Midweek Mic Drop: Ricky Mapes, The Interrupters, William Carlos Whitten

Everyone has a BBQ to go to and I’m sure some fireworks to set off and watch. Me? I’m hoping to catch a movie today, which is something I rarely do on the Fourth of July! I wasn’t going to share anything this week because you know, the fourth, but I guess I would have been doing a disservice to myself and making excuses.


It’s been some time since I’ve heard his name mentioned, although when I have it’s usually been in passing. How many times have I been to a show when Grand Mal was opening, and with promises of live reviews for the headliner I was always much too inebriated to remember enough to give some sort of legible info about it? Way too many times. Unfortunately, Grand Mal never received the praise and accolades that should have come from critics and music fans alike, which brings us to William Carlos Whitten’s latest album, his solo effort Burn My Letters (I Heart Noise) released last month.  He fronted Grand Mal and this and it seems he hasn’t missed a step here with clever sugary pop songs that shouldn’t be ignored. In fact, the brilliance here should be glorified way beyond the indie-pop kingdom they live within.
This is where I’ll go out on a limb, possibly to my own detriment. I know I’ve said it before but Burn My Letters could be the point where William Carlos Whitten takes up the mantle left by, dare I say, Mark Linkous (gasp!) Yes, I’ve said before that comparisons come cheap like Hunts Point hookers in the Bronx, but these artists have utilize ex-Mercury Rev bassist Dave Fridmann and both also create(d) expansively drawn-out musical landscapes that  have the ability to tame shrews and reign in monsters of destructive magnitude. More than halfway through this album I can’t help but think Paul McCartney is probably kicking himself for not thinking of composing “Poor Thing,” with its sweet harmonies and lulling melody. The piano-driven track is coupled with an unassuming bassline which allows everything else to swirl around it, just like the infrequency of guitars. It’s a difference from the opening title-track, which reeks of 90s-indie inspiration but sounds as contemporary as it can get. The charm of immaturity is balanced out with the beauty of technique and leaves listeners wanting more, as does “The Cinema.” Guitars are balanced with piano notes and harmonies, allowing the song free reign over senses. 11 tracks total the blissful sonically structure of Burn My Letters, that I dare anyone to say anything negative about. Only pretentious hipsters are sure to pan such a glorious album. It’s just that good.


I guess the first thing I should say here is “Fuck you if you think this brand of punk should have died off with The Clash” because hey, I’ve never let go of it. The fact that The Interrupters quartet is fronted by Aimee Interrupter, known as Aimee Allen to friends and family, is an added plus here because it’s good to see Fight The Good Fight (Hellcat), the band’s third album, is balls to the walls with her leading the way. Of course comparisons are going to abound because their label belongs to Rancid’s Tim Armstrong but really, who gives a shit? Not this guy right here. This album dropped last Friday and nary had a critic mentioned it but it’s pretty bad ass, continuing to take the two-tone ska-punk vibe further from the underground and into the spotlight. On occasion the band will take elements from early NY ska-punksters like The Boilers (“Not Personal”) but always keep the identity of who they are completely intact.  The band isn’t reinventing the wheel but they allow the party to continue and even bring their brothers-in-arm Rancid along for the ride (“Got Each Other”) which says a lot about keeping a unified front with one another. Listeners and fans alike will get the best of what they offer in one track (“She’s Kerosene”) which would give every Jamaican rude boy a run for their money, of course bringing things with their L.A. style. Bring it! Everywhere you fucking go.


I knew almost nothing about emcee Ricky Mapes who’s been releasing music for a couple of years now but his Save Yourself E.P. is his first multi-tracked release holding 7 tracks of fire and brimstone announcing his arrival. The E.P. has a variety of listed production credits, which suits Mapes’ style that shows his versatility with chameleon-like variance. The Bronx-born rapper opens with the title track and the production of ENON Jacobs is…magical. Mapes wraps his words around the hypnotic beat with and eased flow that matches the musical backdrop at every turn. “Under Pressure” takes things back along a trap beat by THENEWBLVCK which Mapes takes and just runs with. But it’s “IDWDT,” whose brilliant video we premiered here that I revert back to over and over. The acronym which stands for ‘I don’t wanna die tonight’ has Ricky Mapes words creating an intensity listeners are able to visualize the imagery without ever watching the video created for it. The culture of inner-city life is magnificently captured. From the Bronx to a worldwide audience, Save Yourself needs your attention, it truly does.