There’s no witty comments to share this week, no introspective revelations, or anything anyone may find interesting. That is, unless you like coffee. I sometimes feel like a coffee snob so when someone offers me a cup I need to ask what kind it is. Some coffees I’ve had from Spanish-speaking countries have been the strongest. A friend just came back from the Dominican Republic and one thing I told her was, “Make sure you have some coffee.” She was confused about it until she came back with words like, “OMG, I know what it should taste like now!” and “That was one of the most amazing things I’ve had.” I just remembered I promised her a brick of my Supremo. So here I sit, having a cup this afternoon listening to music of course. This is the outcome.
What year are we living in?
I’ve never one to take something on the word of another simply on the basis of close relations so my hesitation was warranted here. One can easily write over 300 words, spending time on something if it’s good. Even longer word counts if it’s just bad. Luckily for The 1984 Draft – deriving its name from what I’m assuming is the NBA’s draft which is the same year Charles Barkley made it to the 76ers – the music of their Make Good Choices (Poptek) holds some reverence. After an album and a couple of EPs, it seems the band has found its place in this thing called music. I dove straight into this one here a bit more open than I normally would have but hot damn if the Draft doesn’t wear its influences directly on proverbial sleeve tattoos. You won’t be able to dismiss comparisons Hüsker Dü (who hit perfection in ’84 with Zen Arcade. Coincidence?) But thankfully we’re not living in 1984 and this band is far from being a placebo of what’s come before it.
The band plays a fervent rendition of distortion drenched punk with an emphasis on the ROCK. The pop hooks the four members of the band piece together are sometimes…magical. Dense walls of guitar sometimes swallow up eardrums but that’s fine because the melodies are perfectly held together. The opening “Jan Kowalski” is a perfect example here, eschewing current vibes and just doing what sounds fucking amazing. The band has moments of greatness here and never fall short, which isn’t easy, especially when songs flow easily from one to the other. “Lately” capitalizes on the opener, playing with dynamics, gorgeous melodies, and exuberant rhythms. Even when you think the band is slowing down, they don’t, with songs like “Miss Ohio” that would rival Shelley or Devoto compositions. Although The 1984 Draft does move at a varied tempo from time to time, never relinquishing their explosive guitars though. “Honest” is exactly what the title dictates, with lyrics delicately focused on aging rockers showing similarities to other genres like Hip Hop where words like, “The lines on my face just prove it’s a young man’s game / the grey in my beard keeps track of the faster lived years / stains on my teeth keep count of the years I have lost / but your face in the crowd keeps an old man from putting it down” cuts deeply and makes one wonder when the dynamics shift, should a band pack it in if they keep playing such dramatically poignant music?
There are many that should have hung up their guitars, drums, and mics but if bands like The 1984 Draft keeps hitting songs the way they do? Why should they! “Wedding” hits like an anthemic jam, while “Lisbon” is nothing short of a pop explosion, and “Lutheran Heat” strikes simply kicking out the jams! There’s nothing left to say about The 1984 Draft other than if this album doesn’t give listeners the feels, then they’re probably all just emotionally dead inside because it’s well worth its weight in gold.
Length or thickness?
Mestizo. His is the name of fable, the one sinister moniker when spoken, all pay attention and perk up to hear what tall tales will be spun. This time around though, the Philly-via-LA rapper who’s honed his skills within the confines of Machina Muerte with Isaiah Toothtaker, concurrently releasing solo material and building a healthy catalogue of music, well, this time we find Mestizo paired up with The Heavy Twelves. The members of The Heavy Twelves are an electro-psych-beat duo weaving together the backdrop for Mestizo’s spidery words to walk over. One thing I’m sure about with the Big Bad Death E.P., it’s bound to piss a lot of people off with this it. Why? Well, because this beast of a recording ends just as quick as it begins. It’s an issue because the beats pieced together are a fantastic disaster with Mestizo’s words rolling off each one with precision and precariously nimble yet never faltering. “Tunnel Vision” with nary a beat, Mestizo spitting briefly over a repeated staticky, yet quiet wall of electronic noise before kicking off into “One Shot Kill.” The song is held tightly together with a heavy drum beat pattern and deep bass line, but it’s Mestizo’s words and delivery that’s just as important as the music itself as both compliment one another. It’s an indie headbanger!
Maybe it’s just me but listening to the musicality on all levels there’s a seemingly underlying fascination here that owes much to George Clinton. It’s isn’t so much in an obvious Dr. Dre sense, culling familiar beats for songs but more so in the deeply rooted musicality. You might be able to hear it on “Slayer” where you have a higher pitched vocal backing. Or maybe you hear it in the space-induced “Pearl Gates,” which is sure to be a favorite for many for Mestizo’s direct delivery, but again, those outer-world background vocals adjust the track, giving it a strange ambiance and timbre. Shit gets too real here and everyone’s bound to find an addiction to it. From the gates of heaven to “Hell Therapy,” which sounds like the soundtrack to a Robert Rodriguez car-chase scene, with mangled bodies crawling and laughing from broken wreckage. It just works! And then there’s the “Tunnel Vision Outro” and we’re all left wanting more. Big Bad Death is the drug and I’m the crackhead standing outside a bodega offering my fellatio-addict services to any and all comers.
Where the hell do we go from here?
Every time I think about putting anything on by Cody Foster, anything related to his rhyming moniker Sadistik, headspace has to be right and today’s no different. Sadistik is a rapper of a different sort. He’s the usual suspect, the one that demands an attentive ear, an open mind, and of course, the right headspace. Salo Sessions II is his follow-up to the first recording of the same name and the recording is just as dark as anything else he thinks, or dreams up. Here we have a total of seven tracks, beginning with “Kerosene Dreams” which travels in shadows, burns with deep embers, as guitars lead the way over a deep bass line. You can’t help but find the urges of darkness and dread filling your every being. Wicked laughter on the brink of tears. Semblances of trap music linger throughout “Yokai” but it doesn’t confine Sadistik’s words.
The freedom he has to work on his Sessions is beneficial to all as he shares the limelight on “The Way Down” with Trizz. Both volley their words back and forth over a wicked echoing beat, while on, um, “Echoes” Deacon the Villain provides the backing vocals on this more inviting track, allowing listeners to vibe with him. And then we have “Perseus (Remix)” which features Slug Christ. This one here takes things to…another level. I’m not sure where it is though. Slug Christ is as bizarre as they come but sometimes odd is good and here his contribution keeps things interesting. It might be hit or miss for you but originality is what it reeks of. Salo Sessions II has the ability to keep me wondering, wondering what the hell is next!