Another Friday, another Roll Out! Nothing witty, no snarky remarks regarding anything of importance.
Fucked Up’s Ben Cook steps out on his own here under the moniker Young Guv, but it isn’t difficult to picture him stepping away from FU to do other things since he is a part of No Warning which predates FU. But Young Guv’s origins began in 2015 with his critically acclaimed Ripe 4 Luv. I’m not sure if the world is read for Young Guv and his latest, GUV I (Run For Cover). Why? Well, listeners and critics alike can be…. never mind.
GUV I is rife with what we all come to expect from a really fucking good pop album that includes heavier distorted guitars. So yeah, it’s a guitar rock / pop album that doesn’t hold back at all. The album opens with “Patterns Prevail,” storming through its song structure with unabashed fervor. While the song’s structure and dynamic delivery may sound like another songwriter, who I won’t mention because as I’ve mentioned so many times in the past that comparisons are cheaper than a 2-bit whore, the fact of the matter here is that one song doesn’t make an album. As we dig in deeper, Cook has a lot more to offer up here with Young Guv. “Roll Wit Me” isn’t as dramatic as the previous number but the soft-spoken track is sublime without need of loud, churning guitars. There are things done here that you can’t help but hit the repeat button on.
“Didn’t Even Cry,” is filled with harmonies that are majestic while “Boring Story” is pretty dramatic with a melody capable of getting lodged in minds without the ability to remove it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Every Flower I See” has all of it though; the melody, loud guitars and harmonies. It’s addictive with Cook’s sweet vocals.
The young governor in Young Guv is worth the listen, over and over again. GUV I said I!
If the Sad Fat Luck album this year wasn’t enough for you – which it should have been – San Soleil (Fake Four Inc.) is set to drop this Sunday. What does this mean? Well, that the trilogy is two-thirds of the way into completion as we come closer to the end of the art project Ceschi has fully embodied for some time. As a solo artist, Ceschi has crossed boundaries many have feared to tread, all at the same time, combining Hip-Hop, Folk, and Indie Rock. He recently offered that being a 50-year-old rapper yelling at kids was something he didn’t find appealing, although I’m sure many would disagree.
Coming in with over 20 tracks, San Soleil, produced by longtime collaborator Factor Chandelier, is densely filled with a myriad of styles as Ceschi does some genre-hopping. And it’s as expected. Ceschi’s transparency on this release is possibly more direct than any of his previous albums, the liner notes are a testament to it. His reflection on the death of loved ones, introspection, and dissecting the world around him to inspire this recording. But death is the go-to here, where he enlists a number of musicians / emcees / friends, incorporating their own eulogies to friends and families missed.
“Nonchalant (Eulogy by Mestizo)” opens the album, casting a dark shadow with ominous strings, along with a beat slammed down, with a vibraphone hiding in the backdrop. Ceschi is animated here but his words are more venomous and his delivery rages with anger, rapping on race, culture, and brutality. Mestizo laments the loss of his homies towards the end, making a somber moment even darker. With “Frank False’s Eulogy,” Ceschi sings and raps on the track of his own life, post-mortem. He writes about things that should have been handled differently, how those will remember him from his own perspective, as a mortician does his best to make him look presentable. The “Old Graves (eulogies by Patrick Schneeweis & Sole)” is where Ceschi sings of an old friend who had given him inspiration through an attitude that eventually led to a friend’s death. Guitars and trumpets are prominent on this track with a light-handed marimba one can notice ever so slightly.
He switches gears on “Incesticide (feat. Open Mike Eagle, P.O.S., Onry Ozzborn, Mo Niklz),” and while this may pay tribute to Nirvana’s album of the same name, this is something different altogether. Using a song by a defunct band Factor had remixed, Ceschi utilizes it for the song where he called in the homies for a posse cut that rises above their contemporaries and puts just about every mainstream emcee to shame. A driving beat with a fuzzed bassline that allows each rapper to shine individually. Ozzborn (Grayskul, Dark Time Sunshine) is the one who I keep coming back to here who truly stands apart from the rest. When he raps “Ozzborn, son of Ozzy, brother of Joan, Gis is one of us no & but’s or if’s,” it’s done with such abandon, and while it could be braggadocio, it doesn’t come off that way. This track is literally the discovery of fire. But “Ceschirito” is the song that stands apart from the rest of the album as Ceschi allows his Latino background, his Borinquen roots, singing/rapping in Spanish where again, he struggles for understanding, over what may sound like sparse instrumentation but it’s far more than that with horns, marimba, keyboard, percussion and Anni Cordero closing things out with her worn vocal delivery closing out the track. It’s simply gorgeous.
While the timbre of San Soleil is drenched in somber darkness, there are moments where you find a sliver of light through clouds. “Christ On A Cross,” isn’t one of them. There’s a struggle here where Ceschi deals with faith, or possibly a lack of. The agnostic within him searches for more but questions if that’s even a possibility. This over a mid-tempo beat as he plays his guitar, with a jazz-influenced bassline around it. Horns slink their way in occasionally but it’s the voice of Lucy Trimble – daughter of Sixo – that accentuates the track in the end. The song reprises the chorus his “Say No More,” but it isn’t the first and last time he’ll pilfer lines from his own catalog. If it suits the track, it’s well worth it. But I’ll listen to this one just to hear Lucy sing. A reworked version of “Electrocardiographs” we find here in “Yoni’s Electrocardiographs (feat. Yoni Wolf)” and while some things remain the same, there are other things that are added to shift the song on warp speed through inter-dimensional gateways. The track moves seamlessly into “1988 (feat. Anonymous Inc.)”, which is a song including Ceschi’s other project, an indie rock jam which is beautifully composed, and his vocals are much different from any others he’s utilized on any solo records to my own recollection. It’s ethereal and challenging.
There are brief moments that are less than a minute to break up the album, which I simply refer to as intermissions. They’re eulogies, musical excursions, cover jams, and more. One thing is for sure though Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time” is something I will never hear the same way again. But it’s not “Britney” that should be focused on, but “Animal Instinct (feat. David Ramos, Shoshin & iCON the Mic King)” that reigns fire here. They’re the Counterfeit Quartet, and we can only hope to find complete albums in the future by these four together. The track has the drive of a road raging sociopath, relentless and giving no fucks.
We can go on and on about San Soleil, but we’ll talk about one last thing, and that’s “My Bad (feat. Gregory Pepper and Kenny Dennis),” which is based off a sample of Gregory Pepper’s track of the same name. It revolves around lyricism on forgotten ideas, “macho traits” taught, changing ways of being, as Ceschi rehashes Frank Black / Black Francis / Charles Thompson lyrics. It’s easy to fall in love with this song’s melancholy. But no, this won’t be the last item mentioned because “Joanna & Anna (eulogy by Squalloscope)” is a must to listen to just for the eulogy alone. Squalloscope gives an amazing and descriptive image of her grandfather. A beautiful ode to someone that left an impact.
At this point, it might be difficult for Ceschi to top the explosion of art that is San Soleil, but if I were to take an educated guess, he’s probably already finalized and completed something else that will keep listeners guessing, and is set to raise the bar yet again. This album right here is captivating and Ceschi, well, he’s on some next level shit.