The last we heard from the Alaska by-way-of Seattle’s Bloodmoney Perez was back at the tail end of 2019’s About Fucking Time. He returns again, at the 25th hour with Second Hand Accounts (FilthyBroke Recordings) a juicy release produced by Messiah Musik (Quelle Chris, Elucid). The Messiah is big on beats where the Boom meets the Bap, and it always works in Perez’s favor. While the album may seem like a throwback to when Hip-Hop was real Hip-Hop and emcees accentuate words on that downbeat, this music just smacks hard at every turn. “Take It In Blood” hits like a slow-moving freight train with Perez’s hypnotic cadence. You can’t get too comfortable because as soon as “Faces Of Death (ft. Defcee)” drops, its sludgy pace is a baseball bat to the head, swinging in slow motion. Both emcees utilize their words, slicing through the dragging beat allowing for Hip-Hop sickness! “SAMO” does the same, edging along frost-covered streets through visual art-filled imagery. Perez is joined on “The Prey” by Rich Jones where they both remain pensive, thoughtfully reverberating their words around capitalism and poverty. You feel it, I feel it, we should all be able to feel it. We’re here for the beats & rhymes, and Second Hand Accounts is filled with both.
Music inevitably regurgitates into either a lesser version of itself or finds new meaning in the old to substantiate its new existence. Dancing Shadows (Mahakala Music), the latest release by Tyler Mitchell featuring Marshall Allen is neither redundant nor is it secondary to anything or anyone. Mitchell, who has worked with some of the most innovative artists (Sun Ra Orchestra, Shirley Horn) and can walk between avant-garde and traditional jazz with ease. Here he seems content in working traditionally but there are moments with his own innovation moves in. Mitchell leads his band (horns, percussion, strings, bass) with the utmost fluidity, a controlled improvisation of sorts, allowing the songs to move in specific directions. The title track is probably one of the best examples of that as horns blare and move from side to side while its percussive effects sets itself into specific directions. “A Call For All Demons” is wonderfully directed; horns blare in unison creating harmonies amongst themselves with Mitchell’s bass carefully leading the way. Dancing Shadows is the mile marker others need to strive for because if they don’t, then what’s the point.
Just a few things that are always consistent: Food, Family, Hip-Hop, and Rock but not always necessarily in that order. There are moments when other things may take precedence, but we’ll leave it there for now. Throughout the past couple of decades, there hasn’t been any one particular locale that can offer up influencing a new generation of music & sound. The 90s was a clusterfuck of sounds both in the great northwest and the frosty northeast. “Grunge” as it was popularized in the northwest was offset by the noise fuckery of the east (and Midwest, which didn’t get its fair share of notoriety as the other two.) Whether it was Nirvana or Sonic Youth, it didn’t matter; it was all great music. Since then, pockets of music have surfaced from a number of different places and it no longer matters where you’re from, so long as you know where you’re going (we’re going somewhere with this I promise.)
Out of the pacific northwest comes Datura, covered in black eyeliner, and clad in dark clothing. The band wears its influences direct on its shadowy-hued sleeves and delivered its debut long-player in Arcano Chemical ( Sell The Heart Records) this week. Now while the band may proudly wear its colors – or lack of – the trio isn’t a carbon copy of those that came before. From the start, “Bloody Shores” strikes fiercely with swaths of distorted guitar and thick repetitive rhythms setting the tone of the album. Guitars chime in and out, moving asymmetrically like an unyielding ocean, while the rhythm section holds things down tightly. Haunting vocal harmonies are captivating as they coo in the background. If your interest isn’t piqued, there’s a problem, with you, not Datura. The creepy yet distinctive guitar line of “The Chase” is inviting and the band moves with swift ease throughout the track but it’s on “Orphans” where you’ll find the band shifting gears, seamlessly tossing around melodies wrapped around bass notes and guitar chords as vocals accentuate the track, falling right in line. The band isn’t formulaic, opting to wrap its songs in everything that feels right. It is “Trapped” could move in a number of directions but it seems it’s soaked its dark imagery around dynamic shifts that are worked well within the band’s sound altogether. There’s a lot more to the group, and it’ll surprise you.
The goth post-rock sound of the band is offset by other things as well. There was never a distinct sound with the resurgence of rock en español with its resurgence in the early 2000s, Datura takes a chance with its post-love song “Phantasma,” probably its catchiest track on the album. Even if you’re not singing along to the lyrics, it’s still mesmerizing as all instruments move in a singular and direct path. It just may end up being a favorite of most.
Datura moves with ease and quickly captivates with Arcano Chemical through its well-thought-out song structures and pensive lyrical content. Datura has released an album better than anything we’ve heard in quite some time.
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Sometimes you have to take a step back in order to take a couple of steps forward. It’s the way life works out on occasion and that’s ok. If the last two years have taught us anything is that we shouldn’t take anything for granted and a reassessment just might be in order. Given, L.A.-by-way-of-Tucson-by-way-of-Chicago emcee Lando Chill has always been on some next-level shit, and a reassessment probably isn’t needed because there isn’t anyone quite like him. His last outing, 2020’s LANDOLASSO, found him once again collaborating with The Lasso handling production. Lando wrapped his words around disjointed beats and psychedelic grooves for something otherworldly. His music isn’t easily classifiable, which is probably why the talented Lando Chill may find himself left of the dial.
With the majority of Lando’s album produced by The Lasso, with the new If I’m Being Honest (98th & Calumet), he takes a different approach this time with Calvin Valentine, whose resumé extends not only as an artist himself but as an adept producer (Planet Asia, Illa J). While there are no shortcuts, Lando moves and bounces across Valentine’s free-flowing beats with a smoothness. Don’t get it confused though, Valentine may deliver catchy hook-filled tracks but there isn’t mass consumerism in mind. The music fits the artist, who’s been known to ride on catchy rhythms and fill tracks like a maniacal Gil Scott-Heron (For Mark, Your Son). So here, it’s simply back to business as usual. In a sense, this is just the other side of Land we’ve become familiar with.
The clear direction of melody on “bitches wilin” is offered up with Lando’s cadence offered up on the hook from the get-go. It’s the head nod in smokey rooms with weed coughs and bong hits for an existential mind trip. Valentine’s subtle Boom-Bap is offset with Lando’s thoughtful lyricism, intertwining the two to form one. It’s easier said than done, and they complete the mission with ease. It seems to move the same way from track to track and when “give me your luv” hits, you won’t be able to let go of the love letter offered here. It’s smooth, and Lando’s poetic delivery is captivating. The unorthodox “guess” caresses with its repeated acoustic guitar, and it isn’t even a challenge for Lando as he bends his words the fit the rhythm and melody ending it with “Thank you for letting me be myself, again. Again??”
There isn’t a lulling moment within this release at all. “tim raines” slides in like a Geto Boys hit but there’s no gangsta stride, instead opting for a heady groove and expressive lyricism. The timbre strays slightly, moving through emotively dark alleyways around real-life situations. While some songs like “jussweed” may seem obvious, it really isn’t, as both Valentine & Lando share lyrics throughout.
With only 8 tracks, If I’m Being Honest is a smooth and heady release, that’s catchy without truly needing to be. It’s a strong release for Lando Chill, and Valentine just brought out the best in him.