bulma Tape project, has adapted throughout the series," he continued. It's safe to say, Russie. has inadvertently created his own unique sub-genre of Hip-Hop, which I would even go as far as to label "Dragon Ball Hip-Hop" or "Anime Rap." UncleRussie's Bulma3 & TrunksEP2 [Album Preview] is now streaming on Soundcloud and both albums should be expected before year's end. Also, as a BONUS, I've included UncleRussie's Kanye West Feat. Mos Def & Freeway | "Two Words" | (Bulma2 Mix) below, which blends together The College Dropout stand-out and "The Cracked Seal." from The Bulma Tape: Side B.

Monday, October 8, 2018

BBE Music Re-issues Japanese Jazz Drummer Takeo Moriyama's 1983 VAP Album 'East Plants' (J Jazz Masterclass Series)

Takeo Moriyama is an acclaimed 73-year-old Jazz drummer, composer, and musician hailing from Katsunuma, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan. Moriyama started working as a Japanese Jazz (commonly known as "J-Jazz") drummer during the 1960's, released at least four solo albums between 1981-91, and has appeared within countless albums as part of numerous J-Jazz ensembles and retrospective compilations. Takeo Moriyama has lent his air-tight talents, over the years to groups, such as: Aki Takase Trio, Akira Sakata Trio, Miyazawa Akira Quartet, Brötzmann, Satoh, Moriyama: The Heavyweights, Yosuke Yamashita Trio, and his own Moriyama Takeo Percussion Ensemble & Takeo Moriyama Quartet; in addition to albums credited to Manfred Schoof, Akira Sakata, Yosuke Yamashita & Takeo Moriyama, Takehiro Honda, Nobuyoshi Ino & Takeo Moriyama, Mal Waldron & Takeo Moriyama, Shibuya Takeshi + Moriyama Takeo, and Takehiro Honda, Nobuyoshi Ino & Takeo Moriyama as recently as 2002.

Earlier this year, London-based label BBE Music issued a wildly successful compilation called J​-​Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz from Japan 1969​-​1984, as curated by J-Jazz aficionados Mike Peden & Tony Higgins. BBE's vinyl-only edition of J-Jazz, actually, featured two selections from Takeo Moriyama, who was the only artist to appear twice within the inaugural comp. J​-​Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz from Japan 1969​-​1984 almost immediately and was soon re-pressed and effectively re-stocked at digital and physical retailers world-wide. Then, as part of BBE's newly-minted J Jazz Masterclass Series, Higgins & Peden oversaw the proper re-release of Tohru Aizawa Quartet's first and only album, 1975's Tachibana Vol. 1. Now, after the undeniable wide-spread success of Takeo Moriyama's "North Wind" & "風 (Kaze)" as included on J​-​Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz from Japan 1969​-​1984, BBE has returned with the second installment of their J Jazz Masterclass Series: Moriyama's East Plants. A bit more of an "under-the-radar set," as described by Tony Higgins, when compared against it's J Jazz Masterclass predecessors, Takeo Moriyama's East Plants was originally released on Japanese label Video Audio Project (VAP) in November of 1983.

East Plants has become, in the years since its initial release, a widely sought-after collection of truly unique compositions inspired by Avant-Garde Jazz, Post Bop, Contemporary Jazz, and Modal music of the time. Takeo Moriyama assembled a 5-piece ensemble for East Plants, which included bassist Hideaki Mochizuki, percussionist Yoji Sadanari, and tenor/soprano saxophonists Shuichi Enomoto & Toshihiko Inoue with arrangements by Moriyama & Toshihiko Inoue and entirely produced by Genji Sawai. Moriyama's long-time pianist, Fumio Itabashi, was, unfortunately, unable to play on East Plants, as well as its 1982 predecessor, My Dear, and as a result, the album showcases a uniquely sparse sound with just percussion, bass, and reeds, as well as other unorthodox textures. BBE's J Jazz Masterclass Series' mission is fairly simple: "to issue the finest in Japanese Modern Jazz in full re-production artwork with translated original notes, new essays, photos, and OBI strips." Takeo Moriyama's long-lost 1983 VAP album, East Plants, is now available on BBE Music in CD, digital album, and 2xLP vinyl formats, each complete with the aforementioned fully-immersive 2018 re-issue features.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Eminem Unveils Villainous "VƎNOM (Music from The Motion Picture)" Music Video from Tom Hardy's Venom & Kamikaze [Shady Records]

A couple months ago, Eminem surprise released his tenth studio album, Kamikaze, overnight between Thursday, August 30th into the early morning hours of Friday, August 31st with no prior announcement whatsoever. Kamikaze first caught my attention because of its front and back album artwork, an obvious homage to the Beastie Boys' genre-shaping 1986 debut, License to Ill, complete with cleverly scrawled "TIKCU5" and "FU-2" fighter jet tags. An obvious rebuttal to Eminem's widely-loathed and seemingly half-a$$ed 2017 album, Revival, Kamikaze, however, made headlines for homophobic slurs on Justin Vernon-assisted "Fall" allegedly, aimed towards controversial rapper/producer Tyler, The Creator. While, yes, this is unfortunate Em is still using such homophobic slurs in 2018, honestly, is anyone really all that surprised? Not that it makes it right, but Eminem has, unfortunately, been using racial, homophobic, misogynistic, and hateful speech since "My Name Is" from his commercial break-through, The Slim Shady LP (1999.) Despite all this controversy, I personally, enjoyed Kamikaze as much as one could/should; while this isn't Eminem's best album, it's also, far from his worst, especially, for an emcee nearly 30 years into his storied career. While we, here at The Witzard, DO NOT promote or endorse such hateful language... at this point, we really shouldn't be surprised by Marshall Mathers and his repeated attempts at garnering the spotlight however he can; even though, he's undoubtedly, one of the most skilled lyricists Hip-Hop, and music as a whole, has ever seen!

Aside from the aforementioned tracks, Kamikaze also, includes Machine Gun Kelly (MGK) feud re-igniting track, "Not Alike," to which MGK responded with lackluster "Rap Devil." Eminem, soon responded with Ether'ing diss track, "Killshot," to which Machine Gun Kelly responded with a... Tweet, which read: "2 weeks and 3 interviews later..." as well as a couple Emojis, silly hashtags, and a Dancing with The Stars meme. Yes, this is the state of Hip-Hop in 2018! DISCLAIMER: I'm a life-long Spider-Man super-fan, so, in my humble opinion, one of Kamikaze's saving graces was album closer "Venom (Music from The Motion Picture.)" Somehow, for whatever reasons, this is a Spider-Man-less Live Action/Super-hero film starring Hollywood hunk and former rapper Tom Hardy as Spidey's greatest adversary, Eddie Brock/Venom. Just this past Thursday night, on the eve of Venom's world-wide release, Eminem unleashed a sinister music video for "Venom (Music from The Motion Picture)" wherein a Revival CD births a Symbiote, which wreaks havoc upon the dimly-lit New York City streets. Sample lyrics: "Ain't no telling when this choke-hold / On this game will end, I'm loco / Became a Symbiote, so / My fangs are in your throat, ho / You're snake-bitten with my—venom!" Also, featured within the film (which I have yet to see!) are Venom-themed tracks from PUSHA-T and supposedly, Run The Jewels, as well as a score composed by frequent Childish Gambino collaborator Ludwig Göransson.

Foster & The Pranksters Share "Live As It Gets" (Prankster Remix) Feat. Royce da 5'9" from La Honda EP [A Band of Pranksters Publishing]

Foster & The Pranksters are a "Garage Rap"—essentially, Garage Rock + Hip-Hop—band hailing from Jersey City, New Jersey. Foster & The Pranksters consists of frontman Foster The Prankster, guitarist Mike "The Irate Genius" Chowanec, bassist Steve Padelski, and newest member, drummer Chris Stadler. The Pranksters are equally influenced by sharp-spitters, such as Yasiin Bey FKA Mos Def, Kanye West, The Roots, Wu-Tang Clan, and Lauryn Hill, as well and Classic/Alt. Rock icons like The Strokes, Jimi Hendrix, The White Stripes, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and The Black Keys. Since their 2016 debut single as a group, "Think Me a Fool," Foster & The Pranksters have garnered a sizable buzz, based on their signature blend of Blues, Hip-Hop, and Rock "N" Roll. Recorded in a marathon 12-hour "one-take" session, Foster & The Pranksters' latest EP, La Honda, is a collection of studio recordings, singles, and B-sides from the band's vault and live repertoire. La Honda EP stand-out, "Live As It Gets" (Prankster Remix) is, actually, an updated version of "Live As It Gets" from a 2009 mixtape Foster released under his now-retired rapping alias, Vibes, called THE NEW GENERATION, which is still currently available on DatPiff for comparative purposes.

Both the 2009 & 2018 versions of "Live As It Gets" feature a very special vocal assist from Bad Meets Evil, PRhyme, and Slaughterhouse emcee Royce da 5'9". "It's a completely different song, with Royce's verse being the only constant between them," Foster The Prankster explains. La Honda was, believe it or not, recorded in bassist Steve Padelski's parents' basement in one 12-hour recording session held on Saturday, June 28th, 2018. "While house-sitting for my parents, we set up some mics and laid down a few jams that we'd been sitting on for the past year," Padelski confirms. "What we recorded that weekend were some of the rawest cuts I've ever been a part of," he continued. Honestly, in addition to the aforementioned sources of influence and inspiration, Foster & The Pranksters' La Honda EP evokes Asher Roth's 2011 Pabst & Jazz mixtape and The Knux's genre-eschewing album, ERASER, from the same year, as well as self-proclaimed "noGENRE" Brooklyn-based quintet Phony Ppl. Foster & The Pranksters' La Honda EP is now available to stream or download on Apple Music, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Spotify, and like-minded digital streaming services. La Honda's release was, also, accompanied by a BTS Collage-style music video for "Live As It Gets" (Prankster Remix) Feat. Royce da 5'9" consisting of stitched together live performances, candid photos, and behind-the-scenes studio footage.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Titus Andronicus Return with Spook-tacular New "Home Alone On Halloween" EP from A Productive Cough Sessions (Merge Records +@)

Alright, ladies & germs - now, first and foremost, I don't generally post press statements in full, but this one was, honestly, just too good to pass up: "With Home Alone on Halloween, noted Rock band Titus Andronicus celebrate the spookiest of the seasons by staring into the abyss and confronting the bone-chilling terror, which lies at the haunted heart of our human experience. Bearing the justly feared catalog number "MRG666," the 12-inch EP spans 31 minutes and features three tracks recorded concurrently with the group's most recent full-length, A Productive Cough, offering an Autumnal tableau of dread and decay to complement its LP companion's Springtime visions of re-birth and new possibilities." Essentially, beloved Brooklyn-based Alternative/Hardcore/Punk/Folk quintet, Titus Andronicus (or +@ for short) have returned with their latest seasonally-appropriate offering titled Home Alone On Halloween. +@ kick off the particularly ghoulish affair with a slight re-work on "Home Alone" from their latest long-player, A Productive Cough, now, fittingly dubbed "Home Alone (On Halloween.)"

Home Alone On Halloween EP features a slightly more beefed up version of Titus Andronicus featuring "century" members Liam Benson, R.J. Gordon, Alexander Molini, Patrick Stickles, and Chris Wilson, as well as Cary Kehayan, Kevin S. McMahon, Matt "Money" Miller, Jane Scarpantoni, and Rick Steff. Matt "Money" Miller takes the lead, in lieu of frontman Patrick Stickles, on EP opener "Home Alone (On Halloween)" which, in my humble opinion, give The Misfits' festive mainstay, "Halloween," a run for its discount candy-buying money. It's an absolute bone-crusher of a composition that spans nearly 10 minutes and comes complete with seasonally-appropriate "BOO's," wails, and ghoulish sound effects. Next up is a Stickles-led cover of Bob Dylan's "Only a Hobo," which he originally recorded in 1963 and has appeared, in various forms, on The Bootleg Series, Vol 1-3: Rare & Unreleased 1961-1991, The Bootleg Series, Vol 9: The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964 (2010,) and 2013's Another Self-Portrait (1969-1971): The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10.

Last, but not least on Titus Andronicus' festive frolic is "A Letter Home;" a 17-minute multi-movement opus spanning a multitude of musical genres, styles, and deliveries that echoes +@'s 2015 5-act Punk Rock Opera, The Most Lamentable Tragedy AKA TMLT. Boston's B87FM posted this rather chilling statement attributed to Titus Andronicus frontman and mastermind, Patrick Stickles: "Death is not scary. Everyone has to die, but not everyone gets to die surrounded by love with the satisfaction of a life well-lived. What frightens me, far more than ghouls or goblins, is knowing that I may yet face the former without the comfort of the latter. When it comes to that of which nightmares are made, a Werewolf popping out of the bushes is nothing next to a life without love, when it is too late to turn back." Titus Andronicus' Home Alone On Halloween EP is currently available to purchase in a limited edition run of 12-inch vinyl on "seasonally-appropriate pumpkin-orange vinyl" from Merge Records, as well as digitally from your preferred streaming platform.