Thursday, February 18, 2010

Die Antwoord

Die Antwoord are a South African rave/hip hop group. They are MC Ninja, who has many dodgy tattoos and talks like a tweaked out, gangsta spud from Trainspotting, and Yo-Landi, who looks like a hot alien from a post apocalyptic future. Kind of like tweaker hip hop.  Their album is streaming at their website. I can't tell if it's brilliant or godawful, but I'm intrigued at least. They have a video for "The Ninja," but I prefer "ZefSide". High possibility it's all a joke. The production values are too high and they are too over-the-top for them to be the rednecks they claim to be. Maybe a joke, but a funny one.

Gil Scott-Heron: I'm New Here

I reviewed the new Gil Scott-Heron Album, I'm New Here, for RapReviews this week. I've been a fan of Scott-Heron for years, and this is a damn fine return, sixteen years after 1994's Spirits. It reminded me of Tom Wait's raspy blues.

Here's a video for "Me and The Devil," a reworking of the Robert Johnson classic:

The album is also full of spoken-word pieces, like this one:

Archie Bronson Outfit Review

(Originally posted on
Archie Bronson Outfit
Domino Records

Coconut is the third album from British garage rock trio the Archie Bronson Outfit. It comes four years after their last album, the well-reviewed Derdang, Derdang, and six years after their debut, Fur.
The Archie Bronson Outfit mix the stripped-down blues and garage rock of bands like the White Stripes and the Kills with the twitchy angularity of post-punk bands like Wire and Gang of Four. Singer/guitarist Sam Windett sings with shaky uncertainty, sounding like he's had too much disappointment, too much heartache, and too much coffee. He's backed by the propulsive rhythm section of Dorian Hobday on bass and guitar, and Mark Cleveland on drums. Their sound is kinetic, paranoid, and slightly out of control. It's a formula that can be very engaging, but can also wear out its welcome.
They address this problem by bringing in former DFA member Tim Goldsworthy to produce. As part of DFA, Goldsworthy was responsible for the post-punk disco sounds of the Rapture and LCD Soundsystem, as well as the nouveau disco of Hercules & the Love Affair. He forces the Archie Bronson Outfit to reign in their garage rock and dabble in dance punk.
While opening track "Magnetic Warrior" is standard ABO, "Shark Tooth" adds disco drum and bass to the discordant guitar, and layers Windett's voice in reverb. "Hoola" goes even further down the dance road, offering a four-on-the-floor beat, and toning down the guitar noise. "Chunk" works a mellow groove, sounding a little like the Talking Heads in one of their funkier moods.
Lest any longtime ABO fans think the boys are going soft, they offer some raging garage punk on songs like "Wild Strawberries" and the cacophonous "You Have a Right to a Mountain Life/One Up On Yourself."
The album ends with the melodic, jangly "Run Gospel Singer," which could almost be a sweet song if it wasn't surrounded by so many creepy effects. Windett sounds like he's singing from the grave, and the band sound like they are accompanying him from the underworld. There is a similar effect to the psychedelic "Bite It and Believe," in which Windett seems to be singing from the bathroom outside of the studio.
Coconut sees the Archie Bronson Outfit expanding their sound pallet, getting out of their comfort zone, and growing as artists. Tim Goldsworthy helps the band beef up their sound without losing their identity, adding grooves without losing the anxiety and nervousness that make the band tick. The end result is an album that should please fans of the Archie Bronson Outfit as well as LCD Soundsystem fans impatient for James Murphy to finish the follow up to Sound of Silver.

Archie Bronson Outfit - Shark's Tooth on MUZU

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bekay and Green Lantern Reviews

I did two reviews for RapReviews this week. First up is a the Hunger Pains Remix EP from Brooklyn rapper Bekay

Here's a video with original versions of both songs on the album.

Also reviewed DJ Green Lantern's Myspace Invasion 6 mixtape.  Meh, although the Lx Traq song was pretty awesome. What does Lx Traq even mean?

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Chosen Few Review

I reviewed Chosen Few's New World Symphony on RapReviews last week. They are a conscious crew from the Bay Area on the Hieroglyphics label.

They have a site at where you can stream some of their songs.

Worth a listen.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Toro Y Moi Review

Toro Y Moi
Causers of This
Carpark Records

(Originally posted on Blogcritics)
Toro Y Moi is the alter ego of 23-year-old Chaz Bundick, who hails from Columbia, South Carolina. Causers of This is his debut album, although Toro Y Moi has existed as a bedroom project for ten years. It's chillwave in the vein of Neon Indian, and on paper at least both Bundick and Neon Indian's Adam Palomo have a lot in common. They both live in the South, they both have backgrounds in arts (Paloma studies film and Bundick studied graphic design), they are both influenced by 80s music and yet are too young to remember that decade, and they both embrace their retro/dated influences lovingly and without much irony.

Toro Y Moi offers a softer edge to Neon Indian's jagged drugginess. The music is a conglomeration of 80s R&B and new wave, 90s shoegaze, and a little Y2k hip hop. There is a sterile funkiness to Toro Y Moi that brings to mind the shoulder pads, Jheri curls, and drum machines of bands like the Time and Ready for Sheila, along with the angular hairdos and faux androgyny of the Human League and Flock of Seagulls. "Blessa," the first single, combines synth washes with a slinky keyboard groove as Bundick pines in the background "it's hard to let you in/it lets you know that I was hurt." "Minors" is dreamy synth-pop, like a computerized Slowdive. "Imprint After" is built around electric piano and Bundick's reaching falsetto.

"Lissoms" combines analog keyboards with a glitchy beat. "Fax Shadow" "Freak Love" and "Thanks Vision" go further in the glitchy direction, and lay bare Bundick's love of J Dilla. He chops up elements in the songs in the same way that Dilla chopped up samples on Donuts. "Low Shoulders" references the sounds of 80s, but gives them a healthy infusion of contemporary keyboard effects. It's all performed with sincerity, and you never get the feeling that Bundick is trading on cheap irony. As with Neon Indian, the dated sounds are tools and not punchlines.

Bundick's voice is fine when it's buried in the mix or manipulated with effects, but it's not strong enough to stand on its own, as it does on "Low Shoulders and "Causers of This." Listeners will find his voice either endearingly honest or amateurish. Either way it's not a dealbreaker, but it made me realize that there was probably a reason why Kevin Shields' voice was buried so deep on all of My Bloody Valentine's songs. Also, like My Bloody Valentine's Loveless, or the Cocteau Twins' music, Causers of This is more a collection of sounds and moods than actual songs. There is an ethereal quality the music that makes easy to enjoy but difficult to grasp. After multiple listens the songs began to bleed together, becoming one continuous blur rather than eleven distinct tracks.

Causers of This melds its diverse influences into a concoction that is dreamy, filled with longing, and balances the nostalgic sounds of analog synthesizers with ideas borrowed from contemporary electronic music and instrumental hip hop. It is also further proof that there just might be legs to this whole chillwave thing. At the very least Toro Y Moi are worth listening to, and make an enjoyable soundtrack to a lazy Sunday morning.
(Photo by Bryan Bush)


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