As the Hip-hop lightning rod of 2012, Chief Keef has a lot riding on his major-label debut. The problem with the pressure is that Keef’s notoriety is not based on the talents people are expecting to hear in his songs. It’s based more on the timing of his emergence. The murder rate in his hometown of Chicago turned attention to him in a way that no rapper has experienced in recent memory. The zeitgeist of gun violence made the nihilistic anthem “I Don’t Like” strike an open nerve with people who have no business speaking on Rap music.
With that …read on

, 22 December 2012

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Among the many burgeoning subgenres of post-metal, there is one band that is consistently named as a starting point: Neurosis has been bending and rending metal, punk, crust, sludge, drone, doom, ambient, folk, and other odd musical categories since 1985. Their latest, Honor Found in Decay (Neurot Recordings, 2012) more than illustrates both why they’re the godfathers of this sound and what exactly it is that all of their progeny are still trying to achieve.
On their tenth studio outing, the Oakland sextet gathers together pieces from their storied past to pull off a defining document of their sound. Honor …read on

, 17 October 2012

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Om, which was once two-thirds of stoner deities Sleep and used to sound like a loose approximation of just that, hath leapt beyond their roots into something much less earthbound. Advaitic Songs is the sound of a band coming into its own.
While other Om-related ensembles (e.g., Grails, Shrinebuilder, Sleep, et al.) have flirted with religious themes and motifs, this record finds Al Cisneros and Emil Amos sounding downright spiritual. This is music for a power higher than the previously almighty herb.
There are only five songs here, “five roads subsumed by grace,” but they clock in at just under …read on

, 03 September 2012

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How much reference to previous work is the right amount? Thomas Kuhn called the dialectic between tradition and innovation the “essential tension,” and Erik Blood has found the perfect middle. To call Touch Screens unoriginal would be to admit you didn’t listen to it. Yes, this is stuttery, gooey, taffy-like pop in the vein of Brad Laner and Kevin Shields, but Blood puts these things together with that third thing, the thing that comes from more than just nailing the essential tension.

“Most of [the shoegazers] couldn’t rock their way out of a paper bag,” once quoth Simon Reynolds. Not so …read on

, 24 August 2012

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The premiere BMX zine, Aggro Rag Freestyle Mag, is back after a twenty-two-year hiatus. Mike Daily is back at the helm, and his deep connections in the world of old school flatland and rejuvenated love of Hip-hop are both evident here. This issue is basically an oral history of 1980s flatland freestyle BMX. It sports fifteen interviews with flatland’s finest, including Aaron Dull, Jim Johnson, Gary Pollak, Derek Schott, Gerry Smith, Marc McKee, Chris Day, and Dave Nourie, as well as current ripper Chad Johnston. There are also interviews with Dark Time Sunshine and Aesop Rock (the latter …read on

, 24 August 2012

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Killer Mike: No, really...

If this video doesn’t move you in some way, you’re probably dead. First of all, the pairing of Killer Mike on the mic and El-Producto on production is a match made somewhere south of Heaven: It’s dark, it’s evil, it’s raw, and it’s hard as fuck and the record they just did, R.A.P. Music, proves it many times over. Next, we have this straight bananas lead track “Big Beast,” including sick verses by Bun B. and T. I. that will remind you why they’re both Hip-hop legends, and a catchy chorus by Trouble. Then, we have this face-eating, car-chasing, enthusiastically violent video that has them all doing some ill shit (that’s El-P in the mask). Like I said, check your pulse.

, 08 June 2012

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To explicate the pedigree of Justin K. Broadrick would require a book-length exploration, but let’s try to nick the surface. He was a founding member of Napalm Death, invented and inverted genres in Godflesh, and happily drones in headphones in Jesu—not to mention stints in final, Head of David, Fall of Because, Ice, God, Techno Animal, Greymachine, and Pale Sketcher, among others. Now Broadrick revives his JK Flesh moniker to make some noise that doesn’t fit under any of his other active names. The sounds on Posthuman land between the lines and demonstrate that the disc deserves its own designation. …read on

, 07 June 2012

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Color Me Obsessed: A Film about The Replacements

The Replacements might be one of the most important American rock and roll bands ever, and Color Me Obsessed is an oral history told by their friends and fans. This film was made with current fans in mind, and they’re likely to love it. I caught a screening at Austin’s own Alamo Drafthouse where director Gorman Bechard was on hand for questions.

“Not wanting to make a VH1/where-are-they-now style documentary, I decided to present the band in a more iconic way,” Bechard explains. “I thought, people believe in God without seeing or hearing him but rather through the passion, faith, and stories of others. After watching Color Me Obsessed, I’m pretty sure music fans will believe in The Replacements in much …read on

, 01 May 2012

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Ice Cube on Charles and Ray Eames

Game recognize game. As unlikely as it might seem, veteran emcee Ice Cube studied architectural drafting before becoming one of the architects of West Coast Rap music. In this video clip from Pacific Standard Time, he extols the ephemeralization of LA-based mid-century modern designers Charles and Ray Eames. Hip-hop was created by making a lot out of a little, and the Eames were the masters of that.
Cube also drops science on Los Angeles in general, including the modes and moods of its traffic.
As Charles Eames himself once said, “Eventually, everything connects.”
Word.

, 19 April 2012

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The Unbookables are a loose band of comedians (emphasis on “loose”) handpicked by Doug Stanhope.This movie documents their 2008 tour of the middle of the country, from my own Austin, Texas through Kansas City, Missouri to Peoria, Illinois. The cast of characters (emphasis on “characters”) includes Brendon Walsh, Sean Rouse, Andy Andrist, Norman Wilkerson, Brett Erickson, Travis Lipski, James Inman, and Kristine Levine. The unfortunate star of the show is James Inman. If nothing else, this film documents how reckless behavior can bring people together as well as single out one of them.
The first gig is at Nasty’s in …read on

, 17 April 2012

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