Flattery & Reboots…
Sitting here driving with the windows down blaring both Shopping’s latest offering The Official Body (FatCat), intermittently mixed with some J. Cole and Lizzo wondering, why is everyone always rushing. It doesn’t make sense, especially when the weather out here is a brisk 65 degrees where I’m living, which isn’t where I’m from. But it isn’t about that. Even in the freezing NYC winters, everyone’s hustling and bustling, and it just seems to be the way of life everywhere. Maybe you should dwell on that for a minute and just let it marinate. Most have a daily grind and things we need to get through every day so don’t rush. Just sit back, relax and play hard. Work will always be there. I’m not trying to spew out any rhetoric and this isn’t my attempt to give you some life-altering existential BS, just know that life is short so just do you, you’re what’s important. Ok, enough of this senseless rant…
There’s always a lot going on, and it’s no different with Andy Cooper’s latest offering, The Layered Effect (Rocafort Records). The rapper cut his teeth with the Long Beach, CA. outfit Ugly Duckling, touring the world, taking names, and chances, all the while releasing solo material concurrently. Now when I say the new album has a lot going on, I ain’t kidding. The rapper pulls together a pastiche of samples and kinetic beats here, beginning with the jazzed up “Here Comes Another One feat. Blabbermouf.” The track is sure to entice listeners with words rolled out a mile a minute, and that’s just from Cooper himself. When Blabbermouf grabs the microphone though, those numbers increase exponentially! But it’s the rhythm that’s the catalyst for greatness on this track, which is hypnotic and repetitive with a bassline that may have you questioning who has the jazz now. The quick-tongued ride continues with “Get On That,” blistering with nostalgic beats and even culling portions from the disco era. If you’re quick, you’ll catch it. When Cooper drops his words over these beats, it’s done masterfully, like on The Perfect Definition,” which may get him a pass on tracks that are tongue-in-cheek, like “Do The AndyPuppet.” The infusion of humor doesn’t escape Cooper’s own clutches here, where he takes a James & Bobby Purify “I’m Your Puppet” sample popularized by Hi-C back in the day on his own “I’m Not Your Puppet.” But then he changes things again with his masterful storytelling capabilities on “Last Of A Dying Breed,” (of an older/resentful Hip Hop head), and “B-Boy Blues,” (which tells the fate of an aged breaker.) Listeners might be baffled on whether Cooper is self-reflecting or simply solidifying belief in equating Hip Hop to youth culture. No one will mistake Cooper with the current flash-in-the-pan rappers that simply use one or two repetitious phrases because even with his love of classic Hip Hop beats/breaks, he doesn’t sell himself short. “Sizzling Hot” shows that, as does his ode to Rick Rubin, “Rick Said So.” Andy Cooper isn’t for everyone but with The Layered Effect, I’m pretty sure he’s ok with that and just happy to spit more words than any of us will ever use.
First impressions aren’t always what they seem, and I was probably quick to just write off this release but… The singularly named Nadine, who splits time in both New York and Minneapolis, is a collective made up of singer Nadia Hulett (of Phantom Posse) and Julian Fader and Carlos Hernandez (both of Ava Luna) and from the opening rhythms of “Nook,” one might think the trio is another fly by night group of musicians performing some light jazzy, Casio-inflected music with wispy female vocals. But there seems to be more to the group than making them up to be a fly-by-night bar band. Actually, much more. The group’s new album Oh My (Father/Daughter) trips out over light-hearted keyboard driven songs, with Hulett’s vocals taking much of the limelight here, whether purposeful or not. Listening to the single, “Ultra Pink,” you get that same Casio-like feel while the band’s rhythms are pretty direct, with melodies that are catchy AF. You also grasp onto Hulett’s vocals which range from the soft/subtle to direct and up front as the bounce and rhythm moves a little heavier as the track progresses. When she sings “Don’t tell me I’m some kind of woman” I feel empowered, although I’m not even a woman! It’s a danceable/hummable number with a singular direction. And there’s no other way to go but up. You do feel a sense of tone occasionally when you hear “Contigo,” which moves at an almost snail’s pace but when Hulett sings “A man came up to me in the parking lot/street and I froze” and “Don’t tell me to smile…how would you feel? Yeah, how would you feel?” and while it oozes with sensuality, there’s a clear point. In today’s culture, it makes sense for this song, taking one’s own power back. But I rip through this album, bouncing around from beginning to end, always going back to “Pews,” which isn’t a track that’s as spectacular you might think I find it, but it’s so infectious. The band again bounces quicker, making me jolt back and forth in my seat. It’s not all about making your body move though because we can all find sweet beauty in “Plinth” and “That Neon Sign.” Hulett’s voice is so soothing, which is something that can’t be ignored. Oh My doesn’t stick to a simple formulaic process to grind one genre into the ground, instead the band opts to subtly include others into the mix. It’s done quite brilliantly.
A sudden shuddering feeling of dread comes over me when I pop on didi’s self-titled debut (Damnably). The Columbus, Ohio band shares a lot of similarities – and I know comparisons are cheap – to the musicality of Kim Deal and early incarnations of the Breeders. Yes, it’s pretty unmistakable with the opening “Belly.” Did I even read that right? See where I’m going here with this? I know next to nothing about didi but the band’s debut starts off with three tracks: “Belly,” “Too” and “Styrofoam,” with female vocals on lead with those same resemblances. Things shift with “Laundry List,” which has a different feel and male vocals and gives the band a variation in sound. And possible direction. There’s a lot going on within this track, consistently shifting direction, never giving you an idea where it will eventually land, and that’s commendable. It ’s challenging. But, my eyes roll back when “Stampede” starts with those four bass notes accentuated by lightly strummed guitars, and breathy vocals underneath. By no means am I suggesting the band is bad but the Breeders already existed, and are even releasing a new album soon. Is didi’s debut the greatest form of flattery? Maybe, but it’s been done before. It’s only when I get to “didi7” where I realize everything must have been purposeful in the creation process because all I can see is Black Francis with a confused look on his face asking, “Really?”
Needing no introduction, of course, is Ty Segall who is on the cusp of greatness and musical notoriety. He’s just released his 11th album, Freedom Goblin (Drag City Records) and from beginning to end it doesn’t disappoint. For the new album, Segall has become something of a throwback, piecing together cataclysmic tracks that are an ode to the ‘70s, that is if some of you remember them. “Fanny Dog” opens the album with in the most animated way with layered guitars, horns, keyboards, and a grandiose vocal delivery. You have all the markings of the next coming of a rock n roll godlike creature, without the fumblings of someone accustomed to gluttonous gifts that come with that lifestyle. It’s a sheer unabashed love of rock. Segall’s haunting “Rain,” opening with piano takes its cue from Freddy Mercury and the ilk, yearning for much as it slowly crescendos and then shifts dynamics into a beast of a song as horns blare, drums roll, and the choir sings on. Call Segall what you will but he pays homage to great music and even covers Hot Chocolate’s “Every 1’s A Winner” which is so much more explosive than the original. Not to dis Hot Chocolate but this song should have been originally recorded for Segall. It’s just that good. The fuzzed out guitars make the song better than the original. What follows are 16 more tracks culled from Ty Segall’s psyche. My favorite though is probably, “When Mommy Kills You” which have more of those fuzzed guitars wrapped around this psych-rock party. Freedom Goblin is obviously a piece of work that’ll be hard to top by anyone. Segall included.
Andy Cooper – Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Nadine – Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Ty Segal – Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Didi – Facebook | Twitter | Instagram