If anything can be said about V8 Vast Change out of Bloomington, Illinois, it’s that he is consistent. After of few years of hibernation, he released 2020’s Civil Disobedience, which was followed by two releases earlier this year, Life and Songs In The Key Of Love. While V8 waits for the rest of the world to play catch up, he dropped Warfare this week, a six-song release that finds the artist challenging not only his fans but also himself. With previous releases, rhymes were layered over melodic, friendly, catchy beats. On the new Warfare, he’s bringing the venom & bite with his words on just about every track. It starts first with the title track, produced by Payday. The staccato piano sets the stage for V8 but he’s not angry, just directing his positive position over demons that try to attack, both physical & metaphor. It’s spirituality at its best. It continues on “Prince Of Palates,” hard and direct. The flavor changes on the Latin-tinged “Amigo,” while on “Bend The Block,” produced by Pace The Beat, carries that same energy with a less venomous bite and much more love & hope. There’s much more to be appreciated and it shows V8 Vast Change’s dexterity and ability to adapt to his surroundings.
Just when you think you know exactly what an artist is about, BAM! A monkey wrench slams across your teeth and you’re missing one of your incisors. I’ve never made it a secret about Chris Conde and his music, unapologetically Conde, kills everything delivered, and can fit comfortably alongside any and all comers. Reinvention is key so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised with Conde’s new single “Summertime Heat,” a collaborative effort of sorts with DJ/producer El Dusty who is known for his electro-cumbia fusion. In this song Conde proves his capabilities within a genre of music there’s a familiarity with.. Conde’s words grab hold of that cowbell and kick drum and yeah, shouts out Texas, Mexicans, and Selena(s), but make no mistake, this is Chris Conde who lets the name rhyme with penis. The single clocks in at just over two and a half minutes but makes me wish this was much lengthier.
Experimental. Minimalism. Styles have been fractured, blended together with varying genres, and sewn back together again to create an amalgam of sound that defies classification. Throughout the 90s there were many who branched out into new territory, which quickly whittles away throughout the years. There have only been a handful of artists who have made a resounding effort to challenge listeners. Fortunately, we have yet another.
The Providence, Rhode Island duo of Polyarmory, consisting of Ashley A. Moore and MJC, has released its self-titled, full-length debut (FilthyBroke Recordings). This is exactly what I was referring to earlier as Polyarmory delivers an album rife with short takes throughout but leaves listeners watering for much more. I’m drawn to “Buzz Kill,” with its sporadic stop and start rhythmic pattern, as Moore’s echoing vocals lays over what seems just like a few words over it. The electronic buzzing provides the melody for her to capitalize over as the same rhythm seems to make sense as the song continues, and listening to it again and again, it makes all the sense in the world. But then the band moves in a different direction, into atmospheric pop with “The Less You Know.” It shimmers with its melody and Moore’s breathy vocals are soothing. But the band juxtaposes its prettier melodic moments with some oddness that seems all too fitting.
“The Day House (Wine Mom)” begins with MJC’s opening “Test…Test…Test…” before it lands into an oddly catchy rhythm with Moore’s distorted – but melodic – vocals over it. It’s a head-nodder in the best of ways. Jumping around from track to track, “Poly Test” is a thunderous punk discovery for anyone! The rhythm moves with an urgency that’s unmatched here. Moore’s childlike vocal display is on opposite ends here, but it seems to work. Any direction the duo would have made here would have been a pleasant surprise.
Polyarmory never stands still moving in on direction, and that’s fine! Listening to some of the shorter less-than-a-minute tracks, one gets the feeling it just doesn’t matter. “Warren” has a thick juicy bassline Moore sings over while on “The Great Artist,” MJC just, talks. He brings up his ego and his relationships with others, all this over horn samples that blare in on top of the rhythm and echo. It doesn’t make sense! But then again, it just is. “Gasoline” though is probably one of my favorite tracks here because it sounds so much like other things I’ve heard but then again, like nothing else I’ve ever heard. That’s the beauty of Polyarmory. I won’t bore anyone with witty anecdotes but you just never know what you’re going to get with this album but it’ll be something insightful, enjoyable, and very intriguing.
Sometimes, you just have to get all in and call it how you see it, without a blemish of emotion dictating your thoughts. That’s what I’ve done getting through this new Scout EP (Grand Jury), the new release by Samia. Even if you’re not familiar with the 24-year-old from NY, that’s ok because no introductions are necessary. There’s an abundance of singles, EPs, and albums over the last few years she’s responsible for, if you’re so inclined to explore her catalog of music. But I’m not sure if that’s really necessary.
Samia is a singer/vocalist and she’s good at what she does, she’s skillful with her God-given instrument truly is enjoyable. With this four-song release though, it’s clearly aimed for mainstream consumption but when the opener “As You Are” kicks off, it’s a little confusing. The background sampling of additional voices isn’t blended well within the context of the music. It’s distracting and almost confusing as if another radio frequency comes in. It distracts from the song, which is quite charming with pianos tinkling away right before drums & bass make their presence known. The harmonies are there, though the distortion in the distance we could all do without. On “Show Up” Samia shows a reminiscence of those that came before her, with a cooing vocal delivery allowing the dynamics of the song to take charge when necessary. No one can downplay her talent but we’ve heard this type of play before.
Now, I’m not even certain if we could actually call this a 4-song release or if it should just be referred to as “3 songs and a cover.” She handles OMD’s “The Promise” to close it out which she duets with Jelani Aryeh. This is the moment I checked out. The song is just a replica of England’s When In Rome’s version of the song. I refer back to bands like Braid who takes a song like Burt Bacharach’s “Always Something There To Remind Me,” popularized by Naked Eyes, and made it their own. Or even Burning Airlines who took Echo & The Bunnymen’s “Back Of Love” and reimagined the song; this is what I’m referring to! It’s a hard look she and her team are going to have to dive in and look into with Scout, but she’s still young and has plenty of time to bounce back here.