Midweek Mic Drop: Darnell Little & Hajino, Life In Vacuum, Diveyede

Some things get missed, like forgetting you have appointments and you receive last-minute phone calls, “Where the F*ck are you?” It happens often but I usually don’t leave anyone standing out in the cold without reasons, not excuses. Although it usually happens because life takes over. We all get caught up in the daily mundane and forget about everything else. I’m not giving in just yet. But now we’re giving you our midweek round-up of albums that should or shouldn’t be forgotten. There’s no clever bantering here, just shooting the straight shit.

Darnell Little & Hajino – S/T (Rope A Dope)

It’s that moment when two worlds collide. Well, not really but I needed an opening line that would give a semblance of something great here, which is what we may seem to get from New Jersey emcee Darnell Little along with Brooklyn based producer Hajino, who utilizes a Lo-fi aesthetic. The ideas these two brought together on the self-titled release are perfect, containing melodies and hooks that would hold anyone’s attention…longer than the less than 2-minute mark the majority of tracks are contained within.
Seriously, Darnell Little & Hajino have pieced together semblances of great songs on this EP which contains 8 songs, but as soon as the head nods, the track ends. The jazzy backdrop on “VII” is no joke as Little spits self-aware knowledge but it quickly ends as “$huttlesworth” begins. It’s a throwback with stark beats, winding earthy tones and Little spewing words with ease. But it’s “The Mood” that has my complete attention with its grandiose rhythm and keyboard line holding that melody down. “Hiding Spot” has that flavorful background harmonies with horns tossed in for good measure while “VIII” gives you more of the same the duo has sewn together on previous tracks. Now while the 8 tracks here don’t even clock in at a total of 15 minutes, there are a lot of ideas Darnell Little & Hajino piece together. You might feel cheated here but everything is on point. There’s a lot of magic here but you’ll just wish they gave you so much more.

Life In Vacuum – All You Can Quit (New Damage Records)

It comes as no surprise that with every shitty band or rapper that receives a monumental amount of coverage, there are those that continue to fight on the fringes for recognition of any sort. Maybe Life In Vacuum doesn’t give a shit, or it’s possible, yeah, they don’t give a shit. Regardless, the band’s frenetic energy is consistent from the very start on All You Can Quit (New Damage Records) but let me backtrack for a moment. The band is made up of two key players, Ross and Sasha Chornyy, whose family immigrated from Ukraine to Canada back in 2004. In the west, the two got a taste for music, Ross would bang on drums and Sasha took up the guitar. Like many, these two discovered bands like At The Drive-In, Refused, and with the help of a revolving cast of characters, formed Life In Vacuum. Their current bassist is an integral part of the band, assisting in the songwriting of this new album, the band’s third long-player. While the band doesn’t sound much like the brothers’ early influences, there is a restless unease in the band’s punk sound.
The band’s All You Can Quit is relentless from the opening “Jazz” the instruments are hurtling straight down a narrow path, kicking away at barriers to enable getting its larger-than-life sound heard. The controlled chaotic sound draws comparisons to magnificent 90s noise-punk bands but forms its own identity. The song just sets the tone of the album which gets better from track to track. The attacking drum rolls which begin “Apartment” doesn’t prepare listeners for the bludgeoning that follows. While it’s sonically compelling, the melody the band brings it together with is astounding. It can easily be my favorite track on the album. The vibe of the album from beginning to end remains steady, without mimicking itself. “The Screaming Fish” rips through walls of distortion with clever guitar work and pummeling stop-start rhythms while “Cut Throat” builds on a rhythm unwilling to unclench its teeth from beginning to end. It’s not easy to incorporate something new into this style of play, or any other genre for that matter, but the band’s enthusiastic songwriting is what keeps it grounded. I’m hard-pressed to find any other artist or group able to live up to the hype with such a musical assault Life In Vacuum. There’s only one other band that I think can match power like this, and it’s a group of seasoned musicians that have been at it for years. This band right here though, they’ve got all the ingredients right to become something great.

Diveyede – There Is No Cure/They Will Be The Death Of Me

The rapper Diveyede, hailing from California shores, and also formally known as Divide The Poet, is part of the Pacific northwest’s Oldominion collective, who was integrated back in 2016. The self-motivated and self-produced emcee dropped a new release this month, an EP’s worth of material There Is No Cure/They Will Be The Death Of Me. The 6-song EP is his fifth release and travels a road much darker than many like to take. Beats wallow in dark alleyways, infested by lost souls stumbling along without hope. “Midnight Thoughts On Alki” opens this way, with drum patterns that linger about, driven mostly by a haunting keyboard. “I Lost My Mind In Seattle” drives with a Herculean impact as Diveyede twisting words edge on the brink of collapse. It’s difficult not to dislike what he does here, even as morose, melancholy or brooding as tracks may be. The timbre throughout runs the gamut from insanity through despondency and dejection. Self-doubt always seems to creep around his words, even on “Confessional,” which has the emcee coddling his strong words with an underlying feeling there. Death, darkness, anger; these are things There Is No Cure/They Will Be The Death Of Me seems to go through. Strong wills are needed in order to listen.