» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum

July 10, 2009
Glaciers of Ice: Volume 41

First things first: let's catch up with some June releases that were missed last time around:

DJ JS-1's life encompasses all elements of hip-hop culture. Besides his production and DJ work, he is also known as JERMS, a prominent graffiti writer whose work has appeared in magazines across the world. His new album, No Sellout (Fat Beats), is a marvel, not so much for the production (which is confident and capable), but the remarkable cast he's put together to help out. Pick a track and your favorite rapper is probably on it - Sean Price, Vast Aire, KRS-One, Sadat X, Big Noyd, J-Live, and Kool Keith are just some of the talent who grace this 21-track album. Sometimes an ensemble affair like this doesn't work, but in this case, it all comes together.

Dead Prez have teamed up with DJ Green Lantern for Pulse of the People (Boss Up Inc./Invasion Music Group). Before listening, for some reason I found it difficult to reconcile Dead Prez's politics and sensibility with Green Lantern's commercial-skewed beats and screams of "Invasion!" But it really works here (and Lantern lays off the yelling). Lantern's hard-edged, dead-serious beats complement Dead Prez's lyrics perfectly, and guests like Styles P and Bun B match the intensity. '70s funk infiltrates many songs on the album, from the Curtis Mayfield-reinterpreting "Runnin' Wild" to the electric guitars and soulful vocals of "Warpath." Listen to this album repeatedly to catch all of Dead Prez's thoughts and insights.

The Kidz in the Hall's Naledge has a new mix CD out this month, Chicago Picasso (Duck Down). Hosted by Mick Boogie and featuring a variety of producers and guest MC's, this collection is more vibrant and interesting than anything Naledge has done with Kidz by a long shot.

Pseudo Slang is a group consisting of Emcee Slick and producer Tone Atlas. Their new album, We'll Keep Looking (Fat Beats), is a tribute to '90s golden era hip-hop. The beats are distinctly smooth and jazzy, even recalling the walking bassline of Digable Planets' "Rebirth of Slick" on the track "Walkin'". If that's not proof enough, Vinia Mojica appears on the song "Broke & Copasetic," a singer known to many for her work with A Tribe Called Quest. You get the picture. But Pseudo Slang's work stands on its on, and this album is well worth checking out.

The new album from Lushlife, Cassette City (Rapster), is something like a phenomenon. His beats are thick, sonically textured, and smooth, and his collaborations, while sometimes unorthodox, are highly successful. On "Another Word For Paradise," Camp Lo do what they do so well over a funky, horny beat. But two other songs really show the eccentricities of the album. "The Songbird Athletic" features Deerhoof's drummer, Greg Saunier, and Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend, while "In Soft Focus" pairs Aerial Pink and Detroit rapper Elzhi. On the former song, Saunier's drumming sounds kind of thrown in at the last minute, a light pattering over the heavy main beat. But the latter track melds together weirdly and wonderfully.

The second volume of Dillanthology came out last month, Dilla's Remixes for Various Artists (Rapster), featuring songs that are much less known than the first volume. As the name clearly states, these are remixes, and the artists involved vary from Four Tet to De La Soul to Slum Village to DJ Cam. This is yet another window into Dilla's seemingly endless creative output, further reminding us that his death has left a void in hip-hop.

Last month, some more hip-hop magic courtesy of Duck Down came in the form of Torae and Marco Polo's Double Barrel, a hard-edged mixtape-style album featuring members of BCC and legends like Masta Ace and DJ Premier. Duck Down is one of the only labels still consistently putting out grimy NYC hip-hop, seemingly unconcerned with commercial appeal or record sales. That's a good thing, by the way. Torae's belligerent flow pairs up well with Polo's snappy production, creating one of the better rap albums of this year.

Staten Island crew The Higher Concept have a (not so) clever play on acronyms in the title of their new mixtape, Got THC?. Fine. But the trio does their NYC version of West Coast Jurassic 5-style hip-hop fairly well, aiming for a melodic, softer version of rap music that incorporates a great deal of guest singers. The group is more successful when they lighten up, as on the bluesy song "Talk to Me." Also, the smooth-jazzy "Coast to Coast (I'm So High)" is airy and buttery. The rest of the album, though, is competent but doesn't really stand out.

The Wu-Tang Clan's most underrated member, U-God, attempted a comeback of sorts last month with his latest solo album, Dopium (Babygrande). He's helped out by a few friends on several tracks, sometimes with spectacular results. The opener, "Train Trussle," featuring Ghostface and Scotty Wotty, and "Magnum Force," featuring Jim Jones and Sheek Louch, are both heavy-handed but effective efforts. U-God employs a different tactic with three bonus tracks that close out the album, all of which are dance remixes from the likes of Bloody Beetroots, Yuhsek, and Felix Cartel. Look, U-God has always been one of my favorite members of the Clan, delivering some of the most punchy verses on various members' solo albums. Unfortunately, he fails to live up to his potential here. Maybe he's better off one step out of the spotlight.

Another June Babygrande release was from Grand Puba, the ex-Brand Nubian member and solo artist. Retroactive finds Puba in superb form, his easygoing and slightly smirking flow matching producer PHD's beats excellently. "How Long" sounds like an unfortunate excursion into Autotune. But fellow '90s veteran Q-Tip shows up as a guest MC and producer on "Good To Go," and Large Pro helps out on "Same Old Drama." This isn't a bunch of old dudes sitting around reminiscing about when they were dope, though. They still are.

I am seriously disappointed with Cage's new album, Depart From Me (Def Jux). More harrowing details of his fucked up past dealing with family and drug abuse are played out over morose beats that step a bit too far into the Linkin Park world of rap-rock fusion. Come on, man! First you team up with Shia LeBeou (he directed the video for "I Never Knew You"), and now this? Stop it now. Hell's Winter was so good, but this fails to reach those heights. El-P provides some decent beats, like the intro track, "Nothing Left to Say." But the majority of the album is produced by Hatebreed's F. Sean, resulting in bro'd out metal bass and guitars. No thank you.

On to July… LA-based MC Awol One has teamed up with producer Factor on Owl Hours (Fake Four Inc.). In his distinctive drawl, Awol raps, sings, and cavorts his way through 11 tracks that range from blippy hip-hop to dance music to folk-influenced boom-bap. Awol and Factor continue to expound upon their unique vision of the future of hip-hop. Guests include Myka 9, Aesop Rock, Tha Liks, and executive producer Xzibit, all of whom sound like they're up for the challenge.

Accomplished LA-based producer and former Celestial Recordings head, Troublemaker, has a new album out this month, The Maestro (Hollyrock/Soul Kitchen Music). With one foot in rap and the other set firmly in electronic and dance music, Troublemaker creates a vibrant and colorful medley of styles and beats. Whether joined by rappers Phoenix Orion or Baby Cashtrid, or helped out by Messinian on the electro-rocking "All Night," Troublemaker displays a wealth of knowledge regarding drum and bass, techno, and hip-hop. This album is ear candy, but it's effectively sweet and addictive.

Bay Area MC Dego's tersely titled new album, The Album (Camillion Entertainment), is hard to peg into any particular category. Too Short guests on "Still a Playa," but it's not gangster funk. "We Want" is political and thoughtful, but it's not a mission statement. And "Can I" features syrupy female vocals, but it's definitely not r'n'b. So what is it? It's worth listening to so you can decide for yourself.

That's all for now, so until next month… e-mail with thoughts and insults, and send me yer shit! I'll listen to it. Glaciers is ghost like Casper.

Jonah Flicker
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.

See other articles by Jonah Flicker.



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