REVIEW: Venomous2000 & Kingshon’s “Still Connected”

Photobucket Venomous2000 has a brand new album in 2012 called Still Connected, which teams him up with produycer Kingshon to create a project that, as he says in the opening track, is a mission to help in the mission to save hip-hop, and the kind of music offered here will definitely be an inspiration for those who wish to fight the dope fight.

For those who want to hear a hip-hop album with top notch production, check out what Kingshon does here with the range of sample he chooses and what he does with them. You’ll hear a number of familiar sounds, but what I like is that with the tools of the trade and the ingredients to create, he adds something of himself into each of these tracks. It’s not lazy production, far from it, and I found myself concentrating on his tracks on the same level as the production greats.

As for Venomous2000, he has a charisma that doesn’t sound fake or forced, it sounds quite natural and it’ll make you want to hear each of the 16 songs featured on Still Connected. Maybe that comes from being East Coast and representing New Jersey, or simply choosing to keep to the (sometimes) unspoken honor system that genuinely becomes a state of mind and how you do things. How does he do things? Listen to “God’s Prison”, “Searching”, “Step 1, Rock 2”, and “Stress Relief”, which aren’t only songs but may come off to some as important and encouraging listens, teaching listeners that they’re not alone and dealing with the various things in our lives that tend to grind us down.

Smart/intelligent, exceptional, and maybe for some, life-affirming. Naysayers might read that and go “wow, that’s the recipe for corny” but I would say listen to it first before you throw out verbal vegetables. This is a powerful and positive hip-hop album that you will want to recommend to a lot of people, and you’re not going to be ashamed to say you’re a fan.

FREE MP3 DOWNLOAD: Depakote’s “I Live To Die And I Die To Live”

Photobucket Los Angeles-based producer Depakote is also one half of This City Is Hours, but for his own project, he is sharing an all-instrumental album showing his capabilities in the studio.

He calls his work “forward thinking”, which might be a bit of a boast but when you listen to it, I can hear he is much more than just getting random sample banks and looping things for the hell of it. He knows what to use and how to work with different variables to create different variables, which makes it possible to make music for a wide range of artists in different genre. There’s a moment in “Casnoc Is Dead” where the funky jazz moves from 4/4 to 3/4 as the music time-stretches and puts on a new uniform, before coming back and returning to 4/4 while sounding a bit tipsy and off-center. Depakote is sure to find a lot of different clients to work with, but would also enjoy to hearing him do a bit more “forward thinking’ on a regular basis. I’m locked in and ready for more.

VIDEO: Sleep Party People’s “Chin”

“Chin” is a new video by Sleep Party People, and the song is a nice blend of electronica mixed in with a nice pop sensibility, which may or may not be why they chose to include ballerinas in the video, as a representation of their gentle side. That’s not saying ballerinas can’t throw blows and fuck people’s shit up, but maybe that’s for their next video.

For those who wish to know, the dancer in the video is Caroline Baldwin.

BANDCAMP SUGGESTIONS: Us Natives’ “Used Vinyl Review”

Photobucket People who know me or follow this website will know my love of vinyl and records, and may assume “oh, this album is called Used Vinyl Review so he wants to cater to his fetish. To be honest, no, that’s not what it was. The album could have been called Used Band-Aid Residue and it still would have been up here. I want to encourage people to listen to my suggestions, especially if it was suggested/recommend by someone else, or I’ll do searches and come across something I think people would like. I review a wealth of music, but having it become a part of Bandcamp Suggestions is merely shining a brighter spotlight . By the time Us Natives got in concert with me to ask if I would be interested in listening and perhaps doing a review, I had to tell them “you will be a part of my Bandcamp Suggestions column.”

Us Natives come from Philadelphia where the hip-hop scene is vibrant and strong, and this production duo consisting of Ill Clinton & John E Cab sound like they could not only dominate the Philadelphia scene, but also work with everyone else in the U.S., North America, and the entire world. They merge their use of real instrumentation with “borrowed sounds” (i.e. sampling), so while you may recognize the funk of a familiar break in “Flashback”, you hear the potential when you hear how they blend and coordinate sounds, especially with the string and horn samples (sounds like it was taken from a soundtrack album I should know).

Outside of the hip-hop context, Us Natives would work well in creating some pretty moving audio soundscapes to where they could be ranked alongside The Avalanches, DJ Krush, Cut Chemist, and Jazzanova if they wanted that. Used Vinyl Review is a “prequel” to a full length album due out later this year, and while I could suggest how I’d like to hear it, I await to see and hear what they can do, for I am putting my faith and trust in them after hearing this.

SOME STUFFS/FREE MP3 DOWNLOAD: Exploring the operatic experience of Økapi

The moment someone talks about the label/collective Illegal Art, you’ll either go “I have no idea what that is” or “oh,
what kind of sounds would they like confiscated at airports?” This time around, Illegal Art are putting together elements of a release by Italy’s Økapi, this one credited under the name Økapi & Aldo Kapi Orchestra. The album is called Opera Riparata: Tribute To Bruno Munari, and while opera purists may not be into this at all, sound explorers will be, as it “borrows” from a number of famous works of opera, breaks it down to its core, then gathers up the dust and residue and creates something uniquely new-yet-familiar, done in the way that Økapi fans have come to know and envy.

To make it even more interesting, each piece put together is exactly 1 minute and 11 seconds in length, with a total of 40 tracks on the final project. A few “batches” of tracks have already been uploaded, but this is “Batch 7“(9.23mb), which will give you a feel for what Opera Riparata sounds like.

To hear other Økapi tracks unrelated to Opera Riparata, including one he uploaded yesterday, you may click to his Soundcloud page.

VIDEO: JustMe featuring Wonder Brown’s “Ceremonial Master”

Are you the master of kung fey? HEH? What did you…

Don’t make me kill you, for I will do it with pleasure?

Pleasure, huh? Heh. Let’s see about this.

Four days ago, JustMe offered a free download of his song called “Ceremonial Master” (which you can still find by clicking here. I really liked the song, and two weeks later, a video has been made available, and here it is.

Now, martial arts fans will notice a few things. While the song itself refers to Liu Chia-Hui and kung fu, the video shows a number of Japanese artifacts, specifically with one guy wearing a kimono with the Japan Air Lines logo in the back. Is there significance to this?

Kung fu elitism aside, it’s a damn good song and while the video isn’t 100% accurate, maybe I shouldn’t be spotting things that carefully. Just watch and enjoy.

SOME STUFFS/RECORD CRACK: England’s Mystery Jets take to Texas for new album

Mystery Jets
Mystery Jets have been around for a few years making music that has sweeped Europe, but they are hoping that for their fourth album, recording in the United States will also help them dominate North America with their brand of pop rock. The new album is called Radlands, which will be released in Europe this Monday (April 30th). Americans will have to wait another five weeks when it is released on June 5th. The music may make people think of Split Enz, Crowded House, The Alarm, R.E.M., or Wilco, but regardless of who you think they sound like, you’ll find out that their music can and will be addicting. They’re catchy, they know the lure of a good hook, and they’ll know how to keep you within their realm for awhile.

You can listen to two different tracks from the album, including a music video, by choosing the options below.

The vinyl version of the album will be released as a double LP with a 32 page illustrated comic called Radlands – The Ballad of Emmerson Lonestar. Only 500 copies of the 2-record set (with comic) will be pressed.

REVIEW: Lee Ranaldo’s “Between The Times And The Tides”

Lee Ranaldo In Sonic Youth‘s 30 year existence, each of them have worked a lot as a group, with one another in side projects, and on their own albums, so there has never been a shortage of music in their existence. While Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore have often been the focus, that has never taken away attention from the other members of the group. In fact, there are enough Lee Ranaldo fans who will tell you that his work is preferred over all others, or that it was his contributions to SY that stood out. That shows the diversity in their music and their fans. The group slowing down to a halt last year is not the reason Ranaldo has a new album, but the release of Between The Times And The Tides (Matador) may reveal how much he did contributed to the group, or at least it shines the light on Ranaldo, solo artist.

The songs on this album range from the courageous material that Sonic Youth fans have knowed and loved, while also showing a few of his unmistakable influences too, like the Neil Young-ish qualities of “Fire Island (Phases)”, while “Lost (Plane T Nice)” would be something you could easily hear being interpreted by everyone from Pete Townshend to John Mellencamp, or even Screaming Trees. It’s an album that sits well from start to finish, and when you have Steve Shelley playing drums on it throughout, along with help from John Medeski (whose playing in “Shouts” is worthy of a shout or two), Jim O’Rourke, Lea Singer, Nels Cline, and Alan Licht, he is in good company. Ranaldo could easily move into Jeff Tweedy territory, or at least to gain attention for his own music on its own terms. If you had taken exception to his songs with SY, you’ll love this. For Ranaldo fans, this is merely an extra component to his discography, and one that will be played repeatedly by everyone.

(NOTE: The Amazon version of the album on MP3 has an exclusive demo for the song “Lost”, which you can purchase below {the first box}.)

REVIEW: Shottie’s “Delorean”

Photobucket Hip-hop from all areas has never hesitated to talk about wanting better to find and live the good life, all while talking about struggling in this existence and at the same time, finding things to do to make time passing by much easier. It may not luxurious in the truest sense, and yet Miami’s Shottie has created an album that sounds like, with time, effort and determination, perhaps the jaunt in this existence can be as motivational as this music sounds.

Delorean is an album where Shottie has teamed up with producer Tev95, and if you’re familiar with his work, then you know what he’s capable of doing. He brings his techniques, talents, and keen ear to offer his support in a rapper who understands the good and bad of various elements of hip-hop, and makes it a point to show how to select the preferred elements to make something good. He could easily be a party rapper but keeps that under control. He could easily be hardcore or an extreme gangsta, but saves the gangsta-isms and prefers to shoot off some intelligence. It’s a true collaboration too, for while any producer can just squeeze out productions for the sake of effortless royalties, TeV95 truly listened to what Shottie was saying and what you’re hearing at times are musical interpretations of the stories.

Shottie has no problem in rhyming over a reggae vibe, something that might border on dubstep or IDM, a song that could easily open itself to be mainstream (“Aquaman” is an example of this) but when he does it, to my ears it does not lack what a lot of superstars try to do but fail. “Part Time Lover” is a slow jam, and while there are thousands of those in the genre, especially with a bit of Auto-Tune in the chorus, it’s a song that would make Timbaland go “oh, what is this? My name is not on this. Whoa!”

There’s a little bit of everything for everyone, so if you want a sliver of a Kanye West-vibe, Shottie shows his own level of coolness and it sounds like Shottie. There are enough smoothed out soulful moments that might make Phonte Coleman go “oh, I can dig this”. All this variety doesn’t hurt the pace of the album at all, it’s programmed quite well and I hope both he and TeV95 will continue to do more projects in the future. I also feel Shottie would be able to work with anyone and, without the producer knowing, teach them a few things. There’s a level of confidence I like, and while that may simply be knowing how to write and rap, it works to his benefit. Now get into that Delorean and let it ride.