Tag Archive: “SideOne Dummy”

It’s been quite the week. I don’t normally share anything personal but the intensity of this week borders on insanity. Medical issues surrounded me but everything and everyone seems to be healing, thank goodness. Situations force you to put things in perspective on occasion but as the week rolls by you have the sound of reality bludgeoning your eardrums, asking you to please pay attention. My life is filled at times with movie quotes an song lyrics because sometimes they just make sense at the moment.

That seems to happen sometimes with Lando Chill whose new album The Boy Who Spoke To The Wind (Mello Music Group) seems to be the resulting product of a systematic problem many have faced throughout the years. While his debut For Mark, Your Son was tribute to his father, his sophomore release is a rallying cry. Where group’s like Public Enemy were at the forefront of establishing a formula of noisy elements filtered in its powerful music along with Chuck D’s clear and precise imagery of oppression and revolution, rapper/wordsmith Lando Chill takes a different approach.  He wants you to take in his words, but he won’t force you to do what he says. That’s not his style. Chill wants you to comply but he’s not going to make you. “Break Them Shackles” is filled with metaphors that tells a story about an oppressed culture but he knows one thing though, and when he shouts, “We about to look good when we break them shackles one day” you know exactly what he’s referring to. It’s all set to straight-forward beat, driven by a few notes on a piano that’s infectious. “The King Of Salem” doesn’t stray far from the theme but when he mentions “…to Malcolm, Martin / and some voodoo from Wakanda / and still they call my tribe people savages…” he’s telling the story of intelligence and power that hasn’t been silenced. All this under a dark and spooky timbre of a backdrop which has a haunting bassline. Chill’s humor isn’t missed on “People Are Evil,” where he sings “All of my people are evil” and “Now why are we so evil? Why they killing all are people.” He uses this catchy laid back joint to draw on images of death because of misconception and perception. Possibly one of my favorite tracks on the album, that is until we get to “No Paz” (no peace) which has a bouncy beat that follows a Family Stone-type intro. It’s interesting how clearly his vision is expressed. It shows his anger without being angry. Lando Chill isn’t strictly about politicizing what he sees on a daily basis as “o sicario e o padre” he raps about struggle with his art and how “Everybody wants to ride that train to Basquiat / but they ain’t about that life / they ain’t never hit that rock bottom.” The gospel of Chill has been edited here where the struggle of the black man takes precedence on The Boy Who Spoke To The Wind but it doesn’t overshadow who Lando Chill is: a fierce artist who gets his point across through the imagery his words display. The album isn’t an easy listen, which it shouldn’t be. It should make you feel uncomfortable at times because as a society and as people, we’re all complex. This release holds 14 tracks; 14 powerful songs.

LandoChill

For some reason I find Terence Ryan to be quite the conundrum. Everything I’ve read about Ryan I probably would have pegged him as something different but the way this 20-something year old does leaves me confused is a good thing. Born to and raised by working class parents, this suburban kid didn’t grow up with anyone else who was musically inclined surrounding him. But that’s of no consequence because with his debut full-length Don’t Panic (3QTR/Kobalt Music Recordings), he’s on a clear path to domination. Ryan seems to have more soul in his blood than one would believe.  From the moment this album begins it reveals nothing but sincerity, hope and strength. “Mean It,” comes across as pop wonder, with so many nods to an R&B culture that came before him.  From beginning to end, even at its quieter moments there’s power within the song. When Ryan sings “I want to mean it/ Lord, give me meaning” he holds nothing back, never wavering. But the power of this one track doesn’t overshadow what follows with the remaining numbers on the album, not by a long shot. “Nothin'” trails off the path, much more laid back but brimming with so much swagger and beauty. But it isn’t as if Ryan is a one trick pony because his quieter moments are just as urging. “Just A Spark” begins with a ballad-esque feel but then morphs into a slower jam with a contained will to explode.  He’s a fascinating character that switches thing up on more than one occasion, blistering through his acoustic guitar on “Agoura CA A Particular Time In Eternity.” This is where Ryan shows his range and it’s scary. When he hits those higher notes, images of Jeff Buckley haunt me.  It will leave you paralyzingly awestruck. I want to say something negative about Don’t Panic because nothing should be so perfectly wound tight, but there’s nothing I can hold against Ryan. “Rock Bottom” showcases that same beautiful voice of his and musically there’s a play on dynamics here and songs like “To Live And Die In New England,” an ode to his home territory, shows how he can just do it all. I’m dumbfounded as to why Terence Ryan isn’t a huge star. He has the talent and the chops to take it all. The world just needs to catch up to him.

Terence Ryan

Rounding out the trifecta of releases this week is Precious Art (SideOne Dummy), the fourth release for Rozwell Kid. The album leaves the band on the precipice of its career. Some group’s have to wonder on occasion if they should regroup, press the eject button, or simply move forward and continue to write and release music.  It’s a good thing the members decided to continue because the album is rife with clever pop songs with a hook at just about every turn, which is what the kids love. Throughout the years the West Virginia act has honed its skill and there’s no argument that all four members are tightly wound together, so much so where I’m sure they know where one’s instrument ends and the other begins. But one thing about Rozwell Kid though, I’m not sure if I’m completely sold on the band. Sure they write those clever pop songs but there isn’t something that makes me want to listen to them over and over again. I’m not discounting Precious Art because it does have happy, cheerful songs that you can dance to around in your bedroom but I can’t easily distinguish this band from any other groups if I heard their songs being played on the radio. In other words, Rozwell Kid isn’t identifiable. In a line-up, I probably wouldn’t know who they were but hey, it’s a well crafted album.

photo - Emily Dubin

 

Lando Chill – Facebook // Twitter // Instagram
Rozwell Kid – Facebook // Twitter // Instagram
Terence Ryan – Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

It’s another Friday and this week a few friends have expressed how there’s a feeling of  dread when it comes to rock music. It’s difficult to argue that point considering just about everything you find on the radio is bland and has a mass pop appeal to it. But it’s something that always comes up and is a never-ending cycle. But you have to look past what’s in front of you and dig deep for something viable on your own. So of course, rock isn’t dead; that’s a hearty “no.” Real rock has always remained on the fringes and it’s something you have to search out. It occasionally falls on my lap , which I’m always appreciative of. Oh what a glorious week it’s been.

One band that’s been marginalized that more people need to be familiarized with is Meat Wave. Three guys from Chicago that formed the group back in 2011 who have released their third proper full-length as a unit. The Incessant (SideOne Dummy) is one record that I’ve been anticipating. The group’s last outing, 2015’s Delusion Moon, was one record I couldn’t get enough of. Forget that Albini produced it, you can’t force such powerful and great songwriting. What do we all get from the new album? More of the same. With Albini behind the boards, Meat Wave is reminiscent of those post-punk acts that came before them. It may have something to do with a few similarities in music but there’s no faking the approach with a take-no-prisoners attitude when the three members,  Chris Sutter (vocals/guitar), Joe Gac (bass), and Ryan Wizniak (drums), barrel through every song. The band kicks things off with “To Be Swayed,” with its mechanical rhythms beginning things but quickly turning a corner with Sutter’s screamed/sung vocals. The band pauses on a dime, then quickly explode ear drums again with the powerful “Tomosaki.” As soon as you interest is peaked, it’s gone and clears into a fantastic “Run You Out.” The first three tracks run about, or just under, the 2-minute mark; they’re perfect but leave you begging for more.

meat wave
Meat Wave – The Incessant

When the track starts up, the kid gloves come off and the band takes a stab at hypnotizing listeners with a frenetic beat and frenzied guitar work. By this point I’m not even half way through the album and I’m in hook, line and sinker. Jumping around tracks like I normally do, “Glass Teeth” differs a bit softly crescendo’ing into a sonic beast of a song. Where there was some room to breath, the trio encapsulates the track in a blissful tryst full of jackhammers and sugar cookies. The title track might be the odd man out here within the 12-songs of the album, a little slower with the occasional burst of distorted guitars wrapped under Sutter’s vocals. Different, but after a few listens it seems to fit in more than I thought it would. The Incessant is more complex then you might think upon that first listen but its infectiousness is unrelenting.

My cousin turned me onto Hanni El Khatib some years ago when he released his debut Will The Guns Come Out. That release was pretty stark but had charm to it. “Loved Ones” still remains one of my favorite songs of Khatib’s. With the release of new material,  I was a little skeptical about his album Savage Times (Innovative Leisure.) I’m always left with a feeling of dread believing that a good thing never lasts. BUT, that’s not the case. When I first listened to the album I hit my social media with, “I fucks with Hanni El Khatib.” Yeah, this album is no fucking joke.

HEK ST
Hanni El Khatib – Savage Times

There has to be something amazing about someone who does things that hes never attempted before, from playing instruments he’s never played before to creating a collection of limited 10″ vinyl records that make up the 19-song collection of Savage Times. You’ll find yourself in familiar territory catching Khatib’s trademark rhythmic blues, opening things up with an explosive “Baby’s Ok” where Khatib’s simple delivery of lyrics “I was high as fuck,” he repeats without being repetitious. Then again, he doesn’t need much more than that here. What may surprise listeners are his lyrics on songs that are culturally relevant and have more social commentary than he’d probably want to let on. “Born Brown” is a thunderous, repetitive track where Khatib howls what he’s about, acknowledging his Palestinian and Filipino heritage, how his parents emigrated to the U.S., and the hard work they put in. There’s no other way to put it, he may play that dirty rock n roll but he was born brown. This is only the beginning though.  The quick-paced “Mangos & Rice,” gives you a small insight into not only what he was fed as a child but how it just may be  a cultural factor many just won’t understand. He’s putting that stamp on himself that in 2017 he’s the son of immigrants. Khatib takes things even farther with “Gun Clap Hero, ” a little more musically subdued but reflecting on gun culture in America, most notably how freely they’re used by law enforcement. He uses his words cleverly, not always calling them out directly until he sings, “Watch for the sirens/ They follow us/ everywhere that I turn I see them/ In the squad cars looking like demons.” It’s an amazing protest song without sounding like a protest song.

Everything is pretty direct here on Savage Times, as he drives through the garage rock he’s become so familiarized with. “Paralyzed” has him sounding more Rolling Stones than Mick Jagger while “Miracle” walks through a more frequented route he’s traveled down. Just him and his guitar when in reality, there isn’t anything else he needs. There are a number of different sides to Khatib on this 19-track opus as he shifts dynamics from song to song like on “Mondo And His Makeup” where he’s not averse to turning up the volume to 11 and throwing keyboards to accentuate that bluesy rawk! In all though, Hanni El Khatib has done something different here so new and old fans alike should be clamoring for more of him after listening to Savage Times. So yeah, I still fucks with Hanni El Khatib.

Now that brings us to Jonwayne,  and the adversity in his life. As a direct result, that same adversity  was the driving force for his record, Rap Album Two (The Order Label.) This album comes after a self-imposed hiatus that lasted a couple of years. Sometimes you’re hand is forced when there are situations that you can’t control. A bout with alcohol addiction will do that to you. That’s what happened to Jonwayne. He’s even gone on record in an open letter on social media. This is what he’s done; it’s what we all should do when we’re on top of the world and then it crashes around you. You have to pick yourself up and reassess. Now with this release expectations are quickly pushed off the curb. If you expected a depressed look at life, that’s not what we get here.

Jonwayne
Jonwayne – Rap Album Two

He’s put together 12 tracks of easy flowed tracks that never force an attack but rather gradually take you on a journey with his words that’ll have you visualizing what he’s dreaming on with the prowess of a master storyteller.  One track that stands out this way is “Out Of Sight,” which ebbs and flows with the calmness of cool breeze on a beach. Jonwayne is reflective on how he’s led his life, with the gains and the losses being what they are. It’s a beautifully done number that I keep coming back to. “Live From The Fuck You” marks his return, beginning with a dialogue between him and someone attempting to get him to rap for his girlfriend before he just agrees and spits knowledge. But damn if this album doesn’t continue with tracks that slowly build around Jonwayne’s voice. Musically “City Voice” always sounds like it’s going to explode into something huge but Jonwayne just rides that beat and current until it ends. You’re able to grasp onto every word he shares with that beautifully rainy melody.  Rap Album Two just has that watery feel throughout it, which makes me think here’s he’s just all about washing away the negative past and focusing on the future. “Afraid Of Us (feat. Zoroh)” even tracks moves he’s made in the past and is a bit self-deprecating while Zoroh holds down the melody. But it’s “Blue Green (feat. Low Leaf)” where he puts that open letter to music, obviously changing lyrics to fit but the concept is there, reflecting on what he’s done to get where he’s left standing. You can feel his words cutting deeply throughout Rap Album Two but it doesn’t leave listeners wallowing in self-pity alongside him. It’s a story of survival, which many can relate to. At least I can. This right here, isn’t something to be taken lightly.

 

JonwayneFacebook / Twitter / Instagram

Hanni El KhatibFacebook / Twitter / Instagram

Meat WaveFacebook / Twitter / Instagram

Surprisingly, Chicago’s Meatwave dropped a new single today. Along with that fact is the band has a new album soon in early 2017. This off the heels of their amazing 2015 release Delusion Moon. The track, “The Incessant” was recorded by another Chicago native, Steve Albini (Nirvana, Big Black, Rapeman, Shellac) and it fits the band’s aesthetic perfectly. He’s able to capture the Meatwave’s raw sound easily and without unnecessary filtering.

 

meatwave2

Tour Dates:
Nov 17th – Colorado Springs, CO – Black Sheep*
Nov 18th – Denver, CO – Marquis Theatre*
Nov 19th – Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court*
Nov 21st – Vancouver, BC – The Cobalt*
Nov 22nd – Victoria, BC – Lucky Bar*
Nov 25th – Edmonton, AB – Starlite Room*
Nov 26th – Saskatoon, SK – Amigo’s Cantina*
Nov 27th – Winnipeg, MB – Good Will Social Club*
Feb 16th – New York, NY – Baby’s All Right
Feb 24th – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle

* = with PUP

 

Between The Ditches

THE REVEREND PEYTON’S BIG DAMN BAND
BETWEEN THE DITCHES

Once again we’re blessed with another full length album of no-bullshit, balls-out, dirty blues from Indiana’s finest. It starts strong with “Devils Look Like Angels,” which can take on so many meanings, and doesn’t let up for the next 45 minutes. Even with the more tender “We’ll Get Through” transitions very well into the heavier hitting “Big Blue Chevy ’72,” a nostalgic song about an old car. Who does that anymore? Songs like “Shake ‘em Off Like Fleas” and the title track are filled with a righteous indignation against a broken system that speaks to fans of the blues but in a more “get off your ass” tone that would make Utah Phillips proud. Breaking with their tradition of live to tape recordings, they’ve opted for individual tracking on each song, which hasn’t affected the “live” feel their records are known for. It’s still them. And thank God for that. (SideOneDummy) by Andrew Ryan Fetter