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.
—Roy Christopher, 22 December 2012
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
—Roy Christopher, 17 October 2012
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
—Roy Christopher, 03 September 2012
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
—Roy Christopher, 24 August 2012
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.
—Roy Christopher, 07 June 2012
My dude Timothy hath wrought it and brought it again. From the germinal Atoms Fam to the mighty Hangar 18, Tim “Alaska” Baker is an emcee who’s been slept on for too long, so long in fact that he’s pretty well over this rap shit. The Crack Epidemic might be your last chance to give him his well-deserved props.
If Alaska is just a big, cold state you’ve never been to and you don’t have any idea who Tim is, don’t worry. The opening track on The Crack Epidemic’s American Splendor, “Bright Lights,” is a brief history of the man on
—Roy Christopher, 09 June 2011
There are several bands jostling for the heavy, arty interstices between the monoliths of Neurosis and Radiohead, and though healthy hiatuses have left Cave In making less entries than say, Muse, they bring the best together like no other.
Cave In started off as one of the proto-metalcore ensembles of the late 1990s, but after a few germinal genre recordings (the undisputed classics Beyond Hypothermia and Until Your Heart Stops), they switched their vibe from introspection to outer space. A major change as such is not easy: Think Kill Holiday or Corrosion of Conformity, but on Jupiter (2000) and Antenna
—Roy Christopher, 07 June 2011