It’s been over a decade since One Be Lo first burst on to the Midwest’s hip-hop scene as part of the now legendary Binary Star and he’s still more than alive and kicking. His fourth solo release since the original dissolution of Binary Star, L.A.B.O.R., is due out on September 6th and if its first single “The G.O.A.T.” is any declaration of what’s in store One Be Lo’s powerful wordplay and trade marked murky and soulful beats are back in full form.
I must have seen her face before
If I were to list out all the bands that I’ve ever seen live and list them in accordance to how many times I’ve dragged my ass down to some dive of a venue to see them, RX Bandits would proudly sit atop that list. Since my introduction to them back when they were just a politicized 3rd wave ska act through their growth into one of the most forward thinking acts in modern music I’ve had the honor to see them one shy of a dozen times – but it was the last two shows, two of their last three shows ever (and last in the vicinity of their southern California home) that proudly affirm how special they really are/were. Their sets at the Mayan Theater in the heart of downtown Los Angeles and two days later at the Glasshouse a half hour inland in Pomona made the previous 9 RX Bandits shows that I have attended seem reserved in comparison, which is no easy feat.
Part 1: August 4th, 2011 @ the Mayan Theater
Shows at the Mayan are always a mixed bag. On one hand the size of the venue and its stunning décor that looks ripped straight out of the intro scene of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark add a remarkable ambiance…
Scottish post-rock act Mogwai gave their fans the first glimpse at their upcoming EP Earth Division this week with the haunting “Get to France”. The eerie piano driven piece is the EP’s lead off track and comes off as the warped bastard cousin of songs like “Friend of the Night”. If this is any indication to the mood of Earth Division then it looks like we’re in for a treat.
Victory Records, I am disappoint…
Joining Godspeed You! Black Emperor for the night was the stoner-drone band Om. Om took the stage right before nine o’clock. Consisting of bassist and vocalist Al Cisneros (the name should be familiar to anyone who has listened to the pioneering sludge band Sleep), Emil Amos on drums (who also plays in Grails), and multi-instrumentalist Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, Om’s spiritual bass grooves entranced the crowd at the Fox Theater for a solid forty minutes. Playing a set consisting mainly of tracks from their God Is Good album, Cisneros’ rolling bass grooves and zen like vocals had the audience hypnotized, but this was the calm before the storm, as when it became time towards the latter half of their set, things became more ferocious,…
I’ve listened to a lot of mashups in my day. Normally they are party tracks that take a popular club beat and superimpose the vocals of a top 40 track of the moment ala Girl Talk or sometimes they tend to dig a little bit deeper to give us something like last year’s Kids and Explosions or the noted Jay Z/Linkin Park collaboration, but every once and a while I’ll stumble upon a mashup that truly leaves me floored. Four Tet’s mash up of Nas’ “It Ain’t Hard to Tell” with Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s “Sleep” is simply mesmerizing. The ebb and flow of Nas’ rhymes and the gentle swell of strings that build and build come together so flawlessly that it was almost as if they were made for each other.
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Having already broken out in his native England, Frank Turner is a rising star in the US punk community as of late. As if his signing to Epitaph for all his releases stateside wasn’t enough of a sign that the British singer-songwriter has been gaining his footing in the states, successful tour spots with The Offspring and Social D on top of a number of headlining runs all across the country have exposed Frank to thousands of new fans. Last night at the Troubadour, located in the west-side of Los Angeles, a sold out crowd sang their hearts out to a venerable folk-punk smorgasbord. Even California punk legends such as NOFX’s Fat Mike and Bad Religion guitarist/Epitaph Records head honcho Brett Gurewitz could be seen roaming the grounds among the fans.
The night began with Lansing, Michigan’s Cheap Girls. The only act of the night that didn’t feature acoustic guitars, Cheap Girls took control of the gathering crowd with their upbeat Texas is the Reason by way of The Replacements brand of crunchy, no-frills rock and roll. Given the context of the rest of the night, they were a wonderful appetizer to the main course of Andrew Jackson Jihad and Frank Turner. The only downside was that given the crowd’s unfamiliarity with their material and the incredibly low placement of singer and bassist’s Ian Graham’s vocals in the overall mix killed the potential audience participation factor during their performance.
Despite Frank Turner’s name being on top of…
Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers is a fucking genius idea for a mash-up album. I mean The Beatles and the Wu-Tang Clan, does it get any better than that? Yep. Not only are some of the best raps in hip-hop showcased, but the tracks they are put over aren’t just pulled from the Fab Four’s studio takes, they are culled from a range of Beatles covers that offer up a new and unique experience not only for Beatles fans, but for Wu fans as well. Case in point, “Forget Me Not”. Originally found on Inspectah Deck’s Uncontrolled Substance, the track is completely transformed when put up against Jamaican guitar legend Ernest Ranglin’s jazzed up cover of “You Won’t See Me”, making the original practically obsolete.
Wu-Tang vs. The Beatles – “Forget Me Not”
Narrows – “Recurring”
I’m not as familiar as I probably should be with Japanese Instrumental Hip-Hop. Nomak and the now deceased Nujabes always seemed like the two brightest stars to emerge from the Japanese archipelago, both combining smooth beats over an even smoother mix of jazz and traditional Japanese instrumentation and melodies. With his 4th album, Dynamic Meditation Instrumental Limited, Nomak still sticks with this sound, molding his country’s past with Hip-Hop’s future. On an album full of relaxed, chilled out cuts, “The Universe” just happens to be a little bit more cool, a little bit more relaxing than the rest. It is pure Nomak.
Nomak – “The Universe”
Out of all of my new musical finds this year, none have captivated me as much as Noumenon. The Chicago area math rockers just released their Big Scary Monsters debut Party Mathematics earlier this month and really there is no more fitting a name for the zany, technical bliss that is Noumenon. The flippantly titled “Algoresrhythm” is an off-kilter bundle of ever shifting melodies that’s tied together by what may be one of the catchiest god damn vocal hooks of 2010. By the way, did I mention that their EP can be downloaded here?
Noumenon – Algoresrhythm
There’s something so entrancing about the grimy heart of downtown Los Angeles. The old, art deco theaters converted into pawn shops and jewelry exchanges, the frames of the high-rises blocking out any of the remaining evening sunlight, and if you’re anywhere more than a two blocks away from the Staples Center and LA Live how even the fast food restaurants shut down early due to the city’s overall shadiness. In this run down and burnt out shell of a bustling metropolis lies the Mayan Theater. Despite lying in the heart of what is essentially a slum, the Mayan is Los Angeles’ most architecturally stunning venue, featuring hand carved walls and supports that make visitors feel like they’ve stepped into the Temple of Doom, not to mention it also houses the biggest god damn disco ball I have ever seen over its stage. Last night Minus the Bear owned it. Having sold out the 1500 seat venue, they were joined by indie-pop upstarts Young the Giant and bluesy alt-rockers Everest.
Young the Giant started things off. With the crowd still filling in, they played a rather entertaining set full of jangly tunes that came off sounding like a slightly less adventurous version of The Dodos. Once the crowd, an awkward and segregated mix of NPR types and teenage scenesters, warmed up to them they fed off of the audience’s applause, making the final half of their set more lively than the first. Everest on the other hand, while good…