REVIEW: Factor’s “Woke Up Alone”

 photo Factor_cover_zps51789e39.jpg Personally, I never liked the term “alternative hip-hop”. Things at one time were just good and bad, then it became hardcore vs. everything else, and that “everything else” was considered weak. Then it became gangsta vs. everything else, and with that came East Coast vs. West Coast. While I respect originality in hip-hop, the genre classification seemed more about separation than making music for a common cause, or it became a matter of “my means is better than more”. These days, if you’re not a mainstream artist, you’re not a part of the spectrum, which means you’re going to be ignored and forever a niche, which I find to be bullshit. That may not be why Factor called his album Woke Up Alone (Fake Four Inc.), but with the cover image of a doll lying on a bed next to a coffin, one could say that it not only represents our fears of dying alone and rolling into a convenient grave, but what hip-hop has become in the last 15 years.

Parts of Woke Up Alone sounds very mainstream and could easily pass off as something that a group like Linkin Park would end up doing. Then you have a track featuring vocalist Jean Boots called “Carry Over” and it may sound like something you’d find on a Handsome Boy Modeling School or Lovage album, where you know it doesn’t belong but you figure “it’s music, why shouldn’t it belong?” “Give Up” has a well known break beat sped up and made more intense with the rap flows that seem as if it’s about to roll off the tracks, but never does. The bpm is faster than the norm, and while you almost expect for it to be smoothed out on the Teddy Riley R&B Big Daddy Kane tip, it is actually… funkier? Yes, it is funkier than the known/norm, and that’s good.

Woke Up Alone sounds like those varied hip-hop albums from the early to mid-90’s, when artists will willing to throw everything in the bag to see what came up, from weird and not-typical samples to ways of rhyming that may not be traditional, to the topics that were not about being on and on til the like break of dawn, or busting caps in asses. As the song goes, you could get with this or you could get with that, and while getting with this is beneficial, sometimes you want to turn the other way to see what you come up with, and that’s what Factor has done. He relied on the trusted formulas, but then added his own two cents until he realized he had a coin jar to throw on the table.

REVIEW: Astronautalis & Rickolus’ “The Rainmakers” b/w “Fallen Street” (split 7 inch single)

Astronautalis & Rickolus photo Astronautalis_cover_zps1311f83e.jpg This new 7″ single (on Limited Fanfare Records) by Astronautalis and Rickolous is not only a split 7″, but a true collaboration in that one helps the other in their individual songs, ending up with something that is quite nice to listen to with repeat listens.

For “The Rainmakers”, it is Astronautalis who takes on lead vocals while Rickolus helps out in musical accompaniment, creating a hazy folk tale about looking at ones youth and comparing it to the rough times of adulthood. “Fallen Street” flips roles with Rickolus handling vocals and guitar, and Astronautalis providing the musical backdrop with built in drums and keyboards, as Rickolus sings about never going back to what was. It becomes the perfect companion to what the A-side talks about, but Rickolous’ vocal harmonies definitely has the feel of the old California sound from the 1970’s, one that could be embraced by the likes of Crosby Stills Nash & Young, America, The Eagles, or in a twisted way, Ween and cLOUDDEAD. Both songs sound like intimate recordings done in a bedroom/basement studio, but that intimacy works in the context of the song. They could also be hotel/motel recordings, or songs that wish to look for a way out of the confines that they’ve made. Take that how you want. A very nice recording.

(The vinyl pressing, with a limited edition of only 1000 copies, can be ordered directly from Limited Fanfare. As of this writing, there are under 50 copies left of the original first black vinyl pressing.)

SOME STUFFS: Why? announce tour dates for 2013

In support of their latest album Mumps, etc. (Anticon/City Slang), Why? are heading on the road early next year, beginning in Cincinatti, Ohio. This tour will bring them together with Dream Tiger, Sarah Winters, Astronautalis, Baths, and… well that’s it for the time being. If you like them all, enjoy their company courtesy of a stage:

February 8, 2013… Cincinnati, OH – The Taft Ballroom #$
February 9, 2013… Cleveland, OH – The Grog Shop #$
February 10, 2013… Rochester, NY – Water Street Music Hall #$
February 11, 2013… Hamden, CT – The Space #$
February 12, 2013… Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall #$
February 13, 2013… Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall Of Williamsburg #$
February 14, 2013… Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer #$
February 15, 2013… Falls Church, VA – State Theatre #$
February 16, 2013… Baltimore, MD – Ottobar #$
February 18, 2013… Columbus, OH – Ace Of Cups #$
February 19, 2013… Bloomington, IN – The Bishop #$
February 20, 2013… Galesburg, IL Knox College #$
February 21, 2013… Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall #$
February 22, 2013… Madison, WI – SETT @ UW Madison $
February 23, 2013… Minneapolis, MN – The Fine Line %
February 24, 2013… Fargo, ND – The Aquarium %
February 26, 2013… Billings, MT – Manny’s $
February 27, 2013… Missoula, MT – Wilma Theater $
February 28, 2013… Spokane, WA – A Club $
March 1, 2013… Seattle, WA – Neumo’s Crystal Ball$
March 2, 2013… Vancouver, BC – The Biltmore$
March 3, 2013… Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom $
March 4, 2013… Eugene, OR – W.O.W. Hall $
March 5, 2013… Oakland, CA – New Parrish Of Oakland $
March 6, 2013… San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall $
March 7, 2013… Pomona, CA – The Glasshouse $
March 8, 2013… San Diego, CA – Irenic $
March 11, 2013… El Paso, TX – Tricky Falls &
March 12, 2013… San Antonio, TX – White Rabbit &

$ = w/ Dream Tiger
% = w/ Sarah Winters
# = w/ Astronautalis
& = w/ Baths

SOME STUFFS: P.O.S. tours now for “…Now” never, Dessa, Astronautalis, and Grieves to join in

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The Never Better album by P.O.S. has pushed him to the forefront of something created by a publicist to make it sound effective. But you don’t want that, right? What you want to know is “WHY IN THE WORLD ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT MY FAVORITE RAPPER, P.O.S.?” I’ll tell you.

Because of the album, P.O.S. is about to hit the road with 40-dates on what he’s calling the Every Never Is Now Tour For the first half of the tour, Grieves will join him while the second half will feature Astronautalis. Meanwhile, Dessa will be with P.O.S. for the entire tour. She will be touring in support of her album, A Badly Broken Code, due out January 19th on Doomtree RecordsD. Here are the confirmed dates:

w/ Dessa and Grieves
January 29th First Avenue Minneapolis, Minnesota
February 2nd Jackpot Saloon Lawrence, Kansas
February 4th Black Sheep Colorado Springs, Colorado
Febraury 5th The Marquis Theatre Denver, Colorado
February 6th Kilby Court Salt Lake City, Utah
February 7th Urban Lounge Salk Lake City, Utah
Febraury 8th Neurolux Boise, Idaho
Febraury 9th Badlander Missoula, Montana
February 11th The Biltmore Cabaret Vancouver, Canada
February 12th Nectar Lounge Seattle, Washington
February 13th Berbati’s Pan Portland, Oregon
February 14th The WOW Hall Eugene, Oregon
February 16th Tonic Lounge Reno, Nevada
February 18th Bottom Of The Hill San Francisco, California
February 19th Troubadour Los Angeles, California
February 20th The Loft San Diego, California
February 21st Glass House Pomona, California
February 22nd Chasers Nightclub Scottsdale, Arizona
February 23rd Club Congress Tucson, Arizona
February 24th The Launchpad Albuquerque, New Mexico
February 26th Red 7 Austin, Texas
February 27th Hailey’s Denton, Texas

w/ Dessa and Astronautalis
February 28th The Parish Room New Orleans, Louisiana
March 2nd Club Downunder Tallahassee, Florida
March 3rd Backbooth Orlando, Florida
March 4th Masquerade Atlanta, Georgia
March 5th Local 506 Chapel Hill, North Carolina
March 6th DC9 Washington DC
March 7th First Unitarian Church Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
March 9th Bowery Ballroom New York, New York
March 10th Middle East Cambridge, Massachusetts
March 11th Space Portland, Maine
March 12th Higher Ground Burlington, Vermont
March 13th Il Motore Montreal, Quebec
March 14th Sneaky Dee’s Toronto, Ontario
March 16th The Crofoot Pontiac, Michigan
March 17th The Grog Shop Cleveland Heights, Ohio
March 18th The Bottom Lounge Chicago, Illinois
March 19th High Noon Saloon Madison, Wisconsin
March 20th Turner Hall Ballroom Milwaukee, Wisconsin
March 21st Pizza Luce Duluth, Minnesota