During weeks that contain holidays, it’s sometimes difficult to focus. The distractions abound, which is usually filled with food and an abundance of spirits. This week has been no different. So I’m distracted with anticipation and thoughts of beaches because it happens sometimes. What better way to soothe all that with an assortment of new releases? Sunblock to keep from getting sunbaked, that’s what’s up.
I remember the first time I inadvertently caught a brief Spit Hell Manuel set. His was one of just a few artists that caught my attention. Enough for me to take a few steps to where he was standing to ask him his name. Like many emcees, he’s consistently dropping singles and videos always keeping his name top of mind. Manuel is a new breed of conscious rappers who never play at deserting their identity. In his case: first Mexican, then rapper, as he hits stages with bandanas repping the colors of the Mexican flag…but I digress. This week he’s dropped the Pink Lighter E.P. (Desert Life Entertainment) containing 6 songs which give a clear representation of where he fits in the Hip Hop spectrum of this rap thing here. He opens with “I” where he raps over a repetitive yet hypnotic beat, a smoke-filled track that serves as an introduction when he says, “I want to welcome you to the Pink Lighter E.P.” where he wraps his words around a number of subjects but focusing on his own struggle as an emcee but aspires to master that “language magic.” His direction seems pretty low key, shown on “II,” a love song that beautifully done, minimalistic in composition, as his words draw out painfully smooth. But there’s a harder edge to Spit Hell Manuel, as he plays with varying dynamics on “III.” There’s a darkness shifting throughout it as his words sift through the mire like a hungry alligator in swampy grounds. It’s back to business as usual with “IV” where Manuel sexual innuendos are obvious as he moves more through a trappist-like backdrop, and it works to his benefit. “V” has a laid-back jazzy intricacy and that Spit Hell Manuel delivery rises slightly above a whisper, which suits the song’s vibe. The Pink Lighter E.P. is what we need more of, its outlook and delivery is vastly different from anything that’s made its way out as of late and that’s not an easy accomplishment. Listen to it, cop it, it’s well worth it.
With comedy, you never know what you’re going to get. One could sit at the Improv watching someone crash & burn as they flop through their little black book of jokes or listen to another comedian rag on your friends who had dressed alike. Saturday Night Live writer Sam Jay just released new material in the form of Donna’s Daughter (Comedy Central Records), a comedy album, which seems like it’s one of the last of a dying breed. But the NY by way of Boston brings her own personal life to stages around the country but this was recorded in NYC where she lives now, and if you don’t bring your A game, audiences can be vicious. But Sam Jay’s comedy brings the rawness of who she is: a lesbian that while working out who she was, like when she had “sucked a lot of dicks” which obviously confused the crowd on “Dick Juice.” Obviously, she takes from her own journey and wraps humor around everything here. When she opens up on “Uber Pool,” which she describes as her lowest point in the week, the crowd shames her with groans of disgust. She replies with a direct “Fuck ya’ll” as she goes on to talk about her experience. It’s experience after experience like on “1st GF” where her confusion growing up had her questioning “How gay you are” and “I think maybe I’m gay but how gay? Am I just grab titty gay or eat pussy gay? Two very different gays.” Sam Jay puts the humanity in her comedy as she talks about her first encounter and her own struggles.
But she does tackle serious subject matter as only she can, with her ex-wife on “Gays Shouldn’t Marry” and “The Fight,” the latter in which she discusses her volatile relationship because she married a “different kind of gay,” which is something she explores on “Same Gay.” Jay says, “I wasn’t gay like her. I’m gay but she’s gay as fuck…I eat pussy, I’m not never going to say I’m not a lesbian but my shit is like, ‘dick holes in my underwear & ESPN,’ I’m good. She’s like ‘rainbows, parades’ and I’m like ‘you a gay bitch.’” Her delivery is classic, from one point to the next. She also tackles “Nazis” & “Trump,” never putting the blame on their existence on the President because “They’ve always been Nazi’d as fuck” but it’s “Trump’s fault that Nazis are coming outside.” She makes valid points to blame everyone else’s stupidity. I like Sam Jay, who also has a 15-minute Netflix special I caught, which puts her face to the bluntness of her comedy I’ll be looking for more, you can believe that.
Sometimes there are things that you need and at others, you don’t. Puppy Love (Counter Intuitive Records) is the second full length from California pop-punk band Mom Jeans. The album was originally slated for release on SideOne Dummy but with all the shifts at the label, the band released the album through the label it released 2016’s Best Buds. But it’s Puppy Love we’re focusing on here, right? On this album, the quartet creates a pastiche of sounds that are easily identifiable, catchy AF, and you know, just a damn good time. So again, Mom Jeans pieces together something that we all need here and what that might be, is a matter of perception. Do we sometimes need to lose ourselves in happy music that’s a good distance away from reality and the morose? Yes. Do we need sweet bubbly, go-lucky tracks in lieu of avoiding political banter online or on news channels? Hell Yes!
Once you start getting your fill of the record, from the opening “Near Death Fail Comp (Must Watch Until End)” which begins innocently enough with dueling guitars before Eric Butler sings of being alone, but the band slowly creeps up in unison, as the crescendo obviously rises and you’re led into an oblivious wonder of distorted pop gooeyness! But it’s the unassuming screamed background vocals that add in their obvious hardcore roots. We all see it fuckers, we all see it, and we’re loving it. More than halfway through the record, the perfect storm strikes on “You Can’t Eat Cats, Kevin.” I don’t know who the band has on this track adding a female vocalist for a duet of sorts but you can’t help but love her delivery and harmony as the band pummels this catchy one right into the ground. It’s a perfect storm indeed. There’s no need to wait for Mom Jeans’ Puppy Love to go through full-fledged maturity into adulthood here because this one is bound to be a classic.